Thursday 4 July 2024

Can God read minds?

Can God read minds, and if so - to what extent?

It seems clear that God can read minds or else prayer, for instance, would be meaningless... It seems absurd to assert that God would require thoughts to be spoken aloud, or written down. 

And if this was so, there would be the usual problem of uncertain interpretation of such indirect and symbolic media God might misunderstand!

Yet, if free will or agency is real (which, for Christians it must be), then there must be something inaccessible to God.

Yet again, it makes little sense to suppose that we could conceal our plans from God, and successfully lie to God. 

Did Satan do this, at first - did he conceal his real nature and plans from God?

My conclusion is that God knows our conscious thinking, but neither God nor our consciousness has direct knowledge of our ultimate selves. 

Thus God cannot read-off our ultimate nature, cannot know by observation and fully and for-sure - how we really are - and neither can we do so.

In other words, God can know our thinking, but our thinking is not our-self. 

Both God and our thinking only know ourselves by inference, by observing what our-self does, including what thoughts emerge from our-self.

God could only know Satan by observation and inference.. Albeit that  observation included Satan's thinking.

But this model can't be complete (no model can be complete!), especially because it has only one-way traffic from the self to consciousness, which would mean the self could not learn. 

Since the self can learn, the self can't be divided from consciousness... 

Indeed, this is another of those "polar logic" situations where self and thinking may be distinguished but not divided, since they are not separate in origin or nature... 

Both thinking and self are attributes of All Beings, but the self stands for that individual unknowability which enables agency...

That "bit" of us which God cannot read.

Thus it was that Satan deceived God as to his nature and plans. It was possible because Satan was also deceiving himself. 

Satan did not even Know himself, except by observation and inference.

And neither do we.


Lucas said...

I think direct knowledge of our true selves by another person can be had through love, but I'd agree not by thinking or reading minds. I can see that being an explanation for Christ's unique relationship with the Father and Mother.

Bruce Charlton said...

@n - I don't think you are understanding the post. Conversation closed.

WJT said...

I agree with this.

P.S. said...

I disagree that God cannot know our essential selves being that our true, essential natures, the heart of our being, is divine. As I understand it there are two worlds. The world of eternity or the divine or beingness itself and the world of time or matter or existence.

The world of eternity is stillness, silence. The world of time is motion, repetition. Human souls in the world of eternity are entranced by the appearances in the world of existence and choose to descend into time. When we arrive here we forget where we came from but feel a longing to return home to God. This longing is initially very subtle, and very difficult to articulate, but if we choose to follow it back to its source we go through a process of awakening to or realizing who we are and where we come from. If we follow the longing far enough we eventually realize that at the heart of our being is divinity, or the spark of the divine. Needless to say, God is present there, and there is no hiding our true motives or feelings from him.

-Potato Salad

Bruce Charlton said...

@PS. Yes, that's the oneness metaphysics, neo-platonism, ultimately the same as Hindu or Buddhist metaphysics.

I've very frequently discussed this here (if you want to explore, use the search box top left, for key words).

These are possible assumptions, but I believe they are false. Also they exclude the possibility of free agency, and render this mortal life futile. Indeed, individuality is merely illusion.

If the implications are rigorously explored, to espouse such truth is therefore incoherent. If sincere it would imply silence, stasis, and thus indirect suicide.

In the end its about our bottom line intuitions of what is real, and whether the implications of these intuitions are also intuitive.

P.S. said...

"...that's the oneness metaphysics"

Yes, but what you call "oneness metaphysics" I understand to be attempts by experiencers of profound spiritual states to put into words those states and the various realizations and epiphanies that inevitably occur.

"Hindu or Buddhist"

I'm a magician and articulate my understanding of the nature of reality (meager though it is)in terms drastically different (and occasionally at odds with) any oriental conception.

"they exclude the possibility of free agency, and render this mortal life futile. Indeed, individuality is merely illusion"

Indeed not! We always have the ability to choose. After all, how did one come into existence unless by choice? Was that choice a mistake? An ideal mistake if so, as coming into the world of time affords us an opportunity to carry something with us back into eternity. Whatever within us that was aligned with the good the true and the beautiful is carried with us back into eternity. All that is not aligned with God is cast off like chaff from the harvest. This means that some of us will carry a bountiful harvest into eternity and some a quite meager one.

Individuality is with us now, in the world of appearance, as well as after we die and return to the divine. You will be in union with the Godhead and you will be you. When you are in the world of existence Beautiful thoughts, visions, dreams ideas, conceptions arise in your soul when we are aligned with the good. Just so in the afterlife. Creativity, love, joy flow from the divine like water from a fountain.

-Potato Salad

Bruce Charlton said...

@PS I know, like and respect Dion Fortune and Gareth Knight. Nonetheless, their Neoplatonic metaphysics do not cohere with their worldly ethics beliefs and practice of esoteric Christianity. (If You aren't Christian then I presume you do not want resurrected eternal Heavenly life, and maybe seek "Nirvana" or similar.)

DS said...

I’m often troubled by sinful thoughts that I would never ever put into action. (Thoughts sent by Satan?) God obviously knows about these thoughts. Really hard to stop “thinking sinfully” though!

Bruce Charlton said...

@DS - "hard to stop “thinking sinfully”" - It isn't "hard", it's impossible. Even the greatest of Saints attest to this - indeed they dwell upon it with emphasis.