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God's Foreknowledge


consiglieri

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I know this subject has been drummed to death, but I thought of it again during this past Sunday school class when a member was saying that God knew that Abraham would follow through with the sacrifice of Isaac, and so it was really about Abraham learning something, not God.

I had to interrupt when she said that God knows everything that will happen by saying, "I like to think that I surprise God every now and again."

(Greeted by a few nervous titters and quizzical expressions.)

Fortunately, the class did not get derailed on this subject, but I wondered if anybody here agrees with my comment that we can surprise God by what we do.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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I know this subject has been drummed to death, but I thought of it again during this past Sunday school class when a member was saying that God knew that Abraham would follow through with the sacrifice of Isaac, and so it was really about Abraham learning something, not God.

I had to interrupt when she said that God knows everything that will happen by saying, "I like to think that I surprise God every now and again."

(Greeted by a few nervous titters and quizzical expressions.)

Fortunately, the class did not get derailed on this subject, but I wondered if anybody here agrees with my comment that we can surprise God by what we do.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

I don't believe that His foreknowledge is absolute, but I could be wrong. If it is, then I can't understand why we are taught that prophecies in a patriarchal blessing are only valid if we remain faithful. It seems to me that if God already knows that we will not remain faithful, He would not tell us what would happen if we did, when He knows that we won't.

I tend to see our lives as a giant flow chart with every possible option included in that chart. God makes plans and back-up plans for us based on the various options that we choose on our chart. Hope that makes sense.

Best,

T-Shirt

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I wondered if anybody here agrees with my comment that we can surprise God by what we do.

I agree. Of course, if you've followed any of the foreknowledge discussion in the past, oh I don't know, two years or so you probably already knew that.

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I know this subject has been drummed to death, but I thought of it again during this past Sunday school class when a member was saying that God knew that Abraham would follow through with the sacrifice of Isaac, and so it was really about Abraham learning something, not God.

I had to interrupt when she said that God knows everything that will happen by saying, "I like to think that I surprise God every now and again."

(Greeted by a few nervous titters and quizzical expressions.)

Fortunately, the class did not get derailed on this subject, but I wondered if anybody here agrees with my comment that we can surprise God by what we do.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

If this is true concerning god's foreknowledge, then God would have certainly been aware of Job's loyalty/devotion to God before he tested him, or allowed him to be tested by Lucifer, so severely. In the case of Job, was this test about Job and possibly Lucifer learning something, and not God?

If this is true, I would argue that god is even more cruel than I previously considered him to be.

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I think He knows everything, knows the future.

The future set in stone = we don't have agency?

knowing something does not mean He causes it. Agency is about who causes what, not about who knows what. We cause our own future, so we have agency, but yes, I think the future is set in stone. We are here discovering who we are, God already knows.

God, Foreknowledge of (see also Election; God, Omniscience of)

Deut. 32:8 he set the bounds of the people

Isa. 42:9 former things are come to pass

Isa. 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God

Isa. 48:3 (1 Ne. 20:3) I have declared the former things from the beginning

Jer. 1:5 Before I formed thee ... I knew thee

Acts 2:23 delivered by the ... foreknowledge of God

Acts 17:26 hath determined the times before appointed

Rom. 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate

Rom. 11:2 his people which he foreknew

1 Pet. 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God

1 Ne. 9:6 Lord knoweth all things from the beginning

2 Ne. 2:24 in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things

2 Ne. 9:20 he knoweth all things

W of M 1:7 Lord knoweth all things which are to come

Alma 13:3 called ... according to the foreknowledge of God

Alma 13:7 prepared ... according to his foreknowledge

Alma 40:10 God knoweth all the times which are appointed unto man

Hel. 8:8 he knoweth as well all things which shall befall us

Morm. 8:17 God knoweth all things

Moro. 7:22 God knowing all things, being from everlasting

D&C 1:17 I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come

D&C 38:2 (Moses 1:6) all things are present before mine eyes

Abr. 2:8 I know the end from the beginning.

