The Instigator
Rational_Thinker9119
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
zmikecuber
Con (against)
Winning
19 Points

God Can Gain Knowledge While Being Omniscient

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 7 votes the winner is...
zmikecuber
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/15/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,455 times Debate No: 52515
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (86)
Votes (7)

 

Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

The burden of proof will be shared. I will be arguing that there is no explicit contradiction in God gaining knowledge while still being omniscient by definition, like some may think. My opponent will argue it is a contradiction for God to gain knowledge if he is omniscient, because if God knows all there is to know already, then he cannot know more.


God

For this debate, God is just "an omniscient being". Any other attributes you believe God (omnipotence, perfection, omnibenevolence ect.) has no relavence to this debate. This debate is essentially about whether its possible or not for a being to be omniscient, as defined, and gain knowledge.

Omniscience
Being X is omniscient if said being holds all true knowledge that is logically possible to hold
--
First round for acceptance.
zmikecuber

Con

I accept and look forward to RT's arguments.
Debate Round No. 1
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

Argument

If an omniscient being knows everything there is to know already (which is true by definition), then he cannot gain knowledge by definition, because to gain knowledge presupposes that there was something not known before. This is the common reason given for why an omniscient being cannot gain knowledge. Prima facie, it seems pretty reasonable. I mean if the set of "everything there is to know" is already filled, then there is no room for new knowledge.

So, what is the problem with that line of reasoning? Well, the problem is that if the set of "everything there is to know" constantly changing (by gaining members to the set and losing members to the set), then God can gain knowledge every second while still being omniscient, as the set of "everything there is to know" is gaining to a new member every second.

Here is an example:

Lets say that at 7:00pm, God knows everything there is to know. He knows exactly what I am going to do at 8:00pm (we will say, watch The Big Bang Theory for the first time). So, at 700pm, God knows that 8:00pm, I will be watching The Big Bang Theory. However, what God doesn't know at 7:00pm is that "NOW, I am watching The Big Bang Theory". God cannot know that, because that would be false (I won't be watching The Big Bang Theory till 8:00pm). A being can only be omniscient if the knowledge is logically possible (it is impossible to know that NOW you are doing something at 8:00pm, if it is really 7:00pm now). However, when 8:00pm comes around, God gains knowledge. He gains the knowledge that I am NOW watching The Big Bang Theory. So, at both 7:00pm, and 8:00pm, God knew everything there was to know, even though he gained knowledge at 8:00pm! Therefore, it is possible for a being to be omniscient at all times, while gaining knowledge at all times.

Conclusion

So, an omniscient being can gain knowledge, as long as the set of "everything there is to know" can gains members. Every moment, the set of "everything there is to know" gains a member, because what is happening "now" is always changing.

zmikecuber

Con

An interesting argument put forward by my opponent. However, I do not think it succeeds, and I think we can have good reasons to see that it is incoherent for an omniscient being to gain knowledge.

Preliminaries

Prima facie implausibility
Now it's ironic that my opponent points this out, because it shows that he has an uphill battle. If something is prima facie incoherent, or seems prima facie true, we ought to accept this until it has been shown to be false. The reason is this: We have to believe something. This is true by the law of excluded middle. Either you believe it's true, or you don't believe it's true. So if we're going to believe something, then why not follow our intuition? If that thing over there looks red, we typically assume it's red, until we're given good reasons to think otherwise.


Now my opponent readily admits that what he is arguing for is prima facie implausible. That's nice because that's half of this argument conceded. On face value, it seems that an omniscient being cannot gain knowledge. Thus, my opponent's arguments had better be pretty thorough. If I can cast a decent amount of doubt upon his arguments, then we shall retreat to our original position, and I have fulfilled my burden. Of course, I'll be giving other arguments anyways to further establish that an omniscient being cannot gain knowledge.

I. Rebuttals
I'll now rebut my opponent's arguments.

A summary of my opponent's argument
My opponent's argument is essentially...

P1: The totality of all possible knowledge is something which is always changing
P2: God knows the totality of all knowledge
C: God knows something which is always changing.

Assuming God is in time
My opponent has assumed that God is "in" time. That God is NOW thinking this, and then in the future, will be thinking or knowing something else. But in the definition that he gave, there is absolutely no reason to believe that God is bound to time. Since God has not been defined to be inside of time, we should be given arguments to believe that God must be inside of time. My opponent has not done so. Thus, his argument is rendered unfounded, and unsound, since we have been given absolutely no reasons to think that God is inside of time.


This is evidenced throughout his argument, when he claims.. "So, at both 7:00pm, and 8:00pm, God knew everything there was to know, even though he gained knowledge at 8:00pm".

This is an implicit assumption my opponent has made and has not defended.


Assuming that knowledge "changing form" is "gaining knowledge"
My opponent equivocates between knowledge which changes form, and new knowledge. If I know that tomorrow I will eat a cheeseburger, and then tomorrow I do eat a cheeseburger, have I gained new knowledge? Not really. It's just changed form. The relational property of time has changed, however, the knowledge itself has not changed.

If I leave a peanut butter sandwich in the freezer, and it stays exactly the same, but then I got in at a different time, is it now a "different sandwich"? Sure, the relational property may have changed, however relational properties are not intrinsic. They are extrinsic, since they require something else (the measurement of time) to identify them. So if I take a ball, and shine a red light on it, and then a blue light, are these now different balls? Obviously they're the same.

