The Problem of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freewill: Critical Analysis of Classical Solutions on the Basis of Zagzebski's Opinion

Document Type : Research Paper


1 MSc. Holder, Department of Philosophy of Religion, Mofid University, Qom, Iran

2 Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Mofid University, Qom, Iran


The Problem of the incompatibility between Divine foreknowledge and Human free will, known as "the theological fatalism", is one of the most important and complicated philosophical problems in the tradition  of Abrahamic religions. According to this problem, Divine’s infallible foreknowledge of human actc makes them necessary, and hence unfree. In this paper, after explaining the formulation of the problem by Linda Zagzebski, we will criticise three traditional solutions to the problem: the Boethian solution, the Okhamist solution and the Molinist solution. Since one of presupossitions of the problem is God’s everlastingness in time, the Boethian approach tries to solve the problem by rejecting this supposition and assuming that God’s foreknowledge is atemporal. The Okhamists make a distinction between hard facts and soft facts, and try to solve the problem by showing that God’s foreknowledge is a soft fact. According to the Molinists, the problem is solved if the transferring of past necessity is rejected. It will be shown, however, that the main problem of some of these solutions is that they have wrongly assumed temporality of God's knowledge. It is also shown that although the Boethian solution assumes the timelessness of God's Knowledge, cannot solve the problem. At the end, it will be mentioned that having free will is an existential constituent of humans and that human will is throughout the Divine will and knowledge; that is, althogh Divine knowledge is at the top of causal chain, human free will is one of the conditions of establishing free actions. So, Divine foreknowledge is not incompatible with human free will.


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