Wednesday, July 23, 2003

The path of many paths

I had someone bring up the question of "Does God know what's going to happen to us" again earlier. This is something that I've fiddled with for years, trying to balance an "All Knowing" God (which I believe) and Free Will (which I also believe). If we have the opportunity to hare off in any strange direction at the drop of a hat and we only decide at the last minute how can God know?
The image that came to me years ago was of me standing at the edge of a sheet of paper. Stretching out in front of me is a black line, a path. But the path begins to branch immediately and branch again and again and again. Each branch branchs again, and the branches cross one another repeatedly till the paper is a mass of black with only tiny flecks of white. Each branch or crossing is a decision or event. That decision or event offers the opportunity to move in a different direction. Each decision (voluntary or otherwise) closes off some branches but opens new ones. At the far side of the paper are the possible outcomes, good, bad and indifferent. I, standing only man height above the page can see some of the immediate surroundings, but I can not see all the possible outcomes or how to get there. God, resting in the traditional position of God - above, can see the entire page. He (pardon the anthropomorphizing, I was raised thinking of God as "him". I realize the limitations of that but it's kind of hard wired now. And the subject for a whole 'nother post) can see all the possible permutations. He knows where each choice may lead, can lead. He also knows where He would like to see me go. In the end it remains my choice. Which choice, which path eventually leading to which outcome.
Free Will and Absolute knowledge. All that's left? Deciding what to do next?

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