If he does, you're either lying or a schizophrenic. One would think that God would want to talk to agnostics and atheists in order to convince them of his existence. But then again, you never see agnostics and atheists become possessed.
No, God doesn't talk to me. Not with words. Let me give you an example. A while back I was building a studio for my art and music production hobbies. I began to wonder if I was investing too much money, if I was being selfish in doing what I was doing. So I prayed about it. That next day there was a drafting table left by my door. The neighbor across from me was moving and didn't have room for it. I moved it inside my apartment and left them a note because it was raining. They said I'd be doing them a favor if I kept it. A drafting table was the next thing on my list to buy. Not sure if you can say that was God talking to me or not, but seems a bit beyond coincidence being that it was so specific.
God isn't going to speak to atheists or agnostics to convince them. The whole point is that we all have free will and have to willfully choose. If we were shown that's not our choice.
You wanted a studio (first priority) and a drafting table (second priority). Neighbors (that may have heard you mention that) left you a table, which action you attribute to a god.
No, a god will not speak to atheists, but neither will an atheist accept that a god spoke to you because a neighbor left something you wanted (although not the thing you wanted or needed most). It is a very extreme reach to decide that a god forced them to leave a table, just because you wanted one.
This is a common misconception in my experience: that the faithful will attribute nice events to a god while at the same time ignoring the bad things (or lack of good things) that happen to them. Nice things happen all the time with no perceptible reason to think it is due to a god's interference in our lives, but somehow the faithful seem to think the gods always produce the good things. Odd to the atheist that wants something more than assigning causality because it supports a belief and certainly not a reason to think that it is "god-speak", so to speak.
No, I never spoke to these neighbors, about the studio or anything else. It wasn't something I spoke about. It was pieces I was researching for myself. The only one who knew was my wife, and she didn't know about the drafting table. And you do understand that the drafting table was a piece for the studio, right? It wasn't second priority. It was the next priority piece. It was the piece I was milling over whether or not I should buy when I asked.
God didn't force anyone to do anything. Everyone chose their own actions. But circumstances were orchestrated in just such a way that it played out the way it did. That's how it works in my experience. It's like the universe begins to work in harmony with you. Things just kind of click into place where and when they need to. There's no discernible source, just a series of circumstances.
Yes, nice things happen all the time. But this particular nice thing has only happened to me once, and the one time it did it was very specific to the specific thing I asked about. Sure, you can dismiss it as coincidence. Or me just trying to assign meaning to it. But I know that's not the case. It's nothing that will prove without doubt to anyone beyond myself, but it's an example of how God has "spoken" to me.
"But I know that's not the case. "
Sorry, but you "know" nothing of the kind. Your conclusion has not been tested, nor has it been repeated. It has not even been subjected to statistical analysis (how many desires do you not get without effort on your part vs how many you do get). Your conclusion is unwarranted, and to a non-believer is pure fantasy derived from a desire it be true. I trust you can understand that just as I can understand and accept why a believer would make such a statement.
Likewise, to the non-believer you can replace "that's how God spoke to me" with "what a coincidence - that total strangers would place their unwanted furniture at your door" and begin to look for reasons they did so.
I do know. And I also know that this example will not convince you or anyone else. I'm simply giving an example from my personal experience. And no, it doesn't come from a desire to be true. You continue to try to convince yourself that I'm just deluding myself into believing what I prefer, when throughout our discussions here you have been the one to show you have a preferred belief that you'll hang on to despite the evidence. You're not open to being wrong. You think you know better with no evidential reason to justify your stance.
Headly, you've put an enormous amount of time and effort into your theory of ET gods in the middle east. It has taken you years of research and "testing", but you did it.
But when it comes to "seeing" or "hearing" God in your own life all that process is thrown to the winds. If it's coincidental, if it's a good thing...why it must be God doing it! Not other possibility, and I know that to be true without all the effort I put into my research of the near East. What happened to the Headly that earnestly looks for truth? Did he just disappear when offered an opportunity to "see" God himself, grabbing at any straw possible to satisfy his wants?
Yes, you're deluding yourself if you think you know anything at all about a god. None has spoken to you, none has affected your life, none has ever been seen. Yet you claim that you do know, that the gods do interact with you, that they do cause specific events in your life. You thus delude yourself and if you would only put the thought, research and consideration into such statements as you did with your research you would quickly figure that out.
This requires no investigation or reasearch. This was a direct response to a direct and very particular prayer. If you receive a voice mail from someone who just says "blue", and you know you called them ahead of that time asking what color they prefer for a gift you're purchasing, there's no need for investigation. The context of the circumstances tells you all you need to know.
This isn't something that can be tested anyway. It's clear to me that this was a direct response to my prayer. There's no way to verify that in any way, no way to test or duplicate it. The specific timing and the specific type of desk that was there told me all I needed to know. For all the things that could have been left there by that neighbor, for it specifically to be a drafting table, the exact kind of table I had been looking to buy, tells me all I need to know. I got my answer and proceeded with my studio.
How often do you even see a drafting table? It's not that common of a piece of furniture.
"This requires no investigation or reasearch."
Then provide proof that a god was involved. That it was not coincidence or pre-knowledge by neighbors of what you wanted. If I get a voice mail, I know which phone sent it, and it's not unreasonable to think it is the owner. Nor it is unreasonable to think that my phone did not generate the message. This is called "evidence", but nothing of the sort applies to your situation. The only thing you have to offer is tenuous time correlation; at one point you spoke words to the air and later on they "came true" after a fashion. This is not even circumstantial evidence - you might as well say that the dog barking down the street was the cause.
I understand it is proof to you - that's what I said. I also said that it is not proof to any non-believer that wants more than a random assigning of cause/effect correlation without anything more than that one followed the other. We do, after all, see and hear of tens of thousands of prayers to God that are not answered, whereupon the common response is that "It was God's will" without any more proof of that than you can provide.
Personally, I'd be far more concerned about a neighbor that leaves their unwanted items on your doorstep and wonder what will be next? As they have free will to do as they wish, and God does not provide impetus to affect that free will (negating your premise that God did it), it would seem a reasonable concern.
Yes, I've owned two drafting tables in my life. And used one at work to boot.
I have told you, numerous times, that there will be no physical evidence of God or actions by God. You're insisting I make what I'm talking about conform to the wrong tool in the toolbox. That's you, that's not me. And I already stated this is not proof of God. That this will not convince anyone. It's not meant to. It's just an example of how God "spoke" to me. How God answered a particular question I had.
Drafting tables are not nearly as common as if that neighbor had left a couch or an end table. Couches are in every home. Drafting tables might be in one in every 30 or 40 homes. Far less common. It just turns out that day that that particular neighbor had one, and that was the one thing they couldn't fit on the truck. It was left out that day, by my door, and out of the way so they'd have room to move other items.
No, I don't believe God controlled their actions in any way. I think it's a matter of aligning circumstances so that this was the outcome. It's a fascinating conversation that would be pointless to get into with you how I think God accomplishes things like this.
The fact is, it happened. And it answered my question. I have literally dozens of examples, much like this, each you can dismiss as coincidence if that's what you're comfortable with. If this were the one and only occurrence I might even agree, though I'd acknowledge the specificity of the situation as being rather remarkable. But given this is just one of many instances where a specific prayer was addressed then it's rather obvious to me. And that's all it needed to be. Obvious to me, and me alone. God's not going to 'slip up' and provide the world with evidence answering my prayer. That would undermine our free will to choose Him. I've already chosen Him.
Like I said and I'll say again, this is not meant to convince you. This is just an example I have that answers the question of the forum. I don't expect it to convince you or anyone else, and I'm not putting this forward as evidence of God's existence. That's your error.
