Vexen Crabtree 2015


Vexen Crabtree's Live Journal

Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Vexen Crabtree 2015

God cannot be omniscient

Read online version, leave comments here

Any sentient being which considers the problems of epistemology will realize that without verification from other beings or greater realms of reality it cannot know if it is correct in it's world view. It doesn't matter how intelligent or knowledgable a being is - if that being wants to verify it's knowledge to make sure that it is correct then it needs to look to something more intelligent than itself.

God is called all-knowing. This means that God knows everything but I believe it can be shown that this is a logical impossibility, and that no being can know everything.

If a God was to sit down and ponder the problem of epistemology and wonder whether it does not everything or not, it would realize that it has no way to verify that this is true. How does it know it knows everything? It merely thinks it does. The God has no test, method or possibility of finding out if it does indeed know everything. In short, it does not and cannot know if this is true. God does not know if itself is omniscient or not. God therefore does not know everything and is not omniscient.

  • 1

Attributing our limited knowledge and understanding to God?

That may be true of beings who are finite, but it breaks down when you're talking about the One who is infinite and created all things. People make the same mistake when talking about the omnipotence of God. "Can God create a rock so heavy that He can't lift it?" The question is based upon an assumption that God has limitations. And, yes, I suppose there is a sense in which it is a "limitation" for God to not be able to create a rock so heavy that He can't lift. His "limitation" is only do to His exceeding power. This "limitation" pales in comparison to what He can do: He can keep making bigger rocks and yet still lift them. This process could go on without end. That's power.

The God who created what we call reality, logic and so on, is not bound by the limitations we have. The problem some people have when contemplating God is that they very frequently can't think beyond human potential or limitations. They operate under the "God must be like us and subject to the same limitations we are" misconception, to one degree or another.

Re: Attributing our limited knowledge and understanding to God?

So... tell me again how you think God could be omniscient, all I heard was "if logic disproves god, logic must be wrong!", which to me sounds more like an emotional response than an intellectual one.

You don't know what it means to be omniscient

Why would an omniscient being such as God have to ask himself questions?

An omniscient being would know if it was omniscient, in fact only a truly omniscient being would know that it was omniscient. If it had any doubts, if it had to refer to external sources for verification then it would not be omniscient would it?

Now on the other hand you could try to challenge a being's claim to omniscience by asking it questions and if it failed then it's claim was a lie. However, even if a being was able to answer every question that YOU asked it is not enough to prove the being omniscient.

But the fact still remains that omniscience is not a logical impossibility, which means that God could still be omniscient. Assuming you believe that God exists (as I do).

Re: You don't know what it means to be omniscient

Such a question-and-answer session would only reveal what the being knew. The ultimate question I pose is, "How does it know that it knows everything?"

If there is something it has missed and does not know, then it does not know everything. But, how does it know that it itself hasn't missed anything? It doesn't. It can't know. It is impossible to know that. Therefore, omniscience is impossible.

God is omniscient

God knows the future of what the free will creatures choose. Free will does not stop becoming free because God knows what will happen. For example, I know that my child will choose to eat chocolate cake over cauliflower. If I were to set them both before my child and turned to my wife and said, "We know which one she will choose, don't we?", this is not taking away the freedom of my child. Likewise, for God to know what a person will choose does not mean that the person has no freedom to make the choice. It simply means that God knows what the person will choose. This is necessarily so since God knows all things.

If God does not know there is evil, he is not omniscient [all-knowing]. If God knows there is evil, but cannot prevent it, he is not omnipotent [all-powerful]. If God knows there is evil and can prevent it, but desires not to, he is not omni-benevolent [all-good].
This is where your story flaws. God knows of evil, God can prevent evil, and the reason he allows evil is so that we might learn as individuals. This does not mean God does not care, or that he is not omni-benevolent. God wishes we would choose the write (CRT) To say that God desires not to prevent evil is to say that “you wouldn’t let your children learn.” For is it not true that you have to let your own children fall befor they learn to walk on there own?
If, as the Christian claims, God is all-knowing and all-powerful, we must conclude that God is not all-good.
I just proved this false. The existence of evil in the universe excludes this possibility. Therefore you are incorrect.

