How does God think?

Does God think, as humans do, or is his consciousness inherently different? What is the Catholic Church’s teaching on the nature of God’s consciousness or how he thinks?

It would appear that He knows everything at the same time.

We humans understand one thing, which leads to another and another, in sequence, but it’s not like that for God, who sees past, present, and future at the same time.


I think one of the big things is how God doesn’t process information in the way humans do, as in a first this, then that, then that kind of a way… but more of an all-things-ever-at-once sort of thing, because he’s outside of time.

Sort of like the difference between floating down the river in a kayak, and understanding each point of the river as you pass it as it is the moment that you pass it, vs seeing the entirety of the river in one glance, and also being able to perceive the river from its time of origin to the time it dries up as a simultaneous everything-in-a-moment.


God is omniscient, i.e. He knows everything all at once.

He doesnt think like humans. But nor does he know everything all at once. He doesn’t know what decisions I will make tonight or if I will die tonight. what he does know is all the paths my life will take. He can see every single one of them. He just doesn’t know which one I will pick. That would remove free will.

This seems not to be exactly in keeping with Church teaching (or Jewish teaching). If G-d is indeed omniscient, then He does know which path you will take, yet, at the same time, it is your free will that puts you on the path you choose. Sound a little contradictory? Perhaps. However, it is believed that G-d sees the whole of human destiny and the destiny of the universe as one moment outside of time and space; but He does not directly cause that destiny, because it is up to us and nature–both created by G-d–to do so.

God sees all time and space from without. He is not in time. All times are now from His perception.

He is giving the 10 commandments to Moses, dying on the cross and watching you post now at once.

1 Like

My personal opinion–not Church teaching–is that we humans have NO IDEA how G-d thinks or if the process of thinking even applies to G-d.

I’m pretty sure that isn’t true, nor does it remove free will. Take for instance a movie that you’ve watched before–you know the choices the characters make, but your knowledge of how the story ends up doesn’t take away the characters decisions. Or if you need the example to be real life, a home movie.

1 Like

That’s heretical from a Catholic perspective. God knows all and sees all. God is outside of time. There is no past, present, or future for God, just an eternal now.

God knowing our decisions doesn’t negate freewill.

1 Like

I have asked One Cardinal, two bishops, dozens of priest. Not one of them told me it was heretical. I think god knows everything, he know every single decision I will make, If god knows every decision I will make before I make it then God already knows if I will go to heaven or to hell. It has already been decided

It has not been decided by anyone except you. However, G-d knows what your decision will be even though He does not cause you to make that decision. G-d knows the future but does not directly cause it to happen that way.

1 Like

What was the response of this cardinal, the bishops, and the priests?
What you’re describing limits God and suggests He is a creature stuck within time like the rest of us… which doesn’t make sense as God created time.

We freely make our decisions in time. We exist in time. Our future decisions haven’t happened yet for us. But God is outside of time. Our past and future decisions are all before God.

God knows every decision you will make in your life. But it does not take away free will, because God sees past, present and future all at once. He doesn’t live in the time continuum.


Do you think the notion that G-d knows everything whether past, present, or future but does NOT rob us of our free will, limits G-d’s omnipotence if not His omniscience? In other words, because G-d allows us to make decisions and does not cause us to make these decisions, has He placed restrictions on His own power, especially when we make decisions He does not approve of? Can we still say that G-d is omnipotent?

The cardinal had no response one of the bishops said it was an interesting take I don’t remember what the other said but I do remember that none of them told me I was being a heretic.

It gets a little bit into tinkering with semantics, but God (in some sense) does limit his own omnipotence.

The frailty of human intellect assigns different attributes to God, such as omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, but his greatest attribute is his omnibenevolence; that is, he always desires what is good for everyone, including humbling himself to his own creation.

Ultimately, these are all human attempts to understand the Divine Nature and God can never be understood by the angels, let alone by humans. The Church would say that although we never fully know God, we do know something of God, since God gave us this power by creating us in his image and a rational soul. Like: by observing and contemplating a vapor of water, we can also understand something about an infinite ocean.

This is not correct. God knows what our decisions are, He is outside of time and sees all things, past, present and future.

This does not take away our free will. Our future is not already decided.

It’s dogma that God knows you’re final judgment eternally.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

[600] To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of “predestination”, he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace: "In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place."395 For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.396

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit