William Lane Craig Q&A: If God Knows My Decisions How Do I Have Free Will?


Another question about free will, Dr.
Craig. Is free will possible if God knows all our thoughts and actions
beforehand? I think it certainly is. Some people have adopted a viewpoint called
theological fatalism, which says that if god foreknows what you’re going to do,
then you are fated to do it, and therefore everything happens necessarily.
This, however, I think, commits an elementary logical fallacy. It reasons as
follows: necessarily, if God foreknows that I will do X, then I will do X.
Premise 2: God foreknows that I will do X. 3, Therefore, necessarily, I will do X. So that’s how the argument for fatalism goes. Necessarily, if God foreknows that I will do X, then I will do X. 2, God foreknows that I will do X. 3,
therefore, necessarily I will do X. That commits a fallacy in modal logic. It
does not follow from those two premises that you will necessarily do X. All that
follows from the two premises is that you will do X, but not that you will
necessarily do it. You could refrain, and if you were to refrain then God’s
foreknowledge would have been different. So by acting one way or the other,
I have the ability to act in such a way that God’s foreknowledge would have been
different than it is in fact. And that’s sufficient for freedom; there’s
nothing about God’s merely knowing about something in advance that takes away my
freedom to do otherwise. Okay I’ll have to go home and think about that for a
minute! By the way I actually spent seven years working full-time on this project, doing a philosophical analysis of divine omniscience and have published a number
of books in this area, so if anyone is interested take a look at my little book
called “The Only Wise God” and this is a discussion of divine foreknowledge and
human freedom. And lest anybody here tonight think this is some thing that
only harebrained philosophers are interested in, have you never heard of
open theism? Open theism is a movement within evangelical theology which thinks
that God’s knowing about the future is incompatible with human freedom, and so
in the name of human freedom it denies divine foreknowledge, despite the fact
that the Bible teaches it. So these people think that God does not know the
future free acts of people, that he gambles on the future, that he often
makes mistakes and goes wrong, and that he has to revise his plans because he
didn’t see what was coming. And this is an issue which is splitting the
evangelical church today. So this is hugely significant theologically and
therefore not just a matter of some philosophical speculation. This has real
practical consequences in the church and in your view of divine providence and God’s infallibility.

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