Nature of Divine Omniscience


Feb 1, 2009
In Islam, there is an convenient term for all religions that feature Yahweh as their main or only deity, namely 'Religions of the Book'. Three religions fall under this term; Islam, of course, as well as Judaism and its later offshoot, Christianity. Several interesting common traits are found among Religions of the Book - Abraham as an important figure, Deuteronomic law (in several modified or similar forms), their descriptions of Yahweh, or God, and the Genesis story.
All three religions describe Yahweh as omniscient, which is to say that the deity has holds all possible knowledge in and of the universe. With this in mind, the first question that occurs to me concerns the Book of Job (which does not feature in any Islamic scriptures, but is still relevant to the question); If God has all knowledge of future events, why does he give permission, if not wager with Satan to test Job's faith? Surely, God would know the nature of Job's faith already? The immediate conclusion to take would be that God is in fact not omniscient. However, several other possible answers occurred to me; one was that Yahweh had not done this to benefit his own knowledge, but rather Satan's, who had originally presented the challenge; an extension of this logic leads me to the theory that both Satan and Job's trials were tools used by God to prove his sovereignty of Creation, as well as Good and Evil (encapsulated in the famous Biblical line, "The LORD giveth, and the LORD taketh away."), thus benefiting mankind. I should indicate, before making my next point, that some schools of thought do not consider the Satan in the Book of Job to be the Satan, or Lucifer, but rather a title for an Angelic position - Satan literally translates to 'the accuser', and denotes an angel who has the purpose of seeking the evils of mankind. However, when it is taken that Satan means Lucifer in the context of the Book of Job, it supports the first conclusion - that is to say, Lucifer would not wager with an omniscient God. A possible rebuttal to this statement would be that Lucifer is self-destructive, or is imperfect in his knowledge, or assertion thereof, of God.
A second question would return to the Genesis story, common amongst all Abrahamic religions. When God creates Eden, he places the Tree of Knowledge (of Good and Evil) in the center of the garden, and instructs Adam and Eve to not eat of the fruit of the Tree. What I then wonder is, if Adam and Eve had no knowledge of Good and Evil before eating the fruit of the tree, then they could not have known that disobeying God would be evil in itself - effectively, the serpent only counter-commanded God's commandment. An amoral Eve, and later, Adam, would not have been able to make any type of moral judgement call on the nature of eating the fruit. So what does this indicate of the nature of Yahweh himself? Again, immediate conclusions would indicate that God is not omniscient; alternatively, one could conclude that God knew this, and thus specifically engineered the Fall of Mankind. However, most, if not all sects of the Religions of the Book justify this by saying that the Fall was engineered in order to create true free will, thus lifting mankind out of limbo - in effect, creating the race of Man and allowing them to experience joy and sorrow - the human condition. At this point, I feel I must point something out: if Yahweh is omniscient, he would know the future actions and fate of every single human being; which then begs the question, does free will exist under an omniscient God?
What are your thoughts on this topic?