Home > Free Will, Freethinking, the mental will of living creatures > The Riddle of Responsibility: Why Does God Consider Us Responsible for Our Choices?

The Riddle of Responsibility: Why Does God Consider Us Responsible for Our Choices?

This post can also be reach at riddleoffreedom.tk

First, the all important definitions:

The definition of choose: “To make a decision to do something, to commit to an action and attempt to fulfill that action, for example to decide to believe in God or to not believe in God, or to decide to tell the truth with your mouth, or to use it to lie.

The definition of free: Having no restraints. Not being prevented or limited by anything.

Those are my definitions based on my experience on how those words are used and are the meanings I am referring to in this journal entry.

…when Rebekah also had conceived by one, by our father Isaac (for the children had not yet been born, neither had done any good or evil; but that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who called,) it was said to her, “The elder shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” What shall we say then? Is there not unrighteousness with God? Let it not be! For He said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” So then it is not of the one willing, nor of the one running, but of God, the One showing mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “Even for this same purpose I have raised you up, that I might show My power in you, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will, He hardens. You will then say to me, Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will? – Romans 9:10-19

An example of how the will can be influenced with directly controlling it: Being that a person’s will can be influenced by emotion, all you would need to do to get someone to do something that you wanted them to do, would be to offer them something in exchange for the desired action, or inflict pain on them, whether they agreed to or not. Unlike God, it wouldn’t always work, but sometimes it will, especially if your only desire is to get a any kind of response to your interaction with the person you are targeting like changing direction or turning their head to look at you. God, besides hiding and revealing information at certain times, no doubt also uses direct manipulation of the material world to get the same responses, but he may also directly alter or generation emotions in a person and desires.

This is the hardest question in the world to answer:

Why would God be angry at anyone, or blame them or reward them for anything they do, if God is the one causing them to do exactly what he wants them to do?

Not even in the next verse does God answer this question, but instead rebukes those who ask the question with an angry-at-God attitude. And God, in keeping with this frustrate-the-prideful-one behavior, does not answer the question.

Even without considering God in this question, it is still relevant because people are held to be responsible for anything they do, even psychopaths hold others responsible for their actions, even though who deny that free will exists get upset at those who do what they consider to be “bad”, “not good”, “wrong”. And everyone feels hurt when they are told that they are bad, especially if they are wrongly accused of going something they didn’t do, even if the accusation is over a small thing, something that may not even be wrong. Wars, and millions deaths, billions of deaths perhaps, and clearly billions of people have been made miserable for long periods of time due to seeing others wrongly rewarded, or seeing themselves wrongly accused of something that they didn’t do. Imagine if it were discovered that no one was responsible for their actions, that it wasn’t themselves who were making the choices, or that they had no real choice, but were merely reacting and only thought they were making decisions. Would anyone hate each other anymore or much? Or would it be the opposite?: Everyone would feel and do whatever they wanted, hating as much as they wanted too and more so then ever because they couldn’t logically be blamed for deliberately doing what “wrong”.

If a person does not have the equal ability to choose between doing right or wrong, or anything at all, but is instead only able to make one choice due to influence of some kind, for example lack of knowledge, accidental illogical reasoning, or an uncontrollable desire to do either right or wrong, should they still be held responsible for their actions even if they were the ones who chose to act?

Is God merely talking to himself when he talks to us, in that he is yelling at himself for the very evil things he arranges for us to commit? When he says, “Choose life or death” is God showing us that he is insane since he is the one who decides what anyone will “choose” to do? We clearly at least have awareness of our actions in general, though not always it they are morally right or wrong or right in how to accomplish something (like beat a game or fix some device which is broken), so God is not talking to himself when he verbally rewards or accuses of something, or as some think, implies it through good or bad things that he causes to happen in our lives though not actually saying anything to us specifically. But though we are aware, does that make it possible for us to choose? Or are were merely aware and reacting to stimuli?

