Saturday, November 24, 2012

Review of THE ONLY WISE GOD by William Lane Craig

Rating: 5 out of 5

If God knows the future, and what he knows will infallibly come to pass, how can human beings have genuine free will? THE ONLY WISE GOD by William Lane Craig is a book that strives to answer this fundamental question.

Craig is a well-known apologist and philosopher of religion, and this book, which was published in 1987, explores the nature of God’s foreknowledge. Craig explores the biblical witness to show that God has infallible knowledge of all things, including the past, present, and future. He also strives to show that God’s foreknowledge doesn’t have to result in fatalism where everything, both good and evil, is predetermined by God. Craig rejects foreknowledge that is based on foreordination. He shows from different fields that fatalism should be rejected.

Finally, Craig explores a couple of ways that God has infallible foreknowledge that preserves human freedom. He argues that though God’s foreknowledge is chronologically prior to our actions, our actions are logically prior to his foreknowledge. Basically, God knows that I will do something because I will do it. This is innate knowledge.

But Craig argues for a second model of God’s foreknowledge that preserves human freedom. This is the model known as middle knowledge. Middle knowledge suggests that God’s knowledge is divided into three logical moments. First is God’s natural knowledge, which is the knowledge of all possibilities. Second, God’s middle knowledge encompasses all the free choices that people would make under any given circumstances. Finally, the third moment is God’s free knowledge of the world that he has created. This is God’s knowledge of all things pertaining to this world he decided to create. Craig suggests that God utilized his middle knowledge of all the free choices people would make under any given circumstances to decide on the world and its world history that he would create. This preserves human freedom because God factored in all the free choices people would make when he planned out the world.

While I think there is some credit to be given to middle knowledge, I’m not sure I buy it with all its implications that Craig lays out. It seems to preserve freedom in name only, and it suggests that God couldn’t create a world free from sin. However, THE ONLY WISE GOD is a brilliantly argued book that should be read by anyone interested in the debate over God’s foreknowledge and the existence of human freedom.

Review copy provided by Wipf and Stock publishers

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