God: A logical impossibility?

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Buddha, Mar 19, 2004.

  1. Buddha Registered Member

    God is omniscient (SP), meaning he/she is all knowing. He/she knows everything. This also means he/she knows the future, 5 seconds, 2 weeks, 10 years from now, right?

    But god also gave humans free will, meaning we can do what we want, but will ultimately pay for it at the gates of heaven, right?

    But this is logically impossible. If god is all knowing, he/she can see into the future. And if he/she can see into the future, it means my/your/everyone's fate is predetermined. And if everyones fate is predetermined, then we are not free willed.

    Please give me your thoughts/feedback/challenges to this idea.
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    If I believed in an omniscient God, this would be my reply:
    1.) I don't think that omniscient neccessarily implies knowldege of future events. Omniscient means knowing all that it is possible to know. Perhaps knowing the future is impossible.
    2.) Fore-knowledge does not imply pre-destination. If he is omniscient, then he can see that gnat that is about to fly into your eye in 3, 2, 1 and he knows what your reaction will be to that gnat in your eye, he also seesthe other car and exactly where it will be in 3.5 seconds when you swerver in reaction to the irritant in your eye, so, he can see that you are about to get into a car accident. Just because someone can see what will happen in the future, that does not mean you have no choice in the matter. He just knows you well enough to know what choice you are going to make.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Jenyar Solar flair Valued Senior Member

    I like one_raven's reply. It is quite possible that a decision can't be "known" until it has been made, because before then there's simply nothing to know! But if you take point 2 to its conclusion, it means God knows everything there is to know, including your character, your thoughts and intentions - all the variables. And of course, He can also know when He will act himself (prophecy, anyone?).

    A practical example: God knows that on your present course you will fall off a cliff. In fact, you are on an island surrounded by steep cliffs. So He warns you of the consequences of this path you have chosen. He also tells you that He can protect you from falling, because He means to use you on the mainland. If you reject His warning, you fall without Him. If you heed His warning but reject Him, you're stuck (you're probably quite happy being stuck anyway, but you'll never see the mainland God intended you to see).

    Another example would be evil. God knows evil because it's there to know, but His nature doesn't allow Him to tolerate it - let's call it "perfect and complete self-control". God created us to be like Him, therefore with the option to know good and evil, but He didn't create us evil, or for evil. He knew that sin would lead to our death (spiritually, but that almost synonymous with physically). He could also predict that we're not able to handle it because we're not God, we're finite, and that's why He warned Adam of the consequences of disobedience. But when Adam sinned, instead of letting Adam die, He moved them out of His presence to where sin could do it's worst and where they could live out their lives - because God knew He would forgive sin, and that it's result, death, was no match for Him. So He maintained a relationship with those who would walk with Him, because through them, everybody could come to know Him and be saved. I could go on, but I'm sure you get the idea...

    God could predict all of those outcomes. Your fate is in a sense "predetermined"; how many people's "fate" was it to live out their entire lives on earth? You were "determined" to live on earth because you were born here. But when other options become available, your choices changes, and your possible future changes. Once again, God knows where you will end up because He knows what choices are available to you. He doesn't choose for you, though.

    You're free, and at the same time you're not. That's life. You can live like you choose, but I predict you will die on earth

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    . God wants you to live with Him so He can show you where the dangers are, and because death is a chasm He does not want you to end up in forever.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2004
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. sargentlard Save the whales motherfucker Valued Senior Member

    Well its obvious the whole free will thing is a joke....didn't you watch the Matrix, parts 1,2 and, 3?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  8. jjhlk Guest

    Omniscience clearly means COMPLETE KNOWLEDGE. You can't just say he is omniscient but can't tell the future. The future is dictated by very observable physical processes. The future can be known.

    It is quite possible that a decision can't be 'known' until it has been made, because before then there's simply nothing to know!"

    Wrong. Decisions are made in the neural network in your head. One neuron fires and the dendritic tree fills with electical signals, which trigger more and more reactions. An electical signal shoot down your arm and your muscles spasm and you write yet another word that pains me to read. Then the photons spewing out of your monitor flood into your eye and the optic nerve carries all the information into your brain again whose billions of neurons will notice a typo that you'll then decide to correct.

