Logical fallacy?


Okay, I’m sure it falls under the category of some logical fallacy, but I’m not smart enough to connect the dots. Can someone help?
I have a person who is saying that, in effect, we are pre-destined, because God is omniscient. Because He knows all and cannot be wrong this person is saying that one of two things must be true, 1) that God does not know everything, or 2) that we are pre-destined.
I’d love to identify the fallacy and what makes is a fallacy (as briefly as possible). I’d also like to know if there is a quick example to prove this not to be true.
Thanks for any help.


Foreknowledge and pre-destination are two different things.

If I place a piece of meat on the floor, I know my dog well enough that I already know, before I put it there, that she’ll eat it. Now if she’s not feeling well, let’s say something internal that I don’t know about, she may not eat it.

If I was God, I’d know for certain if she’d eat it or not. But she has the choice to eat it or not. I do not will her to eat it (my will as a person would make no difference), but if I had God-like powers I could will her to eat it. But if I will her to eat it, I take away her choice in the matter.

If God pre-destines us to do something to accept his Grace and others not, he takes away our free will.

Free will is not consistant with pre-destination, but is consistant with foreknowledge. The fallacy is that Foreknowledge and Predestination are consistant, and they are not.


If you watch somebody 24/7 on a webcam, are you responsible for what they do?


There is a very definite logical fallacy in this line of thinking. It’s obviously that knowing = causing. It does not.

“Omniscient” means “all-knowing”, not “all-doing”. There is a difference between knowing and doing. Imagine standing in a tall building looking out over an intersection. From your vantage point, you see two cars approaching each other in perpendicular fashion. As the cars get closer and closer to the intersection, you become alarmed because one needs to be slowing down and coming to a full stop at the red light, but neither car is doing so. The cars get closer and closer to the intersection without being able to see each other. You know that they are going to collide. Doesn’t mean you made them do it.

The best this person can do with this fallacy is suggest that God is somehow “at fault” or “responsible” for the accident because He, unlike you, could have done something about it. I would argue that God is, indeed, “responsible”, though not at all “guilty”. Yes, God could have prevented the accident. He can do a lot of things. But so can we.

The essential ingredient of this life, the thing that brings it the most meaning, is free will and being allowed to exercise it. Sometimes, the exercise of one person’s free will gravely injurs another which does not seem to be at all fair. However, keep in mind that things are not always as they “seem”. The person in the example above that made the mortal decision to drink before driving, thus preventing him from paying attention to the traffic light may - in plowing into the victim - have saved the victim from hell. Maybe the victim had just been baptized (“gotten saved” if you’re talking to a Protestant) and would later fall back permanently into mortal sin. The deadly accident happens before he does so, thus sparing him from eternal damnation.

By this, I don’t want to suggest that everything that happens in life does so for an immediately positive reason or because it is directly willed by God. I am only illustrating the fact that things are not always as they seem.

Does this all make sense?




Not only does it make sense, but you’ve illustrated it in a way that makes sense. Feel free to add more if you’re so inclined. I’m desperately lacking in the ability to identify faulty reasoning, and also applying the reality/truth to the argumentative individual in a meaningful way.


What does it even mean to say someone is predestined?

People generally seem to think it means the person can’t change their destiny even if they wanted to. For example, if the person is predestined to hell, they couldn’t turn their lives around, seek God and get to heaven. Clearly this is not true.

But if it just means that God knows where we’ll end up, well duh! :slight_smile:
By that standard, every atom in the universe is also predestined.


The temptation to use this line of thinking is, I think, grounded in the fact that we’re just a little bit spooked by the thought of infinity. We simply cannot fathom how someone can know us so well that they truly do know everything we’re going to do, without fail. Our moms and older siblings could probably achieve a 90% success rate, but not 100%. That alone is God’s ability.


Well, as I think I said, he’s arguing that either God doesn’t know everything, or that we don’t have free will. I tried looking a bit into some stuff either Augustine or Aquinas wrote, but there are no sound bytes that drove it home for me, and I’m not smart enough to follow all of the thought processes of such great men. I sure as heck can’t put it in a nutshell for someone else, so I turned to you all!:rolleyes:


Men being men, I have no doubt the argument is that we do not possess free will, since seeking to blame others for one’s own sin is one of the more common traits of our kind.

Luther went so far as to argue, contra Erasmus, that we are simply horses ridden by God or the Devil, and go where our rider bids us go.

It is a curious position to take, and one unsupported by Scripture insofar as I can tell; otherwise, Christ would have a lot to answer for for all of those commands to repent.

As Erasmus noted, if Man has no free will, God is an unjust tyrant.


Rather than defend your own position, you might ask this guy to defend his. Ask him why he thinks “all-knowing” equates to “all-causing” or “predetermines”. If I want to argue that Granny Smith Apples and Braeburn apples are both apples, I can demonstrate this by pointing out the fact that both have this, that and the other characteristic about them. Good luck to him on demonstrating that foreknowledge and causation are the same thing.

You might further use the example I gave you in the last post about you observing the coming car accident. Ask him if he thinks you made it happen. If he does…No need to carry the conversation any further. He’s just whack. (To use a technical term. :wink: ) If he thinks that you didn’t…Ask him why it would be any different for God. As I said before, he’ll probably then mention that the difference is that God could have prevented the accident…Right… But that’s a wholely separate issue from the notion that foreknowledge = causation. Be sure to keep apples apples and oranges oranges.

No fruit salad.




Exactly, though, that’s a wholely separate issue as well.



There are many errors here

  1. God is not bound by time as we are. He projects his limit on God both in time and in capacity.

  2. Predestine is not independent of will. Your friend has no proof none what so ever that any living human will ever die. Yet he knows this will happen- it is predestine. The predestine death does not require the knowledge of who, how, when, or why.

We are predestined to live, grow, love, hurt, sin, die and many other things, however many things are not predestine as who we will marry or if we will marry. Our marriage is an act of will as are many things.

As God is not bound in time he sees our marriage, birth, death continuously so whether these events are past, current, or future to human time is not relevent.

To over simply this consider a movie particularly a classical movie even though the actors may be dead the movie can be replayed you see the dead person, you hear the dead person, they may be young in the movie yet they grew old and died. So you see them, hear them, as young people yet you know they are past on. The events in the movie are outside of time, you may even know how the movie ends as its ending is certainly predestined! So does that make you a God, as you know all that happens in that movie? Or does it simply let you see a series of events in the movie which are outside of time?


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.