By Mike Edwards
It seems intuitive a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. It isn’t too presumptuous to imagine what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions, our consciences. Christians may argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God and the future, but scholars don’t agree if the Bible suggests God does or doesn’t know the future. We have to think intuitively what a freedom creating God would know about the future in order to be perfectly loving.
Freedom requires that God can’t know the future
It is natural to think an all-powerful God knows everything including the future. But freedom is necessary for perhaps the highest good in relationships — authenticity. Freedom has possible consequences such as suffering but if God didn’t create freedom, we could accuse God of not creating the “most loving” world. It isn’t that God keeps themselves from knowing the future. It’s that an undetermined future is unknowable. God may know all possibilities, but the future must be open if we are truly free and God is truly loving.
Why it matters that God doesn’t know the future
It is natural to think an all-knowing, powerful God has special insights into future outcomes to avoid problems. But God can’t tell you if the person you want to marry won’t end up betraying you or the job you take won’t end up being phased out. A human parent would warn their child if they knew ahead of time of heartbreaks. God isn’t hiding a “known” future for important decisions. God joins us in an open future.
Freedom allows not being anxious about making “right decisions” or missing God’s will
We already know the mind of God when it comes to moral decisions; otherwise, God supports us in making best decisions at the time that make our lives and the lives of others better. Joy and good is achieved by taking any number of paths and avoiding immoral paths. The good news about God not knowing the future is that we can feel God truly want us to feel free without strings attached. God seeks only to influence us to do all the good we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as we can.
Uncontrolling love can explain why God can’t intervene more with evil
Atheists and believers agree. The only God worth believing in and following is a perfect, loving God. Can God manipulate others? We would say no because love doesn’t manipulate. We hate when we see friends try to control others for their own reasons or gain. God can’t control evil because God’s very nature is love and true love is uncontrolling. Ask any adult child! A God who can control evil leads to asking “why or what is God punishing me for” or “God, do you really love me?”
Uncontrolling love can explain why God doesn’t answer our prayers
Let’s be honest. More prayers are unanswered than answered. God can’t wave a magic wand without accounting for freedom. We can talk to God for self-examination, for sharing our concerns, and not feeling alone in a chaotic world. We tell others to seek influence from the right people to make wiser choices. It isn’t that you didn’t beg enough or have the right attitude. It isn’t that God had the power to do something about it, but chose not to; it’s that God can’t. Divine love limits divine power. God though is always doing all they can in a free world before, during, and after our prayers.
A God who doesn’t knows the future is more relatable
A known or set future suggests one isn’t truly free to choose otherwise. Even the Bible speaks often as if God doesn’t know the future. God hopes Israel would accept God’s guidance, but Israel often turned against God (i.e., Jer. 3:19–20). We don’t have to play mental gymnastics by assuming God is only pretending to not know future decisions. When the Bible says God grieves with us in our suffering, we can know God agonizes with us each step of the way and deters any suffering possible without violating freedoms or acting controlling. God joins us in our joys and sorrows.
Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like He can be contacted by email at: email@example.com