Otherwise we could apply Leibniz's law and show that every second everything around us is a "different" thing.

Likewise, God's knowledge is the same knowledge from the present to the future.

This is essentially the age-old argument which Heraclitus made. If anything changes, then it's not the same thing, right? Well that's obviously false. Things do maintain continuity of being despite relational properties. If they didn't, then we'd have an epistemical problem on our hands, and would have to sacrifice common sense. My opponent has given absolutely zero arguments to believe that if the relational property of something changes, then the thing itself has changed.

Let's put it this way. God knows that Rational_Thinker will watch Southpark (yes, I changed it) on Wednesday. The time at which God knows this is irrelevant, since this is a relational property, which is extrinsic. The time at which we think a thought, does not change what the thought is.

II. My arguments.

Argument 1: A horned argument
P1: EITHER God is inside of time, OR he is not.
P2: If God is inside of time, he cannot gain knowledge.
P3: If God is outside of time, he cannot gain knowledge.
C: Therefore, in either case, God cannot "gain" knowledge.

This is a horned argument. I'll show that whether or not God is "inside" time is besides the point. Remember that we've never been given any arguments to think God is inside of time in the first place though.

Premise 1.
Now I've explained P1 above, but I'll recap. Time is a relational property. If God is in time, the relational property (time) changes. However, just because a relational property changes, this does not mean that the thing itself changes. If the thing itself changed, then God would have to go from not knowing something to knowing it. This doesn't happen. God knows I will eat a burger tomorrow at a certain time, regardless of what temporal state he is in. The temporal state is extrinsic to the knowledge itself.

In other words, my opponent is confusing epistemology (when we know something) with ontology (what it is we know). This is like comparing apples to oranges.

Premise 2.
If God is outside of time, then he cannot change. If God cannot change, then he cannot "lose" or "gain" something, since this is a change. Hence, if God is outside of time he cannot lose or gain knowledge.

Argument 2: Comparing "gain" to "loss"
P1: IF God can gain knowledge, then he can lose knowledge.

P2: God cannot lose knowledge
C: God cannot gain knowledge

We can see a comparison between gaining something and losing something. In both cases, a potential is changed to something actual. So if God can gain knowledge (there can be a potential knowledge for him to know, which is then actualized) it seems reasonable to believe that the opposite can happen. After all, whatever is gained can also be lost. So if God can "gain" knowledge, then he can also "lose" knowledge. But obviously if he "lost" knowledge, he would not be omniscient.

Thus God cannot gain knowledge.

Conclusion
In conclusion, it doesn't matter whether or not God is inside of time, or outside of it. Even if time changes, the knowledge God has does not change. Time is an extrinsic relational property, and this has absolutely nothing to do with the knowledge itself.

So my opponent's arguments are extremely counter-intuitive, rest on incredibly implausible metaphysical assumptions, are actually very weak and stand completely refuted. Furthermore, it has been shown that an omniscient being cannot gain knowledge by a horned argument, as well as comparing "gain" to "loss"

Thank you
Debate Round No. 2
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

Prima Facie Plausibility

I only conceded prima facie plausibility of the resolution being false if we assume that the set of "everything that there is to know" necessarily does not change (I talked about prima facie plausibility before I mentioned my argument about the changing set, as sort of a build up). However, since there is no reason to believe that is the case that the set of "everything there is to know" does not change necessarily, then it is prima facie possible that it changes. Since this is the case, then it is prima facie possible that members can be added to the set and God could gain that new piece of knowledge ever time it happens and still know everything there is to know at any point in time.

Therefore, the resolution is prima facie true; not the other way around. I only granted my opponent prima facie plausibility before bringing the possibility of a changing set of "everything there is to know" into the equation. Ergo, I do not grant my opponent prima facie plausibility regarding the resolution, only in a certain context before actually explaining my argument.

Straw-Man

My argument is not the argument Con syllogized in his last round. Attacking that argument would be a potential straw-man.

Assuming God Is In Time

I don't need to assume God is in time, I only need assume that it is possible. After all, there isn't any explicit contradiction in an omniscient being existing in time, so it seems perfectly logically possible. All I assume is that it is possible that an omniscient being exists in time, and if this being exists in time, it is possible that he can gain knowledge while being omniscient. In Modal logic, "possibly possible" = possible". Thus, I don't actually have to assume God exists in time in the actual world for my argument to work, only that it is possible, and if that is possible, then it is possible for God to gain knowledge while being omniscient.

My opponent has to argue that it is a contradiction for God to exist in time, because if it is even possible, then my argument remains that God can gain knowledge while being omniscient.

Gaining Knowledge

"If I know that tomorrow I will eat a cheeseburger, and then tomorrow I do eat a cheeseburger, have I gained new knowledge? Not really"

When you actually eat the cheeseburger, you gain new knowledge about what is happening now, that you didn't have 5 minutes ago. So, you say "not really", I say "absolutely"!

Basically, in time, the "now" moment is always changing. This means, that for each "now" moment, there are a different set of facts that go with it. Since there are different facts regarding each "now" moment, then the only way God can remain omniscient in time is if he gains knowledge. For example, lets say it is 7:00pm now....There are a set of facts that go along with this "now" point at 7:00pm that aren't the same set of facts that go along with what is going on at the "now" point in an hour at 8:00pm. For instance, I am not watching The Big Bang Theory 7:00pm now, but at 8:00pm, I will be. It will be "now" at that time at 8:00pm though, but there will be a brand new set of facts regarding the states off affairs that go on pertaining to that "now" point.

So, because there are a different set of facts that go along with each "now" point, then the only way God can know what is going on "now" is if he trades in knowledge. He must gain knowledge about each set of facts attached to this moment, and ditch the set of facts associated with the last one, a moment ago. Therefore, if God exists in time, which seems entirely possible, then he necessarily gains knowledge if he is omniscient. This is because he must lose knowledge about what is happening "now", and gain knowledge about what is happening "now" every moment, as there are a new set of facts associated with any "now" moment a human decides to arbitrarily point out.

To sum up, it is possible that the set of "everything there is to know" is always losing and gaining members, because it is possible that God is in time, and in order for God to know everything there is to know in time, it follows necessarily that he is always losing and gaining knowledge (as there are different facts for each "now" moment), and is still omniscient as defined in this debate.

All of my opponent's rebuttals to my arguments fail.

Argument 1 From Con

The only quarrel I have with this is:

P2: "If God is inside of time, he cannot gain knowledge."

I already disproved this in my rebuttal to my opponent's last round. God necessarily gains knowledge if he is time, because the facts regarding what is going on "now" are always being thrown out and replaced.

"If the thing itself changed, then God would have to go from not knowing something to knowing it. This doesn't happen."

If God is in time, this necessarily happens. With regards to my previous example, God does not know at 7:00pm that "Now, I am watching The Big Bang Theory", as it would be impossible to know, however, when 8:00pm comes around, God knows "Now, I am watching The Big Bang Theory".

So if God exists in time, and is omniscient, then he necessarily goes from NOT KNOWING that "Now, I am watching The Big Bang Theory" to KNOWING that "now, I am watching The Big Bang Theory". Therefore, God necessarily gains knowledge if he is omniscient, and exists within time. My opponent is confused, because while it is true that God always knew that I was going to watch The Big Bang Theory at 8:00pm, he didn't always know that "Now, I am watching The Big Bang Theory". God cannot know that until 8:00pm, but he always knows everything within the set of "everything there is to know". Therefore, it doesn't matter if God gains or loses knowledge, he can still always be omniscient.

Argument 2 From Con

This is the worst argument from Con, unfortunately. There is absolutely no reason to think an omniscient being cannot lose knowledge. An omniscient being only has to know "everything there is to know" to be omniscient. Therefore, if the set of "everything there is to know" loses a fact, then it follows necessarily that God loses knowledge. However, throughout all of that, this omniscient being would still, by definition, know everything there is to know. Thus, there is no problem in an omniscient being gaining or losing knowledge. Not in the least bit.

Conclusion

I have shown that the resolution is extremely plausible prima facie, and that the negation of the resolution is extremely implausible prima facie. I also demonstrated why my arguments do not rest on the assumption that God exists in time in the actual world, and why my opponent actually has to show that God is timeless (which he failed to do). Thirdly, I rebutted every single objection Con had to my argument as they were based on misconceptions, so, as it stands, my arguments remain completely unscathed. My opponent's first argument fails,because it assumes that just because God always knows what I will go at 8:00pm, that it means that when 8:00pm rolls around, he gains no knew knowledge. This is false, because he gains knew knowledge about what is happening "now", because the facts associated with each "now" point are new facts! His second argument fails because there is no problem with God losing knowledge while being omniscient. This is because God is omniscient as long as he knows all facts in the set of "everything there is to know", at all times. If there are facts that escape this set of "everything there is to know", then God must lose that knowledge, because it would be false knowledge (the facts pertaining to each "now" point are never the same).

In conclusion, my arguments clearly withstand my opponent's objections. However, his arguments cannot with stand mine as they are inherently flawed.

The resolution has clearly been established.
zmikecuber

Con

Well folks, I have the utmost respect for RT, but I must admit I was very disappointed by his reply up there. He's completely ignored my main and strongest criticism to his argument, that of relational/extrinsic properties vs. intrinsic properties. Hit control+f on your key board, and type in the word "intrinsic". Go ahead, do it. Then type in "extrinsic". Next type in "relational". You'll notice that while I've used each of these terms a total of 19 times in my previous round, my opponent has not used any of these terms once in his entire rebuttal. But don't take my word for it, use a philosopher's best tool. The find option on your browser.

I'll get into this later, and show why my opponent has not even touched my main argument. He's simply ignored it.

Prima facie
Well now, my opponent seems to be clarifying what he meant above. That's fine by me, but it doesn't change the argument that I have given here. If we see that something looks red, we typically assume it is red. Likewise, when you hear the statement "An omniscient being can gain new knowledge" you immediately think "That's absurd! In order to gain knowledge you have to not have it first, which means you're not omniscient!". That's what I thought. Apparently my opponent figured you would think that too, since his first round literally starts with just that argument.

Hence, it seems prima facie implausible to suggest that an omniscient being can obtain new knowledge.

Aw man, straw man?
Well now, my opponent objects to my summary of his argument, but he does not clarify. I'm trying to make his argument very very simple to understand, and a syllogism is the best way to do this. Nonetheless, I think this is an adequate representation of my opponent's argument. He is arguing that since the totality of stuff to know changes from moment to moment, that then God can gain new knowledge while retaining his omniscience. God can "know" all there is to know at every moment, even though everything there is to know changes from moment to moment.

So my opponent's argument seems to be summarized...

P1: The totality of all possible knowledge is something which is always changing
P2: God knows the totality of all knowledge
C: God knows something which is always changing.

