Are Omniscience and Free Will Mutually Exclusive?

Are there flaws in the following argument pertaining to Free Will and Omniscience?

-A being with free will, given two options A and B, can choose freely between A and B.

-God is omniscient.

-God knows I will choose option A.

-God cannot be wrong, since an omniscient being cannot have false knowledge.

-Therefore, I will choose A and cannot choose B.

-Therefore, omniscience and free will are mutually exclusive.

Any flaws? I will be monitoring this question if anyone requests clarification.

Update:

I'd like to point out a couple of the flaws of counter-arguments I have received so far.

Each of them have provided examples where human knowledge predicts some future event. The difference between human knowledge and God's knowledge is very clear. Humans are incapable of being omniscient. While they may have incredible powers of prediction, they cannot know for certain. Humans are susceptible to "false knowledge," which means they can also make false predictions.

God however, is not susceptible to false knowledge, which means he cannot make false predictions. Anything he "predicts," will come true 100% of the time.

Ergo, the examples provided do not adequately address any of the original argument. As of right now, Free-Will and Omniscience are mutually exclusive.

12 Answers

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  • 10 years ago
    Best Answer

    Flaws?

    Knowing something will happen and forcing something to happen a particular way are not the same thing. Just because a person might know what someone's choice is doesn't mean the person doesn't choose. Knowledge and causation are different. You choose. God knows your choice.

    [Omniscience isn't quantum physics where observation affects the particle being observed. If I observe a person do something and pass that knowledge back to someone in the past, how does that affect what the one observed chose to do?]

    Also, with God time is not a factor of consideration. God is outside of time -- everything for God is NOW.

    BTW: Free will is NOT absolute for humans. If a person has a sinful heart they cannot truly act out of their free will. Society, governments, and the natural world work to keep sinful behavior in check. People must hold their sinful will in check or end up being viewed as a jerk, end up in jail, or end up as an alcoholic or shaming themselves as they destroy their marriage, family, etc. Only those with a sinless heart have free will. So, only Jesus has free will AND His will was to serve us in love by taking on the shame and condemnation of our sin and giving us his pure heart. Free will is experienced by those who know Jesus' forgiveness.

  • 10 years ago

    Nope.

    You introduce the word "CANNOT" into your argument which takes it OUT of the realm of free will/choice. There is a HUGE difference between CANNOT and WILL NOT. You imply that God had some INFLUENCE on your choosing "A." He does NOT. He KNOWS it, but He does nothing to influence that choice.

    Your logic argument should go like so:

    -A being with free will, given two options A and B, can choose freely between A and B.

    -God is omniscient.

    -I choose option A.

    -God knew that I would choose option A.

    -God cannot be wrong, since an omniscient being cannot have false knowledge.

    You had put the horse before the cart. The truth about God's omniscience is that if you would have chosen "B," God will have already known that that was going to be your ultimate choice. And, again, GOD HAD NO INFLUENCE on your choice... it was STILL YOUR CHOICE... even if you change your mind a million times, God will have KNOWN this too! YOUR CHOICE cannot be "hidden" from God's infinite and complete knowledge.

    MARANATHA! Come, Lord Jesus, COME!

  • 10 years ago

    God knowing everything in advance does not violate our God-given freewill at all.

    Here is a simple example to clarify this to you. A very wise and intelligent human father and human mother of a 10 year old child might know that the best, most satisfying career in later life for him would be as a creative writer. The child grows up and chooses three or four careers that were not very satisfying until he freely chose to be a creative writer. The parents never suggested this; and the writer-to-be had full freewill in choosing careers. It was just the great wisdom and experience of the parents which allowed them to well know in advance the optimum satisfying career for their son.

    God does the same as above, but He has infinite and perfect knowledge of all events.

    Additional reply:

    You emailed me "So unless I have the power to go against God's knowledge,..."

    I say: You have the full power of freewill; and yet you can never go against God's perfect knowledge. (predestiny)

    "I don't have the option to choose anything other than what God knows."

    False ! See my simple example of wise humans, and then have them, as God, all-wise - no violation of the son's freewill !

