Daniel ShayFollow




Philosophical Studies


Master of Arts (MA)


Edward Martin


Divine Sovereignty, Free Will, Libertarianism


Philosophy | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


Philosophers and theologians alike have debated endlessly over the relationship between divine sovereignty and human freedom. Too often, in these debates, human freedom is either denied altogether or reduced to a compatibilist notion. Many people fear that granting humans too much freedom would destroy God's sovereignty. However, the purpose of granting humans freedom is not to elevate the creature over the Creator; rather to uphold both moral responsibility and God's justice. Any theory that preserves God's sovereignty at the expense of His justice, or makes His justice arbitrary, by sacrificing the kind of freedom that preserves moral responsibility, is not worthy to be held by any Christian. This thesis will contend that only libertarian freedom preserves moral responsibility, since only libertarian freedom preserves legitimate possibilities for the agent. However, a dilemma arises for Christians who advocate libertarian freedom: How can God know what future actions will occur if the actualization of the action is dependent on the libertarian free choice of an agent who does not yet exist? Many of the traditional attempts to preserve libertarian freedom fail because such attempts hold that the future is exhaustively settled. This raises a problem for libertarian freedom since an exhaustively settled future is one without possibilities, which libertarian freedom requires. In order to solve this dilemma, it will be argued that God decided not to determine all events. Instead, God actually gives humans options allowing for legitimate possibilities. In such a world, God knows all those things which He has determined to bring about, as well as all the possibilities He permits. The important distinction this thesis will make is that God knows future possibilities as possible until the agent exercises one's free choice.