If this isn't the case, my opponent must show why it is a straw man. If I make an argument and someone replies "that's a straw man" he has the burden to show how it is a straw-man. You can't just shout "fallacy" you need to show it. So my opponent should provide a revised edition of my summary of his argument.

Assuming God is in time
My opponent says that if it's possible that there is an omniscient being which is temporal, then such a being can gain new knowledge. Now, this is correct. However, why should we believe that it's possible for an omniscient being to be temporal? We've not seen a speck of evidence to believe this.

Gaining knowledge vs. changing knowledge... extrinsic and relational vs. intrinsic
Well this is the key area. Pay attention here, folks.

Let's put it this way. God knows "At 2:30 on Tuesday, RT will watch Southpark." Now you'll notice that the knowledge of something, and the time we know it are two different things.

Extrinsic properties are properties which rely upon something outside of the thing to be a property. When I shine a blue light on a rubber ball, and then a red light on it, has the "ball" itself changed? No, only it's surroundings; the relational/extrinsic properties which are entirely contingent. When I leave a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the freezer overnight, does it become a "new thing" after any amount of time has passed? No, because time is an extrinsic/relational property. In the same manner, when I have knowledge which persists in my mind through time, does the "passing of time" change the knowledge I have? No. Once again, because time is an extrinsic/relational property. Changing an extrinsic/relational property does not change the thing itself.

Thus, changing the "time" at which we know something does not change the thing we know itself. Precisely because it is an extrinsic/relational property.

My argument can be summarized...

P1 Affecting an extrinsic/relational property does not affect the thing itself.
P2 The passage of time is an extrinsic/relational property.
C Affecting the passage of time does not affect the thing itself.

And in our case, the "thing itself" is the knowledge that God has. So the passage of time, being completely extrinsic does not affect the knowledge contained in God, precisely because of it's extrinsic/relational nature.

Otherwise, my opponent must either show that: (i) my analogies do not hold or (ii) they do hold, but affecting an extrinsic/relational property affects the thing itself.

Now he's not done either. I've defended both of these. I've shown how my analogies hold, and I've shown that affecting an extrinsic/relational property does not affect the thing itself.

Therefore, we cannot say that God's knowledge "changes" in itself. Only the extrinsic/relational properties are changing.

A1... Still caught between the horns
P1: EITHER God is inside of time, OR he is not.
P2: If God is inside of time, he cannot gain knowledge.
P3: If God is outside of time, he cannot gain knowledge.
C: Therefore, in either case, God cannot "gain" knowledge.

My opponent admits that if God is outside of time, then he cannot gain knowledge. However, he still argues that if God were to exist IN time, he could gain new knowledge, and still remain omniscient.

But as you will recall, this rests upon the success of my opponent's argument. I've thoroughly refuted this, and shown that the passage of time is an extrinsic property and does not affect God's knowledge in itself.

Thus, this argument remains literally untouched. My opponent is still caught between the horns of the dilemma. He has conceded one horn, and has ignored the argumentation for the other.

Argument 2. Modus Tollens, guys. ;)
Now my opponent also deals lightly with this. But if you read it in context of my above arguments, you'll see that it is still sound. It reads...

P1: IF God can gain knowledge, then he can lose knowledge.
P2: God cannot lose knowledge
C: God cannot gain knowledge

Pro has disputed the second premise. But it seems entirely plausible for the reasons I've outlined above regarding why God cannot gain knowledge even if he is in time. Obviously, God cannot "lose" knowledge, since if he did, he wouldn't know anything. My opponent is arguing that God "loses" knowledge every moment, and gains new knowledge every moment, all the while remaining omniscient. This has been completely debunked above. God can't lose knowledge, since it's prima facie implausible. If he lost knowledge, he wouldn't be omniscient. My opponent tries to dodge this by falling back to the possibility that God can exist in time and gain/lose knowledge. But like I said, I've refuted this above.

Conclusion
My opponent's arguments are confusing. So it's not clear how they can be true prima facie. Remember, it seems prima facie true that God cannot gain or lose knowledge and still be all-knowing, since to be all knowing means to know everything. My opponent has tried to show that "everything" is constantly gaining and losing, and thus God's knowledge is always waxing and waning.

But I've shown that time is an extrinsic/relational property, and affecting an extrinsic/relational property doesn't affect the thing per se. The thing remains the same thing before and after. Thus, my opponent's desperate trying to show that "everything to know" is always waxing and waning remain debunked. Time is extrinsic and relational. As such, when God knows something does not affect what God knows.

My opponent is confusing the two. He's saying that when something is determines what it is. I've refuted this, and he's ignored it.

I'll try to get some diagrams in the next round to demonstrate what I mean, guys. But for now, I think it should be pretty clear that an omniscient being cannot gain or lose knowledge.
Debate Round No. 3
Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

I will delve more into the relational vs intrinsic properties argument below...

Prima Facie

Con claims that his argument still remains, because when we hear about an omniscient being gaining knowledge, we automatically think that is impossible at first glance. However, we only think that assuming that the set of "everything that there is to know" doesn't change. However, if we assume that it does change, then it is prima facie warranted that an omniscient being can gain knowledge. The prima facie case depends on certain initial assumptions, and Con has given us no reason to assume that the set of "everything that there is to know" doesn't change. Therefore, there is no good prima facie case for my opponent here.

