Cross Examination: Does God Have Free Will?

I’ve been thinking about God’s free will and omniscience over the last few weeks.  This was prompted, as a good many discussions and thoughts are, by one of my commenters, boomSLANG, who also prompted an earlier post about omniscience and omnipotence.

omniscience

Most of the commentary about omniscience and free will pertains to the omniscience paradox of how an omnisicent God could allow humans to have free will.  However, boomSLANG puts a twist on the traditional omniscience paradox and turns it toward the divine.  I’ll paraphrase boomSLANG’s argument:

If God is omniscient (i.e. he knows everything, past, present, and future), then the future is fixed.  However, if he has free will, then he has the ability to change his mind, which means changing the future (at some point).  Both statements cannot be true at the same time.  Therefore, either he is omniscient, or he has free will.  He cannot have both.  Either he is an omniscient automaton, or he is not omniscient, and retains his free will.

Definitions

Let’s first deal with the definitions of some of the key terms in this argument, and I think the counter-argument will present itself.

Omniscience: omniscience is the capacity to know everything; having infinite knowledge; all-knowing

Automaton: a machine that performs a function according to a predetermined set of coded instructions, esp. one capable of a range of programmed responses to different circumstances

Free will: there are two major definitions of free will, which gets to the heart of this argument:

  1. The ability to choose between options, either of which could be actualized by the act of choosing; also, the ability to make choices without any prior prejudice, inclination, or disposition.
  2. The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion; the ability to choose as one pleases; the ability to be unlimited by any hindrance or lack in the exercise of one’s will.

The first definition of free will is that one have the ability to make choices.  The other definition (put forward by American preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards) is the ability to implement one’s will without hindrance.

How Does God Implement His Will?

God’s will is derived from his character.  He does not arrive at his will by deliberation.  He does not “choose” between one option and another.  His will is an eternal unchanging expression of his perfect character.  Since his will is unchanging, and since he is omnipotent, he can implement his will without hindrance, thus fulfilling the definition of having a free will.  Ephesians 1:11 says he “works all things according to the counsel of his will.” 

There are no impediments to the implementation of his will.  There are no hindrances.  No one and nothing is forcing or compelling God to do one thing or another.  Not humans.  Not some other entity that predetermined a set of coded instructions for God.

God is free in the fullest sense of the word.  He is fully able to exercise his will, and there is nothing that stands in his way, or impedes him, from implementing his will.

God’s implementation of his will is similarly not impeded by his omniscience, because his will is unchanging and eternal.

Do Humans Have Free Will?

By the second definition of “free will,” which I think is the better theological definition of the term, it would seem that humans don’t have a completely free will.  They will always be hindered in some way in the full implementation of their will, either by external factors or by human limitations.  It might be our will to keep our money in a store robbery, but the person with the gun forces their will over ours.  We might will to climb Mount Everest, but physical limitations might keep us from implementing our will.

In terms of their salvation, do humans have free will?  By their nature, humans are sinful, and do not seek after God.  Romans 3:10-11 says, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (emphasis added).  No one, by their nature, wills to seek after God, to be saved.

In fact, the Bible talks about God as the initiator in salvation.  Titus 3:3-7 says,

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (emphasis added)

Ephesians 2:8-9 also, says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (emphasis added).

Conclusions

Yes, humans have the ability to make choices; but they would never actively, freely choose the salvation that’s offered by God.  So He acts, according to his free will, to offer salvation to all, and to draw some to himself.

To tie this all back to the original question… to say that God’s omniscience is at odds with his free will is merely a misunderstanding or misstatement of the divine attributes… his omniscience and his freedom.

You can leave your comments by clicking here.

This post is in my series called “Cross Examination: Is Debunking Christianity Possible?” I’m looking at a myriad of topics in the rational examination of my faith, and will write one post per week for the next year. If you would like to read some of the previous posts in this series, click on the links below:

  • Anonymous

    How typical..i.e..instead of addressing the questions put to you on the *already* existing “omniscience”/”omnipotence” thread, you scurry off and create another thread on the subject, simply relocating and rewording fallacious arguments, and not without botching your interlocutor’s arguments, too. Oh, how tedious.

    Let’s begin:

    You said…“Most of the commentary about omniscience and free will pertains to the omniscience paradox of how an omnisicent God could allow humans to have free will.”

    It’s very simple and easy to grasp, if you’d just stop looking for loopholes and just get honest:

    Robert Ewoldt, at this moment, and at every moment, either “God” knows the flippin’ future, or he DOESN’T. It’s binary! Pick one. No smart person is going to accept that “God” sort of knows the future, or that “God” knows the future, sometimes, and not others. 

    Assuming that you pick the former..i.e…”God” KNOWS THE FUTURE, then we can reasonably(key) conclude that before the human race came into existence, this “God” KNEW who would believe in and accept him, and who WOULD NOT. The implication for this is glaring and obvious, and I reiterate: This means that our “free will” is an illusion, at best; a lie, at worst. If your biblegod knew, with absolute certainty, that Sid, I, and countless millions, would not buy into his haphazardly-put-together book(what I conclude to be utter nonsense), than that known future MUST play out, because if not, then we can conclude that your biblegod wasn’t certain about the future from the onset.

