What does God know? What is Aquinas’ answer? Is it the best model of God’s omniscience? These main question will be answered and some thoughts will be given. Does God know actual infinites? Does God have knowledge of contingent things and future events? Does God have knowledge of particulars and universals? These are some more interesting questions that will be answered with the text.
What does God know and how does he know?
God knows things from himself, which is inferred from the doctrine of Divine Simplicity. Aquinas answers also that God has knowledge of things that are not. “God knows all things whatsoever that in any way are. Now it is possible that things that are not absolutely should be in a certain sense (143).” God’s knows all absolute things by their final causes, which Anselm would say by a thing’s rectitude since that is the highest truth.
“Whereas things, which are not actual, are in the power either of God himself or of a creature, whether in active power, or passive; whether in the power of thought or of imagination, or of any other kind whatsoever. Whatever therefore can be made, or thought, or said by the creature, as also whatever he himself can do, all are known God, although they are not actual (143-144).” It’s implied that God knows things based on what potentiality they have or what their actuality is.
Objection 3 of the ninth article, argues that since God’s knowledge of the cause of what is known by him that things that are not cannot be known by God. Aquinas replies that his knowledge of the things not to be are necessary. “Hence, it is not necessary that whatever God knows should be, or have been or is to be; but this is necessary only as regards what he wills to be, or permits to be (144).” The things that God will’s to be are necessary, but things that are not are things that are possible, not necessary. God knows things from himself, by his will and the essence of other things, whether it be actual or potential.
Does God know evil?
It is argued that God cannot know what is evil, since evil is the privation of the good. Evil is not part of the essence of God or of things that are good. How can God know evil? Since God is not the cause of evil, how can he know it? Aquinas answers: “Whoever knows a thing perfectly must know all that can occur to it (145).” God can know the opposites of evil by knowing the good perfectly. God knows the negation of his will, so he knows what evil is since he knows that humans can violate the will of God. Even humans know the opposite of good since the law shows us this. Surely, the lawmaker knows how is law can be broken.
Does God know singular things?
God knows universal things by his pure act and essence of his being. However, the objector will argue that singular things are known by material things, which is unlike God. “Therefore, God cannot know singular things since these are potential and not actual like universal things. God cannot know singular things because they are potential and not actual like him. “God knows singular things through universal causes (147).” This is true, since God can know singular things that may make universal or by knowing what universals causes singular things. This objection simply makes a fallacy of division by arguing that we cannot know the part from the whole.
Can God know Infinite things?
If I was Aquinas, I would simply argue that mathematical infinites are not things, since they are contradictory when applied to real world examples. Herbert’s hotel paradox shows this to be the case. According to Augustine, infinite cannot be numbered but can be comprehended by him whose knowledge has no number. God’s knowledge would know all infinites since his being is infinite. “God knows not only things actual but also to himself or to created things, as was shown above, and since these must be infinite, it must be held that he knows infinite things (149).” These “infinite things” can’t be actual number of things since every example you could try to give would be a potential infinite, not an actual infinite. Therefore, the only actual infinite thing God knows is himself.
Does God have knowledge of contingent things and future things?
All three objections argue that all of God’s knowledge has to be necessary since God’s knowledge comes from the necessary being himself. Every conditional statement would have to be necessary, both antecedent and consequent. The future propositions cannot be known by God since these are not necessary things since they can change. The knowledge of men are necessary propositions Aquinas seems to imply, but future choices by them are contingent things. “Now the works of men are contingent, being subject to free choice. Therefore, God knows future contingent things (152).”
Aquinas argues that God knows all actual things but things possible to him and to the creature. “Since some of these are future contingent to us, it follows that God knows future contingent things (152).” God knows these by knowing his creation and creatures. He would have to know what free creatures would do since God knows these creatures in their potentiality and actuality. “Now God knows all contingent things not only as they are in their causes, but also as each one of them is actually in itself (152).” Now, man’s things are contingent upon himself, but man is contingent on God for his existence. Based on Aquinas’s reasoning, God knows his creatures that are contingent on him so God knows these contingent propositions.
