Do we have free will? Does God?

One reason I ceased to believe in God was that I was taught as I was growing up that God knew everything there was to know — past, present and future.  This necessarily meant that the future could currently be known with certainty.  Thus, every apparent exercise of free will was illusory.  I might feel like I am choosing option A over option B but, in fact, God already knew I was going to choose option A and I was not at liberty to choose option B in defiance of what God already knew would happen.  Despite appearances, I did not have free will.

For that matter, neither did God.  Can you imagine what it would be like to know with absolute certainty everything you were going to do for all eternity?  How boring and pointless to travel a predetermined path, especially one you know about in advance!  How boring to know everything about the future already and to never learn anything new!  I almost felt sorry for God.

In the end, I could not accept that neither I nor God had any free will at all. 

This comes to mind now for two reasons.  A commenter a couple of days ago commented on someone he knew who swore we had no free will, but acted every moment as if he believed he had free will.  The day before that, I visited the web site of a small religious group/school that a cousin of mine is now associated with.  The group had an extensive mission statement that asserted that we have free will and that God knows everything that will happen in the future, without making any attempt to reconcile the two and without even acknowledging that the two are inconsistent. 

Anyway, on this Sunday it seems reasonable to ask those of you who do believe in God, and especially those of you who believe in both God’s knowledge of the future and man’s free will — how do you reconcile the two beliefs?  The only answer I ever got when I was young and searching for answers was that some things are beyond our understanding, an answer which was always highly unsatisfactory to me. 

While I’m at it, two other quick questions about God.  First, if God is perfect, why did he create human beings (supposedly in his likeness) who are imperfect?  Why would perfection create imperfection, or even the possibility of imperfection?  If it is our fault that we chose a path of imperfection (eating the apple, as it were), why was God angry?  He already knew what we would do when he created us.  Why did he create us to make the worng decision, not the right one?

Second, we are constantly criticizing liberals for making their case based on emotions and belief, rather than cold hard facts.  Isn’t that what believers in God do?  Isn’t it ironic that conservatives who trust in fact-based arguments in this world are more likely to believe in a non-fact-based God than liberals, who trust to their emotions and beliefs in this world but reject a belief in God as not supported by the facts? Where are the cold hard facts supporting the existence of God?  Isn’t the fact that even believers have such trouble agreeing on who/what God is compelling evidence that man created God and not the other way around?

As always, thanks in advance for your comments and I hope I have not offended anyone with these ruminations.  If so, I apologize.  Please know I am seeking, not criticizing.

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  • Spartacus

    Buenos Tardes, Sr. Quixote,
     
    “And, if the future is fixed and we are not at liberty to change it, our choices are already made for us.”
    No offense, but I really think you’re over-intellectualizing this one.  In my everydy life, I have no perception that I am not making my own decisions.  If you also have that general feeling of control, it’s probably best just to roll with that as the most likely explanation.  I think, in a sense, that the future is currently being fixed in place by our decisions.  Predictability on our part, even from the viewpoint of an omniscient, is merely that.
    Although it is unwise to presume to understand God’s motives in detail, my gut sense is that free will is the only good explanation for why God would take a beautiful and sinless (because it was lifeless) universe and populate it with beings whom he could predict would morally cr*p all over His morally perfect creation.  If He really wanted to control us, I think we would be much better behaved.
     
    “BTW, why is it not possible to have a God who created everything and knows everything since the beginning of creation, but who cannot look into the future?”
    You know, I’ve also kind of wondered about a variation on this one: What if God has the ability to number-crunch and foresee whatever He wants to, but doesn’t necessarily spend much time forecasting the outcome of most subplots?  Interesting, but unknowable.
     
