God’s Omniscience & Foreknowledge

Below is an unedited comment that was posted in another thread by an anonymous writer. I moved it here because it is such a good post (& topic) that it deserved its own space.

She or he asked some very good questions about the Western church’s traditional teaching on God’s omniscience. I ask readers to hear what this person is saying and feel the real tension between the biblical concept of legitimate free-will and the idea that there is only one possible future, from which there is (allegedly) no deviation. The anonymous author of this post has a great point, and we would do well to consider its implications. It is my hope that this post will lend itself to healthy (and helpful) dialogue on the subject. Read on! This post is so relevant that I also posted it on my other, more user-friendly blog: God's Omniscience & Foreknowledge

-C. Lambeth


“There are many arguments I struggle to comprehend, particularly with a God who knows everything. This is known as omniscience. If God knows everything then He knows the answer to all of our questions and the choices we make. In this respect, we are living a senseless life simply because everything is predetermined. From my understanding, God does not want obedient robots to worship and love him. In reality, we are preprogrammed. From God’s perspective, He has all the necessary knowledge of who we are. God knows exactly what we will think and do. His creation is the universal map. Do we have the freedom to choose?

If God is omniscience we may conclude the following: 1) Everything is predetermined, 2) There is no purpose attached to our life; perhaps we are here for God’s entertainment, 3) God allows us to make choices, regardless of Him knowing the outcome(s) 4) God is not testing us because He already knows the outcome. 5) There is no judgment at the end of life; why judge someone if you already know the outcome. The outcome of any judgment is for our understanding and purpose only.

Hopefully, my analogy will not lead anyone to assume we should act without thought or moral code. What I meant by “senseless life” is that there is no relevance in life from a God that knows everything (past, present, and future). I question what relevance are we to God if he knows everything? Perhaps, we only have relevance to each other.

Note: I really want to stress the point about so called “tests” from God. The only reason to test something is to understand or acknowledge an UNKNOWN outcome. Simply put, there are no tests for God; If we are being tested then from what perspective or purpose?”

[-Anonymous]

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Political FiliBlustering

I recently received a forwarded email that constituted little more than propaganda against President Obama. In that email (which I have included in the first “comment” on this thread), our President is accused of canceling a long-standing National Day of Prayer event as well as praying with Muslims and declaring that our nation is “no longer a Christian nation.” In a moment of unfortunate (?) indignation, I dared to hit “reply all” to point out this ill-conceived email’s fallacies. I could have predicted it, but this was apparently the invitation that one person, Jeff Stoker of Michigan, was looking for to initiate an emotionally laden diatribe in support of his Conservative political agenda. Our conversation started as a Facebook thread among the original recipients of the Anti-Obama propaganda, but I know how annoying unsolicited “reply-all” arguments can be, so I moved my objections to Jeff’s position to a private message format. However, Jeff apparently couldn’t tolerate the idea of keeping a private conversation private, so he re-posted all of my messages to him in the original forum even though I told him previously that he did not have my permission to do so.

Normally, I do my best to honor people who send me private messages by keeping them private or at least asking them for permission (if I can) before I post their writings in a public format. I consider this common courtesy. However, if they expressly tell me NOT to post things they have written, THEN it becomes an issue of integrity. Apparently such integrity is foreign to Jeff Stoker. Nevertheless, in this case I actually don’t mind that he re-printed my words in a more public setting against my wishes, for contrary to my expectations, Jeff actually posted my words to him verbatim, and I remain confident in my criticisms of the political propaganda he has come to believe in so strongly.

Not that anyone is particularly interested in reading yet another political argument, but to accord Jeffry the same courtesy he extended to me, I have also decided to post our conversation in a more public format. Except for protecting the name of the friend who first sent me the propaganda, all posts are unedited and in their original sequence. I leave it to anyone bored enough to read through them to decide who has made the better case regarding the accusations made against our Commander in Chief.

As always, thank you for reading.
-C. Lambeth

Atheist, Sam Harris' Wheelbarrow

Recently I read a comment originating with the atheist popularizer, Sam Harris, deriding Christians for believing accounts of Christ that come from the Bible:

“The Bible, it seems certain, was the work of sand-strewn men and women who thought the earth was flat and for whom the wheelbarrow would have been a breathtaking example of emerging technology.”

This can be found on page 45 of his book, "The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the future of Reason."

I understand that for some people (apparently Sam Harris), this might appear to be an appropriate criticism, but the logic is more than a little muddled. Harris’ argument seems to hinge on the idea that people whom WE consider to be technologically primitive are incapable of perceiving events as they actually occurred and equally unable to report them with fidelity to anyone else. Mr. Harris is welcome to place his faith in such dubious conclusions, but there are a few things the rest of us should consider before converting to his beliefs. Read on in the comments attached.