God knows things from himself, the causes of his will, and the causes of what he created. He knows particulars by knowing the universals from his essence. He knows the evil by knowing the good. He knows the only actual infinite, which is God. He knows all contingent things because they are either contingent from him or from the things contingent on him. God’s knowledge comes from God’s necessary being of knowing himself and what comes from him.
Property Dualism is a type of dualism that tries to explain mental states by prior physical brain states, but it fails to account for mental states being their own thing. This type of dualism starts to beg the question when it tries to explain mental states by physical properties. It’s an inconsistent view that in all reality implicitly states that our mental states are really illusory because they are just physical states that our brain is in. This next section is an argument against both Property Dualism and Scientific Naturalism.
Is Scientific Naturalism Reasonable?
According to the naturalist, scientific naturalism is the most reasonable worldview that one can hold. As we will learn later, free will doesn’t exist on this worldview, so no can choose to hold to scientific naturalism as the most reasonable or rational worldview. Reason is the application of the laws of logic and their application to arguments. Where do the laws of logic come from? Clearly, they do not come from matter, space, or time. They come from mental states that recognize the logical absolutes like the law of non-contradiction. Another is the law of identify, which states that if A has the same properties or attributes to B, then A is B. There are more of these absolute logical laws that can only be found in mental states, or minds that observe something. Do we have minds on scientific naturalism? The short answer is no, mainly due to the fact the mental states are not the same as brain states. If I think of a pink elephant, there is no brain state that can tell you that I am thinking about the pink elephant. I have to tell you that because my mental states are private, and my brain states are public (Turek, 32-38).
Essentially, my argument is that mental states are required for logical absolutes, and on scientific naturalism, matter is all there is. No matter how many times we rearrange matter, we will not get mental states based on the law of identity forbidding this. Atoms, Quarks, and energy don’t have beliefs, thoughts, or decisions which are all forms of mental states. For the sake of arguments, I’ll grant that property dualism is possibly on scientific naturalism. This is the view that mental states arise from brain states. Francis Crick wrote this one time: “The Astonishing Hypothesis is that my scientific conclusions that I write this book are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules (Turek, 40).” Francis Crick was a brilliant man and helped the discovery of DNA. Yet, he held to such a self-defeating worldview because it shots itself in the foot. If are our beliefs are just the result of atoms in a certain assembly, then why trust them? A different assembly would produce different beliefs making them no tool to truth. He held to the view that Scientific Naturalism is false and Crick came to a different conclusion based on his nerve assembly. Why is your nerve assembly better than mine? I think scientific naturalism leads us to a type of assembly relativism. Your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth because we have different brain states that determine our own truths. Scientific Naturalism cannot be true because there is no objective way to determine it to be true (Turek, 40-45).
Scientific Naturalism is not reasonable because reason doesn’t exist on this view of the world. Logic is dead on scientific naturalism, so what’s the point. This radical view is the end of reason. While an unembodied mind like God, is the most reasonable inference to the evidence to account for first cause uncaused of mind that logical absolutes are contingent upon. Theism is the most reasonable position to take if you want to believe the most reasonable position since it accounts for the logical absolutes that we know exist. The most committed, consistent naturalists will argue that consciousness doesn’t exist, but one ought to wonder if they consciously came to that position. Scientific Naturalism is ultimately not reasonable because it doesn’t allow for reason or mental states to exist (Turek, 52-53).
I Think, Therefore Scientific Naturalism is False
Intentionality is a philosophical term that is basically the philosophical way of describing consciousness. Is matter aware? Does matter contain mind? As we discussed earlier atoms, quarks, and lumps of matter do not contain Consciousness. How can we think if we just arranged matter in motion? Mind is where we get intentionality and this cannot be obtained through matter by being arranged a certain way. Free will is required to make intentional statements and so on. I have to be free to intentionally say that scientific naturalism is the correct view of the world. Also, to decide whether a position is more rational requires you to choose between the competing worldview. Mind cannot arise from matter, but is the other way around (will be shown in my final argument). To hold to materialism will lead to materialist relativism, which I described earlier as the view that truth is determined on the brain state. If our mental states are just brain states, then we do not have free will, mind, or intentionality. Descartes famous saying “I think; therefore, I am” is one of the most famous quotes from modernity. There is truth to this phrase because it is self-evident that we are selfs and have minds. Mind cannot arise from matter, because it would not truly be mind. I think, therefore Scientific Naturalism cannot be truth, but is indeed false (Turek, 74-85).
