Would you please help me explain...
#1
Question 
to my 17-year-old son how we can have free will, even though God knows everything that’s going to happen? 

Thanks!
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#2
Wow, he's 17 already? I'm getting old fast! Shrug God knows what we're going to choose to do.
Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array? 
Canticle Of Canticles 6:9
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#3
God's knowledge of what we do doesn't make us unable to make a decision. We still have the free will to act as we please.

If I am watching one of my grandsons and I see he is about to do something, I often may let him do it if it could teach him a lesson, even if it could hurt him a bit.

I've always said that I have learned the fact that God always gives us what we need, but sometimes He gives us what we want, so as to teach us a lesson.

Our place on this earth is a kind of period of exile from somewhere we once were. It is a time of learning and experiencing and how we accomplish these things is all important in our experiences here.
One should have an open mind; open enough that things get in, but not so open that everything falls out
 
A democracy which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy
Huxley
 
The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything  
Einstein
 
Its no wonder truth is stranger than fiction.
Fiction has to make sense
Mark Twain
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#4
Free will vs predestination is a tough nut to crack, and something I'm still working on. 

The way I see it is that God created the universe, and is still creating as far as I know, from his perfection and leaves the door open for choice.  If he hadn't, we would all be simply links in the chain of cause and effect, gears in the machine, and incapable of independent thought.  Free will gives us the ability to expand and grow as both individuals and as a people, and be aware that we're doing it. 

Why?  Because God want us to be "partakers of the divine nature" (CCC 460).  He doesn't want us to simply be ants in his ant farm.  

I'm guessing your son has encountered the philosophical free will and determinism problem.  From a materialistic point of view it would seem determinism wins out, but we have to act as if there is free will in order to hold people responsible for their actions, have a civil society, raise our children, and of course to obey the word of God.  If we have to act as if there is free will for things to work, then perhaps there is a flaw in the materialistic argument and there actually is free will.

In a nutshell, I think we have the constraints of nature and environment that limit our free will, but provide us with the framework and order to practice it.  I also think the greater our understanding, and the further we look ahead, the greater our capacity to exercise free will becomes.
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#5
(01-10-2019, 11:56 AM)Kjack89 Wrote: Free will vs predestination is a tough nut to crack, and something I'm still working on. 

The way I see it is that God created the universe, and is still creating as far as I know, from his perfection and leaves the door open for choice.  If he hadn't, we would all be simply links in the chain of cause and effect, gears in the machine, and incapable of independent thought.  Free will gives us the ability to expand and grow as both individuals and as a people, and be aware that we're doing it. 

Why?  Because God want us to be "partakers of the divine nature" (CCC 460).  He doesn't want us to simply be ants in his ant farm.  

I'm guessing your son has encountered the philosophical free will and determinism problem.  From a materialistic point of view it would seem determinism wins out, but we have to act as if there is free will in order to hold people responsible for their actions, have a civil society, raise our children, and of course to obey the word of God.  If we have to act as if there is free will for things to work, then perhaps there is a flaw in the materialistic argument and there actually is free will.

In a nutshell, I think we have the constraints of nature and environment that limit our free will, but provide us with the framework and order to practice it.  I also think the greater our understanding, and the further we look ahead, the greater our capacity to exercise free will becomes.

Thats how I see it with the graces coming along with the free will (provided we accept them) whichever way we go to guide us to ensure a true path.
In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.
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#6
The key is to understand that God's knowledge does not create in our will any kind of necessity. In a word, just because God know what I will do, doesn't make me do it.

Just because God knows that I am going to have a coffee every morning, doesn't oblige me to have a coffee. I can choose not to have a coffee, even if I will not do so (fraternal charity demands it, in fact). Free will concerns our radical freedom to choose between two things, even if we will not chose one of those. Even a man physically forced to do something still has free will. He can consent what he is being forced to do, or not.

