There are differing views among open theists about the nature of the future and whether or not God can know it. Some Open Theists maintain that God can only know that which is knowable and that he cannot know, for example, a round square.1 Some say that the future is knowable, but that God chooses not to know the free will choices of human creatures. Others state that the future is not knowable because it has not yet occurred and it is not knowable, even by God. Nevertheless, this paper will address the premise that God chooses to not know the future free-will choices of human creatures to see if it is a defensible position.
If God chooses to not know certain future events, then that means that the future is knowable, that God is not restricted by time (otherwise He could not know the future), and that God simply is able to choose to not know future free will choices. Let's look at this logically.
- If God chooses to not know the future free-will choices of human creatures, then this means that the future is knowable.
- If the future is knowable, then all the future is knowable.
- If, for example, tomorrow at noon Bob was going to choose to wear either a blue or red shirt, then the choice that Bob will make tomorrow is knowable by God today.
- This means that God would know that Bob was going to make a choice, yet has decided to not know the free will choice Bob is going to make.
- God, however, can also see ahead to 6pm and can see Bob sitting at dinner dressed in a blue shirt. This defeats God's desire not to know Bob's free will choice.
- Therefore, for God to remain ignorant of Bob's choice, God would have to avoid looking anywhere into the future where Bob's choice of a shirt can be known.
- This means that God would have to scan into the future to determine what color shirt Bob was wearing and/or avoid anyone's comments about the color of his shirt, or pictures of him in the shirt that might exist sometime in the future, etc., so as to not know what color shirt Bob was wearing.
- This means that God would then be required to know all events related to Bob's shirt color so as to not inadvertently discover it and thereby know Bob's future free will choice.
- But this makes no sense since; for God to remain ignorant of the shirt-color, God would have to know to ignore any future condition where the shirt color would be revealed.
- Therefore, God would have to know all future events as well as all other conditions of other people and their situations which might reveal the color of the shirt. But, God could not know these conditions to avoid unless God knew what those conditions would be so as to be able to deny knowing them.
- Furthermore, there would undoubtedly be future 'knowable-situations' where God could deduce what the shirt color would be; and to then avoid knowing this, God would have to not use his deductive abilities.
- But this means that God would have to know the future in order to know what not to know. But, this is self contradictory since it is part of the future that God is desiring not to know.
- Furthermore, this means that God's existence in the future has to be limited since He would know whatever He experienced and if He existed in the future, He would experience it and know it.
- To not know Bob's future free-will choice of shirt color, God would have to not exist exhaustively in the future and this would deny God's omnipresence.
- Therefore, the position that God chooses to not know the future free-will choices of His creatures is an illogical proposition.
The above examination should be sufficient to demonstrate that either the future is not knowable (another topic), or that God must know all things as 1 John 3:20 clearly states: "in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things."
- 1. An open theist once raised this point to me. But, I do not see this as a very good point at all because there is no such thing as a round square. It is not logically possible to exist and his point is a self defeating example.