Free Will + Quantum Mechanics

Hi Everyone!

Recently, the concept of Free Will and Intervention has been on my mind and a common objection always comes up in discourse that I dont think ive really seen tackled in this forum (i could be wrong)

With the discovery of Quantum Mechanics and determinism supposedly not being a thing, what would be to stop God suspending our Free Will in order to save us from the worst of humanity as a good parent would? I commonly hear (from fellow believers sometimes) that Christians don’t really have the answer to this. Please educate me if im verging into pseudoscience here r.e. the invoking of Quantum Mechanics here

Ive recently had a read through the new guidelines so i understand if this kind of discussion is no longer relevant to the purpose of this forum

Look forward to reading the responses!


Welcome back, Josh, great to hear from you and an interesting topic. Thanks for kicking it off. I’m not all that versed in QM. But I would be interested in your working definition of what you mean by Free Will? I think that would help set up the discussion as different folks conceptualise it in different ways.


(As an aside, something I’ve mentioned here in different places, is that I like the suggestion that QM might be hinting that the fundamental reality of the universe is information.)

But about QM and free will, we’re maybe getting down to the ‘interface’ between God and spacetime. A video that visualizes the concepts of past and future coexisting as spacetime ‘slices’:

ETA: I just discovered that the original link NOVA ‘Fabric of the Cosmos’ yielded a page with multiple episodes. This is the one that pertains – those outside the U.S. maybe cannot watch it, but there is a transcript viewable on the page:

That fits the suggestion that God is omnitemporal (no, not really the B theory of time except maybe with respect to God ; - ) and he can ‘be’, omnipresent, in all spacetime slices instantaneously and simultaneously, since he is exempt from the constraints of time and space.

These support the idea, among other things elsewhere:

  • From Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology:

    God’s eternity may be defined as follows: God has no beginning, end, or succession of moments in his own being, and he sees all time equally vividly, yet God sees events in time, and he acts in time."

  • And from here, (Why God Is Not In Time - #5 by Reggie_O_Donoghue)

    I like the idea that all of God’s interactions with us are through a single act, which generates the cosmos, an idea which I term the Logos principle, based on Philo of Alexandria. In this way, God can still interact with us whilst not acting at a ‘particular’ point in time.

    (Thanks, Reg, if you ever visit… and if you don’t. ; - )

So how does God interact in spacetime without violating anyone’s free will. I think it’s a wonderful (and terrible) mystery that we will not be able to wrap our heads around. But we know he does. No one’s free will was suspended in any of the myriad of precursor events required for any of these events to happen the way that they did.

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I Suppose I mean our ability to make our own choices in regards to how we live our life. But I suppose it is curbed in some way for some people who perhaps have health problems or have had poor upbringings which have impacted in their life later on to varying degrees?


Thanks that is helpful. Always good to know where people are starting from in regard to conversations about Free Will.

From my PoV the will is free to choose that which we desire at any given moment, but not free to act outside of any external influences. This is essentially Thomas Cranmer’s position, that what the heart desires, the will chooses, and the mind justifies. Looking forward to seeing what you and others have to add to this conversation.


The failure of Bell’s inequality put an end to physical determinism. There are no hidden variables within the accepted premises of science. Determinism is still possible. You just have to go outside the accepted premises of the scientific worldview for it.

What would stop God from ending all life on earth and bringing us all to heaven to save us from the worst of humanity?

I absolutely disagree with your idea of a good parent. You may lock your teenagers in a room to… “save them from the worst of humanity,” but I do not think that is an example of good parenting.

I guess those would be the “Christians” (or is it atheists using this kind of argument against Christianity) who lock their teenagers in a room… or something similar.

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The question of Free Will is rather general, not limited to Christians. It gets an additional twist if we add to the question God that knows our future even before we are born. Some think that the combination of God knowing our future and Free Will are not compatible. My interpretation is that this conclusion omits important aspects and therefore does not capture the reality. If everything has been decided before the creation, then there is no Free Will. If God knows our future because He is omnitemporal and can see our decisions as we make them or after we have done them, then the combination of Free Will and God knowing our future is possible.