(Topical Guide | G God, Foreknowledge of:Entry)

God, Omniscience of (see also God, Foreknowledge of; God, Intelligence of; God, Wisdom of)

Gen. 6:5 God saw ... every imagination of the thoughts of his heart

Gen. 18:19 I know him, that he will command his children

1 Sam. 2:3 Lord is a God of knowledge

1 Sam. 16:7 Lord looketh on the heart

1 Chr. 28:9 Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all

2 Chr. 6:30 (Acts 1:24; 15::P thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men

Job 23:10 he knoweth the way that I take

Ps. 44:21 (Luke 16:15) he knoweth the secrets of the heart

Ps. 94:11 Lord knoweth the thoughts of man

Ps. 139:3 thou ... art acquainted with all my ways

Ps. 147:5 Great is our Lord ... his understanding is infinite

Prov. 15:3 eyes of the Lord are in every place

Isa. 66:18 I know their works and their thoughts

Jer. 12:3 thou, O Lord, knowest me

Jer. 17:10 (Rev. 2:23) I the Lord search the heart

Ezek. 11:5 I know the things that come into your mind

Matt. 6:8 your Father knoweth what things ye have need of

Matt. 9:4 Jesus knowing their thoughts said

Matt. 10:29 sparrows ... shall not fall on the ground without your Father

John 13:3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things

John 16:30 are we sure that thou knowest all things

Acts 15:18 (1 Ne. 9:6) known unto God are all his works from the beginning

Acts 17:26 hath determined the times before appointed

Rom. 11:33 wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable

1 Cor. 3:20 Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise

Col. 2:3 in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom

Heb. 4:12 word of God ... is a discerner of the thoughts

Rev. 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience

Rev. 3:1 I know thy works, that thou hast a name

1 Ne. 20:5 before it came to pass I showed them thee

2 Ne. 2:24 wisdom of him who knoweth all things

2 Ne. 9:20 (Morm. 8:17; D&C 127:2) God ... knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows

2 Ne. 27:10 reveal all things from the foundation of the world

2 Ne. 27:27 I know all their works

Jacob 2:5 by the help of the all-powerful Creator ... I can tell you concerning your thoughts

W of M 1:7 Lord knoweth all things which are to come

Alma 7:13 Spirit knoweth all things

Alma 18:18 art thou that Great Spirit, who knows all things

Alma 18:32 (D&C 6:16) he knows all the thoughts and intents of the heart

Alma 26:35 all wisdom, and all understanding, he comprehendeth all things

Alma 39:8 ye cannot hide your crimes from God

Alma 40:5 God knoweth all these things

Alma 40:10 God knoweth all the times which are appointed unto man

Hel. 9:41 except he was a god he could not know of all things

3 Ne. 28:6 I know your thoughts, and ye have desired the thing which John ... desired

Ether 3:25 Lord ... showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth

Moro. 7:22 God knowing all things, being from everlasting

D&C 6:24 (15:3) I have told you things which no man knoweth

D&C 38:2 knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes

D&C 67:1 whose hearts I know

D&C 88:6 (88:41) he comprehended all things, that he might be in all

D&C 121:24 mine eyes see and know all their works

D&C 130:7 all things for their glory are manifest

Moses 1:6 all things are present with me, for I know them all

Moses 1:35 all things are numbered unto me, for ... I know them

Moses 7:41 Lord ... told Enoch all the doings of the children of men

Moses 7:67 Lord showed Enoch all things

Abr. 2:8 I know the end from the beginning

See also Job 21:22; 42:2; Isa. 41:26; 46:10; 48:3; 55:8

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Is there a scripture that says God doesn't know everything? Or is that simply a vain conceit we humans like to have. You know, attempting to make one person less in order to make us feel better about ourselves? While I have seen plenty of scriptures that said to me God's knowledge is absolute (I have yet to see "limits" placed on the scripture, either in translation or earliest writings. Is there a scriptural basis for it?

