Can God know the state of our eternal salvation/damnation before it has happened for us? Can he know what our response will be to things before they happen, do these responses exist before we act upon them? Or is it like God knows every thing that can potentially happen, but not what will happen. For example when God “tests” Abraham, and the angel says, “For now I know that you fear God and have not withheld your son, your only one from me” did God know how Abraham would react? Or was Abraham’s fearing God not confirmed until after the action?
God knows all, but waits. His knowledge of our actions in no way defeats our free will.
I’ve heard it explained one time like this: God knows us so well, even better than we know ourselves, so he knows always what we will choose to do.
what does God know?
He knows more than Santa Claus and the CIA combined, and than some.
It seems as though if God knew the fate of our eternal souls when he makes them, it would be nonsensical to create those that are predestined to Hell.
And to elaborate a bit, we know from Tobit 12 that we are tested because we have been found acceptable to God.
It may seem that way on the surface, but what if that individual who will end up in Hell is responsible, whether through procreation or even (negative) example, for ultimately many more souls being saved? Would it be nonsensical then? And then there is the other side of it: Can God know the fate of a soul He does not create? If it never exists, is what would have happened to it knowable, even to God? I certainly don’t know, and am not prepared to stake out a position on it.
Yes. God is outside time, so everything inside the universe – that is, everything inside our temporal framework – is visible to Him simultaneously.
No. It’s not that God is merely “smart”, it’s that He’s omniscient. He knows all things. (There’s a nuance to that statement, but I’ll just keep it there for now.)
It’s a difficult phrase to reconcile. One way of looking at it is that God wasn’t testing Abraham for His benefit, but for Abraham’s.
And, here’s the nuance (and, if memory serves, you’re part of another thread in which you brought up the question and I responded): who’s to say that God knows that which is not. (Mind you, I’m not saying that He doesn’t know things that we haven’t yet experienced. That would be a temporal argument. I’m saying that He knows everything that was, is, and will be. But what about the stuff that never will be? Does omniscience extend to that?) . Some would say that He does not, and that’s not a problem with respect to His omniscience.
If this line of thought is true, then God does not know the fate of individuals who are not… and does not know the fate of individuals until He creates the universe, at which point He knows all. This implies that He doesn’t know – prior to creation – who will be saved and who will be damned, and therefore, He doesn’t create for the sake of damning.
But then it just becomes a ‘greater good’ argument. And one might ask if the person was responsible for so many souls being saved, why condemn them to hell for eternity? And if the answer is simply that a greater good doesn’t justify an evil path, why allow the greater good argument when discussing God sending those souls to earth knowing the evil they’ll do.
Maybe it’s just me being tired and slightly under the weather, but I really couldn’t follow that all the way to the end. But if I understand it even a little, I would answer that humans cannot always make a greater good argument successfully because we don’t know everything, but God does, and God is incapable of evil, so the greater good argument can easily succeed when it is God making the choice. Plus there is the outstanding question in the second part of my post, having to do with whether the final state of a soul can be known even to God before it is created, which makes the “why create it only to condemn it” question moot.
This is making me think. Is the future set in stone? Has God committed every action that he’ll ever commit?
No. You still have free will. But, God already knows what you will freely choose.
His knowledge doesn’t force your decision.
God lives in an “eternal present moment”, so there’s no passage of time for him. So, we can’t really talk about His actions as if some are in His ‘past’ and others in His ‘future’.
The answer is YES.
Christian-ity Please consider, you are the best Architect in the world and you decided to build the biggest and most beautiful building in the world.
So, you design the building, you design every event down to its minutest details which need to take place to complete the building.
You recruit your builders, you give your builders the building design, which contains every event down to its minutest details.
Now Christian-ity what you do?
Do you cause your builders to act according to your building design which contains every event down to its minutest details?
Or you just watch and let you builders do according to their whim?
CATHOLIC SOTERIOLOGY ON THIS SUBJECT, WE ARE GOD’S BUILDERS.
308 The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator.
God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes:
"For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Far from diminishing the creature’s dignity, this truth enhances it.
307 God thus enables men to be intelligent and free, causes in order to complete the work of creation, … Though often unconscious collaborators with God’s will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions…
There is a supernatural intervention of God in the faculties of the soul, which precedes the free act of the will, (De fide).
Aquinas said, God changes the will without forcing it. But he can change the will from the fact that he himself operates in the will as he does in nature,” De Veritatis 22:9. 31. ST I-II Gaudium et Spes 22; "being …
2022 The divine initiative in the work of grace precedes, prepares, and elicits the free response of man.
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA Divine Providence explains.
His wisdom He so orders all events within the universe that the end for which it was created may be realized.
He directs all, even evil and sin itself, to the final end for which the universe was created.
Christian-ity Please consider the parallel: You are as the architect Designed, Decreed, and Foreordained for your builders every event down to its minutest details which need to take place to complete your building.