Straw-Man

I didn't shout out "fallacy" I specifically said this may be a straw-man. Regardless, the argument is simple enough without a syllogism. What is happening "now", and the facts that surround that are always changing. Therefore, God's knowledge about "now" necessarily always changes. The facts he knew about "now", when it was "now" 5 minutes ago, God cannot know "now". He lost that knowledge. For example, I ate breakfast 5 minutes ago. 5 minutes ago, God knew that "Now, I am eating breakfast". He cannot know that now though, because I am not eating breakfast anymore. The thing is that even if the set of "everything there is to know" always changes, God always knows it. Thus, omnsicience is still obtained regardless of knowledge lost or gained.

Is It Possible For An Omniscient Being To Be In Time?

I'll give the same support for this possibility, that Con gave for another possibility in another one of his debates:

"(i) This seems perfectly possible. There are no explicit contradictions in it. It certainly isn’t prima facie impossible. So we should accept it as a logically coherent possibility.

(ii) It’s quite conceivable." [1]

Defending a possibility of this sort to any further extent is unnecessary. Also, Con still hasn't proven that God is timeless in the actual world, which is necessary to avoid my argument.

Gaining knowledge vs. changing knowledge... extrinsic and relational vs. intrinsic

"Let's put it this way. God knows "At 2:30 on Tuesday, RT will watch Southpark." Now you'll notice that the knowledge of something, and the time we know it are two different things."

Con says that the knowledge of something, and the time we know it are two different things. However, this doesn't matter, because God would still have knowledge of when he knows that thing! Since God would still have knowledge of when that thing occurs, and whether or not it occurs "now" or not, then these distinctions my opponent mentions mean absolutely nothing. God would still be gaining knowledge. To grab from my opponent's example:

-------

Assuming I only watch South Park this one time for conceptual ease, on Tuesday at 2:30, God does not know:

"Now, RT is watching South Park"

He cannot know that before 2:30, as that would be false knowledge. Therefore, God not knowing that before Tuesday is still in line with Omniscience, as God can only know what is true. When, 2:30 comes around, God knows:

"Now, RT is watching South Park"

-------

The reason God's knowledge can change is because the set of what can be known changes if God is in time. There is no way out of this argument for my opponent. The statement "Now, RT is watching South Park" is either a fact that can be known, or fact that cannot be known (as it is false or impossible). Before 2:30, it is a fact that cannot be known. At 2:30, it is a fact that can be known. God necessarily gains knowledge if he is in time and omniscient.

Con also states:

"In the same manner, when I have knowledge which persists in my mind through time, does the "passing of time" change the knowledge I have? No."

My opponent says "no", but the answer is "yes". The passing of time necessarily changes the set called "Mike's knowledge about now", because the facts about "now" are always changing, and there are facts about "now" that are true "now" that weren't true 5 minutes ago. If you ate an hour ago, an hour ago, you could have said "I know that now, I am eating a sandwich". You cannot say that now. Your total knowledge changed members of the set.

"Once again, because time is an extrinsic/relational property. Changing an extrinsic/relational property does not change the thing itself."

Even if my opponent has examples where relational properties don't change a thing, wouldn't mean that applies to knowledge, or that this applies to everything. Therefore, these examples don't support Con's premise, and those examples were his only justification. Also, the premise is false. Time clearly changes things (it changes an animate object, like a human organism, to an inanimate object, like a corpse), especially in the in the case of knowledge specifically. The reason the passing of time changes the knowledge of an omniscient being, is that to be omniscient, you have to know what is going on "right now". However, the facts about "right now", are always changing. Therefore, God's knowledge is always changing.

I would say my opponent's section here is mostly a red-herring. The reason time necessarily effects God's knowledge if he is in time, is because the facts about what is occurring "now" are never the same. A second ago, I would have said "now I am doing x" and I would be right, however, if I said "now I am doing x" right now, I would be wrong. Therefore, a moment ago, God knew that "now I am doing x" if he is in time and omniscient, but now, he does not know that. An omnicient being, if in time, necessarily lost knowledge.

Cons argument is essentially that time passing doesn't change God's total knowledge. However, again it certainly does, because at any given time, what we talk about when we speak of "now" is going to be completely different from any other time.

Ergo, my opponent's premise "Affecting an extrinsic/relational property does not affect the thing itself" is clearly false, thus, his argument is unsound. Yes, as time passes, it would change an omniscient being in time's knowledge since facts surrounding what is happening "now" never remain the same. Since the facts around "now" always changes, then God's knowledge of the facts about "now" can never remain the same either, and God would still be omniscient by definition. It simply follows.

Argument 2 From Con

"Obviously, God cannot lose knowledge, since if he did, he wouldn't know anything."

The above is false, as God has to lose knowledge if he is to be omniscient and in time, because the facts that were true about anything called "now" 5 minutes ago, are not true about 5 minutes ago "now".

"This has been completely debunked above. God can't lose knowledge, since it's prima facie implausible."

This has been debunked already. It is only prima facie implausible if you assume the set of "everything that there is to know" never changes, but that assumption is false because facts about what we call "now" are changing every minute. Thus, Con's prima facie case is easily refuted.

"If he lost knowledge, he wouldn't be omniscient"

I already refuted the above. God can lose knowledge and still be omniscient, because to be omniscient, one only has to know all there is to know. Since all there is to know is always changing, then God's knowledge can always change and God would still be completely omniscient by definition, at all times.

