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#1 Skeptic

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 02:01 AM

During this discussion, Fortigurn quoted a prior statement by Skeptic and highlighted what he regards as the false syllogism in that argument:

God cannot do anything which is logically impossible.

The future cannot be known, because it hasn't happened yet.

Therefore God cannot know the future.

Therefore God does not know how long anyone will live. 



I've highlighted the false premise in this syllogism.


I thought the philosophy forum might be a good place to explore the logic.

Fortigurn, could you explain why you consider the highlighted part to be false, please?

Edited by Skeptic, 04 May 2005 - 02:02 AM.


#2 Fortigurn

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 03:10 AM

During this discussion, Fortigurn quoted a prior statement by Skeptic and highlighted what he regards as the false syllogism in that argument:

God cannot do anything which is logically impossible.

The future cannot be known, because it hasn't happened yet.

Therefore God cannot know the future.

Therefore God does not know how long anyone will live. 



I've highlighted the false premise in this syllogism.


I thought the philosophy forum might be a good place to explore the logic.

Fortigurn, could you explain why you consider the highlighted part to be false, please?

It is making an assumption which may or may not be true, and presenting it as truth.

In my case, I believe it to be false because I believe that God's omniscience includes a knowledge of the future.

#3 Skeptic

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 03:14 AM

How can God know something that hasn't happened yet? Surely if it hasn't happened yet, then there is 'nothing' to know yet...?

#4 Hyperion

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 03:20 AM

During this discussion, Fortigurn quoted a prior statement by Skeptic and highlighted what he regards as the false syllogism in that argument:

God cannot do anything which is logically impossible.

The future cannot be known, because it hasn't happened yet.

Therefore God cannot know the future.

Therefore God does not know how long anyone will live. 



I've highlighted the false premise in this syllogism.


I thought the philosophy forum might be a good place to explore the logic.

Fortigurn, could you explain why you consider the highlighted part to be false, please?

It is a rather vague statement. First of all, it needs to be proven that it is logically impossible to know the future. Why is this so self-evident?

In a simple system at a macro level, we know the statement to be false since we can make accurate predictions about the future based on the current state of the system. BTW, I do not believe that God's knowledge of the future works on this basis

That said though, I think that the highlighted statement is true for beings bound by time such as we are in complex open systems.

But if God created time, and dwells outside of it, there is no reason to believe that he cannot know the future.

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#5 michael_*

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 03:24 AM

Hi Skeptic,

Nice to meet you...I don't believe I've had the opportunity to speak with you here on BTDF yet. I mostly lurk. :ph34r:

I believe that God is omniscient, and knows the future. There are many supporting texts for this belief in the Bible:

Isa 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:


I'm not sure of your beliefs regarding the inerrancy and truth of the Bible, so you may not accept what I'm saying. What proof-texts or reasoning do you have that support your theory that God doesn't know the future?

#6 Skeptic

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 03:28 AM

Fortigurn

In my case, I believe it to be false because I believe that God's omniscience includes a knowledge of the future.


Let's have a look at the implications of the following passages for your statement above:

Gen. 22:12
Exod. 16:4, 20:20;
Judg. 2:22
2 Chron. 32:31
1 Sam. 13:13, 15:11
Isa. 5:2; Jer. 3:6-7, 19-20
Exod. 4:8-9;
Jer. 26:3;
Ezek. 12:3

In the above passages (and many others in the Bible) God changes his mind, grieves, rejoices and talks about 'possibilities'. This kind of behaviour simply makes no sense if God knows every single thing that is going to happen.

#7 michael_*

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 03:30 AM

But if God created time, and dwells outside of it, there is no reason to believe that he cannot know the future.

Good one, Hyperion. This is also an important point, IMHO.

#8 Fortigurn

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 03:36 AM

How can God know something that hasn't happened yet? Surely if it hasn't happened yet, then there is 'nothing' to know yet...?

I don't know that.

#9 Fortigurn

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 03:36 AM

In a simple system at a macro level, we know the statement to be false since we can make accurate predictions about the future based on the current state of the system. BTW, I do not believe that God's knowledge of the future works on this basis

That said though, I think that the highlighted statement is true for beings bound by time such as we are in complex open systems.

But if God created time, and dwells outside of it, there is no reason to believe that he cannot know the future.

Yes, I agree.

#10 Fortigurn

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 03:38 AM

Fortigurn

In my case, I believe it to be false because I believe that God's omniscience includes a knowledge of the future.


Let's have a look at the implications of the following passages for your statement above:

Gen. 22:12
Exod. 16:4, 20:20;
Judg. 2:22
2 Chron. 32:31
1 Sam. 13:13, 15:11
Isa. 5:2; Jer. 3:6-7, 19-20
Exod. 4:8-9;
Jer. 26:3;
Ezek. 12:3

In the above passages (and many others in the Bible) God changes his mind, grieves, rejoices and talks about 'possibilities'. This kind of behaviour simply makes no sense if God knows every single thing that is going to happen.

