So I was reading briefly online tonight I short post written by an open theist (someone who believes that God does not have foreknowledge and so sometimes changes His mind or plans based on our actions, thus meaning He is not all knowing and not truly all powerful). One of the key phrases in Scripture on which this particular open theist hinged his argument was where it says several times in the Old Testament that God “changed His mind”.
Now on the surface we could certainly see this as God had planned on one course of action, but then chose another, but this implies that God’s “mind” works the same way as ours. Aside from the obvious breakdown in basing an argument on an anthropomorphism, there is a deeper concern with how Christians view this passage even on more orthodox camps. That being that God thinks, processes, makes decisions, and knows in the way that we do. The human mind is an amazing thing, capable of making over 2 million billion calculations per second. Our synapses fire and we process information, that information passes through different areas of our brain, we pull on memories, experience, etc., to make our decisions, complete actions, enjoy music…even things as simple as breathing. Our brains are amazing instruments. When you add the reality of our minds as more than simply our brains, but include a particularly spiritual element that simply cannot be explained by science they become truly wondrous and complex tools we use to live our lives. God does not have that kind of mind.
God does not have synapses firing. God does not experience time as we do and thus does not have memories as we do (maybe someday another post on God “remembering” His covenant with His people). God is not making decisions in human time. He is not reacting to us the way we react to stimuli. We are not providing Him with new information that He needs to process. He does not have to ponder or wonder. When we, as many theologians have said, “think God’s thoughts after Him”, we are not following the same thought process as God, because it was not a process for God. We are bumbling and stumbling onto the trails that God has already laid through which we can come to know Him better. So if you are Moses and you are trying to come up with a phrase that says “God said one thing would happen, knowing that we would repent, and when we repented He did what He had planned to do all along, and the whole process was already know to God, but not to us” I think it makes sense to just say “God changed His mind” and expect that his readers would know not to think in terms of a human brain.
Here is a reward for making it to the end of this post: