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Monday, February 8, 2010

Did Abraham Have "Free Will"?

Good arguments about free will and omniscience building.

When God "tested" Abraham, did he know for sure what Abraham would do?(Assuming, of course, that there was an Abraham, or God).

How about Genesis 15? God allegedly put Abraham to sleep and pointed out: "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not their's, and shall serve them. And they shall afflict them four hundred years".

This was a guarantee of something that would happen to Abraham's children BEFORE Isaac was even born. assuming the story was true, therefore, we are forced to logically conclude that it would occur as prophesied regardless of what choice Abraham made regarding the sacrifice of Isaac on the alter.

Of course you can argue that "God is this, God is that, or god is the other..." but the fact given is this: Abraham's descendants were to be enslaved four hundred years. Of course, this assumes that any of it ever happened, but if you're going to argue "God" from a biblical perspective, you're sort of stuck with what you're given.

Of course, we can take it as a lesson similar to conclusions of Talmudic scholars: God was showing Abraham that sacrifice would not be the way of obedience or "proof testing" of faithfulness. In fact, the chief "sin" or blasphemy against God is the sacrifice of children at "Tophet", which is to be a great place of burning.

Now, you can argue on this a million different ways, but from what we read above, we would have to conclude that whether Abraham sacrificed Isaac or not, Abraham's descendants would be slaves in Israel four hundred years.

And while we're arguing it, does God create evil? How about Isaiah 45:7? Or Amos 3:6?

Does "free will" mean freedom from God's foreknowledge? From every definition available, from a purely physical view, "free will" is simply the ability to choose as we believe. There is no evidence for anything greater. Freedom is the absence of absolute knowledge.

If you want to try and define God, you will end up exactly with the situation we see today: over 38,000 estimated versions of christianity, none of which can prove the authority of their beliefs, and therefore, as Jesus said in Matthew 24;23, no reason to follow any of them.

8 comments:

Byker Bob said...

Abraham's trial can be examined from numerous perspectives, many of them totally valid.

As luck would have it, this was touched upon by our pastor at worship services yesterday. His topic was false idols, and his take on Abraham was this: When Abraham's prayer for a son was answered, his center shifted from God to his son Isaac. God had to show Abraham that his life still needed to be centered on God, not on Isaac. This test was his lesson, and serves as an example even for us today.

BB

Ralph said...

The assumption is that Abraham's "trsting" is somehow indicative of the believer's choice regarding the followuing of Christ.

But in fact, examined directly from paul's statements, there exists no such choice. Either you are part of the whole process, or you are not. This doesn;t mean a few go to heaven and the rest go to hell, but rather that God, according to Paul's teaching, is working with only a few right now, and he knows who they are.

The realtionship of this choosing, and the promise to Abraham, is a process little underastood, and yet very important to understanding Paul's teachings.

Questeruk said...

“This was a guarantee of something that would happen to Abraham's children BEFORE Isaac was even born. assuming the story was true, therefore, we are forced to logically conclude that it would occur as prophesied regardless of what choice Abraham made regarding the sacrifice of Isaac on the alter.”

Yes, logically that is correct.

But surely the two things are unconnected.

Abraham did intend to sacrifice Isaac, so you could say that he succeeded in the task God gave him, but God stopped him actually carrying out the deed. However this didn’t change what was to happen to Abraham’s children.

If Abraham had not attempted to sacrifice Isaac you could say that he failed in his task, but again why would this change what was to happen to Abraham’s children?

The captivity did not depend on the result of Abraham’s test with Isaac.

Questeruk said...

“"free will" is simply the ability to choose as we believe. There is no evidence for anything greater. Freedom is the absence of absolute knowledge.”

I don’t see that freedom is the absence of absolute knowledge.

If we are assuming that God has absolute knowledge, does that mean that He doesn’t have freedom? Not at all.

Is God forced to do everything the very best way, simply because He knows what the very best way is? No, why would this be the case – why limit God?

There are often many ways to achieve a task – would not God have the freedom to accomplish a task in a way that is not the most efficient?

If I am driving to visit someone fifty miles away, I can check a map, or used a sat nav to find the quickest route. The quickest route may be the sensible route to drive, the most efficient route. But I have freedom to drive a different route – maybe it’s more scenic or more interesting, maybe I want a change, maybe I just want to see what a different route is like.

I have freedom to choose any route. I don’t have to take the quickest, or the most sensible.

If God has absolute knowledge, is there any reason why He cannot still choose to do something that is not the easiest, the best, or the most efficient?

Why should God be limited in His choices, just because he has absolute knowledge?

Ralph said...

Paul said that the childreen God selectred were chose from trhe foundation of the world, so in fact whatever Abraham did would not change that fact. Since those children chosen before the foundation of the world were the ones born to the promise of Abraham, there would have been no differeence regardless of Abraham's choice.

No matter how you argue the question you;re faced with paul's direct stateemtns of Romans 8:29-30 and 9:16-22.

As for limiting God, you can se cond guess your idea of God from now on, but it will change nothing one way or another.

The Painful Truth said...

"Freedom is the absence of absolute knowledge."

In the words of Woodrow Wilson after signing the Federal Reserve into existence:

"A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men ... [W]e have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated, governments in the civilized world—no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and the duress of small groups of dominant men."

So Ralph, tell me. What IS freedom?

Questeruk said...

It is very difficult to have a rational discussion with you on this board. Simply because you ‘change the rules’ whenever it suits you.

You say things like “there is no evidence that there ever was a God, and even if there is, we're totally incapable of figuring out what "he" wants us to do” and say similar things about the Bible – when it suits you.

But then when it suits you, you come up with statements like “Do you accept that paul knew what he was talking about? if not, why not? How about jesus? If not, why not?” and in this current section: -“No matter how you argue the question you’re faced with paul's direct statements of Romans 8:29-30 and 9:16-22.” So here you are taking Paul’s statement as dogmatic truth.

In the same way, referring to God, you dismiss my comment with “As for limiting God, you can second guess your idea of God from now on, but it will change nothing one way or another.”

Obviously that is true, but it adds zero to the discussion. Your opinion could be dissmissed in exactly the same way.

But if we have this approach there gets very little point in discussing anything.

Ralph said...

Questeruk, you make make my point. There is no way of resolving the issue. It can't be resolved. If you can define God in any sense, you reduce God to that which can be reconciled as truth, but since truth is consistent with all truth, you could also eliminate any confusion regarding the expectations of God.

Therefore, "If any man says to you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not". If youc an prove that ANY persin can show you THE truth regarding Christ or God, then you've managed to prove the above statement attibuted to Jesus wrong.

Is whatr Paul said in Romans 8:29-30 a dognatic assertion of truth? You make the point that God may not be all knowing, and yet in any way that is actually meaningful to any of us, Paul says specifically that God IS all knowing. Do you not believe that? Fine, let's kick it out the window and say God is not all knowing in that regard. Show me whose idea of God is correct, and prove there is a God.

Can't be done.