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I'm an atheist, but this is just an interesting question for theists and people who believe in god (ie, this should NOT become a religious debate :D)

Here it is:

You say that God can see the past, present and future all at once, like pages in a book. So does that mean God already sees the stuff he will do in the future, or in any time? Does this remove God's free will? Can he not change a decision because he already knows what he's gonna do? Or did he just do everything at once to all the pages in the book at one point in "his time" (greater level than "our time"?)... know what I mean?

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You say that God can see the past, present and future all at once, like pages in a book. So does that mean God already sees the stuff he will do in the future, or in any time? Does this remove God's free will? Can he not change a decision because he already knows what he's gonna do? Or did he just do everything at once to all the pages in the book at one point in "his time" (greater level than "our time"?)... know what I mean?

It wasn't me who said that by the way.

God is out of the question for me - atheist and theist levels.

Really you are posing a question that accepts god as a reality which makes the assumption there is a god.

Seems like we should answer this as a theist or on a fantasy level....

I'll say if god existed and is supposed to be able to do anything then it's irrelevant because it can be reorganised/replayed/erased etc!

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hahaha...this is one of the most debated issues (in my experience) among Christians. It's even more fun with people who have other beliefs. But I'll give my thoughts.

I'm an atheist, but this is just an interesting question for theists and people who believe in god (ie, this should NOT become a religious debate :D)

Here it is:

You say that God can see the past, present and future all at once, like pages in a book. So does that mean God already sees the stuff he will do in the future, or in any time? Yes, everything is planned out perfectly.Does this remove God's free will? Can he not change a decision because he already knows what he's gonna do? God does not have complete "free will." He does have boundaries. For example, He cannot sin. He cannot lie. He cannot alter the plans He has already made. I would consider the idea that He can alter the plans that He has not already revealed to people, but that would make it appear that His plan is not perfect, so I really wouldn't be able to accept that idea.Or did he just do everything at once to all the pages in the book at one point in "his time" (greater level than "our time"?)... know what I mean? That's more along the lines of what I believe. Not that He did everything at the same time, but once one thing was done, everything else was certain. And not that His time is a greater level than ours, but that when He created this world, and more specifically the sun and moon and light, there became something to measure, and we call it time.

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I think that God does not know what he will do a thousand years from now. I highly doubt that if there is a god that he would make the descision to let the world come to the way it is right now.

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Oh man this is a fun one. :D

Usually the debate revolves around whether or not God's omniscience changes whether or not humans have free-will or a fixed destiny, but you asked if God's actions would be predetermined, which is an angle I don't think I've thought about before. Interesting. I'll take a stab at it ...

You say that God can see the past, present and future all at once, like pages in a book.

Correct. "Can" is the operative word here.

So does that mean God already sees the stuff he will do in the future, or in any time?

Not necessarily. Because God can foresee the future doesn't mean that he chooses to. Just as we generally prefer not to skip ahead in a book, God apparently doesn't want to know every detail in advance. Can you blame him? Incidentally, if he did know every detail in advance, and chose to bring about the present world anyhow, then it would be pretty hard not consider him responsible for pain and suffering.

Does this remove God's free will? Can he not change a decision because he already knows what he's gonna do?

I think these questions are easier to grok when applied to the issue of human free will, but in any case, I would have to say No. The whole idea of free-will is that individuals have control over their own actions and decisions. If God looked into the future and saw that he would later act in a certain way, would he no longer be in control of his actions? That doesn't make sense to me. Of course, any questions involving knowledge of the future are going to be paradoxical, but this seems less so than some.

Or did he just do everything at once to all the pages in the book at one point in "his time" (greater level than "our time"?)... know what I mean?

There is reason to believe that there was no time before the big bang. Hence, God would have had to create time, and it seems reasonable to me that he would therefore have the ability to manipulate it. However, I don't know whether or not that means he actually created everything that would ever happen all at once, without actually knowing it (seems unlikely), or if he built determinism into the universe at such a low level that he could essentially fast forward to see what would happen, yet still enable intelligent creation to actually be capable of making choices (more likely), or if there's some other answer which is simply beyond our comprehension (most likely).

Regardless, what seems very clear to me is that 1) God can know anything he wants in advance, 2) God does not already know everything in advance, and 3) humans have free-will, i.e., the ability to control their own actions. How God gets around the apparent paradoxes is definitely a question of interest, and one to which I have no better answer than I do to the question "How did God get here?"

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Because God can foresee the future doesn't mean that he chooses to. Just as we generally prefer not to skip ahead in a book, God apparently doesn't want to know every detail in advance. Can you blame him? Incidentally, if he did know every detail in advance, and chose to bring about the present world anyhow, then it would be pretty hard not consider him responsible for pain and suffering.
Being both omniscient and omnipotent, I don't think we can seriously let Him off the hook for that. Still, a little pain and suffering builds character. Actually, now I come to think of it, God could hardly be held responsible for anything that he knew he would do in advance. Not carrying out his destiny would be impossible, even for God, otherwise his knowledge of the future would have been wrong. I like your take on omniscience, by the way - able to know everything but choosing not to know everything. Reminds me of a good Garfield cartoon I saw years back.

