A story already written?

Just a quick thought today about predestination vs. free will. It’s a not uncommon argument that if God knows everything that’s going to happen, that that somehow means we don’t have free will. That reality is already written and we’re just working from a script.

Well, if I see a child reaching for a live power line and I don’t stop that child, I pretty much know what the future is going to be. But in no way have a removed the free will of that child to electrocute himself.

It’s a crude example, but applicable. First off, just because God knows what we’re going to do doesn’t mean we didn’t choose to do it. If God can see the future, that doesn’t mean he made that future happen.

Second off, I’m not entirely sure he needs to know what our individual actions are to know what’s going to happen. Does God really know every single thing we’re about to do, or does he just have enough of a long-term view and enough experience with reality to know that despite what some individual folks do, certain things are going to play out in a certain way regardless because of the mass of humanity pushing things forward?

Finally, maybe God can know everything that is going to happen but chooses not to. Sounds weird, I know, but maybe He chooses not to know what I am going to do five minutes from now so that He can be surprised. But perhaps he can move forward in time to see what events transpire when needed or desired.

Again, just some random crap. I didn’t really expect to be posting today, but Miz Pink says she has something a bit more detailed in mind than her previous posts and needs another day or two. 😉

16 Responses to “A story already written?”

  1. 1 James Black
    June 27, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Are you serious? If God is ALL Knowing, that means he knows thoughts before they become reality. So, I disagree with your statement of “I’m not entirely sure he needs to know what our individual actions are to know what’s going to happen. Does God really know every single thing we’re about to do, or does he just have enough of a long-term view and enough experience with reality to know that despite what some individual folks do, certain things are going to play out in a certain way regardless because of the mass of humanity pushing things forward?”

  2. 2 Deacon Blue
    June 27, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    But is He all knowing about everything that hasn’t happened yet, or merely all knowing about every thing happening now and in the past, down to the subatomic level?

    My point is that He could very well be able to discern future outcomes without knowing exactly how every single person will behave at a future point. And some would argue that if God already knows our future actions, maybe we don’t have free will after all.

    This is sticky stuff when you start trying to sort of free will from predetermination.

  3. August 26, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    >But in no way have a removed the free will of that child to electrocute himself.<

    Come on, confess the awful truth – YOU wouldn’t let children electrocute themselves, whether or not they wanted to. But your imaginary god, in your mind, DOES let it’s children electrocute themselves. And not only does your god let its children kill themselves, it allows them to kill it’s other children.

    And your other assertion, that your god doesn’t need to know everything humans will do in advance to what will happen in the future, sounds less like the mind of an omnipotent god, and more like the mind of an ordinary human.

    Neither you nor I can know the individual actions of each human being on this planet. Yet we know that eventually our planet is going to cease to exist, and all human life here will be extinguished. We know that some people in Iraq will blow themselves up for at least the next several months, without knowing precisely who those people will be. We know some people in the U.S. will die in auto accidents, even though who those people will be is a secret to us.

    You’ve simply projected yourself onto your concept of what your god is.

    In reality, the one you don’t want to admit exits, everything that happens makes sense when you remove the concept of god. That is, when mom and dad aren’t around to stop them, kids can and have electrocuted themselves. YOU wouldn’t let that happen if you knew saw a kid about to be electrocuted. Why would your god allow that – in reality or as a metaphor – to happen to it’s children? Unless, of course, your god is a morally perverted creature. In that case, yes, your god would allow a child – it’s children – to electrocute themselves. You wouldn’t allow it, but your imaginary god would.

    You don’t believe your god is perverted. But you also simultaneously believe it would do perverted things. So your assertions can’t about the nature of god, the existence of god, can’t be trusted, because you contradict yourself.

    When you let go of the contradictory concept of an all-powerful god, or even a semi-powerful god, you will have free will.

  4. 4 Deacon Blue
    August 26, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Dave, you completely and utterly missed the fucking point.

    This post was about free will and predestination. As so my example was to show how an all-knowing God doesn’t mean we lack free will.

    Of course the example is crude. It’s a fucking metaphor! And it was to make a specific point.

    Of course I wouldn’t let a child electrocute him or herself. That wasn’t the point.

    You can sit there and say that an all-powerful God who doesn’t prevent us from being harmed is a cruel concept but what would you like for the alternative? A God who moves us all around like chess pieces and uses us a puppets?

