How Does God Have Foreknowledge?

There have been many posts regarding the supposed contradiction between the absolute foreknowledge of God, and true free will. We have even discussed that here once. But this is not my purpose in this post. I think we can all agree that God has at the very least an amazing amount of foreknowledge about the future. There have been a handful of very specific prophecies which prove this. But how is the foreknowledge of God obtained?

One obvious source of the foreknowledge of God is his thorough knowledge of the present and the past. This knowledge and intelligence of God, far superior to our own, allows Him to predict, with amazing accuracy, future events. In the book, ‘The Vitality of Mormonism’ by James Talmage, the apostle writes:

He [God] knows what each will do under given conditions, and sees the end from the beginning. His foreknowledge is based on intelligence and reason. He foresees the future of men and nations as a state that naturally and surely will be; not as a state of things that must be because He has arbitrarily willed that it shall be’. (p. 297)

Is this method of knowing the future by knowing the present and the past, and adding reason and intelligence, enough to explain the foreknowledge of God?

Another possible source of this foreknowledge is the ability to travel in time and see the actual future. Neal A. Maxwell in his book ‘Things as the Really Are’, seems to believe that this is just what God does. He writes:

God does not live in the dimension of time as do we…God, since ‘all things are present’ (Moses 1:6) with him, is not simply predicting based solely on the past. In ways that are not clear to us, he sees rather that foresees the future, because all things are at once present before him. (p. 29)

So does God travel outside of time and view the actual future? When prophesies are given, have prophets seen an actual future as it will be? If God sees the future today, might that future have aspects that change when he sees the future next week (after the elections perhaps)?

I have a little difficulty with the idea of God traveling in time and seeing a fixed future that simply will be. I think if God travels forward in time, that it is interesting to him, with some level of randomness and change.

What think ye?


39 Responses to “How Does God Have Foreknowledge?”

  1. 1 John November 6, 2006 at 10:39 pm

    I’m all for time travel. I don’t know if God does it, but I think I could go for that. Whether its being the smartest kindergartener in the whole world or running around averting wars, I think it would be a blast (given that forays into the past or future don’t affect the current timeline).

    Who knows.

    If we are to eventually become like God, does that mean we’ll have the same abilities? I think an absolute knowledge of the future would really make existence boring, even hellish.

    Is God’s foreknowledge more like my own father’s ability to predict the outcomes of my own decisions, or is it a complete know-the-details-exactly sort of knowledge?

  2. 2 Wade November 6, 2006 at 11:02 pm

    I have a little difficulty with the idea of God traveling in time and seeing a fixed future that simply will be.

    Good post Eric. I tend to align my beliefs with Maxwell on this one. You may be interested in a book titled: “Joseph Smith and Modern Astronomy” by Richard J. Ingebretsen. It’s a good short read (I think Ryan is barrowing my copy of it at the moment). Ingebretsen gives some pretty compelling insight into how God may live outside the realm of time. Also, I have a couple essays written by some professors and aspiring academics who discuss dimensions beyond the four we currently live in; they give compelling insights into how it is that Moroni (a resurrected being with a physical body) could come to Joseph in the middle of the night while Joseph lay on his bed–without coming through a door. As you remember, Moroni seemed to appear literally out of thin air as a light getting brighter and brighter. One of the essays discusses how he was able to appear in this manner because he is not restricted by/to our four dimensions.

    Also, new theories in physics (String Theory) provide some interesting possibilities in this area.

    Anyway, beyond my random thoughts, I think it is very plausible to believe all things are present before God all the time.

  3. 3 Bookslinger November 6, 2006 at 11:12 pm

    I agree with Maxwell. God exists “outside of time” or in other words “in the eternities.” Another favorite quote is “time is a local phenomena.”