    “Granted that all that we know of the real world is quite remarkable, it does not solve the problem to posit a creator that is even more remarkable.”
    In the early 1960’s the county clerk of Essex County, NJ was a fellow named Nicholas Caputo.  It was his job to lay out the arrangement of the ballots.  Because there is a well-known advatage for a candidate to ocupy the top line, he was required by law to select the order of candidates listed by random chance.  In 41 of 42 cases, a Democrat occupied the top line on the ballot arranged by Mr. Caputo, who was also a Democrat.  He claimed to have flipped a coin for each race.  Statisticians were brought in as witnesses and described the odds of this — about 1 in 50 billion, if memory serves.  The jury returned a verdict of “Oh, whaddaya think?  This is Jersey,” and Mr. Caputo went to prison.
    My point here is not that juries are infallible — you are well aware that they are not — but that the statistical likelihood of Mr. Caputo’s innocence is almost infinitely greater than the likelihood of even a single protein magically falling together without help from an already-living cell or… other entity.  And it only gets harder from there.  So, for you to maintain that the existence of a creator is even more remarkable than the spontaneous generation of life ex nihilo, I think you’re glossing over the number of zeroes in the denominator.  Without all the follow-on miracles, and just looking at the Big Bang itself, I would assume Ockham’s Razon cuts against any theistic explanation by a score of about 99.9% to 0.1% — hence all of the time I spent as a near-atheist agnostic.  But all the follow-on miracles, from proteins to prophesies fulfilled to medically inexplicable healings of people I know (one of them instant, after prayer) to the general sense shared by so many that life does indeed have meaning, tilt the balance of the preponderance of evidence way over in the other direction.  And at some point, it’s OK to admit that.  ;)

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    What if God has the ability to number-crunch and foresee whatever He wants to, but doesn’t necessarily spend much time forecasting the outcome of most subplots?  Interesting, but unknowable.
     
    An omniscient God would not need the federal government’s paper bureaucracy to keep track of things. The invisible hand of the free market can determine actions and consequences. If it happens, then God knows of it. Thus one can look at the system in question, the free market and its distributed network of processing power, as equivalent to God’s knowledge. He doesn’t need to forecast things because he can check whenever he wants and the system itself will list every transaction and its effects unto infinity. For things in the future, he just moves the timescale forward. For things in the past, he moves it backwards.
     
    The point is, the future isn’t created by knowing about it. The future is created by mortal hands and that which exists on this plane of existence. There is no future if the atoms of this universe doesn’t make it to the future. If God wanted to create a future using solely abstract thought, he wouldn’t need the universe as we know it. Which also implies that if he wanted a future that didn’t require mortal hands to build, he can just make one but it wouldn’t be any place we would recognize it.
     

  • Mike Devx

    I have no objection to those who believe that Man created God.  You’re as welcome to be wrong as any of us!   :-)

    Let’s just not all get offended with each other, OK?  There’s a school district – I didn’t note where – that has banned its classrooms from any and all mention or use of Christian symbols, Santa Claus, reindeer, and the colors red and green.  Why?  They didn’t want anyone to be offended.

    Sheesh.  You know what?  THEY’VE OFFENDED ME!!!  I’m offended!  Why don’t I count?

  • http://ruminationsroom.wordpress.com Don Quixote

    Mike, because you are in the class of people it is safe to offend.  Heck, you read and comment on conservative blogs, so you’re probably evil to begin with.

    Simplemind, see the third chapter of Gensis.  God cursed Adam and Eve, denied them the fruit of the tree of life and kicked them out of the garden.  Sounds to me like he was pretty ticked off.  I agree completely that it would be much more satisfying to believe than to disbelieve.  A society greatly benefits when its members are believers in a common religion, too.  But I can’t make myself believe just because it would be great to do so.

    Spartacus, I enjoyed the story.  I wonder how the one Democrat who didn’t make the top of the ballot felt.  As to your other point, perhaps development without a creator is statistically nearly impossible, but I’m not sure you fully account for billions of years on trillions of planets.  Maybe there is something in how the world came to be (created or not) that favors the development of life.  Actually, I don’t have any problem with all of development except for the one extraordinary transition from non-life to life.  When scientists can replicate that I’ll feel better about it but in the meantime it strikes me as a miracle.  Everything before it can be explained as natural processes and everything after it can be explained by evolution (even though we don’t begin to fully understand either one).  But that one moment defies explanation.

  • SADIE

    But that one moment defies explanation.

     
    Barry White, DQ, it’s Barry White singing those sexy love songs. G-d knew his voice, the music, the lyrics long before Barry was created – He was just holding back the physical manifestation of Barry and only hummed the melodies.
     
    I hope that explains it all and happy to help.

  • MacG

    “One reason I ceased to believe in God was that I was taught as I was growing up that God knew everything there was to know — past, present and future.  This necessarily meant that the future could currently be known with certainty.”

    But not by you.

