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Why I do not have a problem with predestination

In recent years Michael Ramsden, from RZIM, has been gracious enough to host several seminars at the Momentum summer conference. One of his more popular seminars involves asking the audience to come up with the hardest theological questions that they can think of and then answering them live. Possibly out of necessity, he asks the audience to write down the questions on a piece of paper so that he can pick and choose which ones he answers. Notably, he is heavily biased toward those questions that have chocolate bars attached.

I've attended several of these seminars, and I've come to realise that the question most commonly asked by Christians concerns the topic of predestination. Christians seem concerned that they may not have free will if their future is determined in advance. Michael's live answers always left me a little disappointed, but he did upload a more involved version of his live answer to his website.

Personally, I've never really had much difficulty with the implications of predestination.

Suppose, for whatever reason, I've managed to put myself in such a position that I can know exactly what you are going to do next. I then have two choices. I can either choose not to interfere with the timeline in any way, and thus ensure that events will take place exactly as I have forseen. My other option is to interfere with the timeline, and in some way tell you what you're going to do next. You will then have two choices. You can either conform to what I have said, or perhaps seek to do something contrary to my prophecy in order to make some sort of statement to prove me wrong. Note that in both cases, you have had free will to choose what happens next. You may disagree with the conclusion, but keep in mind that this isn't too far off what we as humans are already capable of. We already have technology that allows us to go back in time without being able to interfere with the events that subsequently take place.

I think that the actual issue that Christians struggle with concerning predestination is what follows should this argument be taken to its logical conclusion: That sometimes, God does interfere with the timeline, and does tell people what is going to happen in the future. Following that, events happen exactly as they are described. The reason why Christians struggle with this is obvious: How can you claim to have free will if God tells you what you are going to do, freely, and you cannot possibly make things happen another way?

Personally, I don't have a problem with this either. Suppose God does tell you about the future. In this case, I feel inclined to believe that it would be inconsequential whether or not God told you about the future. In this scenario, I subscribe to the belief that it would be safe for God to let you know what you are going to do if God were certain that it wouldn't affect the outcome. I like to imagine playing around with an Excel spreadsheet in order to figure out what would happen in certain situations. Suppose God is playing with a cosmic spreadsheet and figures that nothing would change regardless of whether or not He told you about the future. God can then make a choice about whether or not to tell you, without any adverse consequence. The two possible resulting timelines would of course need to be extremely close to one another to make God's decision to interfere inconsequential.

Of course, God can also choose to not tell you what He knows will happen in the future.

In both of the above situations, you can still claim to have had the free will to do whatever you please, and you are therefore responsible for your own actions.

Well, that is why I personally don't struggle with the implications of predestination. I suppose I would start to struggle if I were to consider what would happen if God knew the future, knew that disseminating that information would in fact change the timeline in some way not related to the revelation, and then proceed to go ahead and disseminate that information. I suppose I shall leave that scenario as an open question - what do you think? In this scenario, God is purposefully changing the future by informing people about it, either for our benefit or for His. Would that be cheating?

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