mainstream religious views Essay

Submitted By jsnikki03
Words: 1843
Pages: 8

According to mainstream religious views, God is claimed to be omniscient, thus in possession of perfect foreknowledge, and God is supposed to have granted humankind free will. As a result, a clear contradiction ensues; how can human beings possess free will when an infinite, omniscient God knows every action in the universe, both past and present? The answer is that the supposed exercise of humanity's free will is ultimately an illusion. Attempts to solve the apparent contradiction often involved attributing to God special properties, for example, being "outside" of time. However, the trouble with such solutions is that they are generally unsatisfactory on their own terms. Even more serious is the fact that they leave untouched the problem posed not by God's foreknowledge but that of any human being. Every day humans correctly predict the future through complex equations or simple inferences. If correct predictions are made with humankind's limited knowledge, then the infinite omniscience of God is fittingly applied to His understanding of all events in time. This concept of all events in time being determined is appropriately named Determinism, and directly contrasts with the notion of free will. Religious Determinism states that the way things will be is a result of how things are and the work of natural laws. In other words, if one were to know the state of all things in the present moment and the laws that govern how the universe functions, then the future can be derived. For example, the students of Notre Dame are passionate about football, and moreover if the Irish win then they are going to be happy. Conversely, if they lose then they are going to be in a miserable, depressed state. Thus, if the Irish recently defeated a foe, then it can be said that Notre Dame students will be happy. By using the current state of affairs (the Irish won a football game) with the law (Notre Dame students are filled with glee when the football team wins) it is determined the students will be happy. In effect, the future is determined on a relatively small scale. Accordingly the idea of Religious Determinism is defined as being able to give the future state of the universe from its present state and the laws of nature governing it. It is also important to note that the design of Determinism holds true even if one doesn't know the natural law or initial state. If one were to know the required information about the state of the universe and the laws governing it, then he or she could determine the future state, but that state is still determined in the same way no matter the previous knowledge.
God is defined to be infinite and omniscient (humans cannot comprehend the vastness of His knowledge), and thus He possesses the immeasurable knowledge of all natural laws in the universe. God holds the knowledge of all states in the universe, from the movement of the planets to the reason why a particular human prefers chocolate ice cream (gained from the natural law of upbringing, taste bud molecules, current mood, etc.). Since the universe spanned from God's omnipotence, He knows the initial position of all particles in existence. Much like a simple physics equation, God has derived the future from the initial state and every natural law in reality. As a result, all events are already predetermined by the omniscient God, which upholds the illusion of free will.
This can be solidified with a future prediction example. Suppose God were to know that tomorrow the President of the United States will wear a black suit. If God were to not know this, then his knowledge would not be omniscient, which contradicts the definition of God. If His prediction is true, then the President is compelled to wear a black suit, as God knows beforehand that he will. If the President were to wear a brown suit, then God's knowledge would be imperfect, which contradicts the definition of God, who is a perfect being. Thus, theologically, unopposed free will resists the…