    “Thus, every apparent exercise of free will was illusory.  I might feel like I am choosing option A over option B but, in fact, God already knew I was going to choose option A…”

    How does that stop you from choosing?

    “…and I was not at liberty to choose option B in defiance of what God already knew would happen.”


    Defiance. Now we are back to the root of the issue that reared its head in the Garden.  This knowledge God has disallows for unrecompnsed deeds weather good or bad.  This kind of exposure is unnerving. Nobody likes that kind of exposure, just ask Adam and Eve.

    “Despite appearances, I did not have free will.”

    Appearances do not have all the information necessary to paint a full picture.  For instance we cannot perceive infrared light nor hear things below 20Hz nor above 20kHz.  We speak of free will in the context of what we can perceive.  Free will, like free seech, paradoxically has its limitations and both come with a price. 

    “For that matter, neither did God.  Can you imagine what it would be like to know with absolute certainty everything you were going to do for all eternity? How boring and pointless to travel a predetermined path, especially one you know about in advance!”

    I can imagine only from a 4th dimensional being’s point of view.  It would be boring.  What I cannot fathom is what it would be like being eternal, existing in all other dimensions without time.  God may not have free will as we know it.  Omnipotence is not that God can do anything but rather God can do anything that will not violate His nature despite knowing both good and evil.

    “How boring to know everything about the future already and to never learn anything new!  I almost felt sorry for God.”

    The one thing from our POV is God had not experienced was living a human tent: starting at Phillippians 2:5 “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”  He experienced a mother’s tender love, the loss of a father, some pretty good food, wine with great friends, a friend’s betrayal, the wrath of men and a corrupt government’s cross.

    So I suppose God “learned” what it was like to live, suffer and die as a human in these lower four dimensions (did I mention resurrection too?). 

    Feeling sorry for God?  I know that at one point it is written that God was sorry that He and made man in the first place.  I know this seems to go against omnicience but just how would you if you were God,  communicate to lowly 4th dimensional beings in a way they might understand?  We say sun up and sun down because it is how we preceive it but that’s really not how it works.  Why would God not be justified in doing the same?

  • esurio

    But I can’t make myself believe just because it would be great to do so.
    No one can make themselves believe and no one here can convince you (or anyone else) either. Try asking God instead of us. I believe he’ll answer you.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  • Simplemind

    “Q: How do you know God was angry? Simplemind, see the third chapter of Gensis.  God cursed Adam and Eve, denied them the fruit of the tree of life and kicked them out of the garden.  Sounds to me like he was pretty ticked off.  I agree completely that it would be much more satisfying to believe than to disbelieve.  A society greatly benefits when its members are believers in a common religion, too.  But I can’t make myself believe just because it would be great to do so.”  (That was a trick question Don. You don’t know unless you rely on the bible, which you don’t. I won’t pick on you though. Some faith’s believe the bible literally – my faith doesn’t. Its seen as revealed truth but in allegory and parable and subject to human kind’s subjective interpretation.)   So it was a curse to be ejected from the garen of eden. Is free will a curse or a gift? Suppose it depends on your point of view.  The result of the choice to eat of the forbidden fruit and exercise of free will is what mandated an exit from the Garden.  Surely it isn’t possible to live in paradise when the inhabitants of the garden are free to make bad choices – it wouldn’t be a paradise for long. So we weren’t really forced to leave – we chose to end paradise when we took the bite. In essence as a human with free will you self select the life you lead in many ways. This is the parable of the garden. You say:  “But I can’t make myself believe just because it would be great to do so.”  You don’t have to make yourself do it.  You can choose to do it.  Like eating a salad versus french fries.   There is no magic moment that is like voila – I now believe when before I was skeptical.  I chose to believe, even though I am still skeptical. Its just that I accept that my logic is limited and where I have an absence of proof I still choose to pray and go to church etc.  It really helps – – especially when you get older and you see your relatives start to pass on. Again, if God isn’t in the same time stream as you and I. He knows what we did – cause we’ve already done it, and we were free to do it when we did it.  Its like you were free to make decisions yesterday that you know the results of today.  Knowledge of the results today doesn’t mean you weren’t free to do something different yesterday.  Honestly – – read some really good science fiction. It will help you open you mind to different scientific ideas that will help you reframe the issue.  The potential of God is not foreclosed by anything said in the bible or discovered by science to date.  You certainly don’t have to believe, any more than you have to eat a salad instead of fries for lunch.  Its your call. There’s no fundamental proof either way.   Belief is an action, a behavior, not a state of being brought about by an ephipany – well at least not by anyone I know about since  – -St. Paul.  Actually, he’s the only  one I’ve ever heard of having that kind of conversion.  If it happens, I don’t think it happens very often –like winning the lottery so to speak. You have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than you do of having an epiphany conversion.  So feel free to make your own call – that’s kind of the point of this whole existence  thing.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Honestly – – read some really good science fiction.
     