We have some amount of Free Will, although our alternatives to choose are very limited at any given moment because of external conditions and our previous decisions. Free Will could be understood as a possibility to select a path rather than having occasions where we can select freely from a large set of alternatives. Each minor decision directs our path towards a particular direction and the Free Will to choose the direction is the cumulative sum of minor decisions. That is my interpretation.

I’ve grown accustomed to saying that all it takes is for a single person to act without being caused to act or to choose a simple series of numbers for determinism to be false.

That’s all it takes and it’s really that simple.

Oh, and these two quotes have been important to me:

“God’s providential direction as an unseen, behind the scenes, ‘primary cause,’ should not lead us to deny the reality of our choices and actions.”

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology

“This divine activity accompanies the action of man at every point, but without robbing man in any way of his freedom. The action remains the free act of man, an act for which he is held responsible.”

Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology

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It is simple but philosophical theologians have made it difficult. There is a 1500+ years tradition of writing philosophical ideas about the combination of all-knowing God and Free Will, and these philosophical writings have made many to deny the possibility of either the Free Will or the idea that God can know our future.

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If they were so smart you think they would have considered how an uncaused cause is unobservable by nature :grin:

What a good description of motivated reasoning. Desire is foundational.

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But then sometimes the mind doesn’t find or rejects the justifications and either the will chooses against the heart’s desire or the person lives with the conflict.


To my mind, the debate over whether physics rules out or enables free will is moot. It’s like citing quantum theory in a debate over whether the Beatles are the best rock band ever (which they clearly are). Philosophers speak of an “explanatory gap” between physical theories about consciousness and consciousness itself. First of all, the gap is so vast that you might call it a chasm. Second, the chasm applies not just to consciousness but to the entire realm of human affairs.

Physics, which tracks changes in matter and energy, has nothing to say about love, desire, fear, hatred, justice, beauty, morality, meaning. All these things, viewed in the light of physics, could be described as “logically incoherent nonsense,” as Hossenfelder puts it. But they have consequences; they alter the world.

This is what reasonable is supposed to sound like. And where it says “alters the world” at the end, I hear alters the world as we experience it, not as physics describes it.


We also tend towards ignoring how illusory the world is apart from Jesus.

Try as the non-theist might the rational possibility of solipsism is perfectly reasonable, and even more so than many theologies.

Not my view necessarily but one held by quite a lot of people

I suppose the only plausible answer to this is that it would defeat the purpose of God making us in the first place. Though many question his wisdom there!

I hear this argument from both atheists and Christians, mainly ones who hold more progressive beliefs

Very interesting take, not heard it before. I suppose we could say Free Will isn’t an absolute thing at least? Or it at Least means we are Free to do what we want but we are not absolved of whatever conseqeunces lie before us? Maybe God’s intervention would stop us learning in some circumstances…Ok, i’d better stop hypothesising off the top of my head

There is an instantaneous dynamic between God’s omnitemporal will (so no pre- prefixes apply, nor any other tensed words – the only kind of verbs we have in English, anyway)… there is an instantaneous dynamic between God’s omnitemporal will and our free wills which are constrained to sequential time. (We know there are exceptions to the linearity of that time we experience and that time can be warped – per special relativity and the twin paradox, for example.)

That dynamic relationship is something beyond our fathoming and we are not going to get our heads around it. That it would have been better for Judas not to have been born is something that Jesus foreknew (a tensed verb in sequential time), but Judas was still responsible for his decisions and behaviors in his free will.

So it is certainly conceivable that the indeterminacy/observation paradox in QM is related to the timelessness (or rather ‘timefulness’) of God’s functional interface with us in our free will and his cool providences. It is better to have the understanding and know that they are cool providences for our good even if they are hard – and that God is a good Father who is in control and whom we should doxologize – than to not know and have them be terrifying. Not knowing God maybe should be terrifying – this beautiful but broken world is not a safe place to live. If anyone thinks it is, they are badly mistaken. But God is gracious and patient beyond measure.