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How Does God Know Us?

The following is a discussion post I made this evening following a reading from the Summa in my Philosophy of Religion course:

Any religious action leads us to wonder whether God sees us, how God knows us, etc.. When people do evil, they assume that there is no God, or that, if there is, He cannot see or know what they are doing. Yet, this thinking denies the essence of what it means for God to be God.

As the First Cause of all things, God must know us and must know everything about us because our design was present in Him before we were actually made.

St. Thomas says the following, which I think is quite profound:

“God sees Himself in Himself, because He sees Himself through His essence; and He sees other things not in themselves, but in Himself; inasmuch as His essence contains the similitude of things other than Himself.”

This thought challenges us to think of one another not as disconnected individuals with our own interests and ends, but as fellow creatures, designed by God and foreknown by God. When we see another person, we see a person whose design existed in the mind of God before time began, who was made to be born and to live at the same time and in the same place we were.

Aquinas says

“Effects pre-exist in God, as in the First Cause.””

Thus, God knows us not as we know one another, but as the Maker of a thing knows it, by its design and end. Jesus could say that “the very hairs of your head are all numbered” because they must be since they were designed by God and caused to exist.

Wisdom, which seeks to know the causes of things, would be interested in knowing man in this way, as God knows him. If we learn to think of one another in this way, our behavior towards one another would radically change.

This, in my opinion, is one of the strongest argument for Aquinas’ teaching, namely, that it teaches us why we should value eachother and how we might actually be able to love one another.

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