The following exchange with a reader of this post is shared with permission.
I read your post about “Why did God create Satan?” and I like your comparison to the question about whether God can create a rock so big He can’t move it. That part of the post is understandable. But I still don’t see why omniscience isn’t lessened by a lack of knowledge of the outcome of an event or a decision. And even if God truly didn’t know that His greatest angel would turn against Him, why wouldn’t he just squash Satan like a bug after he did rebel? He’s going to be punished in the end, so why let him cause so much trouble on the earth in the meantime?
The following illustration might help explain what I mean when I say that it’s not a failure of omniscience not to know what cannot be known.
Someone might say, “I know all of my division tables.” So another person tests them:
“What’s 35 divided by 7?”
“What’s 12 divided by 4?”
“What’s 6 divided by 0?”
“There’s no answer to that question, because division by 0 is impossible.”
“Then you don’t really know your division tables.”
Actually, the person does know their tables. It’s not a failure for them not to know what can’t be known.
Does that make sense?
Your example about division by zero seems just like the impossibly big rock scenario. I don’t see how these logical fallacies apply to the concept of omniscience. These situations could never happen anyway. They can only be thought up.
If you mean that God created us, including the angels, with the ability to think and make decisions without His knowledge, and now, because of this, it becomes one of the impossible things for anyone to do, I think I understand your point. I just think God would have this ability.
There is still one more point: Why doesn’t God destroy Satan now because of his incessant meddling? Why must God wait until the end of the ages?
You have understood what I was trying to say: I do believe that that God created intelligent beings, including humans and angels, with the ability to think and make decisions so freely that He wouldn’t know in advance what they were going to decide, and that, because of this, knowing these outcomes in advance becomes one of the things that are impossible for anyone to do. Of course someone might believe something else, but because I believe this, I don’t think God knowingly created a being, Satan, who would inevitably cause massive destruction and evil on a planet-wide scale.
As for why Satan hasn’t already been judged, like human individuals and civilizations that have done great evil, I honestly don’t know. I can’t really come up with a scenario where this is better for us than having Satan dealt with already. But from what I do know of the character of God, by faith I consider this mystery consistent with an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving God.
OK, I do get your point now. But I’ll have to work on the all-knowing, but creating “non-readable” creatures concept.
I’d have no problem with these exchanges being posted on the blog. Others may have the same questions, and I agree with what you do in your book studies: the brontosaurus-sized elephants in the room need to be acknowledged sooner rather than later.