    You continue……“However, boomSLANG puts a twist on the traditional omniscience paradox and turns it toward the divine.”

    It’s not a “twist”, and it’s certainly nothing new. For anyone who cares to think this through, basic logic says that if “God” is “bound by his will”(YOUR terminology from the other thread), then whatever this being “wills”cannot be changed…..EVER……ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER! That, alone, is a limitation on freedom. But again, the implication is glaring and obvious:  For those whom your biblegod knew from the onset would NOT believe in and accept him, “God”, at this moment and all future moments, cannot implement any of the attributes that apologists like you like to brag he has..e.g..”grace” and “mercy”, and it also means that intercessory prayer is useless, utter waste of time.

    I reiterate: The only logical way out of this quagmire is to concede that it wasn’t “God’s Will” that everyone believe in and accept him. Please get honest and let what I’m saying to you penetrate, for nothing else, to relieve you of the burden of defending nonsense. Sheesh!

    • Anonymous

      Addendum.

      Provided definition of “free will”:

      “2. The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion; the ability to choose as one pleases; the ability to be unlimited by any hindrance or lack in the exercise of one’s will”.[bold added]

      One of two things MUST be true: 1) It wouldn’t/doesn’t PLEASE “God” to change the hearts/fates of nonbelievers, or 2) “God” is UNABLE to change the hearts/fates of nonbelievers.

       And then of course, there’s a 3rd option..i.e…there is no “God”; the bible redactors were sloppy in their theology when creating their beloved imaginary, “pie in the sky” deity, and they gave him contradictory attributes. 

      3

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Boom, you say, “if ‘God’ is ‘bound by his will’ (YOUR terminology from the other thread), then whatever this being ‘wills’ cannot be changed…..ever, ever, ever, EVER. That, alone, is a limitation on freedom.”

      You and I agree on the premise of that statement. God’s will is unchanging. However, I disagree with your conclusion, i.e. that it is a limitation on his freedom. If God has a perfect will, there is no need for changing it. In fact, if he were to change it, it would actually diminish his will.

      God’s freedom of will doesn’t pertain to his ability to change his will, because he would never want to change his will. Rather, his freedom of will pertains to his ability to implement his will. He is free to implement his will without interruption or limitation or hindrance.
      But all of this is in the post… I’m just re-typing what I said in a different way.

      Again, you’re taking the definition of “free will” that says that, in order to have free will, one must be able to change their will. From a theological standpoint, I disagree with that definition.
      On Mon, Nov 21, 2011 at 10:12 AM, Disqus <

      • Anonymous

        “If God has a perfect will, there is no need for changing it. In fact, if he were to change it, it would actually diminish his will”. ~ R. Ewoldt

        And if we are to believe that, included in the “perfect will” of this supposed “God”, is his “will” that EVERYONE  believe in and accept him, but yet, this SAME “God” knew that this WOULD NOT HAPPEN, but created this world anyway, just the way it is, then we can logically conclude that nonbelievers, necessarily, do not believe.

         So, by default, you believe that your biblegod’s “perfect will” includes nonbelievers. You have painted yourself into corner.(again)

        • Anonymous

          boom,

          If you take a moment to read the article by WLC that I referenced (link provided), you might find a great deal of familiarity with your argument also being used by WLC in his position AGAINST universal, divine causal determinism.  That is precisely why I referenced the WLC article (I knew where this discussion was headed).  Bob can debate you and WLC at the same time if he likes.  I would like to see that.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          boom, if you would like to debate the implications of God’s perfect will, I’d be happy to do that on another thread. This seems to be for what you’re angling. However, by moving on to another topic, it seems like you’re conceding the argument in this post–namely, that God’s omniscience and free will do not contradict one another.

          • Anonymous

            “it seems like you’re conceding the argument in this post–namely, that God’s omniscience and free will do not contradict one another.” ~ R. Ewoldt

            If you think for one second that after everything I’ve just written, that I’m “conceding the argument in this post”, then congratulations!… you are officially insane!(as well as reading comprehension-challenged, as I’ve suspected all along). Tell me, SPECIFICALLY, which of my statements allude to this supposed concession. I’ve just gOT to know.

            “boom, if you would like to debate the implications of God’s perfect will, I’d be happy to do that on another thread.”

            Please just answer the question: Before your biblegod set out to create the human race, did he, or did he not, possess the knowledge that there would be some of his creation that would believe in and accept him? 

            a) Yes

            b) No

            “This seems to be for what you’re angling. However, by moving on to another topic”

            Good gravy!..I’m not ON “another topic”. You concede that your biblegod is “BOUND”, in terms of “his will”. You concede that it wouldn’t be essential or necessary for said “God” to change said “will”, because said “will” is “perfect”, as is(IOW, he doesn’t need to change his mind) The implication for that, however, is that knowing that there will be nonbelievers, then there MUST be nonbelievers, in which case, if it was “God’s Will” that everyone believe in and accept him, “God” is POWERLESS to implement his “mercy” and “grace” at a later time in the future. 

