praying to a free willing god & his divine plan

48 posts / 0 new
Last post
Qu@si's picture
praying to a free willing god & his divine plan

Alternatively, if god is benevolent, he is not responsible for the evil and suffering in the world, meaning he has diminished powers since forces exist in the universe for which he has no responsibility and no hand in their creation. You would be praying to a being without the ability to control human fate, rendering the prayer useless. If god has no control over evil, praying to him to stop evil and suffering makes no sense. Prayers to an all-powerful and evil god are futile; prayers to a benevolent god are useless. You might as well pray to the tooth fairy. At least with the tooth fairy you get a dollar under the pillow.

The flip-side of human free will is also important to examine; that is, does god himself have free will? If not, can god grant what he himself does not have? An all-powerful god is all-knowing, meaning god knows all of his future actions, and all of the choices he would make. Here is the rub: god could not change those choices, otherwise his earlier knowledge would have been wrong, meaning god would not be all-knowing! All-omniscient god therefore has no free will to choose actions, since all actions must be preordained. God becomes an observer of his own omniscience since all knowledge of the future precludes any changes to that future. Any god with free will would have to be imperfect, and would by definition not be all-knowing.

So an all-knowing god, who cannot possess free will, cannot grant something he himself does not have. But a bigger problem remains. Free will implies a future with no predestination. A god who knows all, about everything past, present, and future, could not create any free will that would prevent that knowledge of the future; the very act of creating free will would destroy the fact of omniscience.

The notion that an all-powerful god granted humans free will is one of the most egregious examples of religion’s absurdity. But the situation becomes positively surreal when people believe that praying to an all-powerful god can alter the outcome of events according to the entreaties of the prayer. Holding three mutually exclusive ideas (free will, prayer, and an omnipotent god) at the same time is a sign of insanity.

what do you think?my theistic friends?
share your thoughts

Subscription Note: 

Choosing to subscribe to this topic will automatically register you for email notifications for comments and updates on this thread.

Email notifications will be sent out daily by default unless specified otherwise on your account which you can edit by going to your userpage here and clicking on the subscriptions tab.

faith in God follower's picture
Well I was a Catholic to just

Well I was a Catholic to just recently; And I was taught in the church that we being humanity has a free will; While some of my reformed friends who follow John Calvin 1600`s say that humanity is predestined, and that God has already chosen where a person stands in this life time. So you have for what I see is conflicting doctrines in the two churches. Then you have some scientist who believe that man is predetermined individual, where our neurons and appetites lead us to make decisions. This has been discussed in both disciplines. I feel that one of the best people to go to is Thomas Aquinas on the subject of GOD and free will and omnipotence I still don`t comprehend him fully, We can`t limit GOD the fact is that God can`t contradict himself his truth his justice, But I believe that in Praying to an almighty God can change things he is free to make changes along the way. Tell me if you think that you can explain GOD in this capacity ,; how can you explain the doctrine of the trinity which Christians espouse? It is beyond what we have as intelligence we just can`t fathom it. It is to big to large for our limited intelligence.

David Killens's picture
People can imagine anything,

People can imagine anything, we have wonderful imaginations. It could be some guy sitting on top of a cloud throwing thunderbolts to James Cameron's movie Avatar.

AB, if we can be aware of something, we can think about it and understand it. We humans can fathom anything, we just have to put our minds to it.

Oh ye, of little faith.

Algebe's picture
@Agnostic believer: "how can

@Agnostic believer: "how can you explain the doctrine of the trinity"

Fascination with the number three is far older than Christianity. It occurs in the Sumerian, Babylonian, and Hindu religions.

I think three became an important number as soon as people started to build things. The triangle is an extremely strong and economical structure when building roofs. A tripod is the minimal structure for supporting things.

The real mystery of the Christian trinity of Sky-Daddy, Sonny-Boy and the Spook is why anyone would take it seriously.

JoC's picture
I think I see where the

I think I see where the confusion is coming from. You think the God is in time. The classical idea of God has him outside the realm of space and time. As such, it is very possible for him to see your future actions and your past actions together in one instant.

As to free will, the understanding is that God, by giving his creations free will, gave up the power to control human beings like robots. Would He still be all powerful? I would say Yes. Even if a person does evil, and evil happens that God isn't all-powerful. Say I pray that a friend of mine won't betray my trust. Then my friend does indeed betray my trust. Does it mean my prayer was in vain? One could say that it is. Another way to look at the situation is, was God able to bring about a greater good from this evil that my friend did? I could say, "Yes!" I know not to trust him anymore and that saves me a bunch of heartache in the future.

This is just a small little thing but the assumption you're making is that God could not have a good reason for allowing people to do evil things.

