Sunday, April 10, 2005

Riddle me this!

I've been writing my research paper on Alvin Plantinga's solution to the logical problem of evil. I just finished it Sunday. I was getting a little worried for a while there, because there was part of his argument that I had the hardest time understanding. He was explaining, using possible world semantics and counterfactuals, that there are some possible worlds God could not actualize even if he is omnipotent. I think I finally figured it out. If not, I think I faked it well enough in my paper.

But that's not why I'm writing this blog. I'm writing this blog, because while I was straining my brain to understand Plantinga's argument, it all reminded me of something I got to thinking about last year. It's a little puzzle I came up with.

Suppose there's this guy named Ottis, and Ottis is the kind of guy that whenever somebody tells him he's going to do something, he intentionally does just the opposite in order to prove them wrong. Suppose further that God knows what Ottis will do tomorrow. Is it possible for God to tell him?

6 Comments:

At 4/13/2005 11:54 PM , Blogger Mike - HotFudgeSunday.com said...

That's a very interesting riddle. It's like asking, how does one play chess if one has foreknowledge of the game's outcome? Really knowing the game's outcome means fully knowing how the knowledge of that coutcome will affect your actions, and how those actions will be reacted to. It becomes an infinite regression.

Is it logically impossible for there to be both free will in man and foreknowledge in God at the same time?

 
At 4/14/2005 1:32 AM , Blogger ephphatha said...

Mike, thanks for having a look at my blog. I found yours from a post you made on STR's blog and had a groovy time reading some of it.

Anyway, although I'm a compatibalist, I don't think there's anything inconsistent (or even paradoxical) about the idea that God has perfect foreknowledge of our actions, and the idea that we have free will. I plan to write a blog about that some time.

I guess denying foreknowedge is one way to solve the problem, but there are two other ways. The problem with my scenario is the following set is inconsistent:

1. Ottis always does the opposite of what he's told he'll do.

2. God knows what Ottis will do tomorrow.

3. God tells Ottis what he will do tomorrow.

All three of these can't be true at the same time, because that would lead to a contradiction. You could solve the problem by denying any one of the three. I came really close to solving this puzzle about a week ago, but now I've forgotten what I came up with.

 
At 4/14/2005 11:06 AM , Blogger Mike - HotFudgeSunday.com said...

On solution for the infinite regression is that at some point, God stops making changes based on His forknowledge, and then the outcome is set, or stabalized. This is the first time I've really thought about this.

I'm a software engineer, and we sometimes implement this sort of thing in software, where you exit the loop when you've reached a desirable state. When applied to this, taht state would be when God was completely satisfied with the outcome.

Another possibility is that it's not in God's character to act in such a way as to affect the outcome. In other words, He's not a pragmatist. His actions are based upon His other attributes -- for instance, loving, just, jealous, compasionate, etc. So while He may know the future, He doesn't act with the goal of affecting it. I just thougth of this taking my daughter to school today, so I don't know how quality of an idea it is.

 
At 5/02/2005 10:37 PM , Blogger daleliop said...

Perhaps one of these ideas will help:

a) God tells Ottis what he will do, but Ottis misunderstands God and actually does exactly what God told Ottis to do, although in Ottis's mind he thinks he did the opposite thing.

b) God tells Ottis what he will do. Then, God 'gets' another two people to tell Ottis the opposite of what he will do. So this puts Ottis in a dilemma. Who should he prove wrong? (Not really a solution, but something to trip Ottis up)

 
At 1/10/2011 5:20 PM , Blogger Dogbyte said...

what if God tells Ottis that tomorrow Ottis will do exactly what he chooses?

what ottis chooses to do, will be what he does tomorrow.

If Ottis chooses to not-choose, then this is exactly what he chose, which is what God told him he would do.

 
At 10/12/2011 4:33 PM , Blogger Russ said...

It seems that God could tell Ottis that, "Tomorrow you will use the law of non-contradiction."

 

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