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#21 Fortigurn

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 04:27 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.

We know that God knows the future always, because He says He does. He also demonstrates a knowledge of the future. He also makes it clear that He is prepared to go through experiences even when He knows full well what the outcome will be (I give you Pharoah and the Exodus).

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.


That's another matter of dispute.

#22 Evangelion

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 05:21 AM

The details of God's foreknowledge are determined by the action that an individual will perform.

The action is logically anterior to God's foreknowledge, but chronologically posterior to it.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#23 Kremlin

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 06:25 AM

I think that the good captain and Evangelion have described a reasonable explanation of how God can know the future, whilst still fitting in with what the Bible says.

God can make a prophecy, and it will be fulfilled because God has the power to ensure it will.

With regards to the exodus thing, Fort, I believe that God knew Pharaoh would react that way because he knew Pharaoh's character and pattern of behaviour up to that point. Logically anterior, chronologically posterior, or whatever.

It's similar to - if I write a lengthy computer program, and then begin running it - I know what it's going to do, even though it hasn't happened yet. Not because I've seen it happen, but because I was instrumental in the creation of the system and know how it's going to work under any given circumstance.

I would see God's foreknowledge similar to this.




PS - Don't forget Newton? said that if one was to know the position and velocity of every particle in the universe, they could map out an accurate plan of the future. (Too bad it's impossible to know both the position and the velocity of a particle).

#24 Skeptic

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 06:54 AM

Fortigurn

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?


If you know the future, how can you originally plan one thing and then later change your plan? Surely knowing the future implies that the plan would be the right one from the start?

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!'.


Funny you should put it that way...

Let's look closely at the implication of Samuel's words:

1 Sam 15:11
It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.


Remember, Saul was anointed by Samuel in 1 Sam 9, but after God regretted having annointed Saul, Samuel anoints David in 1 Sam 16:1-13 as Saul's replacement!

If God knew beforehand that Saul would not obey him, why did He have Saul anointed in the first place?

#25 Skeptic

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 07:13 AM

Michael

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


Thanks. I find the discussion stimulating too.

I want to point out with this answer that the passages in the Bible referring to the future being definately determined, does not contradict the view that God can not know the future. Bear with me...

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?


No, I am saying the Bible mentions some instances of where the future is definately determined and others where it is not.

This is very important: it means that the instances (of which there are certainly good examples) in the Bible that show a pre-determined future are explained, but also those instances which show an undetermined future.

The parts that are clearly determined can be explained by saying that God will intervene physically to bring about His purpose. Considering that God is almighty, this means that whatever God sets out to achieve through direct intervention at given times, must obtain. For the remainder of the time, people have free will and their actions will create the future, which is revealed as it unfolds. So this means God knows the future to the extent that he will intervene to make hings come to pass, but at other times he does not know it.

Being omni-present and omniscient, God also knows everything that has happened in the past and is happening at present. So he can make predictions based on this knowledge. For instance, when I ask a child to choose between a bowl of spinach and a chocolate Orio, which is he going to choose? I do not need to know the future, to know the correct answer before it happens. God knows everything that has happened up to and including this moment, which enables prediction of trends to an extent you and I could not hope to match.

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. 


Yes, the Bible does. See my explanation above.

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) 


I don't disagree with that analogy, but I am saying it only explains certain instances, but is unsatisfactory in dealing with other instances where God shows a change of heart.

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.


Now that I have shown to you how the future can be both known by God (in that he is committed to intervening at certain points) and unknown, does it make more sense at all?

Edited by Skeptic, 04 May 2005 - 08:42 AM.


#26 Fortigurn

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 08:10 AM

With regards to the exodus thing, Fort, I believe that God knew Pharaoh would react that way because he knew Pharaoh's character and pattern of behaviour up to that point. Logically anterior, chronologically posterior, or whatever.

Yes exactly. That's precisely my point, thanks. And He was prepared to go through all that, even knowing what Pharoah would do, which is my other point.

PS - Don't forget Newton? said that if one was to know the position and velocity of every particle in the universe, they could map out an accurate plan of the future. (Too bad it's impossible to know both the position and the velocity of a particle).


