Is my banana snack free or determined?

Seher asked:

Suppose that you perform an action, and you feel as though you did it as a matter of free choice. Does that feeling of freedom really mean that the action is free?

Suppose that God knows that at midnight tonight you’ll eat a banana. Does that mean your action is determined?

Answer by Jürgen Lawrenz

I don’t need to “suppose” that I have free choice in what I decide upon — I have it, as long as it can be done and is legal. The word “suppose” in fact indicates a presumption on your part that there is a something questionable about it. But the plain reality is, that free choice is the foundation of life across all life forms, inasmuch as they/we would all be extinct without it.

That’s a challenge for you to think through; and when you have properly attended to all the pros and cons (especially in regard to evolution), you will see the necessity of free choice operating throughout.

Accordingly the introduction of God changes nothing, because you assume that the idea of God is self-explanatory and save yourself the indispensable specification of which/whose God you have in mind. So I will guess that your notion is of an omniscient biblical God watching me eating a banana at 12 midnight on March 29, 2019. Now you want to know if my act determined? Well, that’s pretty simple. If God willed it, then it is. If God did not will it, then I must have; but obviously one of us did, the difference being atemporal there, temporal here, as well as fore-ordained there and spontaneous here. In the former case that moment is etched into the Almighty’s memory as a content that must accompany him from the beginning to the end of time. Frightfully boring scenario — especially if you now multiply it by all the zillions of other determined actions of mice and men throughout eternity.

I hope you can see the absurdity of the situation: If everything that happens in the living realm is atemporally determined, then God is trapped as if by iron chains in his own cage of determinism. Does this make any sense to you? Or would you be tempted to acknowledge it as an oxymoron, mere playing with words, to which no denotation, nor a half-way acceptable connotation can be affixed?

One thought on “Is my banana snack free or determined?

  1. “Suppose that God knows that at midnight tonight you’ll eat a banana. Does that mean your action is determined?”
    I think no. You’re on top of a skyscraper. You’re seeing a crossroad and two cars approaching at great speed. You’re sure a big accident will happen. (But the drivers had the freedom to avoid it.)

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