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Whoops, just saw the relatively large scriptural reference going in the opposite direction, well, I guess the answer scripturally is "yes Gods knowledge is absolute" at least according to the vast majority of scriptures. I suppose we could try to rationalize God to be less than the scriptures tell us. But why do that?

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I would definitely agree with your comment Consiglieri. I'm surprised by the posts in agreement with us. God's absolute foreknowledge seemed like the popular opinion in Mormonism in my experience. Perhaps the chapel Mormon vs. Internet Mormon distinction accounts for this paradox I'm seeing. I'm still somewhat amazed at your ability to be an actively thinking internet Mormon and still actively think and even speak in a Sunday school setting as well. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to do that again. Given my lack of talent on doing it properly that you seem to possess, I'm not sure I should.

Still, given what I now know, I could not reconcile God knowing the future in an indeterminate universe. Rabbi Harold Kushner makes an interesting point in his book, "When bad things happen to good people," that I have brought into for now. The three axioms of most Judeo-Christian religions, 1. God is omniscient. 2) God is omnipotent 3) God loves us, just cannot logically exist at the same time from my perspective given what I now know.

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Same old chapel mormon versus internet mormon claims.

I submit that this false dichotomy means chapel mormons read the scriptures and internet mormons reject them? If so, then why even be a Mormon? Personally I reject the dichotomy, and wonder what scriptural references those on the other side of the debate have to back up their speculation?

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knowing something does not mean He causes it. Agency is about who causes what, not about who knows what. We cause our own future, so we have agency, but yes, I think the future is set in stone.

As to the bit in bold, you're right. But this isn't a response to those that believe that foreknowledge is incompatible with free will since most thoughtful people on every side of the debate accept the truth of that statement. If you think that those arguing that foreknowledge is incompatible with free will think that that is so because they think that God's knowing something does cause it, then you've badly misunderstood the arguments. If you do a forum search on this topic you'll find plenty of explanations for why nobody, even those that think that God can't know the future, contests the truth that knowing doesn't mean causing.

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...I wondered if anybody here agrees with my comment that we can surprise God by what we do.

No can do.

I recently saw a Universe episode on the History Channel where the subject of parallel universes was discussed. The experts were talking about how random last-second decisions were something we made all the time. For example we suddenly turn left on a city street for apparently no reason and continue on...but in a parallel universe we might decide to continue straight on instead. It's the little decisions that send these other universes into different continuums.

Actually, I didn't buy it. As random as these decisions seem, I think we'd make the same decisions again, a hundred times out of a hundred. In other words, they aren't as fleeting as they appear, but are the result of a far greater, and more complex, sequence of events that can be known by God. If we "surprised" God by any of our actions, regardless of how small, it could throw the entire universe off. Tiny random decisions by people, animals and so forth would have devastating effects on God's ability to tell the future. A dog suddenly decides to head up an ally instead of going down the street. He comes across you and he bites you. You go to the hospital and thus don't get hit by a car driven by an alcoholic. He never gets stopped by the cops and charged and thus he never makes the monumental decision to turn his life around. Three weeks later, in a drunken stupor, he beats his wife and she shoots him. Each tiny decision thus carries untold consequences that can throw everything off. Thus, God must know the tiniest details and you can't fool him. It's like The Princess Bride where Mr. "Inconceivable" tries to engage the pirate, Roberts, in a test of wits.

So be glad that you can't surprise God. If you could, so could everyone else. Then his ability to tell the future would be totally impaired. Keep in mind that the whale had to be in a certain place so as to swallow Jonah. Jonah also had to be in that same place at the same time or he'd drown instead of being swallowed.

.

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Whoops, just saw the relatively large scriptural reference going in the opposite direction, well, I guess the answer scripturally is "yes Gods knowledge is absolute" at least according to the vast majority of scriptures. I suppose we could try to rationalize God to be less than the scriptures tell us. But why do that?

