Free will and omniscience

Discussion in 'Answers' started by Tell Tale, Dec 19, 2008.

  1. Free will and omniscience

    If God is omniscient, in that He has 100% full knowledge of everything that is going to happen and has happened and is happening... How is it possible that we have free will? I suppose I should clarify free will...

    As it seems to me, we can do nothing aside from what God knows we're going to do... It's not a matter of God changing his knowledge to fit what we do, we do something and eons before we do it, He knows it's going to happen. So, can we do anything else at that moment?

    It's like God sets one can of soda in front of us, and lets us choose whatever soda we want from the one in front of us...

    So it's not that we can't choose... it's that we only have one choice to make... How is that choice at all then?
  2. God's Plan

    We DO have more than once choice and that is God's plan for each of us.

    We were given 'free will' in this dispensation as a test of our faith and a test of our obedience. There are only two choices that we have while in these human bodies - those choices are to honor God and follow Him... or to honor Satan and follow him.

    Our freedom to choose God or Satan is our test while on earth. If we follow God and accept His Word and His Son as our Savior, we will have eternal life. If we follow Satan and accept his lies and deceipt, we will perish along with him at the end of the millenium period, in the Lake of Fire.

    Our own choices in life determines if we will follow Good or follow Evil. When we keep God in our lives and in our hearts, we will follow Goodness and Righteousness. If we keep the doctrines and sins of a Satan based lifestyle, we will loose that life forever.

    It Is Our Choice.

  3. (Red emphasis mine)
    Jos 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

    God is indeed omniscient and foreknows our every choice but that in no way precludes us from making our own choices. We can walk in God's perfect will for our lives, His permissive will for our lives or downright dissobediance that is at least 3 choices right their. Our final decisions again are no surprise but were still ours to make. These choices are made on a moment to moment basis and yet of course none surpirses God. If one does not have an understanding of foreknowledge than it can be indeed like a kitten chasing it's own tail trying to understand this truth.:)

    1Ch 21:9 And the LORD spake unto Gad, David's seer, saying,
    1Ch 21:10 Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.
    God was not surprised by David's final choice (foreknowledge) , of course He already knew the results. When God called David a man after His own heart do you think He was talking about that moment or an overview of His entire life?

    Pro 1:28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
    Pro 1:29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:

    Pro 3:31 Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.

    Isa 7:15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

    Isa 56:4 For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;
    Isa 56:5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

    Php 1:22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.

    In the beggining God created Adam and Eve and told them not to eat for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was His command and His will, yet in foreknowledge He prepared a plan of rescue:
    Rev 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

    What God spoke then was just as He spoke the heavens and the earth into existence even though we had not seen the manifestation of it yet.

    2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

    This is His perfect will and yet many will not be saved, reusing to bow their nstiff necks to the Lord God of all creation.
  4. Of course, we have a choice. That's why so many turn Him away. That is their choice--just as accepting the Son of God was my choice. Just because God knows what choice we will make doesn't mean He makes that choice for us, and we have NO choice in the matter.
  5. How is it that a parent knows a child will eat?? Will Cry? Needs love, discipline???? needs water, get angry, will be temped, etc???? Some aspects of human action, in fact, most are common to all. Others are still yet special to the individual.
    Momma puts cookis in the cookie jar. Tells little Joe and Tommmy not to get into the cookie jar. Cookies come up missing and momma knows before Joe knew himself that he would be the one with cookie crumbs on his shirt. Because she knew them both. . . It's not some profound mystical phenominon that defies understanding. It is a matter of mostly non consiquential fact.
    It plays out thousands or hundreds of thousands of times a day for each and every individual.
    Our free will is not a totaly free will, Not as God has free will. We are bound by how he made us and by parameters of His creation.
    That we have "free will" is not what we should be concerning ourselves with.
    What we should conmcern ourselves with is the fact that no matter what our situation, limitatins or how much "free will" we as individuals have or don't have we are individualy accountable, resposible, and will face judgment for how we as individuals responded to what "free will".

    It's like God sets or allows to be set before us an array of liquid refreshment. Every thing from water to whisky and all things between. Even if He did set before us a single can of soda? We still have the choice to drink it or not.;)
    If anything at all, , , We have too much free will.

    Wilfully His
  6. But God would know what decision we make before we make it. So it's not our decision at all. If he has done half the things Christians claim he's done, then he would be able to simply predict the events--perfectly--for centuries to come, if not true "futuresight." So he would know what temptations each of us would face and he would know if we would turn out to worship him or not. Oh, and to the guy who said there are only two options--worship God or worship Satan--you are so very misguided. Refusal to worship one deity is not synonymous to worshiping its opposite. In that sense, everyone who existed before Christianity and Judaism could only possibly have worshiped Satan, since God wasn't "known of" back then.

