Does God Know Singular Things?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters as we continue our dive into the ocean of truth. We’ve been going through the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas in our goal to understand the doctrine of God in Christian theology. Spurgeon called this the highest thought any Christian could ponder and he was right. What could be pondered that could be greater than God? In Anselmian thought, that would be God, to which I could agree. If you want to follow along with us, we’re in God’s Knowledge on question 11. A copy of the Summa can be found at Tonight, we’re asking if God knows singular things.

The reason this question is asked is that God is pure actuality and is in no way material. Matter is the individuating principle however that separates holders of essences. The reason I am not you is because the matter that makes me up is not the same as the matter that makes you up.

Someone might ask “Well what about angels? Aren’t there individual angels? Angels aren’t material.” To that, we agree. However, angels are also different by essence. Each angel is its own essence. Michael is Michaelness. Angels are simply existence + whatever their essence is. They can all be spiritual beings, but they are all of a different essence.

Aquinas of course says that God does know singular things. All perfections of creatures pre-exist in God. Some of these exist actually and some virtually. The ones that exist in actuality are the ones that are not limiting principles by nature. I would include under this ones like goodness, truth, beauty, knowledge, wisdom, love, etc. Perfect “Deeper Waters Bloggerness” however does not exist in God actually since I am limited by matter and God has no limitations in him. However, the idea of who I am meant to be when I truly fulfill the role of the person God has in mind for me exists in his mind eternally.

For Aquinas, the knowledge of God extends as far as his causality extends. We spoke when we talked about the omnipresence of God that God is the cause of the existence of place. God exists in an omnipresent way not as if he was extended across space, but rather as he is the cause of every place entirely. There is no place you can go that he is not there as the full cause of that place.

God’s knowledge extends the same way in that as he is the cause of all things, including matter, he has knowledge of those things and he has knowledge of material beings simply because he knows all the ways matter can be. It is because of his being what he is that he can know all that he knows.

Our application for today? God knows you. God knows the singular you out of all the people on Earth and not only does he know you, God eternally knows you. God has known you throughout eternity and because he must know all, he cannot not know you. Rest assured if you are in difficulty, it is not because God has forgotten you.

We shall continue tomorrow.

Support Deeper Waters on Patreon!