It is no secret to most that I hold strongly to the Reformed doctrines of grace. But it is equally no secret that I have deep respect for the godly character and scholarship of many of the Arminian persuasion that believe differently than I. The issues that unite us a greater and more substantial than those that divide us. In other words, the Calvinism/Arminianism divide is over non-essential issues in my opinion. What I am saying is that this article is in no way meant for to put an essential line of demarcation concerning the issues of Calvinism and Arminianism. However, just because something is not essential does not mean it is not important. Therefore, I continue to write on these about such.

Yesterday, I wrote that I believe that the doctrine of Prevenient grace is the Achilles heel of Arminianism, Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodoxy (although, less so with Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism since they don’t have such a strong stance on depravity). Prevenient grace literally means “grace that comes before.” Prevenient grace is the Arminian counter to the Calvinistic doctrine of Irresistible grace.

It is important to note at the outset that both Calvinists and Arminians believe that people are born sinful. To make this a little more clear, both sides agree that all people are born with an inherent disposition of antagonism toward God. Both Calvinists and Arminians reject what is know as Pelagianism. Pelagius, a fifth-century British monk, taught that people are born neutral, neither good nor bad. Pelagius believed that people sin as a result of example, not nature. Augustine, the primary opponent of Pelagius, responded by teaching that people are not born neutral, but with a corrupted nature. People sin because it is in their nature to sin; they are predisposed to sin. Both Calvinists and Arminians agree with Augustine believing the Scriptures to teach that people are born with a totally (radically) corrupt spiritual nature, making their disposition toward God perpetually antagonistic. Therefore, according to both sides, people are absolutely helpless without God’s gracious, undeserved intervention. This is an important mischaracterization of Arminian theology that adherents to my position often fail to realize. Arminians believe in the doctrine of total depravity just as strongly as Calvinists. In contrast, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics both hold out some sense of natural ability. Therefore, they don’t believe that the will is as depraved as traditional Protestants.

This adherence to total depravity makes the Arminian doctrine of Prevenient grace necessary. A former Wesleyan theology professor of mine who believed in Prevenient grace once called it the “ingenious doctrine.” Why? Because according to Arminians it allows them to hold to the biblical position of total depravity, yet also allow true free will. You see, according to Calvinists such as myself, if people are in such desperate condition, being inclined toward enmity with God from birth, and unable to change their condition on their own (as a leopard cannot change its spots – Jer. 13:23), having no “free will” to choose against this depraved nature, then the only way to answer the question, How is anyone saved? is to answer that the will of God saves them. In other words, if our will could not change our disposition, then God must have changed our will. Up to this point, both Calvinists and Arminians agree. But the Calvinist will say that God’s intervention is radical. In our depraved state, God comes into our lives and opens our eyes to His beauty. This intervention happens by means of saving or “irresistible” grace. In our helpless and antagonistic position, while shaking our fists at God, God sovereignly and autonomously regenerates us. Once regenerated, we trust and love the Lord because our nature has been transformed by Him. Therefore, God is the only one to credit for our salvation seeing as how we did not play any part in its genesis (this is sometimes referred to as monergism). But, according to Calvinists, God does not give this gift of saving grace to all people, only the elect. Otherwise, all would be saved.

How do Arminians deal with our depraved condition? Well, they reject the Calvinistic doctrine of “irresistible” grace believing that it does violence to the necessary freedom that must exist for God to have a true loving relationship with man. But something, nevertheless, must make belief possible. In comes Prevenient grace. This is an enabling grace that comes to the aid of all people so that their disposition can be made capable of receiving the Gospel. It does not save them as the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace, but it makes the savable. In essence, Prevenient grace restores people to a state of ability. As Adam before the fall was not predisposed toward a willful rejection of God, being able to make a true free will decision, so people, once affected by Prevenient grace are brought dispositionally to Garden of Eden type conditions. God’s grace comes to the aid of all fallen sinners restoring freedom of the will. Now, it is up to the individual to make an unbiased untainted choice for or against God. Voila! With the doctrine of Prevenient grace, total depravity and true freedom can be harmonized. Ingenious, right?

I agree with Calvinist commentator and theologian Tom Schreiner that “Prevenient grace is attractive because it solves so many problems [for the Arminian] . . .” but I also believe that it creates more problems than it solves. I am going to briefly list the two major problems that I see with the doctrine of Prevenient grace, but I, as always, want to remind you that there are many great men in the history of the church and in contemporary Evangelical philosophy and theology that do not see things the way I do. I encourage you to seek out their position from them in addition to reading my analysis.

1. Lack of Scripture: The biggest issue that Calvinists have traditionally had with the doctrine of Prevenient grace is its lack of biblical support. Tom Schreiner’s quote above is incomplete; it concludes with this, “. . . but it should be rejected because it cannot be exegetically vindicated.” While Prevenient grace may solve problems and allow Arminians to hold to a biblical understanding of depravity, the biblical support for the doctrine is very difficult to find. Most Arminians would agree that direct and explicit support from Scripture is not there, but they would say that the concept is necessitated from other explicit teachings. Most importantly, God commands and desires that all people are to repent of their sin (Acts 17:30, 2 Pet. 3:9, et al) and holds them responsible if they do not. This assumes that “all people” have this ability, otherwise God’s desire is hopeless and His command is useless. While there may be some mystery in the fact that God desires the salvation of all and commands all to repent, this does not necessitate nor justify, in my opinion, the insertion of a fairy complected and even more mysterious doctrine of Prevenient grace. In other words, it could be conceded that God commands all people to repent because sin is at issue. People have violated God’s law. This necessitates God to act as God in accordance with His righteous character and reveal the violation of sin, even to those who have no ability to change on their own. In this case, God’s command is true and genuine. Even if no one were to respond, their sin is made manifest and God’s righteousness is exposed through God’s command. It can also be conceded that God does truly desire the repentance of all people, even if people do not have the ability to repent. God’s desire in this case is mysteriously not going to be an active agent in bringing about the salvation of some. Why? I don’t know. But my ignorance in this matter does not justify the implication of Prevenient grace. God can passively desire things that He does not actively will to come about.

2. It does not really solve any problems: Lets assume that we could overcome the difficulties of the lack of Scriptural support of Prevenient grace. Let’s say that I give the Arminians the benefit of the doubt and say that it is possible to interpret the biblical data in such a way that all people receive an enablement that neutralizes their antagonistic disposition toward God. God then would come to each person sometime in their lives and graciously restore their will to the point that they don’t have any predisposed inclination toward rejection or acceptance of the Gospel. What would this look like?

First, this “balancing the scales” of the will makes any choice, good or bad, for God or against, impossible. Why? Because each person would be suspended in a state of perpetual indecisiveness. They would have no reason for choosing A rather than B. Even Arminian theologian Roger Olson admitted to this in a recent post: “One thing I wrestle with about Arminianism is the mystery of free will.  I don’t know how it works.  There does seem to be an element of uncaused effect in it” (source). If there is no reason to choose one over the other, then all choices, if they were made, would be completely arbitrary (“uncaused effect”).

You see, we make choices according to who we are. If “free will” of the Arminian variety is going to be responsible for making the choice, and this will is neutralized by Prevenient grace, then there is nothing compelling you (character, upbringing, disposition, the Holy Spirit, genetics, etc.) to make any decision whatsoever. Who you are, the primary factor behind every choice, is taken away. There is no “you” to make the choice. It is arbitrary. It does not solve the “loving relationship”problem to say that God is pleased to have a relationship based upon the arbitrary decisions of people. Therefore, in order to hold to the doctrine of Prevenient grace, one is left with either perpetual indecisiveness or an arbitrary choice. Neither of which solves any problems.

Not only this, but lets do the math. Prevenient grace neutralizes the will, making the will completely unbiased toward good or evil. Therefore, this restored “free will” has a fifty-fifty shot of making the right choice. Right? This must be. The scales are completely balanced once God’s Prevenient grace has come upon a person. What would you expect to see if this were the case? Well, I can flip a coin and pretty much expect that the coin would land on heads just as many times as tails. The same should be the case with salvation. You should expect that just as many people to trust the Lord as those that don’t. But just a cursory look through Scripture tells us that this is not the case. For the most part the number of unbelievers has been dramatically higher than that of believers. Take the time of the flood for instance. How is it that out of millions of people (probably much more), there was only one who was found to be righteous? That would be like me flipping a coin a million (or more) times and it landing on tails 999,999 times and only landing on heads once. Impossible. Christ even explicitly said that there will be and always have been many more people who don’t believe than those that do (Matt. 7:14). How can this be if Prevenient grace created a situation of equal opportunity for all people? It can’t.

Now I don’t want to be accused of building a straw man here so I will attempt to represent how Arminians would respond to this. They would say that the contributing factors that influence people’s freedom are those in the outside world. As the snake came from the outside and influenced Adam’s otherwise neutral will, so also outside influences such as culture and family influence people’s will. Therefore, in the time of Noah, the reason why there was only one righteous person on the earth is because the culture had become so corrupt that God could not be found. This is why God destroyed everyone with the flood. This makes some sense, but in reality it simply re-introduces the same problem that Arminians are desperately attempting to avoid – divine unconditional election.

Let me explain. If outside influences play such a large role in influencing Prevenient-grace-restored-people in their choice for or against God, doesn’t that make God the determining factor in whether they are saved or not? If you had a choice, knowing that outside influences were going to play such a big role in the decisions you make, would you want to be born to a family of believers who teach and live the Gospel in a culture of believers that do the same, or would you rather be placed in a committed Muslim home in a Muslim country where the Gospel is unable to give a testimony of God? In other words, would you rather be placed in a Garden with the snake or without the snake? Of course you would say you want to be placed in the environment where the outside influences for belief in God would be most prominently exemplified. Why? Because you have a better chance. Maybe the odds are not perfect, but they would still be much better. Let’s face it, if you were in the preflood world at the time of Noah, as nice a person as you are today, I seriously doubt that you would have followed Noah rather than the rest of the world.

The problem is that you do not decide where you live or when you will be born. You do not determine your outside influences, God does.

Acts 17:26 26 And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.

This passage tells us that God determines the outside influences that are the ultimate influence, the determining factor, in our choice. God chose where you would be born, when, and to what family you would belong. Therefore, God’s sovereign unconditional choice is still the ultimate and determining cause in our salvation. This is the very problem that Arminians seek to avoid with the doctrine of Prevenient grace.

If Arminians were to respond by saying that God gives more grace to those in the most depraved conditions, this would not explain why it is that people in cultures and families that are godly have a higher percentage of believers. We are back to flipping the coin. It does not work either way.

In conclusion, I don’t believe that there is a reason for to entertain the doctrine of Prevenient grace outside of a presupposed view of what some believe must be in order for the truth to be palatable. More importantly, since it really does not solve any problems, it is, in my opinion, superfluous and confusing. Even if it may seem more palatable to say that all people have equal opportunity to accept the Gospel, the palatability of a doctrine does not determine its veracity. This is why I reject the doctrine of Prevenient Grace. 

Whether you agree with me or not, I hope that I have been able to give you an appreciation of why Calvinists such as myself have issues with the libertarian freedom inducted by Prevenient grace.

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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    357 replies to "Why I Reject the Arminian Doctrine of Prevenient Grace"

    • William Birch

      First, this “balancing the scales” of the will makes any choice, good or bad, for God or against, impossible. Why? Because each person would be suspended in a state of perpetual indecisiveness.

      I think you went from bad to worse in this post. There is so much to address here, but I will reserve that for my own post tomorrow on my own site. For now, let us address this quote.

      In your opinion, Michael, how did Adam and Eve fall from their original righteousness? According to your quote here, God must have been the One to have caused or necessitated their rebellion, since they would have existed “in a state of perpetual indecisiveness.” This entire argument, in my opinion, needs to be more carefully examined from you and other Calvinists.

      God bless.

    • JohnB

      Hello MCP,

      I think both camps make things way to simple and “neat”. I think it is reasonable to conclude the idea of previent grace from the first several chapters of Romans. How can man see the glory of God demonstrated in the natural world if they are not enlighted by God? My question for the Calvinist would be how much overt scriptural evidence is there for being regenerated prior to salvation? Yet it is a strongly held belief among Calvinists. The Bible seems to teach simultaneous regeneration or post faith regeneration. And perhaps the Arminians hold too much to the idea of God looking down a corridor of time and making choices within a human concept of linear time. I think God, being outside of time, did predestine many things, yet with the knowledge of the choices men would have made or would make. There must be genuine responsibilty if we are to be judged for our choices in life, with the Gospel being the primary point of judgement. But God would not be unjust using someone as a vessel of wrath, if He knew that no matter how much light He gave that person that person would never trust Him for salvation. Pharoah had much light, but rejected it so God used him for His purposes. When Pharoah stands before God, God will say I knew you itimiately before the foundations of the earth and I knew every decision you would every make. Knowing that you would never trust in me I used you for my glory. I know you have answers for all of my points, but the God of true Calvinism seems to run counter to His own teachings on Justice, Love and Human Responsibitly. On another point I have always been fascinated when I am out sharing the Gospel with my Calvinist friends. They always tell the unsaved that Christ died for their sins, yet I know they believe in Limited Atonement. Their explanation that we don’t know who the elect are has always puzzled me. Does the concept of not knowing who the elect are give us license to lie to the majority of unsaved people we witness to? We shouldn’t tell anyone that Christ died for their sins if we only beieve He died for the Elect. We shoud say, He might have died for your sins.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      “Why I Reject the Arminian Doctrine of Prevenient Grace”

      C. Michael Patton is merely exercising his free will in rejecting the Arminian Doctrine of Prevenient Grace.

      😉

    • C Michael Patton

      William,

      In order for me to answer that question, I would have to know the answer to the question Would Adam and Eve had sinned without outside temptation (the snake). I don’t know the answer.

      However, I would say that were it the case that Adam and Eve sinned due to the influence of the snake (which “tipped the scales”), this would fit into my stance here since I don’t require true libertarian freedom. I would think that this, like all the choices of all the rest of humanity, is a much bigger problem for Arminians since they insist on libertarian freedom.

    • Rick

      “God commands and desires that all people are to repent of their sin (Acts 17:30, 2 Pet. 3:9, et al) and holds them responsible if they do not. This assumes that “all people” have this ability, otherwise God’s desire is hopeless and His command is useless. While there may be some mystery in the fact that God desires the salvation of all and commands all to repent, this does not necessitate nor justify, in my opinion, the insertion of a fairy complected and even more mysterious doctrine of Prevenient grace.”

      That issue is the crux of the matter. What do such passages indicate?

      Wesleyan scholar Ken Schenck writes:
      “This is what it means for God to love the world–He genuinely loves the world. He genuinely wants everyone to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). He does not just love humanity because of how much humanity loves Him. He loves humanity, period, and likes hanging out with us.
      Now since the Reformed tradition is so fond of logic, there are only three options for the theological appropriation of 1 Timothy 2:4: God “wants to save all persons and [for them] to come to a knowledge of the truth….
      a) This is hyperbole of some kind, an exaggeration. Somehow the words don’t mean what they say. Everyone really only means those who count, those he has elected….
      b) Everyone will be saved, the universalist option. Barth famously said that he was not a universalist, but maybe God was. This, in my opinion, would be the most coherent Calvinist view…
      c) God does not force humans to be saved but in some way, enables or allows them to have a say in the process….
      Clearly the last option is the one that makes the best sense of 1 Timothy. Any other option involves shoving extraneous theological propositions down its throat”

    • bossmanham

      Michael,

      I just have a few points. First, true libertarian freedom takes into account influences on behavior.

      Second, with regard to the supposed lack of scripture, why do you think that the scriptures that show God working in someone’s life prior to their salvation aren’t scriptural? Are you suggesting that there needs to be an explicit proof text for everything we derive from scripture? If that’s the case, then Calvinism faces a pretty serious lack of scriptural support for its views. But this assumes that we do lack strong and explicit proof texts. As a matter of fact, Romans 2:4 and Titus 2:11 seem pretty strong instances of a grace that precedes and is necessary to lead to repentance.

      With regard to it not solving anything, it seems to me you’re simply begging the question in favor of determinism. If people do have libertarian freedom, then no such causative mechanism is needed to “tip the scales” one way or the other. The agent him/herself ultimately chooses what to do. They may have certain reasons and may be influenced by certain things that take part in their own reasoning, but these things don’t cause the choice. Rather, the agent him/herself determines the choice they make. If this is the case, then prevenient grace does solve something, namely how those who are totally unable to come to God are enabled by Him without being irresistibly determined.

    • C Michael Patton

      Just curious…Roger Olson seems to agree that the Prevenient grace system necessitates an uncaused cause. Do you Arminians agree with him. I do appreciate his honesty there.

      Also, you have to distinguish what Augustine spoke of as Prevenient grace in the sense of preparation. All traditions believe in this. The prevenient grace that is being spoken of here is not merely God preparing someone for the Gospel through life’s circumstances, the witness of creation, good apologetics, etc, but the nutralizing the effects of the fall on the will so that a person can make a true libertarian decision.

      Seems that some of you are unaware of this distinction.

    • Michael

      So not a sparrow falls unless it’s His will, but humans can do what they want?

      Rick, you forgot option (d). God does not get what He desires, because if he did everyone would be saved. So He settles for the next best thing, accepting what men want to give him.

      Maybe it’s true what they say, consistent Arminianism ends in Open Theism.

    • Jordan

      Is libertarian free will a requirement of Arminianism and is pre-faith regeneration a requirement of Calvinism?

    • bossmanham

      Michael

      Just curious…Roger Olson seems to agree that the Prevenient grace system necessitates an uncaused cause. Do you Arminians agree with him. I do appreciate his honesty there.

      I’m not sure 100% what Roger is saying there. If he’s saying there’s absolutely no cause for a certain action, then that doesn’t even agree with libertarian freedom. I wager to suggest that he probably means by this that there is no external cause which necessitates that an agent choose a particular thing, in this case faith in Christ. Rather it is the agent him/herself that determines their own choice. It is self-caused.

      Also, you have to distinguish what Augustine spoke of as Prevenient grace in the sense of preparation. All traditions believe in this. The prevenient grace that is being spoken of here is not merely God preparing someone for the Gospel through life’s circumstances, the witness of creation, good apologetics, etc, but the nutralizing the effects of the fall on the will so that a person can make a true libertarian decision.

      Seems that some of you are unaware of this distinction.

      I’m a little confused at what you’re saying here, but are you acknowledging that there is scriptural support for what we’re saying, whether you agree with the interpretation or not?

      It seems to me, that if “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11) then, if the Calvinistic view of this preparing grace were correct, we’d need to be universalists.

      God bless 🙂

    • bossmanham

      Other Michael,

      So not a sparrow falls unless it’s His will, but humans can do what they want?

      There’s a distinction between a will permitting something and actively causing something. It could be according to the will of God to permit certain things.

      Maybe it’s true what they say, consistent Arminianism ends in Open Theism.

      Maybe someday I’ll hear an argument for this offensive canard.

    • Bryan Cross

      Michael,

      If you really think that the use of free will requires a compelling reason, then you must believe that God was compelled to create this world. And that would entail that God had to create, in much the way a woman in labor needs to push the baby out.

      But for a Catholic, that is a heresy. God was free to create or not create. There was no necessity or compulsion in God’s free choice to create. Creation is not something God needs to get out of His system, to actualize His nature, or perfect or realize Himself. He was already perfect and perfectly happy, and didn’t need to create, and was perfectly free not to create. That’s why creation is a sheer gift. It is also why Spinoza’s metaphysics is false, because if we are just a necessary expression of the divine nature, then pantheism is entailed.

      In addition, if Lucifer had a compelling reason to rebel against God, then he couldn’t be blamed for what he did in rebelling against God, since he couldn’t have done otherwise. If you had a daughter, and she passed out and when she fell her body hit and broke something that you had previously told her not to touch, would you spank her? She might protest, “But I couldn’t help it.” Would you respond, “Sorry, darling, it doesn’t matter that you couldn’t help it; I ordered you not to touch it, and you touched it. Take your lickin.” Really? But if you wouldn’t do that, they why do you think our heavenly Father would do that? If God made Lucifer such that Lucifer couldn’t help but fall, then Lucifer would not be culpable, and it would be unjust for God to punish Lucifer. Lucifer is culpable primarily because he could have done otherwise, and knew that he should have done otherwise, but freely did what he knew was wrong.

      In the peace of Christ,

      – Bryan

    • Michael

      “There’s a distinction between a will permitting something and actively causing something. It could be according to the will of God to permit certain things.”

      Whether he “permits” it, as you say, or actively causes it, it is still all for His ultimate purpose. Everything ultimately glorifies God.

      If man can trump God’s desires, does he not set himself up as a higher transcendent being?

      Regarding the offensive canard, you could read Clark Pinnock, Greg Boy, (soon to be Olsen?), et al.

    • C Michael Patton

      Bryan,

      “If you really think that the use of free will requires a compelling reason, then you must believe that God was compelled to create this world. And that would entail that God had to create, in much the way a woman in labor needs to push the baby out.”

      Not really since it is consistent with his character to create. The basic assumption is that freedom is the ability to act according to who you are. God has all of the innate attributes that we would expect to will creation. And that is the point. Man does not. Man has to be given a new character to choose according to who they are. They cannot be given a neutral character and expect a choice to be made. Outside influences or inner compelling is the only explanation for choices that are not arbitrary.

    • Bryan Cross

      For you, could God have chosen not to create? That is, was He free to not create, or was creation necessary given God’s nature?

      In the peace of Christ,

      – Bryan

    • Bryan Cross

      Michael,

      Given this notion of freedom as “the ability to act according to who you are” it would follow that all the demons in hell are free. Not only that, but every rock and tree is free too, since it acts according to what it is.

      In fact, given that definition of freedom, I can’t think of anything that is not free. And in that way, the word ‘freedom’ is evacuated of all meaning, since when everything is said to be ‘x’ then ‘x’ has no meaning, since the contrary of x is inconceivable.

      In the peace of Christ,

      – Bryan

    • C Michael Patton

      Boss,

      “‘Also, you have to distinguish what Augustine spoke of as Prevenient grace in the sense of preparation. All traditions believe in this. The prevenient grace that is being spoken of here is not merely God preparing someone for the Gospel through life’s circumstances, the witness of creation, good apologetics, etc, but the neutralizing the effects of the fall on the will so that a person can make a true libertarian decision.

      Seems that some of you are unaware of this distinction.’

      I’m a little confused at what you’re saying here, but are you acknowledging that there is scriptural support for what we’re saying, whether you agree with the interpretation or not?”

      No. I am acknowledging common grace and the type of prevenient grace that Augustine spoke of. It is the effect of grace that is at issue. Does the Bible teach that God’s common grace effects a neutralization of the effects of the fall on the will in order for depraved people to have the ability to accept him? I don’t see it.

      That I acknowledge a common grace or even a “preparatory” grace as being consistent with biblical revelation is not the same as saying that we can read into this the Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace. It is much to complex to find in these passages that speak of common grace. It is not unlike the Catholic understanding of papal authority being read into any reference to authority of elders or church leaders in the Bible. Yes it could fit, but their has to be something compelling to make us read such into these passages.

      In the end, like I said, even if one were to read these passages this way, the philosophical problems of real life don’t really do anything but escalate the problem in the ways I described in the post.

      At least that is my opinion. But, then again, there are some bulwarks of philosophy and theology that would disagree with me: Roger Olson, William Craig, J.P. Moreland, and, our own, Paul Copan. Formidable guys they are. It gives me pause.

    • C Michael Patton

      Bryan, rocks don’t have a will and don’t act. 🙂

      The assumption is that there are choices made. We are free to make these choices in the sense that nothing forces us to make them. As Augustine said, “We have freedom, but we lack liberty.”

    • C Michael Patton

      Bryan,

      Absolutely God was free. He is always free. But does he have the freedom to sin, lie, or break promises? No since that would be outside of his character.

