Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-dknvm Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-03-03T13:14:33.028Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

God, fatalism, and temporal ontology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 July 2009

Department of Philosophy, King's College, Wilkes-Barre, PA18711


Theological incompatibility arguments suggest God's comprehensive foreknowledge is incompatible with human free will. Logical incompatibility arguments suggest a complete set of truths about the future is logically incompatible with human free will. Of the two, most think theological incompatibility is the more severe problem; but hardly anyone thinks either kind of argument presents a real threat to free will. I will argue, however, that sound theological and logical incompatibility arguments exist and that, in fact, logical incompatibly is the more severe problem. A deep analysis of the arguments will reveal that, to avoid a fatalist conclusion, we must reject bivalence and adopt a specific kind of temporal ontology (presentism), which also forces the theist to embrace open theism.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Adams, Marilyn McCord & Norman, Kretzmann (trans.) (1983) William of Ockham: Predestination, God's Foreknowledge, and Future Contingents, 2nd edn (Indianapolis IN: Hackett).Google Scholar
Alston, William P. (1985) ‘Divine foreknowledge and alternative conceptions of human freedom’, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 18, 1932.Google Scholar
Armstrong, D. M. (2004) Truth and Truthmakers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
Bernstein, Mark (2002) ‘Fatalism’, in Kane, Robert (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Free Will (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 6581.Google Scholar
Bourne, Craig (2004) ‘Future contingents, non-contradiction and the law of excluded middle’, Analysis, 64, 122128.Google Scholar
Crisp, Thomas (2003) ‘Presentism’, in Loux, Michael and Zimmerman, Dean (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 211245.Google Scholar
Dummett, Michael (2004) Truth and the Past (New York: Columbia University Press).Google Scholar
Fischer, John Martin (ed.) (1989) God, Foreknowledge, and Freedom (Stanford CA: Stanford University Press).Google Scholar
Fischer, John Martin (ed.) (1994) The Metaphysics of Free Will (Oxford: Blackwell), 140154.Google Scholar
Fischer, John Martin (ed.) (2002) ‘Frankfurt-type examples and semi-compatibilism’, in Kane, Oxford Handbook of Free Will, 281308.Google Scholar
Frankfurt, Harry (1969) ‘Alternate possibilities and moral responsibility’, Journal of Philosophy, 46, 829839.Google Scholar
Freddoso, Alfred J. (1982) ‘Accidental necessity and power over the past’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 63, 5468.Google Scholar
Ginet, Carl (1996) ‘In defense of the principle of alternate possibilities: why I don't find Frankfurt's argument convincing’, Philosophical Perspectives, 10, 403417.Google Scholar
Hasker, William (1998) God, Time, and Knowledge (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press).Google Scholar
Johnson, David Kyle (2006) ‘Divine omniscience and the fatalist dilemma’ (University of Oklahoma: unpublished Ph.D dissertation).Google Scholar
Kane, Robert (ed.) (2002a) The Oxford Handbook of Free Will (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
Kane, Robert (2002b) Free Will (Malden MA: Blackwell)Google Scholar
Kane, Robert (2002c) ‘Free will: new directions for an ancient problem’, in idem Free Will, 222248.Google Scholar
Keller, Simon (2004) ‘Presentism and truthmaking’, in Zimmerman, Dean (ed.) Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, I (Oxford: Clarendon-Press), 83–104.Google Scholar
Lewis, C. S. (2001) ‘Time and beyond time’, in idem Mere Christianity (San Francisco CA: HarperOne), 166171.Google Scholar
Markosian, Ned (1999) ‘A compatibilist version of the theory of agent causation’, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 80, 257277.Google Scholar
Mele, Alfred & David, Robb (1998) ‘Rescuing Frankfurt-style cases’, Philosophical Review, 107, 97–112.Google Scholar
Merricks, Trenton (2006) ‘Good-bye growing block’, in Zimmerman, Dean (ed.) Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, II (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).Google Scholar
Molina, Luis de (1998) On Divine Foreknowledge, Freddoso, Alfred J. (tr.) (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press).Google Scholar
Newhard, Jay (2004) ‘The correspondence intuition’ (University of Oklahoma, Department of Philosophy Colloquia).Google Scholar
Pike, Nelson (1965) ‘Divine omniscience and voluntary action’, The Philosophical Review, 74, 2746.Google Scholar
Pinnock, Clark H., Richard, Rice, Sanders, John, Hasker, William., & Basinger, David. (1994) The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God (Downers Grove IL: InterVarsity Press).Google Scholar
Plantinga, Alvin (1977) God, Freedom and Evil (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans)Google Scholar
Rea, Michael (2003) ‘Four-dimensionalism’, in Loux, Michael & Zimmerman, Dean (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 246280.Google Scholar
Rhoda, Alan, Gregory, Boyd, & Thomas, Belt (2006) ‘Open theism, omniscience, and the nature of the future’, Faith and Philosophy, 23, 432459.Google Scholar
Rice, Richard (2007) ‘Trinity, temporality, and open theism’, Philosophia, 35, 321328.Google Scholar
Rogers, Katherin (2007) ‘The necessity of the present and Anselm's eternalist response to the problem of theological fatalism’, Religious Studies, 43, 2547.Google Scholar
Saunders, John Turk (1966) ‘Of God and freedom’, Philosophical Review, 75, 219225.Google Scholar
Speak, Daniel (2002) ‘Fanning the flickers of freedom’, American Philosophical Quarterly, 39, 91–105.Google Scholar
Tooley, Michael (1997) Time, Tense, and Causation (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
Tuggy, Dale (2007) ‘Three roads to open theism’, Faith and Philosophy, 24, 2851.Google Scholar
van Inwagen, Peter (2002) ‘The incompatibility of free will and determinism’, in Kane, Free Will, 7182.Google Scholar
Widerker, David (1989) ‘Two forms of fatalism’, in Fischer, God, Foreknowledge, and Freedom, 97–110.Google Scholar
Wyma, Keith (1997) ‘Moral responsibility and the leeway for action’, American Philosophical Quarterly, 34, 5770.Google Scholar
Zagzebski, Linda (1991) The Dilemma of Freedom and Foreknowledge (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
Zagzebski, Linda (2002) ‘Recent work on divine foreknowledge and free will’, in Kane, Oxford Handbook of Free Will, 4564.Google Scholar