If God anticipates each possibility perfectly, how does he differ from the “frozen God” of classical theism?

Question: If God anticipates each and every possibility as if each were only possibility, how does God ever experience novelty and adventure? It seems that a God who perfectly anticipated (from all eternity)  every single possibility as if it were the only possibility would not differ from the timeless “frozen God” of classical theism

Answer: My claim is not that God experiences every possibility as if it was the only possibility; its rather that God anticipates every possibility as if it were the only possibility.  In my view, God’s actual experience of a possibility once it becomes actual always involves an element of newness and additional definiteness — which, I believe, is the main definitional difference between possibility and actuality (I defend this in my book Trinity and Process).  This is also how I would account for God’s experience of novelty and adventure.  Because an ontological (viz. not merely epistemological)  possibility is always one among many, there is always something new in God’s experience when one possibility is actualized (viz. when it transitions from a possibility to an actuality).   When an improbable possibility is actualized, God naturally experience something like “surprise” (without, however, any loss of preparedness).  When things are at risk, there is an appropriate sense of adventure. 

 

By the way, one problem for classical theists who argue (against open theists!) that God’s knowledge cannot be improved upon by the unfolding of time is that they have difficulty articulating how God’s experience of the actual now  differs from God’s foreknowledge of now.  Unless something is added by the actual experience, how does God that the “now” is happening?  In other words, how does God know what time it is?

Related Reading

What is the significance of 2 Samuel 24:17–25?

“So the Lord answered [David’s] supplication for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.” The passage suggests that the Lord intended the plague to judge Israel further but David’s supplication persuaded him to change his mind and relent from his punishment. If the future is to some degree open and God is genuinely…

Topics:

How do you respond to 1 Kings 8:58?

Solomon prays as he dedicates the temple, “The Lord our God be with us…[and] incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments…” (vs. 57-58). Compatibilists sometimes cite biblical prayers such as this one to support the view that God determines the human heart. If this were the…

Lighten Up: Good Question

How do you respond to 2 Samuel 17:14–15?

“Absalom and all the men of Israel said, ‘The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.’ For the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring ruin on Absalom.” This passage is sometimes cited to support the view that God ordains all…

How do you respond to Psalm 105:25?

Speaking of the Egyptians, the Psalmist says,“…whose hearts he [God] then turned to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants” Some compatibilists cite this verse as evidence that God meticulously controls human hearts. If so, we must accept the conclusion that even grotesquely wicked hearts like Hitler’s and Stalin’s were exactly as God…

Don’t Wilberforce’s achievements refute your stance on the separation of faith and politics?

Question: William Wilberforce was a Christian whose passionate involvement in politics almost single-handedly brought an end to the slave trade in 19th century England. Don’t his achievements show the importance of Christians being involved in politics, thus refuting your contention that Christian’s should keep their faith and values separate from politics? Answer: First, while I…