  4. 4 JKS November 6, 2006 at 11:48 pm

    This, for me, has been one of the biggest surprises on Mormon blogs. That people don’t think God “knows” the future, that he only predicts it really well.
    I don’t think God knowing the future interferes with my free agency. He knows the past, and I had free agency then. God can simply remember the future, just as he does the past. I don’t think he is limited by time being linear the way we are.
    I could not put my faith in a God who didn’t know everything. He is God.

  5. 5 Ryan November 7, 2006 at 1:15 am


    If I may push your question backwards a little bit:

    Are the answers available to us? That is, are the mechanics of God’s foreknowledge a manipulation of natural laws that are entirely foreign not only to our current knowledge base but even to our imagination? I think the closest mankind has come to defining a potential approach to time travel is the concept of dimensions with string theory being a less developed but close runner-up.

    I have always considered time-travel to be impossible because of implications that I’ll refrain from delving into. But I imagine that the pilgrims likewise would have dismissed the idea that I could pick up a piece of plastic/metal, press a couple buttons and contact someone around the globe. And now my knowledge of cellular phones has helped me better academically accept the functionality of prayer.

    These thoughts are scattered because of the late hour

  6. 6 m&m November 7, 2006 at 1:54 am

    Two thoughts:
    1. If I can sometimes predict what hubby is thinking or going to say or going to do because I “know him so well” then I don’t have a hard time expanding that concept to a perfect Being with perfect knowledge of me after knowing and loving and interacting with me for eons of time.

    2. I think whenever we try to truly understand God based on what our mortal lives consist of (linear time, for example), we are simply foolish. To constrain Him in any way to our mortal definitions or experiences can’t possibly help us understand Him. So the idea that He can see past, present and future as one eternal now simply has to be OK to me because I know that He lives with completely different constructs and realities. Not that we can’t catch glimpses of Him or eternal life kinds of things, but we can’t limit our considerations to just what “makes sense” to our experience.

  7. 7 m&m November 7, 2006 at 1:55 am

    btw, I don’t think of it as time travel as much as an unrolled scroll kind of always-visible “now” that combines past, present, and future.

  8. 8 Doug Towers November 7, 2006 at 4:42 am

    The ability to see anything in eternity is open to all of us. Neal Maxwell’s statement is completely correct. I have on 2 occasions had the experience of seeing into eternity. God has shown many people these things through the ages, as has been proposed here. Nephi saw our day, for one. We are fundamentally an intelligence just as is Heavenly Father. In reality anything he does we are capable of doing if we were as brilliant as he is. Unfortunately we have a long way to go. But the ability is there and can be drawn on with correct motivation (love being it). What is seen is what is (or will be _ from our point of view). It won’t be any different, but all this will be done by our choice at the time.
    I would add that I also agree that God works out how to present things through our lives that we will gain from (no matter how hard the lessons may be at the time) which is done with magnificant brilliance. As I’m sure you have all had experience of. To say he is a genius is a ridiculous understatement. What a wonderful Father we have.

  9. 9 Eric Nielson November 7, 2006 at 7:48 am

    Thank you all for your comments!


    I am not opposed to time travel either, but I do not necessarily believe that the future is fixed. And yes, I believe that we have the potential to do the same things God does.


    Nice to hear from you again. Hopefully we can draw you out occasionally! I will look into the book you suggest, it seems like the type of thing I would like. So, if all things are present before God, do you think that this lump of knowledge he has is dynamic or static?


    It will be interesting to know the answers someday. Much of this is guesswork. I tend to favor Talmage but who knows?


    This has been a surprise to me as well. I still do not believe there is a contradiction, but I have become more symoathetic to those who do. I feel like you do as far as faith goes. What is the Plan of Salvation if not a bold and absolute knowledge of the future. This issue strikes at the heart of knowing and having faith in God. I want to believe in sure prophecy.


    Very good thoughts that do not seem all that scattered. I am also a little hesitant to embrace time travel as the answer. But I acknowledge that my ways are not God’s ways and that there will be a few surprises in store for us when we know of these things.