You seem to have misunderstood, and rather badly. I addressed your comment that you know the table was god's answer. I don't know or care if God is out there - I referred to the reasoning process that brought about the opinion (not knowledge, but opinion). So far what you have produced is that you prayed and needed, followed in time by the appearance of what you wanted, and that the combination allows you to know, without any other possibility, that God provided the table.
I served on a jury recently, and we were subjected to nearly an hour of discussion about what constitutes evidence; how we were to decide what actually happened. Most of which was about the difference between "beyond reasonable doubt" and "preponderance of the evidence". Let's look at what you have in the way of evidence to produce that "knowledge" that God did it:
You needed, spoke and asked for the table.
It appeared, left by a neighbor that didn't want it.
So far there is nothing that says a god provided it. We need to add:
God heard you (assumption)
God cares enough to act (assumption)
God is able to, and does, act in our world (assumption)
God chivied neighbors into doing what He wanted them to (assumption)
(do we need to speak of "free will" when God forces his desires onto others?)
Neighbors had nothing else to do with table (assumption)
Discussion in the jury deliberating room:
"Well, that's a whole lot of assumptions we'd have to make to give a verdict that a god acted. It doesn't even approach "beyond a reasonable doubt", there is actually nothing but a long list of assumptions to support even the "preponderance of evidence" as there is actually no evidence at all outside of a vague, tenuous time correlation. The exact same correlation that is found between the dog barking the day before followed by the appearance. Verdict of God acting must be denied; there is no knowledge to be gained here either way."
Headly responds to jury:
"But I like the verdict anyway and will assume (as you should make all the other assumptions) that a God did it. I will even make the statement that I know it did, because...because...because I like the idea! I don't need to be rational; my emotions and wants are sufficient to declare that I, and only I, absolutely know the answer"
Isn't that what's happening here? You want it, you deny any evidence whatsoever so your wants triumph over ignorance. To the onlooker, honestly searching for truth though, ignorance is all that's available. Maybe a god did it, maybe not - absolutely no way to tell from what is known.
It was a personal conversation I was having. I'm not looking for objective confirmation. In the context of the ongoing conversation I'm having with God, it was a clear statement in line with what we were talking about.
You and whatever room of people can deliberate to your heart's content. I got my answer. I know that's what that was. My own personal life experience confirms it to me. I have since made decisions based on that answer.
This is a much different topic than you and I have discussed previously. That other conversation I gave you ample evidence to support everything I said. That was something that could be spoken about in those terms. And yet you continued to dismiss everything in favor of what you prefer to be true. This isn't that. This topic is admittedly subjective. When I say "I know", it's like saying "I know" my wife loves me. I have no way to confirm that in any kind of concrete way. I can just move forward and make life choices while trusting that she means it and will continue to be part of my life. That's what faith is.
No, it is rather the same. Still a faulty reasoning process - this time based only on unsupported assumptions, last time on wild extrapolations and refusal to consider all the evidence (like city builders without your god's influence, showing that they were not necessary and should not be assumed because of a culture change).
No it's not (same as wife's love). You have had years to observe her in action, doing things that show love, and your next to last sentence says it well; she has stayed with you. You have not once observed any god in action, showing its love; rather you have had good things happen to you (as we all do) and insist that your god caused it while at the same time ignoring the times you prayed for something and it didn't happen. There is a world of difference. One conclusion is from direct observation, the other comes from making assumptions and assigning "causation" that you haven't a clue is true or not.
But let me ask you something else. It could be possible that Satan or his demons (who exist with the same likelihood and evidence as God) looked forward (with his omnipotence and omniscience that we know he has by using the same evidence as we do for God) and saw that getting your table will cause massive damage in 5 years. He forced the neighbors (just as we know that God could) to give you the table in order to further his nefarious plans (just as you think God did, and with the exact same evidence).
The question then becomes what defining characteristic of this transaction did you observe that shows it was God rather than Satan that did the deed? Logically, it must have been Satan: God would never force anyone to do anything, let alone give up something valuable, while Satan will do it in a devilish heartbeat. So if it was via supernatural action, what observation did you make that supports a decision of God rather than Satan? Or is it, again, just because you want it to be so?
Please, until you actually agree to look at the evidence, instead of just dismissing it based on your own faulty intuition, then please, let's not even get into it. I can show you the evidence, show you that what you thought you knew is wrong, and you just act like it didn't happen and decide to go with your own preferred "truth" instead. I referred you to books that back up everything I said, and they also cover your "city builders" objection rather specifically. Please, refer to those. And yes, I am considering all the evidence. That's how I know you have no evidence to refute my statements.
Yes, it's the same. I can't see that my wife loves me. My faith can be bolstered by past actions and trends, but there still isn't anything that can be empirically confirmed to be the case. Maybe it's just been the convenient thing to do in the past. Maybe it's out of pitty. I don't know. All relationships are based on belief and faith. Because the mind can't be seen or observed. Only the actions and words. But those don't confirm anything. That's why there's contracts and and such. All social and human interaction and even civilization is heavily based on belief and faith. Faith that you can just go about your day knowing what to expect. That the police will protect you, that the government is 'handling' things, that the people you paid will complete the work you hired them for, etc.
I act on faith. I prayed to God and got a response. I then act based on that response.
No, you can't see love. But you CAN see actions and events; you CAN see what she does. You can hear her words. You can feel her touch. You can hold her hand and kiss her lips. And after years of doing that you have a plethora of evidence. Circumstantial, yes, but the large majority points to love (I presume you're normal and have had some fights, but even then the make up points to love). That "preponderance of the evidence" makes a very strong case.
But you can do NONE of that with God. He is completely undetectable just as you point out. While you attribute actions/events to Him, you did not witness (feel/hear/taste/smell/see) Him doing anything all. You have never witnessed a physically impossible event that would require a God whether you could detect it or not. You thus have zero evidence, aside from your belief, that He took any action. You prayed, but you don't know if you got a response; you just know that the table showed up, not that God responded. You attribute the table to a response, but you have no reason to do so...except for a desire that He played a part.
So yes, the love is faith based...but a faith based on actual, observable events that took place over years time. The belief that God forced someone to leave you the table is also faith based...faith based on what? That you asked and it appeared? You have to understand that because one event comes after another does not indicate causality at all, that it isn't evidence of anything except that one event followed another, unconnected, event on the time line.
Now if you could show that it happened every time you prayed (or even a large percentage of the time) that might be another story in the form of statistical evidence, but you can't do that. You can show that praying for something you don't make any effort to acquire very nearly never works, though...
Neither is it of much value to complain that ALL knowledge is only faith. I "know" that if I drop a ball, it will hit the ground...but what if an A bomb goes off as I drop it and vaporizes the ball? All knowledge is of that type, and one can always complain (correctly) that we know nothing (could be hallucination, too), but it's a rather fruitless argument and doubly so when considering the future (ball drop, police protection, etc). Of no value in other words, except perhaps that sometimes we do take pains to protect ourselves if things don't go as we think they should. Some carry guns, some require contracts, some make pre-nuptials. And some of us question the reasoning process when a second person says they know that a god did something for them.
Well, like I said, I'm not entering this as evidence of God. I know it was God's reply because it specifically addressed my question in a very relevant and direct way. And again, not the only example. One of many.
You keep going back to this desire, this assumption that I just believe what I "desire" to be true. That's not the case at all. I believe what is most likely to be true based on the evidence.
And no, showing prayer to work every time is just flawed thinking. If that were the case no children would ever die young. Then we'd live in a world where you're basically guaranteed to live until adulthood. Or people would never die. You'd just keep praying to stay alive. To require this to be proved true is just broken logic, all the way around.
