Monday, June 20, 2011


Back to the topic at hand . . . The question is: How can we have genuine ‘free will’ if God knows in advance, precisely, in great detail, what we will do in the future? Can a truly prescient God exist simultaneously with His creatures and their free will? If God already knows what we will choose, hasn’t He necessarily pre-programmed us to do that?

Or does God really even have foreknowledge of our choices at all?

In August of 2001, I made an interesting observation. While staying on the 17th floor of a Reno hotel and gazing out my window at the traffic below, I realized that my elevated position provided me with the ability to see into the future to some extent: I could see cars and pedestrians as they traveled, and I knew in advance what they would encounter provided they did not suddenly alter their course.

For instance, the person driving Car #1 west on A Street was going to eventually encounter the red Ford driving in the opposite direction even though, at that moment, the red Ford was too far up the road for the driver of Car #1 to see.

However, if the driver of Car #1 decided to turn right at the next intersection, he would suddenly discover a school bus coming in the opposite direction and a taxi cab parked up against the curb. He didn’t know what awaited him around the corner, but I did.

If the pedestrian went left at the next corner, he was destined to see a woman pushing her baby in a stroller and a group of young boys kicking a can along the sidewalk. If he continued straight ahead instead, then in three more blocks he would find himself face to face with a casino cocktail waitress smoking a cigarette at the edge of the employee’s parking lot.

In other words, my elevated position gave me the ability to see into the future, but only in a general way and dependent upon what each person below me chose to do with their free will. I did not know whether or not the driver of Car #1 would continue driving west on A Street or turn right at the next corner, but whatever decision he made, I already knew in advance a bit of what he did not yet know awaited him.

So, I could understand how a God “above us” might be able to know some of our destiny, but the problem is that I had long ago dismissed the idea of a God in “Heaven” or “above us” geographically speaking; I am convinced that there is a God who is not only above us, but below us, around us, and in us.

Furthermore, anyone who has spent much time at all studying their Bible knows that God does indeed exhibit foreknowledge, and often it’s foreknowledge down to the smallest details. For instance, God clearly prophesied a number of events in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in the New Testament down to the smallest details. He told us where and when His Son would be born and killed; how much money His Son would be betrayed for; and what His Son’s destiny was.

The Holy Bible is replete with fulfilled prophecies that were foretold in intricate detail. So, did God foreknow these things, or did He make them happen?

Well, there are certainly Bible verses that seem to indicate that in some instances God intervened and made his creations (human beings) act in certain ways. One of the most famous examples is that of the Egyptian Pharaoh and his refusal to let the Israelites go to worship in the desert. Several times the reader is told that God “hardened the heart” of Pharaoh, so that he would not let the Israelites go in order for God to use that opportunity to display His power and His concern for the Israelites.

In a case like that, could a truly righteous and just God hold Pharaoh’s refusal to let the Israelites go against him? For as the Bible also says: Who can resist God?

Yes, there are a few instances in the Bible where it appears that God intervened and used His power to make some people act in certain ways. But there are even more verses that indicate that generally we have been granted ‘free will’ and can choose or not choose to follow God and Christ.

If that’s so, how can God already know what we will do?

Some take the position that God can know every detail of our future because God transcends time. Once time is removed from the equation, this might well be true in some unfathomable way since time is a physical property and God is a spiritual Identity Force. But since no one can really claim to understand timelessness and all it implies (regardless of how much they might meditate or draw mathemetical diagrams on a chalkboard), that idea remains mere speculation, conjecture, a theory - something we don’t, and for now, can’t know. And we can’t really know what we don’t know (even if some of us are INTJs). And so, as such, that theory of God’s transcending time giving Him an ability to know our every free will decision in advance is of no real help to us in attempting to correlate these seemingly mutually exclusive ideas.

Another possible answer to this puzzle might be found in some of the amazing things that are being revealed in the studies of quantum physics:

“Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”
~ Niels Bohr

While I have read a wee widdle bit here and there about these studies, my knowledge of quantum theory is of the most basic understanding (and perhaps even less than that) and I would dare not even attempt to expound on possible theories by which a prescient God and His free will-possessing children might simultaneously coexist as suggested by ideas found in quantum theory.

Many years ago, I sort of half-assed formulated an idea that would seem to resolve this conundrum of free will and an all-knowing God, and that’s without addressing ideas found in quantum mechanics and timelessness.

What if our lives are already “in the can” although we are seemingly experiencing them as if they are happening NOW in some linear sense?

“In the can” is a Hollywood film industry expression that means a movie has already been filmed and edited and is ready to be shown to the public. In other words, the movie has been completed and copies are now being stored in canisters and ready to be shipped to the movie theatres.

If the lives that we seem to be experiencing here and now were in actuality lived out and completed in some long ago time and/or some other dimension, it might be possible for our God to already know every detail of what lies in store for us. What if we falsely believe that everything is happening NOW for the first time but, in truth, our lives were completed in the distant past - in an ancient history that we no longer remember?

Perhaps our lives were already “in the can” long ago and far away, and we are experiencing them NOW, as if the movie of our life is being run through a film projector and we so identify with the story that we have mentally reinjected ourselves into the movie. In a case like that, God could already know every detail that awaits us in life because He has already seen the movie of our life as it was completed way back when.

Is it possible that we already accepted the Atonement of Christ long ago, and we are already dwelling with God and Christ in Heaven, but for some unexplainable reason, we are experiencing this life and identifying with it as if we were still really here and still really living it?

Maybe we went to Heaven long ago. Maybe we aren’t really here anymore, but are merely viewing an old movie of a life that was actually completed and placed “in the can” in a past that we can no longer recall.

