I’ve heard it: “Free will means we have the option between receiving God’s grace wholeheartedly and rejecting it. A loving God wants true love from His people, which necessitates the gift of free will.” I also know that God is omniscient and can therefore tell which of His people will follow Him and which will reject Him before they they are even conceived in the womb. In His omnipotence, then, why does He allow such souls with an eternally hateful heart to enter the world? If free will means love, then why does God love us?
Just because someone doesn’t follow God or a god, it doesn’t mean they have an “eternally hatefull heart.”
In this world we have atheists with giant hearts (and conversely, theists with hard ones).
It also doesn’t mean they specifically “hate” God or gods.
They just may not believe a god exists…but that is very different than hating a god.
God knows the things as they really are.
The future is uncertain so God (in his omniscience) knows it like this. God created the future to be uncertain. The omniscience says exactly that “future is uncertain”.
Of course he can know the future but using his omnipotence not his omniscience. But using his omnipotence to know the future is optional to him. And the Bible says he chooses not to use it (because he desires our salvation). I think God only use his omnipotence to know the future of individuals at the time of the judgements.
God knowing the future is a matter of omnipotence.
It’s not so simple like that. God is eternal. That doesn’t mean he lasts forever – it means he exists outside of time. We, as beings that exist in time, can barely understand this, but it will help to get an idea of it. I’ve heard it explained this way by Bishop Robert Baron, and it really opened my eyes.
Imagine time as a line (like, a timeline). It starts with the big bang, or whatever, and continues through the eons, to the present day, and continues billions of years into the future, where it eventually ends (judgement day, or heat death/collapse of the universe, or whatever you prefer). All of time in represented on one line. Now, where is God? He is the piece of paper that you drew the line on. ALL of time exists within God, which he created. He Himself does not exist in time.
So, yes, he can see all the decisions we have made and will make – because – from His perspective we have already made them. He sees it all clearly before him. To God there is no “before” and “after.” Everything is now. It’s all laid out. Therefore, you cannot say “why did God give free will if he knew we would choose wrong?” It’s not like he gave free will first and we chose second. It’s all one event from the eternal perspective. It’s still our choice – and that choice plays out over years – it plays out slowly over a lifetime for mortal beings like us. However, to God it’s not like that. He gave us a choice, and we chose our fate in that very instant. It is one act. It is not what was and what will be – it is what is.
That all sounds kind of “heady” because it is. Now come back to your current reality…some human on their computer reading this while the seconds and minutes tick away. In your life, your decision has not been made yet! We are lucky we can still choose and repent. Just because God knows how the story ends (because it has already ended) doesn’t mean we don’t have control of our lives and can choose the good – because the story is still being written.
It’s kind of a paradox, and a mystery – but I hope it helps a little bit. Yes, He knows what we will choose in time – only because we have already chosen from the perspective of eternal/timelessness.
Because God does not discriminate.
Perhaps all this earthly drama is terribly boring to God since He already knows the outcome. Is Mel Gibson bored when he watches his own movies?
The answer lies more along the lines of this: God knows all the possible outcomes of our decisions … think of all of the possible combinations of consequences of the decisions of humans since the beginning of time - it’s about as close to infinity as I can think of. But that’s not to say that there is no such thing as predestination, guidance or momentum … think of history as being peppered, or overlayed, with it. Everyone still has a chance, everyone still has free will. God knows what will happen if a person does X, or does not do X. God’s “joy” comes when you chose Him.
The ultimate answer may be beyond our understanding. But God gives us ways to help us catch a glimpse of these types of elusive answers.
This is a great theological question and much has been written on it. There is obviously much mystery involved in it but as Frank Sheed said mysteries are things we can not know everything about, but they are not things that we can know nothing about. It requires contemplation on what we know about the nature of God. Unlike us finite beings God is infinite, eternal, omniscient, immutable and omnipotent. He is not bound by anything including time or space as we are. He is pure existence and eternally present we on the other hand see things on a linear plain, past, present and future.
“As we examine the Mysteries of religion, we discover that the practical result of this effort of the finite to know the Infinite—which is also a determination of the Infinite to be known by the finite—is that any given Mystery resolves itself (for our minds, of course, not in its own reality) into two truths which we cannot see how to reconcile. Sometimes by the revelation of God, sometimes by the hard effort of man’s own mind, we see that each of two things must be so, yet we cannot see why one does not exclude the other. Thus in the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity, we cannot see how God can be Three if He is infinitely One; in the Doctrine of the Incarnation, we cannot see how Christ can be wholly God and at the same time wholly man; in the mystery of our own will, we do not see how its freedom can be reconciled with God’s omniscience; and so with all the other Mysteries of religion. Left to ourselves, we should almost certainly say that there is a conflict, and therefore that both cannot be true; and even if under pressure we reluctantly admit that we cannot absolutely prove that there is contradiction, or exclude the possibility that there might be reconciliation at some point beyond our gaze, yet the point of reconciliation is beyond our gaze; and what lies within our gaze seems for ever irreconcilable.” SHEED
The first thing to say is that this age-old dilemma ultimately remains a mystery, and will continue to do so due to the difference in perspective between the Creator and His creatures. Perhaps we will understand a little more in the next life; perhaps not. What is certain is that we will never understand completely – to do so would be to see things from God’s perspective, and this is simply not possible. The second thing to say is that we cannot deny either our free-will or God’s omnipotence without sliding into further absurdity. Without our freedom, we become mere automatons, incapable of choice and therefore incapable of true love or virtue. Without omnipotence, God is no longer God.
God is outside of time and knows all there is to know in one act. He does not proceed temporally as in “before” he does not know and then “after” he does.
He knows exactly who will accept him and how they will accept him.
If God did not know all things, then he would not be provident over all things.
The very nature of love means that it must be given AND received freely.
I think we’ve all tried very hard to “make” someone love us at some point in our lives. And probably we’ve not returned love that someone else felt for us.
I just think that very simply, “love” and “free will” cannot be separated from one another.