“We have our agency to do whatever we want and we can choose to do whatever we want to do, so God can’t be omniscient because that would take away our agency.”
It’s an argument I hear against religion all the time. It’s also a concept that is misunderstood by a lot of people and a great way to get a brief understanding of it is imagining your life is like a video game.
Before video games come into existence, a game designer (or a group of game designers) has to plan the game out. There are quests, paths, character designs, foes and villains, and options all around that the main character gets to explore. The designer knows everything about the game. All the ins and outs, paths and quests, companions and enemies–everything. I mean, it would be silly if a designer knew nothing about their own game, right?
So, now you’ve got a new game that has been designed and finished in your hot little hands. You become the main playable character and it’s awesome. There is literally a world at your fingertips to explore. And that’s exactly what you get at doing. You go through tutorials, you find tools to help you on the way, and there are even people in your game that point you in the right direction to go through the main storyline. It’s pretty simple.
Then you get sidetracked by so many things, and that’s okay because there are tons of side stories (or quests) that you can play. They don’t detract from the main story and they can give your character valuable experience points which help your character level up. It’s all part of the game. And the designer knew it.
The designer knows every path you can take because he designed it and he knows what the possible outcomes of each story will be. It doesn’t mean you can’t explore to your heart’s content to all the ends of your game map. It also doesn’t mean you can’t skip stories or get really into them. It just means someone has thought ahead and came up with dozens of solutions to each problem presented and has given the player the options of which way to go.
It sounds complicated, but reasonable, right? Well, that’s pretty much a mortal equivalent of what Heavenly Father has done for us.
He has created this amazing world full of different paths that you get to choose to follow or not and He has given you free reign over it. The first 18 years of your life are kind of like the tutorial where you find tools, and then you step out into the world and find companions to help you get places. You work on your main storyline.
Just because the Designer knows all the possible outcomes and stories, doesn’t mean He doesn’t give you the agency to go through them all. You get to choose what to go through. You get to decide if you wanna be a good guy, a villain, or somewhere in between.
The best way to get through the game is to read the instructions or walkthrough guides that have been complied by people who played before us (this applies to games and life–read your scriptures! Those are your instructions and walkthroughs.).
Agency is an amazing gift from God. It allows us to decide where we want to be and gives us the opportunities we need to grow in this life–and the next. Use it wisely.
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