    God wouldn't even really observe that since he knows it all already. So everything you do is predetermined.

    " Fore-knowledge does not imply pre-destination."

    Yes, it does. If God knows you will die at age XX in location YY, becase of his fore-knowledge, how are you NOT being pre-destined to that life? You absolutely are! If you live any other life then God was wrong, and didn't have omniscience. If you do live that life then you were predestined and he did have omniscience.
  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    A Looby to thee, and a Booby to me, a Balassius Ruby to GOD, may be

    Notes on the topic

    To start with Jenyar:
    This is indeed an effective idea in the more common spheres of religious discussion; but God is the Alpha and the Omega. That omniscience exists outside our human understanding of time.

    Quantum physics and other newer scientific fields are among my most serious weaknesses; I point to Schröedinger's Cat, for instance, but only on the literary twist given it by Douglas Adams in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.

    The larger point being that you can theorize possible outcomes beforehand. When the decision is made, all relevant probability changes to meet the new conditions--ergo, the alternatives fall away, and the fruit becomes the seed.

    This process only works in one direction for human beings--forward through time.

    But "forward" may in itself be a fallacy. Time may itself be static and existence merely passing through it. Regardless, though, nothing exists in any applicable or useful sense without time passing. (This, incidentally, is part of God's wonderfully nebulous qualities; the mystics have always known what the vulgar refuse--God is beyond human description or comprehension.)

    The thing is that Calvin wasn't necessarily wrong; there is Biblical support for predestination, though I don't consider it all that persuasive. It's just that Calvin was Calvin, and therefore human, and therefore prone to serious error.° The Calvinistic crack-up on the American continent resulted from the confines being too-tightly drawn. Calvinism wrongly presumed that God's intentions could be measured so easily by looking around and counting up the things a person calls important.

    But predestination--by God or by Universal processes--may well be the case, only too subtle for our human comprehension. It's a blend of physics and history, but essentially the idea is that the past could not have gone any other way. When we look at history and say, "This person should have," or "could have," it really doesn't matter. History is history, and a lie agreed upon. Whatever actually happened is what happened, and nothing we can do will change that. To the pure, unsullied witness, there is no other way that history could have unfolded, else it would have.

    This is what happens when we shake up our perspective on time.

    And what happens is a return to a classic concept, an Unmoved Mover or Unnamed Namer. If a tree falls in the forest ...? Well, "God" becomes that someone to hear it. Without recognition, existence is meaningless.

    And here I will invoke Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, specifically the portions concerning the captivity of Billy Pilgrim and Montana Wildhack. There's some talk of what humanity looks like in a visual representation of the four-dimensional that creates an essential living timeline that looks like a centipede. It is being able to look at the whole of existence in all of its dimensions and perceive and understand and know it at once.

    God would thus be required by circumstance to know the outcome of choices. Almost anything else can be demonstrated as leaving the cutting edge of existence outside God's authority, and while planetary deities (e.g. "the Goddess" of many pagan strains) might occasionally run up a wall of impossibility, the only real impossibilities with the omniscient God are ignorance and apathy, neither of which suit the traditional attributes of, for instance, the Biblical God.

    The Unmoved Mover simply sets the process in motion; all else is symptomatic, formulaic--the result can be predicted in advance if one has knowledge of enough variables.

    Such an idea, however, should not be construed as oppositional to the idea of Redemption or Salvation. God works in mysterious ways; that's an essential part of the argument. I occasionally (periodically, regularly) refer back to an odd book called The Clear Word--a "Bible paraphrase"--and while I don't necessarily find Seventh-Day Adventism and associated ideas the best source of "what Christians believe," TCW is perhaps the most naked expression of an idea I'm quite familiar with, and accidentally offers what seems, under normal conditions, the worst possible answer to the question, "Who, exactly, is us in Genesis 3? Who is God talking to?"

    And in deference to Johanine reflections on the Logos, and also Nicaea, the most common answer is that God is speaking to the other aspects of the Trinity, and I won't split the hair of why the One had to "speak" to the One--the narrative would make no sense if accurately described.