A woman being raped is a terrible thing (real rapists should be subject to the death penalty). Perhaps she judges that physical resistance is a greater risk for her life, so she just allows the rapist to do what he will after showing her initial resistance, hoping he will leave her alive afterward. Even those she ceases her physical resistance, she still, with her free will, resists and desires that the rape not occur. She is radically free to consent or not. She does not, even though there is nothing else she can do at that moment. Even here she still has free will.

The same is in heaven. The souls there still have free will, but cannot sin. Why? Because sin is in the will, and we sin when we seek something disordered or in a disordered way. The will seeks the good or apparent good. In heaven, The Good Himself will be seen directly, and He completely satisfies our desires, so the will will have nothing else it desires or seeks, yet still freely seeks God. It is radically capable of choosing something else, but never will because in seeing the source of Goodness, nothing else will seem as good, and will never be desired.


God's knowledge of what a man will do, does not force the man to do this.

Even when God moves a man by grace, he sends the grace which inclines us to work with that grace, we can always stand in the way and prevent it, and if we cooperate with the grace it will move our free will freely. It will be a joint action of grace and our will, so still free.


Usually the problem is with Predestination. That's a more difficult question, but the principles are not too tough. Eventually like looking at a mountain whose summit is shielded by clouds, we can see the sides and we know they eventually connect, but how, we cannot see. This is one of the mysteries of our Faith, but just because we cannot see the summit does not mean we cannot explore the sides of the mountain and try to speculate how things work.

The most important thing to remember about Predestination is that all those who are going to go to heaven are Predestined to heaven. Those who go to Hell are not Predestined to Hell, they willfully choose this end by rejecting the graces that would get them to heaven. There is no such thing as Predestination to Hell.

God desires all God to heaven, God allows some to freely reject Him, and thus merit punishment.

This is unlike the Calvinist notion where God wills that certain people go to Hell and so creates souls for the purpose of damnation. The Catholic notion is that God wills all to heaven, but leaves them the freedom to correspond with the graces that should get them there. God sends sufficient grace to everyone so that up to the last moment of their life they can choose God as their end, and thus attain heaven. God thus creates all souls for the purpose of sanctification, but leaves the souls to freely correspond with grace. The result is that some will freely chose not to correspond, even to their last moments.

While we cannot create the grace or force God to give grace (that's Pelagianism), we can put up obstacles and prevent that sufficient grace from becoming effective.

Much more could be said, but that is a basic primer.

Is that what your son as asking about, or is there something more?
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#7
(01-10-2019, 06:01 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: The key is to understand that God's knowledge does not create in our will any kind...

Usually the problem is with Predestination.
...
Much more could be said, but that is a basic primer.



Hello!
I enjoyed Jack89’s post and I always enjoy MagisterMusicae’s posts.
I am not sure exactly where Jack89 falls on the spectrum of this debate.  I think MagisterMusicae’s embrace of predestination EVEN THOUGH it is a mystery leaves him denying what is called “Libertarian Free Will” or “the power to do otherwise.”
It CAN be true that God knows what we will do without God causing us to do that which we do.  If doing that which we WILL is free will then God can perfectly know what we do, not cause it, and we will be free.  That being said, “doing that which we will” IMO does not rise to the level of “morally significant free will.”
IMO for free will to be morally significant the AGENT must make a choice within a universe where a different choice was possible.  The power to do other than that which was done must exist AND this power must reside in the freedom of the agent to bring to pass either A or not A.  
While I know a lot of the choses my son might make, chocolate – yes, spicy chicken – no, this is not the same as God KNOWING that my son will embrace His atonement and be saved or reject Christ and be damned. 
It is my position that if God at time t=0 knows that my son at time t=1 will choose “not A” that my son at time t=1 does not have the power to instead choose “A.”  In other words if God has infallible foreknowledge of a choice my son makes, my son does not have the power to make God wrong and thus my son could not have “Libertarian Free Will.”  Further it is my position that when put together over a lifetime the choices to embrace/reject God must determine salvation vs. damnation and so the power to do otherwise is necessary for morally significant free will.  I thus reject ABSOLUTE foreknowledge even for God.
To expand upon the excellent mountain peak obscured by the clouds analogy, it is clear that the left side of the peak and the right side of the peak meet behind the cloud.  This is corporate predestination which is taught in the Bible.  It is unclear if my son will be a sheep or a goat, if he will migrate to the right side of the mountain peak though his climb or migrate to the left side of the mountain peak through his climb.  There is a right side and those there received salvation (this is corporate predestination), but the individuals who are on this right side are not absolutely predestined (this is the rejection of individual predestination).
I doubt the above is a Catholic view.    
I think Augustine favored a strong predestination very much like John Calvin.  Catholics typically say that “double predestination” is not Catholic.
I think were I Catholic I would be a Molina-ist.  God created all persons and possesses “middle knowledge” about all persons’ choices in all situations.  Thus, God KNOWs and people choose, but the infallible middle knowledge means they do not have power to do other than what they would do in the precise situation.
I think Aquinas spoke of a “divine sight,” but I do not think such meets all the requirements Aquinas hopes.  An agent’s choice cannot CAUSE God to know the choice even if you call such mysterious divine sight (God must be totally uncaused).  Molina solves this with middle knowledge, but I do not think Aquinas does.
 