    You also miss the point that in a situation of an all-powerful God, the major point isn’t life on this world but the eternity thereafter.

    Look, I understand that you obviously don’t share my beliefs, but if you are going to pick apart my examples and points, please have the decency to do so IN CONTEXT instead of going off on a side-rant and misusing my metaphor for your own argument.

  5. August 26, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    I can’t help it if the best you can come up with a crude metaphor. It’s your metaphor, after all. If it doesn’t apply to what your are really trying to say, why use it?

    You can’t see it, but I did answer your point. An all-knowing god means we don’t have free will. All-knowing doesn’t mean – except in your mind – less than all-knowing. You, though, want words to mean other than what they do mean.

    >You can sit there and say that an all-powerful God who doesn’t prevent us from being harmed is a cruel concept but what would you like for the alternative? A God who moves us all around like chess pieces and uses us a puppets?<

    Psst….from my point of view, there is no god. No eternity thereafter, either. Personally, I like it that way. For me, it adds more meaning to the life I have, makes the one, brief life I have more valuable, because its existence is finite.

    Even if there is an all-powerful god, there is no reason to assume – although you seem to – that there would be an eternity thereafter for humans, anymore than there would be an eternity thereafter for cockroaches, or a piece of granite.

    You just happen to have a belief system that is inherently illogical, and so the best you can come up with is, by your own admission, a crude metaphor. In reality, there is not conflict between predestination and free will, because there is no all-powerful force – a god – that has created one or the other, or both conditions.

    When you realize there is no god, much that happens around us – floods, wars, even kids electrocuting themselves – makes a lot more sense.

    But that’s just my thinking about the nature of reality. You threw your ideas out there and offered everyone a chance to respond, and I have.

  6. 6 Deacon Blue
    August 26, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Pardon me that my metaphor isn’t perfect.

    Are all metaphors elegant?

    Metaphors are by their nature generally simplistic ways to make a point.

    They are by nature limited.

    You still hijacked it to make a side point.

    As for your other points, I’ll take some time to think about them. Wouldn’t want to respond to you with anything too crude for you to take seriously now, would I?

  7. August 26, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    I’ll await your response.

    In the meantime, here’s how I found my way to your blog, from this web page, where you left a link to yours:


    and where you wrote:

    >But I did talk a little bit about the predestination vs. free will matter in my own blog here:


    I’ll be back as soon as I can with some insight on the other stuff.<

    You invited people to this web page, and I took you up on your invitation. You want to think I’ve hijacked the conversation – I think I’m spot on and I think you don’t want to face reality.

    You say your “crude” (your term, not mine) metaphor is applicable to the discussion of free will and predestination. I agree, it is applicable, but I don’t think its crude. I think it helps us understand why an all-powerful god, if it exists, is an immoral god, one that allows some of its children to metaphorically electrocute themselves. The god you believe in does what you yourself would not do. It’s either that, or your god is not all-knowing.

    Or there IS no god.

  8. 8 Deacon Blue
    August 28, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Dave, just want you to know (if you’re still around) that I’m not ignoring you. Just been too busy with client work and blog posting to really dig into your comments. Responding to the meat of your comments, as opposed to my irritation over the metaphor thing, would be ill advised after only just skimming your stuff…you clearly have some points you want to make and I don’t want to ignore them, even if I end up disagreeing with them. I’ll try to have a real comment by the weekend sometime if I can.

  9. 9 thewordofme
    July 31, 2009 at 2:26 am

    Christians are all the time telling me how the great melodrama of the bible is going to end. You know the thing with the anti-Christ and Armageddon, the return of Christ, the rapture and all the associated prophecy that Christians have lived with and proselytized about for many, many generations.

    All of this leads me to believe that there is no free-will. Sure there is slight wiggle room for small individual actions, but the grand sweep of future history and how things are to be…is guided by God. So there is limited free-will, but to the Christian there is no escaping the melodrama that god also started up when he created us. Not to mention that they live under the onus of priestly guilt inducing pronouncements that if they wander from the path they will die forever in excruciating pain.

    How much free-will does anybody actually have after all this?

