God Knows Everything. —ish

We are behind in the ph/rs lesson sequence and today was our crack at the Lorenzo Snow manual, lesson 7. One man, a retired university professor, steered the discussion into evil and foreknowledge. The usual sorts of responses then showed up:

1. God Knows Everything.
2. We are here to justify to ourselves our already known ultimate fate.
3. Does God cause “evil” to teach us the “lesson” we need?

Etc., etc.

I had some questions to ask, but you could sense the room full of high priests was on the edge of their collective seats waiting to spout the usual bits about how agency exists despite foreknowledge.

I exercised my own bit of foreknowledge:

Question to myself: “WVS, what if you found a seam to insert your questions about the assumptions behind these claims? What happens then?”

Myself: “Let’s see, branded as someone who likes to make trouble? Make people question their faith? Confuse them?”

Questioner answers: “All yes.”

Another question to myself in contrafactual mode: “What would be gained by bringing the still-conscious to the brink of paradox?”

Myself: “Perhaps a bit of thought about what they really believe accountability is all about?”

Questioner: “I’m asking the questions here. Pay attention. Suppose you argued thusly:

1. God knows everything, past, present, future.
2. God knows whether you will choose chocolate or strawberry ice cream tonight at the birthday party, even though you haven’t yet decided that important issue yourself.
3. God knows you will choose chocolate.
4. The party rolls around, it’s ice cream time. The choice is placed before you. Chocolate, or strawberry.
5. Might you choose strawberry? No. At the moment of choice, you are not really free to choose strawberry. Your ice cream future is fixed forever and from the beginning of time, even though the party hasn’t happened yet. Otherwise, it could not be known with complete certainty that chocolate will be your pick.
6. It might be calculated that chocolate is more favorable, but if at the moment of choice, either selection is possible, then absolute certainty of the outcome is not possible. No matter how strenuously one argues that ‘just because God sees it, he doesn’t determine it’ it’s still impossible to choose strawberry. God’s vision of the future implies that the future is already here.

Then what?”

Myself: “It’s fast day in this part of the vineyard. I’m hungry, I’ll have some of both.”

Questioner: “Evader, answer the question.”

Myself: “Okay, someone will say I’m trivializing the discussion. And that God doesn’t force anyone to do anything. Yes the last thing is too broad, but then they would pile on with lots of silly tangential questions insinuating that you don’t believe the scriptures, and so on.”

Questioner: “What’s the upside?”

Myself: “Not clear now. Why do you spoil things?”

Questioner: “You’ll thank me later.”

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16 Responses to God Knows Everything. —ish

  1. Shelby says:

    This is what I know: you are sometimes crazy, Dad. But I sure am glad I ‘chose’ you as my father! Ha!

  2. Shelby says:

    P.S. chocolate is the only true and living flavor…past, present, and future. Everyone knows that!

  3. Char says:

    That girl ;) knows whereof she comments

  4. WVS says:

    So, before chocolate, chocolate was created spiritually? I can go with it.

  5. psmithut says:

    This is the conversation I have with myself before at least every other comment I make.

  6. Steve says:

    Your #5 depends on how you define ‘free’. In my view, one is indeed ‘free’ in every desirable sense of the word to choose strawberry, even though chocolate is the selection that will necessarily be made. Foreknowledge and causal determinism are not incompatible with free will.

    The only freedom in your example that is incompatible with perfect foreknowledge is freedom from one’s own will. But a universe in which we are free from our own will would be a random nonsensical universe, and I’m not interested in such a universe. Just because one’s collection of desires will cause them to choose chocolate over strawberry in that instance, doesn’t take away the fact that the person recognized two options and was able to weigh those options without any compulsion from another being.

    “God’s vision of the future implies that the future is already here.” True, there is only one future. But that does not take away that individual choice is a large part of what makes the future what it is.

    • Steve says:

      Why is this comment still in moderation?

      • WVS says:

        Sorry about the delay. I’ve been occupied elsewhere.

        ““God’s vision of the future implies that the future is already here.” True, there is only one future. But that does not take away that individual choice is a large part of what makes the future what it is.”

        Steve, I’m sure what you’ve said here makes some kind of sense, I’m just not sure what that is.

        Of course, if you don’t accept the notion of free will, it’s fine. But “free” implies that outcome is never certain until an event takes place. Hence the impossibility of knowing the future beyond a designation of “probable.”

      • Steve says:

        To me “free” does not imply that the outcome is never certain. To me “free” means something like the ability to recognize options and to weigh and choose among those options without compulsion from another being.

        So under that definition, free will and foreknowledge with certainty are compatible.

  7. ricke says:

    I agree. There is no point rocking the boat in HP group or in Sunday School. Virtually no one will appreciate it, most will find it irrelevant, and a few will be annoyed by it. This is why you and I should talk more often. I ALWAYS like to hear what you have to say.

  8. ricke says:

    By the way, I think this is the type of post that might go better at BCC than the textual analysis of the revelations. I don’t think there are too many readers willing to work with you through that, but plenty are willing to give their opinions about “free will”, etc. (as in your HP group). You could even challenge the commenters as you felt appropriate.

    • WVS says:

      Yeah, the readership for that stuff is not huge, compared to the social issues sorts of things. And of course, blog stats don’t really tell you much about whether people actually read things they click on. But far fewer people read here.

  9. ricke says:

    On the other hand, I think the textual analysis of the D&C is great and very valuable. If I had the tools and resources, I would like to help with it.

  10. kevinf says:

    WVS, your D&C textual analysis at BCC is delicious, but I will be the first to admit that I don’t always know why. As to this discussion, I’ve been wondering at my seeming inability to choose any other item at a restaurant when fish tacos are on the menu. The future is here, and it is full of fish tacos, apparently.

  11. WVS says:

    kevinf, I’ve never picked fish tacos on purpose. But it is an option that looms. There is some positive probability that I will get one some day.

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