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God's omniscience
10-28-2008, 02:57 PM
Post: #1
God's omniscience
It seems reasonable to assume God is omniscient (knows everything).

It seems reasonable to further assume we have free will. Otherwise, it seems unreasonable for God to hold us accountable for our actions.

At each point, we have a choice among a number of actions some of which God approves of (as dictated by sacred scriptures).

Today, there are six billion people constantly making choices many of which interact with one another. People have been making choices as long as human beings have existed and, presumably, many years into the future. For God to be omniscient, God must be aware of all those choices and their consequences simultaneously.

That boggles my mind. What are your thoughts?
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11-06-2008, 08:34 AM
Post: #2
RE: God's omniscience
Messenger Wrote:It seems reasonable to assume God is omniscient (knows everything).

It seems reasonable to further assume we have free will. Otherwise, it seems unreasonable for God to hold us accountable for our actions.

At each point, we have a choice among a number of actions some of which God approves of (as dictated by sacred scriptures).

Today, there are six billion people constantly making choices many of which interact with one another. People have been making choices as long as human beings have existed and, presumably, many years into the future. For God to be omniscient, God must be aware of all those choices and their consequences simultaneously.

That boggles my mind. What are your thoughts?

Yes I agree, it is mind boggling isn't it. I've learned to believe that he does know everything, even what we will do tomorrow. He knows we are all a bunch of sinners, I know that. Thinking about God and what he is doing can make a person feel real good about things, or really bad.
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11-06-2008, 11:33 AM
Post: #3
RE: God's omniscience
I think the idea of an all powerful and all knowing creator nullifies the possibility of free will.

Consider: An all powerful being creates you, with the full knowledge of every action and choice you will make, including the far reaching ramifications of those choices. If those choices are already known by your all powerful creator, than free will is merely an illusion; your course was predetermined at the time of your creation. Also, what right would such a creator have to punish anyone for sinning? If the creator is all powerful, knows every choice you will make, yet creates you anyway, shouldn't he hold *himself* responsible for your actions?

If ignorance is bliss why aren't there more happy people?
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11-06-2008, 01:00 PM
Post: #4
RE: God's omniscience
You are right that, if we don't have free will, God can't reasonably hold us accountable for pre-determined actions that we were unable to change.

So, assuming for the sake of argument that we do have free will, how can that be reconciled with an omniscient God?

At each instant, we have a number of actions available to us. God is aware of all of them. Using the free will God has given us, we choose one. All our previous choices cease to exist (although God is still aware of them) and a new set become available. God is aware of those too. So, God knows instant by instant what choices we had (and have) and what choices we made but, because of free will, not what choices we will make in the future.

So God's “omniscience” must mean that God knows everything that has happened and everything that could happen in the future but, because we have free will, not everything that will happen.

There are two assumptions in this argument: 1) There is a God, 2) We have free will. If there's a flaw in this logic, please point it out.
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11-06-2008, 01:33 PM
Post: #5
RE: God's omniscience
Messenger Wrote:You are right that, if we don't have free will, God can't reasonably hold us accountable for pre-determined actions that we were unable to change.

So, assuming for the sake of argument that we do have free will, how can that be reconciled with an omniscient God?

At each instant, we have a number of actions available to us. God is aware of all of them. Using the free will God has given us, we choose one. All our previous choices cease to exist (although God is still aware of them) and a new set become available. God is aware of those too. So, God knows instant by instant what choices we had (and have) and what choices we made but, because of free will, not what choices we will make in the future.

So God's “omniscience” must mean that God knows everything that has happened and everything that could happen in the future but, because we have free will, not everything that will happen.

There are two assumptions in this argument: 1) There is a God, 2) We have free will. If there's a flaw in this logic, please point it out.

I have no problem with that argument. Well, the logic behind the argument. Wink However, this is rarely the stance taken by believers. Take a look at Anthem's post for example:

Anthem Wrote:I've learned to believe that he does know everything, even what we will do tomorrow.