We all believe that we have free will to the degree of making our own decisions, but not control over where we are born geographically. On scientific naturalism, I can’t even make my own decisions. This is what Sam Harris would argue for, that free will is just an illusion. I’m not talking about controlling your own ethnicity or gender, but rather your own mental states, which are determined by our brain states. We’ve established already that mental states can’t exist on the materialistic worldview of scientific naturalism. Every material thing has a prior material cause so free agency is caused by that prior material cause not making it free. This is the short view of determinism, which states that everything is determined by its prior cause. Obviously, on scientific naturalism, materialism, determinism is not compatible view with free will since everything is matter in time and space (Turek, 42-45)
Mental states are not material and are their own things that are not determined by prior material things. Mental states by definition would be the true causes of free will since they come from mind. The things that we think are not determined by material, but rather when the mind perceives material things and reflect on these experiences, which allow us to think for ourselves. On scientific naturalism, we are not free thinkers, but rather what we think is determined (Turek, 60-65).
1. “Is the Soul Biblical?”, 3.
2. “Scientific Naturalism”, 4-5.
3. “Scientific Naturalism”, 6-7.
Authorship of 1 Peter:
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ” is the introduction to the first epistle of Peter. Normally, historians would take Peter to be the author of this letter since he is identified as the writer in the very first verse. Skeptics who take Paul’s letters as authentic accept his authorship since he identifies himself in most of his letters. Silvanus is employed as an amanuensis to help assist Peter in writing his epistle (1 Peter 5:12). Silvanus was also a Roman citizen according to Acts 16:37. He also was associated with the early church as we see in Acts. Assuming Peter is the author, 1 Peter was most likely written during the reign of Nero since he warns of persecution, so around mid-60s AD.
Authorship of 2 Peter:
The author is identified again as “Simeon Peter, and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1). Simon is spelled with a Semitic style, which implies that Peter himself wrote the letter. This doesn’t follow that he didn’t have help with the letter however. This is where the controversy comes on with 2 Peter since it’s clear he had help from Silvanus in 1 Peter. Skeptics will point this out to be evidence against Peter as the author of second Peter. To the contrary, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria accept Peter as the author. Assuming Peter as the author, 2 Peter would be written the same time as 1 Peter, but chronologically after. Both letters were most likely written from a prison cell since 2 Peter 1:14 implies that he will pass soon. Peter died probably around AD 67 during the reign of Nero, so both letters would be written before that.
Attacks against the reliability of 2 Peter:
Objection #1: Peter used Jude as a source, but Peter would have died before Jude would have been written.
Reply: It’s easier plausible that Jude could have used 2 Peter as a source if this document is earlier. This objection becomes circular if they do not bring in evidence that 2 Peter used Jude as a main source.
Objection #2: The Greek usage and vocabulary could not be used from a fisherman like Peter. Also, the author must be familiar with Greek culture.
Reply: Peter knew Silvanus, who was a Roman citizen, so it’s plausible that he knew Greek and helped Peter, since he did with 1 Peter. Silvanus may have helped again and not need to mention his name. Also, who is to say that Peter didn’t know Greek? This is a claim that has to be shown as true. It’s also possible that Peter had help from scribes that did not indicate themselves in the letter. Peter would have been young as a fisherman, so it’s also possible for him to have learned Greek after his post resurrection experience. A post resurrection experience would be a good motivation to learn Greek and write about the Gospel.
Objection #3: The false teachers identified are second Century Gnostics, so Peter could not have written 2 Peter in the second century.
