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"If God knows what we are going to do, then he has no right to
punish the wicked". Discuss.
In JudaeoChristian tradition, God is often described as omniscient.
This is generally used to connote a complete understanding and full
knowledge. Anselm, for example, describes God as "supremely
perceptive" (Proslogion). There are two major views regarding God's
omniscience, the first being the view that He has limited knowledge, and
only knows what it is logically possible to know. This view does not raise
issues for free will but it does cause issues for God's omnipotence, as
it must be questioned whether an omnipotent God would be limited by
the laws of nature. The second view is more compatible with the
concept that God is a temporal. God exists outside of time, and for Him,
the past, present and future exist simultaneously. He can view
everything happening throughout time at once.
Aquinas agrees with this concept, suggesting that God has nonphysical
knowledge of himself and everything that he has created, including
However, this view of God results in issues for the free will of humanity.
As Boethius points out in Book 5 of "The Consolations of Philosophy", if
God can see the future, than problems arise regarding his benevolent
nature as a result of this. Boethius questions whether it is fair to reward
or punish if God knows how we will react. The Bible often shows God as
distributing rewards or punishments for human actions, such as in
Genesis 3, where Adam and Eve are eternally punished for their
disobedience. Surely a good, loving God would not do this if they had
no control over their actions.
Luis de Molina, however, would argue that God does not interfere with
human decisions: he simply observes all of the possible outcomes of
our decisions. If this is the case than it seems fair that God would
reward or punish.
Aquinas seems to agree with this view, suggesting that God's
omniscience is similar to the vision of a man standing on a mountain, in
that he can witness the various paths our lives may take, but chooses
not to influence them, and so avoiding conflict with free will.
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Boethius, too, comes to the conclusion that if past, present and future
exist simultaneously for God, he can watch but not change things, as
they are already happening (all at once).
Another question which arises is how God can punish, reward or answer
prayers without responding to events that are happening (as they all
happen at once).…read more