Conclusion

An omniscient being at t1 knows that "t1 is now". However, when t2 comes around, God cannot know that "t1 is now", because "t2 is now". My opponent says my argument is complex, but it is extremely simple. God's knowledge, in time, is always changing, because facts about what occurs "now" are always changing. Con hasn't even come close to refuting this, and both of his arguments are fallacious and based on flawed premises that can be easily shown to be false or flawed.

The resolution has been established.

Source

[1] http://www.debate.org...



zmikecuber

Con

Thanks to RT for this debate. It's been fun. :)

Prima facie
My opponent admits that our prima facie view of the resolution is unfavorable, but he says that it is based on a misunderstanding, or an incorrect assumption. He states, "we only think that assuming that the set of "everything that there is to know" doesn't change." But here's the problem... when most people say "everything that there is to know" they mean the totality of all past, present and future moments in a tenseless sense. An omniscient being knows that at 2:30 on Tuesday, RT will watch TV and at 8:30 on Saturday, Mike will be at the Easter Vigil (ok maybe I'll stay home and watch TB too). This set of all knowledge is unchanging. So while God might be in time, his knowledge is eternal. Then, in addition to this set of knowledge, there's the relational properties which change. More on this below. The reason that the resolution is prima facie implausible is precisely because most people view an omniscient being as one which cannot change in his knowledge.

Straw-man
Yes, my opponent did say what type of fallacy I supposedly made. No, he didn't show that I actually made that fallacy. That's all I'm saying. I can shout "strawman!" until I'm blue in the face, but if I don't show why it is a strawman, I can be dismissed. "That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." [1]

If you'll look over what my opponent says, you'll see that my summary is extremely accurate. He just says it isn't, but gives no reasons to think it isn't. Furthermore, I am perplexed why he will not clarify or provide another syllogism. I am trying to make this debate as reader-friendly as possible, and syllogisms are an excellent way to do so, since they clearly show the reasoning process.

Omniscient-being in time
My opponent quotes me. However, the whole idea of an omniscient being gaining knowledge and losing knowledge could be a reason to think that a temporal omniscient being is impossible. RT's omniscient being really isn't omniscient, precisely because it doesn't know "everything", as he implicitly admits (though not explicitly). It's always gaining and losing knowledge. Thus, an omniscient being cannot be in time for the very arguments outlined by my opponent. This apparent contradiction is a good reason to think that an omniscient being cannot be temporal.


Another argument. If God knows the future, then the future must already exist in some sense. We cannot know something which does not exist. But God knows the future, so it must exist somehow. But if the future exists, then the passage of time is an illusion. And if the passage of time is an illusion, then God cannot be in time.

Intrinsic vs. extrinsic properties
Now my opponent tries to rebut my arguments by simply repeating his own arguments. But this is circular reasoning. Let me explain.

My opponent makes argument A
I refute with B
My opponent refutes B with argument A.

If B refutes A, we can't use the A to refute B. My opponent has used his original argument to refute my rebuttals.

My opponent dismisses my analogies by simply stating that they don't hold. Why? Well we're not given many reasons other than..."Even if my opponent has examples where relational properties don't change a thing, wouldn't mean that applies to knowledge, or that this applies to everything. Therefore, these examples don't support Con's premise, and those examples were his only justification."

Why wouldn't it apply to knowledge though? We've not been given any good reasons. This is a fallacy of special pleading on my opponent's part (2). He's saying, yes, time is a relational property, BUT this is a relational property we can change which DOES change the thing (knowledge). But why can't I say that about anything?

That peanut butter sandwich I left in the freezer.. compare it to the one in the future. They both exist in different "nows". So they're different things, right? Well no, not really.

All of my opponent's reasoning can be applied to my examples. My examples hold because they are similar structurally, and aren't significantly different than my opponent's main argument.

"Time clearly changes things (it changes an animate object, like a human organism, to an inanimate object, like a corpse), especially in the in the case of knowledge specifically."

This is a very bad argument here. I'm not saying that something can change over time, I'm just saying that the passage of time doesn't directly change something. It's an extrinsic/relational change, and doesn't pertain to the essence of the thing. The reason things decay is because they are no longer functioning organisms, and forces like gravity and mice destroy them. Yes, this takes time to happen, but time isn't doing the changing. Time is a measurement.

Affecting the time at which something is, doesn't necessarily affect what that thing is. If this were the case, when I time-travel, would I be a completely different person?

Look at it this way. There's three options.

i. Affecting extrinsic/relational properties always changes the thing essentially
ii. Affecting extrinsic/relational properties never changes the thing essentially
iii. Affecting extrinsic/relational properties sometimes changes the thing essentially

My arguments in favor of ii remain. My opponent has opted for iii. However, he can't just do this, and leave it at that. He needs to show what type of relational/extrinsic properties affect the essential nature of a thing, and he needs to show why. He has not done so.

It's like if I say: Some men have beards. I am a man. Therefore, I have a beard. Well, only men of a certain kind have beards.

Even if my opponent argues that affecting "some" relational properties affects the essential nature of the thing, he needs to show which ones this is, and why. I can insist two things are different until kingdom come, but if I don't show why, nobody ought to believe me.

Once again, all my opponent's reasoning can be applied to my examples.

The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is affected by time. Therefore, the pbj sandwich is a different thing every new second.
I am affected by time. Therefore, every new second, I am a new person.

Why can time affect knowledge but not other things? Is it because of the "now"? Well is the pbj sandich "now" a different pbj sandwich than it was five minutes ago?