    God knowing what choice we will make does indeed mean we have no choice. He knows what we will be like before we are even born; that in itself implies that we were destined to turn our backs on God, as you would call it, and that it was inevitable. If we had made an alternative choice, then God wouldn't have seen it coming, and he wouldn't be omniscient. In fact, his powers entirely rest on knowing which ones of us will worship him and which ones will reject him.
  7. By your reasoning, it doesn't really matter whether God or anyone else knows the future. The simple fact is that you will make decisions in the future. Whatever alternatives exist, the fact remains that you will make one choice. Perhaps you will at some future point come to an intersection in your car. You will have the choice of turning right, turning left, going straight, not moving at all, backing up, or even driving around in circles. You will, in any case, make one choice and not another at that point in time. Your logic would say that your action was predetermined or fated and that you really had no choice because you did what you were going to do. It's not really a theological issue at all. Whether God or anyone else knows the future doesn't matter because even if nobody knows what decision you will make, you will still make that one decision, and only that one decision, at that point in time.
    Foreknowledge should not be confused with causation. I know the sun will rise tomorrow. If I consulted the right charts, tables, and instruments, I could predict within a fraction of a second exactly when the sun would send its rays over a given point of the horizon. My ability to predict that has no influence whatsoever on the physical and astronomical forces which actually cause the event. God's knowing what choices we will make does not cause us to make that choice and we are still responsible for the choices we make.
    Back to the intersection: regardless of anyone's ability to observe your decision in the future, the fact remains that at that instant in time, you have several alternatives and the ability to choose any of them. Fate, ultimately, is a result, not a cause.

  8. For a person who is a professed atheist you seem to have a lot of "knowledge" about God-Lol!
    You cannot understand what you do not know my friend. You can debate the existence of an apple , you can even concoct questions aimed at confusing the apple farmers but until you taste that apple you will never really know what it is all about.

    I enjoyed the conversation, have a great day. BTW- you are in my prayers my friend.
  9. I don't understand that statement at all.
    If my wife says "I'm going to the store."
    I know she is going to drive. She could walk, or she could get a ride from a friend, but I am 99% sure she is going to drive.

    She still has the free will to do something else even if I "KNOW" what she is going to do.

    Now, very much unlike God, I could be wrong, but that still doesn't take away free will.

    I can assure you that all of the events are working out perfectly. To you and to me, it might not always seem that way, we might like to think that we can do a better job than God.
    If I were in charge, my beagle wouldn't have got hit by that car when I was 6, and I would win the lottery, and......

    But just because I think something is imperfect does not mean that it is.

    Because all I can see is now. I can't see the future, and I can only read about the past, some of it I can remember but not much.

    But God not only knows the past, present and future, He is in it, all of it, all at the same time. He is not constrained as you and I are and His plan is unfolding perfectly. I suppose from Gods perspective, one could say it HAS unfolded perfectly.

    Think about how even before the fall, Jesus Christ, who was with God and who is God was in place as the creative and redemptive mediator specifically for our salvation. God revealed this plan to Abram, that through Isaac through the "seed" [not seeds] all nations would be blessed.

    That seed was Christ, and through Christ all may be saved [blessed]

    This plan has been in place since the very beginning, and if you study your bible, I think you will see that it is indeed unfolding perfectly. :)
  10. The way I see it, the fact that God KNOWs what we are going to do does not mean that He CONTROLS what we are going to do. He knows us inside and out. Partly, this is my own opinion, because He knows the choices we are going to make and where we are going to end up.

    There is no freewill-determination paradox in my view. He loves us. He calls us. We respond or we don't.

    The best part will be when I do actually figure out how to give my life to God. I mean truly, not just in my mind or in my heart, but with my actual life. THEN He will have control, but only because I have chosen to surrender. He doesn't make me choose. But he wants me to. And He knows before me if I do. Doesn't mean He made me do it. He just knows if I do.

    I don't really get the free will - determination conflict.

    The fact that He knows, does not mean that He controls.
  11. "Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other." Isaiah 45:22

    "See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven." Hebrews 12:25

    'Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost." Isaiah 55:1

    "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." Luke 13:3

    Matthew 10:39 "He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

    Exodus 20:22 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'You yourselves have seen that I have spoken to you from heaven.

