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Biblical examples of God overriding Free-will

Discussion in 'Exploring Christianity' started by skepticlogician, Apr 19, 2010.

  1. skepticlogician

    skepticlogician Newbie

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    Hi all,

    I think this is my first post ever. I have to introduce myself as ex-christian/agnostic. My 'deconvertion' has happened very recently. I have posted a similar thread on a different forum, but since there seems to be more traffic on this forum, here I am :).

    Since free will seems to be a favorite concept for christians/theists to use as counterargument for anything, it would be great if we can make a list of all those instances in the Bible where God himself overrides free will, which clearly contradicts theists when they say "oh, God cannot get rid of hunger and evil because this would violate free will".
    If free will is sooo important that God himself cannot violate it, how come he DOES violate it on various occasions in the Bible!?

    I can quickly think of a couple, although I'm pretty sure there are more:

    1. God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he refused to let God's people go. There's no way around it, the Bible clearly says so. The moment god decided to do this, Pharaoh's free will was nullified and Pharaoh was doomed.
    2. Anytime that God ordered the killing of entire cities, including their infants and toddlers, he was squashing those poor kids' free will in a vile way, since they were clearly not mature enough to be able to decide between good and evil. Yet God didn't stop to think about this for a second, "Kill them all" was his usual response for everything. Even poor animals who don't even have the capacity to think!!

    Can you guys think of more examples?
     
  2. drich0150

    drich0150 Regular Member

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    I believe that you simply misunderstand what free will actually is.
    I believe "free will" to be the ability to choose an action outside of the expressed will of God. In essence Free will is the ability to sin.

    Free will is not the ability to do whatever one wants. If that were the case then gravity would be impeding upon my free will.

    Even with Pharaoh's harden heart he could still choose to sin. As could all of those who were slaughtered... As far as the animals are concerned if you've ever eaten meat then, you shouldn't have much to say about that.

    What's next?
     
  3. Jpark

    Jpark Contributor

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    Never mind.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2010
  4. student ad x

    student ad x Senior Contributor

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    -MOD HAT ON-

    [​IMG]

    Thread moved from the Christian Apologetics Forum. Carry on!

    -MOD HAT OFF-
     
  5. Lithp

    Lithp New Member

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    The definition of "free will" is "to make a choice without restraint."

    I actually contend that it would be impossible for omniscience & free will to both exist.
     
  6. drich0150

    drich0150 Regular Member

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    As you define it I agree. but since we are speaking to the "Free will" as defined by God/The Bible then we must adhere to the definitions provided by them.
     
  7. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

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    Hello.

    "For anything"? Really? I don't think so...

    Because He's God and is Sovereign over the universe. God directly supercedes our will when it suits His purposes to do so. That He does this on occasion doesn't mean that we never exercise free will, however.

    This is the prerogative of the One who made Pharaoh.

    This is a carticature of the facts. It largely ignores the biblical record that provides the reasons as to why God wiped out the evil, pagan nations that He did.

    Peace.
     
  8. salida

    salida Veteran

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    1)Yes, that scripture is always misunderstood by those who haven't studied the bible. Gods judgement hardened Pharaohs heart- God judged and there was an angry reaction from Pharaoh. Pharaoh did this to his heart-he made himself angry. Thus, he had the free will to get angry and rebel.

    2)God has the right to judge sin. He did this to protect Israel against paganism and evil. People also ask why were the children killed? Because they would have grown up and do the same wickedness. Again a question asked by those who are not familiar with the bible.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2010
  9. Joveia

    Joveia Christian

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    With the pharaoh example, something worth pondering is why was the guy who was pharaoh, pharaoh? There have been billions of people born throughout history and yet God chose one specific person to play the part of 'pharaoh'. Why him in particular?

    The reason must be that pharaoh has a character or personality that makes him a good 'fit' for the role. This probably included being stubborn, being authoritarian, not very nice, power hungry, and so on.

    So even though God set the situation up so that pharaoh would 'harden his heart', pharaoh is responsible for making choices that make him a good 'fit' for the role of pharaoh in the Bible. Maybe, e.g. God foresaw pharaoh would reject God's grace?

    So the responsibility is not entirely on God for pharaoh's predicament.
     