Algebe's picture
@JoC: "You think the God is

@JoC: "You think the God is in time."

I don't know whom this is addressed to, but I don't think god exists in time or out of it. If you look at the Bible, god definitely is in time. There are time references all over the place, starting with the seven days of creation. God also changes, which is a characteristic of an entity in time. One day he decided to create a universe. That's a change. He got angry and sent the flood. Another change. He lost his temper and smashed Sodom and Gomorrah. His creations continually go wrong, and he gets mad.

"God able to bring about a greater good from this evil that my friend did?"

Well that's called making a virtue out of necessity. Whatever god does or doesn't do in response to prayers can always be explained away as the part of the divine plan. So why even bother to pray?

JoC's picture
Actually, what we perceive as

Actually, what we perceive as God acting in time is because of our own limits since we exist is space and time. So when we see God acting in time, that would just be natural if He is actually causing things to happen.

How do I mean. Are you familiar with Flatland, which is inhabited by 2D shapes. Say a 3D person wants to interact with the flatlanders. If he does, he will actually still appear to the flatlanders as a 2D shape in their plane of existence. It does not necessarily follow that since they can be observed as acting ing the 2D plane that they are in 2D. They are in fact, 3D. But in order for the flatlanders to at least understand or grasp the idea of a 3D space, you need to do so in 2D terms.

"Well that's called making a virtue out of necessity. Whatever god does or doesn't do in response to prayers can always be explained away as the part of the divine plan."

Well, I need not understand the full picture of everything that happens as part of the divine plan. That's not something I need to bother myself with.

Algebe's picture
@JoC: "Are you familiar with

@JoC: "Are you familiar with Flatland"

Yes. I've read it. Are you aware that it's fiction? Are you suggesting that god is a 4th dimensional being who occasionally dips a finger or toe into our 3D pond? You seem to offering our inability to visualize this fourth dimension as proof of god's existence.

Nyarlathotep's picture
JoC - Are you familiar with

JoC - Are you familiar with Flatland

That is a terrible analogy. The 3d object can interact in flatland because it is composed of the 2 dimensions of flatland. But you told us that god is outside time. So his time derivative is always 0. Which at first looks good for your mythology:

Something with a time derivative of 0 can never change; and that meshes well with your mythology (Christians are always telling me god does not change). The problem is something with a time derivative of 0 can never act; and that does not match your mythology at all!
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I'll leave you with this testimonial: One of my mentors is a Catholic brother. Everytime someone says god exists outside time we have a good laugh, because of the above.

JoC's picture
It actually does not follow

It actually does not follow at all, Nyar. And I fail to see why the analogy of Flatland fails.

Nyarlathotep's picture
It is really simple. You said

It is really simple. You said god exists outside of space and time. Well guess what: our universe has space and time; which means god (as you described him) can not exist in it. That is why my friend who is a brother and I have a good laugh when some yo-yo says that god exists outside of space and time. You are putting huge restrictions on your deity.

JoC's picture
Not quite. See Flatland

Not quite. See Flatland analogy.

Nyarlathotep's picture
In flatland, you are

In flatland, you are projecting an object that has all the dimensions of flatland (plus an extra one) into flatland.

You are suggesting projecting an object into a space where the object is missing one of the dimensions of that space. If you do that, it won't magically gain that missing dimension.

In short: if you insist that god exists outside of time, you are saddeling him with a very serious restriction: that he can not change. Seems good a first, but if you can't change, you can't act.

I'm always surprised when some theists start piling huge restrictions onto their gods; it is unnecessary, and just makes the rest of us (atheists and theists!) laugh.

David Killens's picture
I see this often, apologists

I see this often, apologists attempting to place their god outside of time and space so it cannot be investigated. And it seems that challenging or questioning all the horrible things attributed to this god is somehow off-limits?

The thing is, this imaginary god is supposed to act on this world in the form of floods, and prayers. So maybe the actual being can not be investigated, but the effects on this planet can.

The thing is, prayer can be tested. And guess what, prayer has been debunked, it is not real, it does not work. Therefore, this imaginary being has zero effect on this planet. And until I can receive a little more realistic proof, I cannot believe in something that exists only in peoples imaginations.

JoC's picture
Actually, the idea of God

Actually, the idea of God being outside of space and time is the classical understanding of God. Plato and Aristotle understood this. So did Aquinas.

How can prayers be tested, I ask?

Say my nephew asks me for a gun and I don't give it to him. Does it mean I love him any less? Actually, it's because I love him do I deny his request. The thing is, we don't really know what things in our life are actually harmful or beneficial to us.

Nyarlathotep's picture
JoC - You think the God is in

JoC - You think the God is in time. The classical idea of God has him outside the realm of space and time.