This stance is the one I usually hear, and the one I find inconsistent with the idea of free will.

If ignorance is bliss why aren't there more happy people?
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11-06-2008, 02:34 PM
Post: #6
RE: God's omniscience
damian.hoffman Wrote:This stance is the one I usually hear, and the one I find inconsistent with the idea of free will.

I agree. If God knows the future, it is predetermined, there is no free will and it's unreasonable for God to hold us accountable.

There are similar problems with God's omnipotence. For example, can God draw a triangle on a plane surface in which the interior angles do not add up to 180? Or create a largest prime number? Since I know the geometric proof for one and the algebraic proof for the other, my answer is "no". I could cite more examples of similar limits I see in God's omnipotence.

That doesn't change my belief in God. It just gives me a non-traditional understanding of God's attributes.
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11-06-2008, 07:56 PM
Post: #7
RE: God's omniscience
[
damian.hoffman Wrote:
Anthem Wrote:I've learned to believe that he does know everything, even what we will do tomorrow.

This stance is the one I usually hear, and the one I find inconsistent with the idea of free will.
Yes I can understand why free will and God knowing what we will or will not do doesn't seem to mesh. But God using what He already knows we will choose to carry out His plan is no problem for me. If I know what you will do I can formulate a perfect plan to get things done my way, even though I use your choices. God had a plan before he ever created the universe, and his plan hasn’t changed. Believing in God for most people is the hard part, believing the rest should be easy.
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11-08-2008, 11:33 PM
Post: #8
RE: God's omniscience
Well this is sorta how I think of it.

God is a puppetmaster.

We are all his puppets.

Even though we are puppets, there are no strings attached, meaning we have free will, meaning we control ourselves, meaning we have to take our own actions into account.

The puppetmaster, being the puppets' creator, knows everything about them; their pasts, present, and futures.

Even though the puppetmaster knows his puppets' futures, he still allows his puppets to experience their free will. This means he knows what each puppet will do tomorrow but will hang back and let them do whatever they please.

Personally this leads me to believe that free will is a challenge, not a blessing; our free will is simply a test to see if we can truley come to know the one who created us, and when we find him, if we can figure out what he wants (to follow his directions).

I just might make a thread for discussing free will...
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11-11-2008, 04:22 AM
Post: #9
RE: God's omniscience
What is the advantage of following what he sais if he is real, why not go out and rock around instead of living up to the challenges of a notriously grumpy father figure. If free will is meant to be a challenge from a god up there id use it to break free of our 'old man' forever.
Live benvolently, lovingly and free!!!!

my atheism is just like your religion
only i subtract 1 one more god
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11-11-2008, 09:59 AM (This post was last modified: 11-11-2008 02:23 PM by Anthem.)
Post: #10
RE: God's omniscience
athos123 Wrote:What is the advantage of following what he sais if he is real,
The advantage of following what He says is avoiding a lot of miserable mistakes. We live our lives making choices, and making good ones sure make life easier.
athos123 Wrote:why not go out and rock around instead of living up to the challenges of a notriously grumpy father figure.
Because it’s better to make choices for our lives that will bring good tomorrows instead of life long regret.
athos123 Wrote:If free will is meant to be a challenge from a god up there id use it to break free of our 'old man' forever.
Live benvolently, lovingly and free!!!!
Free will means we can choose our path in life. When we get to the end of our life it will have been the choices we made along the way that determine how well we feel about ourselves.
But braking free of some imaginary old man isn't the same as breaking free of God. God isn't some grumpy old man.
The God who created the whole universe is interesting enough to get to know. If He has that kind of power, He must have good reasons for what He is allowing to happen in this world. I know that He had a plan before He ever created us, and our free will is a part of that plan. There will come a day when our sin has caused enough suffering. God will make sure we know the horror of our sinful choices. Because we will know, we will be able choose to never sin again and we can live forever in peace. I like being able to see a reason why God may allow suffering, and I like knowing that all suffering will soon pass away. Our sin is what causes suffering in this world, but soon there will be no more sin.
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