    I think one of the fundamental issues is that people simply cannot grasp what omniscience or omnipotence are. The good thing about science fiction or space opera is that they depict technologically advanced species that have more knowledge and are more powerful than what we would term human technology.
     
    The way limits to infinity are done is that we approach infinity, selecting points closer and closer to infinity, the limit, to then find the limit, the barrier of the incomprehensible.
     
    So when a person understands how something can be more powerful and more wise, but without being perfect, they can more adequately grasp the concept of omniscience and omnipotence: the infinite depths.
     
    So basically you get from SF all these magical technology that destroys stars, builds planets, collapses galaxies, goes faster than light, travel back and forth in time and then you realize God is just a step beyond that. That if you take the gap between a galaxy spanning empire and human civilization on this planet, the difference between that galaxy spanning empire and God would be an infinite number of times greater than the difference between humanity and that galaxy spanning empire. In point of fact, such a galaxy spanning empire would have power many humans would call “godlike” but they are not gods.
     
    Conceptually, and mathematically, it is a usable method to grasp the infinite.
     
    God cursed Adam and Eve, denied them the fruit of the tree of life and kicked them out of the garden.
     
    As mentioned by others here, you are grasp of theology on this point is rather weak, DQ. The bible, Old and New Testament, is considered by orthodox and various unorthodox Christians as being Revealed Truth, not literal divine truth as the Quran is taken as. That means God “revealed” some truths to humans and those humans then took their “interpretation” and wrote it on paper.
     
    So basically you’re taking the line “God cursed Adam and Eve” written in some book by fallible humans and trying to Force it into the mold called “truth”. It’s a bad habit you got from your Calvinist lineaged Church teachings. Just because some humans told you what something was, you automatically now take it as the only possibility in existence and then say that nothing about it is true just because you don’t find anything in it true. You might as well go to court, DQ, in your profession as a lawyer and tell everybody that just because some idiot of a prosecutor couldn’t find a single legitimate legal argument in his case, that this means the entire legal system of the US is just as baseless. Go ahead and do that DQ, because it’ll be and feel exactly the same as the methodology you are using now concerning God and religion.

  • Simplemind

    Besides reading good science fiction, learn how to brew your own beer at home.

    “Beer is proof of God’s love.”  Benjamin Franklin

    He was being funny but also making a point. When you found out how beer is made it seems an oddly convienient confluence of things which would benefit only a sentient being with the corresponding anxiety issues. 

    Also, there is an amazing difference between what you can do at home versus what you get in the store. They take a lot of the proteins out to increase shelf life. Not an issue at home since you make smaller batches and drink it right up.

     

  • BrianE

    “Belief is an action, a behavior, not a state of being brought about by an ephipany – well at least not by anyone I know about since  – -St. Paul.”

    Here’s an example for you:

    “In the course of those days the priest has a vision: he meets the devil who tells him he will become a great warrior. The devil says to increase his power he must continue the rituals of child sacrifice and cannibalism. The initiation is complete and the priest is now one of the most powerful leaders in West Africa. The priest is 11 years old. As prophesied, the boy priest grew up to become one of Liberia’s most notorious warlords: General Butt Naked….

    It was the summer of 1996 and his clansmen were caught up in a ferocious battle. It was decided that a sacrifice was needed. As the rockets rained down, a mother brought her three-year-old daughter to him. Something about the child struck the pitiless General and for the first time in his life he hesitated. As he relives the moment with me, his face becomes contorted.

    ‘The child was very unusually beautiful and kind. Most of the children are brought to me by the elders, they’re crying, they’re fighting. This child was peaceful,’ he recalls. ‘I thought, “This child must not die.” I struggled.

    ‘Of all of the thousands that I killed, I wish I did not kill that little girl . . . ‘ his voice trails off. He is close to tears for the first and only time. ‘Right after killing her, I had my epiphany.’

