Why does God have to be "all knowing"?


#1

First of all, I totally believe God to be all knowing, all powerful, and the like. My question is why that necessarily has to be the case? I heard Mr. Karl Keating say that He has to be all-knowing and all powerful, because otherwise we could always imagine something more powerful or omniscient, and therefore a “greater god” would exist.


#2

pondering I’m not really in any position to make ANY apologetic arguments, but your post intrigues me. What do you see the alternative being to God being all-knowing? (I’m probably asking you to answer your own question, but this is fascinating!)

Thanks!


#3

I’m just thinking that, hypothetically, if I create something, say a computer game that has life-like characters, those characters could look at me as a god (from their limited perspective), but I would definitely not need to be all-knowing. Maybe I am thinking too deep.:shrug:


#4

From the Christian perspective, God is perfect, or, if you prefer, a ‘maximally perfect being’ as I’ve heard it expressed. Knowledge is a capacity; as God is perfect, he must needs possess perfect knowledge.

That’s the short answer, and there really isn’t a long one I’m aware of :slight_smile:

As to the homunculi, yes, you would be God to them; you created them out of not-quite-nothing. You’re not omniscient, as far as you’re concerned – but to them, it’s a different matter. You, as their creator, know everything they are capable of doing, have ordained the rules of their universe, and can predict the behavior of the system down to the tiniest level you care to. As far as they can tell, you’re all-knowing.


#5

It is these kind of quesitons and many others that I dismiss to the fact that it is well beyond what God made us to know.

Someday I am sure we will know all the reasons.


#6

Well, possibly, but still … it’s an interesting thought.

But does our God need to be all-knowing? That’s rather different than asking if He is all-knowing. musing

Yes, I think He does, although the only rationale I can offer is that I can’t imagine how he could always forgive and accept us if he didn’t know EVERYTHING in our hearts - even what we don’t recognize ourselves.

I don’t know if that’s a useful answer, though… it might show nothing but the limitations of my thinking.


#7

If there is knowledge outside of God then who could know it?


#8

I have to agree with Mirdath on this one. It is a result of the ontological argument for the existence of God. Scripture also attests to it.


#9

The Shadow!!! :smiley:


#10

I don’t think this is so :o

1. In the Silmarillion, we have
[LIST]
*]a story[/LIST]written by Tolkien, a human being, who “sub-creates”:
[LIST]
*]Eru Iluvatar - who functions as God by creating
*]the Valar & Maiar: collectively known as the Ainur[/LIST]who are superior beings compared to:
[LIST]
*]Elves
*]Dwarves
*]Men
*]Ents
*](and of course Hobbits, who aren’t mentioned)[/LIST]Question: does this make Tolkien a God-figure compared to (say) the Valar ?

I don’t think it does. Within the story, the Valar are (roughly speaking) demiurgic figures; they can’t create ex nihilo, but they can make, much as an artist might. (One of the signs that the fallen Vala Melkor is deteriorating, is his gradual loss of freedom to change his visible form, which goes along with his gradual loss of moral & *creative *freedom: he has more *power *than all the other Valar, but less scope to use it in varied ways.)

IMHO, Tolkien functions as a demiurge, nothing more. ISTM that God - the Triune God of Christians - is (AFAICS) the true Creator of Tolkien’s invented world, as well as of its sub-creator. If this is correct, then God is as present to an Elf or a Vala or a Hobbit - that is, to a being in that world - as to a human being in the “Primary World” which is AKA “the real world”. If God were not present in feigned or Secondary worlds, they could not exist, any more than this one could. (Where this leaves the figure of Eru, is not clear…) God is the Reality - we are all His fictions: Elves & authors alike.

**2. **Tolkien ISTM was not all-knowing in relation to his Secondary World, & could not be, because he was as truly a creature as his “sub-creations”. God, OTOH is neither created nor sub-created; to be God, is to be free of all derivation, in all worlds, whether sub-created by men, or of any other kind. God is therefore infinite - & that means that God knows infinitely; that nothing in any world, actual, possible, hypothetical, no matter its time or dimension, can in any manner be hidden from Him.

To be all-knowing is not something that God “could have” not been - God’s Knowing is identical with His essence; it’s not “in potency”, but is eternally actualised: what He does, is Who He Is. He is His Knowing - if His knowledge were not infinite, he would not be God, but only an angel. So it would be necessary to find the real God; & that is He. :slight_smile: All His attributes are identical with Him.

We see His Knowing & His Essence as separate, & even as separable, not because they are, but because our intellects know things by forming separate concepts about those things. This comes of our being a union of matter & spirit; & is made bad by our being deformed by sin. And because we are not identical with God, our intellects treat God as though He were just another object of knowledge, another “something out there” to know, even though He is nothing like any creature.

Hope that helps.


#11

Yes, you’re right. It is probably like trying to understand the trinity. It is philosophical. It has been gnawing at me though. I am curious by nature.