"If that were the case no children would ever die young."
That's kind of the point. An actual examination of the results of prayer shows that it fails far more often than it works (unless, of course, the one praying does all the work to make it happen). Conclusion? That it doesn't work.
"I know it was God's reply because it specifically addressed my question in a very relevant and direct way."
Yes, that's the easy way out. This one time coincidence brought forth a table so it is assumed to be from God. Unfortunately, as shown above, it is a false conclusion - one coincidental event does not show that a god did anything at all. It can be assumed that way, but then that's always possible.
"I believe what is most likely to be true based on the evidence. "
And the evidence consists solely of wanting a table followed after a time period of one appearing. Whereupon you conclude that a rough time correlation shows God did it, but of course that's an enormous stretch. Now, if you could have known somehow that it was a god causing the event, that would be different, but you can't. You have to make an unwarranted list of assumptions (see list in earlier post) to get the conclusion you want. So yes, it is flawed thinking.
"And again, not the only example. One of many." Ten "successful" events don't mean much when compared to ten thousand failed ones. Try praying each night for something unusual and count how many times you get it without effort on your part. Or try praying for a physically impossible event - something only a god could accomplish. When you can honestly turn those figures around (ten thousand it works, ten it doesn't) then you have statistical proof that prayer works. Until then, you're just looking at a handful that did work while ignoring the thousands of times it didn't - not a good method of finding truth.
Yes, you're right, this isn't proof. There's no way to prove this was from God. That it wasn't anything more than coincidence. You're exactly right. As I've said already. This isn't proof. So I'm not going to defend it as such.
But this is also not the only reason I believe. The evidence I base my beliefs on consists of way more than this one table. It's all the evidence. All of it. And yes, I consider it all.
You keep speaking of praying as if it's a cause/effect kind of thing. If it works, do this, and this should happen. As if God isn't thinking and deciding along the way. This isn't a mindless/thoughtless process, answering prayers. And answered prayers are never going to prove God. That's what faith is. Continuing to choose to believe without confirmation. Once there's confirmation it's no longer faith. It is my belief that this was a reply from God. Call me foolish. Won't be the first time.
"It is my belief that this was a reply from God."
We're tending to talk of different things. My thrust has always been that this event was a reply from God, and the reasoning process that produced that conclusion, with a small aside that we don't know if God exists. You, on the other hand, tend to speak of proof of God.
You say that "The evidence I base my beliefs on consists of way more than this one table.", but there is zero evidence of anything except that the neighbors left a table that you wanted and needed. No causality effect at all indicating that a god was involved in this event; I thereupon take your words to indicate there is evidence supporting your belief in a god and that you have set aside this event. Am I wrong? Do you think there is evidence that a god was involved in this event? If so, what is it - only that you spoke words and the event happened at a later time? Or is there something more you haven't mentioned?
You see, I'm always interested in facts and data. Not so much in faith or opinion - in my experience these things (in the religious field) are never supported with facts, just want and childhood training/indoctrination. You, on the other hand, appear to have done a lot of actual thinking and research into faith based beliefs and, whether I actually agree or not, think that some of it factually supports the concept of the Christian God. The whole package may not be accepted in your mind, but the central idea of a creator that watches over mankind, interfering in earthly events, and is basically benevolent seems to be accepted by you.
So I ask how you came to the belief (though you expressed it as absolute knowledge at first) that God provided a table for you. So far we've talked about other things (or at least I think you have) without ever actually addressing the question of whether God forced someone to give you their table. And now you (disappointingly) seem to be saying you only have unsupported faith, no data or evidence, that it is true.
Or am I once more mis-reading posts? Is there something more than a single event sequence where time is the only thing indicating that it is possible God interfered in lives?
I purposefully dodged addressing that specific question regarding whether or not God interfered with free will to make this happen because of how our previous conversations have gone. I didn't see it being worth trying to get into. I'll give it a try.
I think of God interacting with the universe much like a programmer works on a program. He doesn't and can't control the actions of humans directly, but He can coax specific outcomes out of them by setting up the situations and circumstances around them. He can go back and forth in time, like a programmer would make a change, run it to see what happens, go back and tweak if need be, run again, etc. For this table he could have gone all the way back to when they first got the table and set up a series of events that led to them acquiring it and then later abandoning it from there to ensure it ended up on my doorstep that day.
It's really hard for me to accept free will when God constantly chivvies people into doing what He wants them to. Even if they still have the technical ability to choose, the "choices" are set up in such a way that the reality is that they don't. Like asking whether a hungry man would choose a steak dinner or a bullet in the head.
But that is only a side issue. I was, and am, more interested in the reasoning process whereby the "obvious" conclusion was that God interfered in both your life and that of your neighbor. So far, all I've seen as evidence is a loose correlation in time that could be said of any two events and certainly is not evidence of anything at all. It really does appear that your conclusion is based on faith rather than reason - that you want it to be so and therefore decide that it is.
That's exactly what I've been saying this whole time. I don't get your confusion. I never claimed it to be anything else.
And nobody here was made to do anything they didn't want to do. It was still their choices and wants that led to that outcome.
Yes you did - you started out saying you know that God acted in your favor. You've since changed that to blind faith without reason (except you continue to say there are reasons), but that's how it started.
Sure it was their choice to give away that table because they had to move and couldn't carry it. Just as it's the hungry man's choice between dinner and a bullet. In fact, you have no idea at all what happened in their life (or what happened in other's lives to force the decision to move (or not) onto the neighbor). You assume it was benign and helpful for them, but only because you see God as being benevolent and helpful. Not because you actually know what happened down the line of affected people.
Yes, my conclusion is based on knowledge and previous experiences. Seeing how God has interacted with humans in the past and in my own past and inferring that into life experience. I do "know", based on my own experiences and interactions with God, what that was all about. I have no doubt. It was a specific action that answered my question clearly.
The benevolence of the action was clear in the attitude of the neighbor who was relieved to have found a place for this piece they were otherwise going to have to deal with in some way. It was convenient for them to let go of it. Beneficial, even. They were thankful I was willing to take it.
That you have no doubt I fully believe. But that doesn't make you right, it just means you don't doubt your conclusion.
God is benevolent because the neighbors were happy to cut their losses. That doesn't follow either (doubly so as you don't "know" God was involved anywhere) as you don't know WHAT it cost them outside of that table. Their move was perhaps due to job loss or death in the family where they have to move and take care of Grandma for the rest of her life. You don't actually have any idea at all what your table actually cost those neighbors (assuming that God forced the decision onto them). Back to the same thing; He is benevolent and they did well because you wish to think so, not because you actually know anything at all about their situation or decisions.
As far as seeing how God interacted in the far past: according to you He taught them war and killing. This does not sound particularly benevolent. Had He not interfered, we would still be peaceful, loving creatures of the savanna and forest instead of the murderous, violent species we've become from His machinations. Not a particularly nice outlook, is it? Yes, you could write it all off as necessary free will...except that it was directly due to His interference. Without that it would not have happened.
What don't you understand? I said, and have said, that I'm not stating this as any kind of proof of God, or proof that I'm right. It's just something that happened to me, and how I see it and why. It's not to convince you of anything.
And what do you not get about the neighbors being happy that I took the table? That's pretty clear no matter what soap opera type scenario you imagine up to try to make God the bad guy. The information that I have says, conclusively, because I was told by them, that this was a good thing for them. It was helping them out.
When exactly did I say God taught them war and killing? He gave them free will, and free will brought about war and killing. All of that is what humans did of their own volition. God just gave them the capability to make their own decisions and actions. And that's what they did.
