Tuesday, July 27

God's Infinity and Open Theism

Yesterday, in a look at another one of God's attributes, I wrote a little piece on what it means that God is infinite. As I study each of these attributes, I can't help but think about whether or not an attribute can be held to in an open theistic system. I've already posted why I think that an open theist can't hold to God's simplicity or His independence--or at least why they can't hold to them in the way that they have been historically explained. Now I want to look at God's infinity, and whether that can exist within the open theist system.

I'm really just giving my own thoughts here--I can't find anything done by anyone else considering God's attributes individually to see how the God held to by the open theist must be different than the God of historical Christianity. So anything I write here is very preliminary, and I'm open to your thoughts, corrections, or additions. Please!

You may wonder what my purpose is in doing this. Part of the reason is just because I find this sort of thing fun, but there's a more serious issue here, too. I think there is a tendency for some to just look at open theism as a little variation of Christian thought, something not worth arguing over. I'm hoping to show that it is really way more than that. It is a system of thought that is at it's very core--in it's doctrine of God--extremely different from historical Christianity, and the God of open theism to is so different from the God of historical Christianity that it is difficult (for me, anyway) to see the two as the same God at all.

So let's consider a God who doesn't know the future choices of free men, and see if that God can be the infinite God of historical Christianity. An open theist will claim that God is infinite, but can a God who fits in their system really be infinite?

Some open theists will say that God's ignorance of the future is a voluntary ignorance. He could know it, but He chooses not to in order to be able to relate to His creatures within time. By this, I'm thinking they hope to avoid the problem of a God who learns. As far as I can see it, though, either God knows something, or He doesn't. If his voluntary ignorance of future choices is real ignorance--meaning that he has no knowledge of that choice and His choice to be ignorant of that choice is unchangeable, so that He couldn't bring it to mind if He chose to--then even though that ignorance is voluntary, he is learning in exactly the same way that he would be learning if it were impossible for Him to know something before that event actually happened.

Of course, I suppose someone could hold that His ignorance is just a choosing to overlook sort of ignorance, an ignorance that allows Him to relate to us as if He doesn't know, even though He really does know, but I find that idea just plain foolishness. If God knows, then He knows, and what He knows is taken into consideration in His actions. If He doesn't use the info He has, then He's not all that wise, is He?

Then there are those who believe that God doesn't know the future because the future is unknowable to Him. God doesn't know our future choices because He can't know them, because time is something that exists outside of creation, and thus outside of God. (I know, I know. This is a goofy idea, and if space is part of creation, then so is time, but let's give this to them for the sake of argument.) One problem that I see with this idea (besides the space/time separation thing), is that if time is something that has always existed, in the same way that God has always existed, then you have two gods, really: the god of time, and another god--the creator god--who is subject to time.

But whatever the scheme you use to come up with a God whose knowledge of the future is limited, you still have a God whose knowledge is limited in some way. One of His attributes--His knowledge--is not infinite. There are things He doesn't know. He may possibly know an infinite number of things, but remember that God's infinity doesn't only mean that His attributes are unlimited in quantity, but unlimited in quality. This means that his attributes are both unmeasurable and complete. They cannot be added to. If God only begins to know our choices at the point in time that we make them, then God's knowledge can be added to. It is never complete, at least as long as time exists. There is a boundary to God's knowledge, and that boundary is just after the always advancing point of the present.

I suppose we might also be able to make an argument that a God subject to time would also be subject to space, since time and space are so interrelated. If God is in time, isn't He also in space, and then isn't He also not infinite in regards to space?

So, what say ye? What do you think? What can you add? What do you disagree with? Where is my thinking silly?
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