Free Will and Predestination

A theological conundrum is the concept of free will versus predestination.  While the Bible teaches that we have the ability to make our own choices (we have free will), it also says that things are predetermined (predestined).  Which is it?

It is both, presenting us with a delightful paradox.  Though my mind somewhat grasps this as a holistic, unified truth, I am woefully unable to articulate it.

It helps a little to consider that one understanding of “predestined” is to “foreknow.”  Another helpful consideration is to realize that God — who created time-space, exists outside of time — likely seeing the past, present, and future as a singular reality.

However, it is the book of Daniel that gives me the most help.

A prophecy is given about evil king Nebuchadnezzar.  Because of his prideful arrogance, he will be struck with insanity until he acknowledges God (free will) and for seven years (predestination).

Free will and predestination are not mutually exclusive concepts, but opposite sides of the same coin.

[Daniel 4:25]

Creation or Evolution?

If we were created, as the Bible says, how did it really happen?

I have heard different views on the subject:

  • Creation occurred in seven literal 24-hour days.
  • Creation occurred in seven increments of time, paralleling the evolutionary time-line.
  • Creation occurred when God made all of the requisite ingredients, setting the stage for evolution to transpire. He then sat back and joyfully watched things happen.

One of these is probably true — or perhaps there is a completely different understanding. It is easy to fixate on the details and lose site of the critical unifying element: that God was instrumental in creation; the rest doesn’t matter — not really.

[See my prior posts on this subject: In the Beginning… and The Time-Space Continuum.]

The Time-Space Continuum

My prior post, “In the Beginning…“, may lead some to quip, “Well, where did God come from?”

If there is the assumption that God’s existence is like that of our own, then a creation view has the same limitation as an evolution view: something had to come from nothing.

However, in considering the creation account in the book of Genesis, we see that God made the heavens (space), lights — the sun, moon, and stars (space), and the sky (space).  Clearly, God made space.

Physicists tell us that space and time exist on a continuum.  That is, space and time are co-existent.  Ergo, if God created space, then he also created time.

If God created time and space, then he has to exist outside of the space-time continuum; he is timeless and therefore eternal, with no origin and no beginning.

To accept creation, one must have faith that God always existed, whereas to accept evolution, one must accept that something came from nothing.

For me, the former perspective is less of a stretch.

[Genesis 1:1, 3, 9, and 16]

In the Beginning…

How did it all begin?  That is, where did we come from?

While I don’t intend to end the debate over this topic or change anyone’s mind, I do want to offer something to think about.

As you know, there are two schools of thought on our origin: we evolved or we were created.

Either point of view requires a degree of faith to accept — and for me, evolution actually requires more.  Here’s why:

Follow the theory of evolution backwards, starting with people.  Follow them to land animals, to water animals, to plants, to single cell organisms, to amino acids, to a mixture of gases, and so forth.  No matter how far back you go, the nagging question is always there: Where did that come from?  At some point, there is the inescapable conclusion that something had to come from nothing.

For me, that takes a great deal of faith to accept — seemingly more faith than to simply say that an ever-existing God, living outside of time-space, just made it all.

If the use of the word faith is a bit off-putting, then consider Occam’s Razor, the principle that says the simplest solution is usually the correct one.  To me, being created is simpler than having evolved, so I’ll go with that.