            In order for “God” to be a free, personal being who makes choices – including, implementing “mercy” and “grace”  –  this requires the “free will” with which to interact, in time, with the personal, free beings whom he “created, including, those whom HE F%#&KING KNEW FROM THE ONSET would NOT believe! ‘Get it? Huh?huh?huh? ‘Get it? You have a glaring philosophical dilemma on your hands.

          • Anonymous

            (addendum)

            It’s worth noting that “mercy”, in the colloquial meaning of the word, is an after thought. It is usually the last minute decision to grant leniency, in light of what is presumably deserved previously. Unless you have some specialized, “theological” definition of “mercy”, too, the above is a wrench in your premise. 

          • Anonymous

            Yes? No?  Waiting. 

  • Anonymous

    Bob,

    How can you seriously claim this article is a “Cross Examination” of your faith?  This article is an expositional sermon re. what you already believe.  Do you have any intention of at least giving the appearance of being open to the possibility of modifying your existing beliefs in any future article in this series?  I thought the purpose of this series was for you to determine for yourself what you actually believe.  

    “The purpose of this series is for the examination of my own faith.” – Robert Ewoldt

    What you have actually done is preached what you believe and then defended those beliefs every time they are questioned.
     

    BTW, if you are interested in William Lane Craig’s views on the topic of universal, divine causal determinism, he has something to say about it here.  You and he may disagree with some of these viewpoints.  If so, you might try to contact him and exchange viewpoints.   

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8111

    • Anonymous

      Oh, good grief! …”God’s middle knowledge”. A perfect example of the mental gymnastics performed by Xian apologists. Sheesh!

      • Anonymous

        This particular article (a.k.a. sermon) by Bob amounts to expositional preaching.  I personally don’t see the point in debating Bob’s interpretation of scripture (which he references throughout this sermon).   
        That is my reason for attaching the WLC article.   Bob may wish to debate this particular subject with an established Christian apologist (WLC).

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          I may wish to do that. But I believe that boom was the one who brought this subject up, prompting my investigation of it. Boom brought it up as a proof that Christianity is illogical, but it turns out that philosophers and Christians have already come up with several answers to the problem.
          In terms of it being sermon-like or preaching… if you don’t want to engage on the theological/biblical debates, I’ll be happy to engage others on this one.

          • Anonymous

            “But I believe that boom was the one who brought this subject up, prompting my investigation of it.”  –  Bob

            Are you telling us that throughout your extensive study of Christian theology over the past 2+ decades, you never devised a viewpoint re. this particular subject before boomSLANG broached the subject?  Really, Bob?  boomSLANG prompted your “investigation” of this subject?

            “In terms of it being sermon-like or preaching… if you don’t want to engage on the theological/biblical debates, I’ll be happy to engage others on this one.”

            I didn’t think the purpose of a “Cross Examination” was for someone (i.e. you) to solicit the opinions re. scripture from people (i.e. us) who do not share your belief that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God.  If you want to provide us with convincing evidence re. any viewpoint you maintain re. your Christian faith, we humbly ask for more convincing evidence than Bible quotations.

          • Anonymous

            “Boom brought it up as a proof that Christianity is illogical, but it turns out that philosophers and Christians have already come up with several answers to the problem.”

            Ooooo, let me see….Christians “have already come up with several answers” to the problems that non-christians pose. Imagine thAT! Wowwy!

        • Anonymous

          “‘God’s middle knowledge” is indeed an interesting idea…” ~ Sid

          But not necessarily a convincing one. In fact, even some Christians reject it as doctrinally inconsistent. That “God” knows what might happen doesn’t preclude “God” from knowing what will happen.

          • Anonymous

            I used the word “interesting” to denote irony.  Bob has recently defended WLC’s position re. the Cosmological Argument.  However, WLC’s views re. universal, divine causal determinism directly contradict the Calvinist viewpoint (which I believe Bob adopts).  Therefore, I wanted to see Bob attempt to refute WLC’s position on this broad subject.  Let those two have at it.

          • Anonymous

            I see what you’re saying. Mr. Ewoldt references apologists when they support his position, but goes silent when those same apologists go against his position.  Hmmm.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            If you’d like an answer, let me answer with WLC’s own words:

            “Actually, I have no problem with certain classic statements of the Reformed view.”

            “I think that the sort of Calvinism represented by the statement quoted above from the Westminster Confession is a fair summary of Scripture’s teaching and therefore should be believed.”

          • Anonymous

            Yes, of course, after all, Calvinists are a type of “Christian”. You are selectively quoting(shocker). WLC goes on to say that y’all’s “Calvinist brethren” should be encouraged to modify their current beliefs toward the doctrine that *he* supports. 

          • Anonymous

            “You are selectively quoting(shocker). ”

            Agreed 100%

            “WLC goes on to say that y’all’s “Calvinist brethren” should be encouraged to modify their current beliefs toward the doctrine that *he* supports.”