  10. childofGod31

    childofGod31 Regular Member

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    If I may say something to dispel some things... People often speak harshly of things they do not understand. Yes, sometimes we see things one way, but we don't really understand what's going on. And so we judge, and our judgement is not according to the truth.

    First, I would like to note that God knows this fact: evil grows. God is keeping a lid on evil by pruning the evil once in a while because He wants the earth to be in one piece until a certain time (which is pre-set). If God did not destroy the most evil cities, then evil would spread too fast and this earth wouldn't last until our days.

    This idea is expressed in the Bible: when the cup of evil is full, then the city is destroyed. As was Egypt, as was Sodom and Gommora and others..

    God DID NOT want to destroy Nineva even though their evil was coming to the edge of the cup. Why? Because God saw that there was a chance to save them, so He sent Jonah to preach to them (book of Jonah). Jonah wanted them destroyed but God told him: you are not the one who raised them (like one would raise a plant) so you are not sorry for them, but I am.

    God destroys only those cities in which He sees no hope of redemption. (But I am talking temporary redemption. Destroying is a temporary thing too. These souls simply go from this world and enter another one..they do not cease to exist)

    Another thing God has to consider is: every action has consequences. Some people (infants) having survived might cause big problems for humanity in some cases. He sees ahead all the choices people would make and has to coordinate things in a best possible way.

    Unfortunately, God chose to use people to do his pruning. If it was God himself, He would probably just put the infants to sleep. In one place God said about Israel's enemies: you punished her (Israel) much more than I intended... So people do more violence than necessary...but such are the tools He is using...

    It says in the Bible that God does NOT desire the death of the wicked, but for him to repent and live. To repent mean - to stop doing evil. Unfortunately nobody wants to stop doing evil....and they do it and then blame God for their own deeds...

    As far as Him not stopping the evil: there are different things.
    Maybe He wants to show the world the results of disobeying His laws and choosing to do evil - so that it would never happen again. (if people were so tempted in the future)
    Second, He may be using these circumstances for purging evil out of our souls. We and the evil are intertwined: like cancer cells and healthy cells in one body. And in order to kill the cancer cells, the chemotherapy also affects the healthy cells making the whole person suffer (in order to heal them). So that's partly what God's purpose is.

    SECOND, this life on earth is NOT meant for pleasure and comfort. The 70 years pass as a smoke. This life has a different purpose. This life is more about "chemotherapy" procedure. It's more about the testing and the schooling. The life that we all dream about (filled with happiness and peace and love) that's one is in the future. It's going to be here when Jesus is the ruler of the world. It cannot be so yet because the evil was not purged from the children of men yet.

    God allows all the trouble on the earth (the earth that He really loves) only for a time and only for a purpose. He has prepared an eternity of bliss for his creation (AFTER He purges the EVIL out of them.) And there is no eternal hell either. Because God is love. And He would not think of preparing such a thing for the creation which He loves. The problem was in interpreting /translating the scriptures and trying to translate ancient words/ideas by using modern words. That's the problem and has led to a mistaken view of eternity. And the other way that I know this is because God told me. He said that He is going to cause everyone to be born again and "saved" (but not here, not yet). And I've understood a tiny bit of some of His plans.

    In the Bible it says that the eyes of some people were blinded to the truth. And me and somebody else asked God: why is that? That doesn't seem fair. His answer was that it was so because He was sparing them. How?
    Well, there is this rule: whoever knows more, will be beaten more. He knows that their hearts are hard and they won't be able to obey. And he wants to spare them too much knowledge that way they don't get punished too much. The less they know, the less they will get punished.

    So see, seeming a very bad action, but actually is done out of compassion and mercy. And there are many such things.

    Even death. It's not as bad as people assume. Death doesn't mean something bad. Sometimes death is rest, peace, reward. Some people are only to happy "to go home". So death can be viewed as something good, if viewed from the right perspective. The verses

    Isa 57:1 The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.

    To be taken away in death from this earth is not necessary a bad thing. Some infants (who are not born) are probably much luckier than the ones who were born. Some kids who died young maybe are luckier than the ones who lived a full and sinful life. Dying is simply leaving this world and entering another one.

    God is so loving and everybody will find out at some point and will be ashamed of all the evil.

    Eze 16:63 You will remember your sins and cover your mouth in silent shame when I forgive you of all that you have done. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!"

