3

As the argument goes:

If God is omniscient, he must already know how he is going to intervene to change the course of history using his omnipotence. But that means he can't change his mind about his intervention, which means he is not omnipotent.

Is this premise contradictory? From the way I see it; this premise erroneously presumes that the free will is apodictically deducible as opposed to being a first cause, thus missing the mark as to what qualifies as a free will in the first place.

Thus;

  1. If free will is a first cause.
  2. If first causes have no existence prior to their initiation, as first cause implies no relation to any other causes (Anything that exists)
  3. If the omnipotent has the ability to create first causes.
  4. If omniscience is defined to know everything or every state that exists or will exist (or could exist) through perfect deduction of all the causal relations of all that does exist.

Then

Couldn't one be omniscient and omnipotent without facing any mutual inconsistencies?

  • I don't understand how first causes have "no relation to any other causes" and "the omnipotent creates first causes" -- for those first causes created by the omnipotent they do have a relation to other causes. Is this argument being made by a particular philosopher in a particular context that clarifies this? – Dave Oct 15 '14 at 13:50
  • Thank you for your comment. To your question about philosophers: Vaguely; this is constructed from my own thoughts upon reflections of Ludwig von Mises: Theory and History, and discourse I have listened to from Immanuel Schochet. By no relation to any other causes, I mean, no causal relations in so far as these other causes did not necessitate the first cause (which would be a contradiction). What do you think? – Akiva Oct 15 '14 at 13:58
  • Is (3) equivalent to saying "the omnipotent has free will in the sense used in (1)"? – Dave Oct 15 '14 at 18:13
  • Yes. Sorry for stating it in a roundabout way. – Akiva Oct 15 '14 at 19:09
  • Can you clarify the temporal aspects of (4)? When does it "know everything..." (assuming tensed knowledge), when does it do the deduction, etc. (One potential issue with the original quote is the way it slips from tenseless conception of omniscience to a tensed one.). – Dave Oct 15 '14 at 19:48
2

Most philosophers and theologians I've read would not see a contradiction. One theologian that does a good job of explaining this way of thinking is Frank Sheed. In his book Theology and Sanity, he explains:

Just as time is the duration of that which changes, eternity is the duration of that which simply IS, the duration of the Being who, in one infinite act of being which does not change and does not cease, is all that He is, and all that He does...

We must try to conceive [creation] in some such terms as this: God who possesses the whole of His Being in one single act of infinite existence wills that a universe should be which possesses its being in successive acts, bit by bit.

He discusses the topic at length, but the two above excerpts get to the heart of it: it is not that God cannot decide one thing and later change His mind out of inability, it is that God, in His one defining eternal act has already acted with perfection.

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