-CL

The Weakness of "Weak" Atheism (continued)

This post's comments section is an extension from an earlier post on the issues surrounding both "weak" & "strong" atheism and my thesis that both incorporate a LOT of faith, just not faith in Jesus. The conversation partners are myself and an anonymous writer who goes by the handle, JStreeter.

As always, thank you for reading!
-CL

How Long?

We are so precious and unique in the cosmos; why do we spend ourselves destroying each other?
May we never be lulled into thinking that all is well in the world.
John 10:10



Make sure your speakers are on, but be patient; the audio doesn't begin until about 2:30 into the video.

I created this video montage for a George Fox Seminary project.
My video can be seen in a larger format on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fwik90jhQM0

Steven Hawking's Premature Proclamation

In his latest book, renowned astronomer Stephen Hawking has boldly proclaimed that God did not create the universe. An introductory article can be found at the Wall Street Journal on-line at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704206804575467921609024244.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsSecond.

To be fair, I have not read Hawking’s book yet. Indeed, it isn't scheduled to go on sale until Tuesday, September 7, 2010. While I am interested in astronomy and science, I would be remiss if I pretended that I could critique Hawking’s math or his astrophysics. What I can criticize however, is the fallacy and the faith that he has let befoul his science.

Hawking seems to have invested heavily in the idea that science and the God of the Bible are at odds. This has also worked its way into the now-defunct “God of the Gaps” theory, which held that whatever could not be explained by science was accomplished by God. The problem this idea would seem to pose for Christianity is that the more science tells us, the less God is left to do (or be necessary for). This is exactly what Hawking’s new book capitalizes upon. His latest theory (and it may be accurate on this point) offers that the number of universes in alternate dimensions may well be infinite. He follows this up by saying that since the possibilities for finely tuned life-giving solar systems is unlimited in an infinite multiverse, that we happen to exist isn’t particularly unique. I disagree with the statement concerning uniqueness, but this is also where Hawking stealthily (or perhaps unwittingly) inserts his own faith commitment and tries to pass it off as science.

What Hawking has in his crosshairs is the anthropic principle, which basically argues for design (or intelligent design if you are a Christian). The argument goes something like this: Since there are so many (literally hundreds or thousands) of finely-tuned facets necessary for life to exist (much less evolve), it is likely that a designer of some sort had their hand in it. Stated another way, the sheer improbability of all those categories coalescing perfectly to give rise to intelligent life is so extremely unlikely that it would essentially take more faith to believe that there is no designer than to believe otherwise. Hawking attempts to pull the rug out from this line of thinking by suggesting that life is not particularly unique in the universe(s) and that we just happen to be “lucky” enough to be in one corner of it where life has come together on its own.

Back to the God of the Gaps fallacy. The problem with the fallacy that Hawking has incorporated is that he presupposes science and Christian faith to be at odds. The argument rests on the notion that if science can show how something happened, then it means that God had nothing to do with it. I must be quick to point out that while Hawking has not proven his theory here, he may be right about an infinite universe or universes. Nevertheless, what he fails to consider is that God may have ordered all of creation (or multiverses) to operate according to what we call “scientific principles and laws.” In that sense, we might well consider science a window into the mind of God rather than his competitor. Put another way, theology can offer why God created and what our relationship with that entity might be, but science can offer how God created. This is fascinating, and it leads me to think that good science is one of the most amazing and important enterprises for humanity to explore.

For his part however, Hawking seems to believe that God’s creation can be used to demonstrate that God does not exist. This is akin to a person suggesting that the scientific method can be used to prove that the scientific method doesn't work. While I have little doubt that Hawking is a brilliant scientist, I hope that his readers (and mine) can perceive the problem with that kind of thinking. Like any other atheist, Hawking is welcome to believe that God did not create the universe, but that is little more than a faith commitment, and it stretches beyond the reach of his scientific research. I suspect that his new book makes no such admission, but I hope that I am pleasantly surprised to discover otherwise. Time will tell.

Thanks for reading me,
-C. Lambeth

Issues of Biblical Perfection

Traditionally this is called the issue of "inerrancy." Offer an opinion, ask a question, but please join in the discussion.
-CL

The Age of the Earth/ Universe

All readers, posters, philosophers and theologians are welcome! Join the discussion!
-CL

Timothy Paul Jones' "Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus'"


A book review. Please feel free to engage in the conversation.

-CL

Ben Stein's "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed"



A review. Please feel free to comment and share.
-CL