Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – my favorite dead horse to beat on: free will and predetermination

Christians often want their free will but to also claim that everything is their god’s will and that predestination is in play.  We can start off with the common definitions of both terms.

Free will: “is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded”

Predestination:  equivalent to predeterminism: “all events are determined completely by previously existing causes”  – both definitions from Wikipedia.

One can of course try to use philosophical nonsense to try to split hairs but I find these to be quite universal.


Christians claim that Christians are corrupted and their version of their god is the only source of salvation.  Verses often cited for each are: 1.  Psalm 53:3; Romans 3:12; Ecclesiastes 7:29.  And 2. John 6:44; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:19

To set the stage we need to examine these two claims.  Both types of Christians claim that humans are “corrupted” and need “saved”.   Corrupted by what or who?  Saved by what and how?

The bible has that a snake was in the garden, a garden that this god claimed was perfect.  This indicates that either the snake was considered necessary aka perfect or that this god wasn’t telling the truth.  Some Christians claim it was satan, some don’t, claiming a literal animal.  We also have Jews having their own opinions and these even nuttier folks, Noahides, which are either Jews who think that their god gave just Noah a certain set of laws or Gentiles who need an excuse feel extra special and to ignore the laws in the bible they find inconvenient but who find JC as a failure since there is no evidence for the character.  Always leave it to humans to find a smaller pond to imagine they are a big fish in.

We have this god insisting that humans not find about good or evil, threatening death on the day that they would eat the fruit.  Not death in the far future, death was, essentially, immediate.   The snake/satan countered this claim with what was evidently the truth, since neither Adam nor Eve died that day.  Eve, with the knowledge of good and evil *equivalent* to that of this god, decided that it was a good thing to give the fruit to Adam, who, having no reason to doubt her, accepted it and ate it.  Per some Christians, the knowledge of good and evil corrupted Adam and Eve in some manner.  If it didn’t corrupt this god, why would it corrupt them?

We also have the problem that this god, rather than forgiving Adam and Eve right then, starts a several millennium process of pain and misery for no reason.  It is for no reason since many, if not most, Christians, claim how forgiving their god is.

Then this god tries to correct things and fails repeatedly, an odd thing for a supposedly omniscient/omnipotent god.  It is only after millennia that this god decides it needs a blood sacrifice, like any other Bronze Age god.  It is only by a very poor attempt at “reinterpreting” the bible that we get that this god had any idea of doing this sacrifice early on.

It’s honest of some Christians that they admit that Christians don’t agree on some very basic things.  They directly contradict each other and since none of them can show that they have the one “truth”, and they cannot do what their bible promises they can do, there is no reason to accept the apologetics from either side for their supposed “truth” and attacks on each other.  All they have is baseless opinion that they all claim is supported by their god and told to them by the “holy spirit”.  This includes the vastly diverging ideas of free will and predestination.

If this god is picking and choosing which humans can accept it and then damning those it doesn’t choose for no fault of their own, then there is no free will.  A controlling force, especially an omnipotent one, eliminates free will, no matter what contradictory nonsence the bible says in other places.

Some Christians, in their attempt to make believe that these contradictory claims are not, illustrate what apologetics is all about, lying and trying to make sense out of nonsense.  It is trying to make up excuses why we shouldn’t take the bible as it is written but to try to assign some other intent that we have no evidence for.  It is built on presupposition that this god is real and *must* make sense, no matter how much the believer has to add to the mythos, and to differ from his fellow Christians.

Of course, when it is pointed out that this god damns people left and right, then the Christian claims that since the bible says that this god wants “everyone” to come to it, well, that part must be true too!  They can’t ignore one part over another since they’ve been told that *all* of the bible is their god’s word, so somehow, they have to make them work together.  They can’t accept that the bible is just a set of books by people who didn’t believe in the same things.

The verse cited from 2 Peter 3, arguing for a god that wants everyone to come to it, is problematic for our Christians, either the free will or predestination sides.  It’s a great excuse why this god hasn’t returned yet, to try to claim that this god “really” wants to give people all of the time they need to “come to repentance”.   The entire passage reads as such: “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you,[b] not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.”

