Is God’s Knowledge Discursive?

Hello all and welcome to Deeper Waters. I thank you all for your prayers as while I am still unemployed, I have heard news today about income coming in from another place, reminding me of Esther. God does provide in his providence. I do still seek your prayers however. We’re talking tonight about the doctrine of God further and our guide for this has been the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. We’re studying the topic of God’s knowledge. If you’d like to read in the Summa for yourself, you can do so at For now, let’s get to our question of the night.

Is God’s knowledge discursive? First off, what do we mean? Well we mean by this that it is first this and then that. God knows one thing and then he knows another thing. I throw a stone into a pond, I know where the stone hits, ripples will come out, but I do not know where the stone will hit. Once the stone hits, it is then that I know where the ripples will come out.

For those in the sciences, the effects are often seen first and then one reasons back from the effects to the cause. This happens in medicine often. A patient comes in to see the doctor with a condition. He describes it to the doctor and the doctor reasons from the symptoms, the effects, to the cause.

The other way we can think like this is also when we go from one thing to another thing in our thinking. There are some of us who can quite easily be distracted when we do something. I, for instance, am watching a forum I participate in right now as well as having IMs going. When I return, my mind is on the blog, but it is too easy to be distracted. Many of us would love to not be distracted from God, who Jesus says we need to keep in mind implicitly in Matthew 6:25-33.

This is not the case for God however. Why? God knows all things by knowing himself, the one. He knows the effects as they are in the cause. He also does not switch from one to another. This has been established because we’ve already seen that God is eternal and to have knowledge discursively would be for God to go from the unknown to the known.

God then knows all things in one eternal now. Because of this, he cannot know something discursively as he would then have to come to knowledge that exists outside of him, which would mean he could not be his knowledge and could not be simple, but we have already shown that he is. This is once again the importance of building our doctrine of God on other prior doctrines. Aquinas did not put this together accidentally. He had an order. We make a mistake if we try to question one part without considering the ramifications for the other parts.

We conclude then that God knows all that he knows in the eternal now.

We shall continue tomorrow.

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