I was wondering recently about the issue of God’s foreknowledge. It has long been understood that with God’s omniscience, he could not be contrary to his own predictions. This means that if God predicted beforehand that he would make himself a spaghetti bolognaise for supper on Friday, then when it came to making Friday’s supper, he would have no choice but to make the spaghetti bolognaise. This is because if he decided to be contrary to his own prediction and cook, say, pizza, then his predictions would be incorrect. This would render his omniscience not omniscient, and would leave him with the characteristic of fallibility. So God can never be contrary to his own predictions. This constrains his free will quite significantly.
However, it is far more serious than this. If God is creating the universe and knowing every particular outcome (even if you argue that he is somehow still allowing free will), then he has predictions about every event that will come to pass. His foreknowledge is effectively one long prediction. Thus, from the beginning of time onwards, everything must come to pass exactly as he had predicted at the actualisation of the cosmos. This has far-reaching consequences.
1.) God cannot change his mind at all during the history of the cosmos. Everything must adhere to the original place, otherwise God is not omniscient and God is fallible, imperfect.
2.) Humanity cannot do anything to alter the path of God’s predictions. In any way.
3.) For example, there would be nothing that humanity could have done to stop sinning and to stop necessitating Jesus coming down to save us.
4.) God could not ever jump in to change something by altering history. Any such interventions in the cosmos, such as every interjection from God in the Old Testament, would have been planned and predicted from the beginning of time.
5.) Any time it is claimed in the Old Testament that God changed his mind is patently false. Such an example would be when God decided not to exact judgement on Nineveh in Jer. 18:7-10 -- If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it. The great minds at tectonics.org claim this of the episode: “Nor can it be asserted to mean that God does not alter stated plans in reaction to human freewill choices.” But, as we can see, God cannot alter plans based on human free will because his predictions would be fallible.
6.) Intercessory prayer is utterly ineffectual and totally incoherent. God cannot change anything, or intervene in any way that he was not already planning to do, based on the pleading of humans.
What we can surmise from this is that everything that comes to pass in this cosmos, with God at the helm, is immutably set in stone. There can be absolutely no deviation at all.
Is this really what theists believe? Because it looks to me like God has absolutely no free will once he has set things in motion. His predictive powers, his infallible omniscience, together with his omnibenevolence (meaning that he cannot lie, or do anything but the utmost good with every decision), means that he is the most constrained entity that you could possibly conceive.
In : Religion
Tags: "free will" omniscience god
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