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?

4 Answers 4


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.

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    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. Commented 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. Commented Aug 8, 2018 at 19:40

First off, I'm a Christian not muslim. Ok.

Now, I've been thinking how to solve the Omnipotence of God vs The Free will of Creation. And I've come up with a solution. One, that we need to redefine what we call Omnipotence. Take note of the exact words I use in defining it. God Omnipotence is defined as God having Possession of all "possible" realities which include the exact realities.

From this point, God' Knowledge is timeless and Non-linear. God then use His Omnisapience to determine what is most "likely" to occur from His Omniscience. Take God' Omniscience like A Machine where One can see all "possible" reality. As God is looking or watching at the machine, God uses His Omnisapience (Infinite Wisdom) to determine what will most "likely" occur.

I was still studying this that I asked myself a question. If this is How God Omniscience really is, then How can He decree a future? How can He be exactly sure of the future and then still let His Creation have free will? Well, I have an answer to that also.

From God' Omniscience which is the Knowledge of all possible reality, when God decree a Future, all reality that won't lead to that future event will be cancelled i.e. cease existing. But there will still be a lot of possible realities for God' Creation to be able to exercise their free will which will lead to that future event. Although God' Creation "might" not be able to exercise their complete free will, there free will won't be totally cut off.

Imagine you're playing the game "who wants to be a millionaire". You are asked a question and then there are four options to choose from, now you know you have the choice or free will to choose any of the four options they give you. Now, imagine you don't know the answer to the question and there's something you can click that will eliminate two options from the four options to pick. Now, you know you have the free will to choose from the four options they give you before but now, even though you initially had four options, now you have the free choice to pick from two options because the two other options have been eliminated. Now, you know that even if you can only choose two options, that does not mean your free will have been eliminated. It only means your free will have been limited to two choices. That's the same with the other possible realities that will lead to God decreed future. Even if there are some realities that have been cut off, there are still other possible realities to allow God' Creation to exercise their free will. Their free will have not been eliminated but have been limited. Thanks for reading. I hope and pray you got my point. There might be other alternative answers that might be better than this answer but at least this answer deserves a merit.

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    "God then use His Omnisapience to determine what is most "likely" to occur from His Omniscience" How are you defining Omnisapience and Omniscience here? And which particular events does God "decree"? If he decrees everything, then obviously freewill wouldnt work. But then if he decrees specific events, how would there be any criteria on what events god decrees and which are variable events that can lead to these predetermined results?
    – JMac
    Commented May 22 at 12:01
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    Also, with what we know of reality, is it even possible to allow different choices while still ensuring the same end result? In the "who wants to be a millionaire" example, the options were reduced down to two, but the choice would still greatly impact everything after it. It's hard to imagine scenarios where someone having a million dollars and someone not having a million dollars ultimately leads to the same outcome. Either the choices effect things, and thus future outcomes should be different, or the "choices" ultimately have no consequences, in which case is that really freewill?
    – JMac
    Commented May 22 at 12:04

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