      Do you believe that God can act in ways that is inconsistant with his character?

    • Jordan

      CMP,

      Is the issue maybe more whether this prevenient grace is “resistible” or not? I’ve honestly never heard an Arminian suggest this “blank slate” or utterly neutral stand you give. Rather, they would say that prevenient grace only gets us to the point in which we can truly make a decision (out of our will) to believe in Christ or not, not that it takes us the full way *through* that decision.

      I think Calvinism strongly resonates with me intellectually, but I live more as an Arminian if I’m honest. That troubles me.

      I also wonder how much of the Calvinism/Arminianism debate is fueled by a person’s conversion experience. Most Calvinist writers I read describe their own conversion experience sort of as “God dragged me in kicking and screaming” whereas what I hear from non-Calvinists is more “God called and I responded”. Is there any possibility that this debate stems from God using different methods?

    • Bryan Cross

      Michael,

      If you think God could have not created the world, i.e. was free to not create the world, then it follows that free choice does not require a compelling reason to act one way rather than another. And then there is no reason to think that humans must have a compelling reason in order to choose freely. A sufficient reason is not necessarily a compelling reason.

      God cannot sin, but as St. Anselm explains, that is more precisely described as an ability to avoid sin necessarily. Freedom does not consist in the ability to sin; otherwise God would not be free. But freedom does require the ability to do otherwise. If God could in no way do otherwise than He does, He would not be free. But God is free because He can choose between an infinite number of possible goods.

      In the peace of Christ,

      – Bryan

    • C Michael Patton

      Jordon, no. While most Calvinist that I know believe that regeneration proceeds faith, some, such as Bruce Demarest, do not. He does recognize the need for grace to come before salvaiton, but he equates this with “calling.” Therefore, in his ordo salutis (order of salvation), he has election-calling-faith-regeneration-justification, but he believes this calling to be “effectual” as do all Calvinists.

      The traditional Calvinistic ordo is election-call-regeneration-faith-justification.

    • C Michael Patton

      Bryan,

      So you believe that God can act inconsistant with his character?

    • Bryan Cross

      Michael,

      No, I don’t believe God can “act inconsistent with His character.” I’m not sure where you got the idea that I might believe that. God’s character does not entail that He create, nor does it entail that He not create. Whether He creates or does not create, either course of action is consistent with His character. But for God to do evil, that would be inconsistent with His character; but God cannot do evil — or more properly, God perfectly and necessarily avoids doing evil.

      In the peace of Christ,

      – Bryan

    • Rick

      Jordan-
      “the point is that prevenient grace only gets us to the point in which we can truly make a decision to believe in Christ or not”

      As Wesleyan scholar Keith Drury points out, there is a difference between some modern Arminianism and traditional Arminianism:

      “Contemporary Wesleyan-Arminian evangelicalism either implies or explicitly teaches that faith is an inherent power within human beings as a result of the prevenient grace given to all of humanity. As such, human beings have the ability in any given moment to exercise their will to believe the Gospel and be saved. From this perspective, people at any time may hear the Gospel, weigh the strengths and weaknesses of the argument offered and chose to follow Christ. Thus, faith and a personal response to the Gospel, is primarily something a person does….
      Wesley disagrees. This contemporary understanding is a fundamental misappropriation of Wesley’s teaching on prevenient grace. Prevenient grace, to Wesley is primarily a restoration of humanity’s responsiveness to grace not the granting of the power to believe. To Wesley prevenient grace brings to power to respond to grace, not the power to believe.
      Wesley would say that as a result of prevenient grace human beings are able to cooperate with further offers of grace by God—not that they had the power to believe when they heard the gospel. For Wesley prevenient grace in itself does not restore to people the ability to exercise faith, much less express repentance—these are works of God not men and women. Prevenient grace enables a person to cooperate with God’s grace made available through the means of grace that seeks to convict a person of sin, convince a person of the need for Christ, and create saving faith. Thus, to Wesley all prevenient grace enables a person to do is choose to cooperate with these further works of grace or not. Grace from this perspective is the work of the Holy Spirit in us.”

    • C Michael Patton

      So Brian,

      We may be talking past each other here (which is not hard to do with such topics), but what I hear you say when you say that God cannot act inconsistent with his character is that God lack true libertarian freedom. He does not have the power of contrary (out of character) choice. He chooses according to who he is.

      How is it that we can have a greater degree of freedom here than God? Why would it be so inconsistent for us to say that we can only choose according to who we are and that there is not some tirtium quid at work in our lives called “free will”? The will is only who you are. We have the freedom to choose according to who we are. As Ronald Nash put it (from Jonathan Edwards) “We only choose according to the greatest desire of the moment.” If we are born willfully broken, then unless something drastic happens, we are going to choose against God always because that is who we always are. Arminians seek to neutralize the will so that the choice will be fair and responsible. But this simply ends in indecisiveness or arbitrary choices. These don’t honor God. If we one were to choose God it is because God has changed them so that who they “are” at the point of the choice is “believer.”

    • C Michael Patton

      As always folks,

      Love the conversation. Please keep it clean and beneficial. No demeaning of either side in the slightest bit. Go out of your way to be gentle and tactful.

      I am out as I have classes to write, prepare for, and teach over the next couple of day. But I already have a blog post ready for tomorrow on “What I Know and Don’t Know About Satan and Demons.”

    • Rick

      CMP-
      “I am out as I have classes to write, prepare for, and teach over the next couple of day.”

      You are really out to celebrate OU being ranked #1. :^)

    • MikeB

      I know the compatibilist/incompatibilist views regarding free will are complex. How free is free, when is an agent morally responsible, etc.

      That said I always understood prevenient grace not as creating a “neutralized” will and therefore a state of indecisiveness or a 50/50 chance at salvation but rather that the HS gives an understanding in the person such that they are convicted (aware, understand) that they are sinners and that God will judge them. They will understand the gospel message and that there is a choice to make. Thus they exercise the “free will” to accept or reject the gift God offers. However the choice they make is not irresistible.

      Any good reading suggestions for better understanding the “free will” concepts in both systems?

      Thanks
      MikeB

    • wm tanksley

      Wesleyan scholar Ken Schenck writes:
      “This is what it means for God to love the world–He genuinely loves the world. He genuinely wants everyone to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). […] there are only three options for the theological appropriation of 1 Timothy 2:4

      There are not only three options.

      One example of an alternative interpretation would be to take in the context (where Paul exhorts us to pray for kings and rulers), and assert that “all men” here refers to all kinds of men, encompassing the rulers and the ruled, the oppressed and the oppressors; not each and every individual. This gives Paul’s comments about praying for kings context; otherwise it’s hard to see why he didn’t merely skip talking about kings and simply exhort us to pray for all men.

      -Wm

    • Bryan Cross

      Michael,

      but what I hear you say when you say that God cannot act inconsistent with his character is that God lack true libertarian freedom. He does not have the power of contrary (out of character) choice. He chooses according to who he is.

      Then you are mis-hearing me. God does have libertarian freedom, to choose between goods, since all the good options are consistent with (though none is entailed by) His character. But He cannot choose evil. Not being able to choose evil does not eliminate His libertarian freedom.

      How is it that we can have a greater degree of freedom here than God?

      We don’t have more freedom than God has, since He has an infinite range of good options open to Him, while we have a much smaller range of options (good and evil) open to us. Maximization of libertarian freedom is not the greatest good; this is why libertarian freedom is a qualified good, not an absolute good.

      Why would it be so inconsistent for us to say that we can only choose according to who we are and that there is not some tirtium quid at work in our lives called “free will”?

      Because it would nullify moral praise and blame. (This notion that this life is a kind of Darwinism selection system for those with good and bad natures, was the form of Marcionism against which Origen strongly argued.) It would make our choices meaningless, and this presently earthly life meaningless as well, since none of choices here ultimately make a difference.

      The will is only who you are. We have the freedom to choose according to who we are.

      Then we are just like robots, neither to praise or blame for our ‘choices.’ And then God is a sicko who tortures people in hell for eternity, for doing what they could not help but doing.

      In the peace of Christ,

      – Bryan

    • Michael L

      CMP,

      I’m going out on a limb here…. but you started it with referring to the Olson article. And I think fair is fair…..

      You wrote:
      Even Arminian theologian Roger Olson admitted to this in a recent post: “One thing I wrestle with about Arminianism is the mystery of free will. I don’t know how it works. There does seem to be an element of uncaused effect in it” (source).

      Right ?

      Well in the same article Olson mentions

      What would happen, though, if both sides of this evangelical debate openly admitted that their systems are fallible interpretations of Scripture and not “transcripts of the gospel” (which is the same as to say equal with Scripture in authority) and that adherents of the other system are not wrong-headed or insincere or stupid or whatever but people sincerely seeking to trace out the meaning of Scripture where it is not as clear as we would like it to be?

      As a matter of fact, the statement you used is his “dare” to the Calvinist theologians out there. And personally based on your writings I would put you in that group.

      His dare is this: Let me step out and dare to name a problem with Arminian theology and then challenge a committed Calvinist to do the same. After which he gives the example you quoted.

      So… what is your problem with the Calvinist theology ? Or is in infallible and elevated to the same heights as Scripture ? 😉

      Not being facetious.. but trying to keep you honest…. I’m sure I’ll be forever anathematized from the blog now…. 🙁

      Personally.. I have a problem with either one, but I’ll write an article on that over the coming days.

      In Him
      Mick

    • Michael L

      To be fair, CMP wrote this on Olson’s blog as well:

      “As a Calvinist, I find it very difficult to understand why God did not choose everyone. All explainations that are given in my camp are terrible. I am not saying that they are necessarily wrong (I don’t know), but they are completely unsatisfying. There is simply no problem with unconditional election of all people. The problem is when God, who loves all people, only elects some.”

      But I’d like to see a longer article as to what this means and how one can still adhere to the entire Calvinistic theology while struggling with this portion of it.

      Mick

    • wm tanksley

      (Regarding deciding that “free choice” consists of choosing according to one’s nature:)

      Because it would nullify moral praise and blame.

      Why? This seems to do nothing more than define “moral praise and blame” according to libertarian free will. Why shouldn’t moral praise and blame be according to one’s nature? After all, we praise God for being good; isn’t that true praise, and praise of a moral quality?

      It would make our choices meaningless, and this presently earthly life meaningless as well, since none of choices here ultimately make a difference.

      I think what you’re saying is that since God already knew we were by nature “bad”, He could have just discarded us unborn, rather than having us live and make our bad choices.

      He certainly could have. But instead He formed us and then saved some of us, even though none of us deserved to be either formed or saved.

      And then God is a sicko who tortures people in hell for eternity, for doing what they could not help but doing.

      Wouldn’t He be a WORSE sicko for torturing people for eternity based on completely arbitrary choices made during a finite span? We only have 70 years to make choices, and if our choices truly COULD go either way, then surely we should still be able to choose if only we’d lived a little bit longer and been argued with one more time.

      Yet at some point, you will say, man becomes unable to make those choices anymore; he becomes set in his choices, and after that eternity will not change him. After that point, though, by your argument, wouldn’t you say that he is no longer to be morally praised or blamed? Yes, he was bad in the past, and consistently bad; but now he is no longer a moral subject (by your definition). Isn’t that what your claim about moral praise and blame implies?

      -Wm

    • Wayne in Frisco

      From Michael: “Maybe it’s true what they say, consistent Arminianism ends in Open Theism.”

      Yes, it must.

      CMP – great post. I learned a lot and will be keeping a copy of this one. Good arguments.

    • Lee H

      Universal Salvation:

      I don’t currently believe in universal salvation, but whenever I heard arguements between C alvinists and Arminianists it always convinces me more and more that universal salvation is true.

      It makes no sense for salvation to be down to only Gods choice but not all to be saved.

      Also Arminianism has the problem of why anyone would freely choose or not choose God. Then again couldn’t the arguement you use against Prevenient Grace be changed slightly to say that because of our nature and culture we are not responsible for our actions since our nature is not our fault and random actions are not our fault.

      Salvation is a horribly messed up thing to have to think about.

    • Rebecca

      Part one: Since I’m made in God’s image, I’m going to use what I know and reason from that perspective. Let’s see what a scholastically uncluttered mind can reason? God sees and knows the outcome of our lives and choices before we were born. I’ve had to answer to many unbelievers or those considering becoming believers the question, Why? If God knows how it’s all going to play out, why bother going through the exercise? Well, I don’t know. I can only make an analogy that is hard to shake for some reason. Parents know often (not definitively as God knows except Mom’s who do have eyes in the back of their heads) when a child is going to get hurt. And yet, they let them try anyway. Is that cruel? Is that wrong? Should they secure the child so they cannot make the obvious wrong choices and spare the child the pain? Of course, most parents know to do so is sparing the child the lesson and growth to mature, to be equipped. I knew that as a young mom long before I was a grandparent. It’s elementary.

    • Rebecca

      Part two: So parents have pretty good instincts? about different children. We do try to give wisdom but ultimately the child needs the room to show responsibility or act like a buffoon and fall on his face. I have influenced the child. I know because they told me later in their adults lives that they did hear and did recall, when in a precarious situation,they heard my voice, my words but….but still chose not to believe and chose to sin. Now what might I have done if I knew positively as God knows that the child was going to rebel and sin? Save some time, that’s for sure. You never stop being a parent, you never stop loving your children. But a time can come even for earthly parents to feel estranged from a child and feel as if they don’t really know that child. The one that you know….again not in the sense God knows but this is the best analogy I can give… that you know is on a path of his own choosing, a path to destruction, you make a decision to cut ties with the sinning child in order to accommodate and feed and reward the righteous child.

    • Rebecca

      So is a parent wrong for the time he allows the sinning child to disrupt the family? Does anyone know for sure when it’s time to remove a child from the family. I mean, the child is still in your heart but physically removed to give the righteous a break. For a time, did not the sinning child teach the righteous that obeying and living in the will of his parents is the best life? The parent has used his influence on all his children. He’s taught proper behavior, etiquette, manners, sharing, good morals, unconditional love…sounds more like a she, right?… perhaps to little avail. He’s certain he knows the outcome. He hopes. God is different. He knows before that child takes his first breath how he will live his life and how he will respond to Him. He doesn’t feel. He doesn’t hope. If a parent can predict so well the outcome of a child, how much so does God? The sinning child creates chaos in the home. When he is removed, there is peace. The righteous child is blessed. If God knows better than we do the outcome, why indulge the child that He knows will always reject Him, not eventually, not maybe when he’s older but always reject what is righteous with His Holy Spirit? So, I am making a case for which one? Prevenient grace or Irresistible grace?

    • jonathan robinson

      “God can passively desire things that He does not actively will to come about.”

      LOL, you calvinists say the darndest things! 🙂

      So God is sitting there wanting to save people but is too tired or lazy to actually do anything about it, amazing!

    • Bible STudy

      The more information I am gaining from your blog about calvinism, the more I see that I agree with at least some of his (calvin’s) beliefs. I would like to see you blog about basic Calvinists beliefs and ideals. I wonder how much I believe like Calvin did. This is really interesting. I totally agree with Calvin that man cannot resist the grace of God, otherwise salvation would be dependent upon us or our actions, however without God’s total salvation of mankind, I feel no one would be saved. I believe it is God that leads us to repentence and when he does, we cannot or will not reject it. I believe God has all power and control over the will of man. I really want to learn more about Calvin and his beliefs. Amazing.

    • Tom

      Is the following picture flawed in some way that I’m missing, or perhaps too vague to be of any real value? Note that it does assume that if you know everything (as only God could) about the sum of a person’s life experiences, including all of the personal and environmental influences (physical and spiritual) acting upon them, you can predict with perfect accuracy how they will make any given decision.

      At the outset, when the omniscient, omnipotent God is creating the universe, he can set it up in any logically permissible way. He can see, “before” creating it, the entire timeline of its history laid out before him. Even in a universe in which he might create agents with free will, he knows without actually creating it the direction in which they’ll exercise their will, including their own reasons for the decision. If a particular decision displeases him, he has only to create a slightly different universe from the one he is considering, in which the decision will please him.

      What standard does God have by which to discriminate among possible universes at the time of creation, except how much it pleases him to create each option? What conclusion can we draw except that the universe we have — complete with its history of sin and redemption, a future of both mercy and justice at some critical balance — pleased him above all others? Then, regardless of how he brings about the salvation of the objects of his mercy, he has in effect chosen them by choosing to create a universe in which he saves them.

      I know this is territory Leibniz has explored, though I am not well acquainted with his philosophy nor with his principal critics; my impression has been that his purpose is more to answer the so-called problem of evil than to address the Calvinism-Arminianism debate. Of course there’s a question whether you would still call it “free” will if your decisions are in principle predictable (even if only by God himself).

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      “Why? This seems to do nothing more than define “moral praise and blame” according to libertarian free will. Why shouldn’t moral praise and blame be according to one’s nature? After all, we praise God for being good; isn’t that true praise, and praise of a moral quality?”

      Because ones nature was destined, determined, and ordained by God. It can be no more praiseworthy then the android Data’s ethics programming in Star Trek. He may have appeared to be exercising free will or doing what he chose, but ultimately it was all elaborate programming that forced him uncontrollably to do what was right. If ones goodness or badness is externally determined and not through a choice of their own how then ca we blame those who commit evil acts for doing evil or those who commit selfless acts for doing good? Those who do evil do evil because they were ordained to be evil and those who do good do good because they were ordained to do good. Neither one is to be “blamed” or “praised” for their actions. They were just doing what they were programmed to do.

      As for God being evil, philosophically speaking a evil being could not be God as traditionally defined.

    • […] to irenic Calvinist C. Michael Patton, from Parchment and Pen, the doctrine of Prevenient Grace is unbiblical. He does not state that he […]

    • Rick

      It is interesting that, as seen in the comments in this post and CMP’s previous post, both sides see Scripture, a systematic theology, logic, etc… on their side. Both also seem to acknowledge a tension.

      So I am wondering how people decide to lean one way or the other in that tension.

      This brings to mind a series Scot McKnight is doing at Jesus Creed regarding American’s view of God. In commenting on that book, he writes:
      “Americans have four gods — four distinct images of God that influence many dimensions of life and culture. They use three axes to examine through the Baylor Study of Religion what Americans think: God is loving, God is judge, and God is engaged, but they discover that nearly everyone thinks God is loving, so it was the judging and engaged dimensions that were able to distinguish the groups:
      1. The Benevolent God (24%): engaged and non-judgmental
      2. The Authoritative God (31%): engaged and judgmental
      3. The Distant God (24%): neither judgmental nor engaged
      4. The Critical God (16%): judgmental but not engaged”

      Scot later goes on to note:
      “…religious communities matter:
      RCC: Authority (22%), Benevolent (30%), Critical (21%), Distant (30%)
      Evangelical: Authority (51%), Benevolent (26%), Critical (14%), Distant (11%)
      Black Prot: Authority (68%), Benevolent (12%), Critical (20%), Distant (0)
      Mainline: Authority (22%), Benevolent (28%), Critical (20%), Distant (30%)”

      Therefore, is the Calvinism/Arminian debate somewhat shaped by that Authority/Benevolent/Critical/Distant distinction?

    • […] to irenic Calvinist C. Michael Patton, from Parchment and Pen, the doctrine of Prevenient Grace is unbiblical. He does not state that he […]

    • Jeremy

      jonathan:

      “So God is sitting there wanting to save people but is too tired or lazy to actually do anything about it, amazing!”

      The idea that God could save people, but doesn’t, is hardly unique to Calvinism. Unless you are a universalist you’ll have to come to terms with this.

      See Are There Two Wills in God?

    • Ken Pulliam

      CMP,

      I think the problem is that the Bible does not present a unified teaching on this subject. If it were really the Word of God, one would expect it to be consistent. OTH, if it is the musings of men then the inconsistency is not surprising. (BTW, it is not only this doctrine that the Bible is inconsistent on).

      What happens is that Calvinists have specific passages to which they give priority and then they explain the “difficult” verses on the basis of the ones that they made their benchmark. The Arminian does precisely the same thing except that the verses which the Calvinist thinks are “difficult” become his benchmark and the verse that the Calivinists have priortized become the “difficult” verses for the Arminian.

      Both positions have problems exegetically and theologically. One of the problems that I see with Calvinism is that it holds man responsible for that which he cannot do. How is that just? If my child is deaf, should I condemn him because he cannot hear?

      One of the problems for the Arminian is that if man’s choice is determinative, then there is something in the believer that distinguishes him from the unbeliever and that “something” becomes the basis for his salvation. This makes the believer in some way, better or more spiritually adept or less rebellious or something that results in his salvation.

    • Jeremy

      Ken Pulliam:

      “One of the problems that I see with Calvinism is that it holds man responsible for that which he cannot do. How is that just? If my child is deaf, should I condemn him because he cannot hear?”

      No, but if he borrows $5 million and then blows the money at the casino he is still 100% liable despite his utter inability to repay the debt.

    • […] 4 comments According to irenic Calvinist C. Michael Patton, from Parchment and Pen, the doctrine of Prevenient Grace is unbiblical. He does not state that he […]

    • wm tanksley

      Because ones nature was destined, determined, and ordained by God.

      Yes, indeed; but that doesn’t answer my question at all. “Why,” (I said) “shouldn’t moral praise and blame be according to one’s nature? After all, we praise God for being good; isn’t that true praise, and praise of a moral quality?”

      It can be no more praiseworthy then the android Data’s ethics programming in Star Trek.

      The moral praiseworthiness of Data’s actions was an question that Star Trek examined many times (although I didn’t watch it enough, so I don’t know if they decided to resolve the issue). I think they decided that although every step in Data’s processes was simple law-following based on his design, his actions were nonetheless creditable to him. I imagine that when his designer walked onstage, the characters complimented him on his design, and gave examples of times Data had shown courage that saved their lives (and such). They no doubt praised the designer for his life-saving design, but didn’t give the designer credit for the times Data had actually acted to save their lives (that credit belonged to Data himself).

      We can also compare more reachable examples. We can actually observe people discussing literary characters like Samwise Gamgee or Ophelia, for both of which their respective authors managed to establish solid characters; we inevitably assign moral praise and blame to them and their actions (of course, not confusing them with real people who can act in our lives).

      As for God being evil, philosophically speaking a evil being could not be God as traditionally defined.

      I didn’t say God was evil; I said that we praise God for being good, even though that is His nature and He cannot be otherwise. This contradicts your claim that praise must be for things which could have been otherwise.

      -Wm

    • cherylu

      Wm,

      It seems to me that there is a difference in praise going to someone that can not be otherwise and a being that can not be otherwise being held eternally accountable for the evil he did which he could not do otherwise. The evil he did because the Being that is now holding him eternally accountable saw to it that he had to do. And now, indeed, that Being that saw to it that he could not do otherwise is holding that one so accountable for what he could not help but do by His own decree that he is going to be eternally tormented with horrific torment for it!

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      I think the different between praising God for having a good nature and praising man for his nature is that God, including his nature, is a neccessary, uncreated being who, if He is to be truly God, must be good. A evil God is not God. Man on the other hand is a contingent, created being. If man’s nature is bound by God such that man cannot legitimately choose between good and evil then man’s nature is neither blameworthy or praiseworthy, rather God is praiseworth or blameworthy for creating a creature that is such.

      Imagine my Star Trek scenario again with Data (yes I know I am a bit of a Trekkie). In the Star Trek series Data was the second android created by Dr. Soong. The first android was named Lore and was built without an ethics program. This android became a monster and was responsible for the deaths of thousands. This of course was no Soong’s intent. Now imagine instead that Dr. Soong had created Lore with the intention of creating a monster and had given it a anti-ethics program of sorts. Would Dr. Soong be blameworthy for the actions of Lore??

    • Michael T.

      Ken,

      I think the problem is that the Bible does not present a unified teaching on this subject. If it were really the Word of God, one would expect it to be consistent.