            Agreed 100%.

          • Anonymous

            Nice job of cherry-picking a few quotes to posture that WLC is on your side.  While you are at it, this is how WLC concludes the very same article:

            “So don’t be too hard on our Calvinist brethren. Offer them something better, and hope that they will embrace it.”  –  WLC

            WLC is not a Calvinist.  He advocates Molinism.  This is well known in the Christian community.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            So, let me see if I understand what you’re saying: because I disagree with WLC on this issue, I must be wrong? Or that both of us are wrong? Are you advocating for the Molinist position?

            BTW, I wasn’t stating that WLC was on my side. The quotes that I selected were to show that he wasn’t saying I was wrong; he was saying that my position is defensible.

          • Anonymous

            “So, let me see if I understand what you’re saying: because I disagree with WLC on this issue, I must be wrong?” – Bob

            No.

            ” Or that both of us are wrong?” – Bob

            No.

            “Are you advocating for the Molinist position?” – Bob

            No. 

            Bob, we have been through this sort of exchange before.  You and WLC do disagree.  Therefore, you can not both be right (unless you want to retreat to the position that God would allow many shades of gray when it comes to understanding Christian doctrine).  You and WLC both reference scripture as the foundation for your beliefs.  What I want to know is how two devout Christian apologists (i.e. you and WLC) could both reference the same scripture yet draw different conclusions?  

            Which of you devout men did the Holy Spirit guide correctly re. understanding Christian doctrine?  Is it okay for devout men of God to teach doctrine to others when that doctrine may contain errors?

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            So, you’re saying that, since the Holy Spirit guides people, there should be no differences in doctrine?

          • Anonymous

            “So, you’re saying that, since the Holy Spirit guides people, there should be no differences in doctrine?”  –  Bob

            Bob, I asked you 3 very specific questions.  I will ask then again in the hope you might respond with a direct answer to each of them rather than to respond with another question:

            How can two devout Christian apologists (i.e. you and WLC) both reference the same scripture yet draw different conclusions?  

            Which of you devout men did the Holy Spirit guide correctly re. understanding Christian doctrine?

            Is it okay for devout men of God to teach doctrine to others when that doctrine may contain errors?

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Different interpretations come from different people, as you point out. People can be flawed, and even wrong, even Christians. Otherwise you’d find that when a person became a Christian, they would then cease to sin, and we know that doesn’t happen. In fact, the Bible talks about this (Romans 7).

            Since it’s the people that are flawed, and it’s the people that are making doctrine, most people understand that there’s going to be doctrinal differences. Some doctrinal differences don’t affect a lot in practice–they’re not necessary to salvation or the gospel.

            There’s a famous phrase: “in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.”

          • Anonymous

            “Since it’s the people that are flawed, and it’s the people that are making doctrine, most people understand that there’s going to be doctrinal differences.”  –  Bob

            Every major Christian denomination I know of believes that Jesus established an earthly church when Jesus was personally present on Earth.  They also believe the the apostles were indwelt with the infallible Holy Spirit as they began an outward ministry to the Earth.  Are you now telling me that you believe the infallible Holy Spirit then decided to sit by passively and allow allowed MORTAL MEN to twist and contort doctrine and confuse untold billions of faithful humans re. doctrine ever since?  Is that what you believe?

            “Some doctrinal differences don’t affect a lot in practice–they’re not necessary to salvation or the gospel.”  –  Bob

            Interesting.  The Roman Catholic Church adheres to doctrine that is markedly different from your own.  Their understanding of how one obtains salvation is different from your own, and they most certainly do believe a person can fall from grace and forfeit their own salvation.  I wonder how you can account for these substantial difference in doctrine?  If you think the RCC is in error, why would God allow billions of faithful Roman Catholics over the centuries to be deceived?  I know many faithful Roman Catholics who read and study their Bibles etc.  Does the Holy Spirit sit by and allow them to be deceived?

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Sid, if there are doctrinal differences that affect whether a person receives salvation or not, then one would have to assume that the people on one side of the debate are NOT saved, and the others ARE (since the issue affects salvation). If the Holy Spirit only indwells those who are saved, then you can pretty safely say that the doctrines in error are not from the Holy Spirit.

          • Anonymous

            “Sid, if there are doctrinal differences that affect whether a person receives salvation or not, then one would have to assume that the people on one side of the debate are NOT saved, and the others ARE (since the issue affects salvation)”  –  Bob

            Bob, your church declares that believers have the privilege to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation: 

            “We teach that it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvationthrough the testimony of God’s Word…”  –  Grace Church of DuPage

            How can faithful men and women of a different denomination (e.g. Roman Catholics) read the same Bible verses you read and then draw such different conclusions?  If you think RCC members embrace doctrinal error re. salvation, do you think the Holy Spirit allowed this because those particular people were not part of God’s “elect” in the first place?