Most of us have experienced that stange sense of déjà vu. You know, that feeling when you are suddenly, instantly overcome with a sensation that what is happening now actually happened before? There have been a few instances in my life where that déjà vu feeling was so pronounced that I really DID know a few seconds in advance precisely what someone was about to say or do.

What if déjà vu is actually a sudden, inexplicable recollection of a moment in your life that you lived before and, for reasons unknown, you’ve experienced a psychic glitch in which your mind “fast-forwarded” momentarily? In other words, we have experienced a moment of the past in the future. (Hmmm… bet I could turn that idea into a 3-part blockbuster movie.) Maybe déjà vu is a momentary glitch of clarity in which we’ve remembered that this “movie” was filmed and “in the can” long ago.

Well, this is just an unproven and unprovable theory, but it is evidence that I do sometimes like to unleash my mind and see where it will wander. Ya can’t say I ain’t got no imagination.

And in bringing it all back home to the topic of Bob Dylan’s conversion to Christianity: perhaps when Dylan was referring to the “holy slow train” in the liner notes of his 1965 album “Highway 61 Revisited” [see Part 2 in this series], in actuality he was unconsciously REMEMBERING that thirteen years in the future he would accept Jesus Christ as his Savior and the following year he would release his first album of Christian music titled “Slow Train Coming”. Just a thought.

Don’t shoot me, I’m just the blogger.


Below are a few videos and links to websites pertaining to Bob Dylan’s conversion to Christianity in the late 1970s.

This first one is quite interesting. Dylan just recently turned 70 years old, and yet he continues touring the world and playing concerts almost nonstop. Some have wondered why a man his age would continue putting himself through the rigors of touring. It seems that Dylan looks upon it as holding up his part of a deal or vow that he made long ago.

The nitwitism of some of my fellow beings often astounds me. Google this interview excerpt and you will find multiple postings of it on the Internet and in the Blogosphere, with most of the posters referring to it as an admission on Dylan’s part that he made a deal with the devil to achieve the success he has.

Well, if you ask me, it sounds a whole lot more like a kind of “Prayer Of Jabez” situation. Regardless of what one thinks of the ‘Prayer Of Jabez’ phenomenon (and understand I am not suggesting that Bob Dylan has ever been involved with it) that situation is a far cry from one selling his soul to the devil for earthly success!

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
~ Saint John
1st John 4:15

…[N]o one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.
~ Saint Paul
1st Corinthians 12:3

When they came for Him in the garden, did they know?
Did they know He was the Son of God, did they know that He was Lord?
Did they hear when He told Peter, “Peter, put up your sword”?
When they came for Him in the garden, did they know?
~ Bob Dylan
from his song “In The Garden”

Jesus did appear to me as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords…
~ Bob Dylan

I'm telling you now Jesus is coming back, and He is! And there is no other way of salvation... Jesus is coming back to set up His kingdom in Jerusalem for a thousand years.
~ Bob Dylan

Years ago they … said I was a prophet. I used to say, “No, I’m not a prophet”, they say, “Yes, you are, you’re a prophet.” I said, “No, it’s not me.” They used to say, “You sure are a prophet.” They used to convince me I was a prophet. Now I come out and say Jesus Christ is the answer. They say, “Bob Dylan’s no prophet.” They just can’t handle it.
~ Bob Dylan

I was blinded by the devil
Born already ruined
Stone-cold dead
As I stepped out of the womb
By His grace I have been touched
By His word I have been healed
By His hand I’ve been delivered
By His spirit I’ve been sealed
I’ve been saved
By the blood of the Lamb
~ Bob Dylan
from his song “Saved”

Yeah, that really sounds like a guy who sold his soul to the devil and is now trying to uphold his end of the bargain. Sheeeeeeeesh! As my Pa used to say: “Where do they come from?!”

Inside Bob Dylan’s Jesus Years: Busy Being Born… Again!

This bloke, Winston Watson, seems like a really likeable man, and I found this DVD about his years touring with Bob Dylan to be extremely informative. I recommend it to anyone with a more than superficial interest in Bob Dylan's story:

Bob Dylan Never Ending Tour Diaries: Drummer Winston Watson’s Incredible Journey

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.


Arlee Bird said...

We can always count on you to come up with some pretty deep stuff, but this is brain twisting. I contemplate the topic myself. Your contemplations are worthy of those of many of the great philosophers who have studied this over the centuries.

I like your theories and many of them are probably correct at least to some degree. God is everything, everywhere, and throughout all times so why can't he have many facets that provide explanations where we can't come up with just one solution?

The concept of timelessness fits with his name "I am that I am" which would denote the present but connotes a present that is, was, and forever shall be.

This topic is much deeper than can be contained in a comment, a post, a book, or a library. Scholars and others will continue debating the topic until we know if we ever do completely. If guess if we knew then we'd be like God, but then again if God wants us to know he'll tell us.

But this is some fine thinking and I hope others are joining in this conversation because it's downright interesting to contemplate.

Tossing It Out

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

>>...But this is some fine thinking ... it's downright interesting to contemplate.

Hey, thanks, BROTHER BOID!
I’m glad to know you’re diggin’ what I’m doin’.

You know, of course, none of us can actually “prove” anything but, in my opinion, too many folks take the lazy-man’s-approach; they just shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, God is God and He can do anything, blah-blah-blah...”

I sometimes find my fellow man’s lack of curiosity very curious.

...and I hope others are joining in this conversation

Have you ever considered auditioning at ‘The Comedy Store’?

Don’t you know by now that my writing appeals to only 2.5% of . . . my close personal friends?

But thanks for reading and for commenting, Mr. TwoPointFive Percenter.

~ D-FensDogg
‘Loyal American Underground’