Why I believe in God but not Free Will

by Quinton Figueroa on May 27th, 2007

Free will is something that most religious people believe in and most non-religious people don't believe in. My position is: I don't believe we have free will, at least in the normal sense that it is looked at. And yes, I do believe in God. Find that strange? Please allow me try to explain myself...

Everything in the world that we can perceive as humans is calculated

Think about it. Everything that is happening is scientific and is based on physics and matter. Everything that is in existence is represented by matter which has instruction, reason and a purpose. Every atom follows a specific set of rules and can be measured scientifically.

We could know the future if we could calculate everything in the world

This is a very bold and audacious claim but nevertheless I think it is correct. If we were able to measure and understand every atomic (or even quark or string or however small it goes) movement then we would be able to understand how these relate with every other piece of matter - It is quite breathtaking actually! We would be able to actually understand just what will happen to something else based off its current flux and its reaction to some other piece of matter. With this information we could calculate out as many iterations as needed to find out what would happen however long into the future we needed. This is obviously extremely impracticable for a human mind to even come minutely close to grasping, but God who is all knowing handles this like a piece of cake.

Now here's the stretch...

So what about thoughts? That is pretty much what this all comes down to, the ability to choose. To make conscious choices of what is right or wrong, good or bad or whatever else may suit your fancy. From what I have learned thoughts are still part of this world and therefore represented by matter. They are more or less electrical impulses that are sent throughout the brain and interpreted by the brain. Everything is still being calculated in a physical piece of matter composed of atoms and electrons. It's pretty much like a computer but much more advanced. Anyhow, we all know a computer can do millions of calculations per second but nonetheless, does it really have a free will? Just because we can't actually predict or understand every electrical impulse instantly does this imply that the computer takes on a will of its own? Is it making choices? In a sense yes, but on a complete perspective I think not. The computer is simply still being a machine following rules of physics that allow for it to make what appear to be actual choices on its own. The same can be said about a human - it's an advanced computer.

You're the product of your environment

So since everything of this earth is pretty much already understood and calculated your life is almost a computer simulation where it is already known how your program will end. From the instant you are born your input and sensory devices are taking in information and processing it. Your mind is forming a foundation for beliefs and thoughts. Throughout your whole life you are simply making decisions based of every environment and situation which has happened previously to you and you ended up in your now current situation because of a past experience and environment. It goes on and on and on. Yes I know, this sounds very impersonal and just sad and leaves no hope. How could God, who is supposed to be loving and great, allow for something so demeaning and dark like this? Well first of all, God isn't necessarily loving and great in a straight up since. He is fair and correct. This does not always translate to him being loving. Sometimes he may be an dick because you were a dick. God is fair and correct.

It is more or less an "illusion" of free will that we experience

It's really not a big deal anyway. Since we can't actually understand any of these complexities of physics that are constantly going around us in real time like God can it actually creates an illusion of free will for us. We actually see things as free will and choices because we don't know how thoughts are going to correlate with the environment or how actions will result in the future because we can't predict the future because we can't measure everything out. They basically are choices from our limited perspective, but not from God's.

It's kind of like comparing a dog to a human. A dog is much more limited in it's thinking when compared to a human. If you were to try to get a dog to do something fairly simple such as measuring the speed of a car and figuring out where it will be 5 seconds from now it would look at you, drool a little bit, and then bark! It hasn't a clue what you're even trying to get it to do! The same can be said about humans when compared to God. It's not a bad thing, it just is what it is. The dog is happy, us humans are happy - but it still doesn't dismiss the fact that just because it wrecks our heads thinking about this it is still weak sauce to God.

Conclusion

Free will from our limited perspective and from a "God testing us" sense, then yes it does make sense - we make choices and we don't know everything that is going to happen. But from an absolute scientific standpoint it makes no sense at all.

And as with more knowledge things always do become much stranger and sometimes scarier than they were before (which is partly why this life is so dumbed down IMO - but that's a whole nother story). But that's not a bad thing, just something new to consider and learn from - you're supposed to be stretched with new things as you move forward. Life isn't about sitting around and stagnating, if it was time would not exist. I am not trying to get anybody to agree or disagree with me. I am simply stating the way I perceive this based of my existing knowledge and want to present it to others to allow for you to take it as you would like. I am always open to any type of comments, feedback or anything. If you think I am wrong please let me know and I will listen with respect to your side and try my hardest to understand your perspective. I have no problem being wrong and finding the truth because of it. I do have a problem never seeking and never finding however.

 Filed under: Spiritual, Life, God, Science

About The Author

Scottsdale, AZ, USA

I am an entrepreneur at heart. Throughout my whole life I have enjoyed building real businesses by solving real problems. Business is life itself. My goal with businesses is to help move the human family forward through innovation and creativity. There are tons of things that can be done better i...

Comments

8 Comments

Anonymous's picture
: Good form
7 years 2 months ago

Well thought out and well written :) I"m a fan.

Ben

Anonymous's picture
tmelvin: Of Course There's Free Will
6 years 11 months ago

I must agree with part of you perception. I do think it is possible to determine the exact outcome of a situation without the interaction of a human being.

