What is Foreknowledge?
What is Foreknowledge?
Tim Bergman and I recently had a debate on God’s foreknowledge. Here it is! Link: Debate: DOES GOD'S FOREKNOWLEDGE INCLUDE FUTURE FREE WILL DECISIONS WITH CERTAINTY? - YouTube
Please watch it. Good debates are a great way to learn and search through what you think about a topic and challenge your thinking.
FYI: I did tell Tim he can comment on anything that I write in the blogs. Since I will be defending God’s total foreknowledge of future events, including free-will decisions (with certainty), I thought it was only fair to give him the freedom to offer direct comment on my writing since we just debated.
So…what is foreknowledge?
Foreknowledge is knowing something in advance. That’s it! If I read to the end of the book before the teacher assigns the last few chapters, I know in advance what is going to happen. In certain discussions with my children, I know in advance what they will say or do simply because I know them well enough. Moreover, if I take part in a meeting with the boss and she tells me that 50% of the company is going to get let go next week, I know in advance what is going to happen in the future.
God knows in advance everything that is going to happen. How can he know this?
Let’s think about the meaning of “knowing in advance.” When I know something in advance, it is the same as saying that I have sufficient/enough evidence for something that is going to happen. In the case of my boss telling me she is going to let 50% of the company go next week, I can say that I have sufficient evidence for this to be true for several reasons.
She has always given her word. She is trustworthy.
I have personally witnessed her explore every other option available to her.
I was in the final meeting where the last investors backed out.
Let’s assume I am the accountant, and I happen to know that our bottom line is entirely clear that we need to make tough decisions, which includes at least 50% or more of the company.
My access to ‘knowing’ in advance is currently built on sufficient evidence for the upcoming company changes. However, there is plenty more information to have access to around the world which as a human, I do not have access to. God, based on the classical understanding of Him, does. God has access to everything happening in every moment. God does this eternally, and in future articles I will write about this. But, for the moment let’s stay in the temporal realm.
If God has every possible amount of knowledge from every available input, then his conditions for knowledge of our future, is dramatically more sufficient. God would not just know what is going on in our company but in every company. He would not just know what is happening in our investor’s lives, but in every investor’s life. That means, God’s ability to “foreknow” is perfect, because his conditions of evidence are total.
Now, let’s take this to the eternal level. In the debate I argued that reason leads us to the truth that God is eternal or timeless. I shared two arguments for God's existence which imply both timelessness and changelessness. Moreover, we could also add that since God has no parts, nothing is moving. He is not developing. Eternity and changelessness go together. In the debate Tim did not respond to these two arguments implications directly. Thus, these arguments stand with no defeater.
Since this idea holds, it implies that Gods knowledge is entirely complete. He is not learning anything. He holds everything in an always fashion. God already knows every possible interaction that could ever be. Which means, he already has all the sufficient evidence to know what will happen in every given circumstance.
Since God’s knowledge is eternal and changeless, it highlights one more thing about the word “Foreknowledge.” The “Fore” in “Foreknowledge” is for our human benefit. We use it to make sense of things, since we are in the temporal realm. There is before, during, and after. However, God’s knowledge has no temporal relation. Thus, it is ‘more proper’ to describe God’s knowledge as just “Knowledge” without the “fore.” For us, it has the appearance of coming in advance (foreknowledge). But for God, it exists eternally. This too shows the limits of human expression to properly categorize God, but I will say more on that next week.