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Evaluate the claim that omniscience is an incoherent concept.
Omniscience refers to God's unlimited knowledge which includes the knowledge of the past, present
and future. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all believe claim that omniscience is a coherent concept,
believing that God is omniscient alongside the belief that humans are morally responsible for some of
their actions at the least. They believe that people have a free choice as to what they do when faced
with a dilemma that God does not force them into a certain decision but leaves humans to choose,
which in turn leaves humans alone responsible for their actions.
Thomas Aquinas suggested that the knowledge God possessed was not physical, he argued that
humans gain knowledge through their bodies, such as taste, but this does not mean that knowledge
itself is physical. We are able to know that the square root of 9 is 3, but a square root is not a physical
thing, we cannot hold it, this however does not stop us from knowing what a square root is. As
knowledge is not physical God, who is also nonphysical being, can have knowledge without interfering
in the timeline. Aquinas also suggested that God has selfknowledge as God is the creator God knows
everything that He has created therefore God knows about His creation, this knowledge according to
Aquinas was not gained by using a body. This argument is put forward by Aquinas is slightly coherent
as it puts forward and more logical explanation as to how God can be omniscient, whilst leaving
humanity free to make their own decisions.
However some philosophers such as Richard Dawkins have challenged such arguments. Dawkins
stated that if God is to be omniscient, whether possessing selfknowledge or not, then He must know
what shall happen. Even if there is a variety of possibilities you could choose from God would still
know every single one, so no matter which one you choose God will already have known that specific
choice. Dawkins also suggested that is God was omniscient then He would know every event that
would ever happen, including horrifically evil ones. Continuing on to say that if this was the case then
God has deliberately ignored the evil that He knew would happen, thus challenging the belief that God
is omnibenevolent yet if God did not know this would happen then He cannot be omniscient. This
argument puts forward the idea that omniscience is an incoherent concept as it creates a rather
circular argument, pointing out flaws that lead back to the first suggestion to resolve the problem.
The philosopher Boethius tackled the claim that omniscience is an incoherent concept. Boethius
thought that God saw things in a different way to how humans see things as it is humans that exist
within time. He also said that God does not have the same constraints on His knowledge, thus God
does not possess a past, present of future, and therefore his knowledge transcends all temporal
change. Boethius continued on to say that God can see us in the past, present and future so he has the
knowledge of what we will freely choose, that all events occur simultaneously. Carrying onwards from
that point Boethius said God does not have foreknowledge because to God there is no future this
therefore leaves us completely free to make our own decisions.
In response to this Anthony Kenny questioned whether it was meaningful to talk about all events
throughout time being `simultaneously present to God'. It would suggest that as he was speaking the
Great fire of Rome would be happening at the same time, every moment in history would be playing
before God like a roll of film that He can view from above. If God could view all of time occurring at
one exact moment then there would not be complete freedom for humans as God could view you in
every moment of your life, past, present and future.
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Overall I find that omniscience is an incoherent concept. This is because when an argument is put
forward to prove that God is omniscient several problems arise, whether it is to do with Free Will or
the problem of Evil. Omniscience becomes a circular argument it is hard to prove omniscience alone
and simply leads back to the beginning as most arguments hold detrimental flaws.…read more