Essential vs accidental change
Now, for the sake of argument, let's just assume that God's knowledge does change.

Now what? Something can change and yet remain the same thing. If I move my phone across the room, it's still the same phone. At best, my opponent has shown accidental change in God's knowledge. At worst, he hasn't even done that.

But why assume that knowledge undergoing a very slight change is "gaining" new knowledge? It's the same knowledge, just in a slightly different form.

My arguments
My arguments have been conceded, except for the parts which rest upon the above. I've defended the relational/intrinsic properties. So my arguments are sound.

To recap
My opponent's argument is:

P1 The totality of all possible knowledge is something which is always changing
P2 God knows the totality of all knowledge
C God knows something which is always changing.

I've shown that P1 is false, since changing a relational property doesn't change the thing itself. I've also shown that even if this argument succeeds, "changing knowledge" =/= "gaining knowledge".

I've also given two arguments to think that an omniscient being cannot gain knowledge.

P1 EITHER God is inside of time, OR he is not.
P2 If God is inside of time, he cannot gain knowledge.
P3 If God is outside of time, he cannot gain knowledge.
C Therefore, in either case, God cannot "gain" knowledge.

P1 IF God can gain knowledge, then he can lose knowledge.
P2 God cannot lose knowledge
C God cannot gain knowledge

Thus, the resolution remains completely debunked. As such, I strongly urge you to vote Con.

(1) Christopher Hitchens, "Mommie Dearest" - slate.com. October 20, 2003.
(2) http://www.nizkor.org...
Debate Round No. 4
86 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Justpassingby 3 years ago
Justpassingby
If God is omniscient and he knows everything he needs to know, that means he knows that changes will occur, no matter whether he is in time or not. He knows that there will be changes, and He knows what these changes are, and He knows what effect those changes will have. I think He cannot gain knowledge, because change means nothing to Him, it is just a certainty in the future. We see things as a change because we are not sure if it would happen, or how it would happen. God knows all of that.
Of course, the above is based purely on the assumption that he is truly omniscient.
If I have any issues in my logic, please tell me!
Thanks
Posted by asadinho 3 years ago
asadinho
this question is illogical in its core. no one can advocate in favour of it and win the debate. how can the creator gain knowledge by operating the system which he himself created , not to mention , the creator which commands eternal life and Omni potence of all things. the flaw I find in this question is the fundamental belief of all contemporary religions and their divisions on the concept of god. the question did not refer to a particular creed which makes the question complex and intricate to analyse. the reasons for this convoluted situation arises as various creeds have different conception about god as for example Hinduism believes in polytheism, from sky to the moon to the stars. everything this universe possesses is a manifestation of god for hindus. and to scrutinize the question in the light of hindu god would lead to a conclusion different from other creeds who believe in monotheism etc.
Posted by popculturepooka 3 years ago
popculturepooka
Commenting to remind myself to vote.
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
@Smithereens
Yeah, I've studied philosophy somewhat but most of it is just reading for fun. ;P

In regards to your question, I'm not entirely sure. It seems to me that if something begins to exist, it can't be "necessary" in a metaphysical sense. I mean, if something began to exist, then *what* it is and *whether* it is are two different things. It has a distinct essence and existence. And being a composite of essence and existence, I don't see how it's necessary. But it depends what you mean by "necessary" I guess?
Posted by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
When Aquinas says "science" he doesn't mean like empirical science. Any set of knowledge is a sort of science for him. Anyways, since he thinks theology deals with the highest truths, it's the highest science.

Also, that's complete bull crap about appealing to tradition. There's THOUSANDS of pages where he shows that the unmoved mover has all the qualities of God.

Here.. start scrolling on this link: http://dhspriory.org...
And this one.. http://dhspriory.org...
And this one...http://dhspriory.org...

Ooh, and this one where he talks about how it's impossible to show the world is eternal is very interesting. http://dhspriory.org...

And yet, Dawkins tells us "there's absolutely no reason to think that the unmoved mover is God". Yeah, apart from the thousands of pages Aquinas wrote, the thousands of pages all the Neo-Thomists have written like Garrigou Lagrange's works... So maybe Dawkins means to say "no reason to think that the unmoved mover is God, BESIDES the thousands and thousands of pages written to prove this". A slip of the pen perhaps, no?
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Sagey
I couldn't think if William Lane Craig's favorite Fallacy, but now I have it.

Argumentum ad Populum

This fallacy he commits every debate, usually within the first 3 minutes of his arguments.
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Sagey
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Sagey
My Definition for Theology Is: Aberrant, Philosophy, Biased To Support A Delusional Conclusion.
The Dictionaries Generally Define Theology As: A Study Of The Mind Of God.

Though even Aquinas agreed that God cannot be truly known by Man, Theology must be more of a Conjecture (priori) rather than a study based on actual evidence and objective experience (posteriori ), even though Aquinas considered his Cosmological Argument posteriori, which it appears to be for the first 2 ways, though the third way was priori, which assumed God because "But This Everyone Calls A God". His Fourth Way reverts back to Anselm's Ontological argument with the "Maximally" great Entity which is purely Subjective or a priori position.

There is Nothing ever scientific about Such Aberrant, Delusional Philosophy called Theology.
Essentially all Theology produces is Nonsense and Lies. Such is all William Lane Craig has ever produced in his life and Debates.

