In Islamic teachings which I was brought up in, we are made to believe that everything that happens is in the Decree of God (Allah). There is a hadith (sacred text from the Prophet) which says that among the first things God created was the Pen and then He told the Pen to write everything that would happen from that moment till the Last Day.

When we question as to how human beings can have free will and then be held accountable for our actions if everything is in the Decree of God then we have been told this answer cannot be reached by our limited human understanding.

But recently I saw the movie, "The Arrival", where the aliens have a non-linear perception of time. So if an Omnipotent Being can somehow have such a perception of time where the past, present and future can all be seen in one instant then can this somehow answer this question. Something to the effect of God only Decreed for you what He knew you would choose to do?

3 Answers 3


This is an interesting question, but ultimately the answer is "No, a non-linear view of time doesn't solve the paradox". Here's why:

At the heart of the paradox is the fact of God's omniscience, which presumably includes knowledge of all future events (knowledge of Ghaib includes knowledge of the future). So God's perception of time is already non-linear, and in fact it is this very non-linearity which makes the problems of predestination and evil so paradoxical in the first place.

I would argue the other way around, that to remove the paradoxes of predestination and the problem of evil, one has to weaken God's omniscience a little so that his knowledge of the future is limited, and his perception of time is more linear. Or maybe he himself deliberately chooses to limit his knowledge of the future - see Plantinga's freewill defense - because that is the only for there to be true good in the world. But down that path lies blasphemy....


Is the Pen just an observer? It's possible to note and write down what I do by free will (assuming such a thing exists) as I do it. Given a different view of time, the Pen could just write down what I do before I do it.

However, it doesn't matter what God's view is. If I behave strictly in accordance with divine decree, I don't make decisions, so I don't have free will.


I think you can solve the paradox of free will and predestination by proposing that an omniscient god would destine the choice they know you would make. Done.

The question then becomes the problem of a loving God. Why would a loving god destine a person to do evil?

One can't have omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence in one being without limiting either the meaning of "omni-" or the meaning of good/evil, because evil exists, and an omnibenevolent god would never desire for us to do evil.

  • It might be better to say that an omnibenevolent God would never desire for us to suffer evil. There are reasons why one might allow us to do something evil (to teach us a lesson, for example), assuming of course that the omnipotent God had some reason to create people who aren't completely good. Aug 8, 2018 at 19:36
  • @DavidThornley - It might be better, but I don't think it is, because in order to suffer evil, someone had to do it, and the question is about predestination and free will. We sometimes make a choice to experience evil to prevent a greater evil, but the real problem is to choose to do evil if predestination exists. That's how I see it, anyway. Aug 8, 2018 at 19:40

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