A Pilgrim's Catechism
The Occasional Thoughts of a 21st-Century Roman Catholic on Journey
Towards the Reign of God
Antoniazzo Romano: God the Father (detail)
What does God know?
Being and knowledge are convertible. God knows everything that is and everything that is possible. He knows future free-will-acts only as possible because they are not yet. Remember God exists totally in the now while created being has its reality in successive moments. For created being, only the present is now. The past is no longer and future is not yet.
Thomas Aquinas argued that God is like a general reviewing his troops from a hilltop. He sees the army gone by that is the past, the army passing which is the present and the army yet to come which is the future. The problem here, which Thomas failed to grasp, is that the whole army is actually spatially distributed but exists in its entirety in the present moment. God, the general on the hilltop, knows the entire army only because it exists now.
If God does not know future free-will-acts, neither does God learn of free-will-acts as they occur. God would not be God if he learned from others. God in his one unchanging act that is his being is the cause of everything that is. God in his one act wills that every human free-will-act be accomplished. God’s eternal act then is the underlying (ontologically prior) cause of everything including everything that is freely done. God then does not learn of free-will-acts because he is ultimately, if not immediately, their cause.
In the instance when humans freely choose evil, God does not cause but rather tolerates the evil because evil must be possible if humans are also to be free to choose the good and participate, one with another, in the sharing of divine life. A universe without the possibility of moral evil would preclude free will and the existence of creatures capable of sharing in divine life. It is not the universe that God's creates.