    He claims he saw a white light in the shape of a man. A voice told him, ‘repent and live or refuse and die’.

    He believes it was Christ. The impact was immediate. From that day the killing, the sacrifices and cannibalism ended and Blahyi entered a period of turmoil that led his men to believe he had gone mad. Within months he had left the Butt Naked Brigade and by the end of September 1996 he was baptised in the sea near Monrovia.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1333465/Liberias-General-Butt-Naked-The-evil-man-world.html

    This story is hard for me. As some know we have a Liberian son who grew up in the war– both his parents were killed in it. Like the disciples after Saul’s conversion were skeptical, it’s hard to not remain skeptical of his conversion. But I have no reason not to think it is sincere.

    This link came from another blog, making the point that as Christianity worked its way west, many of the pagan European tribes were practicing similar rituals and the blood-letting was equally vile. Evil is a very real part of human existence, tempered by God’s saving grace.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Simple, my friend in California likes to brew honey lager at home in small patches. He keeps talking about hops and what not.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Given BrianE’s example, I would note that it is only one of many examples of God’s existence. Which is not to say the existence of the god preached by your pastors, DQ. That’s a separate issue.
     
     

  • MacG

    There is a lot of talk on how to interpret the bible when for the most part it interprets itself.  Like any wirting it contains literary genre but unilke a work of fiction or poetry by one author it contians more than one genre and about 40 human authors over a 1500 year time span. Which is why quoting hte bible to prove the bible is a misnomer – one qoutes David to prove Moses etc. Additionally it was written by ancient middle eastern minds.  Fast forward to the western 21st century mind and more effort is required than a cursory read stopping at apparant contradictions to understand the subtlties and richness lost in translation.  A good book to see this is “How to Read the Bible for all it’s Worth”, it is a guide to the art and science of biblical interpretation.  Does answer all? No but but it gives a good foundation from which to better understand. 

    One thing for sure the Bible is not a science text nor a math book nor a cook book unless you care to try Elijah’s recipie out, ew (I think it was Elijah).  It is however a collection of writings that depicts a stormy relationship between God and his beloved creation from its inception to its fall to to the penultimate cost in persuit to redeem those lost if they would and the universes destruction and recreation all to God’s glory.

  • SADIE

    DQ, I don’t know how Christians question their faith. I know that in Judaism, questioning is not just expected, but in the Yeshiva, you are partnered to argue/discuss/question word by word. It is a way of life for the faithful/religious.  If you’re ever curious enough … start at the beginning, it may be helpful.


    http://www.askmoses.com/en/article/190,104/What-are-the-Mishnah-and-Talmud.html

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Sadie, a minimum familiarity with theology and the basic theological arguments and counter-arguments would be a good start.

  • MacG

    “DQ, I don’t know how Christians question their faith.”

    Sadie, it has been said that G-d has more respect for the honest skeptic than the believing hypocryte. 

    Our Apostle Paul (a former Pharisee) extolled the virtues of Berean Christians and encouraged other churches to be like them for not taking his word for it (or anybody elses for that matter) but evaluating everything by the scriptures (which at that time was the Tanakh).  This is a form of doubt.  Or a precursor to Regan’s “Trust but verify” :)

    There is a great deal about believing and not doubting in Christianity but I think it gets misconstrued at times.  Jesus said to “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, and knock and the door will be opened for you”.  In the western mind that is a one time thing, but the tense of the passage as written is present as in keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking.   Persue G-d as Jacob would not release the angel after a night of wrestling without a blessing.   Another saying is “Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you”. 

    In his persuit of his directive by his heavenly Father Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemene asked, no, pleaded if there was another way to accomplish this heavy task but in the end yeiled (obeyed) his Father’s will with the words “Yet not my will be doen but yours.”.  Observe the hills and valleys of King David. 

    Faith is a verb and and to live it is an adventure. 

  • Spartacus

    DQ — I’ve recommended it before, but as Churchill said, “nothing succeeds like excess,” so I’ll recommend — no, humbly implore — that you check out Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box.  Behe is a professor of microbiology and was a devout atheist until, as a grad student, he tried to work out the precise mechanics of microbiological evolution.  You have free will [wink] not to follow him in Chapter 9, but the first eight chapters are straight, factual, microbiological truth, which is what you are looking for.
     