As I’ve pointed out before, Christians usually only cite verse 9 and do their darndest to ignore the rest, intentionally leaving out the important context.  This causes all sorts of issues with how Christians want to claim the bible is literal in some parts but not in others.  How does this match up with the Genesis claims of a seven-day week of creation?  How does this work with JC’s claim that he’ll be back within the lives of people he is speaking to?  Well, it doesn’t since it flatly contradicts those claims.  This god should have been back long ago if days are literally 24 hours periods, but as we know, Christians don’t agree on that either.  If this god counts a millennium as a day in its experience, then seven days would have been 7,000 years, and if JC meant he’d be back in the number of millennia that the days of a human generation would be (around 20-30 years) that would be, conservatively, 7,300 days or 7,300 millennia aka 7,300,000 years.   This is the very silly number one gets when apologists want to pick and choose what they want words to mean.

Another common verse used as an excuse is from John 12, which causes more problems with its gnostic claims of a “ruler of the earth” which directly contradicts with Christians who claim that everything is their god’s will here on earth.  Either this god is responsible for everything or not.  Christians can’t cherry pick their way to having their cake and eating it too.

So, having established this background, we go on to the claim that predestination and free will can work together.

If this god is responsible for everything *and* wants every person to be saved, then an omnipotent being can have anything it wants.  If this god needs this, it can have everything it needs by definition.  If this god picks and chooses, then this god has what it wants and needs.  Free will has no place in the bible.  A god would have no reason to deny itself.  Indeed, it kills people repeatedly because it wants it to happen because an omnipotent god would not need anything.  It literally can’t fail at a task unless it chooses to.

There are a couple of verses in the bible that contradict completely free will.  They are in Romans 9 and Matthew 13.  Both state that this god prevents some people from accepting it before we were even born.  Full stop.  No exceptions at all.  Some Christians accept these verses as stated, some try to claim they mean something else than what is literally written.  JC and Paul, if they existed, say that this god needs to show off, so it damns some people so it has something to hurt as an example to the people it chose to allow to accept it.  Which makes sense how?  Why would anyone need an example made of others if it was so obvious about this god?

The Christians who don’t like such an authoritarian god try to add things to their bible so they can invent a god that is more in their image.  They insist that the context is “incomplete”, which is rather embarrassing for a “perfect” god and its supposed words.  They insist on ignoring the parts of the bible that don’t work with their new god. The parts about election and predestination are suddenly declared not true, though no where in the bible does it say that somehow those parts are null and void if you just don’t happen to like them.  All it has is contradictory verses that each Christian picks and chooses to determine their very own “truth”.

We have the following which says that predestination, not free will is what goes:

11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this] is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.” – Ephesians (predestined/predetermined to accept/praise this god)

15 For he says to Moses,“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”16 So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses.

19 You will say to me then, “Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; 23 and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?) Romans 9  (the classic might equals right morality, that no one can question this god for abusing others to impress those he chose from their creation).

This god does not allow people to do what they want and then accept them for what they’ve done, it chooses them before they’ve done anything.  And this choice, commonly called “grace” by Christians, isn’t something that people earn.  Thus there is no free will, no action that will determine what will happen.  And when we go back to the definitions of free will and predestination at the top, we see that there is no free will allowed “all events are determined completely by previously existing causes”  aka this god.

Some Christians try their hardest to pretend that if their god knows who we will become out of free will, then his choice of us to allow us to accept him is free will.  However, this doesn’t work as soon as this god interferes in what we do.  As we see, this god made the choice before we existed to make choices, not the other way around, that this god made his choice after we existed.  That would be free will, and this god’s choice being dependent on *whatever* we did with no interference.

Again, predestination: all events are determined completely by previously existing causes. Free will: is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded

The argument of the Christian only works if the bible is full of lies and this god never interferes.

“I believe that predestination and free will work together in ways that are both glorious and mysterious.”

Unsurprisingly, the Christian will claim that it’s “mysterious” at the end of it all. This is the default excuse when Christian fails.

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