Without God's "interference" in giving us free will, we'd all be drones living exactly as God wills it. We wouldn't have minds and wills of our own. And just letting life play out, letting us all just live like drones and then die, would be pointless. God would already know everything that would happen, so why let it all play out? So yeah, necessary free will. It's kind of the whole point to all of this.
The same kind of soap opera you created to "know" that the whole thing (move + loss of table) is a good thing for neighbors. Yes, in the immediate tiny snapshot you have of their life it was good - probably saved them paying someone to trash it - but in the big picture of their lives what made them move and give up a perfectly good table could be very bad. You don't know, but insist it was good for them because all you look at is the tiny portion you observed.
I didn't create a soap opera. I took them at what they directly said. That wasn't made up by me, but told to me by them. But, as usual, even that isn't good enough.
And I take it from this current line of thinking that you're suggesting that them having to move and give up a piece of furniture and all of that was somehow God doing this just so I could get this table. You're not understanding. They still made every choice they made for whatever reason. God didn't put them in a situation where they'd have to move. God didn't create the whole scenario just for this. He just tweaked already happening events here and there for a desired outcome. Not the same thing.
That's a good theory about what God did, but it doesn't fit in very well. It would take far more than a "simple tweak" to suddenly have neighbors that had to move, living right next door to you, having a drafting table, using a truck too small, choosing that item to leave behind and all at just the moment after you have prayed for such a table. That's a string of events that can't be called "just a little tweak". It's called gross manipulation, at least if we assume that God caused it in order for you to get a table at someone else's expense.
The fact is there's no way of knowing how much or how little it took. But if you've got the benefit of seeing all time all at once then you can immediately see the impact of the smallest of changes. Small tweaks in the sequence of things can have a dramatic impact in what happens when. Especially when you can go back as far as you need. Kind of like the Simpsons Treehouse of Terror episode where Homer time travels to the time of the dinosaurs. He kills an insect that stings him, then when he gets back his present life is totally different. That's a silly example, but it's very much the same thing. Not to mention he's got quite a bit of experience with it at this point.
When you look at the series of events that led to the emergence of humanity in the natural world, from mass extinction events to the sequence of what creatures evolved when, it's all a matter of small tweaks. Like a programmer. A small change to the sequence of what things happen when can have a dramatic impact when all the parts are run together. Like tuning a guitar. The change may sound small on the individual string, but the change to the sound when you play a chord can be very noticeable.
The tweak could have been as simple as finding a family with that table and having them be the ones that ended up across from me and lining up the end of their lease timeline wise. Then the natural progression of things eventually led to what happened before, only right then and right there, rather than elsewhere at some other time.
Plus, He's got the benefit of trial and error. He literally could have tried hundreds of things, but we only experience each moment once. To us it just worked out perfectly. When in actuality it could have been the result of dozens of tries to get just right.
I understand your example, and don't find it silly at all. It's what it's all about.
But whether the forced events/changes were small or not, the end result is large. Just as in your example. That doesn't mean, however, that God didn't interfere grossly in the neighbors lives (and yours) - the changes were tiny but the results huge, particularly for them. And while God may have "gone back" 100 years (or a million) with His machinations, encouraging small decisions all along the way, or that the decisions made were small and relatively inconsequential right up to the end, the fact remains that He did manipulate and force those decisions. Just as you point out, He may have tried a dozen times with the first 11 not working, but in the end He got what He wanted by "twisting" probabilities and possibilities until the neighbors moved, had what they couldn't take with them and left it behind.
And that goes beyond any free will possible: God will do whatever is necessary to get the results He wants. If the neighbor didn't take the job offering (or whatever caused the move), God would have changed the "past" until they did - the neighbors have no choice as God decreed it would happen and if it didn't work as He wanted He would just change things until it did. In the scenario you've painted as a possibility there just isn't any free will possible: God's will will be done no matter what.
And this is not something I can accept as true. With zero evidence (it's all speculation, after all) I categorically reject that we don't have free will. That God will manipulate our lives, forcing us to take actions according to what He wants us to do whether we like it or not. That He will continue manipulation until we make the "choice" that He wants us to make. To me, that very effectively removes any responsibility for any of our actions; every thing we do is what God wants us to do, whether it's murder the little girl next door or give away all that we have and become an itinerant preacher of His word. We can only do what He wants us to because if we don't He will change things until we make the "choice" He wants. Thanks, but no thanks.
This is an interesting subject, at least to me. We've gotten pretty good at predicting the results of our actions in the mechanical world, but we can never be positive that what we think will happen actually will. But that's because we can never know ALL the variables - consider a coin flip. If we could know that a bird would flap it's wings at just the right time to create a tiny breeze that impacted the coin (plus all other such variables such as that tiny nick in the table top it lands on, which will cause it to topple one direction) we could predict heads or tails with absolute accuracy. We can't, but God can, just as He knows every position of every electron on every nerve cell in our body and what is affecting them. He knows what we will decide.
But then came quantum mechanics and the discovery that causality is NOT universal; that some things happen on a purely random basis. Presto! Free will is back on the table as random events cannot be predicted by definition. But what if God made the quark (or whatever) that "randomly" came into existence, minutely affecting the particle nearby (gravity, EMF, spin, whatever) which then becomes Homer's insect and has massive consequences a billion years later? The effect of that quark, at just that moment, might ultimately be to cause one electron in our brain to fail to pass through the neuron, causing a different decision - something God knew and caused to happen. We have once more lost free will as everything is predictable and thus pre-ordained, albeit by factors we cannot detect.
So, until proof or strong evidence is found I will continue to believe free will exists. Which in turn means that either God does not exist OR is not omnipotent/omniscient. He can't change the future to match what He wants, not in totality. He may be much better at it than we are, able to predict with near certainty what His actions will do, but He can neither change the past (trial and error til He gets what He wants) OR be absolutely certain what the affect His changes will have. Only then can we actually have free will, and only then can we be held responsible for our own actions.
I agree it's an interesting subject. And it's the concept of free will that I think makes it most interesting. That's the one thing God has no control of. He may change the conditions to try to get a specific outcome, but it has to be in accordance to the free willed choices of all participants. They still made all of their own choices along the way based on those conditions.
This, to me, isn't manipulation of our free will. This is like changing the traffic lights to try to effect a more productive outcome, yet this doesn't remove the free will of the drivers on the road.
I don't think the physical happenings on the quantum level are responsible for decisions. This would mean our decisions are truly random. They're not. They're determined through thought and consideration and many other things that we are in control of. I think God is unable to see what we'll do because it's not a physical happening. It's the soul.
"He can neither change the past (trial and error til He gets what He wants) OR be absolutely certain what the affect His changes will have. Only then can we actually have free will, and only then can we be held responsible for our own actions."
That's exactly the case I think. The only way He can be certain is because He can see it play out on the timeline. Until it happens, He can't be certain because free will is the one element that can't be controlled or predicted.
But how can it be free will if God merely changes things until He gets the result He wants? That seems like nothing more than rationalization to produce a desired conclusion.
I mean if you want X but God wants you to have Y, then he will simply change things around until you DO choose Y, and that means you are predestined (in God's time frame) to make that choice. It may take Him multiple efforts, but at the end of it all you WILL choose as He wants you to. It just isn't possible to call that free will at all as the end result of His efforts will be Y and nothing you can do will ever change that. You may think you have a choice, but if God simply forces you to choose over and over until His desire is met, how can you?
