Many people believe both that (i) there is an all knowing God, and that (ii) we humans can rightly be held responsible (praised, blamed, rewarded, punished) for at least some of the things that we do. But some contend that i and ii are incompatible — that if i is true then ii must be false (and vice versa).

Consider these six propositions (a-f) . . .
(a) There is an all knowing God.
(b) Someone knows and always has known everything there is to know.
(c) Long before I was born, someone already knew exactly how I would live my life.
(d) Long before I was born, it was already true that I'd live my life exactly as I'm living it.
(e) By the time I was born, it was too late for me to have any real say in how I'd live my life.
(f) I can't rightly be held responsible for anything that I do in this life.

The argument that Divine omniscience precludes human responsibility (that i and ii can’t both be true), proceeds by linking a to b, b to c, etc.. Thus . . .

1. If a then b.
2. If b then c.
3. If c then d.
4. If d then e.
5. If e then f.
Therefore ...
6. If a then f.

To avoid the conclusion (6) (to hold that a doesn’t commit us to f — that i and ii can both be true), we need to deny at least one of the premises (1-5) — i.e., we need to deny at least one of the supposed intermediate links. So: Which if any of these links is questionable? Where (exactly) does the argument go wrong? Or does it? Anticipate objections.

Note: The question here is not which (if any) of a-f is false — it’s which (if any) of 1-5 is false (which if any of a-e doesn’t commit us to its successor).

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Comment by DaVinci on July 26, 2008 at 3:29pm
Obviously no one can possibly understand that last statement, I lack the time to comment fully, so you have something to look forward to.
Comment by DaVinci on July 26, 2008 at 3:27pm
Actually, the argument breaks down because C does not follow from B.
(b) Someone knows and always has known everything there is to know.
(c) Long before I was born, someone already knew exactly how I would live my life.
What is known does not mean what will be known. If free will is true, then there would be no way to know the future becuase it doesnt exist, however quantum mechanics got me thinking about truth values, or potentials, which assigns a truth value to a future event. Simply put, we are very certain the sun will come up tomorrow, however we don't know until it happens. We can assign a truth value to the statement though and if we can get close enough, it will proove to be reliable.
Comment by Rosa on July 25, 2008 at 7:40pm
oh no, I feel I'm doing my SAT's again lol
Comment by astrodweeb on July 25, 2008 at 12:29pm
I think that "i" and "ii" are incompatible.

However, Christians love their "free will" (i guess it closes their eyes to the true slavery of religion) and would love to say that while "C" is true and maybe even "D", just because an all knowing being knew how they'd live their lives and they may have even lived their lives according to that knowledge, it doesn't preclude their ability to choose. Hmmm....that's a bit convoluted. I guess what i mean is that he/she/it only foresaw the choice made, but did not affect it. (Of course, quantum physics shows that knowing does affect the outcome.)

So some might argue that while "c" = "d", "d" does not equal "e" (though on a side note and not part of your debate..."f" may or may not be true depending on the event or choice they are defending).

I'm generalizing Christian thought, which isn't polite or even correct. But it is an argument i have heard frequently and am just playing the devil's advocate (heh heh heh) with this particular view.



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