Determinism and the Blind Watchmaker
A discussion from New Year's about the conflict between an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, immanent God and free will made me think about the blind watchmaker argument. During this discussion, an objection was raised to my argument about the impossibility of free will in a universe with such a God, being that my argument requires a deterministic universe and that God could simply be the blind watchmaker, setting things up without knowing and/or controlling how things will transpire. Without a deterministic universe, the objector claimed, then my argument was nothing more than the classic "God knows the future so it is already written" argument.
God cannot be the blind watchmaker. He cannot create something that runs on its own and that he can step back from and observe.
There is nowhere for him to step back to. God is all and all is God. God is immanent and nothing exists or happens without His will. The universe is part of God and inseparable from God.
A human watchmaker can make a watch and step back because the watch is separate from him, because the universe is separate from him, and because there are independent physical laws that govern the operation of the watch. None of these things is true with God. There is nothing apart from God. God is immanent and it is only by his will that universe exists at all. There is no will apart from God's. The universe does not, cannot exist on its own and run by its own laws, for God is infused in every atom, every quark, and every electron of the universe, and He must will all these things to continue to exist and act as we expect them to act from one moment to another. No electron changes energy states, no neutron is expelled from a nucleus, no photon is emitted when atoms fuse, except by God's will. He decides that all those things will happen.
As such, when the universe moves from one state to another, it does so by God's will. Because He can't just allow the universe to change from one state to another -- that would mean the universe is not contingent upon God but can somehow run without Him -- but rather, God must choose to make the universe change states in accord with the laws he has chosen for the universe, or not, but it does not run on its own. There is no matrix, no medium, no place for the universe to exist and run on its own apart from God.
Therefore, even if God chose to make a universe that was non-deterministic to its inhabitants, He could not make a universe that was non-deterministic to Himself, because He is the one who moves all the pieces on the board. He can make a universe where current conditions to do not determine future conditions, but God cannot make a universe where He does not determine future conditions. When the universe passes from state 1 to state 2, God does it. Whether He decides to base state 2 off the conditions at state 1 or not, He decides what state 2 will be.
God cannot be passive. He cannot allow things to happen or to run on their own. He is the source of all things, including change, and nothing can happen that He not only wills, but that He makes happen.