Saturday, January 21, 2006

Is God a libertarian? Hardly!

Have you heard the line: “God is a libertarian”? Even people who are not libertarians use similar variations. “God respects your choice.” “God gave man free will.”

Personally I think this is rubbish. The very concept of an all-powerful, all-knowing being automatically precludes the very concept of free will. If God is all powerful then only what God wills can happen. Some argue that God does not predestine your choices but he knows them before hand. But if he knows what I will do before I know what I will do how do I have a choice? It’s not as if I can do anything else then. If I did it would mean God is not all-knowing. So the foreknowledge of God requires that he preordains all human action; not just human action but all action.

Every tsunami, disease, earthquake, accident, fire, and disaster is the will of God. This is scary stuff.

I think this is the reason people just assume that God must be all-loving as well. It is scary to think that one being could have all that power and be malignant. That’s why so many people simply refuse to believe George Bush is evil. With all the power he has it’s scary to think he might be malignant.

Now there are some real problems with all of this. If you have no choice how can it be said that morality or immorality exist? There is no such thing as morality without choice. All there is then is that which is the will of God. You can’t even say there are things which are not the will of God. All that is, is, because this god wills it to be. No other possibility exists.

Not only does the existence of a god who is all-knowing and all-powerful preclude free choice but his existence abolishes the concept of right and wrong. Morality goes out the window. Everything that such a god wills must be right unless he himself is evil. Which is, of course, a possibility as well but one believers don’t like to consider.

To prevent the fear that would come with such ideas the believers also invent the concept that a god must be all-loving as well. But then they can’t deal with why tsunamis or earthquakes are examples of God’s love. Now murders, etc, they blame on man since “God gave us free will”. But natural disasters, or what are called “acts of God,” are not man’s fault. We don’t choose for children to die of cancer or have entire villages wiped out in some natural disaster. If there is a God who is all-powerful and all-knowing then these disasters are the choices of God.

God is a genocidal maniac according to most of the people who believe in him. Though most of them try to avoid the logic that draws that conclusion.

Now I know some Christians who claim God is a libertarian. He supposedly gives you free will to decide whether to believe in him or not. But if they are orthodox Christians then have a problem. This god is no more a libertarian than a mugger who says: “Your money or your life.”


The God of orthodox Christian has created eternal torment. He must have if he creates all things. And if you don’t choose to believe in him then he will send you to that torment. Certainly an all-powerful god could have created a “hell” that would be a pleasant place. Or he could have just asked everyone to join him in this so-called paradise he created. There is presumably no power great enough to force him to do anything which he does not wish to do.

So the mugger gives you a “choice”. Either you give him your money or he will kill you. Now no one considers your actions to be freely chosen. You hand over the money because you are threatened with violence if you don’t. The mugger couldn’t go to court and say: “But your honor, he handed me the money voluntarily.”

So how can a Christian claim that God offers us a free choice. He does not. If you think such a being exists then you have no choice but to accept him. He will torture you if you don’t. In fact this deity is worse than the mugger.

If you are robbed the evidence of the robbery is clear and present. You can not draw a conclusion otherwise unless you are psychotic. The man with the gun is standing in your face. You see him. You hear him demanding your wealth. The evidence for his existence is overwhelming.

But some deity, on the other hand, is far less apparent. We don’t see him. We are only supposed to see the results of what he allegedly does. But all the things we see have other explanations for them as well. It is not unreasonable to draw conclusions denying the existence of such an entity.

God is very much a divine mugger. He comes along and demands your soul or eternal damnation. But you can’t see him. You can’t even hear him when he makes the demand. There is no clear cut example of his presence similar to that which you get with a normal mugger. But if you don’t notice his supposed existence he pulls the trigger anyway. At least a mugger gives you a fair chance.


Blogger Indioheathen said...

I've always held the position that if the god of the Bible were to exist, he is at least a small "L" libertarian in allowing human beings the choice to sin or not to sin while they are alive at least. The god of the New Testament is portrayed is being more benevolent, which almost qualifies him as being a capital "L" Libertarian, particularly since the purpose of Jesus was to fulfill the Law of Moses for all of those who believe in him as the Messiah.

However, about the only god of monotheism that really comes close to being a Libertarian is the one conceived by Deists, who basically regard him as an architect or engineer who "intelligently designed" all that is, but like an architect or engineer, doesn't interfere with or fix the plumbing or wiring of the structures he designs. As Al Pacino said as his character John Milton (the Devil) in the film, "The Devil's Advocate" in reference to God: "He's an absentee landlord".

It still baffles me how so many cultures and societies outside of the Middle East continue to hold strong to ancient Middle Eastern religions as their role models.


January 22, 2006

Blogger Publius II said...

Hello. I'm new here. This is the first time I've read one of your articles, and I must say that I am impressed with your intelligence and articulation in your style of communicating your ideas. Thank you for that.

I did want to point out however, one flaw in logic that may have escaped you. You make the statement that "If God is all powerful then only what God wills can happen." I think you may be missing the point that if there is a God who is all powerful, then he has the power to restrain Himself from involvement in our daily lives when he wishes. Tell me if that does not ring true with you, as you may think my own logic is faulty there.

January 27, 2006

Blogger GodlessZone said...

Publius ii: You left out one of the conditions. I said IF God is "all-powerful" and also "all-knowing". It is the "all-knowing" combined with "all-powerful" that strips one of free will. If God KNOWS what I am going to do before I have made the decision then I can't have a free choice. I have to do that which he foreknows. If people concocted a god that was not all knowing then they could argue for free will.

January 27, 2006

Blogger John Forster said...

For all seriously wrestling with this seeming problem with an all-powerful creator determining history, yet being good, or allowing human choice or responsibility, I highly recommend reading THE PROBLEM OF PAIN by CS Lewis.

January 27, 2006

Blogger Publius II said...

Thanks John! I have read a couple of Lewis's books, but I have not read that one. I'll look into it.

godless, I think I grasp what you're saying, but I'm not sure one can make the leap between foreknowledge of an event and the binding of the event to the decision which caused it. Follow me? I think what you have to consider is "initiative." Who initiated the event in its occurance? God who then knows it will occur because he caused it? Or the man who acted, which results in God knowing?

You then would ask how can he know before it happened? If there is a God who is outside of time/space, I think it is very possible for him to know, and not have been the cause. Does that make sense?

January 27, 2006


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