      I think you are expecting something of the Bible that it was never intended to be, namely a creed or a catechism of some type. I don’t think the Bible is inconsistent on this matter, but rather it is us humans who are not certain about the proper balance between God’s Sovereignty and God’s character, God’s will and human will, etc. Now I guess you could claim that you wish the Bible were more clear on the issue. That’s great – so do I!! However, I think to make this an excuse to not believe is placing a constraint upon how God chooses to communicate and basically saying, “if God doesn’t behave the way I expect Him to I won’t believe”. If God wished to speak to us through stories filled with all sorts of errors that would be His prerogative as would it if He chose not to reveal Himself in a specific manner at all.

    • Coffee Collection for October 19th…

      Check out our items of interest for October 19th, some miscellany to help keep you caffeinated…….

    • […] It’s not so much having discussions about differences, but it is really aggravating when someone just says a position in one of these two camps is unbiblical. […]

    • JohnB

      I think the arguement that even with God’s grace man cannot go against the greatest desire of his will is erroneous. A simple example is when someone who is obese desires to lose weight. The strongest desire may have been to eat lots of good tasting food, but one day new information or revelation enters the picture and their desire changes. Now their greatest desire is to lose weight. I think this is a valid view of the choice God gives us. We do not desire to accept his offer of salvation, but he gives us new revelation (new to us) and now our greatest desire is for that new thing. There are many examples in scripture where men were exposed to the gospel, but chose to reject it. Yet others chose to accept it.

    • Michael L

      JohnB

      That new information or revelation is traditionally called Prevenient Grace

      Or I got that doctrine completely wrong…. which is always possible.

      But it’s how interpret what Arminius said:

      In this manner, I ascribe to grace the commencement, the continuance and the consummation of all good, and to such an extent do I carry its influence, that a man, though already regenerate, can neither conceive, will, nor do any good at all, nor resist any evil temptation, without this preventing and exciting, this following and co-operating grace.

      (A Declaration Of The Sentiments Of Arminius On The Grace of God; The Works of James Arminius, Vol. 1 pp 144, CCEL)

      Mick

    • […] just as Dr Olson continued to explain his further challenges with Calvinism, Michael explained his challenges with […]

    • Donald E. Hartley

      I deny wholeheartedly that God has libertarian freedom. Freedom to the contrary? Impossible. Why? First of all freedom to the contrary does not refer to multiple options from without. A thousand options is a red herring. Second, when libertarians speak of “freedom to the contrary,” they mean that at the moment of choice the subject could have chosen otherwise. This is absurd. Every choice is ultimately based on the strongest inclination at the moment of choice. THAT is the sufficient cause of every choice and it cannot be otherwise, irrespective of the multiple of choices on the outside available. If one says, “He could have chosen otherwise,” what he really means is, “He could have chosen against the strongest inclination at the moment of choice.” And what would that be but a stronger inclination, namely, the strongest inclination at the moment of choice. To say otherwise is to assert that a subject may act contrary to that strongest inclination at the moment of choice which is where libertarians come up with the phrases, “contra-causal” and “freedom-to-the-contrary.” The latter is contra the sufficient cause and as such has an entirely different cause or none at all. Pure nonsense. As someone has rightly said, libertarianism is psychological fiction, logical nonsense, and theological heresy. Or as Edwards said, either libertarianism or God. Either the rules of logic (which come from God) apply to reality, or not. All effects have causes (all choices have causes), all choices of agents have causes, and to deny this is to deny the law of non-contradiction. God works all things according to his will (Eph 1:11). No arbitrary insufficient cause here.

    • Doug

      I agree with Don. The problem I’ve always had with libertarian freedom – apart from the fact that it is incomprehensible – is that it holds that each volition is spontaneously generated apart from any inclination as a cause because that would destroy what they call a free volition. In the common sense view of freedom, a virtuous act for instance, must come from a disposition to virtue. But on the libertarian presupposition of freedom a virtuous act comes from nothing. I don’t see how on the libertarian view anyone could be held responsible for anything. The view that a man could have willed otherwise in any given situation is answered with the simple retort – yes, a person could have willed otherwise in any given situation if he had willed otherwise i.e., if he were so inclined/disposed to do so. This is a “power of contrary” that we can believe in without falling into nonsense. The problem with the libertarian “power of contrary” is that a person who chose option A over option B could have chosen B without any change in the man’s internal state. His internal state is exactly the same but there are two different choices! This separates the act from the man and makes the choice completely arbitrary. The internal state of the man was causally irrelevant to the choice made. The choice simply arose spontaneously from nothing without a cause. I do not understand how such a choice could be made nor can I cannot conceive of such a view of freedom any more than I can conceive of a causeless cause or a square circle.

    • Perry Robinson

      CMP,

      You write that Catholics hold out some part for a natural ability, presumably apart from grace to move themselves to faith. This is incorrect as that idea was condemned both at the Synod of Orange in 529 and at the Council of Trent. It is also roundly rejected by major Catholic theologians from Anselm to Scotus and nearly everyone in between.

      As for balancing the scales, this assumes a on your reading a Pelagian view of human nature to make the argument go through. You gloss Pelagianism as positing human nature as neutral. If preventing grace had a restorative influence it would only follow that it put people back to neutral if moral neutrality were their natural state and that could only go through if Pelagianism as you gloss it were true. So you here you beg the question. But Wesley and other Arminians roundly rejected a Pelagian view of nature.

      Second, pelagianism didn’t take human nature as neutral prior to the fall, but intrinsically righteous or what Julian denoted as “natural grace” or “naturally graced.” This is essentially the Reformed and Lutheran view, which they inherited from the Neo-Semi-Pelagian Ockhamists. It is not Augustinian since Augustine held over against the Pelagians that grace was added at creation to nature. This is why the Reformed deny the notion of the supper added gifts and why they posit the Covenant of Works.

    • Perry Robinson

      CMP,

      Metaphysically, if human nature is per se good, then the restorative work of prevenient grace wouldn’t put one in a neutral position, but one that inclines to the Good. Furthermore, most defenders of LFW such as Robert Kane deny the kind of Buridan’s Ass case that you construct here since they deny given causal indeterminism that there are 50/50 cases where each option is equally probable. It is only by begging the question by assuming a deterministic theory of causation that the objection could go through.

      As for what Roger Olsen says, Olsen is not a specialist in the metaphysics of free will so what he has to say outside his area of expertise is of limited argumentative value. Second, if you endorse a deterministic theory of causation, then you will need to explain what deterministically caused God to do what he did. It will do no good to speak of “self caused” actions and this is the point. Theological Soft determinism can make no sense out of free divine acts and falls prey to their own objections.

      Further, Libertarians don’t deny antecedent causal states that contribute to causing an agents free act. What they deny are two claims. First that the antecedent states are sufficient causes and second that the causation is a deterministic causation. The fundamental problem is that the whole program treats persons as objects and objective explanations are of limited value and simply run out of juice when explaining persons since persons are more than objects. This is why they fall afowl of event causal explanations.

    • Perry Robinson

      As Bryan Cross already noted, choosing consistent with our nature or character doesn’t imply a deterministic relation between choice and a specific option. My nature may limit my choices, but that is not the same as my nature determinsically causing and signaling out one outcome. Logically, you can’t get from the former to the latter.

      And even if it were possible, your remarks confuse choosing voluntarily with choosing freely. All free choices are voluntary but not all voluntary choices are free. So even if you could prove that we are deterministically caused to will or select such and so object, it wouldn’t follow that the willing was free.

      Further you write that on the Arminian and presumably Libertarian view “then there is nothing compelling you to make any decision whatsoever.” But even on Calvinist principles this is wrong, since Calvinists deny that sufficient antecedent causal states move by compulsion. Hence you are arguing for a non-Calvinist view of soft determinism.

      As for arbitrary choices, if God’s actions are uncaused by any antecedent state of affairs then it follows on your reasoning that God’s actions are inexplicable and “arbitrary.”

    • Perry Robinson

      CMP,

      With respect to the fall of Adam and the external influence of the serpent, this doesn’t really have any explanatory value for your model. Adam was created on your view intrinsically righteous and was determined to act according to his nature and could not have willed contrary to it. An external influence wouldn’t change that, it would be like using a BB gun to take out a tank. Second, it simply moves the problem since there was no external sinful influence on Satan prior to his fall. Was his nature good or evil? Did it determine his actions or not?

      Metaphysically to the point, if natures determine actions, then the notion of a person is entirely unnecessary. As Nietzsche noted, it is “a fiction added to the deed.” Then we are thrown back on to the old Hellenistic view that persons are simply instances of natures or kinds, individuated by matter. Such a view has serious implications for Trinitarianism, namely a denial of it via Modalism or Tri-Theism.

      It may be so that creation is consistent with God’s character, but so is not creating anything at all or creating a world different than this one. God doesn’t gain anything with respect to being God or his glory by creating or not creating. What you are arguing for is that God’s nature determines his act of creation. (This was Edward’s conclusion btw.) But such is a denial of creation ex nihilo since God’s act is determined and necessary as his existence, making the world eternal with God. And so we are right back to Origenism.

    • Perry Robinson

      You write that there must be an inner compulsion, but Calvinists deny that God’s providence amounts to compulsion. Further, you write that man has to be given a new character, but this assumes a pre-lapsarian Pelagian anthropology where grace is natural. To assert as much is to beg the question and that in favor of Pelagius.

      You write that you do not see that common grace has a restorative effect on humanity at large, but I’d argue that this is due to a lack of looking at what the Bible says about Christ’s assumption of creation in his incarnation, namely Eph 1:10ff for starters. All things are summed up and recapitulated in Christ and so Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection has cosmic effects regardless of how agents dispose themselves towards God. And again, much depends on the notion of depravity with entails that the imago dei per se was lost, an entirely unAugustinian thesis.

      Nothing forcing us to make a choice doesn’t imply that the choice was free. Plenty of forms of compulsion or determination are compatible with voluntary action, but that doesn’t imply that the voluntary acts are free acts.

    • Perry Robinson

      CMP,

      God doesn’t have freedom to sin or lie or such but that doesn’t imply that God doesn’t have libertarian free will. Libertarianism is not wedded to the idea that willing otherwise is the same as willing contrary to. Having a plurality of options is that is required for LFW in terms of the Alternative Possibilities condition. Just so long as God has a plurality of good objects of choice available to him, he can be impeccable and have LFW. The only way to attack that thesis is to deny that God has a plurality of good objects to choose between.

      Consequently, the plurality of goods that are consistent with his character are also consistent with the conditions on LFW.

      Do you believe that Adam could have chosen to overthrow God’s will for human nature to be righteous and thereby change human nature or no?

      Edwards’ gloss that we only choose according to the strongest desire is wrong for a few reasons. First, it would imply that God’s actions are determined as well. Second, desires aren’t causes, but states and states cause nothing at all. Further, if desires did all the causal work, then intentions and decisions are danglers with no explanatory power. That is, decisions do not exist, only the motion of desires. Such an account is obviously inadequate. And there seem to be clear cases in say addiction when addicts do win out against their strongest desire and they do so for reasons and decisions that are made for those and include those reasons and not because of any countervailing desire.

    • Perry Robinson

      Bryan Cross,

      If freedom does require the ability to do otherwise, then the saints heaven per Aquinas are not free. This is why Aquinas denies explicitly that the AP condition is necessary for freedom. It only obtains on earth or in via but not in heaven since there is only one good to choose. While I agree with your position, I do not think it is consistent with Augustinianism.

      Here is another reason it is not. What uncreated goods are there that are not the divine essence on your view that God chooses between? If none, then God is not free. Given that Augustine, not to mention Thomas deny that there is anything that is God that is not the divine essence and the divine essence admits of no real or formal distinctions, there is only one good object of choice and not many.

    • Perry Robinson

      Wm. Tanksly,

      The fixity of character doesn’t exclude LFW, it only implies a limitation on the scope of freedom. A change in the possible range of objects of choice isn’t the same as limiting the objects of choice to one. The only way that would be true is if goodness were absolutely one simple thing.

      Such agents who achive a fixed state one way or another are still praiseworthy or blameworthy because they produced that state, just as a person who throws themselves down a hole from which they cannot escape is responsible for their state, even though they can’t change it.

    • Perry Robinson

      Donald Hartley,

      You create a straw man to attack as LFW doesn’t entail the ability to will contrary to, but only the ability to will otherwise. An impeccable agent could choose between two goods and to will one but not the other, and it would be to will otherwise, but not to will contrary to, since good is not opposed to good. This is why God’s choice between creating or not creating (saving or not) is not a choice between a good and an evil option.

      The strongest inclination line won’t work, because inclinations aren’t causes and you need a cause, not a disposition directed towards an end, which is what inclinations are. Second, even if they were causes, you’d need to show that they were deterministic causes. Not just any causal theory will do. Third, it is rather tautological. Any decision could be explained by just saying it was the strongest. Its like survival of the fittest. Fourth, if inclinations did all the causal work, we wouldn’t need to speak of intentions, let alone descions. Consequently, the Edwardian model is inadequate.

      If all effects have causes, and all choices of agents have causes and God is an agent, what is the cause of God’s actions? Was God determined to create and so do you deny creation ex nihilo too? What is the difference at this point between your conception of God and that of Aristotle or Plotinus which eternally generates the world?

    • wm tanksley

      I think the different between praising God for having a good nature and praising man for his nature is that God, including his nature, is a neccessary, uncreated being who, if He is to be truly God, must be good. A evil God is not God.

      No, that’s not a valid argument. It requires that we believe that God could have given up the excellencies of His nature if only He were willing to not be God anymore. God is God by nature.

      Man on the other hand is a contingent, created being. If man’s nature is bound by God such that man cannot legitimately choose between good and evil

      Man’s nature is fixed because fixation is what a nature IS. It’s not something that changes. And man CAN choose between good and evil; but we know from the Bible that man consistently chooses evil, to the extent that even his righteous deeds are “as filthy rags”.

      then man’s nature is neither blameworthy or praiseworthy, rather God is praiseworthy or blameworthy for creating a creature that is such.

      An old protest, so old that Paul thought of it as a direct response to his argument. We’ve covered this already, though.

      Now imagine instead that Dr. Soong had created Lore with the intention of creating a monster and had given it a anti-ethics program of sorts. Would Dr. Soong be blameworthy for the actions of Lore??

      Yes, he would have. This is a good illustration of not being what Calvinists are proposing. What do you think of my Data-based illustration?

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      There are many examples in scripture where men were exposed to the gospel, but chose to reject it. Yet others chose to accept it.

      That’s true, but whenever the Bible explains WHY people chose, it tells us that it’s because they weren’t God’s people. It doesn’t say that it’s all just their free choice and nothing God could do about it.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      But my point was that any and all that looked at the serpent were healed. There was no special class of Israelites that could look and be healed and another class that could not look and were not healed.

      That’s not even close to what Calvinists say. That’s like saying there’s a class of people who are drawn by God, come to Jesus, but who are not raised up on the last day — and this is what Arminians say, not what Calvinists say. Calvinists say that everyone who comes to Christ will be raised up on the last day, which is akin to how everyone who looked on the serpent was healed from poison.

      The Bible doesn’t say whether some people refused to look on the serpent, while it does say that some people refuse to come to Christ. So there the comparison has to stop.

      -Wm

    • cherylu

      William,

      I don’t follow your last comment at all. My point was that ALL of the Isralites could look on the serpent and be healed. In Calvinism, there are certain people–the reprobates that God passes over or even ordains before creation to be lost–that have no chance of receiving His salvation. If that is not what limited atonement, being passed over for salvation and double predestination means, please clarify for me.

      Or don’t you believe that there are those that have no chance of salvation as Calvinism in general seems to hold? I’m confused!

    • wm tanksley

      I don’t follow your last comment at all. My point was that ALL of the Isralites could look on the serpent and be healed. In Calvinism, there are certain people–the reprobates that God passes over or even ordains before creation to be lost–that have no chance of receiving His salvation. If that is not what limited atonement, being passed over for salvation and double predestination means, please clarify for me.

      The Bible doesn’t say why some Israelites looked on the serpent while others didn’t. You’re ASSUMING it’s because they all could and some chose to do so, and then you’re using that as a prooftext against Calvinism even though the actual text says nothing whatsoever about the issues on which we differ.

      That’s my major point, and it’s sufficient to completely dismiss your argument: your argument is pure speculation.

      -Wm

    • cherylu

      William,

      I guess the text never says that anyone didn’t look on the serpent and live either. The way it reads, I have always thought that all could look at it and live.

      But you are right, it doesn’t say for sure so I guess it is speculation. I grant you the point! 🙂

    • wm tanksley

      Cheryl, could you rephrase post #75? Sorry, I don’t understand it. Are you saying something about speculating that people might have NOT looked at the snake and then lived anyhow?

      I don’t understand how that relates to our discussion. Are you perhaps being sarcastic?

      What I’m saying is that we don’t know whether all people could look to the serpent. We do know that not all people can come to Jesus. He says so, and indicates that some of the people following him at the time were among those who could not come to Him.

      Therefore, your claim that we know that all of the Hebrews were completely free to look is irrelevant, even if it were true.

      -Wm

    • cherylu

      William,

      My comment wasn’t very clear at all. I probably could not have understood it if I was you, or anyone else either!

      I was making 3 points–(hope this clarifies):

      1. You seemed to assume that some people didn’t look at the serpent and live–that I believe is speculation.

      2. I have always thought all people could look at the serpent and live. Still do, but it doesn’t actually say that, so that too is speculation.

      3. Since all we have here is speculation, I concede your point: it’s sufficient to completely dismiss your argument: your argument is pure speculation.

      (I just couldn’t resist throwing in that you were speculating too unless there is a verse somewhere else that proves your point, (1), that I an unaware of.)

      And if it wasn’t so late and I wasn’t so tired, maybe I would make better sense. Can always hope any way! 🙂

      I’m going to bed!!

    • wm tanksley

      Thank you for clarifying. Yes, I agree.

      I’d say the Serpent is an example of salvation gained by looking to God for salvation, and in that sense it’s a type of Christ. I don’t think we can reliably carry the comparison any further.

      -Wm

    • Perry Robinson

      Wm Tanksly,

      If man’s nature is fixed and cannot change, then Calvinism is false since total depravity posits such a change in human nature, namely that some of its essential constituents are lost. It would also preclude the possibility of regeneration as well.

      Even on a Calvinist gloss though, the lapsed condition isn’t human nature properly speaking. Consequently one cannot generalize from our condition to human nature’s essence.

    • wm tanksley

      Perry, thank you for your responses in this and other threads. You’ve given me a lot to think about, and I’ve been slow to respond. But this one seems simple:

      If man’s nature is fixed and cannot change, then Calvinism is false since total depravity posits such a change in human nature,

      I’m working from my definition of “nature”: a nature is the set of regular laws which a thing follows. I know the EO definition is different, since the EO holds that the Will is located in the Nature, but I simply don’t understand that. I’d love to hear a definition which explains how that makes sense. Willing just seems like such a _personal_ action. Locating the will in the nature would seem to make it possible for an impersonal thing to will (if it could by nature will) and that seems absurd to me.

      So because it’s part of my definition of a nature to be regular, a change in nature would be extraordinary. It certainly couldn’t come from the natural being itself, since the being must follow its nature, not rule over its nature. In Adam’s case, the change came from the promise God made: “the day you eat from it you will surely die.”

      In the regenerated Christian’s case, the change comes from the regeneration worked by the Spirit.

      namely that some of its essential constituents are lost.

      This contradicts every definition of Total Depravity I’ve seen. TD is usually used to mean that every part is touched by sin, but that doesn’t mean that any part is *missing*. You say elsewhere that it means that the imago dei is missing, but that isn’t possible, because James explicitly uses the current image of God in man as a motivation for his exhortation to not curse men. (Some Calvinists may forget this explicit argument, but surely not ALL of them.)

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Perry, the Parchment and Pen guys made another claim about the EO on this post, and I wondered if you might have some clarifications.

      -Wm

    • Perry Robinson

      Wm Tanksley,

      I am not sure that that is a sufficient definition of nature since there seems to be cases where the definition applies but don’t seem to be things that have a nature, at least not in terms of essence. But that aside, an essence or nature seems rather to be a property or set of properties that a thing has necessarily in so far as should it fail to have them (it) it ceases to be the thing that it is. That may have something to do with law like behavior or it may not. There are no laws of psychology for example such that one can plug in the laws and the data and predict an agents actions. (Calvinists too have historically denied not only mechanistic determinism but psychological determinism. The kind of soft determinism Calvinists endorse is a metaphysical thesis, not a psychological one.)

      The Reformed too locate the will qua power of choice in the nature. If they didn’t, then the Edwardian line of argumentation wouldn’t go through. And second, they have affirmed that Christ has two natures, and two wills but is only one person. If the will is hypostatic or personal then either Christ is not fully human since he would lack a human will or if he has a human will, Christ is two persons. Either option is heterodox.

      I don’t deny that willing as an act is done by persons, just as the act of thinking is, but that doesn’t imply that there isn’t a natural faculty of the intellect by which said thinking gets done and so it doesn’t imply that there isn’t such a faculty or power such as the willing by which said willing gets done. Christ wills in a natural and human way.

    • Perry Robinson

      Wm. Tanksley,

      Your comment that the will as natural is absurd because it would imply impersonal things will seems to confuse the power of choice with the act of choosing. That is not the position in question and so it escapes the criticism.

      In any case, I can’t see how your comments actually get around my criticism. If nature is fixed, then Calvinism is false since it postulates an essential change in human nature brought about by human choice. On your view such a change is impossible and it is so, since as you say “the being must follow its nature.” Did Adam follow his nature or no? The same goes for regeneration. If the nature can’t logically be changed by definition in the first place, then obviously the Spirit can’t change it.

      As for the biblical reference, doesn’t this depend on whether death is a change in the essence of human nature or no? Is it a cessation or an alteration? If there is one pink gopher in the world and it ceases to exist, that doesn’t change the nature of the pink gopher.

      Actually what I posited doesn’t contradict the thesis of total depravity, but is an articulation of it, whether it is the Reformed or Lutheran variety. As I noted previously, both the Reformed and the Lutherans take righteousness to be an intrinsic constituent of the imago dei, which constitutes human nature as such. This was a fundamental and major sticking point between the Reformers and Rome, with Rome holding that righteousness, as an aspect of grace, was added to nature. Here Rome upheld Augustine’s view and the Reformers that of the Pelagians. For confirmation I’d suggest picking up say Turretin, Hodge or any other major Reformed systematic theology on the question of original righteousness. ( See Turretin’s Institutes of Eclenctic Theology, Vol. 1, pp. 462-473 for example.) On the Catholic side, see Henri de Lubac’s work, Augustinianism and Modern Theology, &, The Mystery of the Supernatural.

    • Perry Robinson

      Wm. Tanksley,

      TD is glossed as you say, *with respect to every other constituent remaining after the fall and not with respect to original righteousness.* And no, I didn’t say that the imago dei is missing in TD, but that the imago dei *as such* is lost because it lacks all of its essential parts. What is left is an altered image. If this wasn’t so, the Covenant of Works would not make sense at all since under that covenant, Adam of his own natural ability could have merited eternal life. This only makes sense if nature is intrinsically graced or if righteousness is natural, which again is just pure Pelagian anthropology.

      The passage from James I would take as disproof of the Reformation view of original righteousness so I don’t think it helps your case. If men are to be respected on the basis of being in the image of God, either God’s image was changed by human choice, compromising divine sovereignty, or the image of God includes moral evil since our corrupted state now is a reflection per Reformed theology of the image we retain.

    • wm tanksley

      I am not sure that that is a sufficient definition of nature since there seems to be cases where the definition applies but don’t seem to be things that have a nature, at least not in terms of essence.