    Hebrews 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,

    Hebrews 2:2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty,

    Hebrews 3:12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.

    Hebrews 8:5 who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, "SEE," He says, "THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN."

    Hebrews 10:28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

    Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

    Hebrews 12:19 and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them.

    "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land;But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword." Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken." Isaiah 1:18-20

    "But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead." Philippians 3:7-11

    John 3:18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

    'to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.' Acts 26:18


    'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me." Revelation 3:20

    "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:15

    John 1-15

    "See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven." Hebrews 12:25

    "After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things. Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME." And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, "Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created." Revelation 4:1-11

  12. What does God knowing what we will choose have to do with our choosing it? You know what a loved one will do when you do something. Is that imposing your will on them? Not at all. You know how they will react and plan for it.
  13. As long as your mind is locked up in this logic you will not be able to understand that Gods knowledge of our futures comes from His foreknowledge not by predetermining/forcing our actions. Truly foreknowledge and free will exist side by side.

    The Universe is Gods creation. He is not bound to it and its mechanical laws, universal time is a part of this universe and God is not bound by it either.

    All Praise The Ancient Of Days
  14. Omniscience and Free Will

    Preface: I'm an atheist. I hope that's alright. I'm not here on any militant crusade, I just want to help out with the philosophical (because it is philosophical, rather than theological) issue at hand.
    God's omniscience ensures predestination. If God has perfect knowledge of the future, then the future must produce only one result. If God's knowledge of the future is probabilistic instead of certain, then his knowledge is imperfect. This is because certainty is preferable to uncertainty, so if God is perfect, then he will have knowledge of a certain future. Predestination.

    So every Christian should accept predestination. The real question is whether predestination precludes free will. Integral to answering this question is the definition of free will. I have found that there are many individual, subjective definitions to this word, and so it is difficult to define in a way that makes everyone happy. Even the greatest philosophers cannot agree on how this word is defined, so I think it best to branch the logical sequence from this point. Branch one will accept the definition "the ability to alter the future." Branch two will accept the definition "the ability to act without the influence of coercion or force."

    Branch one:
    Free will is incompatible with an omniscient God. The should be clear from the conclusion reached in my first paragraph, but to elaborate...
    1. God's omniscience creates one certain future.
    2. Free will requires an uncertain, changeable future.
    :. Free will and God are not compatible.

    Branch two:
    Free will is compatible with an omniscient God. God's knowledge of your actions do not make them forced. If you are walking along a path and you reach a fork, God knows that you will go to the right. This does not mean that God forced you to go to the right, it only means that God knew you would go to the right. If a strange man grabbed you and dragged you down the path to the left, you would not be acting willfully. You would be acting under force, and according to this definition you would not have free will.

    To sidestep this debate over definitions and semantics, I usually pose the question in the OP with the term "free choice" and define that, or I offer a rigorous definition of free will. Of course, it is still possible to debate the meaningfulness of branch 2's definition. Is this really what most people mean when they say free will? Is it something we should want? Etc.

    An interesting theological question: Is God omniscient? (cite your scripture!)
  15. Tell Tale:

    I am not trying to shut you down in any way, and your question is a good one. However, one of the worst things you could do is actually try to understand this paradox of divine sovereignty and human freedom. The paradoxical nature of the question itself has the potential of becoming a pitfall: Since acceptance of both extremes does not make rational sense to our human minds, we naturally try to make sense of it by choosing one or the other and becoming devotees of that camp. Thus, in trying to understand the full depths of this mystery, countless people have ended up leaning too heavily on either side of the issue. For example, some, leaning too much on the divine sovereignty side of the coin, conclude that there is no point in preaching the gospel because God knows who is going to be saved and who is not. Others, drifting too far in the direction of human freedom, tend to overlook divine sovereignty in salvation and end up picturing God as a helpless, feeble old man who pleads desperately with mankind to come to him, wringing his hands in frustration because so many reject him.

    So, although your question is a good one and deals with an important topic, my advice to you is this: Avoid the mistake that so many have made and recognize that both divine sovereignty and human freedom are equally presented to us in scripture and, therefore, must be equally emphasized.
  16. It has been a long time since my college philosophy classes, but I'll take a stab at this. :) You wrote:

    Predestination is more than mere foreknowledge; it is predetermining that something will happen in the future.

    Impressive. In most discussions of this sort, nobody ever even thinks of defining "free will." I'm glad you did.