Re: God is omniscient

1) Child/Chocolate
Why would a child chose chocolate? Because it is in the nature of the child. Now, culture and upbringing can override that nature. The genetics of a child, and the culture and way it is brought up is all set up and created as part of an endless chain of events by God. God created the universe, set it up so that mankind would evolve with the genes that we have: these genes determine our behavior, as does our culture. These things are not free-will-chosen by us.

God, as all-powerful and all-knowing, yet also the being that created the chain of cause and affect that result in us making "choices", denies us free will.

2) Theodicy
You presented a theodicy of experience as a justification for gods creation of evil. Tell me, what do you think happens to babies when they die very young? If they go to heaven, then this "experience of evil" is not necessary. Also, God could simply give us an innate knowledge of what evil is like, without us having to experience it. Thirdly, there is no logical reason why our development and learning has to involve the knowledge or experience of evil. Your theodicy does not logically stand as a reason for why evil exists unless you can show how it is logically possible for a being to /require/ experience of evil in order to develop... and, if there is such a requirement, why does god let babies and the unborn die?

Re: God is omniscient

Because there is sin, and therefore problems with the world. Tell me, back in The Garden of Eden, assuming that it was true, was it the society that willed Adam and Eve to eat that fruit from the garden of good and evil? No... remember... there was no society. There was no predecessor to the pair. But they wanted it. That was their free will. Were they encouraged by the snake? Yes. But was the choice still there? Absolutely. Did God know? Yes. But why would God create us as robots? Why would He send His son, Jesus Christ to die on a crucifix if He made it all happen? Does that even make sense: to create a world where ultimately it would lead to His own pain and suffering. really doesn't, and if you can make it tell me about it. ~Missy


your argument is silly!
im an atheist but assuming hypothetically god is divine creator etc blah
then god caused everything and has causative knowledge of creation (read some aquinas)
then it logically follows god knows everything, because god created all there is to know.
your argument suggests there was knowledge before god, which doesnt make sense if you consider god as tri-omni being.
and why would god doubt something about god's own knowledge?

How does God know that it created the Universe? It could have been tricked by a more powerful being that it created the universe. It can be said of *any* being that it could have been fooled into thinking it is omniscient, but it cannot verify absolutely that this is true... therefore it doesn't know.

However, there is a big concession that has to be made here. (For part 1 of the argument, part 2 still stands despite the following:) All-powerful means that God can do everything that is logically possible... for example, it can't create square circles because it's logically impossible. Omniscience could also mean that God knows everything that it is possible to know. This would still provide god with enough knowledge to be effectively omnipotent[1], but still concede that some things (like attempting to verify ones own omniscience) are logically impossible to know.

[1] Unless you hold that God, who created quantum uncertainty, has built it an utterly unpredictable element into reality itself, and for example cannot (illogically) know both the precise speed and location of a particle, etc.

Re: omniscience

"it could have been tricked by a more powerful being that it created the universe."
"it could have been tricked" is simply, non-philosophy. by any reasonable defintion of god eg perfect, it cant get "tricked". this is somewhat symbolic of your website as a whole, where you view the god of classical theism from an overly-anthropocentric viewpoint. (read some stuff about religious language, especially about the problems of uniovcal approach to discussing god)
->god doesnt "know" (in the human understanding of "know") god is omniscient.god simply *is* omniscient, being suigeneric.

and then you postulate "a more powerful being"...which is simply moving the goalposts...
1) if god is id quo nihil maius cogitari posset, by definition, there cannot be a more powerful being, and your argument falls apart.
2) this is a somewhat academic point in light of 1) but hypothetically, if there was a "more powerful being", then THIS being would have causative knowledge of all of its creation, and therefore this would be what we call god and thus omniscient because there's nothing else to know.
"but what if that being got tricked too?"
"and the one that tricked that one got tricked too?"
"and the one that tricked..."etc...
wherever you end up, your "chief tricker" will be the divine creator
and please dont make any silly claims about an infinite number of trickers...theres always going to be the one at the top.
like an infinite number of railway carriages cannot go anywhere without an engine (mackie)

and finally...i like your site-interesting religion youve got going there. but do you subscribe to an anti-realist or realist concept of truth?