    Mike — I periodically stick my foot in my mouth (I’ve always had flexible joints) and knowing this, have a well-ingrained habit of worrying that I may have unknowingly done so.  You cryptically asked for folks here not to get offended with each other… was that a set-up for that joke, or do I need to unlatch my jaw and give a good tug on my ankle?  I’ve got quite a few pixels up there, so I thought it best to ask.

  • Spartacus

    OK, one more thought.  A story, from Ireland.  Apologies that the details are a bit fuzzy.
     
    A philosopher or comedian or something (and an American, I think) was speaking in front of an Irish audience, and probably mentioned something about skepticism of religion.  At one point, a lady in the crowd asked if he was Protestant or Catholic.  “Neither,” he replied, “I’m an atheist.”  “Yes,” she continued, but is it the God of the Protestants or the God of the Catholics that you don’t believe in?”

  • MacG

    Spartacus, I found that book very interesting, well at least the 1st third and the last third :)  Another set of books that are really for the I-just-need-an-outline kind of reader is the Josh McDowell books Evidence That Demands a Verdict 1&2, or a shorter version “More Than a Carpenter”.  “Who moved the Stone?” by Frank Morrison is intriging as well.  One more J.B. Phillips “Your God is Too Small” for some thought provocation. 

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    I wonder why DQ often stops commenting or writing once Book is back.

  • http://ruminationsroom.wordpress.com Don Quixote

    Thank you all so much for the good ideas and for your patience with me.  Lots to read and think about.

    Y-man, as I’ve often said, I’m not a blogger.  I enjoying filling in when Bookworm is out and have especially enjoyed this thread.  I always learn a lot from the Bookwormroom readers.  But I’m not a blogger at heart.  I wouldn’t want to do this on a regular basis, and I’m more than happy to give the reins back to Book when she returns from her vacations.  I do, and will, still write from time to time when the urge strikes.  Because the rest of my life is freeing up a bit, I may pop in a bit more often, even when Book is here.  We’ll see.  In the meantime, thanks again to all of you.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    But I’m not a blogger at heart.
     
    I’m not sure what you mean when you use the term blogger. There are many people who blog but never comment. Then there are those who comment a lot but don’t blog nearly as much. By blog, I mean posting, in a blog post.
     
    In the meantime, thanks again to all of you.
     
    I think i can understand that. Until then, then.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    http://reason.com/archives/2010/11/30/the-eleventh-commandment-punis
     
    Another reference example for the objective benefit of belief vs non-belief.
     
    On the matter of humans creating God, people have to realize something. No mortal can create a system that works this efficiently. Not the communists and not the fascists. This is a bottom up distributed system. It took human intelligence thousands of years to come up with Locke and free market systems. And people expect “somebody” to have created a system even better than that to deal with ignorant savages back in the 1000 BC days? come on.

  • SADIE
  • http://ruminationsroom.wordpress.com Don Quixote

    Those were awesome, Sadie.  Thank you!

  • jcb1979

    Hi, Bookworm… longtime reader, first time commenter.  :)
     
    Here’s my thought on the omniscience of God: God knows all that can be known.  Since the future cannot be known–since it hasn’t happened yet, and actually never *will* happen, since all we ever really know or experience is the present–God doesn’t know what *will* happen.  Time as we know it is pretty much a construct of humanity, and the Universe pretty much operates without regard to time or any other arbitrary or artificial measurement.
    That being the case, free will is entirely plausible, both in the practical and the emotional sense.  I’ll mention this analogy: as a parent, you’ve probably experienced a time when your children brought home a “I love mommy and daddy” picture or card that they made at school (if not, just know that my wife and I have, so that’s the basis for my analogy).  They are sweet, and we hang on to them for a bit, but they just don’t have the sentimentality that the drawing of a WWI dog fight gave me, when I see that my son wrote “I (heart) U Dad” just because, out of the blue.  What’s this to do with free will?  Well, God loves us so much that He gives us the chance to turn away from Him; forcing us to follow Him or love Him is as meaningful as the cards our kids HAVE to make at school for us–they are touching and sweet and endearing, but nowhere NEAR as special as those times that they willingly choose to honor us and think of us and express their love for us.
    Clumsy explanation, perhaps, but that’s been my take.  I love reading your site, so thought that I’d chime in for a change.