            “If the Holy Spirit only indwells those who are saved, then you can pretty safely say that the doctrines in error are not from the Holy Spirit.”  –  Bob

            Do you believe that being indwelt by the infallible Holy Spirit is necessary to prevent someone from straying into doctrinal error?  In other words, can people read scripture and KNOW what it teaches without having an infallible guide (i.e. the Holy Spirit)?

             

          • Anonymous

            Yes, it sure appears that way.

          • Anonymous

            “So, let me see if I understand what you’re saying:” ~ Sid

            Being a participant for so long, whenever I see the above words, I can pretty much count on him misunderstanding…or more likely, deliberately misrepresenting his interlocutor’s position, sometimes referred to as stonewalling. Sad, but true.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            My misunderstanding you can either be a reflection on me, or on you as communicators. I’m inclined to believe one, and you the other.

          • Anonymous

            boom,

            I asked Bob three specific questions above re. scripture and doctrine, and what I got in response was this:

            “So, you’re saying that, since the Holy Spirit guides people, there should be no differences in doctrine?”  –  Bob

            Bob appears to be attempting to ascribe a position to me that I have not declared.  I hope Bob will answer my specific questions.  They are legitimate questions.

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Sid, boom asked a question in another thread that I thought merited a more lengthy explanation. So, I wrote about it, and published it.

      Thanks for the link to William Lane Craig. I’ll have to check it out.

      • Anonymous

        I am not questioning your reason for creating this article.  I am incredulous that you actually labeled this article as “Cross Examination”.  This is, in my opinion, the most glaring example yet of expositional preaching on your part during this series.

      • O!

        Bob,

        Oh man, I can’t believe I’m throwing another argument on your plate – I’m still waiting for you to address my older arguments from a few months back.

        Patiently waiting…………..

        …on to the new query.

        Considering your belief that God is omniscient, then God knew that the MAJORITY of his earthly children were destined to be tormented for an eternity in the flames of hell…

        …but he created them anyway.

        One would have to conclude that your God is a sadistic monster, who is a torturer of souls.

        What else could it be?

        • Anonymous

          O!,

          Bob chooses to reference Jonathan Edwards above in Bob’s article (a.k.a.  Bob’s sermon).  The attached link includes an examination a famous sermon of Jonathan Edwards.  It is worth taking a look: 

          http://edwards.yale.edu/archive?path=aHR0cDovL2Vkd2FyZHMueWFsZS5lZHUvY2dpLWJpbi9uZXdwaGlsby9nZXRvYmplY3QucGw/Yy4yMTo0Ny53amVv

          Here is an excerpt that bears examination:

          ———-
          “There is nothing that keeps wicked men, at any one moment, out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.  By “the mere pleasure of God,” I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment.
          ———-

          To paraphrase this passage, Edwards believes that God created mankind.  Therefore, if God deems a person to be “wicked”, God may cast that person into Hell for eternal suffering any time God wishes.  Further, Edwards goes on to declare that the “wicked” deserve eternal suffering etc. etc.

          It might be worth noting the various positions Jonathan Edwards takes in this famous sermon.  I, for one, do not have sufficient evidence to believe in the “God” that Jonathan Edwards describes.

      • Anonymous

        “My misunderstanding you can either be a reflection on me, or on you as communicators. I’m inclined to believe one, and you the other.” ~ R. Ewoldt

        In light of my explaining my position to you in great detail, sometimes as many as 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 times…or I’m sure, in some cases, even more than that, I’m inclined to believe I’m communicating jusssst fine, probably even on the first attempt. I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, though, which is the only reason I attempt multiple re-phrasings of my position. You fool no one, Mr. Ewoldt. The greatest lies are those told in silence.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          And I, too, try to give you the benefit of the doubt, but it seems like each time you rephrase your argument, it becomes less clear and more profane, not more clear.

          I am resisting what others have said about atheists, using Scripture like Romans 1 – “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools”
          Dr. James Spiegel, a philosophy professor at Taylor University, in his book “The Making of an Atheist,” says this: “When it comes to the latter [theological issues], human beings have a natural awareness of God, which explains why most people believe in some sort of deity. However, human beings are also ‘cognitively fallen’ due to sin. Consequently, our minds do not always function properly. Immorality hampers our ability to reason correctly, especially regarding moral and spiritual matters. And the more a person indulges in sin, the more his or her mind is corrupted, sometimes even to the point that one’s awareness of God is deadened. If Plantinga is
          right, atheism is a product of malfunctioning cognitive faculties.”

          • Anonymous

            Oh, heavens!…now you’ve taken your apologetics to another level. One monstrous ad hominem argument, all “supported” with begging the question.  

            I’m nearly certain it will be a waste of time here, but again, for any silent lurkers who may be experiencing honest doubt….

            “I am resisting what others have said about atheists[….]”

            Whether you “resist” it, or not, your implied premise is immaterial. People’s personal opinions of Atheists have no baring, whatsoever, on “Truth”. 