My website is aimed at organized religious belief, and I am discussing the belief in god... my arguments are in particular NON-anthropocentric, and I use the errors of homocentricity as part of the reasoning against common beliefs in god.

In our belief of "God" as infallible, we neglect to think of the problems I have highlighted. The goalposts then do move, to the "trickster", the next being up... but the point is delivered that many of our beliefs in "god" need to be questioned in this fashion.

1) The argument is that an all-powerful being is internally inconsistent. And... I don't know any latin, though I'm guessing from the context that it was actually superfluous to the sentence.

2) This infinite regression of maybes means that with any particular notion of god, it is impossible to state with certainty that it is the most powerful, omniscient being that deserves to be called "supreme".

I am not anti-realist, and am a mostly ordinary atheist, materialist and naturalist. Which I guess means I'm a realist.

Would a solipsist be an example of an anti-realist? - or a quantum physics no-reality mystic?

Re: omniscience

1) "If a God was to sit down and ponder the problem of epistemology and wonder whether it does not everything or not, it would realize that it has no way to verify that this is true."
and 2) " my arguments are in particular NON-anthropocentric, and I use the errors of homocentricity as part of the reasoning against common beliefs in god."
this is contradictory to a comical extent. you're claiming that a god would "sit down" and "ponder the problem of epistemology" (...just like any human would...) and then claiming that your arguments are "NON-anthropocentric". how else are we meant to understand how god should "sit down...etc"? please explain, clearly, how the thomian understanding of god (ie roman catholic philosophical position) would do this, considering it is, by definition, timeless and spaceless.
you're "using the errors of homocentricity as part of the reasoning against the common beliefs in god", and then committing the same fallacy!
and you still haven't answered 1) and 2) properly; you're still understanding an all-powerful being as just like any other being that you've come across (hence anthropocentric error) rather than a perfect god which is the source of all knowledge. if god is, by definition, the source of all knowledge, then a priori, there is nothing more to be known. and therefore, by definition, it can't get "tricked" (again, you're understanding the idea god as potentially being deceived in a human fashion), because it is, to repeat, the source of all knowledge.
and 2) misses the point; whatever you decided is at the top is still god -the infinite chain is irrelevant; anyway, it's purely academic, because your argument about "being tricked" is anthropocentric're still understanding "god" as a regular human being, just up in the sky somewhere.
and being an anti-realist or a realist in a theological sense doesn't correspond to whether you're atheist/theist/whatever, or how "realistic"/pessimistic/optimistic you are; it's how you understand the concept of "truth". here's a snippet from someones essay i copied from some essay site:

"However, there is an uncertainty as to what concept of truth religious language should ascribe to. In The Puzzle of God, Peter Vardy identifies what he considers to be a key debate within contemporary philosophy of religion. This is labelled the “realist /anti-realist” debate, in which the two opposing lines of thought are divided by their respective visions of reality.

As Beverley Clack writes in her article Introducing Anti-Realism, the arguments that attempt to establish the existence of God depend on acceptance of the claim that any meaningful concept of God must be one where God is more than simply an idea in our minds. That is, God exists, or does not exist, beyond our form of life, and therefore must be understood as in some way distinct from human life and culture. An anti-realist would disagree with this, claiming that the concept of God tells us far more about human beings than it does about the possibility of some divine Being. In an anti-realist state of affairs, any claims about God hold some truth if they are coherent within the same form of life. As Wittgenstein claimed as part of his Language Game theory, all religious statements are only true in an anti-realist sense, because they can only be held as true within a certain “game.” Realists such as Plato would disagree, claiming that absolute truths exist beyond our spatio-temporal world. This is part of his Forms theory." and then rambles on

keep up the good work mate!
tara tara

Thanks for your brief explanation of some of the terminology of position of some philosophers, I have not studied philosophy so they are useful to me.

