God and the Future


#1

I always have this problem when debating atheist. They always say “if God is all knowing then he can see in the future. If he can see in the future that a little baby is going to grow up and commit sins thus leading to hell. If God knows someone years from now is going to hell, why does he create them? And how does prayer help if God already knows what’s going to happen?” I have very good arguments for God’s existence such as the argument from design and the argument from desire , but this one always stumps me. Any help?


#2

Any Help??


#3

[quote=D Quintero]I always have this problem when debating atheist. They always say “if God is all knowing then he can see in the future. If he can see in the future that a little baby is going to grow up and commit sins thus leading to hell. If God knows someone years from now is going to hell, why does he create them? And how does prayer help if God already knows what’s going to happen?” I have very good arguments for God’s existence such as the argument from design and the argument from desire , but this one always stumps me. Any help?
[/quote]

It’s like this. “Before” God exercised his will bringing the baby into existance, he didn’t know the baby would wind up in hell. Immediately “after” God excercised his will, the entire life of the baby became known to him.

God didn’t know.


#4

How about this:
God creates all people with the ability to choose whether to follow Him or to reject Him. The choice to follow Him glorifies Him- but that glory is increased when we can also have the choice to reject Him. Thus, those whom are rejecting God are indirectly glorifying Him, by making the choices of those whom accept Him just that, choices.
Also, this in general is a misplaced question- all people in their natural state are condemned to eternal damnation. We are saved from this condemnation through Christ’s sacrifice. In effect, what your attheist friend is saying is that God creates people and then damns them to hell. But this is an incorrect assertion. God creates us, we are already damned, and then He saves some of us from our condemnation. This is done as a gift from Him. The attitude of your atheist friend is that assuming God and heaven exist, we are all entitled to heaven. This is a wrong conclusion- we are entitled to nothing. It is God’s gift to us that we join Him in heaven, and he offers it to all people. Those who enter Hell have rejected this gift. Recall, by the way, that when judgement day arrives, all people will see the justice of God’s judgement- even those condemned to Hell.


#5

[quote=D Quintero]I always have this problem when debating atheist. They always say “if God is all knowing then he can see in the future. If he can see in the future that a little baby is going to grow up and commit sins thus leading to hell. If God knows someone years from now is going to hell, why does he create them? And how does prayer help if God already knows what’s going to happen?” I have very good arguments for God’s existence such as the argument from design and the argument from desire , but this one always stumps me. Any help?
[/quote]

God sees all from a perspective outside of time, much like we can see a historical mural that progresses from left to right. All points are equally present.

The issue is essentially “the problem of evil”. You’ll find lots of articles if you search Catholic.com. God allows, but does not will, evil so that a greater good may come of it. He allows people to reject him so that they have the greater good of free will and because those who reject him prefer to serve self in the horrible absence of God’s light rather than serve God in joy. This greater good of free will allows for real love instead of robotic obedience.

God’s offer is a wedding invitation, it is not an arrest warrant. He lets us choose.

Secondly, God creates because he knew that we should like it. But that does not mean that all choose to derive all the goodness out of their existence that they can, and some choose the lesser goods of self and serving creature rather than serving the Creator. There are likely other reasons too, for which you’ll have to wait to find out.

Keep reading Peter Kreeft. He’s an excellent resource.


#6

Because God in his foreknowledge **also ** knows that men and women have free will, either to choose good or evil. Even though God knows all men’s destiny, **men themselves decide ** which path they will ultimately choose.


#7

[quote=Angainor]It’s like this. “Before” God exercised his will bringing the baby into existance, he didn’t know the baby would wind up in hell. Immediately “after” God excercised his will, the entire life of the baby became known to him.

God didn’t know.
[/quote]

Are you sure about this? I thought God knew about us from all eternity.


#8

No God know the beginning to the end in all things.


#9

God loves us unconditionally. He loves us into existence. He does not take away his love based on our actions, although our actions can separate us from his love. If we choose to live apart from his love and die apart from his love, we endure the consequence of our actions-separation from God.

