An Omniscient God is Sinful
(Investigator 158, 2014
Can god be omniscient and yet free from sin? In my
contradiction exists between the belief that the biblical god is
perfect (free from sin) and the additional assumption that this being
is omniscient - a claim that the bible makes as shown below.
Qualities unique to God:
The definition of
Omniscient is as follows:
- God is
(omnipresent): Jude 6; Rev
20:1-3; 1 Ki 8:27; 2 Chron 2:6; 6:18; Isa 66:1; Acts 7:49; 17:27-28; Ps
- God is all
(omniscient): Ps 139:1-6; Job
42:2; Acts 2:23; 1 Tim 1:17
- God is all
(omnipotent): Gen 17:1; 35:11;
Rom 13:1; 1 Tim 6:15; Rev 19:6.
infinite awareness, understanding, and insight
If god possesses
complete knowledge then god must not only know what is
sinful, but experience sin as well. Consider the Seven Deadly Sins:
possessed of universal
or complete knowledge (2)
Pride is an excessive belief in one's own
It is not
enough for god, for example, to know what lust is; god must
also experience the emotion of lust, for if god does not experience the
emotion of lust then god can have no real knowledge of lust. Therefore,
if only humans experience the emotions of the Seven Deadly Sins, then
humans know something that god does not. Ergo – god is not omniscient.
is wanting what others have, be it status,
abilities, or possessions.
Gluttony is the desire to eat or consume more than
is a powerful craving for such as sex, power
Anger is the loss of rational self-control and the
desire to harm others.
Greed is the desire for material wealth or gain.
Sloth is laziness and the avoidance of work. (3)
However, if god knows lust, then how can god be considered free from
sin, and if god is not free from sin then god is not perfect.
OMNISCIENT BUT SINLESS
(Investigator 159, 2014
Mr Straughen says that an "omniscient" (all-knowing) God cannot "be
free from Sin":
possesses complete knowledge then God must not only know what is
sinful, but experience sin as well… if God does not experience the
emotion of lust then God can have no real knowledge of lust. (#158)
Dictionary of Philosophy (2005) under "Knowledge"
"The two statements A knows that p and B knows that not-p cannot be
true together, for the first implies that p and the second implies that
not-p. People can know different things, but they cannot know
Consider a gambler named Steve. For God to lack knowledge of Steve's
gambling, the following two statements have to be incompatible:
Are these two
contradictory so that Steve and God are said
to know "incompatible things"?
knows that he gambles.
- God knows
about Steve's gambling —
every bet, every temptation, every loss, every win, every
predisposition, and whatever else can be known.
No. God knows more than Steve knows, but
none of what God knows contradicts what Steve knows.
Consider also a murder trial with the accused found guilty beyond
"reasonable doubt", even "beyond any doubt". The jury therefore have
"full knowledge", as full as it gets, of the murder. Is the verdict
wrong because to have full knowledge the jury must also commit murder?
Gambling and murder are physical actions but Straughen is concerned
with mental sins such as "lust". To have "full knowledge" about
must God "experience" lust?
To "experience" something can mean (1) doing it, (2) feeling it, or (3)
being a victim of it.
Straughen seems to accept "2" so that having
"full knowledge" of another's emotion involves experiencing the other
person's emotion by feeling it ourselves.
However, once we feel something it is our feeling, not the other
person's feeling — which leaves us without "full knowledge" by
Straughen's definition. It seems, therefore, Straughen's definition
leads to a contradiction and may require a philosopher to sort out.
Common sense tells us that people can "experience" or feel another's
feeling by empathy, imagination, and analogy. None of these are
An "omniscient" God would also have "full
knowledge" of biochemical and electrical events that generate feelings.
Future brain scanning technology might do that too — i.e. describe the
biochemical equivalents of feelings. Would that make the technician,
who reads the printout, guilty of the thought-sins it reveals? No.
A SIMPLER RESPONSE
A simpler response to Straughen is that the word "omniscient" is not in
the Bible but is a concept philosophers debate about.
The Bible states that God sees every bird and every star; everyone's
thoughts, deeds and words; embryos and how they grow; every hair on
every head; and is able to restore every dead person to life:
this is within sight of future human technology, but none of it
implies that the human technician has to commit other peoples' mental
- Luke 12:6-7
- Acts 15:8
- Hebrews 4:13
- I John 3:20
The Bible teaches:
a) God knows the words, deeds and thoughts of every
b) God is "Good", "upright", and without "sin".
Statements "a" and "b" are compatible i.e. without contradiction.
Omniscient but Sinless – a Reply to Anonymous
(Investigator 161, 2015
Anonymous, in his reply to my article (Inv 159, page
48), seems to be
suggesting that God can have full knowledge of sin without being
sinful. At the moment I'm not sure his argument succeeds, for having
knowledge of something indirectly (God's knowledge of sin through
awareness of the biochemistry of emotions, as Anonymous suggests) is
not to have full knowledge of that thing.
Consider the following thought experiment: Let us suppose that
intelligent life exists on Mars and that these beings experience an
emotion they call tamaz - an emotion that we cannot experience due to
physiological and psychological differences between humans and
Now, we can know something of tamaz, for a Martian can tell us when it
is experiencing this emotion and we can record its physiological
reactions using positron emission tomography (PET) scans,
electroencephalography and so on, and based on this data know what
biological reactions occur when Martians are experiencing tamaz.
However, knowing what tamaz looks like in terms of Martian biochemistry
and neural activity is not the same thing as knowing what it is like to
experience the emotion of tamaz.
Similarly, if God does not know what it is like to experience lust
— knowledge that can only be gained (as with tamaz) through
direct experience of the emotion, then God does not know what it is
like to experience lust. Therefore, humans have knowledge of something
that God does not.
Anonymous seems to suggest that God can have knowledge of lust through
empathy. But the reason we can empathise with others and know how they
feel without a direct experience of their emotions is because we have
ourselves experienced the emotions that they are experiencing at some
point in time. If God can empathise then God must have experienced
If God exists and is omniscient then God knows all things, and this
would include the sinful emotion of lust. However, if God is not
omniscient then there are some things that God does not know and the
sinful emotion of lust may be one of them.
OMNISCIENT BUT SINLESS
(Investigator 161, 2015
Mr Straughen's further attempt to deny that "God can
knowledge of sin without being sinful" (#160 p. 46) was answered in
#159 p. 49 in the paragraph beginning "However…"
If Straughen is still unsatisfied, there is a "Simpler Response" on the
same page. The simpler response avoids the word "omniscient"; avoids
trying to define "full knowledge"; and avoids the problem of how one
person's feeling can be another person's feeling.