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Omniscience

Omniscience


Omniscience concerns God's (a priori) knowledge about the course of people's lives. More generally, it concerns God's knowledge about the whole course of history, including the future. This appears in that aspect of prophetical literature that expresses itself in a forecasting style, which, in turn, rests upon divine foreknowledge.

In the biblical literature, knowledge of the future is a distinctive characteristic of God over against pseudo-gods. In Christian theology, the notion of omniscience refers to the property by which God knows all past, present, and future things and all events, including all their circumstances and boundary conditions. Omniscience encompasses both the actual and possible things and events in past and present, but it includes knowledge of the possibilities that will be actualized as well as those that will not be actualized. Divine knowledge is therefore perfect as absolutely true. But characteristic of divine omniscience is also its immediate (intuitive) nature: It will never be discursive by means of any mediating epistemological process of experience and deduction.

The classical notion of divine omniscience states that God knows all events in past, present, and future simultaneouslyin one perspective, from the eternal (timeless) stance outside of time. Therefore, God knows all things "from eternity" at once because this knowledge transcends every temporal order, including that of its epistemological object, for example, the temporal course of the historical process, as discussed by the Roman philosopher Boethius (c. 480524) and the Christian theologians Augustine of Hippo (354430) and Thomas Aquinas (c. 12251274). Boethius's metaphor describes the all-knowing God outside time like a person who stands on the top of a mountain and sees what happens along the road in the valley. That person sees, as it were, simultaneously the past, the present, and the future of people walking along the road. A similar type of simultaneity was also defended by Wolfhart Pannenberg (1928). Within omniscience one distinguishes a scientia necessaria (knowledge about God and about all possibilities) and a scientia libera sive visionis (complete knowledge or vision of actual reality in past, present, and future).

One conceptual difficulty of this interpretation of divine omniscience concerns its epistemological range: Is experiential or existential knowing possible for an intuitively knowing God? Another difficulty: Is knowledge of a nonexistent future real knowledge? Knowledge of the future is conceivable in an atemporal ontology, but that makes time-experiences illusionary. Apart from that, such a reality seems to be determined because of the co-existence of past, present, and future. How is human freedom related to God's eternal knowledge of it? Is human moral responsibility in such a reality a real option? So-called incompatibilists will answer in the negative: Absolute timeless divine foreknowledge is incompatible with human freedom. Therefore, some of them argue against absolute foreknowledge whereas others use it against human freedom. Compatibilists will answer in the affirmative: Human freedom and absolute foreknowledge are compatible. Some of them will argue that there are alternative interpretations of a scientia media (middle or consequent knowledge about what each creature would freely do in any possible situation) that might solve the problem of compatibility.

See also God


Bibliography

craig, william lane. the only wise god: the compatibility of divine foreknowledge and human freedom. grand rapids, mich.: baker book house, 1987.

fischer, john martin, ed. god, foreknowledge, and freedom. stanford, calif.: stanford university press, 1989.

kvanvig, jonathan l. the possibility of an all-knowing god. houndmills, uk: macmillan, 1986.

pike, nelson. "a latter-day look at the foreknowledge problem." international journal for philosophy of religion 33 (1993): 129164.

swinburne, richard. (1993). the coherence of theism. oxford: oxford university press, 1993.

zagzebski, linda trinkaus. the dilemma of freedom and foreknowledge. new york: oxford university press, 1991.

luco j. van den brom

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Omniscience

477. Omniscience

  1. Ea shrewd god; knew everything in advance. [Babylonian Myth.: Gilgamesh ]
  2. God knows all: past, present, and future. [Christianity and Judaism: NCE, 10981099]
  3. Santa Claus he knows who has been bad or good. [Western Folklore: Misc.]
  4. Sphinx ancient Egyptian symbol of all-knowingness. [Heraldry: Halberts, 38]