    But the eternal nature of the Logos, transferred to the eternal nature of the Son, is held up to imply that God was speaking to His other Aspects. That TCW reinforces this notion is enough in itself, though the author, Blanco, goes so far as to assert that God had a Plan from the start. Which happens to fit nicely with the assertion that God knew, from the outset, that humanity would fall, and that All has gone According to Plan.

    Which, of course, puts a certain weight behind predestination if one accepts the line; and this can be found in a somewhat, but not-entirely loose reading of Revelation 13 ("foundation of the world").

    It is indeed quite possible that the decision cannot be known until it happens, but that idea seems so removed from the scope of what God knows.

    God knew from the outset. And still, it is Good. Else He would have done it differently.

    Of the topic post:
    In the end I don't think we are. Human beings are a form of life, which is just another arrangement of matter and energy in the Universe. In this, we are no different from any entity we wish to identify individually--a star, a volcano, a rock--except according to a matter of ratios.

    But the Universe is awfully huge, and the human brain rather quite infinitesimal by comparison. The reality is that we cannot comprehend the actual number of factors affecting that determinism, much less identify more than a relatively scant few.

    We become accustomed to a certain view of the Universe that involves identifying events.

    • Big Bang
    • Settling of matter
    • Formation of celestial bodies and organizations
    • Formation of the planet Earth, local system, &c.
    • Advent of life
    • Conception and birth of individual

    And this way of classifying many individual events is extremely useful to life's continued existence in the Universe. At the individual level, the event of a gunshot tells you there is danger near. Understanding aspecsts of tornadoes, for instance, is valuable to many, many people.

    But those identifications are unquestionably relative. They are almost arbitrary compared to the Universe in general, but they are extremely important to us as individuals.

    But think of it this way: There is only one event.

    Obviously impractical in any direct, everyday application, it seems more a tool for coping with the Absurd.°

    But if you watch a cinematic explosion in slow motion--say a nuclear blast, something cataclysmic meant to tax your eyes for a minute--look at those pockets and pillows of fire and smoke rolling out from the center.

    On the scale of the Universe and the (???)° into which it expands, that's a hell of a lot of smoke and particulate residue to settle out as the fire cools. So the next time you're at the site of a building fire, and you scrape some of that crap off an unburnt wall, that filth is essentially analogous to matter in the Universe.

    On Earth, obviously, physical limitations of all sorts limit what that residue can be or do, but on the scale of the Universe? There's plenty of room for matter and energy to play, and in the end one could go so far as to invoke the theistic/atheistic debate over whether or not the possibility exists that human intelligence is inexplicable according to the laws of nature and thus requires divine intervention. (Obviously, that's best left for another day.)

    Matter made simple connections at first--elements and compounds--and over time more and more complex relationships between states and compositions of matter (relationships between matter and energy) until eventually one is able of sustaining a bioelectric signal that allows it this human nature and thought.

    An old illustration of mine, but one which is exploitable by theories with which I disagree°, is to use a limited view of the Universe as if it was a massive computer, and the range of what matter and energy can do (e.g. physical law) is the limit of what the program can work with. Beyond that, all the program does is recombine various ratios of matter and energy; in a large enough Universe, life becomes statistically possible. In an infinitely-expanding Universe, life becomes a necessary result.

    All it's meant to show is that one does not, in fact, need a specific act of God, such as the fashioning of man from clay, in order to go from the Big Bang to da Vinci.

    But under such conditions, life becomes entirely a natural part of the Universe, and anyone with sufficiently broad perception (it will be a while, if at all, before humanity attains such a capacity) will be able to see the future. Sure, it kills the romance of life, but that's why so many philosophers come face-to-face with the viciously nihilistic Absurd.°

    The Universe may well be entirely deterministic, but it won't be during our lifetimes that we figure the variables enough to make that determinism relevant to our actions. All that can be safely said might well be that, since we seem bound to move through time in one direction, sooner or later we must arrive somewhere. The road may go where it goes, but there's no rule that says humans are entitled to know where it goes, even if they do eventually arrive at the end.