    I like your thoughts. The predictive model is the one I prefer. But in regards to #2, are we not supposed to attempt to ‘know God’? Is this not life eternal? I hope that pondering and appropriately discussing the mysteries of Godliness can help up come to a better understanding and appreciation of God. I agree that this might require some out of the box thinking (and revelation). It is a mistake to put our limitations upon God.


    A wonderful comment. In general what do you think you saw? A type of movie of the future? An actual future? A symbolic future? I understand that some of these things you may not feel good about sharing publically. If it is none of my business I understand.

  10. 10 BrianJ November 7, 2006 at 9:17 am

    Eric, there is also the fact that God is all-powerful, so when he says that something is going to happen he has the ability to make sure it really does. Imagine the promises/predictions you could make if you had power over earth/air/water….

    By the way, I don’t like the time travel thing either. And I’m not really sure what “all things are present” really means. Ditto for “time is measured only unto to man” (see Alma).

  11. 11 Wade November 7, 2006 at 9:28 am

    dynamic or static?

    I don’t know. If I knew that, and how it was so, I suppose I would have to be god too. It’s kind of like asking my 5-year old kindergartener if she knows whether and how I understand the differences between Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata: she would have to have lived my life to the point that I exist now in order to answer the question (and even then she may have a difficult time answering 🙂 ).

  12. 12 Wade November 7, 2006 at 9:36 am


    Ditto for “time is measured only unto to man” (see Alma).

    You would be interested in the book I suggested earlier too. Briefly: he uses the laws of physics/astronomy and demonstrates that the closer you get to the center of extremely dense matter time warps and becomes much “slower”. This sizes right up with the book of Abraham wherein it is said that the time of a year on Kolob (not the place where God resides) is as a thousand years unto us. Go even closer to the throne of God and what do you have? The nonexistence of time coupled with his ability to percieve all things through the light of Christ that is every where present. Thus, God lives in one eternal now.

  13. 14 BrianJ November 7, 2006 at 11:59 am


    It sounds like a good book (and I trust your judgment). I’ll warn you that I’m not a fan of physics-based arguments to explain God. They strike me as explanations of what one already believes rather than discoveries that the science produces. (Of course, they also go over my head, so maybe I’m just jealous.) So if we start with the belief that God can perfectly see the future—or that he is living in the future—then we look for ways to explain it.

    But what if those verses don’t really mean that at all? What if they just mean that God is really smart, really old, and has an exceptional memory?

    Also, I’m not convinced that God is bound by the same laws of physics as we. How would we ever know?

    I should say that I don’t think it matters (personally) at all: to me, God has proven himself perfectly capable of fulfilling all his promises. Exactly how he does it has no influence on my faith in him.

  14. 15 Wade November 7, 2006 at 1:54 pm


    All good points, I agree in full.

    This scripture comes to mind:

    The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things. (DC 88:13)

  15. 16 Doug Towers November 7, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    I don’t want to deviate from the topic into lots more things that really are related to a better understanding, but are long subjects of their own. So please bear with me if I don’t explain this as completely as perhaps it should be. As you are aware we are an intelligence which is eternal. I have, on many occasions remembered things of the pre-existence and my feelings there. God doesn’t magically block our memories of it, we eventually do by lazyness. Also the abilities we used are at our fingertips on these occasions. Before coming here we also saw eternity. What happens is that you just open up and eternity is at your disposal. My first response was the question of whether to look at my own future. But eternity just shows you those things that are (ie were, now and the future) as one presence, not an optional eternity. A bit mind boggling actually, but put simply it would include the fact that you were then looking at it and any way it affected your actions in the future. Therefore seeing your future wouldn’t change anything. It’s not like an optional thing that you would alter in spite of the fact that you would think you would. These are the decisions you decide to make considering all factors at your disposal. So I figured it better to just let it happen and take the surprises as they come. This may seem a strange choice but if the choice was placed before you, in reality, I believe you would all make the same decision. Some things are just better not known. On another occasion I saw something of the recent past that I was seriously concerned about. I have no control of this ability as it is something that my spirit (heart) within me just does when so motivated. But to keep on the subject, there is no time travel involved in this. But I again point out that God is a genius of the highest order in the way he plans things in our lives. It is the most ingenious and amazing thing to consider the way he planned the best way to make the most of all of our individual characteristics: The time and people to put us down here with.