1) As I am writing in English, to an English audience, I find that phrases such as "sit down" are appropriate, and do not imagine that an omnipresent being could either be "sit down", "stood up" or have need or want to do either.

What I am talking about is God as theorized by human beings, by organized religion, which makes claim to an omniscient god. It is not merely a human claim that beings can be tricked, it is a logical possibility that what presents itself to us as "god" merely thinks it is god, but might not be due to a more powerful being merely using god as it's puppet (for whatever reason).

In reality this would make this god not the supreme creator, just a secondary (or tertiary, etc) creator. But it would still think it was god and have enough power & intelligence to act as one. It could be prevented, however, from knowing about the more powerful being by the more powerful being.

To rephrase my "if an omniscient being were to sit down...", an omniscient being would automatically and instantly have an inherent doubt of it's own knowledge as it would know it cannot verify that it is the most powerful being, knowing that it could be controlled be an even more powerful being which hides itself.

Is that Sir Peter Vardy, head of the Vardy Foundation, by the way? The institute that runs a fundamentalist creationist school in the UK, and is on the verge of getting permission to open another? I actively encourage people not to buy his books, cars or support his organisation (or him) at all, he scares me!

Re: omniscience

hi there;
ok we'll agree to disagree-- i still reckon that if all knowledge stems from an infallible/perfect/whatever you wanna call it - god, then i consider that there's nothing else to be known, and then there would be no logical need for that inherent doubt. and also, i don't think that god has to be worshipped, or whatever, so theres no need for that side-swipe against organised religion. tho pisses me off too at times.
but if "god" was "tricked" (i still can't see how this would occur, a priori) what would you call the "more powerful being"? a better god? and would this be omniscient?
and peter vardy; there's two!
there's the author of lots of philosophy/theology books guy:
and then there's the evil fuck who propounds fundamentalist christianity. and cars. and should be shot.
but back to the point, im assuming it is the former whose books are used because the latter is prob more interested in cars.and money.and selling fundamentalism (maybe harsh, but i think thats fair).

There's two of them? Damn, life is complicated enough!

We can agree to disagree.

The chain of more powerful being(s) would also be gods of sorts, but it would be impossible from our (or their) point of view to declare at any particular point that "the buck stops here" (to borrow a phrase from Washington, God's most capable militants :P)

It is primarily the god of organized religion that I debate against, the god of monotheistic traditional world religions, hence most my arguments stop at the point where standard monotheism breaks, such as when we logically arrive as polytheism, open theology, an evil god, etc.

All my initial text from 1998 onwards was only geared towards fundamentalist Christianity, but recent text (2000 +) is increasingly more general... but still geared towards Islam, Christianity, Judaism and standard white light monotheism.

Re: omniscience

When we say God... we mean "Ultimate Being" ~Missy

Re: omniscience

While having little formal philosophical education, and being unacquainted with Aquinas, I'd like to butt in anyway.
Because God created everything does not necessarily mean that God created all there is to know... unless God created himself as well.
And why should creation result in total knowledge of that which is created? Furthermore, if God did not create himself, this could be likened to a human giving birth to a child. Because she has created the child does not mean that she has full knowledge of it and how it was created. It came from forces working within her. Unless she knows herself utterly, she cannot explain her creation.
Does God know himself?

yet again

yet again, you bring God down to a human perspective. God is so far beyond us that our logical thinking means nothing, concidering that God is outside of our dimensions of time and space. thats the only way that he could see the future, and everything that happens. And, he can forget things because God can do anything. If he wants to make himself not know something, he can, because hes God. You cant say God cant do something because if he cant do something, then this universe doesnt exist, because God hold everything together, whether you think so or not, because you talk about logic all the time and God is the only logical thing. I mean, even if you do believe in Evolution and the big bang. An explosion destroys things, so, that kinda takes the big bang theory out. Evolution cant be proven because science can only prove something if it is an on going thing, and you cant prove that evolution is on going. You make a lot of logical fallacies in your attempt to prove that God does not exist, but, keep trying, maybe you'll get something that even an adult will have trouble explaining, because im only 17

1) Yes, it is commonly held that God is outside space and time.