            “using Scripture like Romans[….] “

            Reference whatever “Scripture” you’d like—whatever boils your theological potato. To date, there is zero objective  confirmation that the contents of the bible reveal “Truth”. Using said Scripture to make a point to a non-believer is as useless as Tom Cruise quoting Dianetics to a Christian. IOW, it’s begging the question.(logical fallacy)

            “For what can be known about God is plain to [Atheists], because God has shown it to them.”

            A “God” hasn’t shown me jack-squat; the only people that have shown me anything regarding a “God”, are  this being’s supporters, when they shown their various fallacious arguments, including the argument from ignorance…a la, “Then who made everything!?!?!?! See?.. you can’t explain it, therefore it must be GAWD!”

            “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived”

            Invisible attributes that are “clearly perceived”. This is why people need “faith”, right? Because it’s so “clear”. Uh-huh. This is why you readily concede that you don’t KNOW that “Yahweh” exists. Uh-huh.

            “[…]ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. “

            Extra-biblical evidence that the world was “created” and that the things we see in nature..e.g..rocks, roaches, tapeworms, were “made” by an invisible, conscious, creator-being.

            “Dr. James Spiegel, a philosophy professor at Taylor University, in his book ‘The Making of an Atheist’, says this: ‘When it comes to the latter [theological issues], human beings have a natural awareness of God, which explains why most people believe in some sort of deity’.”

            So, he’s basically saying that people who say that they don’t harbor a belief in “some sort of deity”, secretly believe in “some sort of deity”. As if, if every Atheist adopted a belief in “some sort of deity”, the Christian’s work would be done; “Yahweh” would be happy! 

            “[…]and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

            And yet, God knew this would happen, but created anyway. Whose fault is that?  

            “Claiming to be wise, they became fools”

            I don’t claim to be wise; I merely claim to know bullsh*t when I see it. 

            “If Plantinga is right, atheism is a product of malfunctioning cognitive faculties.”

            REALLY? So, a “malfunctioning of cognitive faculties”, similar to a stroke? or perhaps retardation?..neither of which people choose? ‘Sounds like a problem for the Design Dept.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Not like retardation or a stroke, which people don’t choose. More like “by their unrighteousness” (a choice), by not giving honor to God or giving thanks to him (a choice), they became “futile in their thinking,” and they “suppressed the truth.” In this sense it is a progressive disease of the mind, actively pursued by the choices of that person.

          • Anonymous

            “More like ‘by their unrighteousness’ (a choice)”

            I understand it that I cannot simply choose to be “righteous”, for I am inherently flawed, incapable of achieving the type of perfection that “Yahweh” seeks, and in fact, my “righteousness” would be like that of a “filthy rag”, to him. 

            “by not giving honor to God or giving thanks to him (a choice),”

            How does one go about choosing to give honor or thanks to a being the one doesn’t believe exists? 

            “In this sense it is a progressive disease of the mind, actively pursued by the choices of that person”

            Can you provide the pathology or something that shows that being a non-theist is an actual “disease”? If not, then you have an argument from analogy, which, ‘ sorry, I do not accept as “proof”.

          • Anonymous

            Bob,

            I didn’t realize you were “resisting” what “others” have said re. those of us who do not share your faith.  As an FYI (and to ease any possible burden you might face during your time of resistance), we do not believe the Bible you often reference is the infallible, inerrant Word of God.  Therefore, any references to scripture that may appear to condemn us are no more credible to us than if you claimed to reference Poseidon or Zeus.

            “Dr. James Spiegel, a philosophy professor at Taylor University, in his book “The Making of an Atheist,” says this: “When it comes to the latter [theological issues], human beings have a natural awareness of God, which explains why most people believe in some sort of deity. However, human beings are also ‘cognitively fallen’ due to sin.  Consequently, our minds do not always function properly. ”  –  Bob referencing Dr. Spiegel

            Bob, I am willing to bet that the cognitive faculties of Bart Ehrman and John W. Loftus and Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins et al. are at least as keen as Dr. Spiegel’s.

            “If Plantinga is right, atheism is a product of malfunctioning cognitive faculties.” – Bob referencing Dr. Spiegel
             
            Interesting that Alvin Plantinga is referenced.  He, like WLC, is recognized as a Molinist.  You have included select references to two different scholars in the comments section of this very article whose conclusions re. “free will” differ from your own.  Good job!

          • O!

            However, human beings are also ‘cognitively fallen’ due to sin.
             
            Yeah? Prove it!
             
            Consequently, our minds do not always function properly. Immorality hampers our ability to reason correctly, especially regarding moral and spiritual matters. And the more a person indulges in sin, the more his or her mind is corrupted, sometimes even to the point that one’s awareness of God is deadened.
             
            Yeah? Prove it!
             
            If Plantinga is right, atheism is a product of malfunctioning cognitive faculties.”
             
            Yeah? Prove it!
             
            Just more unsubstantiated assertions with ZERO objective evidence.
             
            “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
             
            Yeah, riiiiight. You would think that if God being God wanted to PLAINLY reveal himself and his divine nature and his divine will then he could find a way to do so – even to sinful corrupted people.
             