Back to the pancakes vs waffles - I want pancakes, God wants waffles. So I decide on pancakes (because that's what I want), but pancakes virtually require syrup. So God goes back to the prior weekend and arranges that grandkids had visited and they ate all the syrup. Whereupon my new decision is to have pancakes with jam, knowing I won't like them as much but still wanting them. So God arranges for my wife to drop the last jar of jam the night before and break it. My 3rd try is to have pancakes with butter (not good, but still better than waffles), so God places some bacteria in the butter 3 days prior and it's all rancid now. So I finally choose waffles...but was it truly through free will? Or did God simply cause things to happen in such a way that there was no other choice other than going hungry? Think back to that hungry man given a "choice" between dinner and a bullet in the head, and consider just how much "choice" there really was when God got through changing history to the point I had no other real "choice" left.
Keep in mind the whole point of the story of the bible is free will. God went through a lot of trouble to ensure we have it. So He's not going to just override it where He sees fit.
I see it more as a sequence of events rather than removing choices. Like in the case of the neighbors, I think they were going to move anyway, and were going to leave behind that piece anyway, so He just set it up so that it happened outside of my apartment. The same series of events, just tweaked so that the location and the timing accomplished this other thing as well.
Of course I can't know that. It's based on how He worked in the stories of the bible. Like in the case of the Israelites as slaves to the Egyptians. Slavery was something that humans had created. So God worked within that world to ensure these people were protected and provided for. He didn't alter the world of man to make this happen. He worked within the confines of it.
But you have still removed the neighbors "choice" as what to do with the table or where to leave it. Would they have sold it to the neighbor on the other side had God not arranged to have him in the hospital that day? God required that it be given to you, after all, and any other action was unacceptable.
You're still making assumptions for no more reason than that it fits with your predetermined goal of thinking both free will and God's will exist even when in opposition. It just doesn't work whether it is matter of placing that table here or over there - whether a major, life changing decision or a matter of taking just one more step, God has still removed any free will from the neighbors.
Nor can draw the conclusions from Israelite slavery that you are. You don't know God's motivations, you don't know what (if anything) He did or why He did it. God may have arranged for them to be slaves in order to give Moses something to do - some way to be great. You think man invented slavery from free will, but it may not have been so at all; it could have been one of God's actions in the form of "Homer's insect" scenarios. The bible is chock full or horrible records of God's inhumanity towards man, after all, and that He may have changed/forced decisions to care for slaves does not mean that He didn't want them to be slaves at all.
This goes way back to Eve and the apple, too. Eve had free will - to eat or not, to insist Adam ate or not - had God not wished it to happen He would have changed history so that Eve would not eat, would not make that choice. But He didn't - instead He allowed (forced, by making the tree available, Eve bored, the snake present, etc.) an event that set forth unending pain and trouble for the human race. We can only assume that it was intentional; that He had looked and seen what happened and found it good. We don't know God's motivations or reasons, but we do know (according to your theory) that He will absolutely change things to happen as He wishes them to. He will absolutely set things up for our "choices" to be exactly what He wishes them to be.
Everything that happens, from a single bacteria being eaten to the Hiroshima bomb, is according to His plan and His will. No free will, then, from willingness to work on an A bomb to where an unwanted table was placed. We can only make the choices that God finds useful/desirable for Him.
Where the neighbor is concerned, I think the proof is in the proverbial pudding. They were thrilled when I offered to take it. I even offered to just keep it until they could come back for it. They were glad to be rid of it. So I don't see this as being something they were forced against their will or by circumstance to do. It was still very much their choice.
I do know God's motivation where the Israelites were concerned because the story describes it. They were to survive. In that age, you were either the ones in power and had the land with the fertile soil and water supply (which usually meant you had an army), or you went without. Another option in that situation was to be enslaved. As slaves you were provided for and protected. This is how the Israelites survived that point in history.
Eve wasn't forced. She just was given the opportunity. The point of the story is that she was actually able to do something that God didn't want her to do. That's what set her and Adam apart from all who came before.
The pain that humanity has encountered since is of our own making. It's the way we've chosen for ourselves. From wars to atomic bombs. This is all the result of free will. God wanted us to have our own wills. Everything since has been what we've made for ourselves.
If God wanted everything to happen according to His plan and will then He wouldn't have made us capable of deviating from that. He specifically gave us that capability, for a reason.
"I think the proof is in the proverbial pudding."
Proof of what? Even if there was zero downside, proof of what? That God removed their free will and substituted His requirements? Good or bad, His acts still accomplished that, and I will still submit that you haven't the faintest idea whether or not the neighbors were pleased with the big picture causing their move.
We agree, then - God forced the Israelites into slavery for His purposes. Rather than provide them with a new river, He caused them to become slaves.
Your neighbors weren't forced, either - no one ever is. They can always "choose" differently, even though it mean mean death or worse. No, Headly - when God sets up the sequence it either works or He changes it until it does work. This might have been His 20th effort with Eve, but in the long run He got His way - that is basic to your theory.
No, the pain of childbirth, for instance, is directly due to Eve's action. As is the requirement to work for food and other sustenance. The bible says so.
But He didn't make us capable of deviating from His plan - you've made it clear that if it takes God 100 tries, His plans and desires will absolutely be followed, just as it was when you got your table. You can't say something and then continually reverse back and forth to show other, opposite, points are true as well! It is those kinds of statements that cause me to say that you consider "proof" anything that supports your desired conclusion while ignoring anything else. You have formed a conflict with the statement that God forces choices He wants us to make vs free will; you cannot have both no matter how hard you try to say that being forced isn't being forced. Whether by lack of choices (because He took the other, more desirable, choices away) or simple force, the result is the same: we are constrained to act as God wills.
What I'm saying is that the only information we have about the neighbor's general feeling about the situation is that they were happy about it. We have no reason to think the situation they were in was somehow bad.
Yes, God placed the Israelites with the Egyptians for His purpose. Which was for our purpose. This was the bloodline Jesus was to be born of. There were hundreds of thousands of them. This is what God promised Abraham. That his descendants would be numerous. In that age, to support that many people, you had very few options. And no, providing them with a river would not have solved the problem. That river would have just been taken by one of the many other much more powerful groups in the region.
Yes, you're right. There are consequences to the action Eve took. Adam and Eve were supposed to live without dying. But, because they were now going to die, that meant they were now going to have to procreate. Eve, and every other woman after, was going to have to birth children. And because they were no longer going to be provided for in the garden, because they were going to have to start procreating and multiplying, work was then going to be necessary. These aren't punishments just to punish them. These were real consequences for the action. They were the result of the action. They had to be given the opportunity to make their own choice. They made it. Then they (we) have to live with it.
God is not taking anyone's free will. He's working with free will. He's working in this environment to make happen what He needs to happen. Everyone involved is still living their own lives and making their own choices. He just arranged things so that one piece of furniture ended up where it did when it did other than somewhere else. And He managed to do so, if this indeed how it was done, without overriding anyone's choices.
At least we agree on something - that God made His people into slaves for another culture, and for His express purposes.
Eve - God made woman nearly unable to give birth at the same moment that He ("later") banished them from the garden. He already knew what Eve would do when He made Eve - it was there for Him to see and He modified conditions until Eve did as the script was written. Ergo, it was intentional and punishment for doing what God insisted she do. Give woman a little larger pelvis, or an infant a little smaller head and the problem disappears, but God didn't do that. He intended from the moment of creation that woman would forever suffer for something He intended and insisted that Eve do.
The more you talk, the worse picture is painted of the Christian God. He never was a pleasant thing to contemplate, but you make it worse, all while insisting He didn't/isn't doing the things you say He did/does. You may not like it, and try to talk your way around it with an endless supply of sophistries and denials (while denying that He does anything or nothing), but it just doesn't follow. It cannot be that we make our own choices when God rolls the dice and changes the world until we make the one He wishes.
