“Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite” (KJV).
“Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” (ESV)
” גדול אדונינו ורב־כח לתבונתו אין מספר׃” (Hebrew Old Testament)
Within Scripture we find that God knows all things. But here, in the Psalms, we read that God’s knowledge is “infinite.” Of course, this is a translation of the Hebrew, which says “…his understanding is without number/measure.” But this can also be correctly translated simply as the KJV does, “His understanding is infinite.” Thus, within Scripture, we have a picture of God’s knowledge as infinite or without number.
1) If God’s knowledge is infinite/without number/unable to be counted, then God’s knowledge cannot be increased (it’s infinite).
2) God’s knowledge is without number.
3) God’s knowledge cannot be increased.
4) Open Theism asserts that God’s knowledge can be increased.
5) Therefore, Open Theism is false.
Defense of Premises
Premise 1 can be defended in a similar fashion as one would argue against actual infinites in the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Basically, we cannot add up to infinite. Nor, if something is actually infinite, can we increase or decrease its “number” in any way. We cannot add to infinity and increase it, nor can we take away one item from an infinite set and decrease it to some finite number. Therefore, if God’s knowledge is infinite, it is complete–it cannot be increased.
Premise 2 simply asserts what the Bible passage says.
Premise 3 follows from 1 and 2 deductively.
Premise 4 follows from the core of Open Theism. On Open Theism, God knows all things which have happened and are happening, but he does not necessarily know what will happen until it does happen. Therefore, God’s propositional knowledge would continually be increasing. Each day, he would learn an astounding number of truths which he did not previously know.
Premise 5 follows from 3 and 4; if 3 is true, 4 cannot be true. Yet 3 is true, so 4 cannot be true.
Therefore, Open Theism is false.
A Potential Rebuttal
Can the Open Theist get out of this argument? One way would be to challenge that the Psalm is not claiming God knows an actually infinite number of propositions, but simply that conceptually, God’s knowledge is so far beyond our own it appears to be infinite.
I would respond to this counter-argument by challenging the Open Theist to successfully read that off the Hebrew, which literally says “without number”/”infinite.” Open Theism, by definition, would have to entail God knowing only a finite number of propositions. If God did not know only a finite number of propositions, then His knowledge could not increase (it would be infinite). Thus, on Open Theism, the number of propositions God knows would increase by the second/minute/day. So the Open Theistic reading of Psalm 147:5 would have to read it like “[God’s] knowledge is unlimited; it increases forever.” But that reading is not justified by the text.
[Edit: Note the comment section for some great discussion of this post, wherein two commentators provided a “way out” for the Open Theist regarding my argument and a denial of premise 4.]
This is part of a series I’ve written against the doctrine of Open Theism. If you’d like to read more, check out the original post for discussion and links.
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