A Challenge to Using Philosophy to Place Limits on God’s Knowledge
Responding to Dr. Talbot
By: Ed Hassertt
I notice in more logically fallacious arguments Dr. Talbot claims the problem is that “lay” people cannot follow his or Sam’s philosophical arguments?
I could be wrong. But what does the identity of the listener have to do with their ability to form a coherent argument?
Both Sam and Talbot have put out articles that discuss the words in scripture that they claim speak of qualitative instead of quantitate infinity. They provide little evidence that this is the case, they just assume a specific paradigm and fit all the scriptures into it. All their scriptural evidence is in this area…scriptural references to qualitative infinity. Then they claim somehow that this speaks to the issue.
But let us assume, just for the sake of argument that they are correct. Then it is also correct that no scripture ever says that God cannot know an quantitative infinite series.
Both claim to accept omniscience. But they create this limit on omniscience out of philosophical arguments that are question begging at their very best.
Actually the argument seems to be quite simple, just based on premises that beg the question:
1. Infinite procreation requires a never-ending number of elect where there is always one more.
2. Since God cannot change he cannot learn anything, so he cannot be constantly learning one more elect person.
3. Therefore, the number of elect must be a finite number; procreation must cease.
Neither has provided any scripture that proves that for God must “learn” each new person in an infinite series; If God is eternal, a fact which both seem to sweep aside in making this argument, his existence is outside of time. Therefore He ALWAYS exists BEYOND and series in time. When we arrive at infinity plus one we will find that God was there all along, as well as infinity plus 3 etc.
God’s knowledge is not bound by the limitation of human knowledge. God can know an infinite series because his infinite knowledge is already there! He is always Beyond the plus one of Sam’s argument.
Another argument posed has been:
1. God knows all the elect.
2. All is a finite number.
3. Therefore infinite procreation is impossible.
a. therefore physical life must end
The problem is that s is begging the question because it claims that all is finite when it comes to God’s knowledge. Neither provide any scriptural evidence or exegesis to prove that “all” in the mind of an eternal God is a finite number.
There has been other tertiary argument presented. Sam has claimed that since scripture speaks of qualitative infinity (by the assumption of the two in question) we can rule out a qualitative infinity by applying the argument about the elect being a limited number.
There is not scripture that indicate the number of elect is limited. This is an assumption read back into the text in these arguments.
It is also not proven that God cannot know an infinite series.
Let’s apply a reduction ad absurdum to the Talbot/Frost infinity claim:
1. God cannot know an infinite series.
2. Eternity for humans will involve an infinite series of experiences.
3. Therefore God cannot know our experiences in eternity.
Now in response to this Sam has said that our experiences in eternity are limited and merely begin repeating. So let’s look at that:
1. Our experiences in eternity are limited and merely begin repeating.
2. The 100th time I experience x is different than the 50th time I experience x even if it is just that it is now the 100th time I have experienced it.
3. In eternity I will experience x an infinite number of times since I will continue repeating it forever.
4. Therefore, God cannot know it is the 1 millionth time I have experienced this as opposed to the 10th time.
One possible way out of this dilemma is to claim that we are absorbed into an “eternal” now with no events, no thoughts and no experiences. This is very Buddhist but is not what scripture teaches. Scripture speaks of those in eternity speaking, walking, pleading etc.
The objection that could be made is that we cannot know what eternity is like. The problem is that this claim cuts both ways…if we cannot know what eternity is like we have no right asserting that from eternity God cannot know a temporal infinite series!
Therefore Sam and Talbot have only removed the problem one step. They have removed their invented problem of infinity from God’s knowledge of the elect to god’s knowledge of the lives of the elect in eternity.
Any way you break down this argument, it is an attempt to place limits on God’s knowledge based on question begging. Talbot nor Frost have proved these basic premises of their philosophical claims:< /p>
1. That eternity means repeating the same experiences over and over.
2. Or that eternity means absorption into an eternal now where we experience nothing.
3. That based on scripture God cannot, from the perspective of eternity, know a temporal infinite series.
4. That scripture places any limits on God’s knowledge such as they propose.
The same EXACT philosophical argument as Sam’s has been made to deny that God can know the future. It goes like this:
1. God knows all that can be known.
2. The future does not exist so it cannot be known.
3. God cannot know the future.
How is that any different from Sam’s:
1. God knows all that can be known.
2. An infinite series cannot be known.
3. God cannot know an infinite series.
Premise 2, in both cases begs the question. The Greeks and Process Theologians assume that since man cannot know the future neither can God. Sam and Talbot assume that because man cannot know an infinite series, neither can God.
The solution to this so-called problem is simple:
God is eternal and from the perspective of eternity all temporal things are known to him. When we get to infinity plus one, God is there!
Hebrews 13:8 – When does Jesus stop being the same since forever does not exist? (for if it did we would experience the unchangingness of Jesus forever which would be an infinite series of experiences)
Dr. Talbot and Sam Frost seem to operate from a different paradigm than many of us do.
We hold that only God can reveal who he is, that man is not privy to the ability to define God’s limits. They hold that man, through the operation of his own reason can find the limits of God (especially his knowledge).
The bottom line is that scripture does not tell us that God cannot know an infinite series, so I refuse to place limits on God that God does not place in Himself.
So for those out there still interested, what is needed here is:
1. Scriptural proof that God cannot know an infinite series.
2. Scriptural proof that events, including thought, STOP in eternity (since repetition still involves an infinite series of repetitions).
3. Any proof whatsoever that any of these claims (even if true) disprove a single aspect of preterist theology.