And no, God doesn't work with free will. He forces conditions to the point that we make the choice He wants, and that is not free will at all. It is doing God's will whether we would or not without His insistence. He has delivered a poor facsimile of free will, a charade where we think we have it but can do nothing at all that He doesn't want to happen. Not when any choice contrary to His plan will suddenly have conditions changed, again and again, over and over, until we perform like a puppet on His string.
No, no, no, Eve's decision isn't one of those "God tweaked it until it happened" things. He simply created the situation and let them do what they were going to do. The only way you can test whether or not something or someone is capable of breaking one of your rules is to put them in an environment where there's a rule to be broken.
These were not punishments. It's like if you decide to chop off one of your legs, one of the repercussions of that is that you're now going to have to live with one leg. It's simply a result. Not punishment.
What you're suggesting, about God controlling us and doing things in such a way that we ultimately do according to His will, is incredibly over-complicated. Just think about what you're saying. You're saying that, in the way you're seeing what I'm saying, God made us capable of being our own selves and make our own choices, then using a very convoluted process overrides that anyway. When all He'd have to do is not give us the capability to make our own choices in the first place. That's a really over-complicated way to do it.
Nobody's choices are being overridden. Arranging for a piece of furniture to end up on my door step rather than where ever it would have ended up otherwise isn't taking over and overriding their choices.
"No, no, no, Eve's decision isn't one of those "God tweaked it until it happened" things."
And you know this how? It was obviously God's will (everything is) - what makes you so positive that it didn't take Him 20 tries to get it right? But in any case, setting up the situation(s) until it happened as He desired certainly IS "tweaking". You can re-name it all you wish, you can trivialize it without not knowing what was involved, you can say anything you wish but God most certainly DID "tweak" until He got the desired result. You even said so, though you may now wish you hadn't, when we begin looking the the necessary results and requirements of that "tweaking".
The "result" of God making woman with a pelvis too small and a baby with a head too large is that women die in childbirth and the rest suffer great pain. That has nothing to do with the apple; it has everything to do with God's physical design and plan. After all, He knew the result of His poor design work before He made it; He had already looked into the future and saw what happened.
"Arranging for a piece of furniture to end up on my door step rather than where ever it would have ended up otherwise isn't taking over and overriding their choices."
You can say that (and did), but you have no idea if it is true. That move may cost your neighbors a great deal (beyond the table they lost) - you have zero idea. So when you say that it's only little things that never override people's choices, that's patently wrong. I said it before; small or large, important or not, heart-wrenching or wonderful, God "arranging" the decisions you will make is removing your free will to make them yourself. All the rationalization in the world doesn't make that go away, and all the assumptions you might make about what He limits Himself to isn't worth a hill of beans, because you don't know and don't even have any idea at all. Your excuses that the neighbors only had to take an extra two steps may not be true at all: you're ignoring the people that died in that horrendous car crash to open up the new job the husband took, and the ultimate loss of income (and their new home) when she can't find work in the new location. Sure, it's a tall tale, but no taller than saying nothing of the sort happened, because you...don't...know and deciding that it didn't because that makes God into the bad guy He is doesn't work for you is grossly insufficient reason to form that conclusion.
You're the one that decided God knows all and manipulates humanity so that everything is forced to match His plan; now live with the result and quit crying when you don't like. Or re-examine the unproven premise that God acts in our world or that He is timeless and knows the future.
No, it was obviously NOT God's will. That's the whole point. God willed what He said. Don't eat. That's what makes the whole story significant. The creation account just explained how everything in the natural world conformed to God's will and command. Adam and Eve were different. This is how they were different. If this were God's will then they wouldn't have broken any rules.
Poor design? The entire planet is populated with humans born this way. Seems to work pretty well. But yes, it had everything to do with the apple/fruit, because a consequence of eating it was death. As it directly states. And procreation is only necessary when there's death. If they hadn't eaten the fruit they would have lived forever in Eden.
And you have zero idea that this move was a bad thing for those neighbors. In fact, what little information we have suggests the opposite, but that doesn't stop you from speculating to find fault.
You keep saying God changed or affected "choices". No, He didn't. They were clearly not moving against their will. They were clearly not giving up this piece of furniture against their will. It was their choice. Imagining job loss and horrendous car crashes is insufficient reason to try to make God out to be the bad guy in this situation. What little information we have suggests the opposite is true.
There's no need to re-examine. And I didn't decide anything. I simply took the information given and assessed in that context. And what I described is consistent with what's described. The things you're suggesting introduces a completely convoluted process of enforcing His will after specifically making it possible for us to deviate from it, and imagining the worst possible scenario to try to make God out to be the villain.
"No, it was obviously NOT God's will."
And you know this how? He designed the universe, the garden and Eve. He put the necessary conditions into place. He knew what she would do. He could have changed circumstances so she wouldn't eat, just as He changes conditions every time someone doesn't do/get what He wants them to. Yet you, alone of the billions of people on earth, know God's motivations and what He wanted thousands of years ago.
It's really amazing that someone with your capability to reason absolutely refuses to do so, instead making such silly claims as "God set it up to force Eve to fail - He wrote the script that ensured that failure - but He didn't want her to.
"Seems to work pretty well. <childbirth>"
You might feel a little different had it been your wife, daughter or mother that died trying to give birth to an infant too large for her body to handle. Alone of the animals on earth, only man has this problem to an appreciable degree and it is only in the last few instants of our tenure on earth that we have figured out how to thwart the death rate in childbirth to an appreciable degree. Don't tell me it works well!
"And you have zero idea that this move was a bad thing for those neighbors."
You're right - that's what I said, along with you don't know it was good either. OR that it was good for all the other people that had God change their futures so you could get a table. Yet you still insist it had to be good, as if that makes any difference at all when free will is being considered rather than whether God's actions were good or bad.
Of course He didn't affect their choices: He just arranged different choices until He got the result He wanted. Not affecting anything at all, is He? Again, it is surprising that you could ever make this claim even while insisting that He does influence our choices until He gets what He wants as a decision.
I didn't suggest the convoluted method of peering into the future and changing the past multiple times as necessary until the future matches what is desired: you did. I have remained steadfast in that it is an unacceptable theory in both that it has no evidence and that it removes free will. And no, the coincidence that you got a free table is not evidence that a god was involved; such things happen every day. Heck, I gave an 18' fiberglass boat with a 75HP outboard motor to my neighbor when I left the East coast!
Yes, exactly, He set the conditions. He did this to see what they'd do. If He had set the conditions so that she wouldn't eat then that's God controlling the situation. THAT's taking the choice away.
I know God's motivations and what He wanted thousands of years ago because the story directly says it.
Yes, God didn't want her to. It was God's will that created the rule that was then broken. If He didn't will her to not eat the fruit, then there would not have been a rule to break. There would have been no infraction.
There are nearly 7 billion people on Earth. Humans have fully populated the planet since 20,000 BC. It works well.
The fact is, based on my discussion with the previous owner, it supports what I'm saying. They clearly weren't acting against their will, they clearly chose to do so themselves, and they were clearly happy about it and said so.
Right, things like this do happen all the time, but in this particular case that particular type of table showing up when/where/how it did answered a very specific question that I had asked in prayer, silent to myself, without having told anybody else. It was the exact same type of table I was considering purchasing next when I asked. Your choice to give away your boat could have been the same thing. It could have proved to be something they needed, or it could be that it would prove to be something they'd need at some later time. But you made the choice of your own volition.
"He did this to see what they'd do."