      I was giving my definition of ‘nature’ in hopes that you would give yours, and I was also explaining why my lack of knowledge of your definition made me confused about some of the positions you’d taken.

      But now you’ve given two clear definitions: (1) the set of properties which an entity must have in order to be that kind of thing; and (2) the thing’s essence. (Both are helpful to me, and I know how you’re using them to mean the same thing although my sloppy paraphrasing may have messed up your clear meaning.)

      I might now have some clue what you’re talking about when you say that the will is located in the nature. You mean that having a will is a required part of being a human. That seems just eminently sensible, and that makes me happy (if your position makes sense to me, it’s likely that I’ve understood it correctly).

      I’ve got to think about this for a while.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      The passage from James I would take as disproof of the Reformation view of original righteousness so I don’t think it helps your case. If men are to be respected on the basis of being in the image of God, either God’s image was changed by human choice, compromising divine sovereignty, or the image of God includes moral evil since our corrupted state now is a reflection per Reformed theology of the image we retain.

      I just realized I made a mistake. James isn’t using the term ‘the image of God’ (eikonos Theou), but rather ‘the likeness of God’ (homoiwsin Theou). Interesting. I’d assumed the former because James seemed to condemn any ill-speaking about men; apparently he’s only condemning ill-speaking about goodness in men.

      But we do not retain the divine likeness in perfection; if we did, it would be a homoousios rather than a homoiousios. And Christ, not us, has homoousios.

      Clearly, though, there’s more than sufficient Biblical evidence that man retains the divine image (James is hardly the only passage to explain that).

      or the image of God includes moral evil since our corrupted state now is a reflection per Reformed theology of the image we retain.

      Total Depravity would mean that our reflection of the image of God is sullied, yes. I think this IS why Reformed thinkers tend not to distinguish between the Image and the Likeness, whereas Orthodox do so distinguish.

      I certainly don’t agree with your charge that the reformed position compromises divine sovereignty; such a compromise would require that God sovereignly decreed that the image would not be sullied and the likeness would be, and I don’t see that specified. That’s a distinctively EO theory, not an explicitly scriptural doctrine. (Although, with that said, I do like the idea of distinguishing between the two words ‘image’ and ‘likeness’. I’m just not sure it’s supported by Scripture’s use of the two.)

      -Wm

    • george57

      george57 this is surly one one the best breakdowns of Prevenient grace. that i have read for a while, c Michael you do a great job of putting together this false teaching, lets face it we are little lost boys who get lost in the mall, when mummy leaves us for a few moments, we know that as j piper says, if you start out with the map of god up side- down, and then how do we ever expect to find any truth, if any person or church like the c colson, b Graham, and pals, leaves out gods sovereignty, that why, the love the pope and never give any warnings to come away to the lost, , hell, is a joke to this people, all roads lead to heaven, lets search and work for the truth, and beinging a cavinist is the nearest we will find, here in scotland, we had the pope, giving out blessings, to the lost on tv, so so sad, and now in our own camp site , we get our people want to believe lies, and half-truths, c Michael could you do a message on HELL, PLEASE, I DONT THINK, BELIEVERS SOMETIMES really know about whats going to happen to the lost, hell is real, and most people are going to this place , so time short, lets get the facts right, study, and go and tell, true doctrine, god bless from scotland.

    • george57

      hi, who gets the glory, man or god, never in Romans 9 or anywhere does man get anything but ,,,,,,,what GRACE, or the questions to be asked is, who gets the glory, lets me see where does doctrine that gives man glory yes or no mind, you lets not forget our mind is fallen, our thinking beyond our selfish ways is evil] so , lads my teaching is if we look far in bible then all gods truth will be backed up, and will be found, but in truth we are born sinners, then if we move towards god, in tears, oh lord I am a sinner, that’s it not any other words, we are sinners, true born believers hear his voice, and bow their heads and follow, him,,,,, others just keep moving around asking silly questions, we have great god filled teachers , and we have bad evil teachers, some of the biggest churches in the world, don’t even preach the true gospel, so man trying to tell god how things should be is sin, upon sin, god is in charge, Christ gets all the glory, only Christ, god bless.

    • Hodge

      Perry and William,

      The imago Dei in Scripture is not the man’s nature, but the man’s role. Man is the representative of God’s sovereignty in the created order over chaos. He has a moral obligation to fulfill it. He fails to fulfill it in the Fall, but is still made by God to be that image and is called upon to repent and fulfill it. All of this talk about the imago Dei as an expression of a man’s nature, and whether it’s corrupted, etc., misses the point. A biblical anthropology in terms of man’s nature must be developed from elsewhere.

    • Warren

      I have a couple of problems with this entire discussion:

      1) This assumtpive language that there are only two choices on the menu; Calvinism and Arminianism; there is a thrid choice that has been around since the 17th century called Molinism that has seena resurgence since mid-1980’s (see Plantinga and WL Craig)

      2) The redefining of terms (libertarian free will, compatibilism); these terms have been redefined in the TTP curriculum to mean other than has long been accepted in the philosophy encyclopedia.

      Calvinism logically results in theistic determinism and becomes logically incoherent.

    • wm tanksley

      Warren, Molinism has indeed enjoyed a resurgence; it’s commonly used as a backdrop for Arminianism, although of course it’s actually Catholic.

      But it’s incredibly ironic that you’d promote Molinism while condemning Calvinism for resulting in determinism. Yes, some Calvinists are determinists; I myself am. But I reached that for philosophical reasons, not Calvinistic. Molinism, on the other hand, is deterministic to its core: it says that once God knows what circumstances a given soul will undergo, He can compute everything that soul will ever do. Total determinism, and worse yet, determinism that gives credit (or damnation) to the soul for its innate ability to accept Christ.

      The TTP curriculum uses the classical meaning of the terms, rather than the modern philosophical definition (since the early 80s, due to van Inwagen). I was myself shocked to see the new definitions; I’m not completely happy with them, but they are standards.

      -Wm

    • Pery Robinson

      there is some kind of glitch or I am dumb because only comment sup to #50 are showing.

    • Perry Robinson

      Hodge,
      I disagree regarding the imago dei in Reformation theology. First, Reformed and Lutheran representative works uniformly say the opposite to what you claim. Second, they argue on the basis of that view that a change in the imago dei entails a change in human nature. If this wasn’t so, total depravity would be baseless and a purely Pelagian anthropology would follow in terms of role and his nature being unharmed after the fall.

    • Perry Robinson

      M Tanksley,

      The Orthodox distinguish between image and likeness. Likeness is generally acquired through habituation.

      Also, having the divine likeness would might entail having the divine essence, if the Orthodox adhered to the Latin view on divine simplicity, but we don’t. This is in part why we have the doctrine of the energies. We become deified in terms of the divine energies, not essence.

      I don’t doubt there is biblical data to support the idea that man retains the divine image, but that of itself will likely leave the Reformed view untouched since they will argue that it is retained relative to this or that feature.

      Total depravity would not entail that our reflection of the imago dei is sullied since that line would imply that we do not have the divine image. The Reformed do not distinguish between image and likeness for a few reasons. First, they take the biblical usage as at times interchangeable to imply complete semantic and therefore normative usage. Second, they take likeness or righteousness to be intrinsic to human nature.

      If the Reformed view holds that God willed human nature to be a certain way, then the fall alters what God wills. The only other option is to say that God conditionally willed it to be so, but I don’t think the Reformed will argue for that conclusion. On the Orthodox view God doesn’t decree, rather he makes, and since likeness in terms of personal righteousness cannot be given without the agent’s participation, it is not something he can decree or make anymore than God can make a square circle.

    • Michael

      WM,
      As I’ve indicated before Molinism is one of those things that difficult to wrap ones head around. Maybe this tidbit will help, maybe it won’t. To a Molinist God based on Middle Knowledge knows what all possible universes would look like. Of those possible universes he chose to create this one foreknowing what each individual in this universe would freely choose to do. Now most Molinists would argue that God in doing so chose to create the universe with free agents that would be maximally good.

      From this Molinists would argue that God’s meticulous sovereignty is maintained since He chose to create this universe out of the possible universes which could have been created foreknowning everything that would occur. They would also then say that libertarian free will is maintained because our choices are still free. We have not been determined by God to choose to do right or wrong, or even willed by God to do right or wrong. We actually make a transcendent free will choice to do right or wrong.

      Now something doesn’t strike me as right here, but I’m not sure why. As discussed in another thread God simply foreknowning what we will use our free will to do doesn’t undermine free will. Although it seems illogical I haven’t come up with a way to prove that God choosing to create universe X instead of universe Y undermines free will either. Thus while I “feel” Molinism is wrong I don’t currently have a rational reason to believe it is.

    • Perry Robinson

      Michael,

      A few corrections. The idea is not universes but logically possilbe worlds, which is a distinct idea in logic. Out of all thelogically possible worlds, not all of them are capable of being created by God in Molinism.

      God knows via iddle knowledge because he knows the essences of each individual person and that essence determines what they will do in a given LPW. Given the deterministic relationship between the essence of the individual and their acitons, libertarian free will is logically precluded. In Molinism God determines the agents’ actions by instantiating essences in circumstances that so determine the agent’s actons.

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, I mostly agree with Perry’s characterization, except that I think he meant to type “logically possible worlds” instead of “theologically possible worlds”.

      The distinction between the two is evident in the example Dr. Craig gives: Peter’s denial. It’s logically possible that a world exists in which Peter was ensouled with the same soul, all things happened as they did up to the denial, but Peter did not deny Christ; but the Molinist holds that Peter’s soul would, given those circumstances, actually always deny Christ; and thus the logical possibility is counterfactual for that world arrangement, and God could not create that world because Peter’s free will would never possibly work that way.

      According to this doctrine, God knows all logically possible worlds by Natural Knowledge; He knows all worlds allowed by free will by Middle Knowledge (which excludes some logically possible worlds because the free wills in them won’t actually act that way in that circumstance); and He knows everything about the one world he actually actuated by Free Knowledge.

      A true free-will Arminian will reject this utterly because it’s HARD predestinarian; one’s past circumstances together with the particular soul one was created with utterly determines one’s actions. A Calvinist will reject it because it denies God the ability to design each soul according to His pleasure (he can only accept what the soul would do in that circumstance).

      Because of that last problem, the reason a Calvinist would reject it, it seems clear that Molinism implies that God does not have the power to design souls; this comes dangerously close to saying that God does not have power over creating souls, so that either the design of each soul or the soul itself preexists Creation.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM and Perry,

      I’m not sure about Molinism as described by Molina as I have never studied it. The only form of Molinism I have any knowledge of is that professed by Craig. I’m not sure he would agree with Perry’s articulation of his beliefs. The reason I say this is 1) simply because he affirms LFW and if Perry’s articulation is true any idiot, much less WLC, could see the logical contradiction – you are just replacing the “nature” in Reformed Theology with “essences” that determine actions, and 2) I have never read WLC discuss “essences” anywhere – I suspect this may be a East-West mismatch in language that often occurs.

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, I recently listened to Craig’s “4 views” podcast, then a chapter from his book “The Only Wise God”, and the example regarding Peter came from him.

      Craig responds to this argument here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=7437

      And the response is logically incoherent, because although he claims that the action is not determined, the fact is that when God actuates that possible world, Pilate (in the example given) will actually choose the single action that God intended him to, as God intended. The action is actuated just as the possible world is actuated, and the possible world is actuated precisely because God wanted many or most of those choices to turn out as He naturally-knew that they would, and middle-knew that they could, happen.

      Interestingly, Craig also protests that if you accept this, middle knowledge would collapse into natural or free knowledge. He’s right; it does. Middle knowledge does no actual explanatory work.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      I’m not really sure what you are getting at. No Arminian worth their salt would say that God didn’t create this universe with this set of physical laws, etc. The only thing I can see Molinism adding to this is that it increases the level of God’s control over the events of this universe because he chose to create this universe instead of another universe. The question is how does God creating universe X instead of universe Y undermine free will? The only argument I could see here is that his foreknowledge undermines free will, but that has already been addressed I think. I wouldn’t see how middle knowledge would be any different.

      P.S. I’m actually trying to learn about Molinism through this discussion and correct any misunderstandings I may have of it. So if I’m misreading Molinism somewhere please let me know as it is not the position I personally hold, though I am intrigued by it.

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, when you say “No Arminian worth his salt…” I certainly agree with you, and I’m not sure where I managed to miscommunicate THAT. I affirm (with you) that Arminianism and Molinism are Christian doctrines and are not heretical.

      You say that Molinism increases God’s control. This isn’t correct; it can only possibly decrease God’s control, because it asserts that some logically possible worlds are not actualizable by God strictly because man’s free will won’t allow that creation. This is the only function of “middle knowledge” in this system.

      You next ask why Molinism undermines free will. It does this by asserting that the choices of a soul are a product only of past circumstances and the nature of the original soul itself. By creating a soul and then changing the soul’s circumstances, God can completely determine its choices (within certain limits set by the soul itself). According to Molinism, neither God nor the soul can change the nature of the soul (although God can decline to create a logically possible soul).

      This has nothing to do with God’s foreknowledge in the sense we saw with the modal fallacy; Molinism contains a hypothesis about the nature of free choice: that it is completely knowable simply by knowing everything about the soul and the circumstances, even if the soul didn’t actually exist. Since the soul didn’t actually exist in the “second moment” of God’s knowledge, this implies that the soul couldn’t possibly be the nondeterministic cause of the choice that God knew would happen if He actuated that timeline.

      Craig denies this, but his denial is logically incoherent, since he ignores the fact that a nondeterministic cause that doesn’t exist cannot possibly have determinate consequences.

      Molinism thereby excludes the possibility of LFW.

      -Wm

    • Michael

      WM,

      Again this is just my understanding. I really wish we had a molinist in here who could better explain things since neither of us hold the position.

      1. My understanding of Molinism is that it isn’t that some universes are not actualizable because of human free will. God certainly could’ve created a universe without free will. He could’ve created a universe without humans for that matter. The issue is that if God chooses to create a universe where humans have free will that will limit the logically possible universes He could create. This seems fairly obvious because anytime you add a neccessary charateristic to a set of options(e.g. the shirt I’m going to wear today has to be red) you are going to end up with less options (and as Perry pointed out there are some universes God can’t create simply because God can’t do that which is logically impossible like create a square circle or a rock so big He can’t lift it). This doesn’t seem to me to limit God’s control since He chooses to create a universe that has human free will in the first place.

      2. A) Do you have a citation about all actions being determined by past circumstances and the nature of the soul? and B) is this a neccessary component of Molinism, or something believed by some of Molinism’s adherents?

    • wm tanksley

      You asked for a citation… For a source, read the post I linked to above, by Dr. Craig. There’s a lot of fine points in it, but the main things to take away for our purposes are visible in the following quotes:

      * … “counterfactuals of creaturely freedom” have fully specified circumstances in their antecedents. Such counterfactuals have the form “If agent S were in circumstances C, then S would freely do action A.”
      * [S] can choose one way or the other; but he will choose one way. If he were in C, he would freely choose A, though he could choose not-A instead.

      See what he’s doing? He’s admitting that in the world God actuated, agent S will (with total certainty) actually perform action A. This is a logical certainty derived from the two variables S and C, both set by the will of God. Note that this is NOT a matter of what God knows; it’s simply a result of S and C; and in the final analysis, it’s a matter of what God has actively done. God acted causing A to happen when He could (by changing C and/or S), have had non-A happen instead.

      This is not logically compatible with LFW, because in the final analysis God’s will is the entire reason why S and C exist in the relationship that will require A to ensue.

      Dr. Craig attempts to escape this by discussing how S “could” do non-A; but in fact S cannot and will not in any case do that, because God’s action in actuating that world ruled out the agent doing non-A.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, you’re talking about logical possibilities. God knows all logical possibilities in His natural knowledge, which all theists agree God has. That’s not what I’m talking about.

      Molinism says (in agreement with LFW) that God cannot control the choices of free-will creatures. However, they also say that God does have a specific plan for the world in which all things, including all actions of free-will creatures, fit; and that this plan was logically prior to the creation (and wasn’t simply a reaction, as though God created and then said “oh, I didn’t know that would happen!”).

      To allow both to be true, Molinism supposes that God must be able to know which alternate timelines can NOT host the actions He wants to occur, because they have a free creature in circumstances where he won’t freely do that. Then God knows that such a timeline can’t be the right one to create.

      But this means that Molinism disagrees crucially with LFW, because LFW says that what I do must be up to me in a particular way; Molinism says that it is actually vetoed by God, to the extent that He avoided the realities with any actuality that you’d do otherwise.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      I think I see what you are saying. However this statement still bothers me somewhat.

      “But this means that Molinism disagrees crucially with LFW, because LFW says that what I do must be up to me in a particular way; Molinism says that it is actually vetoed by God, to the extent that He avoided the realities with any actuality that you’d do otherwise.”

      I’m just not sure how this undermines free will anymore then the fact that this universe was created with certain physical laws undermines free will (e.g. I can’t choose to jump off the Empire State Building and survive). I mean I agree with you here that it does, I’m just not sure how. God simply chose to create this universe out of an infinite number of logically possible universes knowing and desiring that in this universe I would freely choose to have this conversation with you.

      Now I agree that Craig’s articulation of things (if this is in fact his understanding) is ultimately deterministic and runs into the same problems as any other deterministic system. Despite this I have a friend who is a philosophy major. He seems to articulate Molinism in a less deterministic manner then you’ve described with Craig. At it’s base, in his articulation, Molinism seems to simply be a combination of two things. 1) God having foreknowledge/middle knowledge of all the free choices that would be made in any given logically possible universe, and 2) God choosing to create this universe over any other logically possible universe.

      Now if that understanding of the base elements of Molinism is correct then I fail to see how they would undermine free will. I guess I’m just kinda confused….

    • wm tanksley

      I’m just not sure how this undermines free will […] I mean I agree with you here that it does, I’m just not sure how.

      I’m confused… You say here that you agree that it does, but below you say that it doesn’t.

      Now I agree that Craig’s articulation of things (if this is in fact his understanding) is ultimately deterministic and runs into the same problems as any other deterministic system.

      Have you read Craig’s article? He’s defending Molinism there against charges of determinism. That’s why I chose that article. The problem is that the defense fails, because God’s actions are performed in order to utterly determine (define, delimit, make unique) all future events. It’s true that Molinism doesn’t assume physical determinism; but it does assume metaphysical determinism, because God is able to make metaphysical choices in creation which make our entire timeline utterly fixed and immutable.

      At it’s base, in his articulation, Molinism seems to simply be a combination of two things. 1) God having foreknowledge/middle knowledge of all the free choices that would be made in any given logically possible universe, and 2) God choosing to create this universe over any other logically possible universe.

      The distinguishing feature of Molinism against LFW is that God can actuate, from His will and knowledge only, a universe in which “free” creatures will choose in ways that God decides are most appropriate.

      The distinguishing feature of Molinism against compatibilism is that God cannot actuate any universe He wishes, but rather is limited in what souls He can create: for example, He might not have been able to create a universe containing man in which the first Adam chose not to fall, or perhaps He might not have been able to create a universe in which Christ went to Calvary and his foremost apostle didn’t deny Him. (Those are random unsupported speculations, of course.) Compatibilism says that God can design souls…

    • wm tanksley

      (Wow, I do not like how the new site design works! As I was saying:)

      Compatibilism says that God can design souls in any way He wishes, so that the souls choose what they wish in full accordance with what God wishes. Molinism denies that God has any power to design the souls He creates; He can only create them and accept the way they are.

      Molinism is, in a very profound sense, compatibilism that works only some of the time. According to Molinism, God can, most of the time, cause free creatures to will what He wants them to.

      Now if that understanding of the base elements of Molinism is correct then I fail to see how they would undermine free will. I guess I’m just kinda confused….

      The souls God creates are free only in the sense that God didn’t design them. They are absolutely deterministic in the sense that a knowledge of their metaphysical essence plus a knowledge of their circumstances allows a complete calculation of what they will choose, without any input from them (because they do not exist except as conceptual information). God is permitted in Molinism to design their circumstances, but He is not permitted to design the souls.

      There are no grounds for Molinism’s denial of that power to God. It’s simply unwarranted and irrational to speak as though that somehow constitutes freedom for the creature. If you claim that God is obligated to create us with the ability to do otherwise if we are to be held morally accountable, then Molinism is not a sufficient account.

      -Wm

    • Michael

      WM,
      The reason I said I agree that Molinism undermines LFW and then went on to indicate that it doesn’t is because my gut feeling is that it undermines LFW, I’m just not sure how to prove it logically. As to the rest of the stuff you wrote – I’m a bit busy and will look at it and try to understand it when I get a chance so keep an eye out for my response.

    • Michael

      WM,

      Quick thought – tell me what you think.

      WLC holds to the A-Theory of time. Now on the A-Theory of time, at least in my understanding, the future is actually created as the events occur. In a real way the future doesn’t exist yet for anyone, including God. If this is true it would seem that in order for God to have exhaustive foreknowledge of the future determinism would have to be true. If determinism wasn’t true God could not know what free will choice free agent A would make given circumstances X and time Y (He may have some probablistic understanding, but not actual knowledge). Thus it would seem that on the A-Theory of time either some type of mechanical determinism must be true, or open theism of some type is true.

    • wm tanksley

      What you say above seems true. I think I missed A-Theory when I was thinking out loud above.

      -Wm

    • Michael

      WM,

      Thx for the response. While I may not understand Molinism yet (at least in all its possible forms – still reading when i have time) I think I at least understand open theism better. If one rejects determinism, but accepts the A-Theory of time it would appear to me at least that open theism is the only logical possibility (don’t agree with them of course – but better understanding something is always good).

    • Perry robinson

      Wm tanksley,

      Thanks for the correction. I meant to type “logically possible.” Good eye.

      As for the reasons why a Calvinist would reject a Molinist gloss, ISTM that one would do so out of a commitment to a more voluntaristic view of divine volition. That though by itself doesn’t imply that one view glorifies God more or not. All views place some kind of limit on omnipotence.

      Something else to keep straight, the soul is not the person. In Molinism the person is an essence or haeceity within God as an idea. Craig (and Moreland) seem confused on this point which lead the to adopt an explicitly Apollinarian Christology. If the person is the soul and Christ has a human soul then Christ would be two persons (Nestorianism). So they adopt the thesis that Christ has no human soul. So much for defending historic Christianity.

      In your reply to Michael, I don’t think Craig’s account fails to work because things occur as God knows that they would. One would need an argument to show that Craig’s account of *knowledge* implies a deterministic causation. But God knows lots of things he does not cause, namely his own existence for one. The reason why his account doesn’t work is because of the relation of the essence to the person’s action. If we make that relation indeterministic, then middle knowledge isn’t possible. Open Theists I think have been right to exploit this move, but they’ve taken it in the wrong direction. The lesson isn’t that God can’t know indeterministically caused events, but that God’s knowing isn’t within the realm of being in the first place.

      To be fair to Craig, while I reject Molinism, when you write that an indeterminsitically caused event can’t have a determinative consequence, this is false. This is why there is a difference between the consequence of necessity and the necessity of consequence, that is, the difference between saying, if A occurs, then necessarily B occurs, and saying, necessarily A occurs then necessarily B occurs. Again…

    • Perry robinson

      Wm.

      To be fair to Craig, while I reject Molinism, when you write that an indeterminsitically caused event can’t have a determinative consequence, this is false. This is why there is a difference between the consequence of necessity and the necessity of consequence, that is, the difference between saying, if A occurs, then necessarily B occurs, and saying, necessarily A occurs then necessarily B occurs. Again what is problematic for Craig is what grounds middle knowledge and the relation between the essence and the action.

      And it isn’t God’s choices that render our actions inevitable on a Molinist gloss, it is the relationship between the haecceity and person’s actions.

      Also, it is important to realize that since Molinism is deterministic, it is at home within a compatibilist/soft deterministic framework. Even compatibilists/soft determinists think that freedom is incompatible with either some forms of determinism or other metaphysical considerations. So they’d accept the idea that not all worlds are accessible to God with respect to freedom.