That means god has a rate of change of 0; which means he can not act. Well I think we agree with you there at least!

JoC's picture
We disagree again. But I've

We disagree again. But I've actually learned to laugh off these things. How're you, Nyar?

Sapporo's picture
It is certainly clear that if

It is certainly clear that if god exists, it is no more benevolent than we are.

faith in God follower's picture
Well playing the devils

Well playing the devils advocate, I would have to say as a former Catholic that God is LOVE; If the Christian message is correct, then GOD shows his love and interest and compassion on humanity by sending his son to live and die among his creation for creation. God, Christians claim was Jesus, so I don`t think that you could put the state and quality of Jesus Christ life on the same par as the regular man and women. He was far more moral and loving and helping to assist humanity in such a short period of his life here on earth.(Only some 30 years only). You could see the attributes that are part of us living out the creation story that God has truly blessed us. Because we don`t deserve all that God blesses us with. Ever since the fall of creation humanity has been at enmity with God. But God still sends the sun and the rain he provides drinking water and cleaning water for our bodies he provides food for our nourishment, He provides medicine for us to heal and so on. he has graced us with air to breathe Just look at the oceans and a place like the Grand Cannon The mountains also look at something like fruit, how indeed beautiful and wonderful.

Algebe's picture
@Agnostic believer: "He

@Agnostic believer: "He provides medicine for us to heal and so on."

No. The medicines are created by scientists, researchers, and drug companies. According to the Bible, god only provides diseases, not cures.

faith in God follower's picture
I can see that you don`t know

I can see that you don`t know a lot about medicine since a lot of medicine comes from plants; plant life is responsible for some meds.

Algebe's picture
@Agnostic believer: "a lot of

@Agnostic believer: "a lot of medicine comes from plants"

Yes of course. The most famous example is probably aspirin from willow bark. So next time you get a headache, try chewing on a willow tree. The medicines don't just appear ready made. People have to discover the effects through research, experimentation, refinement, etc.

But it's funny you should mention plants. Did you know that the most advanced healers in medieval times were herbalists, also known as "wise women." And do you know that the Catholic church often burned them as witches?

Sapporo's picture
The Abrahamic god wiped out

The Abrahamic god wiped out almost the entire population of the Earth and ordered genocides. In Christianity and Islam, the Abrahamic god intends to torture most of humanity for eternity. To me, that is the opposite of LOVE.

Nyarlathotep's picture
agnostic believer - If the

agnostic believer - If the Christian message is correct

The postulate to trump all postulate.
-------------------------

agnostic believer - a place like the Grand Cannon

Don't shoot!

freeatlast's picture
@Algebe - you made my day!

@Algebe - you made my day! "Sky-Daddy, Sonny-Boy and the Spook". Priceless!!

David Killens's picture
Working on the assumption

Working on the assumption that there is an omnipotent god and that the bible is true, then my conclusion is that this deity is insecure, psychotic, impulsive, self-centered, murderous, something that does not come close to being caring or loving of people.

faith in God follower's picture
Oh common will you; God send

Oh common will you; God send himself to die for humanity can you grasp that, all that you enjoy now comes from god. How can you describe the almighty GOD in this way? All that we enjoy comes from GOD and you should be grateful for it. he has been patient and long suffering with us but time is winding down. One day he will return to make all things right. In his truth and justice. the book says we win.

Tin-Man's picture
@AB Re: Time

@AB Re: Time

Well, there is at least ONE thing you got right. Time IS winding down for every single one of us. Each and every second that ticks by is one that brings us that much closer to the end of our lives. And it is time we can never recover. Therefore, I would rather spend those precious seconds enjoying my time with my family and all the wonders this world has to offer. Sure as shit not gonna squander it by spending my days bowing and praying to some imaginary entity, and then wringing my hands and worrying about whether or not I've been "faithful enough" to fulfill its over-bloated ego and win its "blessings". But, hey, if that is what gets your juices flowing, then by all means, have a blast.

Qu@si's picture
what if his god already made

what if his god already made his decision and planned to put AB in hell? what if you're not good enough to enter the gates of heaven AB? what if you just love him and not love your enemy like what he said "love thy enemy"? like what T-man said, "faithful enough" have you been faithful enough?or your god wants more worship and stuffs like that?

what's it gonna be AB?

Sapporo's picture
Punishing someone innocent is

Punishing someone innocent is fundamentally immoral. There is no truth and justice in that. Is that supposed to be the action of an objectively moral being?

Lorac's picture
Well, actually, god sent his

Well, actually, god sent his only son to die for humanity. So it seems you don't have as good a grasp of your bible and gospels as you think you do. You may want to review them before you comment again.

Pages

Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.