    But He will forgive. Because that's His nature. He is love. Love gives and forgives and overlooks and does not seek its own. He does things for our good. We hurt Him all the time, a lot, every day. And He also hurts for us, he feels our pain. (He told me so). So He will forgive all this hurt we are causing Him as well. And He teaches us to be like Him and to forgive as well.
    Judgement and punishment are necessary (as we know in raising children). But the purpose of it all is - preservation of life and good and for corrective purposes.

    If you really want to know the truth about God, ask Him. Or you can guess and be wrong. The only problem is that God is not talking to those who don't seek Him or love Him. So unless you do that, I won't be surprised to hear that He did not answer. It's not His goal to bicker with the evil. It's not His goal to justify His actions. He only tells the truth to those who come close to Him and get to know Him. He knows that the rest will know the truth eventually. They will find out just how much God has carried the world on His shoulders and just how much He did for everybody. And that our own evil is the cause of all the problems. AND that our evil causes a lot of pain for God as well (and much more than for us). And that God is working on a solution to the "evil in us" problem.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2010
  11. skepticlogician

    skepticlogician Newbie

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    Misunderstand the definition of free will? Is there a definition of free will in the Bible that you can point me to?

    Ahhh... YOU believe that definition, but that's clearly not a definition you can find in the Bible, is it?

    I think is very obvious that ANY of us referring to free will are pretty convinced that it has nothing to do with physics. So, I don't see the point of mentioning gravity as possibly interfering with anyone's free will.

    The point is that GOD hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he was forced to sin by not letting god's people go!
    In other words, Pharaoh sinned because God hardened his heart. Maybe Pharaoh would've let god's people go if God hadn't hardened his heart!

    Woe, remember we are talking about infants and toddlers here. They could NOT choose to sin, as they were not mature enough to discern between good and evil. I don't care about the adults being slaughtered. I mean, it makes sense if god wanted to kill them as sinners, but the innocent children and babies?? Come on!


    You are joking, right?
    If I have eaten meat, what does that have to do with anything?
     
  12. skepticlogician

    skepticlogician Newbie

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    If god can override your free will, then what's the use of having free will in the first place?

    It might not be very popular for you, but it is for many other Christians. They use it often when they run out of arguments when debating difficult issues.


    So, the fall of man was planned by God? It was part of his perfect will?
    Can you see the contradiction?
    Fall of man = part of God's perfect will.
    Perfect for who? Clearly not for man.
    If the fall of man was planned by God, why on earth is man guilty??


    Well, Jews planting false accounts into the Bible sounds like a very malicious plan indeed. But you CANNOT deduce this from the Bible. This theory is clearly yours, not found in the Bible.


    Exactly, that's why I have stopped believing the Bible to be the word of god.

    This is somewhat gibberish. Made up theories. If not, please provide some evidence or references of what you are trying to say.
     
  13. skepticlogician

    skepticlogician Newbie

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    Oh, please point me to this definition you say it's in the Bible. Biblical verses please. Palpable evidence please.
     
  14. skepticlogician

    skepticlogician Newbie

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    If he overrides free will on occasion then it's NOT 'free will', period.
    You can call it 'limited will', 'conditional will', etc., but NOT "free will".


    I beg to differ. A caricature is an exaggeration of something. When I say that god kills innocent children and babies over and over, is because the Bible clearly says so, time and again. It's even disturbing the specificity with which this is mentioned and commanded.
    Since you have read the Bible, I'm confident you have read these verses yourself. If not, let me know, I will point them out for you.
     
  15. skepticlogician

    skepticlogician Newbie

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    It's great that you 'understand' the Bible so well, as I have many other issues that you will be very kind to explain to me. I will create some new topics about them.
    Have read the Bible from cover to cover? Today it wouldn't be that relevant anyway, as we now have the always handy site BibleGateway.com: A searchable online Bible in over 100 versions and 50 languages., and you can speed up any biblical research exponentially.

    Woe, woe... These are clearly your words and interpretation. Nowhere in the Bible can you find or deduce this that you mention.

    Again, this is your interpretation.

    The problem is that if you have some theory of your own that supposedly explain things that are difficult to understand, you should at least provide references that support the way you are interpreting these verses.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2010
  16. skepticlogician

    skepticlogician Newbie

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    Nice theory. Very original. Obviously, very yours.
    Can any of this be deduced or inferred from the Bible?
     
