A question for theists.

Is your god omnipotent of all things past, present, and future?

  • Yes, and we have free will
  • No, but we have free will
  • Yes, and we do not have free will
  • No, and we do not have free will
  • None of the above / question does not apply to my world view
0 voters

The answer to this question will help when it comes to debating with theistic types. There are many “anti-god” arguments that have to do with a preconceived notion of God being “all knowing” and that it would be silly to create a race with free will and yet still know that the free will would lead the race into doing bad deeds. This leads to an idea that God created an imperfect race capable of doing bad. Why wouldn’t he just look into the future and see that his creation would go bad?

I hope this poll will help non-theists better grasp the minds of theists so that non-theists can stop assuming the theists world view based on the stereotypical “Christian” view. Because not every theist is a Christian. It should serve as a conversational “good step” in the right direction.

The poll is only open to those who believe a god exists. Everyone can discuss it, but theists get the poll.

I’m glad you raised this, this is a subject where my thoughts need some solidification. The closest answer for me currently is the first one -, though I have to stipulate, I do not believe in the future as an existent subject of knowledge. Future states of affairs do not exist to be known, that is to say, there are no future states of affairs.
God’s ‘knowledge’ of the future is a perfected form of our guessing- whatever He can surmise based on two factors:
1.) Perfect knowledge of the past, and
2.) A substantial ability to affect things to ensure the future goes the way He desires.

In most cases, these two factors add up to something very similar to knowledge of a real future, but the distinction is that this leaves room for the future actions of free beings to be an unknown, and even to the extent that He can guess them reliably, this is linked directly to the (un)determined nature of the universe, and God’s ability to guess our future actions is no more or less in conflict with human free will than causation itself is.

God is omnipotent (I don’t know what it means for Him to be omnipotent “of all things, past present and future”). We have free will.

Airex: Did you mean to say “omnipotent” in the poll question, or should you have said “omniscient” or maybe both at once?

I think I see where you’re going with this, just want to clarify.

Hrmm…now that you mention it, does being all powerful include knowing everything?

Perhaps being omnipotent includes omniscience.

Hey, Ucci (or anyone else), what are your views on open theism as a solution to this situation?


 I don't disagree with anything in that summary paragraph, that seems to be about where I'm coming from.  It has seemed to me for some time that in order for God to be involved in a relationship with free beings, that would require reaction, which is a sort of change.  I think it might be the most sound conclusion for someone who doesn't believe in a determined universe. 
 However, I would stress that open-theism can only be properly understood as a conclusion- something we arrive at from an understanding of Scripture and tradition.  If open theism is seen as a starting point from which new theories can be devised, it could speedily become heretical.

Hmm… Good point. I can see two very different scenarios in regards to omniscience.

First, God is omnipotent, but not omniscient, meaning he doesn’t necessarily “see into the future”, but he knows what he wants the future to become (he has the power to change the present so that the future is affected). This would make more sense if we had “free will.”

Second, God is omnipotent, AND omniscient, meaning that based on the way he set his creations into balance he is able to tell exactly how they will behave at any given moment in the future. This scenario is kinda touchy in when it comes to free will. It sounds contradictory to say that we have free will when God has set the world into motion in the utmost specific way. One initial condition, One final outcome.

The second scenario in my experience has always been shot down by the addition of some sort to devil or Satan figure tampering with free will. Discussions of the problem with theism get all jumbled and confused because from one theist to the next there is never a consistent view of what God thinks, knows and does/did. :-k

I’m not really interested about how “undefinable” God is. As far as I can tell this omniscience/omnipotence problem is binary; either he is or he isn’t. If your answer to this question is “I don’t know” then perhaps you should put more thought into it. For my sake at least so that I don’t make unnecessary assumptions about your beliefs.

So what precisely is the argument in this thread?

Is it the same “if God is omniscient and omnipotent then we cannot have free will” chestnut?

There is no argument. Honestly I made this post a poll so that I don’t have to read through the countless threads to see what people’s world views are. Its a tally of theistic beliefs.

But you need an exta layer. Both ‘God’ and ‘Not God’ can feed into this diagram:

Comment deleted

Only in the sense that scientific method can only explore the predictable. Indeterminacy becomes either uncertainty or statistical prediction. However, methodological determinism does not imply metaphysical determinism. That, science does NOT assume (in fact, at this juncture science explicitly denies it).

Xunxian, I think, using your diagram, that an important question and one posed by this thread is whether divine omniscience and/or omnipotence implies determinism, which would mean that the only kind of free will that could exist would be compatibilism.

Edit: I misspoke above. What science explicitly denies is epistemological determinism, not metaphysical; it makes no statement about metaphysical determinism.

This poll is only to be voted on by those who believe in a god. If you do not believe in a god, pick the 5th choice. I put the 5th one there so that i could vote for that one and be able to see the poll results. Determinism has nothing to do with the question. If you believe in a god please pick one of the first 4 options. I couldn’t care less about the specifics of what you believe. I just want to know for future reference.

Airex, you can’t expect people to just vote and not discuss. (BTW I did pick 5.)

There are at least two types of determinism, materialistic determinism and theistic determinism. Theistic determinism is what has a bearing here. Granted, that has nothing to do with science, though.

I like debate. A lot. I don’t like debate that employs the use of assumption of the other side’s belief. If the person I am debating with makes a false assumption about what I believe, I like to make it a habit of letting them know exactly where they are wrong about my beliefs and then telling them the truth about my beliefs.

My intent here is to get people talking about what they believe so that I know ahead of time.

It was more to point out that determinism and free will aren’t totally dependent upon each other.

Who are you any way? “I couldn’t care less about” your poll. I will remember your comment “for future reference.”

Of course you meant Omniscient, not Omnipotent, the idea of Omnipotent is a paradox and technically impossible for a active God with laws as he could not break his own laws.

It is not a paradox.

  1. There are laws which govern the universe
  2. God can temporarily suspend or break these laws if He so wishes

No contradiction there.