Divine Foreknowledge and Free Will

January 26, 2016 § Leave a comment

The Heavenly Doctrines declare that the Lord foresees and knows every detail of the future and that people have free will

This age old paradox bothers many people. If the Lord foresees the future, then I really cannot be free to do something different. And conversely, if I am free, the Lord can not know what I will do before I do it.

One way in which some people have resolved this paradox is to claim that the Lord knows the generals or universals of the future, but not the details or particulars. The quote below, from Conjugial Love 388 says that this is not possible.

We say, universally and particularly, because when we use the term universal, we mean at the same time the individual particulars of which a thing consists. For a universal entity arises from and consists of particulars, being so named on account of them, as a common whole is so named on account of its parts. If you take away the particulars, therefore, the universal is merely a word, and is like an outer surface which has nothing in it. Accordingly, to attribute to God a universal government, and take away its particulars, is an empty expression, and virtually an attribution of nothingness. (Any comparison with the universal government of earthly kings is not a valid one.)

According to modern physics, we can know either the momentum of an electron, or its position, but not both. This is because the size of a photon (a particle of light) is nearly the same as the electron, consequently the photon has a significant impact on the electron.

If the photon glances off of the electron, we can measure its momentum, but we will have no idea of its position. If the photon hits the electron dead on, we can measure its position, but we will have no idea of its momentum.

The fact that we can measure both, even though not at the same time, suggests to me that the electron has both position and momentum.

We face a similar situation when we try to think about the Divine or infinity. When we focus on the Lord’s foreknowledge, we loose sight of our free will. When we focus on our free will, we loose sight of the Lord’s foresight. Both the Lord’s foreknowledge and our freedom coexist, the problem is that we finite human beings can not see both at the same time.



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