      And Compatibilism isn’t a thesis about God’s relationship to possible worlds. It is a thesis about freedom. The thesis is that freedom and moral responsibility are logically compatible (both can be true) with determinism. Soft determinism entails Compatibilism and further that there is freedom and reality is deterministic.

    • Perry robinson

      Michael T.

      The Grounding Objection to Molinism is in part an attempt to force Molinists like Craig to face up to the implicit determinism in Molinism. The Objection does so by asking what is the truth maker for propositions about what God knows relative to the actions of agents. It should be kept in mind that Craig’s version of Molinism is more recent and more classical forms of Molinism by Suarez and Bellermine were quite predestinarian. This is why the grounding objection never could come up with their accounts since they endorsed a predestinarian outlook.

      Craig does discuss “essences” in his more sophisticated works. He has to, because the Scotistic notion of a haecceity is integral to Molinism and haecceities are essences of persons or individual things.

      The difference between the case of natural laws limiting the scope of freedom and Molinism is this. Natural laws may limit the ways I am free, but it doesn’t alter the nature or conditions on freedom. Molinism alters the conditions on freedom since it entails a deterministic relationship between the person’s essence and their actions. That deterministic relationship logically precludes LFW.

    • wm tanksley

      A few quick research comments (I don’t have time for more right now).

      WLC responded to the Grounding Objection at http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/grounding.html

      TurretinFan gave a critical response to WLC’s argument at http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2007/09/william-lane-craigs-middle-knowledge.html

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Oh, and I get your point about Open Theism. Yes, it seems to be motivated by a strong belief in both non-deterministic “free will” and the A-Theory of time, together with the admission that once you allow non-determinism into an A-Theory, God has no grounding for foreknowledge.

      (If the B-Theory is true, either free will is compatibilistic, or there are multiple actual futures.)

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Perry, you said: “To be fair to Craig, while I reject Molinism, when you write that an indeterminsitically caused event can’t have a determinative consequence, this is false.”

      Could you elaborate on that? I think you meant to, but the comment system cut you off. (I will note that I said “determinate” rather than “determinative”, but I think the ‘iv’ was just a typo in your message, since causes are determinative of effects, not the other way around.)

      It seems to me that there is no counterexample to my claim: a counterexample would have the form of an uncaused event with effects, such that the effects were perfectly predictable from the rest of history without having to know about the uncaused event. But in such a situation we’d use Occam’s Razor to say that the “effects” were actually caused by the rest of history, not by the uncaused event, since it was unnecessary to explain the effects.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Perry said: “And it isn’t God’s choices that render our actions inevitable on a Molinist gloss, it is the relationship between the haecceity and person’s actions.”

      That can’t be right, can it? Our actions only only inevitable given specific circumstances to which our haeccity is exposed; and God’s choices are what put those circumstances in place (not to mention God’s free choice to create or not create a being with our haeccity). Therefore, God’s choices are specifically what render our actions inevitable.

      (The above is from the perspective of Molinism as I understand it. I hope I’m understanding the terms correctly!)

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Perry said: “Molinism alters the conditions on freedom since it entails a deterministic relationship between the person’s essence and their actions. That deterministic relationship logically precludes LFW.”

      Ah, that’s a good, short way of saying what I was trying to express. Yes, Molinism (even Craig’s version) says that a choice is determined given history (up to that point) plus the essence of the human about to make the choice.

      -Wm

    • Michael

      So I have to retract one of my earlier comments about the A-Theory of Time leading to either determinism or Open Theism. I was discussing this with a friend who pointed out that I was assuming that God’s Foreknowledge operates through some intermediary mechanism. He pointed out that this is an assumption that need not be the case. It is possible, as illogical as it may seem, for God to simply intrinsically know what will happen.

    • Perry Robinson

      Wm Tanksley,

      I don’t take Turretanfan to be adequately philosophically informed to warrant a profitable reading of the issues. If you want to recommend literature, I’d start with Flint’s book, Divine Providence: A Molinist Account. There is plenty of literature in Faith and Philosophy, Religious Studies and other journals on the grounding objection

      As for causal indeterminism, it is possible to have an indeterministically caused cause bring about a determined effect. Indeterminism isn’t the thesis that there are uncaused effects. It is the thesis that what effects are caused to occur aren’t inevitable given the antecedent conditions.

      As for haecceities and Molinism, the actions of an agent are fixed relative to their essence. The circumstances do not determine the actions. If they did, God’s knowledge of our essences would be irrelevant. It is the individual essence that determines the actions since it is the relation of the essence to the act where the deterministic relation obtains and not between the actions and the circumstances.

    • wm tanksley

      (The blog didn’t post this comment:)

      Michael: “God intrinsically knows” sounds like your friend is saying that it’s in God’s natural knowledge exactly what this real universe is; but that means that the way the universe is now is necessary (intrinsic) to God. That means, in turn, that God had to create the universe this way. I’m sure that’s not what you meant, but I don’t know what you actually meant.

      God’s knowledge needn’t have intermediary, but it does have to have grounding (correspondence with reality).

      …If you do come back, I’ll be watching this thread via RSS. Why not :-). Or you could hop into Paul’s thread; he’ll be back about the same time.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Perry, I think we’re not connecting somehow. It sounds like you’re insisting that Molinism says that circumstances have absolutely zero impact on a person’s actions. That seems like an odd thing to say, since Molinism holds that God can choose which essence to place in which set of circumstances (for example, He could have created me as someone born in AD 800).

      Surely you aren’t suggesting that the me born in AD 800 would be performing the same physical actions as the me born when I actually was born?

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Perry, perhaps you could help me figure this out by rehashing a few things from an earlier post you made:

      I don’t think Craig’s account fails to work because things occur as God knows that they would.

      This is crucially not what I meant; it did not enter into my head that anyone would see a reference to God’s free knowledge of the future. Rather, I intended to refer to the fact that God chooses which creation to actuate based on which creation best fits His desires. It’s God’s choice that determines which timeline is actual, not His knowledge (although His knowledge allows Him to make the correct choice).

      One would need an argument to show that Craig’s account of *knowledge* implies a deterministic causation. But God knows lots of things he does not cause, namely his own existence for one.

      I understand that God didn’t necessarily *cause* each human’s choices: rather, God caused the humans and their circumstances. But God did cause the timeline in which they appear, and He vetoed all the alternative timelines (with other choices).

      Again, I’m not referring at all to an account of knowledge; I’m referring to an account of creative action. Molinism doesn’t merely propose a threefold division of God’s knowledge; it also proposes a process of deciding how to create.

      The reason why his account doesn’t work is because of the relation of the essence to the person’s action. If we make that relation indeterministic, then middle knowledge isn’t possible.

      I see what you’re saying, yes; that seems reasonable.

      […]The lesson isn’t that God can’t know indeterministically caused events, but that God’s knowing isn’t within the realm of being in the first place.

      I don’t understand. Do you mean that there’s no such thing as God’s “natural knowledge”?

      To be fair to Craig, while I reject Molinism, when…

    • wm tanksley

      (This time my post was almost short enough!)

      To be fair to Craig, while I reject Molinism, when you write that an indeterminsitically caused event can’t have a determinative consequence, this is false.

      That’s a paraphrase of what I wrote, and isn’t what I meant. Of course indeterminate events can have effects; but prior to those events, the effects are also indeterminate. I was saying that if the effects are necessary, then so are the things that caused them.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      Wrong Post

    • Michael T.

      WM,
      1. Since I have a small break in the brief I’m working on while it is reviewed by the higher ups I took the chance to listen to some of Dr. Craig’s material and in particular the podcast you mentioned earlier. Now here is how I, with the emphasis on I, understand Craig’s points.

      1. The A-Theory of time is true
      2. LFW exists
      3. God nor past events deterministically cause future events
      4. Future indeterministic events still have a true/false value and God knows the true/false value of these future events. (here is where he takes issue with Open Theists such as Greg Boyd)
      5. God knowing all logically possible universes chooses to actualize this one over others.
      6. By choosing to actualize this universe over another God “weakly actualizes” the events of this universe since He knows what the individuals in this universe will freely choose to do (e.g. by creating this universe over any other and knowing all the free choices humans would make in the universe God is then able to know exactly how the angry mob will freely choose to act at Jesus’ trial even though he has not causally determined them to act in such a manner).

      Is my sumary here correct and if so where is it that you believe the flaw in WLC’s reasoning is?

    • Michael T.

      2. … “counterfactuals of creaturely freedom” have fully specified circumstances in their antecedents. Such counterfactuals have the form “If agent S were in circumstances C, then S would freely do action A.”
      * [S] can choose one way or the other; but he will choose one way. If he were in C, he would freely choose A, though he could choose not-A instead.

      These were quotes you gave earlier to show that WLC ultimately believes in causal determinism. After reviewing these I think you are misunderstanding Craig. Craig here is not making a claim about causal determinism, but rather a claim about the nature of God’s Middle Knowledge that is ultimately no different then the claims classical Arminians make about God’s foreknowledge. Craig is saying that God knows what person A will freely choose to do if presented with circumstances X. Simply because God knows that person A faced with circumstance X will freely choose to do Z does not imply that A was causally determined (by God, antecedent events, or A’s own “essence”) to do Z. I really don’t see the difference between this and the fact that God’s Foreknowledge that A will do Z does not mean that A was causally determined to do Z.

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, good to hear from you again; I hope your work is proven excellent by the review.

      I’ll address your post #2 first, because it’s crucial to my understanding of #1. The problem with Craig’s claim here is simply that once God determines the existence of person A and the presence of circumstances X (both of which are subject to His veto, by anything except Open Theism), the choice Z is inevitable.

      God arguably controls the variable A; at the very least, God could decide to swap person A for person B, and I strongly suspect (admittedly without perfect evidence) that God has enough control over the design of persons to give Him complete discretion over their choices in a given circumstance. My only evidence for this is that if God didn’t have that control, it would seem that God’s choice is limited merely to a veto over which person to create from a countable set of possible persons, and that implies the preexistence of human persons, which contradicts the fact that humans are creations of God, not preexistent.

      God also completely controls the variable X. Actually, God has such extreme control over circumstances that it’s essentially useless to attempt to delimit what choices He couldn’t make inevitable for any allegedly free person to make (for example, it is clear that God COULD bring about the mighty signs and wonders that some atheists have claimed would be sufficient to make them believe; and at least for Saul/Paul, He did). In order to get around this, an LFW sympathizer has to make additional claims not present in the Bible or philosophy, such as the claim that God requires or prefers blind faith (this is actually contradicted in the case of Saul/Paul).

      Given that God controls both variables, and given that once both variables are determined the outcome (choice Z) is certain, it follows that God controls Z. Claiming otherwise is making up a special definition of “determined” that is useless in any field of endeavor.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      In response to your post #1: your summary fits with my time-dimmed memories (sorry, I’m not even sure how to find the original to review it).

      And the way I’d summarize it is that even accepting all your points other than #6, that final #6 doesn’t seem to follow; it’s entirely ad-hoc to invent a special category of actualization, “weak actualization”, which isn’t previously defined or required by any of the premises. By your own premises, the timeline God actualizes is actualized entirely for God’s purposes; there are no other purposes in existence when God created.

      Other than that, everything you say in post #1 is compatible with what a semi-compatiblist would say.

      I forgot to make one comment on your post #2. There’s a huge difference between discussions about God’s knowledge of the future and God’s creation. Knowledge isn’t causal; creation IS. Knowledge is grounded in the thing known; creation is the ground for the thing created.

      (As a side note, observe that I don’t use the word “foreknown” as a synonym for knowledge of the future; I think it’s used in the Bible to indicate not merely knowledge, but approval at a personal level. See especially Rom 11:2, which makes “foreknew” contradict “rejected”.) This fits with the ancient use of “know” in a deeply personal sense (still preserved in the modern world, of course: “I knew him” doesn’t mean the same thing as “I knew it.”)

      Here’s a search for two forms of “to foreknow”: http://net.bible.org/search.php?search=greek_strict_index:4267%20or%20greek_strict_index:4268

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      1. As a initial issue I wonder if we are working with different definitions of when a choice is free from the libertarian perspective. I have been trying to come up with a good definition myself. I think an appropriate definition is the a choice is free if it is not directly caused by an external force and is not merely the result of antecedent causes and conditions (please note all would agree that the antecedent causes and conditions play a role in making a choice – the point here is merely that they don’t deterministically cause the choice). Now my definition above may be inaccurate or just downright wrong and if it is feel free to point that out.

      2. “I strongly suspect (admittedly without perfect evidence) that God has enough control over the design of persons to give Him complete discretion over their choices in a given circumstance.”

      I’m not so sure about this. A significant portion of our design is determined by the natural laws of the universe. Thus I think from the Molinist perspective God, on some level, by choosing to create this universe from all the logically possible universes knew that you and me would be born. So while God had the choice to create or not create this universe He to at least some extent didn’t have the choice to create this universe and not have you or me in it (I’m again trying to take the Molinist perspective and could be way off).

    • Michael T.

      3. I’m not quite clear how God knowing what hypothetical person A would freely choose to do if faced with situation X as well as what person A would do if faced with situation Z implies determinism when God chooses to create a universe in which hypothetical person A exists and is face with situation X?? Does God simply “knowing” imply determinism??

      4. The link to the podcast discussed in my last post.

      http://www.rfmedia.org/RF_audio_video/RF_podcast/Four_Views_on_Divine_Providence.mp3

    • wm tanksley

      1. As a initial issue I wonder if we are working with different definitions of when a choice is free from the libertarian perspective.

      A splendid question!

      I have been trying to come up with a good definition myself. I think an appropriate definition is the a choice is free if it is not directly caused by an external force and is not merely the result of antecedent causes and conditions (please note all would agree that the antecedent causes and conditions play a role in making a choice – the point here is merely that they don’t deterministically cause the choice). Now my definition above may be inaccurate or just downright wrong and if it is feel free to point that out.

      I can’t say it’s wrong; but it doesn’t feel sufficient. One danger signal to me is that it’s purely negative; it only says what free choice is NOT. More seriously, I think even libertarian choice is actually an effect of a cause: the cause is a person’s will. The effect is simply not deterministic; that doesn’t preclude it from being an effect (thanks to Perry for clarifying that for me).

      Can we start by stealing a page from Inwagen, who says that before one defines a compound abstract noun (he was talking about “libertarian free will”) one should first understand the base noun and the adjectives. How about here we attempt to understand “choice”, and then “free” as it applies to “choice”.

      Do you think that’s possible? (I admit that I’m not sure. In fact, one of my doubts about LFW is that it seems to be impossible to define.)

      2. [Wm said]“I strongly suspect (admittedly without perfect evidence) that God has enough control over the design of persons to give Him complete discretion over their choices in a given circumstance.”
      I’m not so sure about this. A significant portion of our design is determined by the natural laws of the universe. Thus I think from the Molinist perspective God, on some level, by…

    • wm tanksley

      (Sorry. Got truncated again.)

      Thus I think from the Molinist perspective God, on some level, by choosing to create this universe from all the logically possible universes knew that you and me would be born. So while God had the choice to create or not create this universe He to at least some extent didn’t have the choice to create this universe and not have you or me in it (I’m again trying to take the Molinist perspective and could be way off).

      One of the central axioms of Molinism is that souls are not physical, and that God can decide which soul goes into which body. So although the history of the universe might (hypothetically) demand that the body I’m using be born, it doesn’t demand that I be the one to occupy it. And Molinism also demands that souls have control over actions, so if God swapped one of us for a soul who didn’t care about God, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      3. I’m not quite clear how God knowing what hypothetical person A would freely choose to do if faced with situation X as well as what person A would do if faced with situation Z implies determinism when God chooses to create a universe in which hypothetical person A exists and is face with situation X?? Does God simply “knowing” imply determinism??

      Simply knowing which one will happen may not imply determinism for God (it would for man); but being able to act to narrow the possibilities down to one prior to the event does imply determinism. The means by which God narrows the possibilities down to one is to choose which soul goes into which circumstances.

      A “true LFW-er” would say that even placing a soul in predetermined circumstances isn’t enough; the soul would still be free to choose either way.

      (A true Scotsman, on the other hand, would be Presbyterian, and thus compatibilist. Sorry; I have to make dry jokes sometimes, and that’s my favorite fallacy name. This one refers to my inadvertent use of “true LFW-er” above.)

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      1. Still processing your definition of LFW, not sure if I agree or not at the moment – still thought I’d reply to your other stuff.

      2. “One of the central axioms of Molinism is that souls are not physical, and that God can decide which soul goes into which body. So although the history of the universe might (hypothetically) demand that the body I’m using be born, it doesn’t demand that I be the one to occupy it. And Molinism also demands that souls have control over actions, so if God swapped one of us for a soul who didn’t care about God, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

      This kinda gets back to a disagreement we are having here in that I don’t really see Molinism or WLC as saying this anywhere. Where they seem to say this, as noted earlier, I think you are misinterpreting them. Now could a Molinist say this – sure I guess, but I don’t see how it is necessitated by the basic arguments of Molinism.

    • Michael T.

      3. “The means by which God narrows the possibilities down to one is to choose which soul goes into which circumstances.”

      Again I could be wrong, but this isn’t what I see Molinism as actually teaching. God narrows down the possibilities by choosing which of the logically possible universes to create. When he chose to create this universe as opposed to another universe he knew that I would exist in this universe and that I would freely choose to have this conversation with you in this universe. Now God’s intervention may change the time line to some extant through his direct intervention by say performing a miracle or sending his Son at a time and place where He knew what would happen, but not by choosing whom to place where at what time accept by His general decree to create this universe over universe X.

    • wm tanksley

      By the way, the “blockquote” tag works now. Whew.

      Again I could be wrong, but this isn’t what I see Molinism as actually teaching. God narrows down the possibilities by choosing which of the logically possible universes to create.

      No; this is not a distinctive of Molinism. Choosing between logically possible universes is common (in some way) to every theory which includes God’s natural knowledge. Molinism is distinctive because it adds a new level of God’s knowledge which is specifically about counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. As an example of that, it’s logically possible that I would choose to NOT respond to your post; but it’s not actually something that my soul would choose, given that choice. This input to God’s design decisions is what makes Molinism distinctively different.

      When he chose to create this universe as opposed to another universe he knew that I would exist in this universe and that I would freely choose to have this conversation with you in this universe.

      Yes, but that’s God’s free knowledge, not middle knowledge. By middle knowledge Molinists say that God knew what choices your soul would make in any circumstances you could be put into. ANY ones, not merely the ones He actually created. God used that knowledge to design His creation.

      You seem to be claiming that God didn’t have very many choices to make; that all He actually was able to change is raw physical constants. That may or may not be true, but it’s not a claim Molinism cares about. Whether the number of possible universes was small or large, Molinism attempts to explain how God chose the one He created, and it makes some important assumptions along the way (one of them being that there’s only one possible timeline, thus entirely contradicting the hard-LFW worldview).

      -Wm

      • Wade T.

        When he chose to create this universe as opposed to another universe he knew that I would exist in this universe and that I would freely choose to have this conversation with you in this universe.

        Yes, but that’s God’s free knowledge, not middle knowledge. By middle knowledge Molinists say that God knew what choices your soul would make in any circumstances you could be put into. ANY ones, not merely the ones He actually created. God used that knowledge to design His creation.

        That’s true, though that sort of middle knowledge would clearly be useful in deciding which universe to create.

        Whether the number of possible universes was small or large, Molinism attempts to explain how God chose the one He created, and it makes some important assumptions along the way (one of them being that there’s only one possible timeline, thus entirely contradicting the hard-LFW worldview).

        How so? That is, how exactly does Molinism imply there is only one possible timeline?

    • wm tanksley

      I cited WLC above as having responded to the grounding objection. I spent some more time reading http://plato.standford.edu and his article (http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/grounding.html), and I’m aghast at what I found.

      First, almost as soon as he starts into the real argument, he makes the claim that his opponents are relying on a recent development of the theory of truth called truth-maker theory, and he quotes one of the recent developers of that named theory (his footnote 5). What’s not obvious to the casual reader is that the term “truth-maker” is NOT a special technical term in that new theory, but is rather is a term used within the almost universally accepted “correspondence” theory of truth. Craig is blurring the truth to make it look like his opponents are on shaky ground and depending on a novel theory, when they’re actually merely using standard philosophical terminology for one of the more solidly accepted theories of truth (and one that he himself explicitly endorses in his introductory books). Read his article: I don’t think there’s any excuse for what he did there. He’s throwing up a smokescreen of technicalities that don’t apply, and until I read the literature, I assumed he was telling the simple truth.

      This one problem alone makes this a really, really bad article. There are other problems in it as well (I was going to complain about the abuse of 1 Cor 2:8, for example), but realistically, those could be overcome by more careful choice of examples. The main problem is deceptiveness that almost amounts to dishonesty.

      I respected William Lane Craig. I disagreed with him, sometimes found him incomprehensible to me, and still find him very learned and intelligent. But I can’t say I respect him anymore.

      -Wm

    • Michael Teeter

      WM,

      I think you may be confusing the concept of the Truthmaker in the Corresponence Theory with the Truthmaker Theory. This article here lists Truthmaker Theory as a competitor to Correspondence Theory. Granted I only went over it briefly as I’m on the clock again through tommorrow.

      http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth-correspondence/#2.2

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, that’s exactly why I’m so unhappy with WLC’s article. See the paragraph right after the heading “The Grounding Objection and Truth–Maker Theory”. WLC is pretending that because his objecters use the term “truthmaker” they have to be using truthmaker theory, and WLC explains that truthmaker theory is new and poorly explored, and he specifically states “The theory presupposed by the grounding objection appears to be a certain construal or version of a view of truth as correspondence which has come to be known as the theory of truth–makers.”

      He’s being flat-out dishonest there; the theory presupposed by the Grounding Objection is the Correspondence Theory, and the term “truthmaker” is a term of art within that theory.

      In fact, I just noticed that he directly quotes Peter Simons refuting WLC’s claim: if the actual Truthmaker theory “does not pronounce on the ontological category of the truth–maker”, that means that truthmakers may indeed be hypothetical, thus allowing for the more complex constructions of WLC’s “true counterfactuals”. The grounding objection seems to suppose that truthmakers must actually exist, which means that a theory which “does not pronounce” on ontological status (existence) cannot be the basis for the grounding objection. It almost appears that WLC should be appealing to Truthmaker Theory for support for his arguments; the catch, I think, is that he’s written books in which he supports the simple Correspondence Theory, and he’s be contradicting himself.

      (It’s also frustrating to see WLC call facts “abstract realities” — of course, a fact is concrete, not abstract, even though the word “fact” is itself abstract.)

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      That is, how exactly does Molinism imply there is only one possible timeline?

      Wade, I’m not saying there’s only one logically possible timeline. Molinism is clear in saying that there are many logically possible timelines, and then fewer logically and psychologically possible timelines, and finally only one timeline which God “actualizes” by rejecting all the other ones.

      -Wm

    • Michael Teeter

      WM,

      As I read WLC’s paper it seems to me that he states that his opponents assume Truthmaker Theory even if they do not make it explicit. He then goes on to explain how the concept of a “truthmaker” in Truthmaker Theory differs from the concept of a “truthmaker” in the traditional Correspondance Theory which WLC accepts. Now I’ll be honest here and admit I’m in a bit over my head at completely understanding what WLC is saying and need to do some more reading (I had never heard of Truthmaker Theory before this article) however, it seems clear to me that WLC is not being disingenious here and arguing against something he himself holds. He holds to the traditional Correspondance Theory. Furthermore it is not improper to point out that someones thinking assumes a philosophical position even if they aren’t explicit about it. WLC truly believes that his opponents positions assume the Truthmaker Theory and explains why he believes this (again I don’t have a good enough understanding to grasp the exact difference between truthmakers in Truthmaker Theory and truthmakers and Correspondance Theory, but it seems clear from WLC’s article and the article I linked earlier that there is one). I’m just not sure where the disception you complain of is?? Perhaps you are confused by the term “truthmaker” being used in three different ways (1. The Truthmaker Theory; 2. “truthmakers” as understood in the Truthmaker Theory, and 3. “truthmakers” as understood in traditional Correspondance Theory)?

