In Part 1, I discussed why I believe that God doesn’t know all our future choices. It’s rather a controversial topic, so please make sure you read my previous article before reading on.
In Part 2 I will explain why I think that believing the more traditional view that God knows all our future choices (and not our non-choices) is a dangerous thing to believe.
1. Believing that someone knows our future damages our free agency
We’re not faced with life-changing decisions every day (although that could be argued, as I did here), but when they come we can get crippled with Paralysis Analysis, unable to make a move for fear of making a wrong or less-than-perfect one. It’s rather normal, after all, to be concerned about the possible ramifications of a choice of partner, of a financial investment, or of career direction.
However, when you believe that God knows every choice you will make, the next logical rational thought is that there is only one choice for you to make: the one God knows you will make! So if you also believe that He can answer your prayers and give you some insights into the future (an almost universal aspect of all faiths), what would you be tempted to ask him?
God, you know what choice I will make. Can you please let me know if it’s going to be a really bad one? I know I can’t avoid making it because you already know I’m going to make it, but I’d like to be at least prepared for it, you know…
And you can see how ridiculous this becomes. Instead of focusing on the possibilities, our vision narrows down to a pessimistic, defeatist and deterministic view of the future, and of God too!
2. We may end up believing that there is only One perfect decision
I have a friend/relative who went through a terribly painful divorce, which came to him as a complete and utterly devastating surprise. He had somehow gone through over 20 years of marriage under the impression that he was married to “The only one” he was meant to marry. It was a “match made in heaven”, a union sealed for eternity, that nothing could erode or break down. There could be no one else beside her. Ever.
So what do you do when your core belief in “The only one” gets smashed down through divorce? At first, you may cling on, try your best to rescue it. If you feel that God told you to marry that person all these years ago, then surely He would have foreseen the break-down too and the means to restore the relationship.
And when that fails, and you slowly start to realise that yep, she’s gone mate, you’re all alone. And the kids have gone too… What do you do then? What do you believe?
Did you know, God, all these years ago, that it would end up that way? Did you encourage me to marry her just so it would end up like this? Did you REALLY know and didn’t give me even a hint?
Once again, you are depending entirely on a being who knows everything, to make your decision, AND to accept the reality of what is happening. You are not truly thinking for yourself. You can’t truly be a “free agent” if you believe that someone knows what you will do, especially if you believe that this “someone” is accessible any time of the day through an act as simple as prayer.
3. It warps our view of Deity
A god who knows precisely what choices we will make is limited in the following ways:
- He’s incapable of being surprised
- He has a limited knowledge because he doesn’t know what we will not do, what COULD be, he only knows what WILL be. If he does know what COULD be, it’s completely useless knowledge, and I’m not sure I could believe in a God whose knowledge is 99.99999% completely useless!
- To promise us free agency. he must be completely uninvolved. The slightest interference on his part, even inspiring someone to do something, rigs the “game” in his chosen direction, as he knows exactly all the repercussions of that interference. An uninvolved god is not approachable, cannot demonstrate his love, and cannot be worshipped. The only alternative is a god who doesn’t give us free agency. None of these alternatives sound very god-like to me!
I believe that the concept of a God who knows exactly what choices we will make is incorrect. It is inconsistent with the God I have come to know personally through decades of prayer, study and observation. I know He is a loving God, and involved in the seemingly insignificant minutiae of every human activity. He has never allowed his infinite power to take away our freedom of choice, but He will never stop gently guiding, persuading, encouraging His children to choose the better way. He is the perfect Parent, the one after which I try to pattern my own life. I’m glad my future isn’t written in his divine mind, but is in my hands, and that He has set up the conditions for me to learn what I need to learn while going through this mortal life.