I believe you're thinking of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Newton was very much the opposite in his thinking (and had no developed concept of particles).

#27 Fortigurn

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 08:15 AM

Fortigurn

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?


If you know the future, how can you originally plan one thing and then later change your plan?

He wanted Saul to be king, and He made him king. Then He decided to depose Saul, and made David king. So He deposed Saul and made David King.

Surely knowing the future implies that the plan would be the right one from the start?


The plan was the right one - Saul was made king. That was the right plan. There came a point when God did not wish Saul to be king, so He deposed him.

Let's look closely at the implication of Samuel's words:

1 Sam 15:11
It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.


Remember, Saul was anointed by Samuel in 1 Sam 9, but after God regretted having annointed Saul, Samuel anoints David in 1 Sam 16:1-13 as Saul's replacement!

If God knew beforehand that Saul would not obey him, why did He have Saul anointed in the first place?


Because He knew that Saul would not disobey him immediately - Saul did in fact carry out God's commandments at the start, and served as an object lesson to the people of exactly what God had said in the first place.

Which was that they didn't need a king, a king would be a rejection of God, and that under a king they would suffer many things, because however good the king started he would still do some bad things. All of which they ignored. So He gave them Saul, which proved the point.

God didn't need to come to this realisation, the people did. And experience was the only effective teacher.

#28 Skeptic

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 08:39 AM

Fortigurn

Your view is a viable alternative, but it presents no firm evidence against the assertion that the future by definition cannot be known. At the moment it seems to me that the discussion can still go either way...

#29 Hyperion

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 08:48 AM

It's similar to - if I write a lengthy computer program, and then begin running it - I know what it's going to do, even though it hasn't happened yet. Not because I've seen it happen, but because I was instrumental in the creation of the system and know how it's going to work under any given circumstance.

I would see God's foreknowledge similar to this.

I don't.

If God's foreknowledge works like this, then it eliminates free-will. If we only do what do because this is the way God made us, then we have no choice, as we are only capable of doing exactly what God set in motion when he created us.

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#30 CaptainCutshaw

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 09:02 AM

Fortigurn

Your view is a viable alternative, but it presents no firm evidence against the assertion that the future by definition cannot be known. At the moment it seems to me that the discussion can still go either way...

Well, the burden of proof is on you. You have said:

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 have seen no evidence to support this view.

I have seen no evidence presented (so far) to proves that God does know the future in complete detail.

I'm not sure that one could prove either assertion using scripture alone. I'm not sure that one could prove either assertion false either.

#31 Hyperion

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 09:04 AM

I have to agree with Skeptic that there is an appearance of contradiction between the idea of God having perfect foreknowledge and also being a God who interacts and reacts to his creation. Though I look at it not as a contradiction but a paradox beyond our (or at least my) limits of comprehension.

The Bible normally presents God in a way that reacts to the actions of his creation. Thus we have God answering prayers, punishing sinners, and changing courses of action that were previously set in motion. Occasionally we are reminded that God is above everything and knows the end from the beginning. But normally God presents himself as someone who does react to the choices made by his creation, and thus that is the way we ought to be primarily thinking of him.

When we read of God being sad/angry with rejection, pleased with obedience, answering prayer, I believe we are to take it as it reads, that this is a reflection of reality, and not simply an anthropomorphism. How this can be with a God who also knows the end from the beginning of his creation is beyond me. Some analogies help (such as the disappointment a parent feels when a child chooses the wrong path, even though you knew they would do the wrong thing anyway) but ultimately I find all such analogies fail. I don’t think that a creature bound by time can comprehend existence outside of time. Perhaps this is a cop-out of an answer, but it is the best I have.

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#32 Fortigurn

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 09:13 AM

Fortigurn

Your view is a viable alternative, but it presents no firm evidence against the assertion that the future by definition cannot be known.

Yes, I realise this. I was posting it only in response to your argument that such passages militate against Divine foreknowledge of the future.

At the moment it seems to me that the discussion can still go either way...


As I have said, to me prophecy is the evidence. I do not expect this to be convincing to everyone.

