Proof that there cannot be an omniscient God and free will
written by Bruce Gleason July 08
Free will can be a mind-bender for some people who contemplate the potential outcome of the possibility that God is not omniscient. I’ve tried to make this argument simple to understand so it can be used by other atheists to deeply inquire the beliefs of Christians.
For a moment, lets take for granted that there is a God, and that the Christian god is what Christians and the Bible describe him as – a god that is omniscient (all knowing) omnipotent (all powerful) and omnipresent. He knows where you’ve been, where you are and every step you will take in your life in the future. He knows where every atom in your body is at all times and knows your thoughts, even when you are dreaming. If this is true, then your life and everyone else’s has been pre-determined because an all-knowing god knows everything, past, present and future.
If you have free will, God cannot be omniscient. The argument for this follows.
Let’s imagine where you physically will be in exactly one year in the future. Let’s call this position X. Let’s consider just the decisions you make concerning local, or position for now, although this proof can also be used to consider physiological, emotional and intellectual aspects of your life as well.
An omniscient God already knows where you will be at position X in one year. An omniscient God would know every decision you will make to be at that exact position in one year, thousands of decisions, continuously. Since there are thousands of individual decisions you have to make to be at that exact physical position X in the future, and if God knows every decision you have made even before you make it, then god has predetermined every move you make – remember God knows where you are and where you’re going – every step of the way.
To put it another way, imagine your present position is represented by the base of a tree and there are millions of branches that you could follow if you HAD free will. God knows the final end of the branch you will be at in one year, Even though there are many choices you could make to be at any other branch by simply waiting a little longer to go to work, slowing down or speeding up in your car, or the thousands of other decisions you make during the year.
Here’s the argument against free will: If you had free will and changed just ONE of those thousands of decisions that God has really made, you would be not at position X in one year. You would be in a different place. Even if you are 5 seconds off that particular moment in EXACTLY one year and you were walking of traveling in any manner, you would be in a different physical place. You might be on the other side of the world for that matter.
Furthermore, God obviously knows not only where you will be, but where you are every second, every micro second of the way there. He knows each of your decisions that you have made to be where you are every step of the way. If you believe in an omniscient God, you have no free will, period. It’s like you are a metal ball rolling on tracks that have been designed just for you. He knows when that electrical signal between neurons are going to happen before you do.
If this is the case, and you are a Christian that truly believes God is omniscient, then you also must believe there is no judgement day, since god knows if you are going to heaven or hell before you are conceived – going back all the way to the big bang! The book is written for your life as it says in the bible in the following quotes. Its like you are a train on rails. You have no choices.
Even if you THINK you have freewill, god is really making all the decisions for you inside your head. Just because you FEEL that you are making your own decisions does not mean God is not in control of you.
Furthermore, if God new Adam and Eve would eat the fruit, then why blame Adam and Eve for sin? God knew it would happen! He set it up and knew the outcome beforehand. Original sin was created, designed and implemented by God, and God just played the human element with Adam and Eve, well-knowing the outcome. If this is the case, there is no reason for Jesus to be the saviour because we are not responsible for original sin and if we have no sin we do not have to be forgiven for anything The myth that every child has original sin is also eliminated. Eliminate baptismal services as well. Eliminate prayer as well. Since everythign is predetermined we cannot change fe future – so why pray? Who are we to ask God to change his mind about the future? The belief in an omniscient God leads to no free will, which leads to determinism, which leads to no sin, which leads to no reason for jesus to exist. In other words, there is indirect but strong contradiction between free will/determinism and the reason jesus exists.
IF you had free will to change the future – even if its just a few minor decisions, then you would be changing something in your future, therefore god doesn’t know the future therefore he cannot be omniscient therefore nothing is predetermined.
Therefore, if you believe in an omniscient God, then the entire idea of all the superstitions surrounding Christianity fall apart. There is no reason to be a Christian.
Of course, if you do not believe in a God then all bets are off. You CAN believe in free will. Atheists are people who take responsibility for themselves. We don’t believe in predetermism and we do not believe in any Gods. This lifestance frees the mind of superstitious thinking and allows one to act and behave for themselves, without any religious dogma threatening them with eternal damnation..
The argument some apologetics have that you can have free will and God can still be omniscient is that God can change his mind and give you free will and we can change our future ourselves by the decisions we make. They say that even thought we have free will god knows the decisions you are making on a decisions by decision basis. If this is true, then God can figure out the future by adding up all the little decisions he knows you will make to predict where you will be at in one year. This argument just adds the small decisions up into a predictions of the future. God still knows the future, and you have no free will. They also say that we have free will be God just knows the results. But according to the Bible God doesn’t just know, he predetermines it, he plans it, he fixes it – its HIS idea. My favorites are Eph 1:4, Eph 1:11, Roman 8:29, Psalms 139:16, Job 23:14, Prov. 20:24, Job 14:5, Act 17:26, Dan 11:36. If your Christian friends argue that god absolutely gave us free will, then point out the previous numerous verses Bible verses that says everything IS predetermined.
If you happen to cross a Christian on this subject – ask – “does god know when I will die?” “yes” is the answer. “What is food for?” “To live” is the answer. “Then if I don’t eat will I die before god has determined?”
If the answer is “God knows ahead of time if you would do that” Respond: “does that mean god knows that I will die at two different times? ” proving that that his/her last answer is flawed.
Some Christians would say – we have free will – God just knows the results. This argument can be easily destroyed by just cutting the time down as follows: if God konws when we will be in one year then he also must know where we will be in 3 months, or 3 weeks, or 3 days, or 3 minutes, or even the next 3 seconds. He knows all. So when someone says God just knows the result, then as “Does he know what you will say in the next 3 seconds? The answer will probably be yes, so how can he NOT know the future every second, every microsecond. If God knows what you will say next or do next then you DO NOT have free will. This is exactly what free will is!
In conclusion, you can’t have both an omniscient god and free will. It’s philosophically and religiously impossible. (we’ll leave ‘rational’ out for now) You must choose one or the other. More than likely, if you are a devout Christian, you cannot accept a God that is NOT omniscient, therefore you must accept that we have no free will, everything is pre-determined, and we cannot blame ourselves for anything because God has planned everything and is in control of everything. The challenge that apologetics have of proving we all have free AND there is an omniscient God will falls on its face when presented with this straight forward argument.