concerns nelson pike and boethius -
Nelson Pike wrote the article Divine Omniscience and Voluntary Action as an
elaboration of Boethius' Divine Foreknowledge and Freedom of the Will. Pike thought that
Boethius had a valid, logical argument that was just not thought out fully. Boethius stated that
perhaps there is a lack of free will if God already knows what is and will happen. However, in
order for this argument to be valid, some assumptions need to be made.
The first assumption is that God exists. Second is the view of God as omniscient. God
knows everything that has ever occurred, is occurring, or will occur. God is never wrong.
Finally, is the view of God as perpetual, not eternal. This means that at any point in time, God
exists. God has a temporal relationship with the universe, as opposed to having a timeless
relationship. Pike uses these assumptions as the basis for his arguement.
To begin with, what God believes is the same as what God knows, whereas believing and
knowing are two completely different things when in reference to anyone else. One can believe
something yet have that belief be factually wrong. The same cannot be said for God.
Next, if someone believed something three days ago, it is not possible to do something
now that would change the belief of that person three days ago. It follows that if said person was
God his belief three days ago could not be changed now.
The same can be said about existance. If someone existed three days ago, it is not
possible to do something now that would make it such that that person did not exist three days
ago. In other words, if God existed three days ago, nothing can happen now that would make
God not have existed three days ago.
One cannot do something that logically contradicts itself. For example, one is not able to
inhale yet exhale at the same time. It is not possible to do something, yet not do that thing at the
Now, if God exists, and God believes (knows) something three days ago, and it were
possible to do something that was different than what God thought three days ago, there would
be several contridictions.
First, that would mean that God was wrong. Since the assumption is that God is
omniscient, it is not possible for God to be wrong.
Second, if God is never wrong, there is no way to take action now that would change
God's belief three days ago so that it coresponds to today's action, thereby making God correct in
God's belief three days ago.
Third, the belief held three days ago was wrong. That entails that the person who held
that belief could not have been God. But it was stated that God held that belief, therefore it is
not possible to make it such that God did not exist three days ago when, in fact, God did.
These contradictions lead towards the conclusion that it is not possible to do anything
that God did not know about three days ago. If God already knew/knows what will happen, and
if God is never wrong, then there cannot be any choices to be made concerning anything that can
be done. This absence of choice equals the absence of free will.
It is not as if one can out manuver God either. One may decide to change his or her mind
at the last possible moment about something, yet God already knows of those changes, and the
outcomes derived from them, because God knows everything.
This arguement does not claim that there is no free will, nor does it claim that there is
free will but no God. The only purpose is to make clear the problems arising form thinking that
God is omniscient and also thinking that free will exists. It seems to be logically incorrect to
believe in both.