Human freedom and divine foreknowledge

Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 57)


During the Middle Ages logicians as a matter of course related their science to theology. Clearly they felt that they had something important to offer with regard to solving fundamental logical questions in theology. The most important question of that kind was the problem of the contingent future. This problem has since come to be regarded as one of the most central problems in the logic of time, together with the concomitant question of the relation between time and modality. In our day, it is not primarily seen as a theological problem, but intellectuals of the Middle Ages saw the problem as intimately connected with the relation between two fundamental Christian dogmas. These are the dogmas of human freedom and God’s omniscience, respectively. God’s omniscience is assumed to also comprise knowledge of the future choices to be made by men. But then the latter dogma apparently gives rise to a straightforward argument from divine foreknowledge to necessity of the future: if God already now knows the decision I will make tomorrow, then an inevitable truth about my choice tomorrow is already given now! Hence, there seems to be no basis for the claim that I have a free choice, a conclusion which violates the dogma of human freedom.


True Proposition Human Freedom Christian Faith Contingent Future Minor Premise 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

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