  17. Van

    Van Contributor

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    Hi Skepticlogican, I agree with your premises, (1) God can and often does override and limit our range of thought and action to further His purpose, and (2) God could if He chose, get rid of pain, suffering and death. This would entail limiting our range of choices such that we would not introduce pain suffering and death again via sin. Do you have an opinion as to why God has chosen to allow us to sin and thus allow us to cause some of the pain, suffering and death the world experiences?

    There are lots of examples of God intervening in the lives of men and altering the course of events such that His purpose is fulfilled. As you pointed out, every time God "hardens someone's heart" their range of choice is limited, they lose whatever spiritual ability they had to seek and accept spiritual truths. Romans 9:18 springs to mind.

    And of course we can also harden our own hearts, thus if you will, overriding our ability to choose from a full range of options. Pharaoh hardened his own heart and God hardened His heart independently. This would seem to soften the intervention, i.e God chooses folks who have chosen to reject God's will in the past and hardens them, Judas springs to mind. For example Ex 4:21, 7:3 and 14:4 all say God hardened Pharaoh's heart. But also note Pharaoh hardened his own heart Ex 8:15, 8:32 and 9:34.

    May God Bless
     
  18. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

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    Semantics, I think. Why must it be all or nothing in your view? Do we say that a convict who has done his time and is released from prison is still a prisoner? No. That he was at one time confined to a prison doesn't limit the nature of his freedom when he is finally released. He is not a partial prisoner when he exits the doors of the penitentiary but a "free man."

    I was, as a child, forced to eat my peas. I had no choice about the matter. It was eat the peas or sit at the table until I did. Now, I have no such constraint upon me. I refuse to eat peas and I am perfectly free to make that choice. The fact that at one time I was forced to eat peas, however, doesn't mean that now my choice to eat or not eat them is somehow diminished, or limited, or partial.

    It is also an inaccurate rendering, which is what I think you are guilty of in your characterization of God's conduct in the OT.

    Of course, the destruction of men, women, and children is disturbing, but the demands of God's holiness, justice and Sovereignty required this destruction. Not once does God arbitrarily command the wholesale destruction of cities and peoples. Never does He destroy for the mere sake of destruction. His judgment of the wicked is terrible, but just and necessary. We aren't supposed to revel in God's awful judgment; we ought to be appalled at the horrible consequences of defying and sinning against the Creator.

    God is also merciful and compassionate in the OT. Again and again He succours His wayward Chosen People; He protects and blesses the righteous; He patiently urges His people to turn from their wickedness and forewarns them of judgment if they do not. God isn't just traipsing around the Middle East murdering babies willy-nilly as you seem to suggest.

    Peace.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  19. skepticlogician

    skepticlogician Newbie

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    That is not a good analogy. The state of imprisonment is a temporal condition which depends on the number of years mandated in the prisoner's convicting veridict.
    Are you trying to say that free will can also be periodical? If so, you are seriously creating your own interpretation, absolutely not deduced from what anyone can read in the Bible.


    You are still failing to explain to me what do babies have to do with evil and guilty men and women who had to be destroyed. As I said before, I can understand god killing the men and women, but absolutely not the babies and toddlers.
    How can god demand the same from the babies and, since they can't understand a thing they fail to obey, then god kills them like their parents? If you believe this makes sense, then you are seriously and willingly wrong.
     
