Friday, December 17, 2010

Faith Fridays: Omniscient God, His Plan and Freewill

Welcome to another Faith Fridays post!
Last week, I discussed my views on the problem of pain.
 One of my key tenants in that discussion was that God gave mankind freewill.
As I observed, some people hold that freewill is actually superfluous because God is all-knowing, and therefore knows what we will choose before we choose it.
If God knew what we were going to choose before we did, then it's true, we wouldn't have freewill.
Remember, free will doesn't come in half-measures--we either have it or we don't.
I believe we have total free will--in this context, that means that God does not know what we are going to choose before we choose it.
I also believe that God is omniscient (all-knowing).
The question is, how do these two characteristics exist simultaneously?

Well, it comes down to definitions.
Freewill we've already defined, so let's look at what it means (in my opinion) for God to be all-knowing in this context.

Honestly, saying the definition of omniscient is that God knows what we are going to do before we do is actually quite limiting.
In my mind, being truly omniscient means knowing every possible choice that there is to be made in every situation we come across.
Omniscience further means knowing every possible result from every possible choice.
And then to know every possible choice that comes from every possible result from every possible choice.
And so on and so forth, exponentially.

The human brain can't wrap around that much knowledge (or at least this human's brain can't!).
And that, to me, is the true definition of omniscience--knowledge so far-reaching and interdependent that only God himself can truly comprehend it.

Now, on a related note, how does this jive with God's Plan?
Most people seem to believe that God has a Plan for their lives, and that things that happen to them, or impulses they get, are part of His Plan.
I do think that God has what I call the Ideal Plan.
In other words, there's an idea path for our lives to take, if we make the appropriate decisions that lead us down that path.
However, many times, we don't.

Let's look at an example that is all too relevant in today's world.

A 15 year old girl and her 16 year old boyfriend are at her house alone.
They're watching a movie.
Maybe they're in love, maybe they think they're in love, maybe they think everyone else is doing it.
They start making out and there comes a point when they decide to have sex.
They.  Decide.
In the heat of the moment, both decide to forgo the condom conversation.
They.  Decide.
A couple of months go by.  The girl finds out she's pregnant.
She decides to keep the baby.  The boy decides to walk away.
She.  Decides.
He.  Decides.

Did God know that this string of events was going to occur?
Omniscient God (as defined above) knew it was a possibility.
Was it God's Plan for a 15 year old girl to become a single mother?
That girl (and the boy) made a series of decisions that led them to those circumstances in their lives.
Saying it was God's Plan is simply a way to remove their responsibility in the situation.
Now, was it a path that God knew they could walk down?
Yes.  After all, He is omniscient.

I believe that God wants what's best for those He has created.
He knows what the "best" is, and what we need to do to get there.
But many times, we exercise our freewill to travel a different path than the ideal.
Omniscient God knows all the possible decisions we might make and the paths we might tread, so these decisions don't take Him by surprise.
Ultimately, it is up to us to exercise our freewill and hopefully make the best choices in each situation to lead us down the best path for us.


  1. hmmmm... One of my favorite topics. Free Will. I do like your thoughts on it and very well articulated my dear. You are a great writer. :-)

  2. Aww thanks chica! Freewill is such an interesting and involved topic! So, what are your thoughts? :-D

  3. The question is if God knows what we are going to do before we do it are we really making the choice or does God knowing what choice we are going to make before we make it eliminte free will? Your version of omnicience is really just a God knowing all possible outcomes. If this is the case it can only be becasue God makes the choice to be self limiting. This could be a possible case if God self limiting is neccessary for free will to be the case. And one could argue that God is both self limiting and all knowing. If he is all knowing can he really be self limiting? In fact to take it to the level of what God can do one could even say that God cannot act contrary to his self or nature. Here we digress to a conversation of charateristics, and what he can and cannot impose on himself.

  4. That's an interesting way to look at it.
    I have no problem with a self-limiting God. If God is indeed omnipotent, then He has power over Himself as well as over His creation. I don't see self-limitation as contradicting omniscience, rather I see it as power OVER omniscience. After all, if humans can practice self-control over certain characteristics, surely the God in whose image they were created can do the same.
    Thanks so much for your comment!


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