Necessary World Theology is a framework that essentially states that the world that actually exists is a necessary outworking of God’s nature. And therefore, the only possible universe.
Historically, theologians have ascribed to God four “omnis”: omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolance.
NWT suggests that God needs only three. This is because omnipresence and omniscience are the same thing.
Before drawing this point out, it should be understood that, under NWT, God’s omnipresence does not simply extend to space, but also to time. That is to say, God is instant across time, existing simultaneously in every moment.
Now to say that God is omnipresent in both space and time is to say that he is consciously experiencing all items and events simultaneously. This allows God to have perfect knowledge of all things since, at any given moment, he is perfectly experiencing the thing about which he knows.
One way to think about this is to imagine the concept of perspective. A person looking out the window of an airplane has a much different perspective than the person on the ground looking up at the airplane. Neither perspective is more profound or correct than the other. They both yield different information about actual reality – albeit limited to the perspective from which they look.
God, however, is simultaneously looking out at the universe from the smallest particle, and sitting above the universe looking down upon that particle.
God is also described as he who “searches mind and heart,” [Revelation 2:23]. This implies that, not only does God have access to his perspective on reality, but is also equally aware of the perspective of all human beings. God may look down from the sky upon the child, and also look through the child’s eyes upon the sky.
This access God has to the perspective of all free-will creatures is important to the concept of self justification. Under NWT, God’s perfection is revealed through the way in which free-will creatures act and respond within a reality governed by his nature.
If a person attempts to grab the reigns of life and free himself from the rules and absolutes that govern reality according to God’s perfect nature, and that man were to somehow find a way to escape God’s nature, then God is proven to be less than absolute and perfect.
The fact that no free will creature is able through any thought or action to escape God’s nature and law reveals the absolute-ness and perfection of God’s nature.
With access to the thoughts and perspectives of every free-will creature, God achieves perfect self-knowledge – not only from within himself, but also from the way in which others think and act within the reality he has created.
One may argue that, if God needed to create in order to have perfect self-knowledge, that this means that God was, at some point, less than absolute in his knowledge.
This argument is defeated when one takes into account God’s eternality. Because he is omnipresent in every moment of reality, God has always had access to this knowledge. And because creation is an eternal act of God, this knowledge was not achieved through some act God took, only because creation was already an aspect of God’s nature, and therefore God’s nature already included this knowledge.
Knowledge of counterfactuals is knowledge of what might have happened under other circumstances. That is to say, does God have perfect knowledge of what might have happened if free-will creature X had chosen to act in some way other than what they actually acted.
For instance, if Joe decided to have bacon and eggs instead of cereal, how would this have affected reality?
If God’s omnipresence is also his omniscience, could he possibly have knowledge of counterfactuals?
One thing to keep in mind when asking this question is that NWT states that the universe couldn’t possibly be other than it is due to God’s absolute and abiding nature.
That said, it is certainly within the realm of God’s wisdom – in his perfect knowledge of the mind and nature of every individual – to know how this individual would have acted under different circumstances. A God who is able to simultaneously have perspective of every particle in the universe in relationship to every other particle in the universe would be able to know how those particles would interact if they had collided.
While predictive power is certainly within the realm of God’s perfect wisdom, it is not perfect knowledge in the same way as experiencing actual events, because this would be an event contrary to God’s perfect nature – that is to say, an imperfect event in an impossible universe.