#12

Tolkien created the Creator. With a stroke of an eraser, he could have chosen to kill Eru Iluvatar off and make it as though it had never existed – or he might have imprisoned Iluvatar, changed its nature, limited its powers, done any of countless things to prove once and for all that Iluvatar is a subservient creation.

If you’ve read Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser books, another fantasy classic, look at it this way: Iluvatar is the God in the book, Tolkien is the God of the book. Iluvatar has less power than a fly: at least the fly can land somewhere and become a new punctuation mark when I close the book suddenly!

**2. **Tolkien ISTM was not all-knowing in relation to his Secondary World, & could not be, because he was as truly a creature as his “sub-creations”. God, OTOH is neither created nor sub-created; to be God, is to be free of all derivation, in all worlds, whether sub-created by men, or of any other kind. God is therefore infinite - & that means that God knows infinitely; that nothing in any world, actual, possible, hypothetical, no matter its time or dimension, can in any manner be hidden from Him.

Frame of reference. As far as his characters are concerned, he knows all and sees all. In fact, they aren’t even aware he exists, since he kept from breaking the fourth wall.

A book is a bad example if you’re going to take the author to task on omniscience: Tolkien did know everything about Middle-Earth; it did not exist before he envisioned it.

A better example would be closer to the OP’s emergent game: something that can surprise its creator. Something on the order of Dwarf Fortress, where the characters are programmed to learn, to have personalities, to work with only indirect user suggestion, and eventually to go spectacularly insane. Does Tarn Adams know everything about them? Sure he does. He wrote every line of code that defines their nature. But he doesn’t know so well what they’re going to do. He can guess, he can influence (in fact, he refers to new developments in ‘intelligence’ as ‘teaching’ the creatures), but he cannot control them short of deleting the program.

Also check the game out, it’s amazing. I’ve spent more time on it than every other game I’ve played combined since it came out.


#13

I tend to agree with the post that said, God needs to be at least as grand as we can imagine him. I’ve taken that as a standard for some time. That does give God qualities of omniscience, or all-knowingness. However, how that plays out is different that depending in how you define omniscience.

I take it that God has a mind capable of knowing every single possible outcome of every possible combinations of actions. That’s probably an infinite number. This I agree with.

I have less faith in a definition that says God knows exactly what everything and everyone will do in perfect exact detail, in the sense of forseeing a particular future as the one that will happen.

Its a fascinating idea to contemplate, but one that eventually leaves me dizzy…:confused: :confused:


#14

The penny catechism asks. “Who is God”. The answer given is, “God is the supreme spirit who alone exists of Himself and is infinite in all of His perfections”. Perfections of God are life, love, truth, justice, power, and knowledge or knowing, among others. If He is infinite in His perfection of knowing that makes him omniscient, all knowing. He is infinitely just. There is no injustice in God. He is love. He is life. He is knowing. There is nothing He can lack or He would not be infinite in anything. If you made a computer and knew everything about it you would know all about the computer, not about all existence. You would not have made the computer out of nothing and you would not have made yourself or be eternally existent. You are a created being. Anything you make has limitations as do you. You can create things out of other things and are created yourself. God who exists of Himself made everything that exists, spiritually and physically, out of nothing. He therefore has to know everything there is to know about everything that exists, including Himself who is infinite being and unmade. If there was something to know that He did not know He would not be God, infinite being.


#15

I guess that pretty well sums it up. Since nothing existed before God, and He created everything, then he would by definition be all knowing. But what about the possibility of God permitting some sort of randomness? In other words, He creates the rules of the game, but let’s the dice roll, so to speak. This topic does allow us to ponder deep things.


#16

The modern skeptic when asked how things came into being, like life, against a trillion to one odds, if God did not make it all, responds by saying it was a accident. The right combination of molecules smashed into one another at the right temperature and place and time, by accident, and formed life that was able to reproduce itself and evolve into higher comlpex life via more accidents. People before modern science used to believe that things came into being by “spontaneous generation”. Mice came from rag piles, since that is where they were found. The scientist laughed at them. Mice came from mice, not molecules. Mice can not come from rags and something can not come from nothing. Everything that exists is made by design and with a purpose. This is evident from looking at the precision of the universe. It is imposible for something to come from nothing. The “accident” of the skeptic is like believing in magic. It is like going back before the rationale mind figured out spontaneous generation was crazy. There is no randomness. There can appear to be randomness or accident to us with limited, not all knowing minds. He knows every hair on your head and sees every bird that falls from the sky and dies. He knows the number of your days and the deepest secrets of your heart. Nothing is hidden from the Omniscient One. This is why His judgement is just. It can never err. This all knowing all powerful being who is the source of your being loves you. God revealed Himself as existence in the Old Terstament, I am that I am, and love in the the New Testament. He made you for the purpose of loving and being loved. Holy souls want to be known by Him, who already knows them. Everything is ordered by Him who made everything. There is no randomness.