Because there may be pressing intuitive, philosophical, and theoretical concerns that weigh in on what one ought to think is meant by statements like "God knows everything". What's the extension of "everything"? Do statements about the future even have truth-values? In trying to make sense of things like language, logic, and time one will find that in order to have a consistent and robust theory of such things one must give up on some notions when one retains others. And, in the case of protecting a certain class of, I believe, very strong intuitions and philosophical judgments one of the beliefs to go by the wayside is that of omniscience where the meaning of the term 'omniscience' has something to do with the existence of future contingencies.

It's important to note that lots of people that believe that an omniscient being, such as God, can't know future contingencies also continue to believe that God is omniscient (assuming the do believe in such a being as God)

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knowing something does not mean He causes it.

As to the bit in bold, you're right. But this isn't a response to those that believe that foreknowledge is incompatible with free will since most thoughtful people on every side of the debate accept the truth of that statement. If you think that those arguing that foreknowledge is incompatible with free will think that that is so because they think that God's knowing something does cause it, then you've badly misunderstood the arguments. If you do a forum search on this topic you'll find plenty of explanations for why nobody, even those that think that God can't know the future, contests the truth that knowing doesn't mean causing.

However, those who take the stance that God's knowing something disallows the person's doing the thing that God knows will happen to choose to do it fail to consider that God may not be subject to the same limitations of time that we are.

I propose that God sees everything, our past, our present, out future, in the present. We read

2 The same [God] which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes;'
And
7 But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.

I believe that God lives in the center of the circle (or line) of time, and that we are live on the circumference of that circle. We travel linearly, sequentially, and we can see only behind us

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However, those who take the stance that God's knowing something disallows the person's doing the thing that God knows will happen to choose to do it fail to consider that God may not be subject to the same limitations of time that we are.

No, I think those people do in fact consider that God may not be subject to the same limitations of time that we are

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but I wondered if anybody here agrees with my comment that we can surprise God by what we do.

Well most of the posters could likely guess my response.

Just in case some are still wondering....

Nope, we can't surprise God.

I think we can certainly be surprised at what can do through God. Peter walking on the water, or Gideon and his 300 come to mind.

We can also be surprised at what we can accomplish without God. Peter sinking, Joshua at Ai and so forth.

Kindest Regards,

Mudcat

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I tend to see our lives as a giant flow chart with every possible option included in that chart.

That is my understanding as well.

I like a saying by rabbi Akiva, a sage of the 2nd century CE. "Everything is forseen, but agency has been given."

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I know this subject has been drummed to death, but I thought of it again during this past Sunday school class when a member was saying that God knew that Abraham would follow through with the sacrifice of Isaac, and so it was really about Abraham learning something, not God.

I had to interrupt when she said that God knows everything that will happen by saying, "I like to think that I surprise God every now and again."

(Greeted by a few nervous titters and quizzical expressions.)

Fortunately, the class did not get derailed on this subject, but I wondered if anybody here agrees with my comment that we can surprise God by what we do.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

The exact same scenario played out in my Sunday School class last week, but the teacher was not astute enough to realize that competing ideas exist, or at least they didn't mention it. A short discussion ensued about how God already knew what Abraham would do. I kid you not, immediately after that we read this passage:

Gen 12:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

Nobody seemed to notice the blatant contradiction.

Does God know the future? Well, He didn't know Abraham's future.

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I am in agreeement with Cold Steel on this one. My take is that this whole notion of "time" is an illusion, a fiction. That being the case, the question about whether God knows anything beforehand makes no sense. He knows everything we're going to do "in the future" only because that is the only way we can think to express it. This idea that time is an illusion becomes more apparent when I think that "time passage" can either be measured in infinitely smaller or larger increments. In other words, if there is no end to the measurement of time then there is no sense in speaking of it's passage. We do so here in this mortality only because it is of practical importance and for no other reason.