False. He already knew, by looking ahead on the time line. He knew before He ever created Eve what she would do. He did, in fact, know what He would do, what He did do in the "future" and what the results were "after" He did it. This, from your own explanation of how God knows the future. He also arranged things to happen as He wished, and this from your own explanation of how God works on earth, by viewing what happened if this is tried vs what happened if He did that, followed by another if the "that" wasn't what He wanted to happen.
(Side discussion - God looks ahead and sees what He did at that moment. He finds it good as it was the last "tweak" He did, and accepts it as a done deal. Everywhere on the timeline. Thus God has no need to tweak anything as it is already "fait accompli" and, once more, pre-ordained from the moment of Creation. He never acts in our realm.)
So she did exactly what He wanted; by your description of God's actions we all do exactly what He wants...or He changes the conditions until we make the choice He wants us to.
You know His motivations...because someone 10,000 years ago said they knew and the "knowledge" was passed through umpteen generations by word of mouth? Ever played the game where a statement is whispered around the room until it gets back to the originator?
According to you, you only had a few words with your neighbor and have no idea of why they were moving. And you certainly have no idea of what happened to other people to allow/force that move - no one operates in a vacuum and that includes your neighbor. Did someone across the country die and set that whole train of events into action? You don't know, but still maintain no one was hurt and therefore we have free will anyway. Didn't work when you said it, doesn't work now.
Maybe I made my own choice, maybe not. Your claim is that everything on earth happens according to God's will, right down the microbial reproduction, and thus I did not. My claim is that you can't show God ever interferes/interfered and thus we don't know but I will choose to believe I did. Because, without evidence, it makes me happy and for no other reason.
False. Just think about what you said for a minute. If God didn't create Eve, or the garden, or the fruit, when He looks ahead to the future, what's He going to see? Eve's not there. The garden's not there. I know this whole time thing totally baffles you, but you have to understand that. God couldn't know what Eve would do in that situation unless that situation and Eve existed to then do what she was going to do. God looking ahead to the future means nothing if Eve and that situation don't exist.
No, she didn't do what He wanted. It specifically says that He told them not to eat the fruit. What do you not get about that?
Yes, I've played telephone. But in this case it's a story that was committed to memory, and carefully recreated word for word. Not the same thing.
Your right, I know very little about the neighbors. All I know is what they told me. And what they told me supports what I'm saying and doesn't at all support what you keep trying to inject into it.
"Your claim is that everything on earth happens according to God's will"
Wow. How long have we been talking about this? Everything EXCEPT humans and free will.
No, your whole claim is that the entire time line is already in existence, including our future. Just as it was as soon as God created the universe. You are failing to understand the results of your own suppositions.
I get that He told them not to eat it. That does NOT mean He did not want them to; it means He told them not to. God does not a particularly good record when it comes to honesty or forthrightness.
Not possible. A tale cannot be repeated generation after generation from memorization, not by humans.
Not trying to inject anything into the neighbors story, just repeating that you don't know the particulars. That's all.
But God makes humans do as He wishes. Just like making the neighbors give you the table.
Damn man. This is frustrating.
Yes, the timeline exists. But, if God didn't create Eve or the garden, then when God looks to that future, what does He see? Eve isn't there. So how's He to see what she'd do? What do you not get about that? Eve has to exist on that timeline to then be seen on that timeline.
So God directly saying don't eat the fruit isn't sufficient. You think it still means that He actually did want them to? Okay.
Not possible? There were people during Greek times who made a living traveling from place to place reciting the stories of Homer and others, hundreds and thousands of lines, from memory. Yes, it is very possible.
The particulars I do know are consistent with what I'm saying and directly contradict what you're saying.
God didn't make the neighbors give me that table. They did it of their own will. Happily. That we do know.
But He did/would create it. And it could be seen before He created it, because He would. Just as He can see your decisions/actions before you perform them.
"There were people during Greek times who made a living traveling from place to place reciting the stories of Homer and others, hundreds and thousands of lines, from memory."
And every one of them recited it exactly the same? With no changes, no personalization from the speaker? In my experience, that just doesn't happen. One has only to look at records of wars to see a gross example of that - even with written records from multiple sources the story is always different. Now we're hearing the holocaust never happened! And when it comes to fiction or unprovable tales it's even worse - it gets embellished every time it goes to a different person, and usually multiple times from the same person. But you know this - there is no real reason to repeat it.
And now God didn't make the neighbors give you the table. He just caused it to happen as a response to your prayer. No, Headly, you just cannot have it both ways. You're pretty good at side stepping the obvious while maintaining the impossible is true, but that just can't work. He responded with a table or He did not. Not both at the same time. And if He did provide the table, then the neighbors had no choice but to give it to you, fulfilling His wishes...because, according to you, God interfered in their and other's lives to provide enough incentive to make the choice He wanted them to make. And, on the path, removed their free will and substituted His own, probably multiple times according to you.
Nope, they gave it willingly. Of that I'm certain. They were clearly going to leave it, or have to come back to deal with it later, so chances are they would have left it anyway. God just ensured that when they did it was by my door on that day.
Right, as long as Eve and that scenario existed in that future then there was something to see. But God couldn't know ahead of time without her existing what would happen. She had to exist in that future, He had to eventually create her and that scenario, for that future to exist to be seen.
By your theory that God changes things and circumstances until they ARE happy to do what He wants, you are correct. Or by the theory that it was coincidental, as well. Either way they were happy to get rid of something they could not use and would cost them trouble/money/whatever to dispose of. That's the point of the whole theory isn't it? That God changes the past until He gets the choice He wants out of everyone? And thus gives the appearance of free will even though, unbeknownst to the poor manipulated subjects of His attention, they can ultimately only make the choice He demands. He will, after all, merely change the past again if they do not "cooperate".
Of course He knew what Eve would do - that is central to your theory of God seeing the entire time line in a single gestalt. Whether events have happened in our time sense is irrelevant; god can see those events because they have "already" happened in our "future" but right in front of him, so to speak.
So yes, He had to eventually create her (which He did) but He already knew He would and what the result would be (she would eat). God set up the entire time line of the entire universe in the first microsecond of creation - outside of time Himself, that would be easy even if it took an eternity on our scale. Of course if He screwed up and she didn't eat then he merely had to "tweak" the past until she did. This is your theory, after all, and what you explained He does. You just seem to have failed to think out the nooks and crannies - the results and requirements, the nuts and bolts, of the theory - and don't want to acknowledge them now.
No, He doesn't control the choices. He works with them. Same choices, different setting, different timing. The same sequence of events, the same decisions/actions, only altering the logistics of when/where the actions and results of which played out. Choices still in tact. Not under God's control, but rather something He must contend with and figure out how to work with. Again, you're suggesting an overly complicated process if ultimately He's going to do what you're saying and enforce His will. Why make it so complicated for Himself?
I'm acknowledging that there are flaws in your criticisms. People with free will, you, me, Adam, Eve, God cannot see what we'll do in the future unless it all plays out. For God to see it in that first instant, we all have to really be here. We all have to really have played our part already. Otherwise, nothing is written to be read.
Sounds to me like you're changing the words (work with choices, for instance) in an effort to make the process more palatable. But you've been very, very plain in your idea of how it works: if you don't make the choice God wants you to He goes back in time and changes things in such a way that He hopes you will choose as He wishes. If you still don't, He repeats the process, as many times as necessary until you DO choose as He wants you to. All the fancy words in the world doesn't change that He has forced a choice on you by manipulating events and possibilities until you make a specific decision that He wants you to make. And if you WILL make choices as He desires then the only conclusion is that free will is a myth - every choice is exactly what God wants and His will be done.
