I've always had trouble understanding how the idea of god existing either outside of time, or both inside and outside of time, can possibly account for the contradiction of predestination vs free will.
God is outside of time, therefore free will? It doesn't seem to follow, not for me. Perhaps I simply don't understand an intermediate step in that logic.
But then I'd argue that this isn't the highest form of omniscience. Knowing all things before they happen is a level of omniscience higher than simply knowing all things that are going on in the here-and-now. (It seems Lucifer is often granted this level of omniscience.) I imagine most Christians subscribe to the idea of god as knowing everything even before it happens. At the risk of sounding like St. Anselm's reductio ad absurdum argument, a god that only knows all things in the here-and-now has a limited level of both omnicience and omnipotence.
Christians also refer to "God's plan". This, coupled with the level of omniscience they believe god to possess, still leaves the conflict between predestination and free will unresolved in my mind.
The only way I can make sense of it is that the only real obstacle to knowing what will happen in the future is time. If we were standing outside of time looking in, we could see all of time from the beginning to the end because time and sequential order wouldn't mean anything outside of time. The instinct is to wonder why the future would be visible, but again we get stuck in the trap of there being no time outside of time. So sequence doesn't matter. It all is all at once.
As far as existing outside of time, it's as improbable (most likely impossible) as existing outside of space, as they are one and the same. "Travel through space is travel through time." I believe is the famous quote. Basically, you can't look at time as a linear construct, just because an event occurred one second ago doesn't mean it led to an event now. Time is related to frame of reference by that reference frame's velocity through space. Einstein did the math and we have since proven it with observation. It gets more complex than that, especially with regard to general relativity and quantum mechanics, but the simple point is that if God exists outside of space-time (has no definition), than the Aristotelian viewpoint would be that God does not exist. It's pretty well accepted (and essential) that interaction with our universe requires existence within it.
"Lisa Reel's hypothetical omni-all being would of course not be a subject of space-time as you say and could perform the miracle. So for all intents and purposes this god would not exist for us, but through miracles."
It's probably arguable that yes, an all-powerful God (God, I hate that definitive) could perform the miracle of interacting with us (or anything else in the universe) via something other than the mechanism of the universe itself. But then how? How is an important question here, because if God can somehow overstep the laws of physics to interact with us from somewhere, let's say, ahead of us on the arrow of time, serve to reconstruct that egg so to speak, then it wouldn't matter one way or another. It would be just as easy to further say that "free will" and "divine plan" are then not mutually exclusive and can coexist because causality would not have to in the framework of divine inspiration.
If god can overcome space-time (more specifically, to be truly omniscient, he would have to be instantaneously aware of all events occurring within the universe at all times... simultaneously as postulated by Stacy B earlier), and then act at any point in the universe with any capacity as a result of that knowledge (omnipotence) then it could be argued that within this God-controlled construct, our will does exist and that our choices are our own. God just comes along and cleans things up after us immediately allowing the consequences of whatever choice we make to fall within his "divine plan." Just because the consequences of our choices would then have been made the same regardless of will would not have made them devoid of will. If god is all powerful, it is trivial to construct a mechanism by which he can do anything anyone says he can. The only way to dispute this is to use the framework of what is possible in the construct of reality.
Of course, if God is omniscient and omnipotent, why does he have a plan at all?
Is this 100% certainty? of course not. If I am proven wrong tomorrow, would I admit it? hell yes. But the argument that physics is not applicable to something that would require a great understanding of it followed by an irrepressible manipulation of it (omniscience and omnipotence) is just as slippery as saying that science and God are separate schools of thought and should not be intertwined in any way.
If God can exist, then he can exist however he wants to. Laws of physics, quantum mechanics, time-space, it doesn't matter when we're talking about magical beings like God. So I don't see any reason to apply actual laws of the universe to the issue. But then I don't see any reason to apply gods to the universe to begin with.
I guess my main point is that there are other contrivances as to the existence of God which are intrinsically related to the idea that divine omniscience and human free will can coexist in (or regardless of) the construct of universal physical laws. In order for us to make this argument, we must first define God... otherwise it's all just masturbation. Whether or not free will itself exists has been an argument from the point of philosophy for generations now (determinism v free will) which has for the most part been completely separated from the concept of deity because determinism doesn't require one.
