F Rosa Rubicondior: November 2010

Friday, 5 November 2010

On Omniscience and Freewill

Despite my blog exposing the logical fallacy of an inerrantly omniscient god and free will, it seems the full implications of this have gone unnoticed by many.

Let’s recap:

We are discussing the god of the Bible which Christians, Jews and Moslem all regard as omniscient (all-knowing) and whom they believe has granted mankind free will.

Following from this is the idea that, by exercising this free will, mankind committed the ultimate sin of disobeying God and must now seek God’s forgiveness. God does not pre-ordain our decisions so we bear sole responsibility for our own actions and are accountable to God for them. At the same time, God is all knowing and inerrant and so knows everything with absolute certainty. He knows everything about the past, present and future and is never wrong, ever.

Christians, Jews and Muslims and their various sects all believe they alone know the special secrets for gaining this god’s forgiveness for this supposed supreme sin of disobeying God. The only way to achieve this is by joining them, accepting their dogmas and following their rituals.

Furthermore, mankind knows about this sin, about God’s inerrant omniscience, about mankind’s free will and about the need for forgiveness, because it’s all written down in a book either written by, dictated by or inspired by this inerrant (and perfect) god, so it too is inerrant and absolutely true.

Surprisingly though, a simple question which can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” answer seems to put Christians, Jews and Muslims all into the same flat panic.

The simple question is:

If God has always known what you will have for breakfast tomorrow, can you choose to have something else instead?

So what exactly is the problem here?

Let’s consider the possible answers:

Answer 1. Yes.

Ah! Then something can happen that God didn’t know about, so God is not omniscient or inerrant. God got it wrong, and god didn’t know your eventual choice.

And the Bible is wrong about the god described in it.


Answer 2. No.

Ah! So you can't chose to do something other than what God has known you’ll do, and had known for ever that you’ll do, even from before he (so it is believe) created you.

In that case, God’s inerrant omniscience means you don't have free will and your actions have all been pre-determined for you by God’s prior knowledge of your actions. In effect, you are no different to an automaton.

And, as a mere automaton of course, you can’t be held responsible for you actions. Accountability lies with the person controlling you – which is er... God.

And that means all this stuff about human disobedience, sin and needing to beg God for forgiveness is wrong.


So how to resolve this paradox?

Well, we could always argue that this God isn’t actually inerrantly omniscient. That restores human free will and our accountability for our own actions, but where does it leave God?

It leaves God as someone who is less than perfect, who makes mistakes and doesn’t actually know everything. In fact, it makes God unfit to judge us humans and condemn us for making mistakes, being less than perfect and not knowing everything. In fact, it places God on an equal footing to humans.

Perhaps there are Christians, Muslims and Jews who can accept that, but where does it leave the Bible?

The Bible is no longer the inerrant word of an omniscient god. In fact it’s wrong on at least one, if not both, the central tenets of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It’s either wrong about the nature of God, or about human free will, or both. Moreover, the moral judgement of the god described in it is now in question. This god has apparently judged humans to be sinful when it is also capable of doing wrong. Let him who is without guilt cast the first stone.

The Bible is no more reliable as a guide to truth and morality than had it been written by mere humans, (which of course is precisely who wrote it and why it can be safely dismissed as a guide to truth and morality).

Clearly there is no satisfactory way to resolve this problem.

And the entire foundation of three major world religions has just collapsed under its own internal contradiction. The thread upon which the whole edifice dangled has just vanished, if you'll excuse a slightly mixed metaphor.

And, when you ask a Christian, Jew or Moslem that simple little question, requiring a simple yes or no answer, you will quickly discover that either they have never thought about the central tenets of their ‘faith’, or they are only too well aware of the lie at the heart of it. They will either blunder into an answer, and then squirm as you point out the implication of it, or, much more likely, they will wriggle and squirm and do anything but give an honest answer.

A very nice example of this can bee seen at Chirpstory - Christian Dishonesty where a fundamentalist Christian starts off confidently answering a question until he realises where it's leading, then nothing will induce him to give a straight yes or no answer to a simple question. Clearly he knows whichever answer he gives will expose the lie he knows exists at the very heart of his 'faith'.

These latter ones are the ones who are well aware that their professed ‘faith’ is a lie. These will usually be the ones who are actively trying to persuade others into believing something they know to be false. These will be those proudly pious people who make smugly condescending pronouncements about the shortcomings of others and about their special relationship with God and how this gives them a short-cut to knowledge which is unquestionably superior to that gained through diligent learning and reason. They may also be the priests, pastors, preachers, clerics, rabbis, imams and other snake-oil salesmen who have a vested interest in trying to control you through the fear and superstition they themselves know to be untrue.

These will be the ones claiming to know the magic spells, rituals and incantations which will help you gain this god’s forgiveness; a forgiveness they know to be unnecessary for a guilt they know to be unjustified from a god they know does not exist.

This central logical contradiction at the heart of all the Abrahamic, guilt-based religions betrays their human origins and the desire to exert control over others which motivated them.

And it takes only a simple little question to expose the many charlatans who feast off the opportunities it creates for controlling others and the many phoney pious Christians, Muslims and Jews who know their 'faith' is a lie but none-the-less continue to piously profess it because it allows them to pose as superior to the rest of us.

These morally bankrupt Atheists (for that is what they are) are a disgrace to humanity. As a fellow Atheist I am ashamed of them and their moral degeneracy. As a human being I am angry at the harm they've done to people, to human culture and to the societies they've perverted for their own nefarious purposes.

We can be better than that. For the sake of humanity we should do better than that.

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