God of Infinite Possibilities
For centuries, theologians and philosophers have struggled with two seemingly contrary characteristics of God; namely His love for us demonstrated in the gift of free moral agency (freedom of choice) and His absolute nature of omniscience (the fact that He knows all things in all times). These properties are evident throughout the Bible within the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and are immutable. But, as a result of these attributes, a controversy and debate swirls. Before we get into the debate, lets first consider the two attributes that seem to contradict one another and see what the Bible says about each: free choice and God’s omniscience.
Free choice is first seen in Genesis where God creates the Garden of Eden and speaks to the two humans He has created and placed there. “And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:9, 16-17). In the establishment of something that humans were not to do, God established the freedom of human will, choice, and volition. The theme continues after this point throughout the rest of the Bible with such statements as the one made by Joshua in 24:15 “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” This freedom is continued throughout the New Testament in passages such as John 14:6, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” Jesus essentially makes the statement that people must make a choice that will lead to salvation or destruction. These and many other verses and narratives throughout the Bible firmly establish the fact that human beings are created souls who have free moral agency.
God not only established within humans the ability to choose between right and wrong, God and sin, but also holds the distinction of being the all-knowing , timeless, spaceless, perfect Creator. This is made clear in a plurality of statements made by God Himself throughout the Old and New Testament. In Exodus when Moses asks God whom He should tell the Israelites had sent him, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you'” (3:14). This statement establishes God’s own view of His eternal nature as the one and only necessary being. Jesus is established in the same way in John 1 where we see “In the beginning the Word was with God and was God…” (vs. 1). The clearest exhibition of the triune God is seen at the creation where God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) says, “Let Us make man is Our Image…” (Gen. 1:26) indicating His intent to create humans as individual representations of Himself (Soul, Body, Spirit = Father, Son, Spirit). Although there are many other passages that indicate God’s omniscience as well as His omnipresence, omnipotence, and ominbenevolence, the fact that He is all-knowing across all time and space is firmly established by scripture and understood to be true by virtually every Christian.
Now, to the controversy that has sprung up among Christians and non-Christians alike: how to reconcile God’s property of omniscience with His establishment of free will to all human beings. The question that most often arises goes something like this: If God is all-knowing, the He knows what each person will do before they do it, therefore there is no such thing as free choice. Conversely, if man has free choice, the God cannot be all-knowing since He would then not have foreknowledge of man’s choices. This is known as “Theological Fatalism” that we are fated to do what God knows we will do. Various philosophers and theologians have attempted to get around this issue through either denying one attribute or the other. In fact, a new movement called “Open Theism” has sprung up in which the adherents deny God’s omniscience in favor of human agency. Philosopher William Lane Craig in his video tries to account for this by saying, “Just because God knows you will do a certain thing doesn’t mean that you necessarily will and that if you change your mind and do something different, then God’s foreknowledge would have been different…” While this statement may be true, it seems somewhat incoherent in its statement and application which I believe leaves this question open to further and perhaps a more complete and coherent explanation.
Consider for a moment the hypothsis of multiple alternate realities. I will first make the disclaimer that I don’t believe in alternate realities, but I think that the idea can be instructive when talking about God and His ability to know all while we still function within free will. The alternate reality hypothesis states that there are infinite realities that could exist alongside our own (this is also termed in some circles as the multiverse) where something in that timeline went differently and changed the historic trajectory. For instance, in our timeline, the Allied nations won WWII, but in an alternate timeline, Hitler and Japan might have won and that “reality” or “universe” would be different. But, alternate realities are not just formed out of large-scale events such as World Wars, but something as simple as choosing a paint color or taking a different route to work. You see, in this hypothesis, every decision, minute and large, makes a difference in the way life would have gone for one or all people within that particular “universe” or “reality”. I usually equate this to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books I read when I was a kid. In the book, you come to the end of a chapter and get to make a choice about which way you will go. One decision takes you on through the story in one direction whereas another decision could lead you another direction entirely. In “The God of Infinite Possibilities” hypothesis, I propose something similar to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” or “multiverse/alternate reality” hypotheses. God, being all-knowing not only knows what will happen within one timeline, but knows what would happen given ANY choice, circumstance, or aberration within any timeline at any point EVER. As a result, God can consistently know everything without human choice being fettered by His omniscience. In other terms, I can make any seemingly infinite combination of choices in my life span and God with His infinite knowledge can know the outcome of any of those combinations of choices. You could possibly represent it this way:
GK = ∞ and HC ~ ∞ therefore GK > HC
GK or God’s Knowledge is equal to infinity and HC or Human Choice approximates infinity, therefore GK is greater than HC. In other words, God’s Knowledge of all events, past, present, and future, overcomes any need to doubt that any human choice can be made and not still allow His omniscience.
Overall, the fact that God has infinite knowledge and wisdom can overcome any such matters, especially when dealing with moral, cosmological, and teleological questions. The above information could likely be adapted to fit these various questions.