  16. 18 m&m November 8, 2006 at 12:14 am

    But in regards to #2, are we not supposed to attempt to ‘know God’? Is this not life eternal? I hope that pondering and appropriately discussing the mysteries of Godliness can help up come to a better understanding and appreciation of God. I agree that this might require some out of the box thinking (and revelation). It is a mistake to put our limitations upon God.

    Yes, of course. I was afraid that would be misunderstood. I’m talking about trying to intellectualize and “get” Him. Of course we can know Him, but that is something that is more experiential, not intellectual, and more spiritual. It’s also not something that I think we can easily peg down in words. For example, “time travel” or “reading a scroll” are human ways of thinking about things. If we start to really know God, I suspect we might have a hard time really explaining at least some of what we know. Does that make sense?

    In short, putting limitations of our mortal experience or language is what I was addressing.

  17. 19 BrianJ November 8, 2006 at 12:33 pm

    Wade–thanks; interesting.

  18. 20 the narrator November 8, 2006 at 3:28 pm

    Two problems:

    First, the ‘god knows the present and past so well that he can know the future’ only works with determined (or fairly determined) persons. I find it especially difficult to reconcile the libertarian free-will espoused in Mormonism with the determined nature of humanity required.

    Second, God is inside time. God progresses. Progression requires time. Progression requires a before and after. Progression outside of time is meaningless.

    Furthermore, absolute foreknowledge (or near foreknowledge) is worthless to God. If God knows the future, then the future is set. If the future is set, then God can do nothing about it. If God can do nothing to change the future, then what value does it have?

    One could appeal to a form of middle-knowledge (dynamic), but that runs up against a whole slew of problems itself. (Should God wager, or take the safest bet?)

    I am not saying that God does not have any foreknowledge, but rather that the foreknowledge that he does have is much more generic than the specific type we wish to ascribe to Him. Perhaps the easiest explanations of specific revelations in scripture is that the specific revelations are usually written after they have been fulfilled, while the more generic revelations are tend to be written before they have been fulfilled. Prophets, in writing scripture, ‘fill in the blanks’ through a redaction.

    Of course there are some revelations that tend to be a little more specific (such as the civil war revelation), but even those are quickly explained by critics.

  19. 21 Eric Nielson November 8, 2006 at 4:09 pm


    Thanks for you comment.

    To me there is no question that God has some foreknowledge, just a matter of how much, and how it is obtained. Your thoughts about the specific revelations (things like prophesying names and such) is interesting.

    Critics are pretty quick sometimes! There are others that I listen to more closely. They are often a little slow, and less predictable.

  20. 22 BrianJ November 8, 2006 at 4:22 pm

    Narrator, “…rather that the foreknowledge that he does have is much more generic than the specific type we wish to ascribe to Him.”

    You want predictions to be generic until redacted to be specific. I am okay with that idea in many cases, but I think there are examples when that explanation doesn’t work. Civil War revelation came to mind, but also revelation given to Joseph of Egypt concerning Joseph Smith (2 Nephi 3). I also believe that specific details of Christ’s life and death were known long before they happened, as demonstrated by numerous scriptures including the prophesies of Samuel the Lamanite. There is also the whole problem of how to interpret the meaning of “I have seen your day” and similar visions of the future by prophets in the Book of Mormon.

    To reiterate: I think your point is right some of the time but wrong enough of the time that it doesn’t adequately address the question. (Unless one accepts—and I do not—that all scripture has been extensively rewritten.)

