The Extent of God’s Foreknowledge – Elder David Pyles
The Extent of God’s Foreknowledge
By Elder David Pyles
The foreknowledge of God is a marvelous thing. If all things in the universe operated in a completely deterministic or mechanical fashion, then it would be a marvelous thing that God should possess such knowledge of physical law, and should possess the analytical and mathematical capabilities, that He could compute the entire sequence of events that would transpire from His creation unto the end of time. But His actual ability goes beyond even this, because we are persuaded from both scripture and conscience that God has endowed certain of His creatures with some degree of self determination (or the ability of choice). Our knowledge of natural law provides us nothing which could theoretically account for God’s ability to foresee the actions of such creatures, yet we are convinced from scriptures that He can do this also. In consequence of our inability in such matters, we can resolutely say that no man can fully understand the means by which God foresees the future of this world.
However, when it comes to the question of the “extent” of God’s foreknowledge, we can conclusively answer this on the basis of two scriptures:
Is 46: 9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Acts 15:18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
On the basis of the first scripture, we can say that over any span of time, God can foresee the terminal state even from the very beginning. However, this text by itself would not necessarily imply God has the ability to foresee all things. This follows because the text could be explained by saying that God foresees the terminal state in consequence of His resolve to accommodate or counter events, as they become manifest to him, in such a way as to bring the terminal state to pass. But this explanation is obviously invalidated by the second text. God is not waiting for events to transpire so that He can know what His next set of actions should be. Every work God will ever perform in time was known of Him even before time.
This implies, among other things, that God foresees the wicked actions of men. Since many of His works are in retribution and control of wicked men, and since His works were known of Him before the foundation of the world, it follows that these wicked actions must have been foreseen by Him before the foundation of the world also.
Suppose there were one stray electron somewhere in the universe whose deviant behavior had escaped the foreknowledge of God, then His corrective action would involve a work which was not known unto Him beforehand. This obviously contradicts Acts 15:18. We may therefore conclusively say that Almighty God foresees all things, from the temporal placement of the mighty stars down to motions of the most minute particles.