“But for God, we have no free will. He knows already every influence, past, present and future on our lives. He knows how we behave – and will behave – in every situation. He knows whether we will worship or abandon him. It makes no difference what we do, whether we pray and worship or sin and blaspheme; God knows, even before we are born whether we will enter Heaven or Hell after we die. Our free will is an illusion; our lives are forever fixed in the amber of God’s mind.” (A post from an atheist website)
Many disbeliever agree with the above argument and commonly claim that God’s omniscience is a contradiction. How can God know everything and still allow free will? Their argument usually goes something like this:
1. God know every choice that you and I will make.
2. Since God’s knowledge is infallible, everything that God knows will happen necessarily.
3. Therefore, free will is an illusion.
As another atheist page stated, “If a god knows who will win the next presidential election, then it isn’t possible for anyone else to win.” Is this true? Does God’s omniscience (I’ll use this term interchangeably with foreknowledge; though they are technically different) negate our choice? As you will learn in the rebuttal, premise (2) does not lead to the conclusion.
I’ll make this short and sweet: God’s omniscience does not compel future events to occur; i.e. omniscience does not necessitate you choosing A over B.
There are two necessities in the world — one basic, for example, chimpanzees are mammals; the other being conditional, for example, if you know someone is breathing, he must necessarily be taking in air. Therefore, if God foreknows Bob will walk at 9:14 AM, Bob will walk at 9:14 AM, because that’s the whole point of foreknowing something; it can’t be anything but what you foreknow. Doesn’t this raise a problem though, namely, does Bob walk at 9:14 AM because God foreknew it — or does Bob walk at 9:14 AM because Bob willed it?
Bob freely chooses to walk because there is no necessity that compels Bob, who is voluntarily walking, to choose to go forward; although it is necessary for him to go forward at the moment of walking (just as it is necessary to take in a breath when breathing). In the same way, if God sees anything in the future, that something must necessarily be, although it is bound by no necessity of nature (unlike the sun rising).
Let’s say that the sun was rising when Bob started walking at 9:14 AM. The sun rising and Bob walking at the moment of occurrence could not but be taking place (conditional necessity); yet one of them before it took place was necessarily obliged to be, while the other freely chosen. Likewise, the things which to God are foreknown certainly exist, but some of them come from necessity of nature, while the others from the power of the agent.
Just because God foreknows that we will choose A over B, it doesn’t necessitate that we will choose it; it’s still up to us to choose. And honestly, I think we all know this inside; freedom of will seems to be a very basic and intuitional concept to mankind.