I know but I don’t know

It’s a fact little known to all but a very few Molinist philosophers that, before God created the Universe, he did R&D work on some small offline models. Like any software engineer or web developer, he designed these very small universes to test subroutines that would be incorporated in the full release version.

One eternity, the archangel Gabriel noticed God crouched intently over his work bench, and asked, “Lord, what are you working on?”

“I’ve just made a couple of test universes to check out some ideas. When I run them, all they do is a single coin toss. Maybe you can tell me which you prefer. #1 I call ‘determinism’. It’s a very simple bit of coding, and it makes the coin toss come up heads.”

And so saying, he pressed “Enter” and sure enough, a coin flipped and landed heads up. “That seems pretty straightforward,” said Gabriel, “it sounds like another name for ‘creation’ to me: you will, and it comes to be. What’s the other one about?”

“Ah, you’ll like this one, because it’s really subtle. I call #2 ‘randomness’, and it means the coin has an equal chance of landing on heads or tails.”

“That sounds cool. What’s it for?”

“I haven’t really decided yet – but I thought it would make things more, well, interesting.”

“I suppose so,” said Gabriel doubtfully. “But Lord, you know everything – do you know how the result will turn out?”

“Of course I do – it’s heads,” God replied, as he pressed “Enter” and the coin flipped and landed heads up.

Gabriel looked at God, once more bent over his bench, and then at the two universes. He examined the coding carefully for quite a while, before he turned to God, looking baffled. “Lord, those two universes look to me to be absolutely identical.”

God looked up in feigned surprise, and a small smile began to play on his lips until, suddenly he laughed uproariously. “Got it in one! We’ll make a theologian of you yet, Gabriel!” And he slapped him so hard on the back that his wings shook.


God creates randomness, but is sovereign over it, so some say. If so, Blondie captured his inevitable mindset perfectly!

Jon Garvey

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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2 Responses to I know but I don’t know

  1. Very amusing, Jon.

    However, #2 ‘randomness’ does allow Gabriel to presume that God knows everything and uses the word ‘random’ in a particular way.

    My question is this: Is God able to generate a process the outcome of which he cannot predict?

    • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

      Hi Peter

      Unless we embrace Open Theism, I don’t see how he can. Logically, there is nothing in existence except the process he creates in the universe he creates, so where could the surprise come from? This differs from human processes, where most of the universe’s processes are independent of man, but dependent moment by moment on God.

      And even human “random number generators”, when they don’t simply take the results from nature (eg recorded series of quantum events) actually contain all the information necessary to predict the results, were there time and effort to do so – they are randomness simulators. But God has to create the real thing, whilst being, according to orthodox theology, omniscient.

      Then in terms of revelation, when Isa 46.10 says God makes known the end from the beginning, his knowledge is said to encompass the actions of the most independent process we know – human choice.

      It would appear to be a similar question to that of God creating a stone he cannot lift, or using his omnipotence to create a power he cannot control. Not only is it illogical – he’d have to be pretty bored even to wish to.

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