The Chessmaster

My post about God’s will has generated some discussion about free will. Suppose God and I played a game of chess. He would know every move I would make before I made it. If I win the game it would be because God let me win. If I lost it would be because he didn’t let me win. The outcome of the game is and was always entirely in God’s hands. In the end would it really matter where I moved my chess pieces? In life we seem to have some choices, but there are many things we don’t choose. In the end an omnipotent God gets what he wants anyway. I can’t even choose not to play the game. Unless, just maybe, the God of Abraham doesn’t exist. But what do I know?

18 Replies to “The Chessmaster”

  1. What do you know? You know there is a God.

    But I see a syllogism here.

    Major premise: If God is omnipotent, He controls everything
    Minor premise: A God who controls everything, controls me
    Conclusion: Therefore, there is no God.

    Makes sense to me.

  2. Remember that if you are nothing but molecules in motion, you really have no free will. You are in exactly the straight you find so unacceptable.

    Here is part of your post with my changes in [brackets]:

    “The outcome of the game is and was always entirely in [matter and energy’s] hands. In the end would it really matter where I moved my chess pieces? In life we seem to have some choices, but there are many things we don’t choose. In the end [matter and energy] get what they want anyway. I can’t even choose not to play the game.”

  3. Exactly right except the part the [matter and energy] get what they want. That is anthropomorphizing them in a way that is not supported by any evidence.

    I would also contend that the existence of God is also not supported by any evidence.

    And Chess is a game with a finite number of moves. So, theoretically even if God knew every one of your moves there is still the possibility that she would be unable to effect the outcome. It’s just a more complicated of tic-tac-toe.

  4. I stand corrected. You are right that I should not have attributed intelligence or will to matter and energy. Intelligence and will cannot come from matter and energy alone. (But I think that is a subject for another post.)

  5. How about:
    Major premise: A God who is omnipotent controls everything.
    Minor premise: A God who is omnipotent controls me.
    Conclusion: God made me type this syllogism.

    Perry: Are you saying an omniscient being could loose a game of chess against me?

  6. Major premise: A God who is omnipotent controls everything.
    Minor premise: A God who is omnipotent can give you free will.
    Conclusion: You chose to type that syllogism.

    You are also choosing to reject God.

    And you’re making several false assumptions.

    First, you assume that a God who is omnipotent always controls everything and does have the ability to allow you to make any choices. This is illogical since omnipotent means, well, omnipotent. As long as it’s consistent with God’s character, He can do anything. Including letting you choose right or wrong.

    Secondly, you assume that if there is no God you have free will. You don’t. You have less free will without God than with God, since He can give you free will.

    You refuse to admit that you have free will because you don’t want to be held accountable for your actions. You don’t *want* God to control you. You don’t want anyone or anything to control you. This results not in freedom, but in slavery.

  7. Yes, even an omnipotent being could theoretically lose a game of chess against a non-omnipotent being. There’s a finite number of moves. So the omnipotent being could be in a position where even knowing all the possible moves they can’t do anything to counter. It’s like the end game when you are down to a couple of pieces. Sometimes, there’s absolutely nothing one player can do to stop another from winning.

    On the plus side, the omnipotent being would know they are going to lose so they could just decide not to play.

    Please explain what you mean by omnipotent. It seems people have different definitions.

    Not sure how you have no free will without a God.

    You’re also engaging in a logical fallacy at the end of your post by setting up a straw man. No one has give a reason for why they do or do not believe in free will.

  8. “Secondly, you assume that if there is no God you have free will.”

    What did I say that led you to that conclusion? Was it the God of Abraham comment? If the God of Abraham doesn’t exist then there probably is no Heaven or Hell, Salvation or Damnation. You are correct that I would still have no free will.

    Whether I admit that I have free will or not has no bearing on whether God will hold me accountable for my actions. My fellow people do hold me accountable for my actions for the most part. There may be some people that have a beef with me and they may yet seek revenge or justice, as it were.

    “Is God so powerful that he can make a creature that he can’t control?” That sounds like God making a rock so big he can’t lift it.

    If I wanted to go to Heaven there is nothing I can do to get there. If God wants to send me to Hell there is nothing I can do to stop him.

    “You don’t want God to control you.”

    I thought I was arguing that if he does exist then he does control me. If he doesn’t exist then purely physical forces control me.
    I like to

  9. Another point about free will that I mentioned on a different post:

    I said, “You say that man is free to make any choice he will. Are we free to be righteous? If we were it would seem that at least once in a while there would be someone who could be holy by his or her own effort. But Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Why is it that we have all chosen to sin? Why would anyone choose to sin if it meant subjecting yourself to God’s judgement.”

  10. I concluded that you assume “no God = free will” because you were arguing that “God = no free will.” That does not necessarily follow logically, but it seemed to be the point you were making.

    The alternative is that you have no free will no matter what! But I don’t think you believe that. You’ve already acknowledged that you can make some choices.

    “Is God so powerful that he can make a creature that he can’t control?”

    Did I ask that? That’s not a good question. I suggest asking instead, “Is God not powerful enough to allow a creature some measure of control?” (At the minimum, the ability to choose whether or not to submit to his creator.)

    “If I wanted to go to Heaven there is nothing I can do to get there. If God wants to send me to Hell there is nothing I can do to stop him.”

    This is true ONLY if God wants it that way. But you are making an unwarranted assumption about the nature of God. You reject, without any basis, the possibility that God can allow you to choose whether or not you go to heaven.

    “I thought I was arguing that if he does exist then he does control me. If he doesn’t exist then purely physical forces control me.”

    You *were* arguing that. And His existence (and therefore, His control) seemed unacceptable to you.

  11. According to what I know of the Bible God doesn’t give us a choice concerning Heaven or Hell. The choice is to believe in Jesus. If I could choose Heaven or Hell I would choose Heaven. The choice to believe in Jesus is not so easy. I am too full of pride and stubbornness. Besides Jesus seems about as real to me as Caesar Augustus.

  12. You do agree that you can choose some things, right?

    According to the Bible, the choice is to believe in Jesus or to not believe in Jesus. That sounds like a choice to me. And you *can* choose Heaven.

    But, you would only choose Heaven as long as you didn’t have to believe in Jesus? Would you choose pride and stubbornness over an eternity in Hell?

    You’re right about it not being easy. But the day will come when you would gladly give up everything to have made that choice.

    Are you concerned about whether or not Jesus was who he claimed to be, or whether or not he really rose from the dead? Or, about whether or not those statements are even relevant?

  13. Of course, the day could come when you regret having believed in Jesus because God is really a different God all together than the one you believed in. It could be that the real God rewards people with a trip to heaven only if they reject mythical teachings of humanity.

    Agnosticism or atheism seems the safest choice to me.

  14. If God is omnipotent, he controls everything.
    If God controls everything, he controls me.
    Therefore, I have no free will.

    Even if God gives us a “measure of control” I still cannot understand how God could create something that behaved in a way that he did not intend.

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