Friday, February 8, 2013

God and Breakfast

This used to be a question I liked to ask my christian friends back in my school days...

"Does God know what you're going to have for breakfast tomorrow morning?"

The answer most gave was "Yes, of course he does."

I followed with ".. and next week, on Thursday. Does He know what you'll have for breakfast then?"

"Yes, of course. God is all-knowing."

"So, what about 10 years from now... Besides your breakfast choices, does God know what career you'll be in? What your clothing style will be? Your exact thoughts, as they're running through your head, at this exact time, ten years from now?"
"Err... Yes. Of course. It's God. God permeates time and space. He knows all."

"Ok, right. So then God also knows what your state of mind will be at the exact moment before your death, correct?"


"So, assumably, God already knows, and has always known, whether you'll be going to heaven or hell...?"

"Err... yes..."

"And so he knows, and has known even since before he created anybody, the fate of all his mortal creations?"

You see where this goes? It's a logical trap designed to show how, either human beings don't have and have never had free will (because if a god already knows what's going to happen, and has always known, then everything is predetermined, as this is a god we're talking about), or, the god does not "permeate all time" and doesn't know the future.

My own solution to this when I was a christian was thinking of God as omniscient yes, but only in this present moment. Because I'd already figured that time was not linear in the way we have evolved to think... So to me, saying "God permeates time" was the same thing as saying "God can draw a square circle" ... It just doesn't make sense.

Of course, just how much of the future God could predict, him being God and all, was up for debate. And that leads to other problems like how much could a god be surprised by a mortal or other influence (a theme Frank Herbert really goes into in his "God Emporer of Dune" (book 4 in the Dune series)).

Now, of course, I contemplate the mysteries of time, fate, and free will completely free of the superfluous idea of a god.

I like this little trick because it's an easy way to get believers thinking about things. If they can surpass the "I must not doubt - Faith! Faith! Have faith!" hole, then they could possibly start thinking about the nature of this god they believe in... And if they're lucky, such thoughts could lead to seeing how a truly omnipotent, omniscient being would not be able to have the desire to create mortal worshippers, or any desire at all, nor even an emotion as human as loneliness to inspire such a desire.