Omniscience: Does God Learn?

Related posts: Omniscience; Immutable, Omnipresence; Whence God? Talking about God; Creation ex nihilo

Does God Learn?

If you were to ask a typical Mormon the question “Does God learn?” you would most likely get a negative response. Mormons today tend to believe in what is called the neo-classical view of God, which as it applies to divine learning means that God knows everything.

However, this was not always the case. During the 19th century the common belief among Mormons was that God is forever progressing to greater knowledge. In 1857 Apostle Wilford Woodruff (who became 4th president of the church in 1889) said, “God himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end” (JD 6:120). Brigham Young said, “The greatest intelligence in existence can continually ascend to greater heights of perfection” (JD 1:93).[1] George Q. Cannon (Apostle; d. 1901) said, “There is progress for our Father and for our Lord Jesus…It is endless progress, progressing from one degree of knowledge to another degree” (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, p. 92). General Authority B.H. Roberts (Seventy; d. 1933) wrote, “God is [not] Omniscient up to the point that further progress in knowledge is impossible to him; but that all knowledge that is, all that exists, God knows” (Seventy’s Course in Theology, vol. 4, p. 70-71).

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The Attributes of God: Omniscience and Fate

Related Posts: Immutable, Omnipresence; The Fall of Man: Defense of the Doctrine; Election; Creation ex nihilo; Omniscience and divine Learning; Whence God? Talking about God

Omniscience and Fate

Immutability leads to timelessness. And timelessness leads to ubiquity. If so then God is omnipotent and free from all spatial and temporal limitations. God is also omniscient. In contrast, the LDS belief in spiritual omnipresence does not entail timelessness or immutability, and it still allows us to believe God knows all things.[1]

A typical definition of omniscience is that God knows all truths and holds no false beliefs. Traditional omniscience includes God’s certain knowledge of past, present, and future. Of knowing past, present, and future, absolute knowledge of the future is most controversial.

In this post I explore how omniscience affects beliefs about freedom, moral responsibility, and the nature of man. If one billion years ago God knows that today I have a veggie sandwich for lunch, and because God cannot be wrong, I have no choice but to realize my fate. If God knows me completely, does that mean I am a mechanism? If I am a mechanism and/or my future was determined without me, can I be held morally responsible for my actions? Continue reading