If knowledge is perfect then what is the need for experience?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by humblethinker, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. humblethinker

    humblethinker
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    I have read that 'The mind cannot tell the difference between an actual experience and one vividly imagined.". For thinking creatures I believe that this is true.

    On this board I believe that I have read that God cannot increase in knowledge (I think most here would agree to this). Is there a difference in God's knowledge of something that actually happens compared to something that will happen? If not then why should anything actually happen? Why shouldn't God's knowledge of it be adequate? If there is a difference, then how can it be said that He doesn't gain knowledge. Is His experience of actual events any different than His knowledge of the events? I can't help but think that God appreciates an actual experienced event compared to a theoretical event.
     
  2. Benjamin

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    Not only His knowledge but all His ways are perfect.

    Therefore, God is not limited by His knowledge in such a way as to prevent Him being Truth in His ways:

    He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
    (Deut 32:4)

    Often the focus on Divine Ominscience, to force fit it to determinism, is in disregard of His other attributes such as Omnipotence, creation in Love, Judgments, Justice and Nature of Truth.
     
    #2 Benjamin, Jul 15, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 15, 2012
  3. humblethinker

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    What I'm saying is that His foreknowledge of a future event is in some respect appreciably different than the actual experience of the event. What I'm asking is, If His experience is not appreciably different than his foreknowledge then what his purpose of experiencing actual events?
     
  4. 12strings

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    I think you are correct in your final conclusion. God could have easily just imagined a world but not created it...but it seems God is wise enough and discerning enough to know the difference between a reality and a non-reality. It would not be the same to him because of his perfect knowledge.

    For humans, I would say it is a sign of our inherent weakness of mind that we sometimes confuse an occurring in a dream with a real event. God has no such weakness...and so he can distinguish in his mind between a foreseen event and a present or past event that has actually occurred.

    Of course, this line of reasoning is by necessity rejecting that God is completely outside of time as some say, observing the future exactly as he does the past. I'm not sure what scriptures would help us decide which is correct.

    The "lamb slain before the foundation of the world" and the statement that God "glorified" (past tense) those he called and justified could either be seen as evidence that God is outside of time such that to God Jesus was actually slain as soon has he determined to so it (which raises the question of when God decided anything, if he is outside of time)....OR it could be taken to simply mean that once god determines something, it is as sure to occur as if it had already happened.

    I think I used to be an outside of time guy, but I'm leaning the other way now...still not sure...
     
  5. Benjamin

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    I don’t think so; His foreknowledge is just that - His foreknowledge.

    Personally, what I believe God experiences is bringing love into the world and when divinely designed free will creatures respond in love and truth to His influences it brings Him glory. What I’m saying is that the type of knowledge/foreknowledge God has logically allows for all His ways in truth because He is Truth as well as Love.
     
  6. OldRegular

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    Is this continued attempt to question, dissect the nature of God edifying to the Saints, the Church, or to God? I think not!
     
  7. humblethinker

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    I agree. So, it sounds that you are acknowledging a difference of some sort in God's knowledge in that after an event transpires then the knowledge of the event is now also an experiential knowledge. But as I understand calvinism, it requires that God's knowledge cannot change in quantity or quality (ie, God's knowledge cannot change in any way). Such a requirement, imo, necessitates a strictly atemporal God. Now, if God is always atemporal then how could foreknowledge ever exist? (And foreknowledge is a scriptural truth... How can an atemporal God have foreknowledge?)

    I agree, I don't think that God is ever confused.

     
  8. 12strings

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    1. I'm not sure if every form of Calvinism requires that God's knowledge cannot change in quality or quantity...Would it not fit a Calvinist system to say simply that God's knowledge of future events is perfect in scope, but not actualized through experience...ie, there is nothing he does not know about this conversation we are having...but because his knowledge is perfect, he also knew last year that this conversation, with which he was perfectly familiar, had not actually happened yet.

    B. (that's right, "B") Just to play devil's advocate, I think an atemporalist would simply describe foreknowledge as God telling us in terms we can understand that he knows things and people before they happen. I don't think the simple use of the word foreknowledge does away with an atemporal view.

    Well, I may be one, depending on how you define "strong opinion." And I simply say that because I still believe in TU_IP, and am not going to get bent out of shape if someone calls me a calvinist, when in reality I can legitimately claim not to be.

