One of the great theological head-scratchers through the ages regards man’s perceived free will versus God’s omniscience. If you’re not acquainted with the conundrum, it can be expressed like this:
- God knows everything that can be known, including what humanity perceives as the future.
- Since God knows what you’re going to do before you do it, you are incapable of choosing a different action.
- Ergo, you have no free will.
Science also tackles the concept of free will outside the constructs of theology, but we’ll leave the puzzle inside of how we understand God. The issue is that humanity certainly perceives that it has free will; to understand free will as illusory for whatever reason is contradictory to the human experience.
Assuming no outside coercive force, human beings take information in, contemplate it, make decisions, and take independent action. They form worldviews that are wildly divergent from one another, and which often change throughout their lifetimes. They act whimsically at times, taking actions that seem irrational or unpredictable. All of these seem to indicate a being with a freedom of will, and indeed, we perceive ourselves as being capable of choosing one thing over another at any decision point, no matter how predisposed we might be to one over another.
Adding God’s omniscience to the equation (clearly, I’m assuming an orthodox view of God, first that He is, and second that He timelessly knows everything), the human notion of free will is challenged, or at least questioned. Is God’s omniscience causal? That is to say, did God’s knowing something would happen before it happened make it so? Did God make you do it?
I posit that the answer to that question is “no”, and will develop that line of thinking from an evangelical Christian perspective in coming posts. Your comments, as always, are welcome.
Psalms 139:14-16 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.