In Christianity there are many views on the foreknowledge of God varieties of Reformed positions-Calvinism and Arminianism-and also the traditional Roman Catholic Augustinian view and Molinism a Roman Catholic compromise position. These can be sliced and diced many different ways but for me the question comes down to determinism.
The framework of my faith was laid by the evangelistic and apologetic writings of C.S. Lewis. In the context of this reflection Miracles is notable. Therein Lewis lays out the argument from reason, which is briefly that in a system of naturalism or materialism even mental states are determined by the state of the universe at time t-1 as is everything else in the universe back to the big bang. And if everything is causally determined, particularly mental states, then there cannot be propositions, true or false, and therefore even the statement “materialism is true” would be nothing but the sound of wind in the trees.
So materialistic determinism must be false as knowledge of my mind and propositions, judgements, and reason (even if fallen) therein is prior to my knowledge of the world and any argument that negates the unspoken axioms that make argumentation possible.
Of course you could always attempt to be a committed and consistent nihilist but only suicides manage that.
Something I realized sometime after coming to faith and a few years ago now is that one cannot affirm Calvinism for the same reason that one cannot affirm materialism. It isn’t materialism peculiarly that is self defeating but determinism in any form. It is incoherent to argue, a process that presumes libertarian freedom of the will, for a conclusion that contradicts it.
Now I wonder though, after my initial attraction, is Molinism much better? Considering Newcomb’s paradox if God perfectly predicts so called free choices (even across an infinite panoply of possible worlds, this does not affect the conclusion) and then acts to realize them is this any less deterministic? Contra William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantiga I currently doubt it.
Currently an open theist (that is “neo-molinist”) explanation a la Gregory Boyd seems to handle this philosophical mine field the best. God doesn’t know merely what will and won’t happen, but also what might and might not happen. There the future is not settled as it doesn’t yet exist.
As per Newcomb’s paradox to perfectly predict is to cause (even if the predictor is not acting to realize as in Molinism; thus Newcomb’s paradox similarly applies to any theory in which God perfectly predicts the future, including classical Arminianism), but as scripture concurs most predictions, that is prophecies or oracles, in the bible (especially those that regard humans and their desserts) are explicitly or implicitly contingent on current trends continuing. Further there are predictions made by God that are confirmed to have failed to have come true in the Bible, thus scripture itself affirms that God does not perfectly and totally know the future.
This is seen most explicitly in:
- Judges 1.2 and 1.19
- Jeremiah 18.7-8
- Jeremiah 22.18-19 and 36.30-31 and 2 Kings 24.6
- Jeremiah 34.4-5 and 52.8-11
- Ezekiel 26.7-14 and 29.17-20.
Further, these Old Testament scripture writers don’t seem the least bit perturbed that God doesn’t have perfect or complete foreknowledge.
Now, open theism is not without problems, see Peter’s 3 denials and Judas betrayal, but those problems are less than in any other view.