Garfield's finished eating at an "all you can eat for $6" pizza place. The waiter wants to charge him extra for a piece of pizza he took but left unfinished on his plate, since the $6 charge only covers food that you can eat. Garfield says "ah, but the sign says 'all you can eat', not 'all you do eat'". :D

There is reason to believe that there was no time before the big bang. Hence, God would have had to create time, and it seems reasonable to me that he would therefore have the ability to manipulate it. However, I don't know whether or not that means he actually created everything that would ever happen all at once, without actually knowing it (seems unlikely), or if he built determinism into the universe at such a low level that he could essentially fast forward to see what would happen, yet still enable intelligent creation to actually be capable of making choices (more likely) If you mean free will in humans, isn't that a contradiction? , or if there's some other answer which is simply beyond our comprehension (most likely).

What about if God just created all of space and time as a fait accompli, a complete package with destiny (and any divine intervention) built in to the end of time? It doesn't really tie in with the idea of a caring, interactive God, but it makes a bit more sense.

Regardless, what seems very clear to me is that 1) God can know anything he wants in advance, 2) God does not already know everything in advance, and 3) humans have free-will, i.e., the ability to control their own actions. How God gets around the apparent paradoxes is definitely a question of interest, and one to which I have no better answer than I do to the question "How did God get here?"
This kind of ties in with the Destiny vs Free Will topic I did a while back. If humans have only one future, our actions are predetermined so we do not have free will. If God can see the future then God knows what we will do, so we do not have free will (unless God never uses his ability to see the future, in which case what's the point in having it). If we do have free will then the future is undecided, so if God can see the future, he can see all possible futures. But then God doesn't really know what will happen, unless all possible futures actually happen (in which case free will is redundant, since we are not really making choices).

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Cool topic, I'll take a stab at it assuming that God exists.

You say that God can see the past, present and future all at once, like pages in a book. So does that mean God already sees the stuff he will do in the future, or in any time?

I would think that he sees the past, present and future of our universe, but most likely not have that power concerning where he is. Since time is basically not necessary and there are many theories that the universe can be seen without time, that is most likely what God sees. Though, I would venture to say that this omniscience is only applicable to our universe and not in God's space and time. I would therefore believe that he sees our futures (but only the parts that our known to us). He does not see the part of our futures (which we do not comprehend) that are relevant to where he exists and where our souls are resurrected.

Does this remove God's free will? Can he not change a decision because he already knows what he's gonna do? Or did he just do everything at once to all the pages in the book at one point in "his time" (greater level than "our time"?)... know what I mean?

I would say God has free will. He used free will to make our universe and to have omniscience over it. I'd say that he did everything at once and now it's all playing out from where he began it without his interference. Meaning he is God, so there are obviously no flaws that he would have to iron out as they come up.

Edited by itachi-san

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Interesting replies. If you are a theist and want to ignore this "paradox", the best way would be to say that God did everything at once- all his interactions with the universe were done, by his perspective, at one moment, affecting different parts in time for us, the inhabitants of that universe. That's the best way to avert this God paradox, IMO, if you believe in God.

To me, since I'm an atheist, it seemed pretty unaddressed that someone could see the future caused by him and have free will at the same time, that's why I made this topic :P

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Predetermined, maybe or maybe not. Who can say they have proof either way. No one, of course.

Edited by akaslickster

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Oh man this is a fun one. :D

Usually the debate revolves around whether or not God's omniscience changes whether or not humans have free-will or a fixed destiny, but you asked if God's actions would be predetermined, which is an angle I don't think I've thought about before. Interesting. I'll take a stab at it ...

Correct. "Can" is the operative word here

I have heard the "can but chooses not to" argument before and it is illogical. It seems to me to be unbelievable that God can see the future but sometimes chooses not to "take a peek". I have also heard the comparison to skipping ahead in a book. How irresponsible would that be if one believed that if God had chosen to know what was going to happen, he would step in and stop whatever ill fate lie ahead? I don't believe in pre-destiny in the sense that God makes people do good or evil things or that he makes some people "good" and others "bad". Nor, do I believe in the belief of one's days being numbered....that God took them back to heaven. Frankly, I would be quite angry at God if I thought he had some people burn to death in house fires, drown in lakes, or whatever other dreadful passing you can imagine.

A person in their religious belief finally has to come to terms with what they see as the purpose of mankind's existence. To me, this is the crux of all religions. A person can drive themselves crazy asking questions like how could a perfect God create a man and woman that would sin even to begin with. Yes, free will. BUT, if they were perfect, why did they sin? Or, what would have happened if Adam and Even had made it to that Tree of Life before they were banished? Sinners everlasting?

Not necessarily. Because God can foresee the future doesn't mean that he chooses to. Just as we generally prefer not to skip ahead in a book, God apparently doesn't want to know every detail in advance. Can you blame him? Incidentally, if he did know every detail in advance, and chose to bring about the present world anyhow, then it would be pretty hard not consider him responsible for pain and suffering.

You can certainly agree that God foresaw where the world was heading. Scripture talks about bringing to ruin those ruining the earth. That he saw it, does not mean that he is responsible for where we are. Once again, I say that each of us needs to figure out what is mankind's purpose. A sparrow does not fall without God's awareness. We have to understand God's responsibility toward mankind and mankind's responsibility for himself. Are God's actions pre-determined? I believe they are actually, because mankind's actions have proven to be determined. It serves a purpose. Just our job to figure out what that is

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Not necessarily. Because God can foresee the future doesn't mean that he chooses to. Just as we generally prefer not to skip ahead in a book, God apparently doesn't want to know every detail in advance.

but I though he was "all knowing" :lol:

I'm just gonna go with that saying I've heard all too many times.

it's beyond our abilities to understand or imagine.

god would just be to complex for us :)

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i think.. (if he is real) that he has the power to see what it would be like if he did something.

therefore he has a choice.

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