"it doesn't matter when we're talking about magical beings like God"
Why not? It matters when we consider any other framework of existence, gravity could just as easily have been defined as "magical" before it was proven to be a product of universal construct. Considering that both omniscience and omnipotence are paradoxical in and of themselves, I am forced to argue that God is just as influenced by natural laws as we are, in that it doesn't matter what he wants.
Quote from Lisa Reel:
"First of all- All beliefs in Christianity can't be boiled down and condensed to truly held convictions for the whole group of people who call themselves "Believers"."
"So I guess the best answer to your question is that it's complicated..and we all have to find a way to best understand the complicated nature of life and God."
But there's only one correct set of beliefs. So there is one answer. There's just no way of knowing which Christians are right and which are not until you die. Even if we all chose to follow Christianity, which Christianity?
As for the question, you can't have it both ways. God has to have planned your life to some extent because you don't get to choose what you look like, if you have a disability or not, where you are born. No free will there. So how could anything in the rest of life be the product of free will if the foundations are immutable? If options are excluded from you, then there is no true free will.
"There's just no way of knowing which Christians are right and which are not until you die."
Probably none of them.
"God has to have planned your life to some extent because you don't get to choose what you look like, if you have a disability or not, where you are born. No free will there."
Well now, think about it for a second. There is quite a bit of free will (by which I believe you mean human choice) regarding what you look like, your disabilities and where/when you were born. Your parents' choices (local societal standards, cultural biases) significantly affected the probability of those qualities of your life. Don't make the mistake of claiming that events in your life aren't affected by choice simply because they couldn't have been affected by your choices.
"So how could anything in the rest of life be the product of free will if the foundations are immutable?"
That's determinism in a nutshell, that complexity is a product of the deterministic properties of the simple. There are a number of scientists who are deterministic as well, but personally, I'm a compatibilist (right now). The surest evidence for human free will to me is that people still make the stupidest decisions regardless of biological evolution, conscious thought, or environmental influence.
"Your parents' choices (local societal standards, cultural biases) significantly affected the probability of those qualities of your life"
But the same idea applies to your parents - they didn't get to decide, and neither did their parents before them nor their parents before them, ad infinitum. Or at least until the moment life on earth began / was "created." Even if they choose to move about, they are still faced with limitations, which in the very least inhibit free will, which begs the question of whether that's actually "free will" at all.
"The surest evidence for human free will to me is that people still make the stupidest decisions regardless of biological evolution, conscious thought, or environmental influence."
Or perhaps they occasionally make good decisions in spite of evolution, conscious thought, and environmental influence.
And yes, humans do make choices. This isn't my view. It's an argument against the Christian idea that God both gives us free will AND has a plan for each of us. In my world, neither is the case because God doesn't exist. It's important to keep the discussion within the context of reconciling or refuting the idea that we both have free will and God has a plan for us or my arguments don't apply.
"Or perhaps they occasionally make good decisions in spite of evolution, conscious thought, and environmental influence."
No, I'm not saying that your arguments do not apply, in fact, I don't disagree with much of what you're saying at all. What I am doing is attempting to apply a little definition to what we're talking about. Choices, even limited ones, hell even binary ones are still subject to free will. The external (and past influenced internal) influences on a binary decision can drag the probability of our choice up and down, but they cannot guarantee it. This would be where will takes over. There may be thousands of influences on a person who is about to commit suicide, but in the end free will alone can take that 0.00001% chance that person will not and make it a certainty with action. Limiting agents in the universe are rarely (if ever) completely limiting. I am also not saying that will is 100% free, though I would argue more so than less. So if that is my fault, I am sorry, but sometimes I don't fully explain that nothing to me is 100% definitive.
As far as God and free will, we certainly require neither to exist at all, and as far as a philosophical exercise, there are three prongs to this argument. First: that free will can exist. Second: that God can exist and has a plan. And third: how points one and two could coexist. If we accept the definition of God to be paradoxical itself, there is no way to argue the third point.