    "Free will" is usually defined--at least in my experience--as the complete ability to choose good or evil, a purely neutral state in which man is not biased one way or the other but is freely able to make right choices or wrong choices without even the slightest leaning one way or the other. If this is the common definition--and my conversations with others on this topic would seem to indicate that it is--then it's naive because nobody is purely neutral. We are all biased to some degree and in some way.

    In Reformed Christian theology, man is free in the sense that he is under no external constraints. However, the very human will is in bondage to its own corruption. Just as water is unable to rise above its own level, so also the sinful heart of man is unable to rise above its own corrupt desires. Thus, in orthodox Christian theology at least, man does not have "free will."

    The logic of this argument works, but premise 2 seems to be based on the common definition of free will that I mentioned above; but as I pointed out, that definition is flawed.

    God predetermines as well as foreknows, so this argument is problematic.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is an area of mystery that we will never completely fathom.
  17. What a hoot this discussion is, at least to me!
    I can see it`s supposed to be serious, but somehow it tickles my funny bone.......

    Calvinist/reformed/puritan/recon [or pick your favorite label for this christian "flaver"] arguments tend to knot up my poor gray matter.
    Although the subject initially piques my curiosity, I quickly loose interest in it.
    I suspect that is because I am so immersed in REAL LIFE issues which daily affect those I care about.
    While this free will versus omniscience scenario is an interesting head trip, it is also highly theoretic and not helpful for strenghtening my walk with Creator and others.
    I cannot really relate to it in the trenches of life where I live.

    The way I see it, how can ANY mortal, fallible human being claim to understand [with our limited brain power] how to explain THE ETERNAL ONE, who is completely OUTSIDE of the sphere of our comprehension??
    All we can come up with are human explanations derived from mere parts or fragments of the puzzle of life, as we understand it.
    It is ONLY Creator who sees the entire puzzle with all the correct answers.......after all, it is HE who made the puzzle.

    My thoughts from off the beaten path.
  18. Fate!!

    Does the Bible Teach Belief in Fate?

    LIBEL! SLANDER! When a respected member of the community believes that his name or reputation has been damaged by a false report, he feels compelled to set matters straight. He may even take legal action against those responsible for the libel.

    Well, fatalism is nothing less than slander against Almighty God. The theory holds that God is personally responsible for all the tragedies and mishaps that afflict mankind. If you believe in fate, you might imagine that the Universal Sovereign has compiled an agenda that reads something like the following: ‘Today, John will be injured in a car accident, Fatou will have a malaria attack, Mamadou’s house will be destroyed in a storm’! Could you really be moved to serve such a God?

    ‘But if God is not responsible for our misfortunes, then who is?’ ask believers in fate. Ousmane, the young man mentioned in the preceding article, wondered about this himself. But he did not have to guess or speculate to arrive at the truth. He learned that God has cleared himself of this slander by means of the teachings found in His inspired Word, the Bible. (2*Timothy 3:16) Let us consider, then, what the Bible says on this subject.

    Who Is to Blame?

    Floods, storms, earthquakes—such catastrophes are often called acts of God. Yet the Bible does not indicate that God causes such disasters. Consider a tragedy that occurred centuries ago in the Middle East. The Bible tells us that the sole survivor of this catastrophe reported: “The very fire of God [Hebrew expression often meaning lightning] fell from the heavens and went blazing among the sheep and the attendants and eating them up.”—Job 1:16.

    While this terrified man may have thought that God was accountable for the fire, the Bible shows that He was not to blame. Read Job 1:7-12 for yourself, and you will learn that the lightning was caused, not by God, but by his Adversary—Satan the Devil! Not that all mishaps are the direct work of Satan. But clearly, there is no reason to blame God.

    In reality, people are often to blame when things go wrong. Failures at school, at work, or in social relations may result from a lack of effort and good training or perhaps from a lack of consideration for others. Likewise, illnesses, accidents, and deaths may be the result of negligence. Why, simply wearing a seat belt while driving greatly reduces the likelihood of one’s being killed in a car accident. A seat belt would not make any difference if unalterable “fate” were at work. Proper medical care and sanitation also dramatically reduce the number of premature deaths. Even some disasters commonly labeled “acts of God” are, in fact, acts of man—the sad legacy of man’s mismanagement of the earth.—Compare Revelation 11:18.

    “Time and Unforeseen Occurrence”

    True, there are many sad events for which the causes are not clearly evident. Note, though, what the Bible says at Ecclesiastes 9:11: “I returned to see under the sun that the swift do not have the race, nor the mighty ones the battle, nor do the wise also have the food, nor do the understanding ones also have the riches, nor do even those having knowledge have the favor; because time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all.” There is therefore no reason to believe that the Creator is behind accidents or that victims of accidents are in some way being punished.

