2The problemFree will is good. If God is good, he has given us free will.‘God knows in advance all the choices we will make; therefore we are not free, and cannot be held responsible when we do wrong.’ Discuss.If I could choose this or that, how does God know what I will choose before I’ve chosen?If God doesn’t know, then God doesn’t know everything, so isn’t omniscient.
3Omniscience and the future Perfect knowledge = omniscience = knowing everything?God is the most perfect possible being, so omniscience is knowing everything it is possible to knowIs it possible to know the future?God’s transcendenceIs there such a thing as ‘the future’ from God’s point of view? Is God inside or outside time?
4God outside time (eternal) God knows everything at all times; God knows all events in time in the same wayIs this compatible with free will? Has the future ‘already happened’ from God’s perspective?If God knows what I will choose, mustn’t my choice be ‘determined’ already?Reply: We can’t understand how God knows the future, but it isn’t causally determined, so we have free will.
5God inside time (everlasting) God doesn’t know the future, perhaps because we have free will. Therefore, God gains knowledge over time.Is God omniscient?Yes: God knows everything it is possible to know at any timeNo: If God were outside time, it would be possible to know moreGod knows the future, but we still have free willHow?
6DeterminismUniversal causation: every event – everything that happens or occurs – has a causeEven if we don’t know the cause, we don’t allow that something ‘just happened’Causal necessity: given the total set of conditions under which the cause occurs, and the laws of nature, only one effect is possible
7Physical determinismEverything that happens in the physical universe is causally determined by the state of the universe + laws of nature.E.g. every decision is determined by the previous state of my brainIf we could know the position of every particle in the universe + the laws of nature, every future physical event could be predicted in principle.E.g. every movement of my body
8Actions as events Our actions are events. Therefore, they have causes. Given the causes they have, no action is possible other than what we actually do.If we couldn’t do any other action, then we do not have free will, e.g. to choose between doing different actions.
9Psychological determinism Comes in degreesStrong: every psychological event is causally determined by previous events + laws of psychologyBut (almost) no strict laws of psychology have been discoveredWeak: patterns of psychological events, including decisions, are determined by previous experiencesMany influences on our decisions are outside our control
10Prediction and freedom Being able to predict what someone will do isn’t enough to show that they aren’t free.PreferencesCharacter traitsIt depends on whether the basis for prediction rules out the possibility the action can’t happen.
11God’s foreknowledge and determinism If God knows my choices before I make them because he has infallible knowledge of my preferences and character, this suggests psychological determinismGod’s knowledge of my character won’t be enough to predict my future in detail, e.g. whether I’m alive! If God knows this, this suggests physical determinismBut is determinism incompatible with free will?We need a clearer idea of exactly what free will is.
12Three solutionsGod is outside time, and knows the future. How we don’t know, but we have free will, e.g. because determinism is false.God is inside time, determinism is false, we have free will, so God doesn’t know the future. But God still knows everything it is possible to know (at any time).God is inside time, determinism is true, but not incompatible with free will. So God knows the future, but we have free will.