2) If God can forget something, then how much thought do you think would be required for God to remember it again? Being omniscient, it could do it instantaneously. Therefore, it is logically impossible for God to "forget" things.

3) That logically God is self-contradictory and impossible means that belief in God is irrational. It doesn't mean that in the future some argument or evidence wont be found for God, we might find some one day. But not yet.

4) "Explosion" is an English word that means many things. Explosions are very chaotic and energetic, but, what they create is a change in state of all energy. The "Big Bang" is an "explosion" that caused the initial inflation and expansion of the universe and time (spacetime), leading to the universe as we see it now.

5) Science can proof many things, they do not have to be ongoing. For example, computers, space sattellites, wave mechanics, engineering, medicine, etc. Evolution is just another scientific fact, the various theories of evolution compete to explain how evolution occurs.

6) If I have made logical fallacies, please point them out. Your present post was mere assertions, any accusation of logical fallicy is best coupled with actually pointing out faulty logic.

(Saying "God is above Human logic" is, by the way, an admission that God is illogical - so be careful about saying that!)

Re: yet again

Hey vexen, this is Dean in Charlotte, NC. We discussed the infinite nature of God for some time last year. Anyway, quick response... I have to agree with your other anonymous writer that you may want to check out aquinas on this issue. Theists do not believe that God must "look outside" himself in order to know anything, or to know that it is true.

"If a God was to sit down and ponder the problem of epistemology and wonder whether it does not everything or not, it would realize that it has no way to verify that this is true." - First off, I think that this argument is flawed because God does not consider anything- he doesn't think hmmmmm, 2+2 is four. He does not need to figure anything out. He created it all. In God everything is given existence. He has his "fingers" if you will excuse the total anthropomorphic language- in everything that exists. Again, I think this relates to our understanding of infinite being. If he truly is the efficient cause of all existence (which is reality), then he surely knows what corresponds to reality. (this is your definition of truth- or is it)?
The main problem I think, is that your trying to assume the position of the theist, yet a theist would never say that God considers. He simply knows. He doesn't have to wonder, "I wonder if my knowledge corresponds to reality". Thanks man,

Hi there, hope you're doing ok. Mail me sometime, but note that I'm going offline for 3 months in a few weeks.

1) What theists believe

I was not discussing what theists belief, but, rather, what simply must be the case: an assertion of omniscience is logically impossible for any living being.

2) God's considering

I do not mean to imply that one day god has a random thought, as God is outside of time and infinite, and omniscient, everything it could possibly have ever thought was thought instantly and infinitely, God does not change and doesn't "consider" things in the same way. But, nevertheless, the same basic problem of verification exists:

How god itself know that itself isn't deluded into merely thinking it's the creator? How does any being know that a more powerful being hasn't tricked it into thinking it has more power than it has? God cannot logically know this: It is an impossible thing to know. A being that is "omniscient" has logical boundries to what they can know, which is a hint that "omniscient" is possibly completely impossible.

3) What a theist would say

Well obivously if a theist came to the same conclusions as me, they could not be a standard theist. I believe that if there is a god, it is evil. That theists do not come to the same conclusions as me is almost a truism.

However, at this level of discussion most theists drop the logical element of their belief altogether and announce that God itself is beyond logic, and Human beings aren't capable of working it out properly. Placing God beyond logic is fine for me, but at that point in the argument I prefer to surrender the continuing examination of illogical beliefs to a psychologist (or even psychiatrist), and feel my job is done.

However... if you feel there is some method by which a being can know that it's knowledge is correct (and not faked), let me know, it's a multiple age-old philosophical dilemma, an unsolvable problem in epistemology and you'll be famous if you can find a solution!