  21. 23 BrianJ November 8, 2006 at 4:29 pm

    Narrator (more): To comment on your other points:

    1) I’m not sure I understand. I can predict many of the reactions of my friends/wife/children—at least enough to plan my own actions. For example, I recently planned a surprise party for my wife, which required incredible (if I do say so myself) prediction on my part of what she would be doing, how she would respond to what I did, etc.

    2) I like this point, but I confess that really don’t know what “progress” means in relation to God, so I’m not sure that I can agree.

    3) Isn’t this is a circular argument? “If the future is set, then God can do nothing about it.” By doing nothing, that would change the future, right? “If God can do nothing to change the future, then what value does it have?” Because knowing the future (to whatever degree) allows him to make decisions on how to act today.

  22. 24 the narrator November 8, 2006 at 4:51 pm


    as far as the BofM scriptures go, I think just looking over the prophecies in the scriptures point out redaction on the part of Joseph Smith/Moroni. Prophecies concerning events prior to Joseph Smith are fairly specific. Prophecies concerning events afterwards are much more generic and vague.

    1) I don’t doubt that you can predict many of your wifes choices. However, libertarian free-will demands that she can act differently, that she could act completely different from her nature. Furthermore, your ‘foreknowledge’ is based on actions that your wife has already performed. You are basing your prediction on the past. Fine, you say… so God looks at the past and predicts the future. However, God’s ability to know us well enough to make such predictions would have to be quite limited. Especially considering that I have only been on earth for the last 27 years. One could point to the pre-mortal life as a basis for God’s predictions (as many have), but doing so implies a rather determined essential nature that I think most LDS would not be willing to grant.

    2) Any sense of progress involves increasing or moving from one level to another. That necessitates a before and after. That’s time.

    3) Let’s say I find a magic crystal ball that helps me see into the future. I look into the ball and see my nephew getting hit by a truck in 3 days. I make sure he stays in his home that day and does not get hit by a truck. If he doesn’t get hit by a truck, then what I saw in the crystal ball was not a prediction of the future.

    Furthermore, God’s being able to see into the future would include Him seeing His own actions. He would not be able to act differently than He had seen Himself act. He would not have free-will.

  23. 25 m&m November 8, 2006 at 5:13 pm

    OK, this is an example of how I think we may be trying to put mortal limitations and understandings on God. Concepts such as time, future, knowledge, etc. are being defined in the way we understand them. I think we might be surprised when all things are made known that we didn’t know as much as we thought we did when we had these kinds of discussions. I personally can’t have faith in a God who doesn’t know everything – even though I am not sure exactly what I mean when I say He does know everything. 🙂

  24. 26 the narrator November 8, 2006 at 7:46 pm

    OK, this is an example of how I think we may be trying to put mortal limitations and understandings on God. Concepts such as time, future, knowledge, etc. are being defined in the way we understand them.

    that’s fine. but then we should say NOTHING about God PERIOD. because any attempt to say anything will be trying to describe and understand the divine in human terms.

    if time is completely different for God, then it isn’t time. The same goes for foreknowledge, space, whatever.

    I am wearing blue jeans. I tell you that I am wearing ‘sunset jeans’, but a completely different kind of sunset than what you are thinking of. What have I said? I’ve said nothing.

  25. 27 Doug Towers November 8, 2006 at 10:09 pm

    Some very good comments here. I would like to get to the point of eternity verses time however. Eternity can’t be related to a time line (which is the way we think now). Time is on a line and eternity is in a circle (as was suggesyted) going out from you with results coming back (is the easiest way to define it). Thus eternity is seen around you while you remain an individual within it. You are at a point of progression within eternity right now. But we just tend to see this time line concept. It isn’t real. But it is useful for discussing and doing those things we are involved in here.
    As to revelation, I can tell you from personal experience that my mother prophesied very specific things many years before they happened which seemed incorrect at the time. Some of these involved people loving other people etc. One person involved was 12 at the time and never heard of the prophesy. I have recieved similar revelations of which were staggering. One being of a girl about 4 at the time. From whom the other person moved away and had no knowledge of this _ in fact neither did. At the appropriate time God brought them back together. There were personal reasons why these revelations were given to us. These things came by revelation from a God who knew what he is talking about.
    Of course these are only my personal experiences and not recorded in scripture. But hopefully you will at least consider the possibility that I’m not a screw ball.

