Theism

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Divine Omniscience

 

The doctrine of divine omniscience holds that God is all-knowing, that he knows all things.

Three Kinds of Knowledge

Knowledge is traditionally divided by philosophers into three types. First, there is knowledge by acquaintance, the kind of knowledge that is involved, for example, in knowing a person. Second, there is procedural knowledge, knowledge of how to do something, such as knowledge how to juggle. Third, there is propositional knowledge, knowledge of truths.

Godís Knowledge

The kind of knowledge involved in omniscience is propositional knowledge; to be omniscient God must know all truths. This means that it is possible for God to be omniscient without him having all possible knowledge of every kind. It may be that God is not personally acquainted with (i.e. does not have knowledge by acquaintance of) sin, but that he knows all truths and so is omniscient.

Foreknowledge and Free Will

Omniscience is usually, but not always, taken to entail foreknowledge, knowledge of the future. There are presumably facts about the future, truths about what is going to happen. If God knows all truths, it seems, then he must therefore know the future. This has been thought by many to be problematic, implying determinism and so undermining human freedom. If God knows what choices we are going to make, then it is impossible for us to choose any other way; our decisions are determined and all we have is an illusion of freedom.

 

Links

Free Will and an Omniscient God
Adrian Barnett argues that human free will and the existence of an omniscient God are incompatible.

Problems with Omniscience
Difficulties arising from the doctrine of divine omniscience. From Philosophy of Religion .Info.