Posted 05 November 2009 - 02:24 AM
I like the simple way in which Dr. Roy Elseth answered many possible objections to my question.
In his book Did God Know, he has a chapter entitled, Does God Need Products Liability Insurance?
There he says:
"If a Detroit automobile manufacturer puts a car on the market which he knows to have a steering defect which will cause the death of thousands of people, it does not take much intellignence to know who is responsible. Oviously the producer of the car, the manufacturer, would be held liable in almost every court in the land. But, when a God who built the earth, planted man and life on it, knowing with certainty that the entire production was going to steer off into the direction of sin and destruction be any less liable? Does it make any sense, further, for God to declare His creation good immediately after the creation of man knowing full well it had a certain defect? That clearly is false advertising and misrepresentation. If these facts are true, God would not have a prayer in any just court of law. God would be culpable."
He then begins to raise the first objection that was raised in reply to my question:
"Wait, you say! In defense of God you contend that man and a car are different because man has a free will and a car does not. Therefore the burden of guilt is shifted from God to man because man sinned by his free will. You might argue that we cannot blame God simply because He knew definitely that man was going to sin. You might say God's certain knowledge of man's sin did not cause man to sin.
The difficulty in this case revolves around two theological words: "foreknowledge" and "predestination." If we say that all men are "predestined" -- that is, foreordained, planned, determined or fated, then man has no free choice. You would be a mere robot (or car) and in the above law suit could not in any way be held liable. It could make no difference whether you cheated, murdered, or raped because whatever you did would have been foreordained and planned anyway. There can be no sin if one is not free to sin or not to sin. There can be no virtue, rewardability or punishment for what cannot be prevented from happening.
Most theologians opt for a second possibility -- that man has free choice and is not "predestined," yet God knows with absolute certainty what man is going to do (defined by most as "foreknowledge"). If man has free choice not previously known by God , however, the Almighty appears to be limited. Thus to protect God's power and man's free choices, Bible scholars such as Augustine have concluded God's "foreknowledge" does not affect man's free will.
This conclusion is made with one glaring problem unanswered. That is, how is it possible to have "foreknowledge" without "predestination"? How is it possible for God to have absolute certain knowledge of future events without those events being planned or predestined by Him? In solution to this problem we must analyse two additional questions: First, is knowledge transcendent? And secondly, is it possible for facts to have pre-existence?
By asking if knowldedge is transcendent, we mean simply, if God has a fact in mind, does that fact in His mind cause you to partake in some action? Suppose we say God knows you will rob a bank two days from now. Does His knowledge cause you to rob the bank? If we say "yes," then knowledge would be transcendent and we would be fated and, in effect, predestined. We would have no choice whether to rob the bank or not to rob the bank. Again we would have the problem of fatalism ("whatever you do really doesn't matter" syndrome). Furthermore, God would be implicated as an assessory to the bank robbery because of the causative effect of His knowledge. This would be taking Calvinism to its extreme...
Once again in order to circumvent the problem, of blaming God for sin, and of eliminating man's free will, most thinkers conclude that God's knowledge is not transcendent or causative. Rather than eliminating problems, however, this leads to several additional difficulties. First, if knowledge is not transcendent, how is it possible (assuming I am completely free) that I can accurately act out precisely what God foresees? Where do I obtain the data, which is contained only in God's mind, that has no causative influence on me? Where do I get this information so that I can act it out? Or is this is not the case and God simply knows what we are going to do without our "acting," where does He obtain the information about my not yet made choices? Again, assuming I am completely free and that I am the originator of my own choices, how would it be possible for God to know my choices before I made them unless He had planned or predestined such choices? My decisions would be certain and unchangeable even before I made them! Under these conditions, Adam would not have had to sin in order to fulfill God's foreknowledge" of Adam's sin would have been inaccurate. By this reasoning one can only come to the logical conclusion that Evodius, Augustine's student, came to 1600 years ago, that if God knows the future, man is not free.
This leads to the second major question. Is it possible for knowledge or facts about future free-actions to be pre-existent? In other words, is it possible for God to know my future choices if they are truly free? Do I myself create my own thoughts? If I do, then how is it possible for God to know my thoughts before I, who created those thoughts, even exist? Is it certain I will think the thoughts He has known that I will think even before I am born? This is the key to the entire debate: Can a fact exist before the event occurs or the idea is thought upon which the fact is hinged? Although it sound nonsensical, can a fact exist before it exists?
Let's go back to the bank robbery. In order for God to foresee the robbery two days before it happened (again making the assumption I am free and that ideas cannot emerge from a non-being), where did God obtain the facts that are not yet facts? If I did not yet choose the future choice of robbing the bank which He presently sees, and certainly a morally pure God would not choose such an event as a bank robbery (or murder of a little girl), where did such facts come from? How can God know my future free choices without my will being forced either by Him or some other being? To say that He does have knowledge of such choices yet we are still free to originate those choices is just as logical as saying, "My mother gave birth to me two days before I was born!" God would have had a fact before the existence of that fact, a logical absurdity.
The problem of harmonizing "foreknowledge" of God and the free will of man is overwhelming. It is a theological antinomy. This contradiction can be accepted, however, if one is willing to lay in the mud pit of subjectivity and completely ignore rational intelligence. There have been many men who have done just that. Augustine in a moment of honesty admitted that he was perplexed by the problems his theory presented. John Calvin, who agreed with Augustine, never offered proof as to how God could remain blameless while at the same time "predestinating" men to hell. John Wesley, who taught "foreknowledge" without the evils of "predestination" simply ignored the above problems. Jonathan Edwards believed in the Augustine-Calvin position -- believing that some men are planned for heaven and some are planned for hell. Edwards rightly suggested that to believe in "foreknowledge" without believing in "predestination" is a flat contradiction. Yet Edwards, too, faltered when trying to explain how God could be pure and faultless while at the same time condemning men to eternity in hell -- even before they were born.
If you are logical, you cannot reject "predestination" (as commonly defined) while accepting "foreknowledge" or visa versa. They logically cannot be separated. You must accept both or accept neither. Some have thrown an additional barb into the argument by saying God lives outside of time, and although this does not solve the man's free will versus God's "predestination" question, it attempts to explain the pre-existence of facts to God. This is not a characteristic of the God taught about in the Judeo-Christian Bible, however, the God of the Scriptures makes new decisions in specific points in time, can be angered at certain times, and can be elated with joy at other times. The Bible must be accepted on its face value or literal value. The evidence is overwhelming that God lives in an endless duration and succession of time. He faces consecutive moments just as you and I do."
But in spite of Dr. Elseth's impressive research and reasoning on "foreknowledge" and predestination", even he doesn't seem to see that if God had never created man or the one who became the devil, in the first place, then sin or rebellion against God would never have existed. Keeping this fact in mind, I might say it is impossible for any honest and sane mind to avoid the conclusion that God is ultimately the cause of all sin and rebellion against Himself.
If this conclusion is wrong, then I would like for someone to point out to me where it is wrong. So far, though, everyone here who has attempted to make it seem as if God is not the ultimate cause of sin and rebellion has not been able to do so without appearing dishonest, unreasonableeither, or ignorant, to some extent or another, of what I have said and/or asked.