In this video, Ravi Zacharias when asked how we can have free will if God already knows what we are going to do, says the following:

"The moment you make a truth claim you are rising above the bondage of totally subjectivity. And the moment you make a truth claim you are violating determinism."

A truth claim is a proposition or statement that a particular person or belief system holds to be true. Why making a truth claim necessarily violates determinism?

  • 1
    Here's my take on it: A claim with respect to truth is either determined by a mechanistic process or by an objective evaluation of the claim with respect with reality. The accuracy of an evaluation requires it to be independent of any determination other than the truth itself. Although this may often be an unrealizable ideal, any approximation to it presupposes the emancipation from any sort of mechanistic process which would interfere with it. An alarm clock can display the time, but it can't evaluate its own performance as a result of a pursuit for objectivity.
    – user3017
    Nov 8, 2017 at 19:37
  • The reasoning seems to be that only indeterministic ("free") creatures are capable of pursuing truth. Anything that may look like it does not qualify unless it is "truly" free. Say a computer, however sophisticated, that acts "intelligently" and revises its programming based on new input would not count. But then it is unclear if anybody ever makes truth claims in this high-minded sense. So either the premise is impossible to establish or, if we presuppose that such truth claims are indeed made, the argument is circular.
    – Conifold
    Nov 8, 2017 at 21:30
  • @Conifold. A computer could only do so in virtue of a human programmer's ability to grasp objectivity in that way, and the computer would then be merely acting according to its program. The computer could not itself grasp such an ideal in order to perform any self-evaluative pursuit of truth.
    – user3017
    Nov 8, 2017 at 21:42
  • @Conifold. Denying the need for the computer do grasp the concept is to deny that a computer could meaningfully make a truth claim (which, of course, it can't). Denying that humans can grasp truth in that way is to deny than our truth claims are independent from mechanistic determinations, thus rendering the concept of truth meaningless for us.
    – user3017
    Nov 8, 2017 at 21:55
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    @SwamiVishwananda. It's not a question of whether the act of making the claim is determined but rather whether its content is. If the content of the claim is determined mechanistically to any extent, it fails to reliably convey the truth value of the proposition in question.
    – user3017
    Nov 20, 2017 at 15:34

2 Answers 2


Earlier in the video Ravi Zacharias is taking a question from the audience about determinism and free will. The member of the audience claims that we do not have free will. Zacharias responds, “So the question is: ‘Were you free to ask this question?’” (4:10)

Given quantum indeterminism, and assuming an interpretation that permits indeterminism, the only way to get to a deterministic reality is to go with something that John Bell calls super-determinism. It is really determinism, but with the emphasis that if it is true, everything we think or do is an illusion. This is the complete absence of free will. Every choice of which experiment to perform, which quantum interpretation to accept, which truth we accept, which argument we engage in, which “should” we think we should do is an illusion. We are not doing any of that. We are only fulfilling a deterministic Law of Nature that forces the atoms in our body to move the way they do.

I don’t know what Zacharias’s view is on this, but it should be noted that it doesn’t matter if what causes the determinism is an unconscious Law of Nature or a conscious God. The result is the same. In the case of the conscious God every act of worship and submission is an illusion as well. We are not doing what we think we are doing.

There are two paths to consider.

First, if one accepts determinism, then making a “truth claim” is an illusion. One is only fulfilling the Law of Nature’s plan or God’s plan. By not admitting that, the member of the audience who made a truth claim is being irrational: making the claim as a claim rather than as an illusion contradicts the content of the claim that determinism is true. There is no point in saying anything except that one is determined and must say precisely what one has said.

Second, if one does not accept this determinism, then it is not inconsistent to make a truth claim and insist that it actually is a claim. The determinist may say one is delusional, but it is pointless for the determinist to do so.

So, if a determinist makes a truth claim, as a real claim, not as an illusion, the determinist is admitting either that he is irrational or determinism is false. This is why Zacharias is asking the member of the audience, “Were you free to ask this question?” What I wonder is whether Zacharias not only applies his argument to atheists but also to theists who believe in a deterministic God. The argument goes against both of these positions.

For what it’s worth, I think one can have a God (or Law of Nature), even an omniscient God, and not have determinism. One just defines omniscience to mean “knowing everything there is to know” rather than “infallible foreknowledge”. This preserves free will (indeterminism) and still allows for the possibility of a God or a Law of Nature that predicts everything there is to predict. The results of free acts are not completely knowable nor perfectly predictable.


View http://truthnpower.com/2014/05/16/free-will-or-determinism/ The man there seemed to have a good answer.

  • Link only answers are discouraged here. Adding a small exposition of the link contents could suffice.
    – christo183
    Mar 2, 2020 at 8:00

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