Reply: This is a claim that is never shown to be the case, but rather asserted. Gnostics posited Cosmological Dualism, rejected the material world, and had defective theology of Christ. 2 Peter does not contain any themes like these.
Objection #4: Paul’s Letters are considered scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). The canon is confirmed after Peter’s life.
Reply: 2 Peter 3:15-16 does not indicate that all of Paul’s letters were collected as Canon. Peter would have believed that some of Paul’s letters were authentic since he knew Paul’s experience and life. Peter knows some of Paul’s letters, so would have believed them to be authentic.
Objection #5: Church fathers do not quote 2 Peter and its canonicity was under attack in the fourth century.
Reply: Peter is claimed to be the author (2 Peter 1:1). Peter claims his death is very near (2 Peter 1:14). Matched up with dating of 1 Peter since Peter died under Nero’s rule. Also, claims to have seen Jesus’ transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16-18). The author here seems to know the life of Peter, probably because it is Peter. Also, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria accept Peter as the author, as mentioned before. Finally, the author can easily be falsified, which adds to the credibility for Peter as author. The Church fathers would have falsified 2 Peter if they knew it was a forgery like they did with many Gnostic texts.
Apologetics Study Bible
Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Revised Edition 12
Often times when discussing the Historical Jesus, some skeptical scholars are quick to make the claim that Jesus was nothing more than an apocalyptic prophet. That the development of his nature from the Gospel of Mark to the Gospel of John is solid evidence for this; Jesus didn’t really claim to be God. However, this isn’t the case at all. In fact, we can find the divinity of Jesus all throughout the Gospel of Mark alone! Let’s examine the case:
Jesus Can Forgive the Sins of All
In Mark 2:5, Jesus tells the paralyzed man that “his sins are forgiven”. Immediately after, in verse 6, it says, “some experts in Moses’ teachings were there” and “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”. Jesus then responds, “I want you to know that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.”
Jesus Is the Lord of the Sabbath
It is very clear in the early chapters of the book of Genesis and all throughout the book of Exodus that God created the Sabbath and he is the Lord of it. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that in the same chapter that Jesus forgives sins, he also makes this bold claim in Mark 2:28: “The Son of Man is even the Lord of the Sabbath.”
Jesus Controls the Weather
During Mark 4:35-41, the disciples and Jesus are on a boat when suddenly a huge storm hits them. They ask Jesus to help them, and in Mark 4:39 he commands the wind and the sea to calm; which they do. Then the disciples ask themselves in Mark 4:41, “Who is this, that even the the wind and the waves obey Him!” Well, there is an answer throughout the entirety of the Old Testament that would answer this question: Who is this? God, who they thought controlled the weather. But let’s focus on one specific passage, found in the book of Exodus. Exodus 14:21 says, “And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord caused the sea to go back and a strong wind to divide them.” So the Lord controls the wind and the sea, just like Jesus. No wonder the disciples were freaked out.
Jesus Transfigured with the Highest of Prophets
In Mark 9:2-13, Jesus and a couple of his disciples go on top of a mountain, where he is then transfigured. Suddenly, the disciples look, and the transfigured Jesus is having a conversation with Moses and Elijah (who ‘coincidentally the “Angel of the Lord” appeared to both in the Old Testament; the Angel of the Lord being the preincarnate Christ). Now, this doesn’t exactly prove Jesus was God in Mark alone, but it does show that Mark thought very highly of Jesus early on.
Jesus, the Unique Son of God at the Right Hand of Power
After Jesus is arrested, He is on trial before the Sanhedrin. One of them asks, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus replies, “I Am. And you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of Heaven.” They then charge Him with blasphemy. This passage is very important. Here is a list of verses in the Old Testament where God is the cloud-rider: Psa. 68:33, Deut. 33:26, 2 Sam. 22:11, Psa. 18:10, Isa. 19:1, and Psa. 104:3. Also, Jesus is referring to the Son of Man who rides the clouds in Daniel 7. Last, we have Him sitting at the right hand of Power, which puts Jesus at a pretty high position.
