If you know me at all, you know that I think a lot about agency and decision-making and how God fits into all of that––rather, how God's omniscience fits into all of that. Without a doubt, it's the topic I think about more than any other in this world, and it's also the topic that I think more people should think about. I really do believe that omniscience is the thing that truly distinguishes God from everyone else. Yes, he's omnipotent, too, and the creator of mankind, etc., etc., but omniscience . . . That's the key. That's the trait that makes him God.
So. Last Sunday, Merriam-Webster's word for the day was "omniscient." Here's their definition:
- having infinite awareness, understanding, and insight
- possessed of universal or complete knowledge
It's difficult for me to put my thoughts into words, but something about this definition struck me. There is nothing in it about perfection.* There is also nothing in it about time. This tells me two things:
- Anyone can be omniscient. It is an attainable thing. I'm sure it would take a long time to be omniscient, but I don't think it's impossible. Nor do I think it's improbable, especially as a Mormon who believes in some kind of eternal afterlife. Indeed, my idea of heaven is that it is a place of learning––learning to the point of complete knowledge and understanding. And it starts here, on this earth. Heaven is now, and it is all around us.
- God cannot empirically see the future. He can completely understand all there is to understand, but he doesn't look at the future as if it were displayed in a crystal ball. One could argue that he can actually see the future because eternal time is non-linear, and while I agree that eternal time is non-linear, I don't necessarily think that the future actions of people can be seen. "Read," as in "reading the future" might be more on the mark, and I'll explain it like this: I was at my friend's house for dinner last week, and his toddler was playing with a ball near the dinner table. He lifted his arm up in the air and as the twinkle in his eye appeared, my friend said, "No––throw the ball over there." Why? Because without seeing the scene play out, he knew what was on his son's mind. His own experience in being a boy himself and knowledge of his son's past behavior and present developmental stage told him that what his toddler wanted to do––was about to do––was to throw the ball on the table, destroying everything that was dinner. It could be argued that he read the future.
If God sees the end from the beginning,** then it is because he has infinite awareness, understanding, and insight of himself and others. He knows all there is to know about people and things.
Why does any of this matter? Why do I think it should matter to you? Because it's empowering! It gives life purpose! It also, however, puts responsibility on us––to be deliberate about life . . . to choose and to act and to be mindful. It's not okay to give everything over to God; it's not okay to make him do all the work or to blame him for everything that goes wrong (or right!) in life. Believing in an omniscient God isn't a pass to be ignorant. If anything, it's an obligation to learn.
*I'm working on a post about perfection because I don't think perfection––in a Christian sense––means what people seem to think it means.
Thing I'm thankful for: slumber parties with nieces