With regard to the classic question of determinism vs.
free will, there are two basic problems.
1) The paradox -- how can we have real free will, while Hashem
obviously knows in "advance" (being out of time) all of the choices of
all of the beings who have lived over all history? and,
2) How can a loving and fair God hold us responsible for making
mistakes that God knows in "advance" are pre-determined?
The nature of "infinity", as in "the Infinity of God," and quantum
mechanics, offer some clues.
Let's say that at any moment in time, there are 1000 possible choices
we could make. Quantum mechanics tells us that not only is this
possible, but that in fact -- in the alternative-worlds theory -- we
actually make all of these choices. And of course, Hashem's*
Infinity means that Hashem is aware of all of these thousand different
"us's" (which quantum mechanics tells us come into existence
immediately at the point of choice).
From Hashem's perspective, all of the choices are pre-determined, and
so Hashem knows all of the outcomes. And of course, each
different choice opens to a different alternative universe (in quantum
mechanical terms). So, each of us, making a different choice,
finds ourselves in a world with circumstances -- via the golden rule --
to the "us" that made that choice.
We, however, actually do retain full free will, because while Hashem is
aware of all 1000 of the alternate universes that the collective "we"
find ourselves in, we can only be aware of the one choice we each made
in each life-path.
In other words, Hashem knows all the outcomes, but we only know the
outcome based on the one choice each particular one of "us" made.
From our perspective, this is the only world that exists. From
God's perspective, there are multiple -- actually infinite -- "us's",
and Hashem knows them all.
But Hashem doesn't know any more than we do which one of these
alternate choices any one of our "us's" will find itself making.
In other words -- and this is the key -- we identify ourselves, and God
identifies us, only after we make a choice. We can't know ahead
of time -- and nether can God -- which _one_ of us makes which choice,
because there aren't any alternate "one's" of us until the choice is
This holds whether or not our ability to choose, and our free will, is
real or illusory. This paradox is a result both of God's Infinity
and of the demonstrated reality of the quantum mechanical model.
Stan Tenen, June 2003
*Hashem - "The Name", a word used in the observant Jewish world
as a term for God.