Many people get mixed up with the pre-knowing vs pre-determination, just because God knows everything that will happen, does not mean he orchestrated everything event by event before hand, than they will say "well he did, in the sense that he (God) did not stop the bad things that he foresaw from happening" even in the context of free will.
That argument is basically saying God is wrong, and that the person with such ideas (criticism) has a better way to operate creation than God, and would have done a better job.... which is completely ridiculous. They will say things like why did God make Satan, or allow Adam & Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil etc...... etc...... etc......
The WHY of that could possibly be answered with verses along the lines of: [2 Timothy 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.]
- He says organized religion doesn't support free-will...
Answer: All of the [salvation by works] religions are essentially free-will based?
- He's trying to understand a being not bound by time with a mortal body and mind that's bound the the rules of time?
Answer: This is the mysterious nature of the Godhead which we are not able to understand, in the NT there are (seemingly) instances of Jesus Christ (the 'mortal' body of God) not really perceiving things in an omniscient fashion, seemingly his Holy Spirit (part of himself, the Godhead) revealing things as necessary. Along the lines of: [Luke 5:22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?] when being a reference to a point in time, Jesus Christ as God should be outside of time with no delay in perception or timing as we would understand it, perhaps that is part of the Godhead, in that God, Jesus Christ, is able to perceive things more like us, experiencing reality as a point in time; the times when Jesus Christ was physically on the Earth.
Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
He said "No, it's the lack of evidence for things seen" I struggle to think of any way in which that is correct, just an inane, baseless, twisting of scripture.
From what you described the guy seems to give you very vague pseudo-intellectual answers that have no real substance at all, wanting a logical and or philosophical answer to things that can only be spiritually discerned.
I believe Bryan's tactic with such people (if I remember correctly) is just get right down too it "Are you a sinner?" , "Do you fear God" etc... and dodge all the philosophical back and forth.
The hunt for truth is a good start, Jesus Christ is THE Truth, so if you are sincerely searching for truth that is where you will inevitably end up along with the bible version issue, but if you do not fear God you will ultimately not get anywhere.
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
Still sounds like a very good interaction, we always want to see the fruits of our labour up front, but it does come back to:
1Co 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
1Co 3:7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
1Co 3:8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
1Co 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
That is not to say that God does not have an ideal plan / goals / work (however you want to describe it) for someone's life, he just does not force it on you, once you are saved, bought with a price, that arguably changes.
In the OT when dealing with his children (Israel) various prophets etc... God does seem to force certain things, like Jonah, but that is a longer and more complex discussion, the short answer that those people had already committed to do the will of God, making themselves open to God's correction, while not breaking free-will as they at least at one time chose that arrangement.
Than you get into is God influencing (like an irresistible suggestion) people to use their free will a certain way, to achieve his goals; or outright denying their free will and directly orchestrating their actions such as with say the Bablyonian, Egyptian, Persian leaders as a few examples.
The bottom line is... it's irrelevant, God can operate his creation in any way he see's fit, and we have no right whatsoever to question it; if you do not want to believe in God because you do not like the way things appear to have been set up, too bad... enjoy Hell; I expect the worst part of Hell / Lake of Fire will be knowing you ultimately CHOSE to be there, salvation was a free gift, that you didn't want. (there are different aspects to that, dispensations, but you get the point)
I had dealings with someone early on that was all about that kind of stuff, specifically troubled by in the OT when God would command the killing of entire groups (Men, Women, Children, Animals) but there is always a reason, If you give God the benefit of the doubt in sincerity and faith he will show you the truth.
Basically have unfeigned faith in God, Jesus Christ and he will reward you (in part) with truth and understanding, in his perfect timing.
Many people have it backwards, they want the truth proved, THAN they will have faith (in which case, it wouldn't even be faith, Hebrews 11:1 as you said).