Questions about God from a friend

Here is the Question

So I have a question: God is considered all knowing, yet he leaves us with choices to follow him or not.  If he’s all knowing, what’s the point of choices?  He already knows the outcome which makes that entire base of logic useless.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for God to just be a supremely intelligent deity locked in a war rather than an all knowing one?  To clarify the locked in a war part, he means “Locked in a war vs. Satan.”  He would have seen Satan turn on him if he were all knowing, instead he either made a choice to allow it because he knew the outcome and sacrificed future souls due to that choice or he didn’t see it coming and he now maintains an alleged upper hand at the end if we are to believe the Bible.

I ask these questions because I think this whole thing is less about if God is real and more about who he really is and what we have about who he really is and what we have ab out him is fact and fiction.

Here is my answer

I’m glad you’re still thinking about such (eternally) important matters!  By the way, did you ever make it through that book I gave you (I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist)?

You’ve asked some really good questions here and that shows me that you’re really working through the implications of this Christian worldview.  It is a much better place to be than “apathetic”.  Struggling with these issues is something that God welcomes.  He says “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD” (Isaiah 1:18).  So, God is not unhappy with you for having such questions.  He wants you to seek Him and He wants to give you reasons to believe in Him.  Jesus did this with His resurrection – the Bible says “After His [Jesus] suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive…” (Acts 1:3), and He even made a post-resurrection appearance for a skeptic (John 20:24-29)!  So, thanks for asking.

Now, I’ll try to address your questions and give some thoughts I have…

Philosophically speaking, if God is the creator of the universe and everything in it, as you correctly point out, He is supremely intelligent.  I’m a software developer in my “day job” and in a limited way, I understand what it is like to create something.  I create software.  The software I create is kind of like “my universe” that I’ve created.  I completely control the rules in my universe.  The users of my software are like the people in my universe.  I have built into “my universe” the means for me to be “all-knowing”.  I set up “my universe”.  I’ve established the rules in “my universe”.  I can be aware of every user in “my universe” simultaneously without them knowing that I’m “watching them”.  Sometimes, I actually will pre-emptively contact users and ask them about the error that they just saw on their screen.  They’re surprised that I could know that almost immediately without them contacting support.  The monitoring I’ve built into my software allows me to have an almost eerie “omniscience”.   I’m really the “sovereign” within the universe I’ve built.  I can even do what average users may consider to be “miracles”, suspending the laws of my program, because I know how I’ve built it.  I have the power to manipulate the program and its behavior anyway I want.

So, with this analogy, I’m trying to make you see that if I as a finite software developer can create a program that gives me a near omniscient ability, why can’t God do this with His creation?  Maybe He’s built into His creation the ability to read our minds – even the Bible says as much.  It says “before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely O Lord” (Psalm 139:4).  Also Jesus tells us that “your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” (Matt 6:8)  So, I’m trying to make you see that it is not logically incoherent to believe in an omniscient Creator.

Now to the question regarding why God decided to continue with His plan knowing in advance that Satan would rebel and that in the process, souls would be lost.  This is what I interpret you to be asking.  That’s a tough one.  You’re asking me to get inside the mind of God, which, unless He has specifically revealed “the why”, seems impossible to answer with certainty.  One thing I do know from the Bible is that God has what is referred to as middle knowledge.  This means that He not only knows the actual future, but He also knows all possible futures.  This is seen in passages such as this:

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” (Luke 10:13)

This is Jesus speaking, claiming to know what would’ve happened in a particular hypothetical situation.  So, God can actualize a world in which people are put in situations where He knows that they will freely respond in certain ways.  Therefore He can be in control of things, while still allowing His creatures to make free will choices.  One thing that you have to realize is that God is not determining our free choices by having foreknowledge of them.  Remember, He is not “stuck” in time like we are.  He is outside of time and He “sees the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10).  I like to think of it like this.  Imagine a large parade stretching over several miles in the streets of some city.  Each of the participants in the parade can only see their immediate surroundings – maybe a block in either direction.  But a helicopter, hovering over the entire area of the parade can literally see the end from the beginning – the person in the helicopter can see all of the parade at one time.  In a much greater way, God can see all past, present and future at once.  He doesn’t lock the future event in place, thus preventing a free will choice in the future, rather He actually has foreknowledge of the free will choice by seeing it in the future at the time the free will choice is made.  It is very hard for us to think about since we are stuck in time, but if you can wrap your mind around it, it’s not logically inconsistent.

I don’t have any more time today to continue to write, but hopefully, I’ve given you some good things to think about.  Man, you really do ask deep questions!

There is a Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, who deals with issues like this – you may want to check out his Q&A article archive:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/question-answer

Finally, toward the end of your question, you seemed to be questioning biblical reliability (based on your comment about “fact or fiction”).  That book (I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist), starting in chapter 9 talks about biblical reliability, especially of the New Testament.  Check it out if you haven’t already.

Keep seeking and you will find Him!

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