Re: yet again

Good do hear back from you... I hope you have a good trip, and I will understand if I don't hear back from you in a while. Thanks for the clarification, that makes more sense now. I think easily restated your argument could be "how can God be 100% certain his knowledge is true?" I agree that it is an intriguing argument, yet I don't think it carries as much weight as some of your other arguments. It almost sounds like a hindu they would say that everything is an illusion. Well the common man thinks that is ridiculous- almost as much as ridiculous as the plot of the matrix movies (not saying that I don't like them!)
I think your argument is sort of like a common skeptics argument- how can you know that you know? But there are some things internally that I just know by self-evidence. Such as "I am Dean" or "I have a headache". These things cannot be proven by just simply know them due to immediate sensory awareness, or other phenomena. I think your argument is akin to the statment "How do you know that you are who you are..." From a science oriented guy this seems a bit perplexing. I am sure, epistmilogically speaking, that you would have to agree with your sensory experience right? Since God has no sensory experience per se, we have to bank on what we know of him (namely being infinite) SHouldn't he depend on "himself" as his sensory experience?
Anyway, as I said earlier- very thought provoking...but I think I may mosey on over to your "logic and God" section of your website...Dean

think again

It is a fallacy to think that a putative God would have to verify God's alleged omniscience by the standard of some external reference point, which proves that there is no omniscient God. Why? Because you are already presuming God is not omniscient by the very act of questioning how God could know if God is omniscient. In other words, your premise presupposes the 'conclusion' of your argument. It's circular.

If God is omniscient, God knows.
If God does not know that God is omniscient, then God is not omniscient.
What do these two deductions prove about reality? Nothing.

There is no logical contradiction in the notion of omniscience (that is why the word exists in usage). Just because we have no direct experience of it, or comprehensive grasp of its meaning, doesn't prove that it is impossible in itself. What is a logical contradiction is an omniscience unsure of itself. You can't correctly imply a logical contradiction to prove something about reality.

So you have not proved that omniscience is impossible, and I have not tried to prove it is real.

You have not shown how God can be sure that it knows everything. Imagine the following possibilities:

1) A being has created a limited, non-omniscient being for the purpose of creating the world. The created being is given innate knowledge that it is omniscient - but through the logic I have highlighted, it would instantly realize that it is doesn't know everything so is not actually omniscient.

2) A powerful being is deluded, and thinks it is God. In this frame of mind, it then goes on to realize that it cannot actually "check" its own knowledge in order to find out if it is deluded.

These two limitations will apply to every omniscient being. As a result, then indeed yes, it is not logical to describe something as "omniscient" without first resolving how these two scenarios above could possibly be resolved.

This is not a circular problem. It is an intrinsic problem with the concept of omniscience, regardless of whether it is applied to a specific being, such as God, or not. The circular nature only arises if you think the logic of it requires the existence of an omniscient being, which it doesn't.

Re: think again

1. I did not try to show how God can be sure that 'it' [implying the impersonal] knows everything. I showed that you can't prove that there is no omniscient God by postulating a God who has to 'check' if God is omniscient because then God is already assumed to be ignorant before 'it' is proved to be ignorant.
2. The issue here, it seems to me, is whether or not knowledge could conceivably be absolute in the divine essence. There is no a priori reason why there cannot be a Knowledge that is independent of all finite scepticism.
3. Regarding us human beings, do we really, practically, need to 'check' all our knowledge claims? It is impossible to do so, because there would be an infinite regress: we would have to check the check of our knowledge, then check the check of the check of our knowledge, etc. In vainly trying to do so, we would effectively be emptying the word 'knowledge' of any meaning anyway. For how could we know what it means without embarking on the same impossible checking process?
4. You seem to employ the term knowledge in such a way that a person can be said 'know' something false (e.g. a non-omniscient creator might know it is omniscient). I would only describe knowledge as pertaining to truth. To be sure, people often say they 'know' something that turns out to be false, but reflection shows that 'knowledge' to be mere opinion or such like.
5. As an aside, Satanism seems to me like an instinct, and an aesthetic, primarily, not a systematic philosophy. Humans are notoriously motivated more by instinct than ratiocination. What inflames our instincts? Intricate, ultimately indemonstrable conclusions? Or images, music, personalities? Reasons tend to follow impulses, rather than vice versa. We make our mind up, then may or may not try to prove it. But there are still logical contradictions. I'm rambling.