For a person to be responsible for any action, must they have the innate ability to choose an alternative action without that choice being prevented? And if it wouldn’t matter, why wouldn’t it? Is the illusion of simply having more than one choice sufficient for a person to be responsible for the decision they make? And again: if a person is unable to resist an influence so that they are only able to make a certain choice or to commit to action that choice, why or why not should they be held responsible for their choice or action?

Perhaps I or someone else will figure it out soon. If I do, I will try to update this post right away.

  1. goatstone
    March 9, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    free will is in one sense an illusion. god knows what will happen because god is what will happen. there is one god, one truth, one “light” one messiah, one and only one path that we must follow. freedom comes into play because nobody knows god. nobody can predict what god will. god will will will will. hahaha, gotcha! but seriously, freedom is unpredictability. if you are true to yourself, (hmmm), you will be far more unpredictable than if you follow some other truth, because that truth is, just by the fact that both you and another are following it, more public. youre all welcome, please let’s follow the scientific truths, they make us all a bit more free. and freedom is godliness.

    • March 9, 2010 at 3:37 PM

      God knows all things and exists outside time, not just within it, and therefore is able to tell us future events without having to guess. You also misdefined freedom and unpredictability, they don’t have anything to do with each other, but I know what you mean from experience: you’re trying to say that randomness allows for freedom, in other words that God does not control all things. However the Bible repeatedly makes clear that God’s will is always done. It makes this clear in Proverbs, though ironically Proverbs is a book of riddles, but it’s clear because the figures of speech aren’t hard to understand for someone of average intelligence. Look up “watercourse” + “heart” and “plans” in Proverbs and you’ll hopefully find the two verses I’m referring to. Romans 9 also makes it clear God’s will is always done. As you said in the beginning though, freedom in an illusion, which is true if you meant the appearance of having full freedom to accomplish whatever you want/will or desire to do.

      Update, 4:37 P.M.:

      Ooops, I forgot to mention that there is no such thing as random (it’s been shown that everywhere in the universe that things obey “physical laws”.

      Also I just noticed that you said “freedom is godliness” however there i no evidence for that. Freedom is a state of having no constraints in a certain situation, not “godliness”, which is to have a state of mind that is in compliance with God’s law (which is obeying God with your mind) and you can do so with your body as well, unless of course you are physically being restrained.

  2. Jon Trevathan
    March 25, 2010 at 11:41 AM

    In quantum mechanics, the initial quantum state of any system evolves over time into a probability distribution of all possible states consistent with the initial boundary condition. If an initial state is assumed in which all possible states and spacetime geometries are subsumed, a probability distribution of possible states, including all observable states, will necessarily arise. Applying time symmetry, this probability distribution will simultaneously appear as the set of all futures and the set all histories which can arise from and lead to this common point of origination. As this “point of origination” constitutes both the system’s beginning and ending boundary condition, all actualizations must occur within this contextuality.

    If the big bang is then understood to have occurred as an actualization event within this preexistent contextuality, it would constitute the initial boundary condition for our universe and, inter alia, embody all of the laws of physics pursuant to which our universe could thereafter evolve. All subsequent actualizations would then be strongly bounded by this and the set of all immediately preceding actualizations; but would also be subtly influenced by a future unity toward which all of our possible futures would necessarily converge.

    This model introduces a kind of “determinism” into the time-evolution of Creation. The beauty of the Model is that a “determinism” comprised of contingency preserves “Free Will” within that contingency. In other words, human choice exist within a set of potentials consistent with the applicable boundary conditions. From the frame of reference of the scientist, it is an entirely “natural phenomena” and, from the frame of reference of the theologian, the centripetal convergence toward unity is “of God”.

    There are two key assumptions in this model. As to the initial state, please note that that an emerging quantum gravity theory called “Causal Dynamical Triangulation” assumes an equivalent superposition of all possible spacetime geometries. As to time symmetry, please note that virtually all of the laws of physics are time symmetric.