It makes perfect sense when the anthropomorphic medium is taken into account. It also makes perfect sense when it is realised that God's dealings with men, and His communication with them, is circumscribed to an extent by their capacities.

When I speak with a three year old, I can't use my entire vocabulary. But I can use it in a certain way which expresses my thoughts in a manner comprehensible to the three year old.

Sometimes this involves saying things which I would say another way to an adult. Sometimes it involves accommodation to the extent that what I am saying is not entirely accurate. But it has to be done, and it does not alter the fact that I have the capacity to communicate at a higher level.

#11 Skeptic

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 03:42 AM

Hyperion

But if God created time, and dwells outside of it, there is no reason to believe that he cannot know the future.


God may not be bound by time, but time certainly is (bound by what time is). So when the unbound God is observing a bounded thing (namely time), which gets created as it unfolds (in real time...!) time still simply behaves as time does: the future is something that will yet be created by the events that God and His free will beings co-create. The fact that God observes it from the outside and is not affected by it does not mean time behaves differently than it does.

God can predict the future to the extent that he will definately act to accomplich his own goals regardless of the actions of creatures with free will (and in that regard the future is determined), but God cannot predict what free will creatures will do (and in that regard the future is undetermined). God could also force free will creatures to do things to come to pass, but by his nature he could not then hold these creatures responsible for actions he forced upon them.

#12 Skeptic

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 03:43 AM

Fortigurn

It makes perfect sense when the anthropomorphic medium is taken into account. It also makes perfect sense when it is realised that God's dealings with men, and His communication with them, is circumscribed to an extent by their capacities.

When I speak with a three year old, I can't use my entire vocabulary. But I can use it in a certain way which expresses my thoughts in a manner comprehensible to the three year old.

Sometimes this involves saying things which I would say another way to an adult. Sometimes it involves accommodation to the extent that what I am saying is not entirely accurate. But it has to be done, and it does not alter the fact that I have the capacity to communicate at a higher level.


Are you saying God is only pretending to regret decisions he made, so human beings could understand him? In Gen 6:6 and Eph 4:30 God is said to grieve over the rebellion of human beings. In 1 Sam. 13:13 and 15:11 we are told how God originally planned to have Saul and his lineage be kings over Israel, but because of Saul's sin, God changed his mind and selected David instead. The anthropomorphic explanation is inadequate in explaining these instances. A being that knew beforehand what Saul would do, would not need to change his mind after seeing what he did. What anthropomprphic benefit is there in saying he changed his mind if he knew all along?

How about 2 Kings 20:1-5 where Isaiah tells King Hezekiah that the Lord says he would not recover from ilness, but will die? After Hezekiah prays to God, God changes his mind and Isaiah tells him he would recover...

:?:

Edited by Skeptic, 04 May 2005 - 03:58 AM.


#13 michael_*

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 03:44 AM

Fortigurn

In my case, I believe it to be false because I believe that God's omniscience includes a knowledge of the future.


Let's have a look at the implications of the following passages for your statement above:

Gen. 22:12
Exod. 16:4, 20:20;
Judg. 2:22
2 Chron. 32:31
1 Sam. 13:13, 15:11
Isa. 5:2; Jer. 3:6-7, 19-20
Exod. 4:8-9;
Jer. 26:3;
Ezek. 12:3

In the above passages (and many others in the Bible) God changes his mind, grieves, rejoices and talks about 'possibilities'. This kind of behaviour simply makes no sense if God knows every single thing that is going to happen.

Hi Skeptic,
After a quick parousal of the scripture in question.....I only have one question to pose in return:

What's the common denominator throughout all of those verses?

The answer is easy: fallible humans. God does things like test Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to mold and shape the character of those being tested.

Gen 22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.


This isn't a matter of God changing his mind, per say, but dealing with humans in such a way as to bring them to a knowledge of Him and his wishes. God used Jeremiah to plead to backsliding Israel to reform their ways. He told them what the consequences of refusal would be, and also told them the reward for repentance. This isn't God vacillating or wondering what the outcome will be, but rather a loving father trying his best to get his children to make the right choice.

As I demonstrated in a previous post, God knows the end from the beginning, but he wants to give us every opportunity to please him, even when he knows we won't. If God didn't give us that opportunity, and try to turn us to righteousness to please him, even when he knows Mr. John Q Smith eventually won't, then it turns our whole world and existance into a Calvinist sham.

#14 michael_*

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 03:51 AM

It makes perfect sense when the anthropomorphic medium is taken into account. It also makes perfect sense when it is realised that God's dealings with men, and His communication with them, is circumscribed to an extent by their capacities.

When I speak with a three year old, I can't use my entire vocabulary. But I can use it in a certain way which expresses my thoughts in a manner comprehensible to the three year old.

Sometimes this involves saying things which I would say another way to an adult. Sometimes it involves accommodation to the extent that what I am saying is not entirely accurate. But it has to be done, and it does not alter the fact that I have the capacity to communicate at a higher level.

:first: This is what I was getting at, but in a much smarter-sounding way!