#33 Fortigurn

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 09:17 AM

I have to agree with Skeptic that there is an appearance of contradiction between the idea of God having perfect foreknowledge and also being a God who interacts and reacts to his creation. Though I look at it not as a contradiction but a paradox beyond our (or at least my) limits of comprehension.

The Bible normally presents God in a way that reacts to the actions of his creation. Thus we have God answering prayers, punishing sinners, and changing courses of action that were previously set in motion. Occasionally we are reminded that God is above everything and knows the end from the beginning. But normally God presents himself as someone who does react to the choices made by his creation, and thus that is the way we ought to be primarily thinking of him.

I agree with all this.

When we read of God being sad/angry with rejection, pleased with obedience, answering prayer, I believe we are to take it as it reads, that this is a reflection of reality, and not simply an anthropomorphism.


I agree with this also. I do not believe that descriptions of God's emotions are mere anthropomorphism - in fact I believe He senses emotions far more deeply than any of us do.

But where a passage appears to present God as experiencing a :doh: moment ('Did I really just do that? What a mistake! How could I!'), I don't believe it's any such thing. Nor do I believe that such passages should be read in this way.

How this can be with a God who also knows the end from the beginning of his creation is beyond me.


It makes perfect sense to me, even with my limited experience of humans. I've done things for people knowing full well that they would disappoint me, but I did them anyway.

Some analogies help (such as the disappointment a parent feels when a child chooses the wrong path, even though you knew they would do the wrong thing anyway) but ultimately I find all such analogies fail. I don’t think that a creature bound by time can comprehend existence outside of time. Perhaps this is a cop-out of an answer, but it is the best I have.


I find that most arguments against God's omniscience seem to imply that Divine foreknowledge of events in the future is directly equivalent to those events actually occurring - in which case they don't need to occur, and God shouldn't let them occur.

I believe that this is an even greater paradox than that which faces the believer.

#34 Adanac

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 10:52 AM

Bible prophecy is not about God looking into a crystal ball and saying “ooh, that’s interesting, I’ll write that down”.

Bible prophecy is about God having a plan in the beginning which outlines his purpose and he has detailed in the Scriptures how he is going to carry out that plan.

Our freewill allows us to model our lives according to that plan. If we do then we have entered into the class of persons who are predestined to be in the Kingdom, if not then we enter into the class of persons who are predestined to perish.

Really we don't need to get into the question of whether God knows the future or not. But we do need to understand that he is an architect and builder and he'll finish the building whether we like it or not and despite anything we do.

#35 Guest_Colter_*

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 12:39 PM

I had a great post in answer to the "time" issue but decided to edit it myself.

(edited) by Colter. :colter:

#36 CaptainCutshaw

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 04:49 PM

Make that man a moderator!

#37 He-man

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 04:56 PM

Hyperion: a paradox beyond our (or at least my) limits of comprehension.


God is One, and Only, for the infinitely can admit no peer. He is Spiritual, for were He composed of physical parts, some other power would have to combine them into the total, and His aseity would thus be contradicted. He wills to create, then, by an absolute freedom. He is omniscient for in knowing Himself as Cause, He knows all creature things and events by implication. His knowledge is previsive, for He is present to all time. Even our free acts are known beforehand to Him, for otherwise His wisdom would admit of successive moments of enrichment, and this would contradict His immutability.

He is omnipotent for everything that does not involve logical contradiction. He can make being-in other words His power includes creation. If it were made of a substance, an eternally existing matter, for example, which God found there to His hand, and to which He simply gave its form, that would contradict God’s definition as First Cause and make Him a mere mover of something caused already. He creates ex nihilo , and gives them absolute being as so many finite substances additional to Himself.

He can do no evil, for He is positive being’s fullness, and evil is negation. It is true He has created physical evil in places, but only as a means of wider good. Moral evil He cannot will, either as an end or a means, for that would contradict His holiness. By creating free beings He permits it only, neither His justice nor His goodness obliging Him to prevent the recipients of freedom from misusing the gift.

