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The issue of free will and determinism creates problems for religious belief. Traditional theistic belief

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Introduction

To what extent are human beings free? Freedom is the most important aspect of human life - some people take it for granted, some dream of it, and others fight wars over it. However, if God exists, how can humans be free, as He knows everything that has happened, is happening, or will happen? And if we are not determined, how can God be omnipotent? The issue of free will and determinism creates problems for religious belief. Traditional theistic belief involves a Creator God, which is both omnipotent and omniscient. Thus He can do anything. The problem here is that God knows everything that has happened and everything that will happen. His knowledge cannot be wrong. There is not a single event that He has not foreseen. Given that He created the Universe the way He did, do we have free will? Consider that when God made the Universe He could see every possible result of what it was doing. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore, in this line of thinking, human beings are not free. Hard Determinists would argue this. They believe that everything can be explained in terms of cause and effect. Every event can be explained by a cause, and in turn these causes are events. Human behaviour is by definition an event, because it has various causes. If an event is caused, then it cannot be free and thus no human behaviour is free. Free will is an illusion, and the only reason the future seems undetermined is because we do not have sufficient knowledge to know all the causes operating in the world. As a result, everything we do has already been decided - in this case, how can we be deemed morally responsible for our actions? This is where problems with Hard Determinism come. It makes fate into a scapegoat, and allows people to justify their actions by claiming there was no way to stop themselves doing it. It also means that people are determined to go to heaven and hell before they even exist - some people will just never even have a possibility of going to heaven simply because they are predestine to go to hell. ...read more.

Conclusion

How can God exist and we still have free will? He knows everything we will do, and although He may not intervene, our choice has already been made and so the choice was inevitable. Therefore, in my opinion, libertarianism cannot be sustained by a theist because it contradicts the idea of an omniscient God - if our choices are not predestined, then God is not omniscient, and therefore not God (as God is 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived'). Ultimately, I think that it does not matter if human beings are really free or not. The belief that we are free or determined is irresolvable, and to obsess about this is eventually pointless. Freedom may be an illusion but considering what is at stake - moral responsibility, a reason for trying to improve things in the future, a justification for regretting evil - it is better to believe that we are free than to believe that we are determined. We have the illusion of freedom , whether real or not, and this is what is important for us to live or lives in the way we want to live them. ...read more.

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