Open Theism - varieties


(Mitchell W McKain) #1

Open theism has been talked about before, here is the link.

This topic was raised in another thread with regards to John Polkinghorne.

It should be noted that there are a number of different approaches to open theism even in the Wikipedia article on the topic, but that article hardly covers all of the varieties.

The principle point however is that for whatever reason, God omniscience does not mean that God absolutely knows that what is going to happen (our choices in particular) before they do (before we make those choices). This doesn’t necessarily mean that I cannot know. It may simply means that He doesn’t choose to know. Wikipedia claims that open theists are incompatibilists and that is certainly true in my case. But not all the things it attributes open theists necessarily applies. I certainly don’t believe the Bible is infallible, for example.

Here are the elements of my own particular version of open theism.

  1. The future exists only as superposition of possibilities. This puts me in the category of those open theists who believe the future is alethically open.
  2. God’s omnipotence does not agree with a list of things He cannot do, such as take risks, impose limitations on Himself, and give privacy to others. God’s omnipotence includes a power over Himself which is not surrendered to theologians with their definitions and dogmas.
  3. God’s omniscience means God can know what He chooses to know just as His omnipotence means He can do what He chooses to do.
  4. This does not mean that God is stuck in the temporal framework of the universe. He is outside of time and can therefore engage with the physical universe at any time of ours He chooses.
  5. The world is like a book which God and man write together. Logical consistency requires that if God reads ahead, choosing to know what will happen, then it is the same thing as God choosing not to participate in that part of the story and those things actually do happen so the story to that point becomes already written. To say that God can go back and write a different story means that God didn’t really read what actually happens anyway but only one of the possibilities, which God can do anytime He wants without changing anything and especially without acting like He doesn’t know what He is doing.
  6. But if God could fix what we choose to do before choosing what to do Himself then our free will vanishes and God becomes solely responsible for what happens. And that is something I do not believe God does. He doesn’t need to. He doesn’t need or want that degree of control over everything. There is certainly zero evidence that God exerts that degree of control over everything.

(Phil) #2

Roger Olsen wrote a blog on whether it is possible for God to change the past. It seems to me that if he can engage at any time, then he could, but then we get all the conflicts and paradoxes that entails. So I suspect he cannot or limits himself and does not. Something to think about, anyway.


and also related to open theism:


(system) #3

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