Wednesday, May 10, 2023

@GodsNotReal_ & the Omniscience Fallacy

It has been a while since we have encountered tweets spouting sophism attempting to refute God, particularly God's attribute of omniscience.  As usual, a "meme graphic" is used rather than a peer review article.  The meme is full of conjecture that completely misrepresents God and other fields of academia.  They are not thought out well nor vetted against logic and academia.   

The graphic reads, "Omniscience Paradox."  It then goes on positing various scenarios bent on showing that God cannot be omniscient because of "x" factor.  The graphic is devoid of the knowledge of philosophy, time, theology, and physics, particularly quantum and relativity.  We will show this in a way that is understandable to all who can read.  Let us begin to analyze this graphic and tweet here below.  


It begins with "Assume God exists" and then directs to a diamond shape with the words "Does God know what all of my future thoughts will be?"  From there it offers a "yes" and "no" option indicating the outcome for each.  If "yes," then the graphic posits that "All human thoughts and actions have been pre-determined." If "No," then the graphic posits that "God is not all-knowing."  The graphic continues in this manner.  At first glance, it seems to make sense. However, a trained philosopher and logician can see the fallacy of assumption, appeal to ignorance, and special pleading fallacies here.  

This graphic would make sense if God were pantheistic, that is to say, a part of nature or the universe. The premise of this graphic is linked to this because it assumes that God and nature operate on the same rules and are linked via space-time.  This is important to note because it shows the strawman behind the graphic. It is possible for an All-Knowing entity to exist while at the same time allowing free will. It is possible for one to make any decision freely and at the same time God having awareness of it. This is exactly why God IS God.  Only a being of this magnitude transcends time and space in a manner that we cannot comprehend.  

What the graphic and tweet author fails to understand is that God is not bound by the laws of physics.  God is outside of space, time, and matter.  Our perception is limited within our existence dictated by the laws of physics.  Think of it like a video game.  We all know about Super Mario Bros.  There is even a movie out that has been number 1 for almost a month.  It was very good, I might add!  I digress.  It is a famous franchise about two Italian plumbers from Brooklyn, New York who are in a parallel universe called "The Mushroom Kingdom."  The two plumbers, Mario and Luigi are human.  As humans, we know that we can die easily.  We are subject to our regulated existence in this universe.  However, when Mario and Luigi are in this parallel universe, they have an extended amount of lives.  They also obtain special powers via particular items in the game.  Both Mario and Luigi can exist in this parallel universe because they are subject to the rules and laws of it.  Similarly, we are subject to the rules and laws of physics in this universe which has God as the author.  We can live and exist to a certain extent.  God is not bound by this.  The author of this graphic and tweet and others throughout the centuries make this mistake quite often in assuming God is bound by this universe or any other factors.  They apply the laws of physics to an entity that is not bound to them.  So, while we may perceive time as a constant moment that may give the appearance of "moving" into what we call the "future," God does not. God is not a contingent being, to use philosophical jargon. We are contingent beings. We need nature to exist. We need the laws of physics to exist. We need food, water, and regulated temperatures to exist. We need social interaction, love, emotions, etc. to exist.  You get the idea.  God does not need this, anyone, or anything. God is also immutable.  

The graphic and tweet author is thinking in a linear sense.  It is clear they never studied philosophy or physics.  Let me explain using Physics and Philosophy:

Free will exists while God knows and sees all at the same time because we are subject to space and time, not God. What does this mean? It means that God can know every outcome and every decision we make because He is outside of space and time. Being that He is God, His perception will be extremely advanced and different that ours who are bound by the physics of this universe.

We are in space and time, they have an effect on us. We exist in 4 dimensions and are limited to them. We cannot perceive the others. Because of this limitation, we are only aware of those 4 dimensions. M-theory or String theory is interesting when comparing it with free will and an all-knowing God.

To sum it up, string theory is the idea that particles are strings existing within and interacting with different dimensions. For example, string theory posits that what I am doing now is just one of the many outcomes within "reality." In this dimension I am blogging, in another, I could be blogging but chewing gum, etc., etc. All of this can happen at the same time or at different times.  We see this concept being presented more and more in movies such as the popular Marvel and DC movies with the "multiverse."  The latest movie of Dr. Strange touches on this idea greatly. Another movie from the "Men in Black" franchise presents an extraterrestrial named Griffin that can see multiple outcomes. His ability does not remove free will from Will Smith's character or anyone else's and vice-versa.  

In light of this, God who is outside of space and time can observe the many variations in the "strings" of reality. Therefore, He can see all/know all, and we can still be free in our respective dimension because we are part of that dimension and are subject to its laws.

You can test this with something that refracts light and a flashlight. When you put the beam on it, the light will "split" into parts pointing at different points. It is the same light, but they are at different points in space and time and in different dimensions. You can observe this because you are outside of that light, but if the light were conscious, it would not be aware of this and would only be aware that it can exist in its respective point.

Moreover, Determinism is not taken seriously by most philosophers, even less by physicists.  Here is a piece from philosopher Huemer:

A related idea is that the practice of reasoning is implicitly governed by the rule that one ought to form only justified (rational) beliefs and avoid unjustified beliefs; if one in no way accepts this norm - for example, if one regards arbitrary beliefs as no less to be preferred than rational beliefs- then one is not engaged in genuine reasoning. If this is right, then the determinist, insofar as he attempts to rationally defend his position, must accept at least some normative principles governing his assertions and thoughts. These normative principles may prove difficult to reconcile with determinism (indeed, the acceptance of any normative principles at all may be irreconcilable with determinism). The following deduction shows one way of bringing out the problem:

1. We should refrain from accepting unjustified beliefs. (Premise; presupposition of reasoning.)

2. To say that one should do something implies that one can do it. (premise)

3. So we can refrain from accepting unjustified beliefs. (From 1, 2)

4. Assume that hard determinism is true. Then what we actually do is the only thing we can do - that is, what can be done is done. (Assumption, definition of hard determinism.)

5. Therefore, we have no unjustified beliefs. (From 3,4)

6. Many people believe in free will. (Premise.)

7. So the belief in free will justified. (From 5,6) 

As for physics, subatomic particles behave in a random manner as we have learned via quantum physics using particle accelerators.  There is nothing "set" in the universe at this level of existence.  As stated above, string theory proposes that there are multiple scenarios of time being played out as I write this and as you read it.

In conclusion, this graphic only works with a "deist or pantheist type of God," but not the one God that has revealed Himself to us. The one who created this graphic and the tweet author obviously does not understand "God."  This fallacious logic is only applicable to a god from folk religions in Africa such as "Nyame."  In African folk religions, God or gods are part of the universe, not outside of it.

So God can be omniscient while at the same time not affecting the free will of beings in this universe. Logic and modern physics point to this.  

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