You also asked why we pray if God already knows what’s going to happen. God’s plan is often conditional upon our response. There are many instances in the Bible when God acts on the result of someone’s prayer. It’s not that God changes his mind, but that he has a scenario for if we do pray and a different scenario for if we don’t. Even though he knows what will happen in the future, he takes our prayers into account in his plan for the future. It’s kind of like if you had children and were choosing where to go for dinner. You might have numerous possibilities in mind, but you take your children’s requests into consideration when you make your choice. Another way to look at it is that prayer isn’t for God, it’s for us. God doesn’t need our prayer, but we need to pray. God asks us to pray because it is good for us.

It’s important to remember that God is eternal, not bound by time. What we see as past and future is present to God.


#10

[quote=JP2ImissU]Are you sure about this? I thought God knew about us from all eternity.
[/quote]

God exists outside of our timeline. From our perspective, God did know all about us from all eternity.

“Before” God willed the universe into existance, there was nothing. While there was yet nothing, God asked himself a question. “If I will an Adam and Eve into existance, will they fall into sin?”

God intends to give Adam and Eve the gift of freewill. I believe that, while there was yet nothing, God did not know the answer to the question he asked himself. I simply don’t think God could know the answer to this and still give Adam and Eve the gift of true freewill.

I do not think this counts as a strike against God’s omniscience (his quality of knowing all truths and believing no falsehoods) because there existed nothing, and there was therefore nothing to know about.

God then exercised his will, said the words “Let there be…” and the universe (including Adam and Eve) existed. Being outside of our timeline, God did not have to “wait and see” how things turned out. Immediately after saying “Let there be…” God’s knowledge of his new universe immediately became complete. God knew Adam and Eve fell into sin.

This is my belief. I don’t know if there is anyone out there who believes this also.


#11

[quote=D Quintero]I always have this problem when debating atheist. They always say “if God is all knowing then he can see in the future. If he can see in the future that a little baby is going to grow up and commit sins thus leading to hell. If God knows someone years from now is going to hell, why does he create them? And how does prayer help if God already knows what’s going to happen?” I have very good arguments for God’s existence such as the argument from design and the argument from desire , but this one always stumps me. Any help?
[/quote]

There’s a passage from Matthew that addresses this question. I know that quoting scripture isn’t going to convince an atheist, but maybe reading it again will help you find the right words.

[Jesus said,] "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.

The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’

He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’

His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’"(Matt 13:24-30)

I hope this helps. If it inspires you to formulate a good argument, I’d be interested to hear it.

–Bill


#12

I was going to answer yes and lost most of the time, however after thinking about it, although I lost the battle most of the time I did not lose the war.

One of my best friends in College was an atheist and used to debate me endlessly. I never felt like I made any ground, however he was baptized a couple of years ago. He has been in various different Christian sects I am hoping that one day he comes into the fullness of the faith.

One person is not a ton, but to me it is an excellent victory. As far as my arguments, I really just taught him what I knew and hopefully lived a life of example. I never had great arguments to counter his; I just drilled him with very basic information and challenged him to read the bible because I did not have a strong arsenal myself.


#13

You probably won’t get anywhere in the argument, as there is very little in language that can succeed in making the issue clear.

Our experience is in time. We have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and we experience life in a linear fashion. Because of that, our language is time related, and most of our concepts are time related.

As soon as we say “if God knew” we have put God in time. But God is outside of time. God does not experience our choices as if they were linear; they are all present at the same time. There is no linearity with God; what will happen already has; and what has happened has not yet occured (there is no time, so putting things in a linear progression makes no sense).

God willed a gift (some would say a curse) and that is free will. And it must be truly free, or this whole existence is a joke. God does not will us to love Him; if he did, He would be denying us free will. He desires us to love Him, but gives us linearity and choice, and the time to make another different choice.

We think “God did this, then He did that”, and presume (unspokenly) that God was somehow in linearity with us. He can act in time, but is not in time. Therefore, our expression of God’s knowledge is wrong from the beginning, since when we are speaking, we are making that underlying assumption that He “sees in the future”. There is no future with God as he is already there. But His not being in time does not make time cease to exist; that is separate from God.