    I would say that temporality is described as a sequence of events, not necessarily by measured time...So While God "knows" all the future perfectly, he also makes decisions, and ACTS, that have effects that happen after those decisions. Ie, He Said "Let there be Light", and there was light. He acted, and the action had an effect. I think the atemporal view would have to say that God (from his own perspective, not ours) is not any more finished with creation now than he was before he started.

    Now, where temporality get's dicey is if you ask the question: If God always knew he would create the world, and certain action he would take in that world, has he actually ever made a decision? For example, Did God ever actually decided to create the world, or did he always know he would do it, and when, and then at the foreknown time, he simply started the plan he had known about for all eternity?

    (I realize there is probably no answer to this :)
     
  9. humblethinker

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    I would like to see a calvinist on the board lead with that argument! The "immutability" of God's knowledge is one club used in offensive manuevers against Open Theism.

    I would say that for a Calvinist system that embraced the temporality of God, yes, it would fit. It seems to me that the best description of God's omniscience is that it is coextensive with reality. I think all people on this board would agree with that, no? After our moment of unity we then disagree on what reality is. This, to me, is the bigger question for us to wrangle with, not 'What kind of God is He?' but 'What kind of world did He create?'.
    Yes, I agree that that's what they would say. How convenient is that though? All of the passages of scripture that seems to contradict atemporality is 'anthropomorphic' since 'we' are too thick skulled to understand, yet they are smart enough to know that it must be anthropomorphic speach and also know which scripture rules over the other scripture... Funny, it is, how when one starts with a presupposition it gets proven true in the end!

    Glad to see your willingness to stand out from the crowd. :thumbs:

    Yes, I agree completely and would add 'relation' and 'duration' to your 'sequence'. I would go further and say that temporality and time are necessarily different... 'time' is how we humans appreciate temporality. High-five on your description of temporality!

    I agree! If they would say that then wouldn't you agree that it would be no philosophical stretch that the atemporal view would have to say that God, from his own perspective, is not finished with anything?

    The answer is that all scripture that describes God as one deliberating is anthropomorphic... wasn't that easy!?!

    I would say that He knows all of His future choices as options which he might decide to enact. This way he is free to deliberate in the Trinity and free to act.
     
  10. 12strings

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    Well, I will use what-ever club I find against Open Theism :laugh:

    Yes, although I would say he knows what the end result will be. God speaks of doing things in the future, bringing the world to it's appointed end. So even from his own perspective, it is not finished, but it is AS CERTAIN as if it were finished. Romans 8 says that God has already Glorified all those he has predestined. What is your take on that verse? Are we already glorified? or is it future?

    But doesn't he also know which decision he will make?
     
  11. 12strings

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    YES!!!!!!

    Attempting to describe God based on the Biblical revelation he has given us is a valuable endeavor that will lead us to worship him more because of his greatness and grow in awe of him for his complexity and vastness. Knowing God is the end for which we were created, and while we will not know everything, growing in knowledge that leads to worship for new aspects of God is not a wasted endeavor. I does edify the church and the saints!

    --> You are correct that it does not "edify" God, as God has no need to be edified (built up).
     
  12. Skandelon

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    I'd argue that God's foreknowledge is much more like our actual experience of the event than a mere foreseeing of what is yet to happen. He is the Great "I AM," not the great "I WILL BE."

    How He experiences all things at all times outside of time is indeed mysterious and shouldn't be the basis on which to draw unfounded and unbiblical conclusions, such as:

    "If God knows it all before creating it then he must have determined it to be. Thus, God either determined all things to be or he doesn't really know it all."

    That dilemma accepts the premise that God is finite and bound by the linear cause/effect constructs of time and space. That is the premise both Openists and Determinists wrongly presume must be true.
     
  13. humblethinker

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    The "Great 'I AM' " can comport with both views then. The temporal view believes in a temporal 'now' while the atemporal view proposes an eternal now. If I read you correctly, I believe you subscribe to eternalism rather than the growing block theory, correct?

    No, that's not the premise that Open Theism presumes at all.
     
  14. 12strings

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    I suppose the big question is, Does God interact with me right now in the same way he interacts with me 10 years from now? From God's persepective, is he answering my prayers that I am praying 10 years in my future right now? or does he simply KNOW what they will be?

    Other than the "I Am" Name, what scripture point to the former?
     
  15. OldRegular

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    Are you using Scripture or philosophy? I haven't seen the use of Much if any Scripture. So I will present one that I believe is pertinent for your edification!

