Critically assess the problems for believers who say that God is omniscient. [35] Summer 2011


Critically assess the problems for believers who say that God is omniscient. [35] Summer 2011 [Intro: Define limited and unlimited knowledge and main problems for humans with either of those. Eg. future is not logically poss to know so he's not omniscient? If he has unlimited knowledge, observing all does not prove this, can he taste chocolate or feel emotion?]


  • Omniscience and free will are incompatible - if God is everlasting and transcendental and can see everything in one glance, how can we be free?
  • If God is occurrent and actively knows that things are true, e.g 'x is married' but also what it feels to be married, he must exist in time? This would not make him omniscient
  • Boethius was worried about the problem of God's omniscience. He believed that if God knows the future, then He is wrong to reward and punish.
  • Omniscience and P.O.E, if He knows all, is he not omni benevolent - inconsisent triad (RESOLVE: free will as humans - doesnt cause acts just sees them - sees road in one glance)


  • Swinburne tries to resolve the supposed conflict by denying that God knows the future, although he believes that God is nevertheless omniscient. Knows everything that can be known and the future therefore does not count as evidence against omniscience.
  • Aquinas: God knows 'self knowledge' and God knows his creation and has a different knowledge to what humans do like gaining knowledge through the senses. God is everlasting: acquires new knowledge as time passes for Him. Future hasn't happened, there is no future to be known; God's omniscience is not limited because it is impossible to have knowledge of what does not exist or has not yet existed. God is omniscient as He has perfect knowledge of what has occurred and is occurring. Uses Jesus to feel emotion through him
  • However, he recognised that he was wrong to say this because God can see things in a different way from the way which we see them. Humans live in time; our pasts are fixed and unchanging, while out futures remain unknown and uncertain, this means we have genuine freedom


Conclude: Have believers successfully solved probs with God's omnipotence? Yes. Hard determinism also agrees that free will doesn't exist. God doesn't cause actions he just knows them. Aquinas: 'birds eye view'.


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