    Jesus Christ himself argued against fatalistic reasoning. Referring to a tragedy that was well-known to his listeners, Jesus asked: “Those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, thereby killing them, do you imagine that they were proved greater debtors than all other men inhabiting Jerusalem? No, indeed, I tell you.” (Luke 13:4,*5) Jesus evidently attributed the disaster, not to God’s intervention, but to “time and unforeseen occurrence.”

    The Ravages of Imperfection

    What, though, about unexplained deaths and illnesses? The Bible gives this blunt description of the human condition: “In Adam all are dying.” (1*Corinthians 15:22) Death has afflicted mankind since our forefather Adam trod the path of disobedience. Just as God had warned, Adam left his offspring a legacy of death. (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12) Ultimately, then, all illnesses can be traced to our common ancestor Adam. Our inherited weaknesses also have much to do with the disappointments and failures we experience in life.—Psalm 51:5.

    Consider the problem of poverty. Belief in fate has often encouraged sufferers to resign themselves to their difficult existence. ‘This is our destiny,’ they believe. The Bible shows, however, that human imperfection, not fate, is to blame. Some become poor when they ‘reap what they have sown’ through laziness or mismanagement of resources. (Galatians 6:7; Proverbs 6:10, 11) Countless millions live in poverty because they are victimized by greedy men in power. (Compare James 2:6.) “Man has dominated man to his injury,” says the Bible. (Ecclesiastes 8:9) No evidence exists for attributing all poverty to God or to fate.

    Belief in Fate—Its Damaging Effects

    Still another persuasive argument against belief in fate is the effect fatalism can have upon believers. Said Jesus Christ: “Every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit.” (Matthew 7:17) Let us consider one “fruit” of fatalism—the way it influences people’s sense of responsibility.

    A healthy sense of personal responsibility is important. It is one of the things that motivate parents to provide for their families, workers to perform their tasks conscientiously, manufacturers to provide a quality product. Belief in fate may numb that sense. Imagine, for example, that a man’s car has a faulty steering mechanism. If he has a keen sense of responsibility, he gets it repaired out of concern for his own life and the lives of his passengers. A believer in fate, on the other hand, may ignore the risk, reasoning that a breakdown will occur only if it is ‘God’s will’!

    Yes, belief in fate may easily promote carelessness, laziness, failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions, and a host of other negative traits.

    A Barrier to Our Relationship With God?

    Most harmful of all, belief in fate can suppress one’s sense of responsibility, or obligation, toward God. (Ecclesiastes 12:13) The psalmist urges all mankind to “taste and see that Jehovah is good.” (Psalm 34:8) God sets forth certain requirements for those who would enjoy his goodness.—Psalm 15:1-5.

    One such requirement is repentance. (Acts 3:19; 17:30) That involves admitting our mistakes and making needed changes. As imperfect humans, all of us have much of which we need to repent. But if a person believes that he is a helpless victim of fate, it is difficult to feel a need to repent or to take responsibility for his errors.

    Said the psalmist about God: “Your loving-kindness is better than life.” (Psalm 63:3) Yet, belief in fate has convinced millions that God is the author of their misery. Naturally, this has embittered many toward him, shutting the door to their having a truly close relationship with the Creator. After all, how could you feel love for the one whom you viewed as causing all your problems and trials? Fatalism thus erects a barrier between God and man.

    Freed From the Tyranny of Fate

    Young Ousmane, mentioned at the outset, was once enslaved by belief in fate. However, when Jehovah’s Witnesses helped him to evaluate his thinking in the light of the Bible, Ousmane was moved to abandon his belief in fate. The results were a profound sense of relief and a new, positive outlook on life. More important, he has come to know Jehovah as a God who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth.”—Exodus 34:6.

    Ousmane has also come to realize that God, although not planning every detail of our lives, does have a purpose for the future. Says 2*Peter 3:13: “There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” Jehovah’s Witnesses have helped millions to cultivate the hope of living forever as a part of this promised “new earth.” They would like to help you too.

    As you grow in accurate knowledge of the Bible, you will come to appreciate that your future does not depend upon some predetermined fate over which you have no control. The words of Moses to the ancient Israelites well apply: “I have put life and death before you, the blessing and the malediction; and you must choose life in order that you may keep alive, you and your offspring, by loving Jehovah your God, by listening to his voice and by sticking to him.” (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20) Yes, you have a say in your future. It is not in the hands of fate.

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