A Tidbit on "Free Will" and Theodicy

A note on a common aspect of theodicy (the problem of evil) and/or free will: It is commonly supposed that free will is in conflict with God knowing the outcome of our free choices, and that free will1 must somehow entail God not knowing and not being able to know what we will choose.

I reject the idea that these are intrinsically in conflict.


  1. Right now, make a free action, using whatever your definition of “free” is. It is also sufficient to consider any other choice you’ve made “freely” in your past.
  2. A moment later, think back on the free choice you made. Do you remember the outcome?
  3. Does the fact you now know the choice that you made freely mean that your choice was in fact not “free” because your then-future, now current self knew the outcome?

As I’m casting a net widely here, it is possible you will stop and reconsider your definition of “free will” as a result of that question. However, I think most people’s “know it when I see it” definition will not be so challenged, and they will not consider the fact that their future self can remember a past decision to negate the “freedom” of that choice.

If you can

  1. Make a free choice at some point, and
  2. Know the outcome of that choice

why can’t God also both allow you to choose freely, and also know what your free choice will be/is/was? I am not saying this is an exact parallel, just that if even you can manage both of these things at once, even if only at particular points in time, is it really so shocking that God may as well?

This does not entirely “solve” theodicy. But I think this removes some of the most intense contradictions. God can choose to create beings with free will and God can know how they will use that free will and that does not mean that he choose or is responsible for their actions. As for how he does this… add it to the list of mysteries. Mine’s pretty long. But it seems to me to be true.

  1. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a satisfactory definition of free will. Fortunately, my point here is nearly entirely independent of your choice. ↩︎

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