    I wish this model were entirely original to me. It is not. For example, Roger Penrose, in the article titled “The Big Bang and its thermodynamic legacy, wrote:
    “Normally, one thinks in terms of systems evolving into the future, from data specified in the past, where the particular evolution takes place is determined by differential equations. … One does not, on the other hand, tend to think of evolving these same equations into the past, despite the fact that the dynamical equations of classical and quantum mechanics are symmetrical under a reversal of the direction of time! As far as the mathematics is concerned, one can just as well specify final conditions, at some remote future time, and evolve backward in time. Mathematically, final conditions are just as good as initial ones for determining the evolution of a system.”
    (Quoted from Roger Penrose, The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Universe, Chapter 27, “The Big Bang and its thermodynamic legacy”, p. 687)

    Additionally, in a paper titled “New Insights on Time-Symmetry in Quantum Mechanics” (See: http://arxiv.org/pdf/0706.1232 Jun 2007) Yakir Aharonov and Jeff Tollaksen have written as follows:
    “Up until now we have limited ourselves to the possibility of 2 boundary conditions which obtain their assignment due to selections made before and after a measurement. It is feasible and even suggestive to consider an extension of QM to include both a wavefunction arriving from the past and a second “destiny” wavefunction coming from the future, which are determined by 2 boundary conditions, rather than a measurement and selection. This proposal could solve the issue of the “collapse” of the wavefunction in a new and more natural way: every time a measurement takes place and the possible measurement outcomes decohere, then the future boundary condition simply selects one out of many possible outcomes [35, 32]. It also implies a kind of “teleology” which might prove fruitful in addressing the anthropic and fine-tuning issues [77]. The possibility of a final boundary condition on the universe could be probed experimentally by searching for “quantum miracles” on a cosmological scale. While a “classical miracle” is a rare event that can be explained by a very unusual initial boundary-condition, “Quantum Miracles” are those events which cannot naturally be explained through any special initial boundary-condition, only through initial-and-final boundary-conditions.”

    On page 14 of the “The God Delusion”, Dawkins wrote that there are “no miracles – except in the sense of natural phenomena that we don’t yet understand.” Dawkins is correct. Time symmetric convergence is an experimentally verifiable “natural phenomena” from which statistically improbable events may be understood to occur and the mysteries of determinism and free will may be reconciled.

    • March 25, 2010 at 3:32 PM

      ““The Big Bang and its thermodynamic legacy, wrote:
      “Normally, one thinks in terms of systems evolving into the future, from data specified in the past, where the particular evolution takes place is determined by differential equations. … One does not, on the other hand, tend to think of evolving these same equations into the past, despite the fact that the dynamical equations of classical and quantum mechanics are symmetrical under a reversal of the direction of time! As far as the mathematics is concerned, one can just as well specify final conditions, at some remote future time, and evolve backward in time. Mathematically, final conditions are just as good as initial ones for determining the evolution of a system.”
      (Quoted from Roger Penrose, The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Universe, Chapter 27, “The Big Bang and its thermodynamic legacy”, p. 687)”

      Jon no offense, but do know what word salad is? Think about this question and what the proper answer is:

      What does the Big Bang have to do with free will and much sense and use did that paragraph have? The Big Bang theory and (macro) evolution are easy to babble about topics which non-Christian scientists arbitrarily bring up in order to sound wise. It’s a subject that few non-Christians understand (and the fact hundreds of millons believe it is evidence of that) and therefore can talk about and gain easy fame-points for and achieve their agenda of subverting Christianity. I once read some science article by a famous science (think I posted about this) who brought up the Big Bang at the beginning of his article for absolutely no logical reason and did not fit with the article at all and appeared to have been inserted merely out of a hatred for God and Christians, apparent, since it had nothing to do with his article. To do such things shows deep bitterness and hints of insanity. You’ve reminded me of an article I wanted to post, but didn’t because of distraction from sadistic anti-Christian stalkers (and my impolite neighbors often making noise).

      • Jon Trevathan
        March 25, 2010 at 9:40 PM

        Dear Knight:

        It would productive for you to re-read my post. For example “The Big Bang and its thermodynamic legacy” was merely the title of the article that Roger Penrose wrote, and from which I was quoting.