            And if god can so PLAINLY reveal himself; how come the other 80% of the planet is another religion or belief system? Really? Really? – is it because they too indulge in sin?
             
            Isn’t it just totally awesome for you Bob, you have your sin in check; you are morally superior; you got it ALL figured out. You’re going to get your ticket to paradise.
             
            BTW, are you going to address my arguments from a few months ago?

          • O!

            …but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools”
             
            Matthew 5:22 Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

          • Anonymous

            Oh, Cheese ‘n’ crackers! Just look at this!…..two more “Scriptures” that contradict one another! But gawd isn’t the author of confusion. Nah

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            boom, this shows that you have done next to no research, or no research whatsoever, into the Matthew 5:22 passage, and its interpretation or context. Jesus, in the context of Matthew 5:22, was talking about unrighteous anger, which would lead to an untrue condemnation of someone as a “fool” (or, more accurately, “an empty one who acts as a numskull”). Jesus was saying that one shouldn’t call another a “fool” inappropriately. There is an appropriate time to call someone a fool (cf. Psalm 14:1).

          • Anonymous

            “boom, this shows that you have done next to no research, or no research whatsoever[…………] There is an appropriate time to call someone a fool”

            Right, right…the only time “Jesus” says it is “appropriate” to call someone a “fool”, is when they are a nonbeliever. Calling names is condoned by the Creator of the Universe, under the right circumstances. 

            You really, really have no idea how asinine this stuff really sounds, do you? (rhetorical)

          • O!

            5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
             
            Where exactly does it say that one shouldn’t call another a “fool” inappropriately?

            I see the part about being angry without cause but not the part about calling someone a fool “ inappropriately

            Or are you just adding layers of context?

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Does the phrase “without a cause” mean nothing to you?

          • Anonymous

            Bob,

            You can not at this moment tell us with certainty who actually WROTE the Book of Matthew.  For that matter, many Bible scholars believe the author of Matthew copied hundreds of verses directly from the Book of Mark (assuming Mark was written first) and/or another common source (call it “Q” if you like).  That is not a very convincing case for divine authorship or that the scribe who drafted the Book of Matthew actually gives an “eyewitness” account.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Sid, I wasn’t telling you at this moment who authored the Gospel of Matthew. The verse that was referenced was a saying of Jesus.

            Are you saying that you’d like to debate the authorship of Matthew?

          • Anonymous

            You made reference to a verse from the Book of Matthew.  I am telling you that you have no extra-biblical proof that the author of Matthew (whoever it was) was an “eyewitness” to what Jesus supposedly said or did.  It is highly improbable that any “eyewitness” author would need to make EXTENSIVE use of earlier written source(s) as many Bible scholars believe the author of Matthew did (assuming as many scholars do that the Book of Mark was written first).  If you want to debate this matter, feel free to contact Bart Ehrman.

            You never answered these questions:

            Do you believe that being indwelt by the infallible Holy Spirit is necessary to prevent someone from straying into doctrinal error?  

            Can people read scripture and KNOW what it teaches without having an infallible guide (i.e. the Holy Spirit)?

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I believe it was O! who made reference to the verse in Matthew, and boomSLANG concurred that it was an example of contradiction in Scripture. You then introduced a new aspect to the discussion… the authorship of Matthew.

          • Anonymous

            “I believe it was O! who made reference to the verse in Matthew, and boomSLANG concurred that it was an example of contradiction in Scripture. You then introduced a new aspect to the discussion… the authorship of Matthew.”  –  Bob

            The fact that O! decided to make a reference Matthew 5:22 is irrelevant to my point.  I am aware that O! initially referenced Matthew 5:22 on this thread.  You then attempted to expound upon the context and interpretation of that verse as it supposedly quotes Jesus.  I, for one, don’t know who wrote the Book of Matthew.  However, what is significant here is that you have no extra-biblical proof that the author of Matthew (whoever it was) was an “eyewitness” to anything Jesus supposedly said or did. Therefore, I don’t find compelling evidence to believe the Book of Matthew is of divine authorship. 

            You never answered these questions:

            Do you believe that being indwelt by the infallible Holy Spirit is necessary to prevent someone from straying into doctrinal error?

            Can people read scripture and KNOW what it teaches without having an infallible guide (i.e. the Holy Spirit)?

          • O!

            ”Does the phrase “without a cause” mean nothing to you?”
             
            Did you not see what I wrote?
             
            I wrote: I see the part about being angry without cause but not the part about calling someone a fool inappropriately.
             
            Contextually, “without cause’ is directly related to the action phrase “being angry”.
             
            You have to take a huge leap over the contextual valley to also associate “without cause” with the third phrase, “calling someone a fool”.
             
            You have added your own context to support your assertion.
             
            If it had said, but whosoever shall say, without cause, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire…
             
            …then we would be absolutely certain of the contextual meaning, but it doesn’t, so you are left with assuming the fore mentioned “without cause” is associated with “calling someone a fool”. (You have just added your own context)
             
            Too bad the master of the universe didn’t put the clarifying phrase “without cause” coupled with the thou fool phrase. (then we wouldn’t even be discussing it)
             
            But I digress.
             
