Wednesday, October 15, 2008

God All Knowing and Our Agency

Our philosophy teacher posed a pointed question today. If God knows everything then does that take away our ability to choose? His argument was that if God knows what we're going to do before we do it then there is no way we can decide our own future, it has already been decided.

My argument to the contrary is simple. I begin by posing a quick example. Look in at the planets. Look at everything that we call nature. They all have certain tendencies and behaviors. They all react in specific patterns and they are all constrained to certain natural laws. Thus, they all have a certain nature that they cannot break.

So back to the original question. If God knows EVERYTHING does that mean that we are no longer free to make our own decisions? There is a key word that needs to be defined about us humans for this argument to be complete. That word is nature. In this particular argument I will use this definition: Our nature is our choices.

Every individual makes choices everyday based on influences. Whether the influence is his instincts, other people, or things in his environment. Individuals can change the pattern in which they make their choices, but that is again part of their nature. The choice to change choices is still a choice and it is still based on some influence. So for simplicity sake changes in our nature are still considered part of our nature.

With these definitions decided, this is my argument. God knows the nature of all things. He knows the patterns in which all things respond. This does not change the fact that they act with in their nature out of the simple fact that it is their nature, He simply knows what is going to happen before it happens.

This shouldn't be surprising either. We know what certain things are going to happen in nature because of their patterns. We know what will happen when we leave a plant in sun light with plenty of water and fair weather. It only follows that God, knowing every detail about everything, would be able to know much more detailed things about the nature of things than we would.

So, if God knows our nature as detailed as he knows the nature of everything else it would follow that he would know what we are going to do before we do it. Then it follows that his knowledge does not change our nature which means that our choices and decisions (our nature) are not effect.

Thus God knows our nature well enough to know what we will do before we do it. Our nature includes all of our choices, decisions, and changes. God's knowledge does not effect our choices.