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A Case Against Omniscience:
Infinite Regress

1. Introduction

Citation Information

Allan, Leslie 2023. A Case Against Omniscience: Infinite Regress, URL = <https://www.rationalrealm.com/philosophy/metaphysics/omniscience-infinite-regress.html>.

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FIFTH DRAFT FOR REVIEW (4 January 2023)

There is a rich literature on the philosophical problems facing classical theism's attachment to perfection-making divine attributes, such as omnipotence and omnibenevolence. (For an abbreviated list of outstanding problems, see my Allan [2023a]). In this essay, I will address two problems that arise with ascribing the attribute of omniscience to God. I will try to show that attributing this perfection-making property to God throws the theist into an inescapable infinite regress of knowing states and epistemic justifications. (I flesh out another quite separate problem with omniscience based on the impossibility of knowing everything infallibly in my Allan [2023b]).

What are the two ways in which attributing omniscience to any knower leads to an infinite regress? It is these:

  1. Omniscience leads to an infinite chain of justification that can never be completed.
  2. Omniscience leads to an infinitely expanding set of truths that can never be closed.
Is Atheism Dead? by Eric Metaxas

Now, a concept encompassing an infinite regress is not necessarily fatal. However, I will try to show that the resulting infinite regress in both cases leads to a self-contradiction. And that is fatal to any coherent notion of omniscience.

I will begin by developing the first argument that draws attention to an infinite regress of reasons for knowing. Before moving to stating my second argument, I consider a number of objections. In the fourth section, I present my case against omniscience based on an infinite regress of objects of knowledge. As with my first argument, I then respond to a number of objections.

Copyright © 2023

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