I recognize that saying that God does not absolutely know ALL choices that will actually happen is fairly blasphemous in most Christian circles.  I say that God is still omniscient because future contingencies do not have a truth value, but I doubt that will satisfy many.  I further suggest that God knows much better than a human father what His children will do, so in most cases He knows what will be chosen.  Furthermore, God is the master chess player across from the novice.  He knows ALL moves the novice might choose, He even knows what the novice will likely choose, but regardless of what the novice does choose, God will ALWAYS bring to pass His purposes.  To stretch this analogy a little more the novice will ultimately decide if he is on God’s team (in some weird way) in which case the novice wins in life or if he is God’s opponent (in the typical chess way) in which case the novice loses.
 
It is possible I am confused about a lot of this AND it is possible this is too complex for a message board, but I thought I would offer my thoughts anyway.
Charity, TOm
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#8
Thank you all very much for your replies! It’s difficult for me to reply at length using my phone. So what he cannot seem to sort out is how it is we have any free will at all, since God absolutely knows everything that’s going to happen and cannot be wrong. He’s stuck on this, because that we could have choice within this framework makes no logical sense to him. He cannot work out how God can know, without same constituting a type of “interference” or determination of our actions. I’ve tried to clarify what free will actually is and so forth, but he just isn’t seeing it, although he realizes we’re not complete slaves to God’s will and that his view is problematic. Does anyone have any reading to recommend to him? He’s 17 and somewhat bright. Thanks again & sorry to have to be so brief.
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#9
(01-12-2019, 07:58 PM)Margaret-Mary Wrote: Thank you all very much for your replies! It’s difficult for me to reply at length using my phone. So what he cannot seem to sort out is how it is we have any free will at all, since God absolutely knows everything that’s going to happen and cannot be wrong. He’s stuck on this, because that we could have choice within this framework makes no logical sense to him. He cannot work out how God can know, without same constituting a type of “interference” or determination of our actions. I’ve tried to clarify what free will actually is and so forth, but he just isn’t seeing it, although he realizes we’re not complete slaves to God’s will and that his view is problematic. Does anyone have any reading to recommend to him? He’s 17 and somewhat bright. Thanks again & sorry to have to be so brief.

God is outside of time. He sees past, present, and future, but that doesn't mean He's determined what will happen. Does our knowing what happened in the past mean that people who lived before us didn't have free will, since we know what they chose? Because we live in time, it's harder for us to see that in regard to the future, but it's all the same for God.
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#10
Well said, Paul. C.S. Lewis takes the same tack. He says the problem lies in man seeing time in a linear fashion. As you say, God is outside time. From the moment of my birth, He has seen every action, virtuous or sinful that I have ever taken or will ever take. He has not foreseen them (predetermined them), He sees them all in what to Him is the eternal now. To Him, everything from the Creation until the End is eternally present.
Jovan-Marya of the Immaculate Conception Weismiller, T.O.Carm.

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