Collingwood on God and the Future

"looking at history as a succession of detached events temporally distinct, [Christ] cannot know the future; future history, actions, events generally he cannot foretell. But this is simply because, taking history in this abstract way, the future is positively undetermined, non-existent as yet, unknowable; God himself cannot know it. On the other hand, if history means the discovery of absolute truth and the development of God's purposes, the divine man will stand at the centre of it and know it past and future, from within..." -- Religion and Philosophy, p. 157


  1. I am happy with this post, Gene. I think he reconciles our positions.

    (A) If we define the future such that it is unknowable, then God can't know it. I have no problem with this claim; how could I?

    (B) If we define the future as unfolding according to God's purposes, then He of course knows the future. My addition: This is clearly what the Bible teaches, so clearly the God of the Bible knows the future.

    Are you OK with the above? To repeat in all of this, I'm not saying you are wrong, I just want you to admit that your position is unorthodox.

    1. Yes, my position is unorthodox.

      As I read him, Collingwood is saying God doesn't know the future in terms of particular details, especially our choices, because these haven't been made yet, and thus are "undetermined." But he knows it in terms of its broad direction: that would allow all sorts of prophecy, i think.

    2. Oops OK you're right, I saw what I wanted to see, I guess. I thought he was giving alternative definitions, but I now agree with you that he seems to think that if history is a succession of events, then the future must be unknowable.

      So, I disagree with this.


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