Almost three years ago I wrote a blog pointing out the logical impossibility of an omniscient, inerrant god coexisting with free will - see On The Logical Fallacy Of God's Inerrant Omniscience. Despite several comments varying in absurdity, and many comments demonstrating a lack of logical thinking, no one has yet managed to refute the logic of my argument.
It might be worth recapping the salient point again, to see if any believers can explain how these two central tenets of Christian dogma, which appear to be mutually contradictory, are logically consistent. Failing that, perhaps an explanation of how holding two mutually contradictory beliefs simultaneously is not indicative of intellectual dishonesty and of the self-deceiving nature of the mental process involved in religious faith.
- An omniscient (all-knowing) god would know every detail of your future, including the outcome of all decisions you will ever make. It will have known this for eternity. If not, then it isn't omniscient.
- An inerrant god would never be wrong so it cannot 'know' something which turns out to be untrue.
- Given these two conditions, it is not possible for you to make a decision which this god has not always known you will make.
- Given these two conditions, such a god can not 'know' a decision which you do not in fact make.
To apply this to a trivial, everyday example: suppose this god has always known that you will have eggs for breakfast tomorrow. Can you chose not to have eggs and have cereal, or toast or waffles, or anything else instead, or even decide to skip breakfast altogether? If you do, this god cannot be omniscient. If you can't, you do not have free will.
Remember, this god can't, as some have argued, 'know' all your possible decisions so whichever you chose will be right. This would mean that whatever decision you make, the god would be wrong about all the others. In fact, given that there are masses of possible 'right' answers for every real right one, it would be far more often wrong than right - which is never good for the reputation of an 'omniscient' god.
But, if you believe in a god like this and also believe you have free will, how can you do something your god hasn't always known you will do? If you can't, in what sense of the word 'free' do you have free will?
Here then is a simple challenge for Christians (Muslims and Jews who believe in the same god might like to try it too):
Give a single example of someone exercising free will by not doing something an omniscient, inerrant, eternal god would always have known they would do.Simple, eh? All you have to do is to give a single example of something happening that is central to your faith, and which you have probably taken for granted.
Or give a single example of someone exercising free will by doing something an omniscient, inerrant, eternal god would not always have known they would do.
Why is this important?
Because, if the Christian god isn't omniscient it doesn't know what's going on and is not in control of the Universe. Such a god is not worth praying to because, to change events it would have to be aware of them and in full control of them. This god would be a mere observer, having no more power than the spectators at a ball game have.
If you don't have free will, then everything about the Universe is pre-determined. It makes not one iota of difference what you do or say and you cannot be held responsible for anything you do, let alone be accountable for the 'original sin'. There is no 'sin', no need for you to seek 'redemption', no need for forgiveness of sin, and so no reason for Jesus. Whatever you do or say was merely what you were predestined to do or say.
Curiously, this is actually pretty much what the Bible says too:
So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them.
All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.
As it is with the good, so with the sinful; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them.
This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. Anyone who is among the living has hope — even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.
In other words, unless you can meet this simple challenge and resolve the fatal contradiction between free will and an omniscient, inerrant god, you have no basis for your faith because your faith has no basis and the Bible has lied about one or the other, or both.
The other little problem for Christians (and Muslims and Jews for that matter) is that if the presence of an omniscient god means there is no free will, then that also holds true for gods. An omniscient god must also exist in a predestined Universe and so would have no free will either.
A god with no free will is no god at all. A god with no free will cannot have decided to create anything.
Another little problem for Christians of course, is that if they can't answer these questions they are showing the world, even if they can't admit it to themselves, that they know their 'faith' is phoney.