    • wm tanksley

      He then goes on to explain how the concept of a “truthmaker” in Truthmaker Theory differs from the concept of a “truthmaker” in the traditional Correspondance Theory which WLC accepts.

      Could you point out where he does that? I don’t see it, even after a fresh re-reading. He quotes Peter Simons as part of defining Truthmaker Theory, but he doesn’t ever explain how that differs from the standard theory, nor how that pertains to the argument.

      WLC truly believes that his opponents positions assume the Truthmaker Theory and explains why he believes this

      I’m baffled. WHERE? This claim is a perfect defense against my accusation of deceptiveness, and my inability to see it is the entire reason I made the accusation. I’ve read Craig’s essay so many times I can almost recite it, and I’ve read the Stanford paper as well (although not THAT thoroughly).

      Craig says “Now, as I say, it is a matter of considerable debate whether true propositions do have truth–makers at all. Truth–maker theory is, after all, a minority position…” Here he CLEARLY implies that “true propositions have truth-makers” is something special to Truthmaker theorists, and they’re in the minority specifically for believing _that_. But that’s not true; all correspondence theories hold that; they simply all modify how to search for the truth-maker (for example, the Atomists parse the sentence to find logical atoms which can have truthmakers; classical Correspondence theorists search for truthmakers in a single ontological category; and Truthmaker theorists look in all ontological categories).

      I just noticed him citing Restall as though he were giving a special objection to Truthmaker Theory in specific. He may be (I don’t know), but the Stanford article calls this objection the “Big Fact”, and it’s long been an objection to correspondence theory in general.

      By the way, after learning all this stuff, I find that my inclination…

    • Michael T.

      WM,
      I have to read through this paper a few more times and I need to read through it a few more. I don’t think it is saying or arguing for what you think it is arguing for, but I’m just not sure what he is arguing yet. That being said this paper is one of the least readable things I have ever read and I’ve read numerous Court cases from the Early part of the 19th Century. The problem is that WLC appears to be using the same term to denote different views and he isn’t clear about communicating which view he is referring to when he uses a term. Additionally he doesn’t communicate well when he is arguing for or against something.

    • wm tanksley

      Ha! I thought I was over the limit. I should have broken into separate topics. This is a logical splitting point anyhow.

      By the way, after learning all this stuff, I find that my inclination was toward Atomism or Subatomism (I’m not certain about the distinction) within a classical Correspondence Theory. That is, I believe that a statement must be parsed and understood before any correspondence to reality may be looked for. This allows for complex statements and even ambiguous statements to bear truth.

      So how can a counterfactual of creaturely freedom bear truth? Let’s use a Biblical example that I think is more fruitful than Craig’s example: God speaking about Chorazin.

      When Christ cursed the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida he uttered the counterfactual that IF His works had been performed in Tyre and Sidon THEN they would have repented.

      This is exactly the sort of knowledge Molinism depends on; unlike the example Craig chose, this is clearly behavior that is dependent both on circumstance and on the specific people (and in fact, Christ phrases it precisely that way).

      So how do I see this as being true, since I disagree with Molinism?

      First, I don’t think its main meaning is to reveal Truth about the counterfactual repentance of Tyre or Sidon; when I parse the statements in context I see them as a statement about the actual pride and stubbornness of the Jewish cities, not about any humility of Tyre and Sidon. In other words, I think Jesus was making a true conditional statement that was vacuously true, not one which was intended to reveal deep truths about long-dead cities.

      Second, let’s suppose that it did reveal deep truths about long-dead cities. Then its truth was actually grounded in the character of the people living in those cities — although they were evil people, they were honest enough to repent given the opportunity. It’s not a statement that claims that God could have actuated a world in which Tyre could have repented…

    • wm tanksley

      (Over limit BADLY. I’m editing this a little.)

      … It’s not a statement that claims that God could have actuated a world in which Tyre could have repented (which would be a statement about God, not people); it’s making the claim that the people of Tyre were actually better than the people of Bethsaida.

      Christ is making a character judgement, not a pronouncement on divine power.

      There’s a similar example when God speaks to David about the city of Keilah; God appears to be stating a counterfactual, and this time He’s stating it as deeply and prophetically true; but it’s grounded in the reality of the character of the people of Keilah, not in God’s ability to know counterfactuals of creaturely freedom.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      I’m also interested in WLC’s own example of an alleged counterfactual of creaturely freedom. He cites Paul in 1 Cor 2:8, but it seems to me that this is not at all a counterfactual of creaturely freedom; rather, it’s intended as a vacuously true statement that proves Paul’s broader argument — the conditional could NEVER, in any logically possible world, be true. Paul’s broader argument is that God’s truth isn’t understood by man; how could inserting a deep revelation about some specific rulers support that claim? Rather, it’s a shallow revelation about ALL people.

      It’s not about creaturely freedom; if anything, it’s about creaturely bondage.

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      To recap, the claim I found questionable was, “Whether the number of possible universes was small or large, Molinism attempts to explain how God chose the one He created, and it makes some important assumptions along the way (one of them being that there’s only one possible timeline, thus entirely contradicting the hard-LFW worldview).” It’s unclear to me how (1) there’s only one possible timeline; (2) how Molinism contradicts hard-LFW (whatever that is exactly).

      Wade, I’m not saying there’s only one logically possible timeline. Molinism is clear in saying that there are many logically possible timelines, and then fewer logically and psychologically possible timelines, and finally only one timeline which God “actualizes” by rejecting all the other ones.

      If libertarian free will is true, not everything is actualized by God; some states of affairs are (at least in part) actualized by humans and God simply knows what humans will choose. Of course, you might object saying that God’s middle knowledge would render libertarian free will impossible, but how would that work exactly? Do you have an argument for that?

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      I’m more concerned with whether or not Molinism is logically sound and can in fact provide a solution to the alleged conflict between God’s Sovereignty and LFW then I am specific examples of conterfactuals in the Bible itself. I think there are certainly examples which I think you would admit “could” be read as stating the Truth of a counterfactual. Of course these just like every other passage which surrounds this issue (Calvinism vs. Arminianism vs. Molinism vs. Open-Theism) are open to alternative interpretations. So for instance as you note above it is possible to interpret the specific verses cited by WLC in a manner that is congruent with Calvinism. However, I think you would admit that it is also “possible” to interpret these verses in a manner that is congruent with Molinism.

    • Wade T.

      ’m also interested in WLC’s own example of an alleged counterfactual of creaturely freedom. He cites Paul in 1 Cor 2:8, but it seems to me that this is not at all a counterfactual of creaturely freedom; rather, it’s intended as a vacuously true statement that proves Paul’s broader argument — the conditional could NEVER, in any logically possible world, be true.

      The Bible passage is the following:

      None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

      If this is true, then God knew this to be true. But this truth contains a counterfactual conditional (“…if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”). It’s hard to see how something other than a Molinist interpretation would be reasonable here. It’s also unclear why the conditional is self-contradictory (if it really is logically impossible).

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      I could be off here, but what I am reading WLC as arguing is that his opponents are assuming a version of Correspondance Theory in which a truthbearer must have a truthmaker that either is a concrete object or implies one. Thus on this theory abstract ideas or states of affairs are not valid truthmakers. Whether or not this is “Truthmaker Theory” as described in the Stanford article I linked earlier I am not clear on. I think the terminology may be messed up here.

      Suffice to say it would seem that WLC holds to traditional Correspondance Theory, and in this article he is arguing against a modern version of Correspondance Theory in which a valid Truthmaker MUST be or imply a concrete object.

      I don’t know if that helps clarify things at all, but that is what I am getting from the portion of this article on Truthmaker Theory (whether the terminology here is correct I don’t know).

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      To modify the above real quick. Based on the discussion of somethings not requiring truthmakers I think WLC holds to a slightly modified version of Correspondance Theory and not the classical theory (as in Socrates/Plato classical). However, whichever version he is advocating it is far less radically changed from the original then the version he is arguing against in this paper.

    • wm tanksley

      It’s unclear to me how (1) there’s only one possible timeline; (2) how Molinism contradicts hard-LFW (whatever that is exactly).

      Question #1 is answered because it’s essential to Molinism that there be only one created timeline. That’s just their basic assumption: that God scans all the logical and middle possibilities, and “actualizes” exactly one.

      Question #2 is answered by you below, and I quote: “If libertarian free will is true, not everything is actualized by God; some states of affairs are (at least in part) actualized by humans and God simply knows what humans will choose.” This contradicts Molinism, which says that everything is actualized by God as part of the act of creation.

      Molinism doesn’t hold that God merely _knows_, but that He _actualizes_. God makes an active choice in order to accept or reject each possible free choice in order to produce the single history that is most acceptable to God. Molinism differs from Calvinism in that Molinism says that there are limits to how good God can make the world; it says that it’s possible that God will have to accept some less-than-optimal choices because there are no better choices that a free being could make. For example, it’s possible that ANY human would have fallen if put into Adam’s condition; thus, God had no choice but to allow the fall.

      Humans do not actualize (according to Molinism); they simply choose. In open theism humans DO actualize reality by their choices. LFW in general doesn’t explain who takes priority.

      Of course, you might object saying that God’s middle knowledge would render libertarian free will impossible, but how would that work exactly? Do you have an argument for that?

      No. I think you’re misunderstanding my point. The two are incompatible; that doesn’t mean that middle knowledge fights and defeats libertarian free will. It merely means that the two belief systems don’t work together; it’s…

    • wm tanksley

      (Sorry, cut off.)

      …It merely means that the two belief systems don’t work together; it’s like trying to be a flat-earth satellite technician (I don’t mean to imply that either of the beliefs I’m talking about is as bad as flat-earth).

      I’m neither a Molinist nor a believer in libertarian free will. I’ve got no dog in this fight.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      The Bible passage is the following:
      None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
      If this is true, then God knew this to be true. But this truth contains a counterfactual conditional (“…if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”). It’s hard to see how something other than a Molinist interpretation would be reasonable here. It’s also unclear why the conditional is self-contradictory (if it really is logically impossible).

      The problem is that there are three ways an if statement can be true. First, the condition (“if they had understood this”) can be false; in that case, no matter what’s in the consequent, the entire statement is always true. Second, the condition can be unknown, but the consequent is true. But there’s an odd third case that’s active here: the condition is FALSE, and the consequent is true. I call this “deeply true” — it’s a truth that penetrates the armor of the conditional. Normally, logical reasoning can’t do that, but Molinism claims that God’s middle knowledge can, even when the condition involves a free will decision.

      There are several problems with reading this statement as a Holy-Spirit inspired revelation through Paul.

      First, what he’s allegedly revealing is utterly banal. It seems perfectly obvious that if any person understood THAT, they wouldn’t have crucified Christ.

      Second, what he’s revealing isn’t soul-specific. Molinism claims that middle knowledge requires both a soul and a circumstance; this “revelation” isn’t specific as to which soul is being talked about. Dr. Craig admits that the “rulers” may be humans or demons — in other words, he has not the least clue how to apply this alleged revelation.

      Third, what he’s revealing is part of a supporting argument which is structured so that a doubting person would naturally doubt the conditional, not the consequent. Paul argues many…

    • wm tanksley

      (…)

      Third, what he’s revealing is part of a supporting argument which is structured so that a doubting person would naturally doubt the conditional, not the consequent. Paul argues many points that again and again say things of the form “man can not understand”; the conditional is another repetition of this, and it appears to be in the form of a reductio ad absurdum.

      My reading of this isn’t part of any kind of argument about creaturely freedom; I read it as a purely logical argument. Paul points to the obvious fact that the rulers DID crucify Christ as evidence that they didn’t understand. What didn’t they understand? Read the passage. Paul is talking about the Wisdom of God. The entire chapter is about nothing else.

      WLC is “pulling a fast one” to attempt to insert some kind of revelation about the rulers of this age into this passage. It’s not there. Paul isn’t sharing a secret about the souls of the rulers of this age. He’s making an argument that supports his point, and the evidence he cites is evidence that’s obviously true to everyone. Yes, everyone knows that the rulers did kill Christ; and surely it’s obvious to everyone that if the rulers did understand the wisdom of God they wouldn’t have done that — not because their soul would have made a free choice, but rather because NOBODY could possibly be so foolish as to kill the Lord of Glory when they understood the Wisdom of God.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      I could be off here, but what I am reading WLC as arguing is that his opponents are assuming a version of Correspondance Theory in which a truthbearer must have a truthmaker that either is a concrete object or implies one.

      I don’t see where WLC says anything about a “concrete object”. I do see him saying that traditionally we allow “abstractions, such as facts or states of affairs”, so I suppose that’s implicitly accusing his opponents of not allowing those; but because he never gets specific enough to actually point out where one of his opponents actually DOES anything related to that, I can’t examine his claims.

      I guess my problem is that Craig spends a LOT of the article making ungrounded (ha ha) and vague accusations. He never connects his claims about the truthmaker theory to anything concrete that his opponents said — with the single exception of that one person who deliberately used the word “caused”, as in “truthmakers _cause_ their corresponding truthbearers to be true.” I think WLC is correct to berate that guy, but even if that guy actually meant that error and refused to accept correction, that still doesn’t impact other uses of the grounding objection (I do like how WLC kept going afterwards assuming that he shouldn’t be stopped by the word “cause”).

      Thus on this theory abstract ideas or states of affairs are not valid truthmakers. Whether or not this is “Truthmaker Theory” as described in the Stanford article I linked earlier I am not clear on. I think the terminology may be messed up here.

      That’s a common problem, yes. We’ve hit it several times in the short time we’ve been talking.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      By the way, I do think TurretinFan’s response is helpful. I responded in exactly that way to all three of his “warrants” for Molinism. He’s a bit terse in dismissing the Biblical statements, but in the final analysis he’s correct — the Bible doesn’t specifically reveal God’s pre-creation knowledge, and therefore all the counterfactuals which are in it are necessarily either counterfactuals about God (which doesn’t involve creaturely freedom, and thus isn’t natural knowledge), or counterfactuals about already-created things (and thus are free knowledge).

      …and so on.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,
      “I don’t see where WLC says anything about a “concrete object”. I do see him saying that traditionally we allow “abstractions, such as facts or states of affairs”, so I suppose that’s implicitly accusing his opponents of not allowing those; but because he never gets specific enough to actually point out where one of his opponents actually DOES anything related to that, I can’t examine his claims.”

      The part I am talking about comes right after the section on truthmakers causing truthbearers to be true. WLC states this,

      “It might be said that the demand for a cause of the truth of true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom is a mere rhetorical flourish on the part of the anti-Molinist. But even if we give him the benefit of the doubt in this regard, the fact remains that the anti-Molinist still seems to be presupposing that in order to be true, counterfactuals of freemdom must have truthmakers that either are or imply the existence of concrete objects”

      WLC then spends the rest of this section refuting this idea as well as the attempt of some to save this idea by trying to carve out an exception whereby negative statements do not need truthmakers. Ultimately this whole section is aimed at refuting this idea which WLC says is neccessary for the objections of anti-Molinists to hold.

      FYI – I printed out this paper just to try to make sense of it – that is something I rarely if ever do lol.

    • wm tanksley

      Thank you, Michael. I’m sorry I had to have that pointed out to me. It looks like a major contradiction of what I thought was his main thesis.

      This paper is, I think, worth trying to make sense of. I keep getting the feeling that WLC didn’t put enough effort into editing it — it’s like he posted a draft.

      One of the things WLC quotes about Truthmaker Theory is that it doesn’t pronounce on the ontological category of truthmakers. (Ontological Category means things like “concrete”, “abstract”, and so on.)

      So WLC says:

      1. The grounding objection depends on Truthmaker Theory being true.
      2. TT doesn’t limit the ontological category of truthmakers. (Stanford agrees and says that this means that classical theories tend to limit truthmakers to a single type, such as “concrete”.)
      3. Grounding Objection depends on all truthmakers being concrete.
      4. The grounding objection therefore depends on the distinctive feature of Truthmaker theory being untrue.

      This seems like a strong enough contradiction to require one of those statements to be discarded. WLC claims #1 is true without any support that I can see; he’s certainly NOT meeting any kind of burden of proof.

      I disagree with point #3 on the grounds that the claim made by Molinism is much stronger than mere knowledge of abstract facts. Molinism says not merely that God knows counterfactuals (which both sides of this debate agree; for example, God knows how stellar physics will play out to the end with total precision, for any possible starting arrangement of matter and energy), but that God knows counterfactuals of things that are entirely “up to us” without us existing.

      The grounding objection captures that there is a problem there: either our actions are not “up to us” (in the LFW sense), or God couldn’t possibly know our actions without first actually creating us, so that our actions can be grounded in the one thing that gives them reality (us).

      Classical Molinist thinkers did…

    • wm tanksley

      (I came so close to meeting the posting guidelines!)

      Classical Molinist thinkers did admit that Molinism is deterministic, that our actions depend on something that can be known about our soul in advance of those actions.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      “I keep getting the feeling that WLC didn’t put enough effort into editing it — it’s like he posted a draft.”

      While we certainly agree on this point – either that or his editor was having an off day (many academics are not the best writers in the world and have someone who edits their work for them).

      As to what he is actually arguing I think it is best to discard all the terminology and focus on his two main objections to the grounding objection which are either 1) the grounding objection requires truthmakers to cause truthbearers to be true, or 2) the grounding objection requires that truthmakers be or imply concrete objects. Once you do this things start to make more sense.

    • wm tanksley

      I guess I should post a rough, linear outline. Some of the points he makes are actually supported. I’ll try that here.

      1. Molinism is warranted. (Support attempted.)
      2. Grounding objection is based on Truthmaker theory. (Unsupported.)
      3. Grounding objection is crudely stated as causal, but cannot be. (Supported.)
      4. Grounding objection requires only concrete objects as truthmakers. (Unsupported — he doesn’t show at all that the grounding objection requires this.)
      5. Grounding arguments are naive. (Support attempted, but not tied onto the grounding objection.)
      6. Counterfactuals of creaturely freedom do not need a truthmaker at all. (Support attempted and tied to the grounding objection.)
      7. Counterfactuals may be grounded the same way future tense statements are. (Well supported, but not for counterfactuals of creaturely freedom.)
      8. Counterfactuals of creaturely freedom could be made true by “facts or states of affairs”. (Support attempted – but most tenuously, and not obviously in a middle-knowledge-compatible way.)
      9. Counterfactuals of creaturely freedom need not “be grounded in truths about what is in fact the case.” (Supported. This is the most seriously engaged argument I’ve seen — although I think he goes badly wrong in making the bizzare claim that natural laws are counterfacts.)
      10. The grounding objection seems implicitly to reject libertarian freedom. (Supported, but with the dubious and disputed claim that how a libertarian agent would choose to act is a [prior] fact.)

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      It’s unclear to me how (1) there’s only one possible timeline; (2) how Molinism contradicts hard-LFW (whatever that is exactly).

      Question #1 is answered because it’s essential to Molinism that there be only one created timeline. That’s just their basic assumption: that God scans all the logical and middle possibilities, and “actualizes” exactly one.

      The fact that God created one timeline does not imply that there is only one _possible_ timeline (I’m assuming you are referring to metaphysical possibility, is that assumption correct?).

      Question #2 is answered by you below, and I quote: “If libertarian free will is true, not everything is actualized by God; some states of affairs are (at least in part) actualized by humans and God simply knows what humans will choose.” This contradicts Molinism, which says that everything is actualized by God as part of the act of creation.

      I don’t think that’s part of Molinism. A world in which everyone freely chooses not to sin is metaphysically possible, but even with God having middle knowledge, it may not be feasible for God to create such a world _precisely because_ whether such a universe is actualized is largely up to us free-willed creatures.

      Humans do not actualize (according to Molinism); they simply choose.

      Correct me if I’m mistaken, but under Molinism humans have libertarian free will and are thus able to originate their own causal chains. Are you using a non-standard definition of “actualize”? What exactly do you mean when you use the term if a libertarian choice causing an effect (say, the creation of a house) is insufficient for fit the category of “actualization”?

    • wm tanksley

      Wade,

      Why are you talking about a single metaphysically possible timeline? What does that have to do with this discussion? Is “metaphysically possible” something like “logically possible”? I assume it’s not, because if it were, you’d already have the answer to your question. I thought I understood your questions before, but you keep asking what sounds like the same question that I keep answering, so obviously I’m not answering your actual question.

      A world in which everyone freely chooses not to sin is metaphysically possible, but even with God having middle knowledge, it may not be feasible for God to create such a world _precisely because_ whether such a universe is actualized is largely up to us free-willed creatures.

      As I’ve explained, that’s not Molinism. Molinism says that God knows exactly what each soul will do given every possible set of circumstances God can place that soul in, PRIOR to the soul’s creation. God then actuates the world containing the decisions He likes best. God is the one who vetoes the decisions He doesn’t like; the freedom is simply freedom to be yourself; and also the freedom to block God.

      Correct me if I’m mistaken, but under Molinism humans have libertarian free will and are thus able to originate their own causal chains.

      Both you and Dr. Craig say that, yes. Other Molinists disagree. More importantly, the definition of LFW disagrees with the definition of Molinism.

      If LFW is true, Molinism in the sense of God being able to design the best possible universe doesn’t work (you’d get open theism instead, with God planning for the best possible response to each free choice as it plays out). If Molinism is true, LFW doesn’t work (because there’s only one actualized choice you can make, and it’s the one your soul was naturally going to make anyhow).

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      “Molinism says that God knows exactly what each soul will do given every possible set of circumstances God can place that soul in, PRIOR to the soul’s creation. God then actuates the world containing the decisions He likes best. God is the one who vetoes the decisions He doesn’t like; the freedom is simply freedom to be yourself; and also the freedom to block God.”

      I hate to be dense but I have yet to come across anything in Craigs writings which I understand to support this. I looked through some of the stuff you linked earlier, but I couldnt’ find a quote which specifically supports your assertion that in Molinism God chooses which body a Soul goes in to and then that Soul deterministically determines a persons actions given any set of circumstances (i.e. given circumstances X Soul Y will always commit actions Z). I fear we may be burning strawmen.

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, the reason I’m so happy to point to http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=7437 in response to your question (as I did before, although without explaining) is that there Craig denies one reading of Molinism:

      […] a compatibilist view of freedom, according to which our actions are causally determined by the circumstances in which we find ourselves, whereas the Molinist affirms that we remain non-determined in fully-specified, freedom-permitting circumstances.

      My objections aside: we assume ad arguendum that given soul S and circumstance C, S can choose any possible choice. Okay, assumed.

      You’re right that in order to have a truth value the counterfactuals in question need to have sufficient information in their antecedent clauses specifying the circumstances.

      Sufficient for what? The answer must be: sufficient for there to be only one value. If there are two values, the problem is still indeterminate, by definition, and he says “you’re confusing the proposition’s being sufficiently determinate to have a truth value with the choice’s being causally determined”. But if the proposition has a truth value, it must have only one value.

      That conditional can be either true or false, not both; and it’s specified (allegedly) well enough that it has only one specific value, which only God knows. But if it has only one value, there is grounds for its value: either because it’s grounded in a free choice that’s already been made, or because it’s grounded in the condition, which contains reference to the soul and the given conditions. The former means that the soul has made the choice prior to creation; the latter means semi-compatibilism is true. (But note that this is not an argument for determinism — it merely speaks of grounding, not causation.)

