Open Theism and the Future

Jonathan L Kvanvig

in Destiny and Deliberation

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199696574
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191732270 | DOI:
Open Theism and the Future

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Open Theists all deny that God has exhaustive foreknowledge of the future, but they differ in their accounts as to why this is so. They tend, however, to want to maintain the doctrine of omniscience in spite of the limitation in question. Some say that God is omniscient in spite of the limitation because the claims about the future that he does not know are not true in the present, but will only come to be true later, and omniscience doesn't require knowing anything that isn't true. Others say that all claims about the future are truth, but some of them are unknowable and God is omniscient in virtue of knowing all that can be known. These positions share a common theme, however, and it is this: the future is composed of two parts, one part open to omniscience and the other part not. The part of the future that is not open to omniscience is the undetermined part, with future free actions being the prime and motivating example of such. This aspect of Open Theism is referred to as ‘the Asymmetry Thesis’ — the thesis that the part of the future that is determined by present and past events is secure in truth value and falls within the scope of omniscience, whereas the parts of the future that remain undetermined by the present and past do not fall within the scope of omniscience and perhaps are not secure in truth value. The Asymmetry Thesis faces serious troubles, and this chapter casts doubt on its plausibility. It argues that, given Open Theist assumptions, there is no part of the future that can be known to be true, including the determined part of it. The chapter begins by explaining what one needs to say to defend the Thesis and then to say why it fails.

Keywords: Open Theists; God; omniscience; Asymmetry Thesis; future

Chapter.  10935 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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