    "I cannot go against God's knowledge because that would give him false knowledge, and mean he isn't omniscient."

    Bad reasoning. You don't know all - God does. God knowing what you will choose ahead of time does not take away your full freewill choice !

    You should now grasp this. God is far above mere human attempts at "logic". If God were small enough for your comprehension, He would not be big enough for your real needs.

    Source(s): Email me for more on this. See my Profile and links.
  • Everyone who believes in God at all believes that he knows what you are going to do tomorrow. But if He knows I am going to do so-and-so, how can I be free to do otherwise? Well, the difficulty comes from thinking that God progressing along the time-line like us: The only difference being that He can see ahead and we cannot. Well, if that were true, if God foresaw our acts, it would be very hard to understand how we could be free not to do them.

    But suppose God is outside and above the time-line. In that case, what we call tomorrow is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call today. All the days are "now" for Him. He does not remember you doing them, because, though you have lost yesterday, He has not. He does not foresee you doing things tomorrow; He simply sees you doing them: Because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him. You never supposed that your actions at this moment were any less free because God knows what you are doing.

    Well, He knows your tomorrow's actions in just the same way because He is already in tomorrow and can simply watch you. In a sense, He does not know your action til you have done it: But then the moment at which you have done it is already "now" for Him. This idea helped me a good deal. If it does not help you, leave it alone. It is a Christian idea in the sense that great and wish Christians have held it and there is nothing in it contrary to Christianity. But it is not in the Bible or any of the creeds. You can be a perfectly good Christian without accepting it, or indeed without thinking of the matter at all.

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  • 10 years ago

    The very nature of the manifested realm is the infinite possibilities and even parallel experiences that are all going on simultaneously and all simply for the purpose of an exercise in situation learning's. In the true realm of spiritual existence these little charades are only momentary though they often seem like an eternity while we are involved in them.

    God is just watching as we play out these scenarios and when we return discussions about what we learned are the subject at hand.

  • Fuzzy
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    But the Bible tells us that God's isn't omniscient about future events - that kind of shoots holes in your logic, doesn't it.

    There is a bit of vagueness as to how much he monitors all the time and how it is monitored. He sent three angels to Sodom & Gomorrah to ascertain how bad things were - this could be interpreted in several ways - but as you can see, it gives us food for thought about your question.

    One thing about free will though that should be stated is that it is not quite as opaque as you state it to be. Even our society puts habitual criminals, thieves, robbers, behind bars because they are sure to repeat their offenses if they have the choice.

    You yourself may several times have seen or dropped yourself something which your hand immediately shoots out to catch before it hits the ground, predicting its path and intercepting it.

    This same thing God can do much better in regard to our conduct without him forcing our hand to be robot tic. This may not be a 100% prediction but in limited ways, in short time into the future, it may be entirely possible for him to predict with extreme accuracy what a person shall choose without actually forcing any action on to such a person.

    If you gave me the choice of a candy or a chocolate macadamia nut - any person who knows me would know what I would take. Some people are so hot tempered (example) that knowing how they react to certain events is within our ability to predict. ha ha - Some (children mostly perhaps) are so

    unlikely to clean their rooms that their parents have no trouble predicting what state the room will be in after a day off from school. etc. The parents surely do not force the children to be messy, do they!

  • 10 years ago

    The flaw in this question, not just you but all that assume that knowing everything eliminates free will; the flaw in the logic is that you assume the way God knows things is the same way you know.

    That's true in part, but God has a way of knowing things that we do not have which is He knows what we're thinking as well as what's in our heart.

    The main thing is we do not know what He knows about what disicion we will make

    Again, we dont know what God knows when it comes to making choices so our free will is still very intact and we remain responsible for our choices

  • 10 years ago

    no your wrong your logic is flawed

    what ever decision you choose to make god knows since he sees into the future

    if you choose a then decide to change your mind and chooses b god knows any changes you make

    since god knows every decision you make he knows any changes you make

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    You are correct.

    A world with an omniscient entity is a world where the future is pre-determined.

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