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14. God's Knowledge

1. Knowledge is a perfection. It is a pure or unmixed perfection, for it involves in its concept no necessary limitation. Now, since God is infinitely perfect, all pure perfections exist in him formally or as such, and also eminently as identified with his undivided essence. Therefore in God there is infinite knowledge. More accurately, God is infinite knowledge.

2. God knows himself perfectly. This is only saying that God is himself. For God's knowledge is not something which God has; God's knowledge is what God is.

3. God's knowledge of himself is therefore comprehensive, that is, it perfectly embraces the complete knowability of the thing known. Thus, in our limited and imperfect mode of expression, we say that God knows himself to the infinite extent of his boundless know-ability.

4. God's intellect or understanding is another name for God's essence and substance. In God, intellect, object of intellect, intelligible species (that is, the representation by which an intellect is aware of reality), and the operation of understanding, are all identified with the undivided essence and substance of God.

5. God knows all things other than himself, that is, all creatures, actual and possible; for infinite knowledge lacks nothing that can be known. In knowing himself, God knows his infinite power to create, and therefore knows all things creatable. And God knows his own will to create, and therefore knows all creatures that have existed, now exist, or are to exist. Thus in knowing himself, God knows all things other than himself. Our human knowledge is gained by learning; we know things not by knowing ourselves, but by becoming aware of things in themselves. God knows things eternally; man knows things only after the things are there, and are brought into the range of his knowing powers. God's knowledge is creative; man's knowledge is receptive.

6. God knows all things with perfect clarity, distinctness, and in fullest detail, and not in a mere general way. For infinite knowledge is comprehensive; it is identified with God's essence, and therefore is most perfect in all respects.

7. God does not need to reason, that is, to think things out. God does not know things by inferring one from another. Nor does God know things successively, one after another. Since God's knowledge of things is one with his essence, it is necessarily eternal, infinite, complete, comprehensive, and simultaneous.

8. Since God's knowledge of creatures is one with his will to create them (for intellect and will are one in the divine simplicity) this knowledge is truly the cause of creatures. And, since God's knowledge of creatures can be seen as the approval of his will to create, this creative knowledge is called "the knowledge of approbation."

9. God knows all things actual and possible, God beholds in eternal (and hence, present) vision all things that have been, are now, and will be. This is called God's "knowledge of vision". God also knows all possible things that have never been, are not now, and never will be; this is God's "knowledge of simple intelligence".

10. God knows all things, all being. Therefore God knows all good. And God, by that fact, knows where good is lacking; therefore God knows evil. For evil is the lack or privation of good that should be present.

11. God's knowledge is most perfect because it is one with himself. There is in it no vagueness, no confusion; it is complete to the last detail of knowable reality. God knows all things in their being, their relations actual and possible, their classes, their individuality, their parts or elements. He knows all that things are, and all that they could be, and all that they would be in any circumstances and under any conditions.

12. By his knowledge of vision, God knows all the thoughts of men and angels which will go on unceasingly forever. In this sense, God knows "infinite things".

13. God knows by his knowledge of vision what are called future contingencies, that is, things that will exist or will happen in the future, dependently on the action of non-necessitated causes. For instance, God knows what I shall say or do, or what persons I shall meet, at a given moment a year or ten years hence. These things are contingent (or dependent) upon the humanly unforeseeable action of free wills and upon fortuitous circumstances; they are future things, and they are contingent; hence they are rightly called future contingencies. These things are not merely what may happen; they are what will happen. Hence they are knowable as facts, and God knows them by his knowledge of vision.

14. God knows all the essences of things; therefore he knows all that can be truly said about all things. God knows all subjects and predicates that can be brought together in true statements or propositions about things, and he knows the propositions themselves.

15. God's knowledge is invariable or changeless for it is one with his changeless essence. God does not learn, nor need to learn; God does not forget. In God there is neither accession of knowledge, nor loss of knowledge.

16. Knowledge is called speculative when it is the awareness of what is so. Knowledge is called practical when it is the awareness of what to do. God's knowledge of himself is speculative. God's knowledge of things other than himself is both speculative and practical. God's knowledge of evil is practical inasmuch as God knows how to prevent evil, or to permit it and direct it so that good may come of it.

"Obedience is the true holocaust which we sacrifice to God on the altar of our hearts."
St Philip Neri

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"The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary consists in hearing the word of God and living by it."
R. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

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"It is well to choose some one good devotion, and to stick to it, and never to abandon it."
St Philip Neri

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