#14

I’ve debated atheists, but I don’t know if I won or lost… I did not get any of them to change their mind as far as I can tell (they may have later on but I don’t know).

I think I presented good arguments, ones that they could not be refuted. But at the time, I think they just ignored the truth as they have pre conceived ideas, and are not really open to accept the truth. I hope that something I mention sinks in, but I can not be certain that it has.

My only remotely successful debate is with my daughter who was an atheist, but now believes there is a God, but she is not sure it is a Christian God. I’m still working on her, and I suspect I will be successful. I’m about to give her the Miraculous Medal challenge.

I think if we plant the seeds, they will think about it more carefully and with a lot of help from above, the seeds will take hold. We may not think we are making any progress, but with a lot of prayers, I think they will come around.

wc


#15

[quote=Angainor]It’s like this. “Before” God exercised his will bringing the baby into existance, he didn’t know the baby would wind up in hell. Immediately “after” God excercised his will, the entire life of the baby became known to him.

God didn’t know.
[/quote]

Well said Angainor.

Hello D Quintero,

One cannot love without the option to choose not to love. Free from the will of God obedience to the will of God is love for God. God allows people to freely choose the evil of hatred for God which is sin in order to give man the tremendous opportunity to love God through free willed obedience.

Please visit www.ILOVEYOUGOD.com

God desires His people to seek Him out. Prayer is seeking out God.

NIV 1JO 5:3

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.NIV JOH 14:15

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” NAB DEU 11:1

Love the LORD, your God, therefore, and always heed his charge: his statutes, decrees and commandments.” **NAB ROM 13:10 **

**Love never wrongs the neighbor, hence love is the fulfillment of the law.****NIV JOH 14:23 **

Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” NAB JOH 15:22

“If I had not come to them and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; now, however, their sin cannot be excused. To hate me is to hate my Father. Had I not performed such works among them as no one has ever done before, they would not be guilty of sin; but as it is, they have seen, and they go on hating me and my Father.NAB SIR 28:7

Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor;


#16

[quote=Angainor]God exists outside of our timeline. From our perspective, God did know all about us from all eternity.

“Before” God willed the universe into existance, there was nothing. While there was yet nothing, God asked himself a question. “If I will an Adam and Eve into existance, will they fall into sin?”

God intends to give Adam and Eve the gift of freewill. I believe that, while there was yet nothing, God did not know the answer to the question he asked himself. I simply don’t think God could know the answer to this and still give Adam and Eve the gift of true freewill.

I do not think this counts as a strike against God’s omniscience (his quality of knowing all truths and believing no falsehoods) because there existed nothing, and there was therefore nothing to know about.

God then exercised his will, said the words “Let there be…” and the universe (including Adam and Eve) existed. Being outside of our timeline, God did not have to “wait and see” how things turned out. Immediately after saying “Let there be…” God’s knowledge of his new universe immediately became complete. God knew Adam and Eve fell into sin.

This is my belief. I don’t know if there is anyone out there who believes this also.
[/quote]

I respectfully disagree. You said it yourself: God exists outside of time, therefore everything within time is known to Him. You can’t say that before God did something, He didn’t know because whatever God did, happened within time.


#17

[quote=Sir Knight]I respectfully disagree. You said it yourself: God exists outside of time, therefore everything within time is known to Him. You can’t say that before God did something, He didn’t know because whatever God did, happened within time.
[/quote]

“Before” God created Adam and Eve, they did not exist within time. They did not exist anywhere. Their wills did not exist. Their non-existant wills have not yet had a chance to assert themselves in making a choice to eat or not to eat the fruit. At this point, God does not know if their wills will choose to eat the fruit because their wills have no existance.

“After” God created Adam and Eve, God knew all about them. He knew every decision their now existant wills would make from birth to death.

I am using the words “before” and “after” rather unconventionally. I am not using the words to describe any sequence of events in our time, that is why I put them in “quotes”.

“Before” means that point in the universe where nothing existed, not even our time, as in: “Before” God created time, God was.


#18

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