How is free will possible when God knows every "move" we'll ever take?

As much as I know I have free will a part of me wonders how this is possible if God knows every* “move” *I’ll make in life and my ultimate destiny.At times I’ve thought that even though he gives us free will he knows what we ultimately will do however knowing what that fate is,is as trivial as asking God what his favorite ice cream flavour is (-_-…strange comparision I know but it’s out of me being low on ideas as to what to pick as a metaphor).I know that some people dont think it’s not a trivial matter but maybe I’m saying that because I’d rather not know my ultimate fate because it might cause some like predestination paradox.It’s not like I’m stating this like I have something againest it but I’m asking it to find out how it’s possible since we have free will (a part of me saying it is satisfiyingly possible).I’d appreciate if any one could replies with an explanation and/or thought on this thank you very much so for your time.

I’ve seen huge threads on this… What made the most sense to me was that “knowledge does not equal causation.”

If I put out 2 bowls of food at a party, one with cold mushy brussel sprouts and one with party mix, I know that most guests will eat the party mix. However, I did not CAUSE them to eat it. Free will.

This is precisely correct…

Sidetrack,
Suppose you could go forward in time 1 year. From your vantage point you can see every decision made by any given individual during that year past. You know the consequence of each decision they make. Does this change their free will to make their decisions?

Peace
James

A good question my friend and one I am not really grounded enough in the faith to answer but I’m going to take a crack at it. I’ve always believed that even though God knows our ultimate destinies (He knows every single choice we’ll make long before we make it) it does not take away from the fact that we freely “choose” on our own. God knowing what you are going to choose does not in any way take away from the fact that you yourself are choosing whatever situation it is you face. Does that make sense? I’m not very eloquent at explaining things and often jumble my words. Simplified answer, God knows what we’re going to do but we still have the power to choose things for ourselves. His knowing what we’re going to choose before we decide doesn’t take away from the fact that we decided things for ourselves. Anyways, that’s been my understanding of the matter.

The example I use is if I look out my window and see someone drunkenly teetering on a window ledge across the road, I know they’re going to fall. Doesn’t mean I’ve caused them to do so.

I don’t know why people think God knows this. I don’t. He may know every molecule of wind that will blow and every leaf that will fall, but we still choose.

A question to you is, how is free will false when God, being atemporal, simply knows what is to come in the temporal realm? Just because an event is foreknown does not mean the knower caused that event to be as such, but the knower is not restricted by time to know what is to happen.

There’s a lot of good reads on this subject. My suggestion, start here.

The only problem is that knowledge implies that what is to happen has already happened, in some sense. Is it even possible for God to know what will happen, and then have someone deviate from what God already knows will happen?

Not sure how foreknowledge squares with freedom of choice, ultimately. The latter seems to imply some degree of randomness, which would negate the possibility of foreknowledge.

  1. Why should foresight be radically different from hindsight?

  2. That assumption is based on the fallacy Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

  3. It stems from the false belief that a cause must always precede the effect.

  4. It overlooks the distinction between an efficient cause and a final cause.

  5. It implies that decisions are not caused by the decision-maker.

  6. It reduces purposes to results.

  7. It implicitly equates autonomous persons with biological machines!

This might be true if the one choosing and the one foreknowing are the same person. However, so long as the one choosing and the one with the foreknowing are different persons then the chooser still retains free will.

As to the idea of randomness…consider this…
Instead of thinking about a single linear timeline in which God “knows what will happen”, consider the possibility that God, being Omniscient, knows (can see) all of the results of all of the permutations of all the possible choices that all of humanity could ever make.

Hard to fathom this? That is good because God should be hard to fathom…:shrug:
I recently heard a quote from (I believe) St Augustine, “if you think you comprehend God, that’s not God”. :smiley:

Peace
James

I know what you are going to say next; because I know everything you could possibly say.

Because God is omniscient, He knows everything. He does not just know about everything, He knows all things. That includes every choice every person will ever make. God is not living along side us in this temporal existance; that is, He is not experiencing our lives at the same time we are. He is completely outside of time, in what I have heard referred to as the eternal now. All things are present to God. There is no such thing as “past” or “future” when one has no relation to or reliance upon time. We as humans must rely upon and live in time, so we do have “past” and “future”. We do indeed choose something at every moment of our lives, but to God, every moment is now, so He does in fact know what we have chosen in our past and what we will choose in our future. His knowledge of our choices in no way effects or affects those choices; it is simply knowledge that He has.