In conclusion, despite the claims of many, we can in fact find many pieces of evidence that the earliest Gospel, Mark, spoke highly on the divinity of our “Lord and God” (John 20:28) Jesus.
Early on the blog, I wrote an article called “top 5 arguments atheists should stop using” to show why common atheist arguments don’t stand to reason. In this article, I will be helping my fellow Christians in demonstrating why certain arguments made from my side should no longer be invoked, because there are better arguments they can use. This is the top 5 arguments Christians should stop using.
5) Evolution is just a theory
4) The Bible says so
3) You don’t know God doesn’t exist
2) Just look around you
1) Just have faith
5) Often, I hear Christians say “well evolution is just a theory” in response evolutionary biology, usually invoked as an argument either against creationism or God’s existence. What this response means is that, since modern biological evolution is a theory, we don’t need to give any thought to it since its only a theory. The problem with this line of reasoning is its misunderstanding of what a theory is. Theories are not just unsupported ideas or speculations that scientists use to come to conclusions. A theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation. Not simply “guesses”. Whether or not you embrace the theory of biological evolution, it is not a good response to just say “well its only a theory”. Gravity is also a theory and nobody disputes it.
4) Sometimes when a Christian is trying to convince someone of their position, they will just invoke the bible outright as an authority that they should accept. The line of thought here is “since the bible is true the skeptic should also believe it’s true and respect what it says about life”. But all this does is force your position onto someone who isn’t in the slightest convinced by it. The skeptic will rightly accuse the Christian of circular reasoning and dismiss what they say unless further support is given (usually). I too believe the Bible is true and everyone should accept what it says, but I don’t start with the conclusion that the Bible is true to prove that the Bible is true, that is just question begging. Other times, the Christian may not have any good arguments so they will just assume that believing the Bible is true will be enough for the other person to consider it. There are a multitude of good arguments out there that will establish the Bible as true, but this is not the way to go about it.
3) I think that the proposition “you don’t know that God doesn’t exist” is the most commonly used bad argument on this list. I will say, however, that this line of reasoning is not always wrong. I only want Christians to shy away from this as an early dismissal. For example, if a Christian is in a conversation with an Atheist and the Atheist claims that God doesn’t exist, the Christian should not dismiss the statement early on with “well you can’t prove that”. The failure here is that nothing productive follows from this statement and assumes that proof is deciding factor. The Atheist and Christian alike cannot with 100% certainty demonstrate the inexistence or existence of God the same way someone would prove something in mathematics. Furthermore, this is often a shutdown response when a Christian has no other support to back their affirmation. If the Atheist claims that God does not exist, simply ask what reasons they have for being certain of such a proposition and carry on the dialogue.
2) When I hear my fellow Christians passionately trying to prove that God exists to a skeptic, I often hear “well just look around you!” as apart of their evidence. I am glad that they see nature as a case for God’s existence, but this simply won’t cut it. I remember as a younger believer, I always disliked this argument because I knew full well that those who stand by evolution or don’t believe in God hardly see this as viable evidence for God’s existence. Botany and Biology can all be explained naturalistically which is what the prevailing theory of evolution outlines. Most skeptics aren’t ready to embrace a design hypothesis because of this. Fortunately, there’s a whole area of study called natural theology which makes conclusions about God’s existence on the basis of the natural phenomena.
1) This last argument on this list must be the worst argument the Christian can use. “Just have faith” is almost entirely invoked when the Christian has been backed into a corner or has no justification for their claims so they simply say, “well you should just have faith”. First, this is not the right way faith should be used. Faith should not be used in isolation, we should speak of faith as in faith in something. I have faith that my textbooks will contain correct information. Faith is trust or assurance of something, and in the case of God, its Hebrews 11:1: “ Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”Furthermore, simply saying “you should just have faith that God exists” just sounds like a leap in the dark which is what skeptics continually accuse theists of. This does not represent Christianity in serious light and as Christians its our duty to provide a justification for why we believe in what we believe.