    ° Calvin prone to error - Calvin recognized something about such a Universe as faith insisted he existed in, and that something was very connected to reality: that "destiny," while it cannot be known by humans in advance, seems to have some firm grounding. We live in a very determinist Universe; the determinist issues, however, aren't that important to us, and superficial symptoms and effects thereof occupy our attention. "Predestination?" Well, to a certain degree yes. "Determinism?" Absolutely. But in an infinite Universe that determinism is unpredictable to humans to the point of being irrelevant. Calvin held the wrong reasons for his belief; he couldn't see what he saw clearly. Such is a problem of narrowing one's focus according to religion, but that's a separate discussion.

    ° Absurd - cf. Camus, Myth of Sisyphus.

    ° (???) - Does the Universe fill a previously-empty space? Well, what was it, if it can be said to have existed?

    ° theories with which I disagree - In the absolute reading of the idea, it does tend to demand a programmer, but that's the folly of finitely illustrating the potentially-infinite. The demand for a programmer, I think, is a symptomatic necessity of those Creationists who would exploit that aspect, but it does weaken the illustration nonetheless.

    ° face-to-face with the Absurd - Perhaps this is symptomatic of those times when humanity's knowledge outstrips its understanding.

    It is not necessary to understand; it is enough to adore.
    The god may be of clay: adore him; he becomes GOD.
    We ignore what created us; we adore what we create. Let us create nothing but GOD!
    That which causes us to create is our true father and mother; we create in our own image, which is theirs.
    Let us create therefore without fear; for we can create nothing that is not GOD.

    (Perdurabo, "Psalm 21")​
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2004
  10. Greco Registered Senior Member


    At the risk of trying to define a God I would guess that a creative entity that has superhuman qualities can not be omniscient. An omniscient god leads to a lot of problems such as why bother doing anything when you know the outcome.
    It would be silly If god was throwing the dice and knew every outcome. If there's a superhuman entity that can create universes that entity either would not know the outcome of every dice throw or else it would be a god that has yet to cross our minds.

    The idea that god as a trinity maybe a solution. What if for god to be omniscient he has to unite with the other two powers. If the other two powers refuse to merge then god's power is limited. Perhaps a godlike check and balances exists that prevents a paralizing knowledge of the future.

    Just a thought.
  11. Q25 Registered Senior Member

    heres your answer
  12. Hevene Registered Senior Member

    Hi Buddha,
    Yes, I believe God is all knowing. Therefore God knows the future. That is, God knows all the possibilities.

    Yes, God gave us free will, so we can do what we want. But we won't pay for it at the end. What would the purpose of free will be when there is retribution at the end? It is made up by insecure people to control the behaviours of other thousands of years ago, with their incomplete understandings. Today, I believe we should not take those words as truth.

    Yes God knows all the possibilities, because God is all there is. There is nothing God is not, therefore there is nothing God doesn't know. There is nothing new in this world, life is a repetition. However, we are free to choose from all those possibilities, and no matter what we choose, God will not punish us. Our fate is not predetermined, we can choose whatever we wish to choose from those unlimited possibilities. Therefore, we have free wills.
  13. rainbow__princess_4 The Ashtray Girl Registered Senior Member

    Nope a god is anything that is recognised for being more important than something else, ie. a rock, and is worshipped for it. Therefore my cat could be god. Doesn't mean she's allknowing. Besides, look at the scandinavian gods, they know nothing about anything and they're so world famous they continue to be honoured through days of the week.
  14. Hevene Registered Senior Member

    I disagree. Everything is God, and God is everything.
  15. Alaric Registered Senior Member

    God must necessarily be separate from humanity for us to be responsible for anything. In which case He can't be omnipotent or omniscient, and has no moral authority except from being extremely (rather than perfectly) wise, relying on raw power to reward and punish as He sees fit. The pantheist approach just doesn't work, as far as I can see.
  16. Jenyar Solar flair Valued Senior Member

    Ditto, Tiassa.

    The universe is big enough to contain a predetermined plan without intruding on our freedom. But our freedom is not as infinite as the universe. The difference is: contained only in the universe it fades into nothingness - it's tends towards nil against it - but contained within God's plan we find a place within God's mind: like a friend in a foreign country, He knows us. As you said, He is witness to the tree falling in the wood - and that makes all the difference.

