How is it possible that God knows the future?


And especially when it comes to the free acts of rational creatures, us humans?

God is outside of time. Still, the future has not yet happened. So… how does God know the future, in principle?


Because God, as you say, is outside of time. He is in the Eternal Now. He basically sees all events in that have happened, are happening and that will happen, at once. Don’t bother trying to understand it yet, because we can’t.


He is the Beginiing and the End. It’s all in His name.

He is the One who Was and presently Is and Is to come.


Think of time as like a river.
We float down the river, and we only see things as we get to them, because we’re inside of time.
But from God’s perspective, he can see the entire river, from start to finish, in one eternal Now.


God might know of all the possible futures but I don’t think He could know a specific one that hasn’t happened yet. If it were possible for something, human, machine, or otherwise to know the future, it could be written down and made available for all to read. There would most certainly be someone who then could act in a way as to make sure that the events forecast did not happen as was written down. The conclusion has to be then, that the future could never be known with certainty by anybody or any thing.


An ant walking down a line only knows what it can perceive. It can see right now, and directly behind, and directly in front. A human being looking at an ant can see a lot more of the line at once. And the ant wonders how the human being can see what’s ahead.

Well, the ant’s perception is limited. And relatively speaking human beings have more perception, but are also limited. And ultimately you have God, who sees all things “at once”. (even those words fail…)

Time is for humans, not God. He’s not on the line moving around, he perceives it all.


Consider God as a painter. Although He is currently only painting one part of His masterpiece, He knows what He has painted before that part as well as what He must paint next to bring the painting to its eventual completion.


Time is only future for you (and me, and any being that is changing). Time is, in some way, the ticking record of change. For God, nothing would be future, nor past as he does not (cannot) change.

It’s somewhat like thinking about your own existence. You seem to yourself to persistently exist. It seems to you that you were brought into existence but that now your existence subsists by its own power. But that is an illusion. All of creation is continually caused to exist by God. Existence is only proper to God-it is not proper to anything else. So creation is not, once upon a time there was God and then he created and there was God plus something else standing alongside him. Rather, everything that exists is continually caused to exist by God for every moment of its existing. That is the reality of being.

But, it does not seem that way to you. To you, your existence seems to endure on its own. It does not seem to you that your existence must be continually caused by another (God).

What I’m getting at is that the way things seem to a finite being are not as they are in reality (to God). Things always seem to be changing from your perspective, but for Eternity, there is no change. From your perspective, it seems that existence is something you have, something that is proper to you after your creation. In reality, you only are by an improper share in the divine Life.

These are tough topics to deal with. Maybe the thoughts above bring some clarity.


Can’t God think a new thought? If so He is operating in time because there was a time previous to when he had the new thought.


The future has not yet happened for us. For God, it all exists, simultaneously, and He knows it all, even if for us, it is “not yet”.


No, He cannot, for precisely the reason you outline.

God is the same, “yesterday, today, and tomorrow”. He is immutable – unchanging – and unchangable. If he were able to change, that would mean that He would either have been less perfect before the thought, or less perfect after the thought. Either way, He wouldn’t be completely perfect.

Therefore… unchanging.


I don’t think your argument makes sense. Why do you insist that God knowing something would somehow make that future knowledge written, available, and that people could then somehow keep it from coming about?

IOW, your conclusion is based on false premises, therefore is faulty.


There is no past or future for God. God is eternally present.



Is it a more mystery than the fact that God only was in the beginning,he created heaven and earth from nothing,he created living things including man out of nonliving things etc?..We do not know anything about him except to the extent he chose to reveal to us.
This much said one more thing to clear a usual doubt.Since he knows the future, whether a man to be created will be saved or not,why he created such man if he is already known as dammed ? Simple, Watson! God sees it because the man does so.Not the other way .If the man is going to change from his actions God will see the changed position.If the man further changes,God will see only such further changed position when looking into his future.In short God sees his future as such and such because the man chose to do so.It is not that God already saw his future so he is helpless and can’t be saved even if he wants!
As a corollary it can be said that it is of no use or effect even if God peeps into the future of a man yet to be created by him.Again,suppose God decides not to create the man as his future is found to be dammed.But then how God see the future of man whom he did not create!


If what you state is true, how can petitionary prayer have any influence on God? Is this not a new thought: Genesis 6:6 (KJV) And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.


You’re asking two questions, there. Let’s take the second one first:

Is it true that God, having seen what mankind had done, suddenly changed his mind about having created him? I would answer no. This is merely an anthropomorphism, and it allowed the original audience to relate to God a bit more easily. Otherwise, it makes an ancient people – whose understanding of God, at that point in salvation history, was far less mature than ours is – wonder whether God isn’t simply a monster who creates only to destroy. (In fact, I would assert that the Flood narrative is present in order that we, not God, might learn something valuable.

Second question, now – “how can petitionary prayer have any influence on God?” In the Catholic tradition, we might say that petitionary prayer changes our hearts, not God’s. We would say that God has His will, and what He wills, actually happens. What our prayers do is to bring our hearts, and our desires, and our wills in line with God’s. He always knows what we’ll ask for, and when we’ll ask for it, and therefore, He’s never unaware of what we ask for. But, perhaps, we’re unaware of what His will is, and therefore, we’re the ones who need to change.

Another way of looking at it is how we might understand Jesus’ assertions that all we need to do is ask for something and it will be granted. (Atheists love this quote, by the way, and attempt to twist it into a proof-text that the Bible is untrue!) Tell me – if I were to pray “dear Lord, please strike @KevinK dead with a painful injury”… would Jesus honor that prayer and do what I asked? Of course not! Jesus won’t do just anything, and especially not things that are not good and virtuous! So… what did Jesus really mean? He meant that we are supposed to want what’s good – that is, what God wants for us. And therefore, He wants us to ask for the good gifts that God wants to give us. Those are the petitions that He will grant!


[quote=“stpurl, post:12, topic:533558”]
Why do you insist that God knowing something would somehow make that future knowledge written, available…[/quote]

If God knew something He could reveal it to the all non-God creatures by any means He choose, writing, telepathy, Facebook, etc. Are you suggesting God has a limitation in what and how He reveals things? If He did reveal, it would be all to easy to guarantee the event didn’t happen. You may think He is being wise or stubborn in not revealing what He knows. I say the reason He can not reveal the future is because He does not know it. Read the above argument several times. It is pure logic and makes perfect sense. For a being with free will, knowing something automatically means that knowledge could be communicated to any other being who would listen. The communication technique would depend on what info receiving facilities was possessed by the receiver.

How Can God Know the Future?

No. Are you suggesting that God doesn’t have the right to choose to not reveal our ‘future’ to us?

If not, then it is reasonable to assert that our lack of knowledge of the future proceeds from an exercise of His divine prerogative, not an indication that He is not omniscient.

No. It is a possibility, but it requires that God be not omniscient in order to be true. In other words, you’re using your conclusion as a premise to your argument. That’s not ‘pure logic’ – that’s the very definition of a flaw in logical reasoning!

Think about it for a second: what you’re proposing is the same thing as a claim that, since I do not eat monkey brains, therefore that proves that I am unable to eat monkey brains! That’s not ‘perfect sense’! That’s poor logic!


The very fact that something is known by someone guarantees that it is already written down in the mind of the knower. Once written down in that mind, the knower has to accept the fact that others could be made aware of that knowledge and thereby do something to assure it not happening. So the knower does not really have to reveal anything. Once it is known the knowledge exists, it is in fact available to all. The revelation by the knower is not needed. Therefore no one could know the future. For doing so would in essence make it knowable, even if hidden, to all. So God cannot know the future.

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