            Are we to conclude you are working diligently on your next two Cross Examinations to address my arguments from a couple of months ago?

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            O!, there is no leap contextually. That is the context. It’s the exact same verse. It gives the context of the “fool” quote. That’s basic Bible exposition.

          • O!

            O!, there is no leap contextually. That is the context. It’s the exact same verse. It gives the context of the “fool” quote. That’s basic Bible exposition.

            …to the contextually illiterate.
             
            But again I digress – I’m still waiting for you to address my arguments from a couple of months ago.  Why won’t you acknowledge this? Your silence speaks volumes.

          • Anonymous

            “O!, there is no leap contextually. That is the context. It’s the exact same verse. It gives the context of the “fool” quote. That’s basic Bible exposition.” ~ R. Ewoldt

            Even if we were to give benefit of doubt and grant that Mr. Ewoldt’s translation is God-inspired, and thus, precisely how “God” intended it, are we seriously, truly, really to conclude that the “Creator of the Universe”, in all it’s majesty; in all it’s infinite wisdom, would condone what amounts to name calling?..i.e…you fool!, or as ministering Bob Ewoldt analogizes…you numbskull!

            Again, I must rhetorically ask: Can he seriously not see how asinine his beliefs are? Isn’t it a bazillion times more likely that man, who is prone to lowering himself to name calling, is responsible for the contents of the bible, as well as all other “Holy” manuscripts?  Moreover, is calling someone a “fool” or “numbskull” really a good, motivating reason for him or her to see the error of their ways? Heavens-to-betsy!!! Poor Christian fools! ; )

          • Anonymous

            “…are we seriously, truly, really to conclude that the “Creator of the Universe”, in all it’s majesty; in all it’s infinite wisdom, would condone what amounts to name calling?”  –  boomSLANG

            Why not?  The same Creator of the Universe also derived pleasure from the aroma of certain burnt animal entrails  and other body parts during sacrifices.  Never mind how other ancient religions may have involved animal sacrifices that would seem barbaric (and completely pointless) to us (and to Bob since he does not recognize those pagan gods).  YHWH found the aroma of burnt animal sacrifices to be pleasing.  The Hebrew manuscripts declare it to be true, so it must be true:

            Leviticus 1 :10-13
            New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            (10) ‘But if his offering is from the flock, of the sheep or of the goats, for a burnt offering, he shall offer it a male without defect. (11) He shall slay it on the side of the altar northward before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar. (12) He shall then cut it into its pieces with its head and its suet, and the priest shall arrange them on the wood which is on the fire that is on the altar. (13) The entrails, however, and the legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall offer all of it, and offer it up in smoke on the altar; it is a burnt offering, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.

            Yes, the Creator of the Universe derived pleasure from the aroma of burnt male sheep (0r goat) body parts…

          • Anonymous

            “…are we seriously, truly, really to conclude that the “Creator of the Universe”, in all it’s majesty; in all it’s infinite wisdom, would condone what amounts to name calling?” – boomSLANG

            Why not? The same Creator of the Universe would not stand for a woman to grab a man by the genitals if that man was fighting with her husband.  The Hebrew manuscripts declare it to be true, so it must be true:

            Deuteronomy 25:11-12
            New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            (11) “If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, (12) then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity.

            Yes, the Creator of the Universe would not allow a woman to grab a man’s genitals if that man was fighting with her husband.  In fact, she gets her hand chopped off…

          • O!

            I had an afterthought about Bob’s quote.

            “However, human beings are also ‘cognitively fallen’ due to sin. Consequently, our minds do not always function properly. Immorality hampers our ability to reason correctly, especially regarding moral and spiritual matters. And the more a person indulges in sin, the more his or her mind is corrupted, sometimes even to the point that one’s awareness of God is deadened. If Plantinga isright, atheism is a product of malfunctioning cognitive faculties.”
             
            Isn’t it curious that there have been hardcore Christian leaders and priests and pastors out there who indulge in sin, who are morally reprehensible but their awareness of God isn’t deadened? No sirree, they just plow right through their deplorable scandal still preachin’ the glory of God.
             
            I’m actually offended that you would use this bogus quote by Plantinga to make a blanketed stereotype about non believers. Not only is it offensive it is an accusation that is unverifiable. You have basically accused atheist of being immoral, corrupted, sin-mongers. You should be ashamed of yourself.

          • Anonymous

            “Isn’t it curious that there have been hardcore Christian leaders and priests and pastors out there who indulge in sin, who are morally reprehensible but their awareness of God isn’t deadened?” ~ O!

            Yes, it raises an eyebrow. But if you’ve dealt with Christians and their apologetics like I have, then you know what’s coming. Ready? Here we go:  *Those priests and other ‘men of the cloth’ aren’t True Christians! The great Deceiver is at work in their lives, and they are mistaking that, for an awareness of God!!!

            *or something very similar.