#15 Skeptic

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 04:06 AM

:first:  This is what I was getting at, but in a much smarter-sounding way!

The problem Michael is that the anthropomorphic explanation is an interpretation of God's actions, predicated on the belief that God has to know the future always. An equally valid interpretation, and a more natural one at that, would be to interpret God's reported regrets, changes of mind and changes of plans as literally that. Remember, this is not about whether God is indeed omniscient and knows everything; it is about what exactly that 'eveything' is that God knows.

God knows everything that is knowable about the past and the present, but since the future does not exist (yet) he cannot logically know it.

Edited by Skeptic, 04 May 2005 - 04:07 AM.


#16 Skeptic

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 04:16 AM

Michael

After a quick parousal (sic) of the scripture in question.....I only have one question to pose in return:

What's the common denominator throughout all of those verses?


The common denominator is clearly that in all those instances God did not know in advance what would happen.

Edited by Skeptic, 04 May 2005 - 04:17 AM.


#17 michael_*

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 04:23 AM

Hmmm....this kind of theoretical discussion isn't my strong suite, but I'll give it a go. You've raised some interesting points.

The problem Michael is that the anthropomorphic explanation is an interpretation of God's actions, predicated on the belief that God has to know the future always.


That belief is based upon the evidence contained in the Bible, so are you saying that the Bible says one thing but really means another?

An equally valid interpretation, and a more natural one at that, would be to interpret God's reported regrets, changes of mind and changes of plans as literally that. Remember, this is not about whether God is indeed omniscient and knows everything; it is about what exactly that 'eveything' is that God knows.


The Bible emphatically states that God does know the future, and since the scope of this discussion so far has only been limited to the Bible, we must be forced to concede that the Bible isn't saying two different things about God's omniscience. I believe that God's "reported regrets, changes of mind and changes of plans", can be explained as Him dealing with man in such a way as to teach man on his own level. We know from the Bible that God's ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours as to be inconceivable to us. (Isa. 55:9)

As Fort explained previously, if God speaks to us 3 yr-old children using "God language" (for lack of a better term), we wouldn't get it. God needs to speak to us in a manner we will understand. And that manner includes human emotions such as regret, et al. That's not to say that God doesn't experience real emotion, I believe He does.

God knows everything that is knowable about the past and the present, but since the future does not exist (yet) he cannot logically know it.


I believe this is inconsistent to what the Bible teaches.

#18 Fortigurn

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 04:24 AM

Fortigurn

It makes perfect sense when the anthropomorphic medium is taken into account. It also makes perfect sense when it is realised that God's dealings with men, and His communication with them, is circumscribed to an extent by their capacities.

When I speak with a three year old, I can't use my entire vocabulary. But I can use it in a certain way which expresses my thoughts in a manner comprehensible to the three year old.

Sometimes this involves saying things which I would say another way to an adult. Sometimes it involves accommodation to the extent that what I am saying is not entirely accurate. But it has to be done, and it does not alter the fact that I have the capacity to communicate at a higher level.


Are you saying God is only pretending to regret decisions he made, so human beings could understand him?

No, I am saying He feels a sorrow over what has happened, which is best communicated to us using the word 'regret'.

In Gen 6:6 and Eph 4:30 God is said to grieve over the rebellion of human beings.


And so He has grieved

In 1 Sam. 13:13 and 15:11 we are told how God originally planned to have Saul and his lineage be kings over Israel, but because of Saul's sin, God changed his mind and selected David instead.


Yes, that's right. What's the issue?

The anthropomorphic explanation is inadequate in explaining these instances. A being that knew beforehand what Saul would do, would not need to change his mind after seeing what he did. What anthropomprphic benefit is there in saying he changed his mind if he knew all along?


The fact that He knew all along does not change the fact that He went through the experience in the first place. He didn't say 'Oh, I should never have done that, if I had My time again, I sure wouldn't!'.

How about 2 Kings 20:1-5 where Isaiah tells King Hezekiah that the Lord says he would not recover from ilness, but will die? After Hezekiah prays to God, God changes his mind and Isaiah tells him he would recover...


No problems there - Hezekiah is informed that his illness is fatal, and will lead to his death (it was fatal, and was leading to his death). He prayed to God, and was healed of the illness.

#19 michael_*

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 04:25 AM

Michael

After a quick parousal (sic) of the scripture in question.....I only have one question to pose in return:

What's the common denominator throughout all of those verses?


The common denominator is clearly that in all those instances God did not know in advance what would happen.

Thank you for pointing out my spelling error so politely! :doh: Needless to say, I disagree with your conclusion. :)

Edited by michael, 04 May 2005 - 04:27 AM.


#20 CaptainCutshaw

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 04:25 AM

In the Bible, God demonstrates His power by making detailed prophecies that are then fulfilled.

Does this prove that He knows the future in detail?

Or does it prove that He is capable and willing to do what He said He would do?

I can't think of any proof verse to show that God knows every detail about the future. Are there any? What are the implications if he does / does not?




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