    The Christians however suck it up and smile and proselytize and wander around with a guilty look knowing that God is looking over their shoulder and constantly judging them. 🙂

  10. 10 Deacon Blue
    July 31, 2009 at 10:39 am

    I’m not saying you’re wrong about how many Christians approach this, but I don’t personally. Yes, there is a culmination to the Bible story, but that isn’t the end of all things. It is the end of separation of earthly and heavenly things. It is very much a beginning of many other things to come, and not things that will involve tons of guilt or much other negativity.

    One can certainly argue that God having a set end point sharply limits our free will, but we make decisions independently of God all the time. And having a framework in which we operate that is somewhat set and has a clear endpoint isn’t as onerous as you might want to make it out to be.

    If you’re on a project at work, there is a set goal and endpoint. You have responsibilities and people looking over your shoulder. But do you feel as though you have been robbed of your free will in such a process?

  11. 11 thewordofme
    July 31, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Hi Deacon, I hope you and the family are well.

    I haven’t got all of it sorted out yet, but doesn’t the great Satan already know he’s going to loose the big battle ahead, and hasn’t he visited heaven several times after declaring war on the Big Guy? And doesn’t he know what God plans to do with him at the end of the battle?

    It seems to me, dumb as I am, that someone with a modicum of brains would just give up the battle and start kissing ass, rather than go down to certain defeat and being thrown in the pit. The story really does reek of silliness and almost pre-historic thought patterns.

    Do you honestly think there is a Satan who is competing with a God for worshipers and the favor of humankind? And if so….why?

  12. 12 Deacon Blue
    August 1, 2009 at 12:19 am

    Well, there are any number of reasons Satan might go that route (and yes, I believe in Satan, too).

    1. He thinks that God can be beaten. He doesn’t hold to the idea that what the Bible says is set in stone. He thinks he can turn the tables.

    2. He doesn’t believe God would forgive him, so he doesn’t try to kiss ass.

    3. He hates God and humans so much that he simply doesn’t care.

    Those are just three off the top of my head, without putting much deep thought into things.

    Incidentally, I don’t think Satan is competing for favor. I think he is trying to hurt God by leading as many people away from God as possible. Revenge and anger are powerful things. I’ve seen plenty of humans do some pretty self destructive and stupid things over hit. Multiply that human pride to the Nth degree, for a being more cocky and self-interested than any human who ever lived, and I think it’s pretty reasonable to think the hubris and ego will lead to just the kind of behavior ascribed to Satan in the Bible…past, present and future.

  13. 13 5POINTER
    October 26, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Well this is very interesting and i appreciate your input i just have a few questions?

    1. do you have any biblical evidence of your stance?
    2. if we have the free will to choose then how can we choose to become christians when the bible says that “no one seeks god” Rom. 3:11

  14. 14 Deacon Blue
    October 26, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    Hi, 5POINTER:


    1. do you have any biblical evidence of your stance?

    About the same amount probably as people who say that all of our fates are pre-written by God and that we cannot choose what happens to us. Which is why this is a topic of such heated debate at times within Christians circles, and outside of them as well.

    But let’s just boil it down to this: The Bible tells us that God desires that everyone be saved.

    This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Tim 2: 3, 4

    The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9)

    So, if God WANTS all to be saved, and He writes out all of our destinies ahead of time, then why wouldn’t he simply arrange for all of us to find grace? The Bible is clear that some people (many, in fact) will be damned.

    There are only two truly logical answers to that that resonate with me. One, he DOESN’T rubber stamp our fates and we truly DO have complete full will. Or, two, He is cruel and insane. I don’t much like the second choice, nor do I think it meshes well with God as He approaches people overall in the Bible.

    2. if we have the free will to choose then how can we choose to become christians when the bible says that “no one seeks god” Rom. 3:11

    That passage is somewhat out of context, when you consider that it follows “none are righteous, not one.”

    The notion is that humans cannot measure up to God’s standards, and that is why we need Jesus as the bridge between the human and the divine.

    But more broadly, the notion that no one seeks God would have to be hyperbolic. I mean, people seek after God all the time. The problem is that they don’t seek Him fully. They always hold back some part of themselves, or hold on to some sin, or won’t do all that they are supposed to do.

  15. 15 Josh
    June 5, 2011 at 12:42 am

    One thing about your blog post. You didn’t back any of it up with scripture. Only common sense arguments. The entire bible defies common sense.

  16. June 9, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I disagree. The Bible doesn’t defy common sense. Many things in there are common sense, and other things complement common sense. Logic and faith can coexist. After all, they coexist in me.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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