If God Knew…?
Here’s a question I get a lot:
My daughter asked if God knows everything and knew that Adam and Eve were going to sin, breaking our relationship with him, then why did he create man? Thanks for helping me with this one.
Here’s my take on this tough question:
1. God is maximally good
Everything about God is what we call maximal. That just means that God isn’t a little knowledgeable or a little powerful but as completely knowledgeable and as completely powerful as possible. We use words like “omniscient” to mean that God knows everything and “omnipotent” to say that God is all powerful. Whatever is true of God is true of Him to the maximum possible degree. Consequently, we also know that God because God is good, He is “omnibenevolent” which just means that He is all good.
2. God seeks maximum good
Because of #1, it is also true that whatever God seeks, He seeks to the maximum possible degree. Since He is all good, He always seeks good and since He is maximal, He seeks the maximum possible good. He is never content with some good when there it is possible to achieve a greater good.
3. Whatever God does must result in the long-term maximum possible good
Therefore, whatever God does or allows, He does because it ultimately results in the maximum possible good. This doesn’t necessarily mean that any particular thing which God allows to happen is good in and of itself, like accidents or human sin. We have to take the long view, as when we give a child a vaccine shot which is painful and scary (both not-good things) but which keeps them from getting a life-threatening disease later on. We can’t always know how any given thing will result in the maximum possible good, but we can know with confidence that it will, because God is maximally good and seeks the maximum possible good for His creation.
So, if God knew Adam and Eve would sin, but created them with the ability to sin anyways, we can say with certainty that He did so because it would result in the maximum possible good over the course of all eternity. It may not be possible for us to understand the precise mechanics of how this will be, but we can make a relatively good guess. What is better, to have creatures that have capacity for authentic choice that never mess up or to have creatures that can choose wrong but instead authentically choose right? I think it’s fairly clear that the latter is a far better good. But perhaps the only way to get creatures who are capable of choosing wrong but instead authentically choose right for all eternity is to inoculate them, so to speak; that is, to let them experience the consequences of sin. Only in that way will the desire for sin be eradicated while the ability to sin is retained.
It’s like a child who touches the heating element on a stove because it looks interesting, all glowing red. After they’ve touched the heating element, they’ll never purposefully touch it again, but they will always be capable of touching it. What I mean is, their authentic will hasn’t been destroyed by the pain of touching the heating element, but their desire to do the thing which caused that pain will be gone. So they’ll be capable but unwilling…thus they’ll authentically choose never to touch the heating element ever again, though they’ll always be perfectly capable of touching it.
In a similar way, perhaps by allowing us to sin, God has allowed us to experience the pain of sin in such a way that we will (once we’re completely transformed by the Spirit) never ever want to do it again. But we’ll still be capable of sin, just utterly unwilling. So, we’ll be able to live for the rest of eternity authentically choosing to love God and avoid sin but we will do so as authentically willful creatures rather than as robots who could never really choose to do other than what we’re programmed to do.