Some people have sought to do away with the Problem of Evil by adopting a position known as “open-theism”. In the most common form, open-theism says that God doesn’t know the future as it relates to the free choices of humans. Another way of putting it, God doesn’t know the the future free actions of humans.
Now I personally think that this sort of view flies in the face of an ordinary and traditional reading of Scripture. In other words, at first glance it appears that such a position like open-theism is not biblical. Not only that, it seems to be unbiblical or against orthodox teaching. However, my main concern is with the philosophical problems with a view like open-theism.
The typical response from the open-theist is that God didn’t know in advance that Adam would fall into sin, nor did he know that such things like the Holocaust would happen in advance because God doesn’t have the knowledge of future events that involve the free choices of humans.
So how can we blame God if He didn’t know that these things were going to happen? The open-theist might argue that it would be like blaming Hitler’s parents for conceiving of Hitler, even though they didn’t know in advance that he would be such a monster. I do agree that in one sense we usually can’t just go around blaming people for things they didn’t know were going to happen. I can’t blame Hitler’s parents because they didn’t know.
But the problem with the open-theist view is that God now knows what’s going on with suffering in the present. So why doesn’t God do anything about it on the open-theist view? Sure, He didn’t know about it before it happened but that doesn’t mean He shouldn’t do anything now that He in fact knows about it. God sees what’s going on in the death camps, during the Holocaust. Why doesn’t God end it on the open-theist view? Likewise, Hitler’s parents had a moral obligation to stand up against Hitler and his views once they were actualized and presently known.
Maybe God didn’t know for certain that specifically bad things were going to happen. But why does someone have to be certain or “know” that something is going to happen? There are a lot of situations where I don’t know for certain that a bad thing is going to happen but that doesn’t get me off the hook because I don’t know very much at all with certainty. I don’t know with certainty that suffering is going to happen tomorrow, but I have a pretty darn good intuition that there’s probably going to be some suffering tomorrow. Therefore, I’m obligated to help those in need by giving money and sacrificing my time. Similarly, God not knowing doesn’t seems to get Him off the hook, considering it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what Hitler was planning.
So it seems that the atheist can run the Problem of Evil, even if God doesn’t know the future actions of humans. In fact, it seems the atheist can run the Problem of Evil without even mentioning Omniscience in the first place. The fact is, suffering exists now. If God is Omnipotent and Omnibenevolent, why doesn’t He stop it now? It doesn’t matter whether He foreknew it or not. What matters is why He isn’t doing anything about it in the here and now. It’s neither “here nor there” if God foreknows suffering. God is Omnipotent and can destroy suffering in the blink of an eye.
Finally, one wonders how Omniscient God is if He doesn’t know what humans will do. This would seem to be a rather weak view of Omniscience if it is even Omniscience to begin with. Why is it just human actions that God doesn’t foreknow? For the open theist, why is it not impossible that God doesn’t know any future thing that is going to happen?
In fact, the open-theist view of God makes God look rather weak and not the God of traditional/classical theism. God is sitting idly by and is surprised by everything that is happening in regards to human choice. I don’t know about you, but that’s not really comforting. Even if the open-theist view did solve the Problem of Evil, which it doesn’t, it makes bigger problem with God insofar as God is just as much in the dark as you and me. Don’t rest assured that God knows best because God doesn’t even know what you and me are going to choose tomorrow. Not only does God not know our choices, He’s ultimately not even in control as a result.