  26. 28 the narrator November 8, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    eternity is in a circle

    what does that even mean?

  27. 29 m&m November 9, 2006 at 12:26 am

    Actually, I think eternity is in a sphere. 🙂

    It means that it’s definitely not linear, and time is something measured only to man. 🙂

    BTW, I wasn’t suggesting that we can’t talk about God. I realize we can only talk about Him using our language. But I don’t believe we can truly understand Him in that way. Truly understanding Him takes discernment and spirit and, I believe, will ultimately go beyond the point of words if we truly get to a point of understanding Him. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it’s awfully hard to do with the mortal limitations of language. I mean, I sometimes have a hard time finding an English word to match the sentiment of some of my favorite Spanish words. Language is so limited. That is really all I was saying. It’s not that we don’t try to understand and express, but we just have to be careful not to put limits on God because our minds or language are limited. Does that make any more sense?

  28. 30 Doug Towers November 9, 2006 at 2:43 am

    I have to agree with you M&M in that some things are hard to explain in language (regardless of what language it is). However to attempt to answer the question of what a circle eternity was like to me. If you can imagine an action that you do goes out from you upward and forward then begins to loop downward and comes back up toward you. But it doesn’t stop there as the loop continues by your response to this new thing in eternity, that which you have done. And this loop just continues. Though you are just present where you are. Yet all things past present and future are there around you. So you are in eternity. Your future is there as is your past. But you are actually only on the spot you are on. Therefore progression goes on.

  29. 31 BrianJ November 9, 2006 at 9:03 am


    I have a limited amount of time, so I’ll have to respond in pieces.

    Regarding scriptures, predictions, and redactions:
    Please note that I agreed with you in part but not in whole. That there was some—even a lot—of redaction is fine by me. But you seem to believe that ALL of the specific prophesies were later additions; I do not believe that. Obviously this is an argument of “You believe/I believe,” but that’s perfectly relevant in this kind of discussion (where, after all, both of us are relying on faith).

    So to re-reiterate: I think your point is right some of the time but wrong enough of the time that it doesn’t adequately address the question. (Unless one accepts—and I do not—that all scripture has been extensively rewritten.) In other words, if you try (as I think you are) to explain God’s foreknowledge to someone like me who believes that even one of the very specific prophesies in the scriptures was exactly that—a prophesy, before the fact—then you are left needing to explain how God knew/predicted the specifics.

    Even more of a problem for your explanation is what to make of prophets saying that they have seen our or some future day. (Add to that the very definition of a “seer.”) The way I see it, one either must: 1) believe that some prophets/seers have actually seen the future, or 2) completely reject the notion that visions/seers exist. If one accepts #1, then one has to explain (or wonder about) how God has that knowledge. Go for #2, and one just needs to explain the redactive process.

  30. 32 Doug Towers November 9, 2006 at 6:21 pm

    The first thing that seems to be put in question here is the correctness of the scriptures. This is a spiritual thing that any would have to work out for themselves. For example of clear prophesies Daniel made a specific prophesy in regard the time Christ would arrive and that he would be cut off in the midst of the week (9:25-27) (three and a half days – a year for each day in prophesy). This is a prophesy given in the Jewish scriptures (Masoretic text) (remembering they don’t accept Jesus as the Christ so didn’t alter it for him). The Greek Septuagint text also contains this prophesy by Daniel. As we know Christ fulfilled this performing the atonement after a three and a half year mission. Now if you don’t accept the Book of Mormon attesting this or the New Testament attesting it either then you have no real scripture.