  20. lookingglass

    lookingglass Member

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    You are misled on the idea of pharoh's free will. He was hardened but not beyond repentence. If you remember pharoh's magicians were also hardened and they tried to convince pharoh to give in to Moses. If they also were hardened how is it they could do this? There are examples in Exodus where the hardening of Pharoh heart gives way to his own confession when he says I have sinned in not obeying God. If his free will was taken away how is it that he could say this? The hardening process does not mean that God completely takes away free will and it does not mean God closes the door to repentence for those who are humble enough to repent.
    Now concerning punishment of cultures and children and animals I wrote to someone about this some time ago and I think it might be appropriate to include it in this response as follows: This was a response to a guy named Andrew who had similar concerns and who misconstrued the biblical idea of morality as you do. This is what I wrote to him.
    You are right about god intervening in the destruction of societies in particular when Israel invaded the land of cannen. So what you are doing is examining the moral character of god . You seem to think you have trump card by calling into question, " the problem of evil" as an error in Christianity. OK. I will give you my answer to this question but I am not sure how you will receive it. Now you seem to have a very limited understanding of Christian theism so these deeper waters we are about to embark in are not for the faint of heart. When it comes to the moral foundation of all truth it has to be that truth is grounded in god himself. So also for morality it is evident that all people have an understanding of the differences between right and wrong. As I see it there cannot be any universalism for truth. There is only one road to truth and it goes directly to Jerusalem. From there it has it genesis in the revelation of god through the prophecies of the old testament and ends in the culmination of that revelation of god in Christ himself. Now back to your question. You are attributing a moral error with the god of the old testament. The old testament god has a seemingly different message than the god of the new testament. So how can they be the same god? When god revealed himself to the Israelites he was intending to groom them as a nation of priests for revealing himself to the world. This grooming intended to show how different he was from the other gods especially of those that the Canaanites worshipped. Among other idolatries the Canaanites had deities that required sacrifices of first born children. These were yearly rites that when viewed by god made it necessary for him to take initiatives and that is what was happening when he gave commands to kill cultures that had instituted such grave atrocities. The Canaanites worshipped a pantheon of gods and had instituted national celebrations. These celebrations were instituted by force of law. People of this culture would gather in yearly celebration to the gods to sacrificed and celebrate. The law required that a very large iron furnace would be constructed. The furnace was an idol in the form a man sitting cross legged with outstretched arms that were pitched upward leading down to his abdomen where a fiery kiln had been heated.. The Canaanite priests would send out authorities to gather from the populace all the firstborn for this rite. They would take screaming babies from their screaming parents and ready them for this rite. Sounds a little like the Nazi rĂ©gime doesn’t it? The priest would then offer up prayers thanking the gods for the increase of the yearly harvest of crops and were sure to oblige the gods with a return of thanks. And so with huge crowds of Canaanites in waiting and large clouds of incense burning the smell of death was palatable! This speaks of the depravity of men hearts as these priests heartlessly began to smash babies down into the waiting arms of this idol. You can imagine for yourself this horror! Now you want to talk about atrocities what do you think about that! For four hundred years god waited patiently for the Canaanites to get their act together and repent of these practices. But they waxed worse and worse and created a pantheon of gods for more and more horrendous atrocities. When after four hundred years had passed he called his son (Israel) out of bondage and brought them out of Egypt and finally into the land of cannan to destroy those wicked societies. His message to those cultures back then was contained in believing in a Monotheistic god. Israel’s chant was behold Israel the lord our god is one. He was a different god. He never intended men to harm their own children like the Canaanites did. His message was that men should live by his commandments and live in fidelity to these commands. A man who walks with god and keeps his commandments is a man who is right with god and his fellow man. Now I think you have misconstrued the laws of god by your intuition that god is somehow under the same laws as men. Intuition does not always ring true. We must look deeper for answers and those answers can be best understood in seeing the work of god through an historic outworking of his revelation. When god gives moral laws those moral laws are not laws for god himself. He does not have to live by those same laws. He is a Law unto himself! He is the Lawgiver! He does not need to live by commandments as if he is somehow sinful. He is Holy! He cannot sin and there is no evil in Him! We on the other hand need to be changed because we are sinful and our sins will if left unchecked carry us into extreme depraved states. That’s what people need to face up to. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. If you imagine that god has to live by laws then your god is no longer the foundation of truth. He would be just you and me and in need of instruction in righteousness. It would make it impossible for him to intervene in such ways to do away with atrocities. God’s hands would be tied and he would be unable to bring us out of sinful idolatries. We would forever be in our sins. So in the old testament God had more of an ability to stop evil in the world by directly intervening as you think he should. But that part of history was under the tutelage of the law. With the advent of Christ the old tutor of the Law has been replaced with the new tutor of Grace. This tutor calls for all men everywhere to repent and follow the Son. This period of Grace is different from that former period. God cannot any longer intervene as he did under His tutelage of the Law. We now must see that what the law could not do by force, Grace does by changing people hearts moving them away from idolatry and its atrocities. As people ingest Christ by faith he changes them from within thereby changing the world for a better place.
    Mike
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2010
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