Augustine, in dialogue with Evodius, gives an argument that God’s foreknowledge of all things is compatible with the existence of freedom of the will. I will examine this argument, present an objection to it, and then defend my objection.
Evodius raises the concern that it cannot be possible for God to foreknow our actions and yet that we have free will. His argument takes a basic form. If God is omnipotent, he foreknows what I’ll do. If God foreknows what I’ll do, I cannot do otherwise. If I cannot do otherwise, I have only one option. If I have free will, however, I must have more than one option. Hence if God is omnipotent, there is no free will.
Augustine responds with an argument that God’s foreknowledge does not cause you to do what you do; only that it predicts your action. Hence, by analogy, God’s foreknowledge is compatible with free will just as “your memory does not force the past to have happened”. Augustine argues that if you foreknow someone is going to sin, that does not mean that you have forced that someone to sin. Hence the person is still responsible for his sinning, and has done it freely.
This argument seems valid; my objection is not against its validity. However, it fails to address the possibility that even if the entity with foreknowledge is not causing the act, causal necessity still exists. It is in the definition of foreknowledge, true foreknowledge, that what it foretells infallibly comes about. Hence, any foreknowledge about my actions requires that I not do otherwise. We see, then, that Evodius’ argument stands valid, and that Augustine’s response does no philosophical work to disprove it. To clarify this, consider the following: could there be a world with foreknowledge, and no necessity? Suppose we suspend our belief in the causal necessity of determinism, or in free will; imagine the following example: you are at a vending machine, and you have two choices. You may select either X or Y. You make your selection, X. Three...