Anyway, that's my two seconds worth. Or is that 20 tenths of two seconds, er, 1/30th of a minute, or two billion nanoseconds, or 1/15,778,463ths of a year... wacko.gif

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The exact same scenario played out in my Sunday School class last week, but the teacher was not astute enough to realize that competing ideas exist, or at least they didn't mention it. A short discussion ensued about how God already knew what Abraham would do. I kid you not, immediately after that we read this passage:

Nobody seemed to notice the blatant contradiction.

Does God know the future? Well, He didn't know Abraham's future.

No contradiction, blatant or otherwise. The question isn't whether God knew, but whether or not he would speak to Abraham in a process of growth for Abraham. He knew Abraham's future. The scripture testify he knew. He was communicating at Abraham's level. Nothing more.

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No contradiction, blatant or otherwise. The question isn't whether God knew, but whether or not he would speak to Abraham in a process of growth for Abraham. He knew Abraham's future. The scripture testify he knew. He was communicating at Abraham's level. Nothing more.

So by pretending that he didn't know what Abraham would do, and by then essentially stating, "I've just learned that you really do fear God", God is somehow making Abraham better? Is Abraham not smart enough for God to simply say, "I already knew what you would do, but I wanted to test you anyway."?

The plain and simple reading of the passage is that God learned something right then and there. I believe that God strongly suspected that Abraham would obey, but God did not have perfect knowledge of what Abraham would do.

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I know this subject has been drummed to death, but I thought of it again during this past Sunday school class when a member was saying that God knew that Abraham would follow through with the sacrifice of Isaac, and so it was really about Abraham learning something, not God.

I had to interrupt when she said that God knows everything that will happen by saying, "I like to think that I surprise God every now and again."

(Greeted by a few nervous titters and quizzical expressions.)

Fortunately, the class did not get derailed on this subject, but I wondered if anybody here agrees with my comment that we can surprise God by what we do.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

I agree Consig. I know there are a lot of Saints who maintain that HF knows every action that we make and where we will be in the future. However I believe that to be a misunderstood premis. As indicated by such in the Book of Moses.

Moses 3:17

17 But of the tree of the aknowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest bchoose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I cforbid it, for in the dday thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely edie.

I highlighted the key part to be which I noticed as to pertaining my view that he does not know every action of what we do before hand. He said that he forbids, but gives Adam and Eve the option to choose. In other words HF does not know for sure but has a sense they will fall to the natural ways of man to temptation. In a sense we will always be a screw up just like I expect my daughter here on this plain to screw up, and get drunk. Because that is what most teens do in life. They let go at times of the Iron Rod. Even though I forbid her from doing such, and hope she won't, never the less she did. This shows I'm not sure of the outcome. Ditto with HF.

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From my standpoint handys, I think he set the parameters for them to follow, he did not tell them, he doesn't know. Where that so, he was in effect gambling with the risk that Adam and Eve would in effect destroy the plan of salvation. I do not think that is possible.

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So by pretending that he didn't know what Abraham would do, and by then essentially stating, "I've just learned that you really do fear God", God is somehow making Abraham better? Is Abraham not smart enough for God to simply say, "I already knew what you would do, but I wanted to test you anyway."?

The plain and simple reading of the passage is that God learned something right then and there. I believe that God strongly suspected that Abraham would obey, but God did not have perfect knowledge of what Abraham would do.

Plain and simple reading? You in effect ignore all of the plain and simple reading in order to project your own version of plain and simple. Note the plain and simple readings of scripture that leave nothing to chance to your own "divine" interpretation. Post #5 is plain and simple reading with a context not open for interpretation. And one has to ask, do you consider all those scriptures false, while your interpretation is the "true" one? :P

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From my standpoint handys, I think he set the parameters for them to follow, he did not tell them, he doesn't know. Where that so, he was in effect gambling with the risk that Adam and Eve would in effect destroy the plan of salvation. I do not think that is possible.

Well, now, it certainly is a possibility, however unlikely you think it is.

I would also point to the preponderance of the scriptures that indicate otherwise and do so clearly.

The whole point of one of my earlier posts was that the scriptures are not clear

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