Dr. Eugene Scott said, "God's knowledge is a function of his power. He can know whatever he wants to know." Is this coherent? I thought this was a noncontroversial statement, but I was told it implies that God doesn't know some things because he doesn't want to and therefore is not omniscient. What concepts or factors would a philosopher consider when evaluating this assertion? I am definitely not a trained philosopher and I hope to pick up some basics from the answers.

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    Who is "Dr. Eugene Scott " ? Sep 15 at 8:30
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    Obviously God knows, fullstop. See Omniscience. Sep 15 at 8:31
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA Dr. Eugene Scott was a minister on public access TV out in Indiana I believe. He knew his Ancient Greek rather well.
    – Hokon
    Sep 15 at 14:58
  • Omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent... Pick two?
    – keshlam
    Sep 15 at 17:45
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    The famous motto 'knowledge is power' also applies to God univocally if God really exists, thus 'God's knowledge is a functional of his power' is simply a tautology which must also be known by God. As for what if God doesn't want to know, did you contemplate why it's possibly the case? Knowing more is always more perfect than not knowing as reflected by the very act of your questioning here in order to know that which you've not known. If the hypothetical condition of not wanting to know is met, there must be something diminishing God's power either by its result or effort, which is absurd... Sep 16 at 5:25

1 Answer 1


Although the knowledge-power-goodness characterization of God is often given directly, the deeper one goes in the history of theology, the more one finds attempts to collapse those three either to one of them, or to a rather different characterization from which such predicates are derived. Anselm spoke of a greatest or maximal being; Aquinas worked from a version of divine simplicity (though simplicity is sometimes traced back to aseity or unity) while Scotus worked from "divine infinity" (an evocative phrase). Or Kant, taking the possibility of God as a postulate of moral hope, started with divine goodness ("holiness as substance" was one of his more poetic framings).

So, one could start from omnipotence and say, "God uses Its power over everything else to know everything else," and, "God omnipotently decides to be the greatest good," etc. Now, if we do qualify such statements with reference to what God "wants," then unless we say that God wants to know all and do what's best, we would be minded to say that God "might" not be all-knowing or all-good, here. This isn't an issue of coherence directly, though; and we even might start from two predicates to get the third anyway (e.g. start with an all-good, almighty deity, then say that knowing everything would be good, so this deity will then know everything).

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