One of my first college classes was a philosophy class at a community college.
My professor didn’t believe in the Judeo-Christian God and wanted to make sure we all saw her philosophy behind her conclusion. She used various examples in her explanation including the famous question, ‘Could God create a rock so heavy that he couldn’t lift it?’ It’s an interesting question but I was more interested in another concept. That concept was: if God is sovereign and knows everything that’s going to happen then we don’t have a free will.
My professor was saying if God exists and is omniscient there couldn’t be free will because he already knows every outcome.
She held up 3 expo markers in the class, one was red, another blue, and the other black. ‘If God already knows which one I’m going to write with then the other two markers are just an illusion. Even if I wanted to I couldn’t choose something apart from what God decided I would choose.’
The conclusion of her argument was: If that were truly the case we wouldn’t have any power to deviate from what God decided we would do, or be able to apply what the bible says to our lives. In turn rendering the bible false in light of all the scriptures that talk about free will, God’s power and the changing of our lives.
It’s hard to imagine a God who doesn’t allow for us to choose what we want to do. If we can’t willingly choose to change the direction of our lives then it must mean that God is presiding over the evil in the world.
But maybe God’s omniscience is different than just knowing the future.
Could it be possible that God knows all possible futures?
In the illustration of the 3 markers, God knows the outcome of every marker. He knows what’s going to happen if you chose the red marker, the blue marker or the black marker.
If there is a fork in the road God knows what’s at the end of each road, but He won’t decide which way we are going to go.
It helps to think of it as a game show. There are 3 doors that lead to 3 different paths, at the end of each path there are three more doors that lead to 3 other paths and so on to create a web of doors. The host knows what’s behind every single door throughout the whole web but he doesn’t know which direction you are going to choose. Every path represents a decision made, and every door represents a possibility.
God is not like a game show host because he wants to help us walk through the right doors to become our truest self. If we enter a door that we shouldn’t have, He provides another door at the end of that decision that will lead us back to the path that leads to life. Jesus is ‘the way, and the truth and the life’ (John 14:6)
Through Jesus, God has given us the power to choose against our predispositions and family heritage to live life as He had originally intended it to be. It’s not easy but Jesus never promised an easy life.
What decisions do we need to make to change the trajectory of our lives?