Ep9-The Attributes of God Ch 5 - Models of Divine Knowledge (Part 1)

We start discussing different models for God's knowledge. We focus on the aspect of God's knowledge of the future or infallible foreknowledge and if it can coexist with free will.

Topics Discussed:

• Simple Foreknowledge
• Timeless Knowledge Through Perception
• The Einstein-Minkowski Spacetime
• Timeless Knowledge Through Divine Causation

Show Notes:


“The question I want to explore here is how God knows what he knows and, more particularly, how God knows what has not yet happened.”

How God knows what he does and the scope of his knowledge

Free Knowledge - what God brings about with his free will

Divine Providence - God knowingly plans, orders, and provides for everything that will occur in the history of the universe

“But if the future event might not occur, how is it that God knows future contingents with certainty—that is, what is the source of and explanation for the fact that God knows how things will occur with certainty?”

“Moreover, how is it possible for a contingent event to be certain before it happens? How can God’s foreknowledge be compatible with the fact that it might not occur? I will call the first question the “source question” and the second question the “compatibility question.”

Tasmanian Wonder.....Omniscience is important because of providence. "God has a plan"

Providence involves the beliefs that God freely and knowingly plans, orders and provides for all that will occur in the entire history of the universe. It also involves the thesis that God executes his freely chosen plan by playing an active causal role in a way sufficient to insure that his plan will be realized.”

Absolutist adopt Strong Providence....Everything that happens is Gods will.

Seems to conflict with free will

Simple Foreknowledge

“The first view of divine foreknowledge is the notion that what is knowable includes all and only those events that will actually occur. A proposition is true and thus knowable by God because it corresponds with things as they are, and as they were and as they are to come”

You site D&C 93:24..... what are the implications of this for Mormons?

This view says God only knows what will be actual as opposed to all possibilities.

What causes the knowledge though? The event or does the knowledge cause the event? Origen says the first....or does he?

“Augustine appears to have believed that: (a) things do not happen because God foreknows they will happen; and (b) God’s foreknowledge, or “before knowledge,” is dependent upon his seeing those events before they actually exist.”

Discuss backwards causation.

A- Theory of time and B-Theory of time. Which makes the most sense for Mormons?

Problem with B-Theory: “In other words, the events that God sees are already there before God can do anything about them. He is simply stuck with what he sees will be the case independently of his having considered the situation.”

It renders God essentially unable to be provident....unless maybe he planned every second before creation.

"God's knowledge cannot guide his use of his providential power."

Mary marries John example - it's a mistake.  Never know a future with Mary marrying Ralph. God can't help - he's too late.

Causal circularity:

“It is not enough to say that God just holds beliefs in general; rather, it must be explained why God just happens to hold these particular beliefs that correspond infallibly with the way things actually will be. There seem to be four possibilities:
(1) There is no explanation, it just happens that the beliefs and events always correspond;
(2) The beliefs are determined to be the way they are by the events;
(3) The events are determined to be the way they are by the beliefs;
(4) Both the beliefs and events are determined to be the way they are by some other factor.17”

Walk through the elimination process

“I bet that any way someone can come up with to show how God could know what will actually occur will turn out to be incompatible with human freedom if it is an adequate explanation, or won’t be any explanation at all.”

“Timeless Knowledge Through Perception”

“God’s knowledge of events is not limited by time.”

1) God is eternal-Bible
2) Is 'outside' of time.-Augustine / embraces B theory of time hard-core

Aquinas and the parade observer idea

Neil A. Maxwell and the Eternal Now idea.

God timeless Mormon Problems.... and logical problems

Perhaps a matter of perspective...

“The Einstein-Minkowski Spacetime”

“The characteristic feature of this spacetime is the light cone, a double-cone centered at each event in spacetime. (By the conventional choice of units used in relativity, the sides of the cone are sloped at 45 degrees. This corresponds to choosing units where time is measured in seconds and distances in light-seconds. A light-second is the distance light travels in one second.)
* The upper cone (called the future light-cone) represents the future history of a light-flash emitted at that event.
* The lower cone (called the past light-cone) represents all directions from which light-flashes can be received at that event.

The light cone represents the idea that “the direction of the light-flash does not depend on the motion of the source—but just on the event at which the light-flash is emitted.” In addition, by Einstein’s Principle of Relativity, all observers, regardless of their motions, must (because of Maxwell’s Laws) measure the speed of light to be the same constant, in all directions. That is to say, “all observers will universally agree on the light cones at each event.” This means that each observer drawing a spacetime diagram in which he is at rest must have the world lines of light-flashes at the angle of 45 degrees from his world line (his time axis), and 45 degrees from his plane of simultaneity (his space axis).”

God in his eternal now cannot interact with the temporal world

Transitivity issue - if things happen simultaneously before God, then they are in fact simultaneous.

Timeless Knowledge Through Divine Causation

Aquinas "God sees himself through his essence; and he sees other things not in themselves, but in himself; inasmuch as his essence contains the representations of things other than himself."

God knows things because his knowledge causes them.

"All things that are in time are present to God from eternity not merely because he has the essences of things present within him, but because his glance is carried from eternity over all things as they are in their presentiality."

"Since God is the cause of things by his knowledge ... his knowledge extends as far as his causality extends.  Hence, as the active power of God extends not only to forms... his essence must be the sufficient principle of knowing all things made by him, not only in the universal, but also in the singular."

3 moments of God's knowledge

1. God knows all things logically possible or potential
2. Knowledge by which God selects from among logically possible alternatives and chooses to actualize those that he desires to in fact obtain.
3. God sees "in himself" those things that will in fact obtain in the actual world.  Sees his own will and brings it about.

"acts of choice and movements of the will are controlled immediately by God."

Not possible - How can someone do an act, because God willed it, yet not do the act.  No free will


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