    Colossians 2:8.Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
     
  16. Skandelon

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    At this point I'm simply saying that those are mere 'theories' or speculations. A "theory" carries the premise that this information isn't fully knowable, which SOME here haven't seemed to accept. I could get into the weeds with you and talk about specifics of what I think could be the way it all works, but that really wasn't my desire in posting.

    I'm beginning to realize that most proponents of Open Theism don't believe much of what they have been accused of believing, so I'll concede this point. What I mean, is the stereotypical view of Open Theism, which claims they deny aspects of God's knowledge because they too accept the premise that it would necessitate determinism.
     
  17. Skandelon

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    This deals with the transcendence and imminence of God's nature. He is able to be both in time and outside of time (i.e. God the Father, God the Son). He is knowable and able to be related to in time, as a friend; but at the same time be omni-'attributes.' I can't possibly know how all that works together. We can speculate and draw theories, as I just posted to humblethinker, but they are just that: Speculations.

    I could quote several verses which speak of God's eternal qualities, and they would be the same texts a Calvinist might use to support his premise. The point I'm making is that such things are beyond us and we must avoid drawing hard and fast conclusions based on our finite reasoning. My 'theory' appeals to mystery much more so than some of the other theories being promoted here. The problem is that some don't believe their view is a theory, but a fact, and then they draw hard conclusions based on those 'facts.' Those conclusions, to me, don't appear to align with the scripture's teaching regarding God's Holiness. But I suppose that is debatable too.
     
  18. humblethinker

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    Fair enough. I agree with your sentiment here, which has me chompin at the bit to create a thread about an idea I've been considering for quite a while... but I digress.

    Thank you for not using "any club" to beat at Open Theism (that's a friendly elbow at 12strings ;-) ).
    Yes, that would be the stereotypical view of Open Theism. Open Theism, regarding God's knowledge, is completely congruent with the statement, "God's knowledge is coextensive with reality." Open Theism holds that 'ontological possibilities' are part of reality. I don't think the other popular views assign this kind of appreciation of ontological possibilities and if they claim to then they change the meaning of 'ontological possibility'... I'm working on a visual model to help communicate and demonstrate the 'branching' theory of an open future... maybe there's one already out there but I haven't found it yet. (I'd love to create CommonCraft styled presentations of our views... so many times as a communicator of meaning we are handicapped by our language or unskillful use of our language and so many times as a listener we are confused by our misunderstanding of the language used and are handicapped by our presumptuousness, impatience, egocentricity, etc. It is a wonder that the loop is ever completed successfully! This just makes me stand in awe of God's ability to demonstrate and communicate His meaning to us!)

    The right question is not so much, 'What kind of God is He?' but 'What kind of world has He created?', would you agree?
     
  19. humblethinker

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    Yes, we should not be spoiled by that kind of philosophy. We are encouraged to consider the kind of philosophy that is of Christ though, which is derived from the revelation of scripture and reason, scripture setting the framework and boundaries of our reasoning.
     
  20. Skandelon

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    Open Theism, probably much like any thing sounding somewhat similar to Pelagianism, has been stereotyped into a oversimplified heretical view by which its opponents can label it and dismiss it without having to deal objectively with it actual merits. I've not found many (or really any notable scholars) of the Openists, who deny God's knowledge. Instead, they appear to being arguing that God's knowledge is different than man's knowledge, so it is not subject to the same finite logical constructs.

    Openist Theists are railed on as reducing the Divine attributes (i.e. God doesn't really know everything), but in reality those I've been reading seem to do just the opposite. They refuse to limit God to a determinative knowledge (past tense kind of knowledge), and insist on a dynamic knowledge (perfect/present tense...I AM). Objectively, I must say, the latter seems to promote a higher view of God's attributes, not a lower view.

    :thumbs: Well stated. You could not be more correct. And what happens is that someone gets bogged down in the weeds of one of these authors 'theories' so they read a summary critique from one of the opponents, who stereotypes him, straw man's the argument and labels it as heretical so as to dismiss it. The lazy flock of followers, not wanting to take the time to read for themselves, simply accepts the stereotype label and attacks anyone and everyone who remotely agrees or even questions their view of orthodoxy.

    That is an interesting question. At first I didn't agree, but I thought about it for a while and I think you are making an important distinction here. We can all agree that God could have created a deterministic world...it is within His abilities to do so. So, we aren't questioning what God is able to do or what his attributes would even allow Him the ability to do. We are questioning what HE CHOSE to do. What has HE in his own freedom decided to create? That will certainly tell us more about 'what kind of God He is,' but that is really not the question for debate since we all concede He is AWESOME.
     

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