Over here we call Theology or the Study of the Mind Of God as: Pondering Porkies.
And we call Apologists like William Lane Craig: Porky Producers

There is no use in the world for Theology.
It should be wiped from all publicly funded institutions and only allowed in Privately Funded Religious Education Institutions.
Because, essentially it is a Nonsense Subject.

You might as well learn Spiderman Theology or Pondering The Mind Of Spiderman.
It would make just as much sense.
Aye M8z!
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Sagey
The main reason I grew a dislike for Aquinas was his concept that Theology is the greatest of Sciences, when in fact Theology is never Science and cannot ever be Scientific.
Thus I started to consider Aquinas as a bit delusional for having such a stupid concept and the more I read of his work, the more I considered him somewhat insane.

Though he was far more rational than most apologists, especially Anselm, I suppose rational influences from Aristotle helped him a bit.
Aquinas was right in many aspects, but Wrong in many other aspects, and his concepts may have been relevant in his day, but not in the present day.
Such as he installed God as the primary mover in the Creation of the cosmos because he considered that every man would (traditionally) think of it as being God, so it was essentially an Appeal To Tradition Fallacy, which does not apply in the modern day.
Had Aquinas lived today, his conclusion would have to be different, thus Aquinas is irrelevant in the modern world.
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Sagey
Though I wonder why zmikecube is supporting William Land Craig, when Craig's arguments are not good philosophically, Craig is essentially a Nutjob.

He relies on a concoction of Fallacies to support his nonsense.

Though his favorite is Strawman in combination with Appeal to False Authority, Fallacies, where he misrepresents the position of Scientists, Geologists, Historians, Philosophers and The General Public with statements like:
"Most (Scientists, Historians, Philosophers, People, etc..) Agree with, " (his proposal/conclusion/Statement)"
When in Fact they don't agree, as he never produces evidence that Most of anything agree, sometimes he cites one Scientist, but often that scientist is at odds with the rest of the world's scientists, so essentially he is making Strawmen out of those he cites and proposing essentially a False Appeal to Authority, which is convincing for the layperson, but not for those of us that know Science.
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by The_Scapegoat_bleats 3 years ago
The_Scapegoat_bleats
Rational_Thinker9119zmikecuberTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I don't understand how people can give points to either side. Both are off the point, disregarding the definition that the ONLY attribute to be discussed is "omniscience". Both left the topic with their extended arguments about God being a temporal being. I had high hopes for this debate, but sadly it fell off the cliff. Hence, this is a tie, as both had evenly good spelling, sources were irrelevant (since this is a discussion about God) and both had fair enough conduct.
Vote Placed by iamanatheistandthisiswhy 3 years ago
iamanatheistandthisiswhy
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Reasons for voting decision: Very good debate, however I find Pros argument flawed as it can only hold true if we redefine omniscience to be able to gain and lose all knowledge with time progression. However, this is not what omniscience means as Con showed with the arguments presented. It was always going to be a difficult task to get around the prima facie argument, in fact I would say impossible without a new definition set. Great debate again, and congratulations to Con.
Vote Placed by Sagey 3 years ago
Sagey
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Reasons for voting decision: Overall, I found this a good, well structured debate, though,Pro did not convince me, extra knowledge entering the set of all knowledge that exists, dose not seem logical, if God knew all knowledge that exists (omniscient) then where can extra knowledge come from, it must exist elsewhere and thus God is not omniscient. The Set/Subset argument is not convincing at all. Either God is omniscient or he is not. Wonder if God knows what the embarrassment of premature ejaculation feels like, oops, damn, God is no longer Omniscient. LOL! Con's argument regarding God and time must assume that God is outside of time in order to be Omniscient, as if he is inside time, he cannot be aware of all knowledge thus cannot be Omniscient so Con's argument made more rational sense even though the topic is somewhat Subjective and thus Irrational.
Vote Placed by Juan_Pablo 3 years ago
Juan_Pablo
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Reasons for voting decision: Con simply made more sensible, logical points. In order for God to gain knowledge he must not be omniscient. I understood what Pro was arguing with his definition of omniscient, but I actually think he could have used a better word to describe his view of God, like "semiscient" or "quasiscient"--both indicating God does not know everything there is to know. Good debate though.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 3 years ago
whiteflame
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Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments.
Vote Placed by johnlubba 3 years ago
johnlubba
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro ignores most of Con's arguments even when Con made every effort to clearly explain them, but it still went way over his head and his attempt to rebuttal Con was feeble, Con gave many examples which showed that even if something was to change at any point in time or in the future, God still would have knowledge of all possible outcomes before hand, regardless of switching from one outcome to another, I felt that after Con gave this simplistic formula, P1: The totality of all possible knowledge is something which is always changing P2: God knows the totality of all knowledge C: God knows something which is always changing.....That there was no where for Pro to turn. Con did an excellent job of dismantling Pro's arguments. there was nowhere to go from here on for PRO
Vote Placed by CJKAllstar 3 years ago
CJKAllstar
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's predominant argument about God gaining knowledge was defeated fairly succinctly. Also, Pro's lack of definition meant that I could not really heed what he said about God being in time. God can be seen as transcendent and immanent at the same time, and the idea of God in itself is subjective. Without a definition, I can only go by my view on God, or the popular mentality I know of. But as I mentioned before in one of my previous debates, a popular mentality is cultural and biased, but I'm afraid there is nothing I can do about that. I did think zmikecuber had stronger arguments and I did notice Pro write, "ect.", instead of "etc."