For example, lets say we had the equipment to measure the future based on atoms etc. And lets say the future was that you were to get hurt by a car tomorrow as you skateboarded to work. (heaven forbid) What do you think the chances are of you actually riding your skateboard to work tomorrow will be? Or you even going to work tomorrow? Now, if we were like computers and didn't have free will, this freedom of choice, you would probably end up going skateboarding tomorrow.

I do agree that our God is a good, loving and just God. I believe this for many reasons but I think its better explained in just one. When a righteous man's son does wrong, the father will punish him for his transgressions to help shape his understanding of right and wrong. I feel like God is no different. When we stray from our walk with him, he'll let us know. Think of the Biblical story of Jonah, when he disobeyed the Lord, God sent him a storm to get him back on track.

Last point, which I think is the most meaningful. If there wasn't the possibility of free will then I think you would be suggesting that God intended for some people to go to Hell; for some people not to find him. We both know that the Bible says differently.

Anonymous's picture
The Crazy Australian: Free will and Romans
6 years 11 months ago

"Free will is something that most religious people believe in and most non-religious people don't believe in."

Religious people believe in free-will? Not me. Not John Piper. Not Paul the apostle.

Read Romans. Focus on Romans 9, but the entire book is really needed for context (otherwise its easy to end up with distorted theology).

29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8)

If God is sovereign, we have no free will.

Anonymous's picture
tmelvin: If we didn't have free will,
6 years 11 months ago
in reply to The Crazy Australian (view comment)

If we didn't have free will, things would be a lot different. First off God wouldn't need to send his only son Jesus Christ to pay for OUR MISTAKES. Thats right, our mistakes. God didn't intend for us to make them, and he certainly didn't make us make them. Why would God hold us accountable for sins we were intended to commit? See how preposterous this really is. I believe God is an all knowning sovereign God, that has given us free will.

If we didn't have the ability to do wrong or right, and we were souly doing the things our creator would have us do, then we wouldn't be doing anything wrong. This world would be a lot better place. But that's not the case, I have the ability to make the decisions of the things I want to do. Some of them will probably be bad, some may be good, but they are that of my own. And obviously not decisions of our righteous God.

Also, say you did know the future predicted by this crazy quantom futuristic machine. The machine said that you were going to die on your way to work tomorrow. I don't think you would make the decision be going to work tomorrow, or going anywhere the next day. So you just "changed" the future.

It's your right to believe what you want to believe. I just don't see how you can believe God would intend on his children going to Hell. For him to intend for them to cast out against him. Like it was his plan from the beginning.

Quinton Figueroa's picture
Quinton Figueroa: I'm not sure if this is
6 years 11 months ago
in reply to tmelvin (view comment)

I'm not sure if this is directed towards me or the reply you replied to but I will answer this.

I agree with you. Since posting this article I have done a lot more research on this and have come to the conclusion that we as humans do have free will. Where I think I still may differ from people is that I believe God knows exactly everything we will do with precision. If he didn't he would not be omniscient.

Anonymous's picture
Thomas: Agreed
6 years 11 months ago

I agree with you. You're right, a lot of people struggle to grasp the combination of him being all knowning, and us having free will.

Anonymous's picture
The Crazy Australian: It's not certain: Quantum
6 years 11 months ago

While I don't believe in free-will either (at least, not complete free will), I think you have the wrong reasons for your view.

Up until 100 years ago or so, your point about how if "we were able to measure and understand every atomic movement" we could calculate the future would have been accepted as valid (except that the computing time to do that would take more seconds than the universe has been and will be around for - but assuming it were possible for the sake of the argment).

Classical, or Newtonian, physics is deterministic.

What changed?
Quantum physics. There's stacks of stuff to go into, but I'll give a few examples:
Knowing fully the initial conditions of a particle isn't enough to determine it's behaviour - Young's double slit experiment showed that matter also has wave properties - and the wave amplitude at a point shows the probability of a particle passing through that point. Essentially, even if you knew EVERYTHING about a particle travelling towards 2 slits, you couldn't determine which slit it would go through.
My post on this topic has some good videos.

Even more, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle puts limits on how much we can actually know. Essentially, it is impossible to know both the position and velocity of a particle at the same time.

There's more - Schrodinger, superposition ect - quantum physics is very weird, but my point is that science no longer claims to be able to do what it once did: predict everything.

(On a macro scale, such uncertainties average out into the most probable behaviour - but small things like the decay of a single atom can change macro events [eg Schrodinger's cat])

As I said, I don't really believe in free-will - but I don't think your post is proof. (Food for thought - who is in control of the 'uncertainties' and probabilities of quantum mechanics?)

Quinton Figueroa's picture
Quinton Figueroa: I have checked out quantum
6 years 11 months ago
in reply to The Crazy Australian (view comment)

I have checked out quantum mechanics and I find it completely fascinating.

Who is in control of the 'uncertainties' and probabilities of quantum mechanics

It would have to be God, at least I think. I am not all the way sure. I have 2 takes on it for the time being:

1. God could be manipulating everything at his will in order to have things done how he wants. I want to emphasize that this does not eliminate our free will as we are too stupid to actually know the outcomes of these manipulations, where He does.

2. God (and to really piss you off ;) "Gods") could have created some type of video game algorithm for humans (this existence) which has holes and bugs in it just as a video game usually does. When you dig deep enough you will find problems or faults.

I lean more towards #1, however, #2 could totally be possible and make sense with everything else still.

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