Omniscience and Omnipotence
For a more complete discussion of the nature and attributes of God see The Christian Theology of God.
This question was asked on the Christianity Stack Exchange site:
If God is truly omniscient as in “all knowing”, then God knows everything including the future. But doesn’t this then remove his choice to do something other than the choices he takes in the future he knows of? In which case he is not omnipotent? Or conversely, if he can truly do anything because he is “all powerful”, this has to make the future uncertain even to himself.
How can these two common claims about God be reconciled?
The question both fails to recognize the true extent of God’s omnipresence and also misrepresents the attribute of omniscience.
God’s omnipresence applies not only to space but also to time. God created space and time at the beginning. God is outside of time; he is not temporally limited in any way. For God, all time is present – he is the great I AM.
Furthermore God’s omniscience is therefore not constrained to temporal thinking; he knows everything in the present. He has no conflict with what will happen in the future, and the future does not limit him, because for him there is no future – all of existence is now.
God’s choices happen in the eternal-present and in no way limit him because they are made according to his perfect and infinite nature. Whatever God does, he does in this capacity, and doing something other than what he has done is not within his nature because what God wills simply is. “And God said, let their be light, and there was”.
In essence, God’s will quite literally defines all of reality.
Someone then objected:
Obviously, if GOD is bound by the laws of logic, then one would have to explain how he can be bound by something he himself created (or, if he didn’t, who did it then).
The mistake here is in assuming God created the “laws” of logic, instead of recognizing that logical coherence derives from God’s nature as an inherent characteristic. In fact, our capacity for coherent logical reasoning reflects the image of God.
Interestingly, but as something of an aside, the Bible calls the second person of the Trinity (Jesus) the “Word” of God, from the Greek logos, the same root as our word logic. The Word was not created, but rather “proceeds” from the essence of God by his nature. In other words (pun not intended) the person of Jesus is a natural consequence of the being of God, as are the persons of the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Again, an objection was raised:
Ahhh, now you make a difference between “created” by God and “derived” from God. Yet this doesn’t help with the dilemma, unless you define “almighty” [as being] “bound by its natures’ inherent characteristics” or something like that. As soon as you do that, I am with you.
To which I respond, any being is bound by their nature; God is by nature infinite, which is to say, unlimited. That does not mean he can act contrary to his nature; no being can – it means that anything contrary to his nature is by definition nonsensical, or as I put it earlier, a logical absurdity or contradiction.
Comments & Discussion
Guest comments are welcome - write comment, then the name field, then check "I'd rather post as a guest".