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I have recently read some posts here commenting about Ralbag and the Book III of Milchamot Hashem in which the basic idea is that G-D'S Knowledge of man's future actions is limited by man's free will. This was touched upon in another post but I still do not understand.

How can G-D not know that you're going to make a certain act? Maybe He didn't "predict" you to do such a thing but He still knew you were going to do said thing. So:

1) How can G-D'S Knowledge be limited by our free will and

2) How can G-D not "predict" what you're going to do if the future is standing before G-D then He must surely know what you did and this means He would have predicted this?

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    See my answer here. – Alex May 5 at 23:04
  • @Alex there is still one thing that I do not understand with this. If, essentially, G-D does not know the choice the human makes until it is made then doesn't this imply, G-D forbid, that my choice/free will is superior than G-D and His Knowledge because how I act determines how G-D acts/reacts or even knows right? Couldn't someone come to the conclusion that G-D is a true G-D because He is lacking? Or even, could this be idolatry in a sense as if this view is correct then we have our own "power" making us gods due to our actions, G-D forbid. – Majobri May 5 at 23:51
  • According to Ralbag, it’s not that there is a certain body of knowledge that God is not privy to. That would indeed imply an imperfection in God. Instead, thinks that fall under the realm of human choice are simply unknowable. The true conclusion of what will happen truly does not exist until it happens, and that is precisely why the doctrine of free will can be upheld. – Alex May 5 at 23:59
  • @Alex Ohh ok I am starting to get a little more, are there are any other Rabbis that agree with his view on this? And another thing is, what about the thoughts of man? How does this fit, for example if someone plots an evil scheme and convinces himself that he is going to do such a thing and right before the action is done (ie. exists) it either a) doesn't happen or b) does happen. Since G-D is beyond time, doesn't G-D see the existence in which either a or b happened meaning that G-D also knows before it was executed? – Majobri May 6 at 0:34
  • @Alex And how would this notion of action not existing until it happens fit with the fact that G-D is continually renewing all of creation (and our existence) through His Words? Wouldn't this imply that G-D speaks our actions into existence? And if not, then what about after it has been done, G-D now has to speak this into existence as it happened and must endure until punishment or repentance to "erase" this right, if this is so then didn't G-D know that His creation would be end up being like this, technically speaking, didn't G-D know that this would occur? Maybe I am confusing some ideas – Majobri May 6 at 0:38
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In philosophy, there are two classes of models about time. In A-Theory, time is primarily about tenses and the flow of time. Past-Present-Future are definitional. This certainly corresponds to how we experience time.

However, in Relativity, Spacetime is one thing. Time is just one out of four dimensions. For that matter, people moving relative to each other don't have exactly the same time axis. (This is why events get further apart, but spatially closer together in the direction of travel.) The equations of physics, even before Einstein, work equally well in either direction. This is a b-theory of time, where the flow of time is an experience we impose on something that is fundamentally one solid thing. (Perhaps related to how the accumulation of experience involves the growth of entropy.) B-theory is often referred to as "block time". The universe as a 4D sculpture.

Now what does this have to do about the Ralbag and Omniscience?

In b-theory, there is a truth value to "John will buy a car tomorrow". What we don't have today is knowledge -- we don't know whether he will or he won't. But one of those two is true right now, already.

In a-theory, there isn't. It's simply not a fact yet. We don't just not know, it isn't part of reality.

The Ralbag's theory of time is an a-theory.

There are less discussed, theories c-theories of time (sometimes labeled "c-theories") that would fit the Ralbag's words. Such as if he believed in a growing block time -- the past and present are real and true, but not the future. But in any case, the Ralbag does not have a b-theory, his is not a block time in which all points on the timeline are equally real.

The Ralbag believes that Hashem knows everything. But claims about the future don't exist -- they aren't part of "everything".


(That said, I have my own problems with the Ralbag's definition of Omniscience. It places Hashem within time by assuming He Knows something after my decision that He didn't know before. But G-d is למעלה מן הזמן - "above" time; the Creator of time rather than one of us who live within it. Which in itself answers the paradox of Omniscience and free will. G-d doesn't Know now what I will decide tomorrow. But not because He doesn't Know, but because He doesn't do it now, or at any other point in time.)

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Many people like to accept the belief that G-d knows everything, but there are Jews, wise Jews, who disagree. For example, ibn Ezra felt that G-d knows the generalities – the laws of nature – but not the details (people as individuals). Ralbag, as you wrote, also held this view. In fact, Gersonides held many unconventional opinions, such as Divine knowledge. For example, Gersonides was convinced that G-d doesn’t know people as individuals, meaning that He does not know how people will act but only the general rules of the laws of nature, how people could act, or what might possibly occur, since people can become subvert to the laws of nature. Thus, according to Ralbag, the idea that G-d is all-knowing may not be true. He seems to say that G-d does not know humans.

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  • G-d does not know humans? – robev May 5 at 23:33
  • @robev According to Ralbag, perhaps. Or, G-d knows the human species but not the details of the life of any given human. – Turk Hill May 5 at 23:41

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