At least as far as the chooser is aware. That does not imply that the choice has not already been made on some cosmic scale.

As to the idea of randomness…consider this…
Instead of thinking about a single linear timeline in which God “knows what will happen”, consider the possibility that God, being Omniscient, knows (can see) all of the results of all of the permutations of all the possible choices that all of humanity could ever make.

Hard to fathom this? That is good because God should be hard to fathom…:shrug:
I recently heard a quote from (I believe) St Augustine, “if you think you comprehend God, that’s not God”. :smiley:

Oh, I can certainly imagine that an atemporal being could know all the possible outcomes of temporal choices, but this is quite different to knowing in advance the specific choices any chooser will make. If the latter is what is meant by the god of classical theism being all-knowing, then I don’t see how this could possibly square with any notion of ‘free’ will.

Quite true, but then take the next step and consider that the “atemporal being” not only knows all the possible outcomes of temporal choices, but also knows which choices will be made. This gets us us much closer to the true omniscient nature of God.

If the latter is what is meant by the god of classical theism being all-knowing, then I don’t see how this could possibly square with any notion of ‘free’ will.

Because, as already pointed out, knowledge is different than causality.

Peace
James

I accept that this is a common system of belief, it’s just not one I subscribe to. It would, IMO, make life a futile exercise devoid of purpose. It would mean God creates people who are inevitably destined for Hell. It would make freewill a fantasy we are all having. It would even mean that no one is guilty of anything, as God already knew they would sin and they have no real choice in the matter from the moment of their conception. It negates the purpose of Jesus’ Incarnation.

++ Here’s one way to look at it:
grandmadegen.blogspot.com/2011/05/predestinationfreewill.html

God’s view of your life:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-BbNFaVWzFpk/TdbT45gTtjI/AAAAAAAAAHw/QsQiPKBCH8s/s400/maze.JPG

Your view:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Bw3g5TA-a5I/TdbUJe2GCuI/AAAAAAAAAH0/S3aJZruWGJA/s320/doorway.JPG

He has the knowledge, we have the free will.

These images are, by necessity, two dimensional. In reality, there are multiple dimensions and other people’s mazes overlap/intersect with yours. The Divine Consciousness knows every possible permutation of every choice by every person. Each person gets to choose his own path.

Hi there,

There are many ways to answer what seems to be a contradiction with Providence and Free-will.

One of them is known as the Molinist solution advanced by Luis de Molina back in the 16th century.

Now books are written explaining this subject but If I will attempt to summarize this in few words for you below.

The core idea of this solution is there exists truths known as counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. A truth of this form would be

Proposition 1: “If John was in the bookstore today he would freely choose to buy a book on Molinism”

If such truths exist, since God knows all truths, he would know every such truth about you and me. So prior to creating the world, he evaluates all these truths and picks the world that brings about the salvation of each and every possible creature who would “freely” choose to accept his grace and be saved. Then he creates that world and since he planned it, God already knows every single move.

Now one might say, is it possible that such truths exist in the first place?

I would think they do. In the homily by Pope Benedict XVI in his inaugural mass as Pope, he said

"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God"

I think this says something profound. God knows us so well because we used to be a thought of God. God in his love for us, decided to bring about our existence. As writers, we sometimes long to bring about the existence of fictional characters we have in our thoughts. But we can only do it in limited ways through fictional stories. God just did it perfectly. He brought us in to existence. So he knows our deepest longing. He knows us so well that he knows what we will choose freely.

Now it is true that some of these persons, would freely choose to reject him no matter which situation God puts them in. God knows this before hand too. But since he loves all of us, regardless of our answer to him, he creates them as well.

So in this sense God does not predestine the damned. He still gives them all the graces but they reject them freely and in doing so go to hell. But for the ones who he knows will freely choose him, he gives them all the graces to predestine them to heaven.

In the end, it is not human efforts that takes a person to heaven. It is God who has given the graces for the persons to make the effort to do good works and be successful in the effort to do his will. This is why we say that we are saved by God’s grace alone through faith and works.

This is what I don’t understand. I don’t get the leap from God knowing all things to the individual having no choices. How does God knowing that we will sin equate with us therefore inevitably being damned? We still have choices. Just because God knows what we choose (remember, He is seeing all of creation outside of time) does not mean that we will not choose to be with Him in eternity.

But everyone doesn’t choose that, do they? Unless we believe hell is empty, you are positing a God Who would bring into existence an innocent baby He already knows will never choose Him and will ultimately die and exist in agony forever.

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