In a way. But the entire time line was written at the moment of creation, from God's point of view. He can see every point on it, whether we existed in our view or not. That we don't see little Johnny being born next week is irrelevant to God; He sees it this week whether we do or not.
No, it's not the choices that are changing. Let's take your pancake/waffle example. The alteration would be that you're making the choice while living on 2nd street rather than 4th street. But either way you still have the waffles, for the same reasons. Instead of the drafting table being left on the curb across town in January, it was left by my door in May. But the decisions made by them along the way were not altered. No choices forced. Free will still in tact.
"He can see every point on it, whether we existed in our view or not.
Wrong. We have to be a part of that future for it to be seen. God can't just imagine what we'll do, or guess. We have to actually exist during that portion of time in that particular scenario to then be 'seeable' in that future. He can't look to the future to see what you'd do if that future never happens. There'd be nothing to look to.
Negative. Living on 2nd or 4th will not appreciably change which choice I make. Removal of all the syrup in the house might, though. I went through that a few posts back. In the case of your table, what choices caused the move? What choices, by others, even made the move possible? These things ARE integral to the choice of where to leave the table - without moving there would not be a truck to be too full and thus would be something that God forced. It could, in fact, go back thousands or millions of years, via Homer's Insect, with God minutely changing this a billion times to produce the neighbor's choice that He wants.
But in any case, God will keep changing, according to you, until He DOES get the choice He wants. In the waffles matter, He took away the syrup to try and force a decision to pancakes. When that didn't work He took away the jam. He may even have cause the waffle make to malfunction, whereupon the only real choice is pancakes (I could still go to Denny's and order waffles, but will not make the effort, leaving pancakes as the only reasonable choice and falsely thinking I had free will to go to Denny's).
So we're back to the starting point: God will arrange events, actions and possibilities until He gets the choice He wants. You may make no other choice because if you do, He will change the timeline until you make the one He wants. You have no choice at all, although it seems at the time that you do, because you cannot know what God has been doing. I cannot know that He took the syrup away, or the jam; at the end it looks to me like I made the choice because I refused to buy the waffles I wanted but the reality is that God arranged it all. HE manipulated events until my faux "choice" went away when He was through playing games with the timeline.
You're partially right. If the time line ends tomorrow and the universe ceases to exist then there is nothing for God to see. But if it does not, then He sees it all. Even the portion where you are missing, and if He doesn't like that He'll give the car that mowed you down a flat tire in the morning so it can't. The neighbor actually died the day before, but God needed him to leave the table, so He changed the past so the neighbor did not die and was still available to manipulate into giving the table.
Of course the paradox is that in God's view the neighbor never died and did not need saving at all. After all, when He looks, He sees the neighbor alive and well, leaving the table on your doorstep. No need to change anything. But He DID change it to keep the guy alive. But there is no need to, so He didn't. Paradox.
Perhaps the reality is that every action by God (not you because you will do whatever God wants you to) produces an alternate timeline where He does not interfere. Somewhere there is an atheist HeadlyvonNoggin that never read the bible and that God dislikes and never gifted with a table. And he complains on HubPages forums that God never helps him and must not exist!
Yes, exactly. Living on 2nd or 4th would not change which choice you make. So if what God wants to accomplish can be achieved by simply changing things so that you make that same decision from 4th rather than 2nd, then that's what He changes. Working with your choices. Not altering them.
You keep trying to make it out to be opposite of what I'm saying. Trying to affect your choices, or change the choices you make. No. Again, He went through a whole lot of trouble to ensure you make your own choices and not just what God wills. So to then go through all of this trouble just to override that capability He worked so hard to ensure you have is just silly.
"Living on 2nd or 4th would not change which choice you make."
"So if what God wants to accomplish can be achieved by simply changing things so that you make that same decision from 4th rather than 2nd, then that's what He changes."
You can't say it won't work and turn around say it did work. If God tried it, He found it didn't work and tried something else. You said so yourself.
"He went through a whole lot of trouble to ensure you make your own choices and not just what God wills."
No, He didn't. It is integral to your theory that He went to a lot of trouble to ensure I make choices that HE wants. If He is willing to accept any choice I make, there is no reason to interfere at all. He only makes changes to ensure His desires, not mine.
You're not getting what I'm saying at all. God making the changes I'm speaking of to ensure a particular outcome has nothing to do with influencing your choices. Like the neighbors, they clearly chose for themselves to leave me the table. All I'm saying is that God arranged it so that my door is where it ended up. They would have left it behind anyway. But rather than it ending up on the curb, it ended up by my door. Same choices made, not changed, only the location of the result of those choices is altered.
Aw, c'mon Headly. You want God to manipulate you into making a specific decision while saying at the same time He doesn't influence your decision.
Then you say God "arranged" for the table to be left at your doorstep (He influenced neighbors decision on whether to move, what truck to get, etc. as necessary plus definitely influenced neighbors decision as where to put their junk) but He didn't influence their decision. He didn't move it Himself; He arranged for neighbors to leave it there but did not influence them.
I know you understand how silly this all sounds: He did something but did nothing. He made neighbors leave table at a specific place, but did not do it Himself or do anything to neighbors. He answered your prayer with a table but took no action to make it happen (it's called coincidence, not prayer answer). You can do better than that! Truly, it's statements like this that reinforce the idea that you will believe what you want for no more reason than you want to. Like my belief in free will, except you claim you have reasons and data to back up your belief. Well, we've beat this one to death and the best "data" you have offered yet is that God acts but doesn't act. He does answer prayer, but does nothing to answer prayer. His actions never happen while He "tweaks" the past to produce the future He wants.
You really can do better.
No. That's what you apparently want me to be saying. And you're trying to make it sound as though I'm contradicting myself, that I'm the one in the wrong, but I'm not. You're not hearing me. I didn't say God didn't do anything. I said He didn't influence or interfere in their choices. There are circumstances that can change the outcome of how exactly things play out apart from the decisions made by the people involved.
Like the example of waffles/pancakes on 2nd or 4th street. The only thing that's changed is the location you were at when you made the decision. Like you said, the decision would have been the same in either place. So, if you originally made this decision while living on 2nd street, but God arranged things so that you ended up living on 4th instead of 2nd so that when you made that same decision you made it on 4th instead of 2nd, that's the change that was made. That change doesn't influence or change your choice. Only the location in which you made it.
In the case of the neighbors, they were going to move anyway. They were going to leave the table behind anyway. None of that changed. The only change I'm suggesting happened is that it was arranged that these same decisions and actions played out so that the table ended up by my door. No choices were influenced or changed.
I am doing better than you recognize.
"I didn't say God didn't do anything. I said He didn't influence or interfere in their choices."
Then what might He do that doesn't influence decisions and yet does not accomplish physical things (moving the table to where it was found)?
OK with the waffles. But God wanted waffles - that was specified in the original scenario. Now He doesn't get waffles, but pancakes instead. His will is thus not met, and the "prayer" not answered.
"In the case of the neighbors, they were going to move anyway." You don't know that - again we can only assume it is untrue. Either that or God did not answered your prayer; it was pure chance, the luck of the draw, that you ended up with the table. For the question of moving is exactly the same as the question of where to set the table. If you're willing to assume the table would have gone somewhere else without God's non-influence in their decision as where to place it, you might as well assume that they would not have moved without the same non-influence.
So the decisions concerning the table were "arranged" so that "decisions" and "actions" produced His will. Pray tell, how does God "arrange" that people make specific decisions and actions without affecting those decisions? More double talk - you can't arrange for specific decisions without affecting those decisions, after all. And if you don't, then you have not arranged anything at all and God did not answer a prayer. Coincidence did.