If God is omnipotent, how can man have free choice?

p160Notes from J.L Mackie ‘The Miracle of Theism’. p160-162 Mackie attempts to define discussions regarding the apparent conflict between free will and God’s omnipotence. He stresses the difference between the idea of man being free because God does not control him and because God cannot control him. types Mackie defines two possible types of omnipotence; firstfirst-order omnipotence being unlimited power to act, secondsecond-order omnipotence being unlimited power to determine what powers to act things should have. Mackie points out that if a god had second order something omnipotence he could create something which had the power to act independently of his own power, therefore he would not firsthave first-order omnipotence. phrase, The phrase, ‘things which an omnipotent being cannot control’ could be selfallargued to be self-contradictory, remember omnipotent means allpowerful can do everything, can control everything, there is nothing cannot that it can’t control. Does this mean, then, that God cannot make something which he can’t control, implying that there is something that not he cannot do? The answer is yes, but this does not detract from his omnipotence as part for the definition is that omnipotence does not include the power to do things which are logically impossible. Thus there are grounds for replying, ‘He can’t!’ (To the question at the top of the page.) being secondHowever if a being with second-order omnipotence confers on beings the power of making uncontrolable choice, then to control those would choices would be logically impossible (because an omnipotent being conferred those powers) therefore perfectly reasonable for an omnipotent being not to do (remember our earlier definition of omnipotence). Mackie asks a further question, if a being was all powerful ie. omnipotent does this also mean that everything that happens is his doing (Mackie refers

to this as omnificence)? A syllogism might run as follows... 1. God has the power so that not X 2. X happens 3. therefore God allowed X allowed 4. therefore God made X happen. We might compare this argument with everyday difference events. For human beings there is a big difference between not stopping something from happening and making something happen. For example the witness of a brutal attack may not attempt to may act to prevent it (morally however this might be considered equally as bad, this is an argument for another day though!). Mackie argues that this distinction arises from effort. If we act to do however, something it takes a positive effort, however, if we do not act and let something happen it saves us the effort, it does not take any conscious attention. If we imagine a situation in which stopping something from happening would take negligible effort, it is harder to determine whether this is the same as making something happen. Example, “I wouldn’t swim in that pool if I were you Mr Bond, there are man there.” eating sharks in there.” As knowledge increases and effort decreases so responsibility increases, therefore an omnipotent being, who would need to exert no effort and who knows all, could be held fully responsible. Mackie moves on from here to conclude that and ‘omnipotence and omniscience together entail omnificence: God does everything.’ He also says that a person also does what he does so he is responsible for his actions, however, God must be responsible too. ‘It would follow that if men sin God is sin.’ the author of that sin.’ The free will defence falls short because it assumes that God cannot ( or does not) control their choosing. similar We might use similar logic to Anselm’s ontological argument here. If we consider two possible alternatives God A who is fully omnipotent, knows secondall sees all etc and God B who is of second-order allomnipotence all-powerful so he can not do the something if he chooses. Which is the greater? Adherents to the free will defence suppose that the freedom invoked in the free will defence is a

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