  31. 33 denidowi November 16, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Yes; I am with Doug and Elder Neal A Maxwell on this one.
    Moses and many others were shown all things concerning the future.
    They even saw you and me, as if we were present before them.
    This was because they saw and beheld the glory of God.
    Moses and others make it quite clear that ‘all things are present before God’: this means all things – past, present and future, as we experience them here.
    However, only we experience “time” on this earth. In fact, I can remember Elder Maxwell visiting our stake here, and virtually expressing that perspective to us.
    We experience time, while God is present in eternity – so that all things are “present” in the eternities.

  32. 34 Eric Nielson November 17, 2008 at 8:02 am

    Yes, Elder Maxwell clearly felt this way, and it is a valid view that has some scriptural basis. But if we agree with Elder Maxwell, then we give up on real, meaningful free will or free agency. If God knows every little detail of the future, then the future is fixed, and there is no real free agency. What free agency we think we have is only hypothetical. God is then responsible for making us the way we are and there is nothing we can do differently.

    I used to believe this way also, but have since changed my mind.

  33. 35 ketch22 November 23, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Time is not an actual “thing”. Time is a word humans use to describe an event we don’t understand. I personally don’t believe in a past and future outside of memories and imagination. God can do anything, but He can’t do what is impossible. Since the present only exists, God cannot travel outside of it because there is no outside of it. Because He is all knowing, He can determine the future based on His infinite knowledge of all things and His ability to shape the universe. If it were possible for God to time travel, that would mean that I am already in heaven in some dimension and my future is already shaped. What purpose would God have with my life if He already knows and lives in the end result (with end result being the operative word, because there would be multiple places in time where He can see my decisions and also be living with me in paradise already).

  34. 36 Eric Nielson December 1, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Well said, Ketch22.

    I have come across a couple of posts and a dialog article that I want to add links for



  35. 37 Eric Nielson December 1, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Here is another try at the Dialog article (see pages 75-76 especially)

  36. 38 denidowi January 13, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Some here seem to think that if someone knows, or can predict, the future, or can predict what a person might choose, then that automatically means that agency has been removed from that person and they are no longer free to choose for themselves.
    This is not so.
    It merely means that one understands, so well, all of the parameters involved in a given choice with the given circumstances, including knowing the person perfectly, that the choice is known before the person makes that choice. He does not Force the person to make certain choices; it is simply that He knows what the person’s choice will be. The person still makes choice via his own agency.
    But let’s put it this way, God lives eternity; He is from all eternity to all eternity. Again, He has declared that “All things are present before me; therefore, I know them all”.
    As He lives in eternity, He therefore, does not live in “time” as we do.
    ALLthings, past, present and future (to us) are actually right there, present before God; they are all in front of His vision.
    Time is only experienced here, as Elder Maxwell has also said.

  37. 39 Eric Nielson January 13, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Elder Maxwell backtracked on this topic when asked about it. This was published in a dialog artical.

    No one is making a case for coersion here. It seems that you are standing on both sides of the fence here. In one breath you say that God’s forknowledge is based on a prediction from knowledge of the individual and the circumstances – and in the next breath you imply that God knows what we will do because the future exists and is fixed and God has been there. Which is it, prediction or time travel?

    Either way, this intrudes on free will if taken to absolutes. If the future exists and is fixed then we do not have free will because we can only behave in one way. We may think we have free will if this is the case, but it is only hypothetical. If we are really free agents then the future can not exist in a fixed, absolute case.

    On the other hand, if we are perfectly and absolutely predictable then we do not have real free agency either. This would be determinism. We are only capable of behaving as we are behaving because we a perfectly predictable.

    I do not dipute that God knows the future very well, and he can bring about His purposes regardless of what any of us do. But I do not believe that the future exists in any fixed and absolute way (and therefore God can not be there), and I do not believe that we are perfectly and absolutely predictable even by God. For me free agency trumps all.

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