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"Omniscience." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Omniscience." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/omniscience

omniscience

omniscienceabeyance, conveyance, purveyance •creance • ambience •irradiance, radiance •expedience, obedience •audience •dalliance, mésalliance •salience •consilience, resilience •emollience • ebullience •convenience, lenience, provenience •impercipience, incipience, percipience •variance • experience •luxuriance, prurience •nescience • omniscience •insouciance • deviance •subservience • transience •alliance, appliance, compliance, defiance, misalliance, neuroscience, reliance, science •allowance •annoyance, clairvoyance, flamboyance •fluence, pursuance •perpetuance • affluence • effluence •mellifluence • confluence •congruence • issuance • continuance •disturbance •attendance, dependence, interdependence, resplendence, superintendence, tendance, transcendence •cadence •antecedence, credence, impedance •riddance • diffidence • confidence •accidence • precedence • dissidence •coincidence, incidence •evidence •improvidence, providence •residence •abidance, guidance, misguidance, subsidence •correspondence, despondence •accordance, concordance, discordance •avoidance, voidance •imprudence, jurisprudence, prudence •impudence • abundance • elegance •arrogance • extravagance •allegiance • indigence •counter-intelligence, intelligence •negligence • diligence • intransigence •exigence •divulgence, effulgence, indulgence, refulgence •convergence, divergence, emergence, insurgence, resurgence, submergence •significance •balance, counterbalance, imbalance, outbalance, valance •parlance • repellence • semblance •bivalence, covalence, surveillance, valence •sibilance • jubilance • vigilance •pestilence • silence • condolence •virulence • ambulance • crapulence •flatulence • feculence • petulance •opulence • fraudulence • corpulence •succulence, truculence •turbulence • violence • redolence •indolence • somnolence • excellence •insolence • nonchalance •benevolence, malevolence •ambivalence, equivalence •Clemence • vehemence •conformance, outperformance, performance •adamance • penance • ordinance •eminence • imminence •dominance, prominence •abstinence • maintenance •continence • countenance •sustenance •appurtenance, impertinence, pertinence •provenance • ordnance • repugnance •ordonnance • immanence •impermanence, permanence •assonance • dissonance • consonance •governance • resonance • threepence •halfpence • sixpence •comeuppance, tuppence, twopence •clarence, transparence •aberrance, deterrence, inherence, Terence •remembrance • entrance •Behrens, forbearance •fragrance • hindrance • recalcitrance •abhorrence, Florence, Lawrence, Lorentz •monstrance •concurrence, co-occurrence, occurrence, recurrence •encumbrance •adherence, appearance, clearance, coherence, interference, perseverance •assurance, durance, endurance, insurance •exuberance, protuberance •preponderance • transference •deference, preference, reference •difference • inference • conference •sufferance • circumference •belligerence • tolerance • ignorance •temperance • utterance • furtherance •irreverence, reverence, severance •deliverance • renascence • absence •acquiescence, adolescence, arborescence, coalescence, convalescence, deliquescence, effervescence, essence, evanescence, excrescence, florescence, fluorescence, incandescence, iridescence, juvenescence, luminescence, obsolescence, opalescence, phosphorescence, pubescence, putrescence, quiescence, quintessence, tumescence •obeisance, Renaissance •puissance •impuissance, reminiscence •beneficence, maleficence •magnificence, munificence •reconnaissance • concupiscence •reticence •licence, license •nonsense •nuisance, translucence •innocence • conversance • sentience •impatience, patience •conscience •repentance, sentence •acceptance • acquaintance •acquittance, admittance, intermittence, pittance, quittance, remittance •assistance, coexistence, consistence, distance, existence, insistence, outdistance, persistence, resistance, subsistence •instance • exorbitance •concomitance •impenitence, penitence •appetence •competence, omnicompetence •inheritance • capacitance • hesitance •Constance • importance • potence •conductance, inductance, reluctance •substance • circumstance •omnipotence • impotence •inadvertence • grievance •irrelevance, relevance •connivance, contrivance •observance • sequence • consequence •subsequence • eloquence •grandiloquence, magniloquence •brilliance • poignance •omnipresence, pleasance, presence •complaisance • malfeasance •incognizance, recognizance •usance • recusance

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