01 January 2012

The Problem of Free Will III: The All-Knowing God

In the previous two posts we established that we are conscious beings who are have Free Will within the constraints of being human in this universe. Indeed, the purely materialistic argument is that Consciousness and Free Will arose in human populations because they enabled us to gain survival benefit from behaviors that are unpredictable and more complex, creative and powerful than pre-determined reflexes. The atheist/materialist is thus forced to argue in favor of Free Will, rather than against it.

But the atheist/materialist points out that Free Will is incompatible with the usual notion of an Omniscient (All-Knowing) God. If God knows the Future, then the Future is pre-determined. If God does not know the Future, then God is not All-Knowing. And the atheist would be right, if the Graeco-Roman categories of Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Omnipresence were categories that circumscribed the Deity.

Here I side with the Muslims, when they say, "Allahu Akbar!" which means, "God is greater!" Greater than anything you can imagine, including your philosophical categories. But before we dismiss the argument with a slogan, let us consider an alternate reality that you alone control.

Let us consider your dreams. You are the Creator of every one of them. You yourself are Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent with respect to your dreams. Part of you must know how each one will turn out, because part of you creates and controls the plot. But you are still surprised at what occurs in your dreams. Except for relatively rare instances of "lucid" dreaming, you feel out of control, swept along by the current of events in the dreams that you dream up.

Elsewhere I have argued that the Universe and everything in it seems like one vast, self-consistent dream in the Mind of God. Given that we are made in the "image" of God, perhaps it is not too outrageous to wonder if God experiences something of the same surprise at God's own dreaming of this Universe?

And why should God be limited to only one dream?