1. OK, so do we agree we can't show that God, should there be one, knows everything?

2. The reasons I give are reasons that imply omniscient beings are impossible.

3. Agreed, we are not omniscient, and, it is impractical to go back to basics on every piece of "knowledge" we have. Hence, the wisest person is always vigilant against creeping untruths.

4. In that case, I have shown that it is impossible that God thinks itself omniscient, and that "omniscient" doesn't fit god, nor any other being.

5. You are correct on Satanism.

Re: think again

I believe you have not understood my argument. You cannot assume God is subject to the principle of verificationism, and then 'prove' God could not be omniscient. First you have to prove that a putative God would necessarily be subject to that principle, which is the case in point. Regarding verificationism, how could it ever be verified as a true principle itself?

There is a plethora of issues connected to your topic, one of the most important ones being the concept of the 'Aseity' of God- the idea that God is being per se. 'Aseity' (transliteration from latin aseitas) means the power of a being to exist absolutely in virtue of itself, not as caused by itself, but as requiring no cause, no other justification for its existence except that its very nature is to exist- pure actuality. Understanding this can lead one to see that belief in God is not necessarily a vague and superstitious hangover from an unscientific age.

I am not trying to show that there is a God, but I do think it is important to address exactly which concept of God you are dealing with. In my view a god who is not omniscient is not worthy of the name 'God', if only because that would mean God is not 'self'-existent.

We do agree about the best Cure album, though.



I question your motivation for proving that it is absolutely impossible for God to be all-knowing, as it is this very quatlity upon which so many of the most plausible arguments against God have been made.

-Matt R.

P.s. Vexen is a cool name.

Because it makes philosophical and theological sense; the impetus for the argument is that it is true: if there is a God, it cannot be all-knowing, as nothing can be all-knowing.

Without omniscience, theologians resort to the "open theism" or "open god" theory, which is where god doesn't know everything. They use this to theorize a god that is perfect given what it knows and can therefore explain god's failures through his lack of knowledge. "Perfection", sensibly, they use to mean "the best possible" God.

There are not many open theists; I seem to remember that Greg Boyd is one of them.

As there aren't any logical or philosophical proofs that God exists, and all pro-God arguments are inferior to arguments that assume that God doesn't exist, and doesn't need to exist, it doesn't matter what arguments we make about God-if-it-was-real, the fundamental truth is still that God isn't real. So it's all a bit academic.

That's my view. My motivation is a search for truth, and I present this argument even if some open theists embrace it, becuause God doesn't exist whether or not omniscience is impossible.

Er, clear?

Re: Motivation?

Quite clear, and I am glad of it. You appear to be more concerned with proving that God in any form does not exist, not just that the Christian God does not exist. It's nice to see some equal-opportunity atheism out there! :)

I have noted that some atheists seem to be content with debunking Christianity and never address other possible concepts of God. This makes me believe that these atheists really have more of a beef with Christianity than with the concept of God.

It seems that a comprehensive atheist must consider and refute many concepts of God to show that he or she is actually searching for truth and not just trying to stick it to some "Holy Rollers".

What do you think?

Re: Motivation?

One other question, what are the flaws of the "open god" theory. I have never heard of it or heard arguments for or against it.

-Matt R.

PS, that last post was mine too. I don't know how to post non-anonymously.

Omniscience, gardeners and Robert Smith.

Hello, I'm Bob. I trust you are all having a spiffing day.

I have quickly read through these arguments and I apologise if I repeat anything that has already been stated because I missed it out.

I picked up interest because I am formally (to some extent) schooled in philosophy (in fact by Peter Vardy who was mentioned above) and take a bit of an interest in the existence of God arguments.