#17

If there is no randomness, then it follows that God causes all things, not just permits them. That doesn’t make sense.


#18

You’ll have to enlighten me as to the distinction :slight_smile:

Counter-suggestion: Iluvatar is God as God would be known if God were to create a world in Valar, Elves, Ents etc., were real beings as we think of reality - that is, a world which if it could exist in space would in principle be the kind of place we could reach. If Iluvatar is to God as Aslan is to Christ in a different myth, then the only reason that we don’t refer to God as Iluvatar, is because God has created us as the Primary Reality, & Elves as the Secondary Reality. There is no reason that I know of why we should not be characters in a story told by Elves.

As to the question of where the non-mythic reality is found - things are as real as they are like Christ; no more & no less. Since He is a Divine Person, He can be present in all fictions (= creatures) simultaneously, without being recognised, & without their being aware of Him or of His presences. After all, what do men know of God’s ways with fish or amoeba ? And that is on our own planet. I don’t see that intelligence is required that we would recognise, for a dog to be conscious of God according to its measure - maybe horses think of God as Infinite in Equinity.

Frame of reference. As far as his characters are concerned, he knows all and sees all. In fact, they aren’t even aware he exists, since he kept from breaking the fourth wall.

But they appeal to Iluvatar, not to Tolkien. Tolkien can write about the sending of the Wizards from Valinor (in Unfinished Tales) only because God moves & inspires him to do so; otherwise he would have been marking an essay or something. Without God, no Tolkien, so no Iluvatar. The human author is the created conduit for the Divine creativity which is the necessary cause of the literary myth. If God exists at all, He cannot be a fiction in one world, and real in another - the difference lies, not in God, but in the authors & what they make. So God is as present in the works of Philip Pullman as in those of C.S.Lewis - even though Pullman may not realise this. God is infinite, so He is the Reality behind Iluvatar, and Iluvatar’s maker, & theue respective frames of reference.

A book is a bad example if you’re going to take the author to task on omniscience: Tolkien did know everything about Middle-Earth; it did not exist before he envisioned it.

He kept speaking of “finding out” about things in it, there was a lot he did not know about it. If a story is a really good one, it takes on a life of its own; it ceases to be wholly within the human teller’s control. IOW, it can surprise him. God is not human - so can’t be surprised.

A better example would be closer to the OP’s emergent game: something that can surprise its creator. Something on the order of Dwarf Fortress, where the characters are programmed to learn, to have personalities, to work with only indirect user suggestion, and eventually to go spectacularly insane. Does Tarn Adams know everything about them? Sure he does. He wrote every line of code that defines their nature. But he doesn’t know so well what they’re going to do. He can guess, he can influence (in fact, he refers to new developments in ‘intelligence’ as ‘teaching’ the creatures), but he cannot control them short of deleting the program.

Also check the game out, it’s amazing. I’ve spent more time on it than every other game I’ve played combined since it came out.


#19

welcome to the world of unsettled Catholic theology. There are Thomists and Molinists.

God is the “Creator” of all successive states of existence for every entity in this universe. think of an instant of existence like one of the 24 pictures that are taken by a TV camera every second. Each of these instants of our individual existence is initially brought into being by God. In some sense, that is. We could not continue to exist except that God continued to give us successive states of existence. WE do NOT “create” these states in the sense of “ex-nihilo.” That is, a creature cannot bring into being a state of existence that did not exist before (unless God gave such power to a creature.)

However, the Calvinist would take this too far. For the hard-core Calvinist, God must be the SOLE Being involved in these successive states, and hence man is not free. Of course, Catholicism condemns this.

So then, there exists a point, the brunt of which is still a mystery and debate, that concerns the fact that at some point in the creation of the instant of existence, God GIVES POTENCY to the crreature to make of this state of existence what he will. Hence, there is human freedom.

Now, I’m not an expert, but from what i understand, the Molinists emphasize man’s free will in the transfer of potency to creature, the Thomists, the soveriegnty of God.

Personally, from the way I see it, I see God’s involvement in the transfer of power to the creature as depending precisely to what degree the act is evil or good. Hence, God’s soveriegnty is involved to the degree that the creature cooperates with grace, and man’s free will is involved to the degree that the creature sins. But I’m probably over simplifuying this.


#20

Ah, I surely wouldn’t know, but I would be so terribly disappointed in a ‘supreme being’ that could not be surprised. Sure, such a being could SAY ‘I did that! I knew it’d happen!’ but that’s just frankly unimpressive, from my viewpoint.

It’s not at all impossible that a human or group of humans, right now (or really really close to now, don’t be shocked!), could potentially create a universe, making those humans de facto Creator Gods, knowing everything about the particular construction of said universe, and able to extrapolate every possible eventuality of said universe, hence being at least potentially omniscient.

Whoops, edit for being a Nepenthe-post
:o


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