In the same way, we are God’s builders, God Disigned, Decreed and Foreordained for us every event/ act down to its minutest details which need to take place to complete His universe.
The Divine will is cause of all things that happen, as Augustine says (De Trin. iii, 1 seqq) Therefore all things are subject to fate.
The same is true for events in our lives. Relative to us they often appear to be by chance.
But relative to God, who directs everything according to his divine plan, nothing occurs by chance.
Hence if this divine influence stopped, every operation would stop.
Every operation, therefore, of anything is traced back to Him as its cause. (Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III.)
God knows all—He always was, is and always will be.
God doesn’t do any “pre-destining”. He doesn’t create a person for Hell. He creates them, knowing what they will choose to do, and allowing them to do as they will.
Creating a person who would end up in Hell would only be nonsensical if God predestined.
The Catholic dogma
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA The predestination of the elect.
(1) Consequently, the whole future membership of heaven, down to its minutest details, with all the different measures of grace and the various degrees of happiness, has been irrevocably fixed from all eternity. Nor could it be otherwise. For if it were possible that a predestined individual should after all be cast into hell or that one not predestined should in the end reach heaven, then God would have been mistaken in his foreknowledge of future events; He would no longer be omniscient.
(2) The second quality of predestination, the definiteness of the number of the elect, follows naturally from the first. For if the eternal counsel of God regarding the predestined is unchangeable, then the number of the predestined must likewise be unchangeable and definite, subject neither to additions nor to cancellations. Anything indefinite in the number would eo ipso imply a lack of certitude in God’s knowledge and would destroy His omniscience. Furthermore, the very nature of omniscience demands that not only the abstract number of the elect, but also the individuals with their names.
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA Divine Providence explains.
This, the beneficent purpose of an all-seeing Providence, is wholly gratuitous, entirely unmerited (Romans 3:24; 9:11-2).
It extends to all men (Romans 2:10; 1 Timothy 2:4), even to the reprobate Jews (Romans 11:26 sq.); and by it all God’s dealings with man are regulated (Ephesians 1:11).
It extends to every individual, adapting itself to the needs of each (St. John Chrysostom, Hom. xxviii in Matt, n. 3 in; P.G., LVII, 354).
All things are created and governed with a view to man, to the development of his life and his intelligence, and to the satisfaction of his needs (Aristides, i, v, vi, xv, xvi;).
That end is that all creatures should manifest the glory of God, and in particular that man should glorify Him, recognizing in nature the work of His hand, serving Him in obedience and love, and thereby attaining to the full development of his nature and to eternal happiness in God.
All events preordained by God in accordance with His all-embracing purpose.
Hence Providence is at once universal, immediate, efficacious, yet all alike postulate Divine concurrence and receive their powers of operation from Him (I, Q. xxii, a. 3; Q. ciii, a. 6); efficacious, in that all things minister to God’s final purpose, a purpose which cannot be frustrated (Contra Gent., III, xciv);
You misunderstand what I mean when I say “predestine”.
Can you elaborate on the until part. Because both the present, past, and future are all in his knowledge, how could he have not known.
Sure. It’s difficult to talk about this, since we have to use “before” and “after” in a way that doesn’t work in eternity, but think about it like this:
God created the universe, right? And He did so in eternity. So, there’s no such thing as “before God created the universe” or “after God created the universe”, since it’s all a timeless “now” to God.
Now, that’s from the perspective of God. To Him, it’s all one big “now”, and so, He sees all of the universe throughout all of its internal timeline.
On the other hand, to us – inside the universe – we are ‘stuck’ inside the temporal framework of the universe. For us, that means that we have memories of the past, we directly experience the present, and we have no knowledge of the future.
If you ask me who wins the Super Bowl in 2021, I’d shrug and say “I don’t know; it hasn’t happened yet.” If we were to ask God, he knows, since He knows everything that has happened or will happen in the universe. So, He’s not limited by the same limitations we have.
By the same token, if you ask me “what will your oldest great-grandchild’s name be?”, I’d also shrug and say “I don’t know… I don’t even know if I’ll have any great-grandchildren!” (For the sake of argument, let’s suppose that I will have great-grandchildren, though, ok?)
So, we’re speculating whether God knew that the damned would be damned “before” He created them. That’s not like asking whether He knows my oldest great-grandchild’s name in time, in the way I would – that is, waiting till 2050 to find out. He just knows it, because to His view, it exists.
I’m gonna pause here for a second. Does that make sense – these two different ways of “knowing”? That is, that I only know something because it was experienced within the past or present in the universe, but God knows everything in all the times in the universe, immediately and simultaneously. Fair enough?
God is eternal. Time is meaningless to God. God simply knows all things outside cause/ effect or now/later.
Time affects human beings and creation, not God.
So asking "Did God know…some event in the future. " is problematic