It strikes me that if the definition of God is to be omniscient, and to be omniscient is at least part of being God then this forms a tautology (something that is necessarily true in virtue of its logical entailments) that if God exists then He must know everything, and if everything is known then at least part of what it is to be God exists. I think it is difficult to maintain that everything within the Universe (assuming the Universe [both physical and metaphysical] is the superlative of existence) is not everything there is to know, so by the Universe's own existence, conclusively, at least part of God must therefore exist.

Here one encounters the problem of whether God (or non-god) must be conscious of His (their) own knowledge. If a person is in a coma can they be said to know nothing? It is difficult to answer.

When it comes whether or not God could doubt His own knowledge, I think this again would be a logical impossibility due to the premiss that part of what it is to be God is to be omniscient and vice-versa. Essentially God would have to doubt his own existence, which as Descartes has proven is difficult because sentient existence is a necessary a posteriori truth. Although, again, would God need to be conscious of it for that truth to be necessary. Can a truth be passive in this sense?

I'm not sure whether anyone's heard of the invisible gardener parable. I really do apologise if it has been written above, but it is basically two chaps in a garden which is exquisite. One says it must be created by a ruling gardener, the other that it happens by accident. They wait to see if one turns up. No-one turns up but plants start disappearing mysteriously and others appear. The believer says the gardener must be invisible, the non-believer says it's chance. Things start to happen that defy the laws of physics, tools start moving themselves around in a way that looks like they're being wielded by an invisible man. The non-believer says it's chance, however unlikely, the believer that the gardener is doing it. Eventually the two people end up saying exactly the same thing but neither will move from their standpoint. So it is with most theological arguments about God's existence, it is the same thing explained in two different ways. The tools may as well be wielded by someone as not, and the fact that the two sides disagree is simply because there is not the language to explain what is happening and is no reflection on reality.

I think that the idea of a God following morals devised by men is rather preposterous, and if the laws in Leviticus really are divine then anyone who believes them should follow them fundamentally. It is impossible to follow a rule without some degree of intepretation so they are not following God's rules but their own interpretations, thus making the following of said rules objectively and accurately a chimera.

I think that to say God exists or doesn't, in either a yes/no or realist/anti-realist construct does little more than to demonstrate the limitations of language and understanding, rather than bear any light on necessary truths/fallacies about existence. As some of you may have noticed, yes, I do believe Wittgenstein was absolutely right.

On a side note, The Cure is a shit band.

Until later,



My friend God is all knowing. God is the absolute truth. God does not need to compare himself to anything else. He created everything. We cannot fathom the greatness of God. I would love to chat with you about how great God is. Please know sir that God is All knowing, for he is TRUTH.

In Christ Always,


I find your agnosticism/skepticism implausible, God just knows, you can't know that you know otherwise you suspend you're judgement, I want to know how do you know that? You can't attribute such finite questions to an infinite being. God can't remove his knowledge, neither can we, that sort of agnosticism is simply a denial of knowledge.


I just discovered your constellation of websites. Great, great, content. I came across your essay "The Impossibility of Omniscience," and remembered that I had written a similar essay in 1992 (when I was 26, and there was no internet). It was written as a Socratic Dialogue, but the result was essentially the same: an omniscient Creator negates free will, not just for us, but for the Creator as well. An omniscient Creator cannot alter history, cannot intervene in human affairs, cannot even contemplate interference, since the perception of time is a limitation of the un-omniscient. Such a Creator might as well not exist.

I grew up Christian fundamentalist, which might explain why I would spend time thinking about this.


god and omniscience

It all depends on what the meaning of god is. If you consider that god is the creator of THIS universe
(and maybe other universes) , but exists outside of the created universes, he can very well be omniscient
with respect to the created universes and not omniscient regarding the universe he resides in
(and therefore, not necessarily the creator of that universe). There can be numerous levels of universes
within universes and creation within creation. For example, any software engineer who would create a universe simulation
on his extra powerful computer would be the god of that created universe, living outside that universe.
It is pretty obvious from this point on that this scenario renders pretty much all points about omnipotence,
omniscience, free will etc irrelevant.

  • 1

Log in