Extra Notes on God's Omniscience (Philosophical Problems)

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  • Derives from perfect being theology, made famous by St. Anselm
  • Job 12:13 "with God are wisdom and strength"
  • Since omniscience is maximal or complete knowledge, it is typically defined in terms of knowledge of all true propositions
    • If this includes future knowledge, Aristotle would have issues with it.
  • Aquinas believed that God's knowledge was not "discursive", in that "God sees all things together and not successively" and God doesn't derive his knowledge by deducing conclusions from other things that he knows.
  • Alston held that God's knowledge is not divided into separate beliefs. God has an intuitive, immediate awareness of all truth, which gives Him knowledge without belief.

Foreknowledge and human free action

  • Many philosophers believe that divine foreknowledge is incompatible with free will.
  • Both Boethius and Augustine discuss the issue that:

1) If God has foreknowledge that S will do A, then it is necessary that S will do A

2) If it is necessary that S will do A, then S is not free with respect to doing A

3) If God has foreknowledge that S will do A, then S is not free with respect to doing A

Boethius attempts to reconcile the idea of divine foreknowledge with free will by suggesting that God sees everything that ever happens at once, so does not see things before they happen as such.

Augustine argues that God sees events but does not influence them, meaning that…

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