      But wait! There’s more. This is only knowledge; God ACTS.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,
      I think the argument you appear to be making assumes exactly what WLC was arguing against in the article we’ve been discussing – namely you are assuming that the truthmaker for the proposition that given fully specificied circumstances C, agent S will perform action Z must be grounded in something concrete (e.g. either deterministic antecedent events or that the choice has already been made).

    • wm tanksley

      Okay, we’ve talked about a set of counterfactual propositions; but this isn’t yet Molinism. Molinism holds that God knows the values of these propositions, but he doesn’t know them for no purpose: he uses His knowledge in order to act. The specific action God takes is to create, and the reason those propositions are important is that God creates as guided by His Wisdom and by His knowledge of those propositions.

      When God creates, it is His will that determines which of the propositions become deeply true — that is, He makes the conditions true, and therefore the consequences must become true. God’s action also makes all the consequences that He didn’t want to happen FALSE (the counterfactuals are still true, but only vacuously so). For example, one counterfactual is that I could have skipped work today — I did not do so, but I know there have been circumstances in which I did skip work, and God certainly could have arranged for some similar circumstances to happen this morning.

      So God chose to act, and after He acted, the propositions that consist of the consequences of all those non-chosen counterfactuals are false, while the ones whose circumstances God did create are all true. Were any of those conditionals given those truth values prior to God’s creation? That is, was it true from eternity that I would go to work today? I knew it was true this morning — when did God begin to know that it was true?

      I’m in a rush… Won’t get back to this tonight. Let’s see if I’m making sense, sorry if I’m not.

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      Why are you talking about a single metaphysically possible timeline?

      Because if you’ll recall you said this:

      Whether the number of possible universes was small or large, Molinism attempts to explain how God chose the one He created, and it makes some important assumptions along the way (one of them being that there’s only one possible timeline, thus entirely contradicting the hard-LFW worldview).

      Hence I asked, “how exactly does Molinism imply there is only one possible timeline?” Incidentally, is the type of possibility metaphysical possibility?

      A world in which everyone freely chooses not to sin is metaphysically possible, but even with God having middle knowledge, it may not be feasible for God to create such a world _precisely because_ whether such a universe is actualized is largely up to us free-willed creatures.

      As I’ve explained, that’s not Molinism.

      Even if true, it is at least consistent with Molinism. You said, “Molinism…says that everything is actualized by God as part of the act of creation.” I’ve provided what appears to be a counterexample.

      Correct me if I’m mistaken, but under Molinism humans have libertarian free will and are thus able to originate their own causal chains.

      Both you and Dr. Craig say that, yes. Other Molinists disagree.

      Well, Molina himself believed that God knew how people with libertarian free will would freely choose in whatever circumstances she might be placed in; Molina himself believed in libertarian freedom. I had assumed this is the sort of Molinism we were talking about.

      [Continued below]

    • Wade T.

      If LFW is true, Molinism in the sense of God being able to design the best possible universe doesn’t work (you’d get open theism instead, with God planning for the best possible response to each free choice as it plays out).

      I mostly agree, but I don’t know if any Molinist here believes that God is able to design the best possible universe. I for one do not, largely because I think whether this universe is the best of all possible worlds is largely up to us free-willed creatures.

      If Molinism is true, LFW doesn’t work (because there’s only one actualized choice you can make, and it’s the one your soul was naturally going to make anyhow).

      That sounds a bit like a modal fallacy. Even if there is only one actualized choice you _would_ make given certain conditions C, it doesn’t appear to follow that there is only one actualized choice you _could_ make under C.

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, could you show me where that assumption enters into my argument? I don’t see it. I don’t even see why it should enter in; I’m not using any form of the grounding objection. I’m mentioning the word “grounding”, but only because I want to make it clear that there’s no causal influence happening — at least not until God acts in creation.

      Also, I’m not assuming that C is deterministic; I’m only assuming what WLC is explicit about: that given C and S, there is exactly one actual action that God can know.

      This is also not a modal argument, because although God’s knowledge doesn’t determine the events He knows, God as First Cause does determine what He creates. I claim that a consistently LFW account of creation cannot be Molinist, because (in short) the Molinist account says that God creates C and S in order to produce each decision that adds up to the best timeline available to Him (all things considered). Now, I’m not saying here that there is no LFW account of creation. I’m only saying that it isn’t a Molinist account as that account is defended by Dr. Craig, even though Craig makes no assumptions that are fatal by themselves (the fatal result is required by Molinism’s insistence that first all counterfactuals of creaturely freedom be true; second that God is capable of fulfilling the conditions of some of them by His creative power, and denying the fulfillment of other conditions by His creative power; and third that God actually uses that ability to design the best possible world).

      BTW, I apologize in brief for misspeaking by saying “best possible timeline” which made it sound like “best metaphysically possible timeline”; I meant “best actually possible, all things considered”; I’ll discuss more in response to Wade’s post, for which I’m grateful.

      A little more in my next post…

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      The above means that, in Molinism, when we ask “why do we live in the best possible world (all things considered)?” The answer is, “because God willed and accomplished it.” But this also means that, in Molinism, when we ask “why did this person choose to do something good?” the answer must be the same “because God willed and accomplished it.” Unless, of course, you accept semi-compatibilism (i.e. moral credit for an action goes to the actor who desired the moral outcome).

      To put this another way: the alleged advantage of Molinism is, of course, that when a person does something evil, the conclusion is that God allowed it because there was no better world available; God didn’t will the evil, but rather accepted it as necessary to the greatest available good (all things considered). But if we accept this for the sake of argument, we also have to accept that when good happens, God DOES will it (since it contributes directly to His goal) and thus He should be credited with it.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Hence I asked, “how exactly does Molinism imply there is only one possible timeline?”

      Wow, I don’t blame you. I should have said something like “one actual timeline” or “one line of actually possible events.” I’m sorry I didn’t even notice that.

      Incidentally, is the type of possibility metaphysical possibility?

      I know of too many possible meanings for that term to use it. What do you mean by it? I’ve tried to use “logically possible” for the level of God’s natural knowledge.

      A world in which everyone freely chooses not to sin is metaphysically possible.

      Humans cannot actuate anything in Molinism — but some fact about humans that God knows through middle knowledge is capable of “vetoing” logical possibilities. Humans cannot actuate, but they CAN, in a sense, veto. The only trick is that they can only veto before they exist.

      “If Molinism is true, LFW doesn’t work (because there’s only one actualized choice you can make, and it’s the one your soul was naturally going to make anyhow).”
      That sounds a bit like a modal fallacy.

      It’s not. God’s action is the direct cause of your existence; and God designed and chose His action in order to actuate the timeline which included THAT choice, and not the rejection of that choice. That choice WILL happen, and this is not “up to you” — unless you accept a compatibilist view.

      Even if there is only one actualized choice you _would_ make given certain conditions C, it doesn’t appear to follow that there is only one actualized choice you _could_ make under C.

      I’ve heard that a lot. My immediate reaction is still “So what?”

      -Wm

    • cherylu

      Anybody out there,

      I haven’t commented on any of these threads for a long time now. But I find myself having a question here that I wonder if someone can answer.

      It seems that this discussion on Molinism hinges a lot on the idea that God created the world He wanted from a range of possible worlds to get the results he wanted with the people he was choosing to create.

      Can someone tell me where this idea of many possible worlds/universes comes from? Is there any Scriptural backing for that or is it a philosophical idea that has been proposed by Molina and those that came after him?

      This is an idea I have never heard before until this whole discussion and I guess I am confused. Maybe someone has addressed it here, but I guess I missed it if they did.

    • Michael T.

      Cheryl,
      This idea of “logically” possible worlds is ultimately a philosophical idea, but I think if you think about it for a second it makes alot of sense. For instance God could have created a universe in which the Earth is a barren, volcanic wasteland incapable of supporting life. Now in such a universe it would be logically impossible to also have humans living on the Earth (perhaps some other life form could survive in such an environment, but not humans). Thus a universe in which the Earth is a wasteland and humans (as we know them) live on the Earth is a logically impossible universe.

    • Michael T.

      WM,
      I’ve said it before, but I agree with Wade that there is some kind of modal fallacy going on here. At some level you still seem to essentially be saying that because God knows what someone will freely choose given a set of circumstances that person choice can’t be free.

      Now you try to get around this by claiming that in Molinism God doesn’t just know, but actualizes one timeline from many options. Yet this seems to be only slightly different the what a classical Arminian believes. In near as I can tell everyone, save some Open Theists, would agree that God chose to create this universe, with this set of physical laws, having full knowledge of what free creatures in this universe would choose to do. I don’t see how saying that God chose this universe from a range of possibilities knowing what free creatures would do in this universe changes anything from God simply creating this universe knowing what free creatures would do in it. The question of whether or not a choice is free has nothing to do with whether or not God created the universe knowing that you would make that choice.

    • wm tanksley

      Cheryl, although “logical possibilities” is a philosophical construct, it comes into play in every theory of God’s creation. Michael explained that nicely, I think.

      What’s unique to Molinism is the idea of “middle knowledge”. And although that’s also a philosophical construct not in the Bible, it’s also true that Calvinism has a similar weakness, as does classical Arminianism — all 3 systems depend on a philosophical construct to get the detail they seem to need.

      For Calvinism, the construct is God’s eternal decree. For Arminianism, the construct is libertarian free will. For Molinism, it’s middle knowledge.

      So none of the systems are pure in the sense of being capable of being taught using only paragraphs of Scripture. But neither do any of them contradict Scripture, at least not on the surface.

      -Wm

    • cherylu

      Michael T,

      Thanks for your explanation. I thought that was the case but as I have done no in depth reading on Molinism myself, I thought maybe I had missed something here.

      I have to say that for me personally, I would have a very hard time accepting Molinism for that very reason. That doesn’t mean that I believe it is necessarily wrong. But frankly, I have come out of circles where teachings/doctrines were accepted that had no solid Biblical back-up, and it turned into a first class disaster. I am, therefore, very hesitant to accept any belief system that has a philosophical basis, or any other basis other then out right Biblical support. (That of course, doesn’t mean folks don’t interpret what is “Biblical” in different ways. But something that is ultimately philosophical in part of its basis is something I am going to have to be very cautious of. I just don’t want to go there again at all.)

    • cherylu

      William,

      Thanks for your reply too. You posted yours while I was posting my last one. I can see what you are saying, up to a point any way. However, it seems to me that Molinism is going way out on a limb here in the idea of “possible worlds” in a way that neither Calvinism or Arminianism do–in my understanding anyway. Maybe I am really missing something here. But that is how it looks to me at the moment anyway.

    • wm tanksley

      Cheryl, please be very careful rejecting something merely because it has a philosophical component. As I’ve claimed above, LFW has such a component, and you not only adhere to it, you actually adhere to it in a form that is stronger than Michael’s claims — I referred to your form of LFW as “hard LFW”, since you insist that LFW must allow for multiple actual possibilities.

      -Wm

    • cherylu

      William,

      I’d better say here that I probably don’t have time to get into all of this very much again. As the Grandma that has to organize and orchestrate the family Christmas gathering, I find myself quite busy these days.

      I know we disagree on the LFW issue, but it seems to me that the Bible does show people as being able to choose between two options. So I don’t believe my understanding of that is purely philosophically based.

      And please, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t say that Molinism is automatically wrong because of its philosophical component. I just know from past very bad personal experience that I have to be very careful in the area of accepting a theology that doesn’t have a strong Biblical support in one of its core components. Isn’t there an old saying, (can’t think how it goes exactly), about being once burned and being twice wary? I think that is how I feel about this for myself, at least at this time.

    • cherylu

      William,

      To clarify, (unless I have totally forgotten how this conversation has gone in the past!) it was the word “choose” or “choice” that I said had to have more then one option in order for it to be valid, not LFW. I said people weren’t really free to make a choice, to choose, if there was only one option available to them that they could possibly take. In was my understanding that you aren’t “choosing” to do something if there is absolutely nothing else available for you to do.

    • wm tanksley

      I know we disagree on the LFW issue, but it seems to me that the Bible does show people as being able to choose between two options. So I don’t believe my understanding of that is purely philosophically based.

      So long as you don’t elaborate beyond that, nobody here disagrees with you at all.

      It’s when you ask more elaborate questions that scriptural intepretations and philosophical reasoning becomes important.

      I said people weren’t really free to make a choice, to choose, if there was only one option available to them that they could possibly take.

      Here the word “possibly” hides a lot of complexity. The Molinists and Libertarians both say that they allow people to “possibly choose” any physical possibility; but Molinists say that the person will choose the one. Compatibilists like myself don’t see a difference between that model of choice and our own.

      Anyhow, Merry Christmas! Have a great time with your family.

      -Wm

    • cherylu

      Merry Christmas to you too, William!

    • wm tanksley

      I’ve said it before, but I agree with Wade that there is some kind of modal fallacy going on here. At some level you still seem to essentially be saying that because God knows what someone will freely choose given a set of circumstances that person choice can’t be free.

      Not at all. I’m actually not saying anything about God’s knowledge beyond the minimum required because I’m responding to middle knowledge — that is, I adopt it for the sake of argument.

      Now you try to get around this by claiming that in Molinism God doesn’t just know, but actualizes one timeline from many options.

      This defeats your claim that I’m “essentially” saying something about God’s knowledge. I’m not; I’m essentially talking about God’s action. This is not merely “getting around it”, although I certainly was careful to not repeat it :-). In this case, I avoided it by not making my thesis depend on God’s knowledge.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      The question of whether or not a choice is free has nothing to do with whether or not God created the universe knowing that you would make that choice.

      The problem with Molinism is not that “God created the universe knowing”. God knew, of course, that His decree would come to pass, before He designed His actions that would bring that decree about. The problem with Molinism is that God’s decisions in creation are conditioned on the specifics of our free choices, which in turn is conditioned on the specifics of God’s decisions in creation. This is not a vicious circle because God’s actions are conditioned on the facts known to middle knowledge, while our actions are conditioned on whatever makes middle knowledge true.

      I think it’s reasonable to say that both open theists and Molinists hold a similar idea of middle knowledge: God from eternity knows all true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. Molinism claims that God only knows one out of a number of mutually contradictory counterfactuals; open theism claims He knows all of them.

      For example, Molinism says that from eternity, God knew that, if He created this world, when I received your post I would respond to it like *this* exactly. Open Theism says that God knows all the ways I could respond, and allows me to choose which one.

      “Classical Arminianism” is a little harder to explain, because it wasn’t developed as a philosophical position, and most adherents adopt either Molinism or Open Theism. (The same is true for Calvinism, by the way, for some different philosophical positions.)

      I don’t understand how Molinism’s claim can possibly be true. That is, I don’t understand how only one of the things that I *could* do is, from eternity, the only thing that I *would* do; and this is known without any input whatsoever from me. Really, it’s not “up to us”.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,
      FYI I’m still interested in this post – just been very busy. I also am hoping maybe Paul Copan will engage a bit with Molinism on his post though I know he is very busy as well. Ultimately without a well informed Molinist such as Copan or Craig engaging and explaining the intricacies I fear that we may be burning strawmen. I agree with your last post that Molinism’s claims seem counterintuitive. This is why I’m skeptical of it. However, simply because something is counterintuitive doesn’t mean it is wrong – if that were the case we’d have to throw out your semi-compatibilism on the same grounds (at least according to most ppl’s intuition).

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, I agree on conterintuitivity; I wasn’t presenting any kind of argument by intuition.

      Most positions can be deliberately presented in a way that causes people to agree or disagree with their distinctives according to the presenter’s will; compatibilism is no exception. For this reason, I reject most appeals to intuition. Even where there’s NO appeal to popular intuition the argument may actually be strong, as with relativistic physics and quantum theory (I’ve spent YEARS attempting to hone my intuition to agree with relativity, and have just begun to attempt quantum theory). To me, it’s worth arguing that it’s possible to develop an intuition for an argument; it’s not worth arguing against a position based on the fact that some people don’t currently have that intuition.

      In addition, most of the appeals to intuition that are presented allegedly against semicompatibilism are actually completely within semicompatibilism (some of Paul Cowan’s arguments above are, and most of what Craig presents in his “4 views” podcast are).

      Conversely, very few appeals to intuition allegedly in favor of libertarian free will actually capture the true distinctives: not that we can do what we want, but rather that we can choose regardless of what we want. I’ve managed to get only one pro-LFW debater to admit that he’d expect to see people choosing things that they didn’t in any way desire if LFW were true (of course, he didn’t see anything remarkable about that, although he didn’t attempt to cite any instance).

      I do concede that people’s collective experience is a good evidential argument for subjective arguments (LFW, if it existed, would be subjective), so we must be open to collecting subjective “evidence”; but we have to be careful to phrase our questions when doing so, since we want to collect experiences, not merely prejudice.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      As you aware LFW itself is kind of a fuzzy term. Let’s say for a sake of argument that you are right and our choices given a set of circumstances are fully determined by our desires. I do not think that would neccessarily defeat LFW. This would only be the case if those desires were themselves deterministically caused. The reason for this is that ones desires our still within the perview of the individual and if one freely comes to desire what they desire (by which I mean their desires weren’t deterministically caused) LFW I think would still exist (albeit a weaker form of LFW). It is only when something external to the individual (God, cause and effect, etc.) deterministically causes X which deterministically causes Y which deterministically causes ones desires, which deterministically causes ones choices that LFW would be false. As long as there is a free choice of any kind that is made within this chain and that is internal to the individual (e.g. choosing how events effect ones desires) then LFW of some form is still true (I think).

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, I don’t see how that’s sufficient. If our choices are determined by our desires but we can change our later desires, then we either have choices in how we change our desires or we have no choice. If we have no choice then our desires, and therefore the outcome of our later choices, are set by something other than us; but if we have choice in how we change our desires, then that choice is made in the same way our later choice will be made, on the basis of the desires at the time of the choice.

      And that, by supposition, is a fully determined situation.

      So, again, this isn’t enough to support LFW. You have to allow libertarian choice at every juncture — or none — or identify a place where it does occur.

      It is only when something external to the individual (God, cause and effect, etc.) deterministically causes X which deterministically causes Y which deterministically causes ones desires, which deterministically causes ones choices that LFW would be false.

      Agreed, although it’s not ONLY external determinism which could rule out LFW; it’s also nondeterminism (internal or external).

      In order for LFW to make sense, the entire chain of human action must be deterministic, except for that one precise point where “free choice” is made: and that one precise point must be nondeterministic in precisely the way that makes it, somehow, OWNED by the person whose will it is.

      If any other link in the chain is nondeterministic, or if that one link isn’t nondeterministic in PRECISELY the way required, then Inwagen’s “Mind” objection applies, and free will does not provide moral responsibility.

      The odd thing about LFW is that the precise way it requires nondeterminism to work is SO precise that it doesn’t seem like nondeterminism at all.

      And then you have Biblical evidence: no man can choose Christ; salvation is not of man’s will, but of God’s. So there’s at least some constraint, some bondage, on man’s will…

    • wm tanksley

      Funny. My word count must not count punctuation, or something. That was the end of my post — it cut off only the period and my three-character signature.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      Aren’t you reasoning in a circle if you are saying that our desires determine our desires??

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, no. It’s implied in your own post: our past choices determine our present desires, and our present desires determine our present choices.

      It’s not a circle; it’s merely change over time.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,
      Still not sure how this isn’t circular

      How is saying desires determinisitically cause choices which determinisitically cause desires really any different then saying desires cause desires. Your basically saying that someones desires what they desire because they desired for past choices to affect their desires the way they did. This ultimately makes the choice irrelevant and one is only left with desire.

      Regardless I still think it is at least possible that desires determine choices, but past actions including choices do not determine ones desires.

    • wm tanksley

      Still not sure how this isn’t circular

      It wouldn’t be circular even if I *did* claim that desires determine desires — that would be a tautology, not circular reasoning. What I said was that IF humans can choose which future desires to adopt, AND choices occur according to desires, THEN we choose future desires according to our present desires. For example, suppose I love God, but I like cursing my enemies. Because I desire to enact my love for God more perfectly, I desire to obey His word — so I *choose* to build in myself a desire to bless and not curse. But this choice is, like all my other choices, based on my desires.

      I’m arguing from the principles you offered as hypothetical, by the way — I’m not trying to prove reality, merely consistency within your hypothetical.

      Regardless I still think it is at least possible that desires determine choices, but past actions including choices do not determine ones desires.

      Clearly some of our desires are not “up to us” in any way, whether due to nature or nurture. So your claim here is true in at least one way, although not an interesting one. Are you claiming that we determine our desires in a way that is “up to us”, but is neither a choice nor an action?

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Oh, and let me add a hypothetical of my own, in the spirit of your hypothetical: I will willingly suppose, for the sake of argument or in reality, that we have libertarian free choice between which of two actions to take providing that the actions satisfy conceptually equal desires — and that this is a very loose definition, so that it may happen a lot; “conceptually equal” may be allowed to include when the actor hasn’t carefully weighed the desires and just assumes they’re roughly equal.

      I’m not actually anti-LFW. What I’m actually against is two things, one philosophical and one theological.

      Philosophically, I’m against the idea that man MUST be above all determination in order to make man morally responsible. I believe that even determined actions (such as those brought about by total depravity) can justly condemn a man.

      Theologically, I’m against the idea that man can either transcend or frustrate God (i.e. do better or worse than God planned). I believe that the Bible speaks in many places against this.

      My philosophical position is formally known as semi-compatibilism (I didn’t know that before you came along, thanks!). Semicompatibilists don’t necessarily care whether LFW is true or not (although many of us are suspicious of it at least in many cases); they simply insist that moral responsibility always accompanies desired action.

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      This is also not a modal argument, because although God’s knowledge doesn’t determine the events He knows, God as First Cause does determine what He creates. I claim that a consistently LFW account of creation cannot be Molinist, because (in short) the Molinist account says that God creates C and S in order to produce each decision that adds up to the best timeline available to Him (all things considered).

      Exactly how would that entail the falsity of LFW though? It doesn’t seem to follow that it would. Perhaps I could see your reasoning better if you gave an argument with clearly delineated premises and conclusion.

      I know of too many possible meanings for that term [metaphysical possibility] to use it. What do you mean by it?

      In my experience this term refers to that which the way the world is or could have been like, e.g. it is metaphysically possible for the universe to have different physical laws, but it is not metaphysically possible that torturing infants just for fun is morally permissible. In Molinism, we could say that certain worlds are feasible for God to create and others, while metaphysically possible (e.g. nobody sinning) are not.

      Even if there is only one actualized choice you _would_ make given certain conditions C, it doesn’t appear to follow that there is only one actualized choice you _could_ make under C.

      I’ve heard that a lot. My immediate reaction is still “So what?”

      Well, that would seem to argue against your claim that “If Molinism is true, LFW doesn’t work (because there’s only one actualized choice you can make, and it’s the one your soul was naturally going to make anyhow).” Molinism doesn’t appear to imply that. Or if it does, some additional explanation will be needed.

      [continued below]

    • Wade T.

      I know of too many possible meanings for that term [metaphysical possibility] to use it. What do you mean by it?

      In my experience this term refers to that which the way the world is or could have been like, e.g. it is metaphysically possible for the universe to have different physical laws, but it is not metaphysically possible that torturing infants just for fun is morally permissible. In Molinism, we could say that certain worlds are feasible for God to create and others, while metaphysically possible (e.g. nobody sinning) are not.

      Even if there is only one actualized choice you _would_ make given certain conditions C, it doesn’t appear to follow that there is only one actualized choice you _could_ make under C.

      I’ve heard that a lot. My immediate reaction is still “So what?”

      Well, that would seem to argue against your claim that “If Molinism is true, LFW doesn’t work (because there’s only one actualized choice you can make, and it’s the one your soul was naturally going to make anyhow).” Molinism doesn’t appear to imply that. Or if it does, some additional explanation will be needed.

      we also have to accept that when good happens, God DOES will it (since it contributes directly to His goal) and thus He should be credited with it.