        I fully embrace free will. I also believe in a teleologically active God. How can these waring concepts possibly be reconciled? I believe that they can, even when the example of Richard Dawkins is used as my foil.

        For example, Richard Dawkins does not reject the God of Spinoza and Einstein “who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists.” However, Dawkins rejects, for himself and the vast majority of scientists, that there is any possibility that the Einsteinian God can be teleologically active in Creation.

        The speculative model I have proffered introduces a “kind of ‘teleology’” into the time-evolution of Creation through which the theologian may understand that every path that our free will might chose is subtlety constrained. Theologians would call this constraint the Divine Purpose. It introduces a determinism that is no more “hard” than to acknowledge that the options available for our free choice are not without limitations. Additionally, the model provides a matrix in which human consciousness and thought may at an even more speculative level be apprehended to operate. If so, it may even provide a frame of reference through which intercessory prayer and many new age beliefs may eventually be understood.

        Implicit to the model are two creation events. The first establishes the matrix of a potentials. As to this first creation, might we agree that God has the attribute of the Creator? If so, would we not also agree that there is noting that God could not create that was consistent with God’s Will and Purpose? If so, let us suppose the following:
        1. Creation of condition A is good
        2. Creation of condition B is also good.
        3. If condition A is actualized then condition B cannot be actualized (e.g. If A then not B)
        4. If condition B is actualized then condition A cannot be actualized.(e.g. If B then not A)
        Given the foregoing, can God as Creator be limited? The starting condition for my speculation simply assumes that God would create both A and B as contingency. Additionally, this assumption is both consistent with quantum mechanics, Feynman’s path integrals, and one of the quantum gravity models called Causal Dynamical Triangulation.

        As noted above, time symmetry operates within this matrix to provide a means for the Divine Purpose to provide a centripetal influence upon each and every actualization event that may occur, including the initial actualization event for our particular universe (e.g. the big bang).

        Is there Biblical authority for two creations? I believe there is.

        The following is quoted from MARCUS J. BORG’s book titled: “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time–Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally”.

        “The first three chapters of Genesis contain two stories of creation, written about four hundred years apart. The first one, Genesis 1.1–2.3, was probably written in the 500s BCE. Commonly called the “priestly” or “P” story, it is part of a larger block of material extending through the Pentateuch and reflecting priestly and ritual concerns. The second one was written earlier. It begins in Genesis 2.4 and continues through the end of chapter 3. Perhaps written in the 900s BCE, it is commonly called the “Yahwist” or “J” creation story, because the author uses “Yahweh” as the name of God. 10 The Yahwist story is also part of a larger narrative account of Israel’s origins that extends throughout much of the Pentateuch. 11 The two stories are quite different.

        The P Story
        The P story (and the Bible as a whole) begins with the earth as “a formless void.” In the primeval darkness, the wind (or Spirit) of God moves over the primordial waters: In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 12 Then God creates the universe in six days. In a literary structure repeated for each day of creation, the story begins with the creation of light…:

        The J Story
        The J creation story begins in Genesis 2.4. It focuses on the creation of humankind and barely treats the creation of the world. It does not mention the creation of light, or firmament, or sun, moon, and stars, or sea creatures. Rather, it begins with the creation of humankind, of adham, a Hebrew word meaning “humankind” and often translated “man.” The creation of adham is the climax of the very long sentence with which the story begins…”

      • March 25, 2010 at 10:57 PM

        No offense it’s word salad to me. Maybe someone else will be able to understand it and if it makes sense, appreciate it. See if you can make ANOTHER reply, rather than editing your original (otherwise it will be harder for me to notice) that is much more simple. And me not trying hard to understand you has nothing to do with me being lazy or intelligent enough: I have limited energy and spend much of it refuting harassers and demonic morons who make any arbitrary accusation to get me to read what they say or to just accept it (and even telling them that doesn’t prevent them from making more insults or asking for forgiveness).

      • March 26, 2010 at 10:34 PM

        Are you that context twister from knoll? If so, no wonder I can’t understand you: you’re still babbling pretentious nonsense.

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