How can we reconcile God’s foreknowledge and our free choice
By: The John Ankerberg Show
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|If God exists, why is there evil in the world? What is evil? Where did evil come from? Why doesn’t God intervene and stop all evil? How can physical evils such as earthquakes, tornadoes and cancer be explained? Is there a good reason for the existence of hell on which even some atheists would agree? What about those who have never heard the Gospel?
Copyright: 2003, Number of Programs: 8, Cat. No. EVL
Keywords: Free Choice, Foreknowledge of God, Free will, Matthew 23:1-39, 2 Peter 3:9
- Ankerberg: Yeah. That necessary choices that you just flipped through so easy, you know, freezes the rest of us lay people that don’t know what you philosophers are talking about. You have this great illustration with dominoes about “necessary choices.” Talk about that.
- Geisler: Well, if you push the first domino, it is necessary that the last one is going to fall.
- Ankerberg: Necessary cause.
- Geisler: Because one necessarily falls on the other and they fall. There’s no free will. But if you put a human being in the middle and put, say, a hundred dominoes up to him and you push the first one, and then there’s a hundred dominoes after that free being, then you don’t know for sure whether he’s going to nudge the next domino or not. You know for sure the first hundred are going to fall, but you don’t know for sure if this free being is going to choose to push the next domino. So, there’s the difference. God, however, knows not only necessary causes – that all hundred will fall – He knows whether that person is going to push the next one and the next hundred are going to fall.
- Ankerberg: Why is it possible for God to be able to do that?
- Geisler: It is possible for God to be able to do that because He is outside of time. He’s not in time; He’s eternal. Here’s a tunnel. There’s somebody in the cave. They’re looking up and train is going by. There are three cars in the train. He’s looking at one car. That’s all he can see. He’s got “tunnel vision” – time. He doesn’t see the one that’s gone past; he doesn’t see the one yet coming. If there is somebody standing on top of that mountain over that cave, he sees all three cars at the same time – past, present and future. So God, from the pinnacle of eternity, is looking down on the whole course of time. He see past, present, and future all in His present. We see only the present moment – not the past one, not the future one.
- Ankerberg: Not only that, but even we as people, we could be on a mountain and we could see a collision that was going to happen between two cars, and we can know it even in advance. But that doesn’t mean that we’re making it happen.
- Geisler: Sure. If you were standing on top of a skyscraper and there were roads on each side, and you could foresee a head-on collision coming – car coming this way and a car coming that way and foresee they’re going to collide – you didn’t cause the accident. You just foresaw it.
- Ankerberg: Now, the reason I made you go through all of that, because that’s important to a whole lot of people, to say, “Am I really free in choosing what God is offering?” So let’s get down to, how big a freedom, how important a freedom, has God given to us people?
- Geisler: Scary, radical freedom – such freedom that He will allow us to say “No” to Him forever. It’s a pretty scary freedom. Such freedom that He will allow us to have our own way eternally. Nietzsche is the classic example in his last line of Genealogy of Morals. He said, “I would rather will nothingness than not to will at all.” So if Nietzsche were to stand before God someday and God would say to him, “Fred (that was his first name), Fred, I’ll give you three choices: 1. I’m going to wipe you out of existence, snuff you out of existence; 2. You can repent of all those evil things you said [he said, “God is dead. Christ is an idiot and Christians are nincompoops,” for example] repent of all those evil things you said, or 3. I’ll let you go on thinking and willing what you want to think and will forever,” which one would he choose? He told us. The third one. Because to snuff him out of existence would be like me saying to my son, “I want you to grow up and be a doctor” and he grew up and became a plumber so I shoot him. No. God is not that kind of Father. I mean, He is a loving Father and He will give us space; He will give us the freedom to make our own choices.
- Jesus said in Matthew 23:37: “How oft I would have gathered you together as a mother hen gathers her chicks, but you were not willing.” He didn’t force them. 2 Peter 3:9: “God is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repent” – change their mind.
- So God gives us the freedom, it’s a radical freedom and He allows us to make a choice to thumb our nose at Him forever, and He just says, “Thy will be done.”