    (I'm being horribly cryptic, but the fact is: we simply can't comprehend how much there is for God to know.)
  17. roscann Registered Member

    God doesnt dictate the future he simply knows what we, a people who repeat our mistakes to the point that our existance seems pointless beyond all possibility, will do over and over. However he allows use to continue living with the hopefull possibility that we will see that he has a bigger picture for al of us that we have only to tap in to at will. Sure there is suffering in the world but that is the effect of our inability to reach out and help those in need.

    Now it has been drawm to my attention that there is no possible way i could know this and to this i can only say that it is faith that is what allows me to "know" what i in actuality BELIEVE. I'm not trying to pretend that i know any thing at all because you can be damn sure i dont no anything. I'm only 17 years old and there isnt any possibility i could have any practical knowledge of life. I have been informed that in just a little bit i'm going to look back on this and realise that i'm so full of myself that i should have exploded.
  18. John Connellan Valued Senior Member

    Its not very hard to know all possibilities now is it?! Players at Las Vegas know all possibilities at a roulette table. Does that help them? Physicists now nearly understand all possibilities for the future of our universe through an understanding of classical newtinian determinism and QT/relativity. There is some random behaviour but the constraints are still there.
  19. jjhlk Guest

    But there is little or no random behaviour. There is some randomness in quantum physics, but none in bigger systems. And why wouldn't God know the outcomes of the "random" things too?
  20. Greco Registered Senior Member

    That's another god question. Can god gamble and lose? If god is omniscient and he knows the outcome of every bet then it's impossible for him to lose.

    Now if I recall dint god make man as a bet with satan? I think it was satan that dared god to make a man with free will that would obey him.

    So if god knew the outcome of that bet he shouldnt have lost. So why did he lose?
  21. jjhlk Guest

    That isn't even a situation that would have randomness, so if god is in fact onmiscient he lost on purpose.
  22. Buddha Registered Member

    What if we choose not to believe in god? Does not the bible say that non-believers will go to hell?

    But if god is all knowing, he/she will know which one of these paths we will choose, therefore denying our free will.
  23. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member


    This also means he/she knows the future, 5 seconds, 2 weeks, 10 years from now, right?

    The future is now.
    The long-term future, is at best, nothing more than imagination, and ultimately a gamble. We can only guess at what the future holds because it doesn’t actually exist, and if we do obtain the desired result, the reality is, that it is now.
    At this junction we find ourselves with a whole new set of desires, meaning we are still searching for something that will satisfy more than what we have.
    God, has no desires, nothing to strive for, His past, present and future is exactly the same. In vedic literature He is described as, totally blissful, full of knowledge, and eternal, all in absolute proportions.

    But god also gave humans free will, meaning we can do what we want, but will ultimately pay for it at the gates of heaven, right?

    All beings have some measure of free-will, if even just the basics. God gave the human the ability to control his own destiny, which is distinct from the lower animals.
    The lower animals are engaged in eating, sleeping, sex-life and defending/offending, this is there only concern, so they do not have any responsibility, they can do what they like. When we do what we like, how we like, and when we like, without regard to the laws that govern nature, we are no better than the lower animals, and as we are in the position to control our destiny, we create a situation for ourselves, in that we lose sight of our ability, and as such we fall down.

    But this is logically impossible. If god is all knowing, he/she can see into the future. And if he/she can see into the future, it means my/your/everyone's fate is predetermined. And if everyones fate is predetermined, then we are not free willed.

    Ask yourself, are there any institutes where we can go to obtain knowledge of how to see into the future?
    Then what makes you think that omniscience, means being able to see into the future?
    Is what you did last week really any different to what you did this week? I mean really?
    You may have used your bodily mechanisms in a different way, but what was the aim and result? In the same way, you will do the same things over and over again, but the important thing, the knowledge, lies in the actuality of what you do, not the methods used to reach it.

    Please give me your thoughts/feedback/challenges to this idea.

    I think this argument is tired, lame and inconsistent with the subject of spirituality, and only goes to show the real intention of the active atheist, which is to show God does not and can not exist, no matter what you say.
    It is divsive.

    Jan Ardena.

Share This Page