As regards God’s purpose in creating, primarily it can only have been to exercise His absolute freedom by the manifestation to others of His glory. In so far forth, one may say His secondary purpose is in creating is love, for knowledge and love of God is the mainspring of felicity.

"What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder".

Theologians have the trail of the serpent over them, they are only a set of titles obtained by mechanical manipulation of synonyms; instead of "bread" we have a stone; instead of a "fish" we have a serpent. From the point of view of practical religion, the metaphysical "Monster" which they offer to our worship is an absolutely worthless invention of the scholarly mind.

God’s holiness, for example: being holy, God can will nothing but the good. Being omnipotent, He can secure its triumph. Being omniscient, He can see us in the dark. Being just, He can punish us for what He sees. Being loving, He can pardon us too. Being unalterable, we can count on Him securely..

The book of Job explains an intellect perplexed and baffled, yet a trustful sense of presence; such is the situation of a man who is sincere with himself and with the facts, but who remains religious still.
"I will lay mine hand upon my mouth; I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee".

Source: "The Varieties of Religious Experience", William James

#38 Guest_Colter_*

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 05:45 PM

Make that man a moderator!

Now that would be an even greater miracle than making water into wine. :o :tinkerbell:

#39 michael_*

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 09:05 PM

Hi Skeptic,

I want to point out with this answer that the passages in the Bible referring to the future being definately determined, does not contradict the view that God can not know the future. Bear with me...


Ok :book:

No, I am saying the Bible mentions some instances of where the future is definately determined and others where it is not.

This is very important: it means that the instances (of which there are certainly good examples) in the Bible that show a pre-determined future are explained, but also those instances which show an undetermined future.

The parts that are clearly determined can be explained by saying that God will intervene physically to bring about His purpose.


I disagree with you here. As I've stated before, incidences recorded in the Bible such as Abraham and Isaac are not cases where God didn't know the outcome. I believe that God did know the outcome, and that the narrative of the story are for us mortals' benefit. God created the universe, ergo he created time and space. Thus he exists outside those constructs.

I believe that the passages you also refer to that demonstrate God's omniscience are sufficient proof of his complete knowledge of all events, past, present and future.

Considering that God is almighty, this means that whatever God sets out to achieve through direct intervention at given times, must obtain.


Agreed.

Considering that God is almighty, this means that whatever God sets out to achieve through direct intervention at given times, must obtain. For the remainder of the time, people have free will and their actions will create the future


I believe that individuals maintain free will all the time, but that God knows the outcome of that choice we excersize. Just as Abraham could have plunged the knife into Isaac's heart, he chose not to. God gave Abraham the choice, as a test of Abraham's faith. Abraham's choice was not set in stone by God, but rather God knew the outcome. That may seem like a subtle distinction or semantics, but the differnentiation is important. The difference in what I believe is that Abraham isn't a robot, but has the free will to make the right or wrong choice.

Being omni-present and omniscient, God also knows everything that has happened in the past and is happening at present.


This may be where all of our disagreement lie. You seem to define omniscience as knowledge of only the past and present, whereas I define it is knowledge of all things. For what it's worth, dictionary.com defines it thusly:

om·nis·cient  adj.

  Having total knowledge; knowing everything: an omniscient deity; the omniscient    narrator.
  n.

  1. One having total knowledge.
  2. Omniscient God.


This definition is consistent with my understanding of what the Bible says about God.

Now that I have shown to you how the future can be both known by God (in that he is committed to intervening at certain points) and unknown, does it make more sense at all?


Yes, thank you. Your argument does make much more sense to me now. However, I still don't agree with it. :)

Cheers
Mike

Edited by michael, 04 May 2005 - 09:09 PM.


#40 Grace

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 12:06 AM

Interesting - just been mulling this one over myself and read a theory which made sense to me... It went something like this:

  • God is outside time
  • God created time
  • Therefore, God created all that we are currently experiencing at time's inception
  • God knew what we would ask for before time began, and at time's inception created events that would occur in response to those requests

So yes, we have free-will. But God knew we would ask for what we ask for, and has already created the answer.

Dunno if that makes any sense. And I also struggle to match that up with God's responses in the Bible.




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