Re: The lot is cast ...

Adrian Teo (
Wed, 10 Dec 1997 10:35:02 -0800

Chuck Noren wrote:
> On Wed, 10 Dec 1997, Adrian Teo wrote:
> > Chuck Noren wrote:
> >
> > > Suppose you have before you two closed boxes that you cannot se
> > > inside of:
> > >
> > > Box A -- This box holds $10,000.
> > > Box B -- This box either holds $20,000 or nothing.
> > >
> > > You are given the following options. You may choose box B
> > > or you may pick both boxes (A and B). In addition, you are told
> > > that God had placed the $10,000 in box A and had placed the
> > > $20,000 in box B depending on what He thought you would do:
> > > nothing would be in box B if God thinks you would choose the
> > > two boxes, or $20,000 would be in box B if God thinks you would
> > > only choose box B.
> > >
> > > Question: what would you do? Does God have the ability to
> > > predict with complete accuracy what you would do? Gardner
> > > then posed the question if God is able to always accurately
> > > predict what your action is here, then do you have free will?
> >
> > This is an interesting question. Since God transcends time and space,
> > could it be possible that immediately after we have made our decision,
> > God alters the content of the boxes accordingly? Does that both offers
> > us free will and control of the outcomes to God ultimately?
> This is an interesting approach. In essence, are you saying that
> God could not predict the outcome?

I wouldn't go as far as to say that, since if God transcends time, then
he would know the future.

> Could we detect God's tampering
> with the experiment by enclosing a recording device, or have some
> other person note the contents of the box before the experiment begins?

I was working on the assumption that no other human person knows the
content of the box - they just miraculously appeared in fornt of you and
you were given the options.

> Perhaps God God would alter the recording device or the memory of
> the observer to be consistent with the outcome that God manipulated.

I don't think our God does that.

> A couple of issues come to mind. First, this kind of God would
> manipulate things to give the appearance of a God with perfect
> foreknowledge. This reminds me of the YEC arguments of creating
> the universe with the appearance of age. Secondly, this seems to
> make God a deceiver. In my mind, if things turn out to appear
> that God has perfect foreknowledge, why not follow Occam's Razor
> and accept the simpler explaination?

Again, back to the question of what that does to free will. I personally
don't think that foreknowledge is incompatible with free will, since God
does not control our choices, but only that he has knowledge of what
those choices would be.

> This leads to another question. What is the definition of free
> will? You seem to imply an essential feature of free will is that
> human action has to be in principle unpredictable, at least
> to some degree. Is that an essential characteristic of free will?

I struggle with that all the time in my discipline. I don't think free
will implies complete unpredictability since that would contradict our
nature as rational beings. But free will does necessary imply that in
spite of all previous experiences and events, we can choose something
completely unexpected. So it brings in some degree of unpredictability,
but for the most part, we tend to act in intelligible, coherent ways.
That's why I believe we can study human behavior, personality,
psychopathology and so forth.