Thursday, September 20, 2012

Free Will and God's Omniscience

The balance between God's omniscience and our free will is a problem that has weighed on my mind since I was eight years old. While I have reluctantly come to terms with the fact that I will never understand this conundrum this side of heaven, I still find other people's efforts to explain it interesting and I always read them with interest.

Today I was reading Let Us Be What We Are: The Joys and Challenges of Living the Little Way by Clarence J. Enzler, who offered one of the best explanations of this mystery that I have seen:

God sees all that He will ever create and sees each particle of it in its fullness, in all its phases and facets. he sees the effect on everything that exists of the [natural] laws He has created . . . He sees the results of man's free will, how every person will use his or her free will in every free action of his or her life. He balances all these actions and reactions, all the events of history, those governed by natural law and those open to human freedom . . . 

He balances all that might be if He did this or if He did that - and then in His wisdom He decides that this is what man's freedom should be, this is the potential of his intellect, these are to be the qualities of matter, the capabilities of animals, of fish, of birds, of insects, not only of animals as a species but of each individual animal according to the complex interplay of situations and events that He foresees will take place. 

This is the meaning of the old saying that "this is the best of all possible worlds." It is the world that God has foreseen, permitted, and provided for. If man perfectly followed God's will, the world would be quite a different place. But God will not force man to follow His will. He will not coerce man to goodness. . . 

But God sees the effect of every sin just as He sees the effect of every act of virtue. And He provides for it. He permits sin, but He does not permit sin to wipe out His plan. Sin will never conquer. He is in charge. . . 

God has foreseen it, . . . He permits it, and . . . He has provided for it so that it will contribute ultimately to the victory of goodness over evil, of God over Satan. The end of it all will be great and good, perhaps not in our time or that of our children - but eventually, sometime, because God has provided and God will not be mocked, and God is in charge. 


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