      There’s no reason to think that the credit can’t be shared. If two people freely choose to donate equal amounts of money to save an orphanage out of the goodness of their hearts, both get credit for saving it. Similarly, there’s no reason to think that God and humans can’t freely work together and share the credit.

      [continued below]

    • Wade T.

      That sounds a bit like a modal fallacy.

      It’s not. God’s action is the direct cause of your existence; and God designed and chose His action in order to actuate the timeline which included THAT choice, and not the rejection of that choice. That choice WILL happen, and this is not “up to you” — unless you accept a compatibilist view.

      It sounds like a modal fallacy because you seem to be suggesting some inconsistency between “the choice will happen” and “it is up to you.” I am not a compatibilist in the normal sense (i.e. soft determinism) but I certainly am one in the sense that “someone S will choose action A” is compatible with “S freely chooses A in the libertarian sense.” Why presume an inconsistency?

    • wm tanksley

      Yes, it looks like you use “metaphysically possible” the same way I use “logically possible”.

      Wade, I’ve just been debating against three entirely different Arminian positions; each one required entirely different arguments, since they had different ideas about Molinism, LFW, and even what “compatibilism” meant. (The latter one actually had a good point; I changed my definition.) So I’m actually a little annoyed that you could say I’ve never set out an argument. I’ve set out MANY of them.

      What I haven’t done is set out one that’s tailored to you personally, and that’s simply because I have no idea what you believe. So, I see from your most recent comments that you’re a compatibilist (in the Inwagen sense of the word): you believe that total determination and total libertarian free will are possible at the same time. You’re the only one I’ve personally met, so I’d like to know more about your position before I talk more.

      I know some people hold definitions of LFW which are very different from others. Some hold that LFW is the ability to choose between more than one fully available outcome, so that if there’s only one outcome, it’s not a real choice. You can’t believe that, since you’ve said Molinism is compatible with LFW, and Molinism provides only one outcome.

      I see you making a distinction between “would” and “could”, but in Molinism, the two differ only in that they’re in different parts of God’s knowledge — everything that “could” be is in God’s natural knowledge, while everything I “would” freely choose is in His middle knowledge. Once God’s created, the two have the same actual effects — the things I “would” do are all either things I WILL do or things I WILL NOT do, and God made the choice.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      It sounds like a modal fallacy because you seem to be suggesting some inconsistency between “the choice will happen” and “it is up to you.”

      I find modal logic very difficult, so perhaps I’ve erred; but I don’t see any modal error in my statements. I do, however, see a problem in how you quoted my argument. The contradiction isn’t really between what “WILL happen” and that it’s “up to you”; the contradiction is between the fact that the outcome of the choice is up to God, and that it’s “up to you” in a libertarian sense.

      Please keep in mind, by the way, that I do think that we are responsible for our willed actions, even the ones that God decreed prior to creation. But I don’t insist on libertarian free will; I simply insist on moral responsibility.

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      Yes, it looks like you use “metaphysically possible” the same way I use “logically possible”.

      In philosophy, the phrase “logically possible” usually just means “not self-contradictory.” Some things are logically possible yet metaphysically impossible, e.g. torturing an infant just for fun being morally right.

      So I’m actually a little annoyed that you could say I’ve never set out an argument.

      I didn’t say you never did, and I will confess to not having read all the hundreds of posts in this blog. Still you have not (yet) put forth an argument with clearly delineated premises and conclusion in your responses to my posts (I make no claim of others), and I hope my request for one will help me see your position more clearly.

      To help you see where I’m coming from, I’m a staunch incompatibilist regarding free will and determinism. I accept libertarian free will, and I see no conflict between middle knowledge and libertarian freedom. By libertarian freedom I mean determinism is false with respect to human volition.

      Some hold that LFW is the ability to choose between more than one fully available outcome, so that if there’s only one outcome, it’s not a real choice. You can’t believe that, since you’ve said Molinism is compatible with LFW, and Molinism provides only one outcome.

      It’s assertions like this I’d like to see an argument (premises + conclusion) for so I can follow the reasoning, because as stated here it seems non sequitur. While it may be true there _is_ only one outcome, it doesn’t follow that LFW is false. Either I will drink a root beer tomorrow or I will not; there is only one outcome (I cannot do both). Nonetheless, the fact that there is only one outcome doesn’t entail the falsity of LFW.

      [Continued below]

    • Wade T.

      The contradiction isn’t really between what “WILL happen” and that it’s “up to you”; the contradiction is between the fact that the outcome of the choice is up to God, and that it’s “up to you” in a libertarian sense.

      But why exactly is this inconsistent? I did after all give an example of how credit for an action could be shared (two people donating money to save an orphanage; we can even assume that both individuals have libertarian freedom) and there doesn’t seem to be any good reason to think that the credit can’t likewise be shared between God and human individuals endowed with libertarian freedom. Perhaps it’s just the analytic philosopher in me (I recently finished a semester in symbolic logic) but I would very much like to see an argument (clearly delineated premises and conclusion) for such an inconsistency.

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      For full disclosure Wade is a friend of mine from church who is a philosophy student and someone who follows Christian philosophy alot closer then I do. I invited him in on this discussion because he seemed to have a better grasp of the concepts then either of us.

      Moving on I think Wade brings up some good points that I’ve been trying to make less succesfully. As I’ve said before something with Molinism doesn’t sit completely right with me, but I’m not sure how to disprove which is why I, like Wade would like to see how one proves it to be contradictory. To get us rolling it seems that in Molinism this is true

      1. God wanted us to be having this conversation right now.
      2. As a result God chose to actualize a universe out of all the possibilities in which we would freely choose to have this conversation.
      3. When the time came about to have this conversation we freely chose to engage in this conversation (by which I mean our choice to have this conversation was not merely the result of antecedent causes).

      Now I’m not sure where the contradiction is here. It seems that it is true that God chose for us to have this conversation from prior to the begginings of the universe, and equally true that we freely chose of our own libertarian free will to have this conversation.

    • wm tanksley

      Wade, I’m a little leery of attempting to state a solid position about someone else’s beliefs when I don’t know what they are. I made that mistake with Michael, assuming that his beliefs about LFW were similar to the commonly stated ones here; I was wrong to use that shortcut :-).

      I can discuss in more detail the things you’ve clearly said. For example, you mentioned that LFW+Molinism could be like a joint contribution to a charity, where both parties get credit. That’s a good example, but it allows me to illustrate the problem in detail. Since you specified that both parties get credit, this requires that both parties consent and be able to dissent; but God willed the action and arranged the universe (including the agent) in order to cause the action, and there’s no way the action won’t happen. God’s actions were necessary and sufficient to cause the action. If you reject compatibilism (which you explicitly do), you specifically reject the idea that credit should be assigned for willingly undertaken actions even though they’re entirely determined by other factors.

      Now, if you’re going to claim that a human’s actions are self-determined even though they’re entirely chosen by God, here Molinism provides no help. Molinism is specific that God’s middle knowledge of our conditional actions is prior to our existence — we don’t have to even exist for our conditional actions to be utterly determined. Therefore, whatever determines them is not US.

      Of course, if you allow compatibilism (or semi-compatibilism) there’s no problem.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Oh, and Michael: thank you for introducing Wade here; I admire both of your philosophical sophistication, and wish I could meet with you in person — I think we’d have a lot more fun that way. I’ve certainly learned a lot from our interactions. (Imagine — I’d never even heard of van Inwagen!)

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      I guess the summary of my position on Molinism is that it looks like it can’t be elaborated consistently into any actual reality. You can SAY that “God knows all counterfactuals of creaturely freedom”, but when you try to explore the implications, the picture falls apart.

      I don’t see any attempt by Molinists to respond to these criticisms — as in the article by Craig in which he claims that there’s plenty of warrant for believing middle knowledge is reasonable, but without giving any reasonable examples (only ones which are clearly not any type of middle knowledge at all) nor any logical warrant.

      As things stand, Molinism is a vague claim on which is based an incredibly detailed theology of creation, none of which is present in the Bible. Compatibilism is an incredibly detailed account of man’s will, but at least it’s hinted at in the Bible and isn’t an account of God’s creative act (i.e., it’s an account of something we humans have experience with).

      Probably the worst thing about Molinism, though, is that its entire purpose is to make the claim that God based His election to salvation on man’s foreseen merit. People simply want to believe that God’s saving love for them is because of their own goodness, rather than simply being God’s uncaused love.

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      [Y]ou mentioned that LFW+Molinism could be like a joint contribution to a charity, where both parties get credit. That’s a good example, but it allows me to illustrate the problem in detail. Since you specified that both parties get credit, this requires that both parties consent and be able to dissent; but God willed the action and arranged the universe (including the agent) in order to cause the action, and there’s no way the action won’t happen.

      Again, this sounds like a modal fallacy. It is necessarily true that if it will happen, then it will happen, i.e. Necessarily(If A will happen, A will happen). It doesn’t follow that “If A will happen, then Necessarily(A will happen).” That I will do some action by libertarian choice, say, giving to charity, it doesn’t follow that I could have chosen not to do it simply by God foreknowing that I would do it. You seem to be implying that our actions would be determined in this way when you say, “Molinism is specific that God’s middle knowledge of our conditional actions is prior to our existence — we don’t have to even exist for our conditional actions to be utterly determined.” I think you’re going to need an argument for middle knowledge implying determinism (if you have one, please clearly delineate your premises and conclusion), because without one it seems like you’re employing a fallacy of modal logic. While I agree that there’s no way the action won’t happen in the sense of “Necessarily(If A will happen, A will happen)” I do not agree that LFW+Molinism implies determinism.

      You say, “God’s actions were necessary and sufficient to cause the action” but the Molinist need not agree with that at all. In addition to God creating conducive circumstances, another necessary condition for us to choose an action (say, giving to charity) is for us to freely choose it. So why can’t both God and the human individual share the credit for the human giving to charity?

    • wm tanksley

      Wade,

      I don’t believe that responds to my message at all (the large part that you quote). I’m giving a moral and legal argument based on the specific claims Molinism makes. If you’re a semi-compatiblist you won’t mind my argument at all (as I said); this proves that my argument has nothing whatsoever to do with modal logic, much less a modal fallacy, since obviously a successful modal argument would bind a semi-compatibilist Molinist just as well as an incompatiblist.

      Again, according to Molinism, God was able to plan infallibly the entire course of the universe logically prior to our existence (and logically independently of our existence, since some of the futures God middle-knew may have been possible futures which involved beings He did not choose to create). This is not merely KNOWING the future, but actively CHOOSING what the future would be, rejecting some possible decisions and accepting some others (while, of course, tolerating still others because there are no middle-knowable courses which avoid those undesirable events). God did all of this work of creation without us existing at all.

      So, what does this mean? It appears to mean that if Molinism is true, the nature of “free choice” is somehow compatible with God’s ability to decide which way the free choice will turn out, without any need for the existence of the creature making the choice. That needn’t imply determinism; but it necessarily excludes the “principle of alternate possibilities”, which most people who hold to LFW believe is required (and Michael has said that he does).

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      [A]ccording to Molinism, God was able to plan infallibly the entire course of the universe logically prior to our existence (and logically independently of our existence, since some of the futures God middle-knew may have been possible futures which involved beings He did not choose to create). This is not merely KNOWING the future, but actively CHOOSING what the future would be, rejecting some possible decisions and accepting some others (while, of course, tolerating still others because there are no middle-knowable courses which avoid those undesirable events).

      But how did he choose? He chose by KNOWING what would happen if he chose initial conditions C1 over C2. The individual would still have to make the choice.

      So, what does this mean? It appears to mean that if Molinism is true, the nature of “free choice” is somehow compatible with God’s ability to decide which way the free choice will turn out, without any need for the existence of the creature making the choice.

      For the future to be actualized though the individual must still make the choice. This way, the future isn’t entirely decided by God; it’s also decided by humans. So the falsity of LFW (understood as determinism being false with respect to human volition) doesn’t seem to be entailed here. If you think otherwise, it might help if you gave an argument with clearly delineated premises and conclusion on exactly why you believe LFW is incompatible with Molinism.

    • wm tanksley

      But how did he choose? He chose by KNOWING what would happen if he chose initial conditions C1 over C2.

      This is an explicit equivocation on “chose” — “he chose by knowing what would happen if He chose…”.

      The individual would still have to make the choice.

      But the individual’s choice is indistinguishable by any principled means from the initial conditions, in that both are both chosen and actualized by God; not merely in an ultimate sense (as Open Theism claims), but prior to and as part of creation.

      For the future to be actualized though the individual must still make the choice.

      As a semantic point, this contradicts Craig’s and Wikipedia’s use of the word “actualize”; both of them use that word to refer to what God does at the moment of creation. As a result, I don’t know what you mean — the way you’re saying it implies that humans have some kind of veto over whether the future ever happens.

      Also: how can this be distinguished from semicompatibilism?

      This way, the future isn’t entirely decided by God; it’s also decided by humans.

      But it is entirely decided by God. Humans in themselves contribute nothing (although Molinism claims that God’s true ideas about individual humans can detract).

      So the falsity of LFW (understood as determinism being false with respect to human volition) doesn’t seem to be entailed here. If you think otherwise, it might help if you gave an argument with clearly delineated premises and conclusion on exactly why you believe LFW is incompatible with Molinism.

      You understand my argument, even if you keep saying that I’m proving LFW to be false (I’m not; I’m only showing that Molinism and LFW are contradictory). Given that I also say that Molinism is impossible to state as anything more than vague handwaving, I don’t think I need to do more than communicate…

    • wm tanksley

      (Argh. What irony. I got cut off in the middle of saying: )

      Given that I also say that Molinism is impossible to state as anything more than vague handwaving, I don’t think I need to do more than communicate clearly.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Wade, I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m trying to dodge your request for a more precise argument. Your request is perfectly reasonable, but I don’t think it’s possible to render a precise statement of LFW Molinism, because it’s foundationally based on the idea of a solidly determinable indeterminacy. If we attempt to express that in detail we get an obvious contradiction; if we leave it undefined but assumed, our argument is vague.

      The grounding objection is the attempt to render a precise statement about middle knowledge. My argument is the result of allowing it to remain undefined but assumed.

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      For the future to be actualized though the individual must still make the choice.

      As a semantic point, this contradicts Craig’s and Wikipedia’s use of the word “actualize”; both of them use that word to refer to what God does at the moment of creation.

      Where does Craig define “actualize” such that _only_ God can actualize something? The term “actualize” in philosophy is a more general term than that; human beings are also capable of actualizing (i.e. make actual) states of affairs, e.g. by building a house.

      As a result, I don’t know what you mean — the way you’re saying it implies that humans have some kind of veto over whether the future ever happens.

      Of course they do! The fact that they effectively have this power is precisely why God can’t feasibly create just any universe he would like, e.g. a world where nobody ever sins against Him. God can create any initial conditions he likes, but if his created free agents refuse to freely choose what he wants (as often happens, unfortunately), God has feasibility constraints on His omnipotence. So as I said earlier, for the future to be actualized the individual must still make the choice. This way, the future isn’t entirely decided by God; it’s also decided by humans.

      Also: how can this be distinguished from semicompatibilism?

      How do you define “semicompatibilism”?

    • Wade T.

      You understand my argument, even if you keep saying that I’m proving LFW to be false (I’m not; I’m only showing that Molinism and LFW are contradictory).

      (1) I’m not sure I do understand your argument; (2) I’m not saying you’re proving LFW to be false, but you do seem to be saying that Molinism entails the falsity of LFW, and the reasoning behind it is unclear to me. I didn’t want to risk attacking straw men, which is why I asked for clearly delineated premises and conclusion. That said, maybe your argument is this:

      (1) LFW is true (determinism is false with respect to human volition)
      (2) Suppose God knows that if he creates conditions C1, you will choose action A1 (reductio assumption).
      (3) Therefore, if God creates C1 you are determined to choose A1 (follows from 2; if God knows you will choose A1, you can’t not choose A1)
      (4) Therefore LFW is false (follows from 3).
      (5) But LFW is true (from 1), and therefore it is not the case that God has that type of middle knowledge (as described in 2).

      (3) does not follow from (2) however; just because God knows you will do something doesn’t mean you are determined to do it, and line (3) seems to make a fallacy of modal logic.

      Maybe the above isn’t actually your argument, but then can you clearly delineate your premises and conclusion to tell me exactly what your argument is?

    • Wade T.

      Wade, I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m trying to dodge your request for a more precise argument. Your request is perfectly reasonable, but I don’t think it’s possible to render a precise statement of LFW Molinism, because it’s foundationally based on the idea of a solidly determinable indeterminacy. If we attempt to express that in detail we get an obvious contradiction; if we leave it undefined but assumed, our argument is vague.

      By all means, inform me of the “obvious contradiction”! I defined LFW as determinism being false with respect to human volition. We can define Molinism as God’s counterfactual knowledge (God knows that if he created conditions C1, someone S would have freely chosen action A1) as well as God’s ability to actualize certain conditions (e.g. C1) to help bring about a certain action (e.g. A1) that he knows would happen if he did so. I claim that LFW is a type of freedom that is consistent with Molinism. Can you put forth an argument (clearly delineated premises and conclusion) that makes the contradiction obvious?

    • wm tanksley

      By all means, inform me of the “obvious contradiction”!

      The “obvious contradiction” is the statement I made about “determinate indeterminism”; in a more precisely stated form (but less obvious), it’s the grounding objection (I said this in comment 15 above).

      I defined LFW as determinism being false with respect to human volition.

      Unfortunately, that’s not a definition; it’s the negative space of a definition. Note that you’re stating it by referring to an ideology (-ism). To define something you must do more than say a belief system is false about it. Also note that your opponent is NOT responsible to define your belief system for you.

      Let me give this a try, though. I’ll use a modern Aristotelian definition of free will; Michael should recognize it from earlier. The LFW people who take up Aristotle’s mantle say that a moral decision must be “up to us”, meaning that the decision must originate within us, and have its source nowhere else.

      Molinists, on the other hand, say that every possible decision we could make in every possible circumstance entirely precedes us; they are, in a sense, embedded in eternally true hypotheses; and the entire body of these hypotheses include created and not-created beings: and just as the content of these hypotheses are not “up to” the not-created beings, so also they are not “up to us”.

      THEREFORE, our decisions are, according to Molinism, not “up to us” in the sense of having their origins within us. Thus, LFW and Molinism are incompatible.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      (3) does not follow from (2) however; just because God knows you will do something doesn’t mean you are determined to do it, and line (3) seems to make a fallacy of modal logic.

      Thank you for the clear explanation. I see why you thought I might possibly be committing a modal fallacy. But my argument is not about the mere knowledge of God, but about His positive actions. God’s knowledge does not cause our actions; rather, our actions cause God to know them. BUT, God’s actions are causative, and are in fact intended by God to have the effect of producing the decisions we actually make.

      Let’s look at some of your other points.

      Where does Craig define “actualize” such that _only_ God can actualize something?

      Your objection is that humans can actualize a building while God actualizes the world; these are different things. But Craig says that God actualizes the world when He creates. You said that humans actualize the future. Both terms refer to the same things; a single thing cannot be actualized by two different actors in the same way.

      http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5633 (an example of Craig using “actualize”.)

      (Hmm, your post is worthy of more… To be continued…)

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      God can create any initial conditions he likes, but if his created free agents refuse to freely choose what he wants (as often happens, unfortunately), God has feasibility constraints on His omnipotence. So as I said earlier, for the future to be actualized the individual must still make the choice. This way, the future isn’t entirely decided by God; it’s also decided by humans.

      But by Molinism that’s not POSSIBLE. God didn’t create a world in which individuals would ever choose to veto His will! He avoided all such contradictory wills by the notion of Middle Knowledge. So although it’s POSSIBLE to veto God’s will, it’s not ever going to happen; Molinism claims that God carefully constructed a world in which nobody EVER will veto God’s will.

      Do you see what I mean now? This is not an argument that depends on modalities. It uses Molinism’s own description of God’s creative activities. God specifically avoided the only possible situations in which a human could possibly will otherwise than the way God wanted him to. Humans therefore have no actual power of contrary choice — not because God actively forbid that to them, but rather because the laws contained in middle knowledge forbid it to them, and God uses those laws to structure His creation.

      The only difference between Molinism and classical compatibilism is that Molinism puts an eternal limit on God (the fact of middle knowledge are eternally true, and absolutely bar God from contrary action); classical compatibilism doesn’t claim that there’s something God can’t do.

      How do you define “semicompatibilism”?

      It refers to the belief that, whether libertarian free will exists or not, morality is real and binding because your responsibility for your actions depend on whether you desired to perform them, NOT on whether you possessed libertarian free will.

      http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/semicompatibilism.html

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,
      Been quite busy so I haven’t had time to comment. That and I didn’t want to barge in on the discussion which I have found quite illuminating.

      1. “Unfortunately, that’s not a definition; it’s the negative space of a definition.”

      I think the definition Wade may not be fully developed by him, but is sufficient for the purposes of this debate. A action or state of being is either merely the result of antecedent causes or it is not. One does not have to develop this further for the point that is being made.

      2. THEREFORE, our decisions are, according to Molinism, not “up to us” in the sense of having their origins within us. Thus, LFW and Molinism are incompatible.

      Ahh but you are simply mistaken here. In Molinism when the time comes for the choice to be made the choice being made is NOT merely the result of antecedent causes. Thus the choice is “up to us”. To claim that this is undermined simply because God “knew” that if he created Universe X, Agent Y would freely choose to perform Act Z and then chose to create Universe X is to commit the very modal fallacy that Wade accuses you of. You are making an improper leap from choosing to create a universe knowing that what is going to happen in that universe to all the actions in that universe being determined. Whether or not God chooses to actualize the universe where Act Ywould occur is irrelevent to whether or not Act Y is the result of antecedent causes or not.

    • Michael T.

      WM

      3. On wills

      I’m not sure that Molinism doesn’t posit multiple wills just like Calvinism (and some forms of Arminianism for that matter). Let me illustrate perhaps. God wants a race that will choose Him of their own free will. This limits the range of logically possible universes that God could create. For the sake of argument let’s say this makes a perfect universe in which everyone freely chooses Him impossible. Thus it would be fair to say that the will of God is truly that everyone will freely choose him. At the same time it is logically impossible for such a universe to exist. Thus he has willed this world and is willing to use the evil in it to gather all who will accept Him to Himself. Yet at the same time it is also correct to say that He does not desire the evil, much less cause the evil (modal fallacy again). You understand the tension perhaps?? I don’t know if I’m comfortable with this – but I think it is a fair representation of Molinism.

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      4. Finally on Semi-compatibilism

      I’ll be honest and say that I’m not sure there is a logical argument against this idea because it for the most part is a bald assertion. That being said I’m not sure how a Christian could be comfortable holding this position. Even if we limit the Early Church writers who addressed free will such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Methodius to merely addressing immaterial fates (something Hodge argues for, but I disagree with) at the very least their writings stand as a strong refutation of the semi-compatibilist assertion that hard determinism and moral responsibility are compatible. Such a view would have been considered heresy by these writers and they argued against it as such.

    • wm tanksley

      I think the definition Wade may not be fully developed by him, but is sufficient for the purposes of this debate. A action or state of being is either merely the result of antecedent causes or it is not. One does not have to develop this further for the point that is being made.

      We weren’t making a point, though. We were debating over whether I’d produced a clear enough argument on whether Molinism and LFW were incompatible. If the proponents of LFW (in particular) can produce no definition of their position WHATSOEVER, they have no right to complain when I don’t refine my argument. Now, Wade has made some statements about LFW and Molinism, and I’ve immediately responded by making arguments based on those specific statements. The response has always been “give me a logically precise argument”. My response is that I’ll give you a precise argument when you give me a precise definition; until then I’ll argue only with the data I’m given.

      I have made more precise arguments in the past, against people who have made precise statements.

      Ahh but you are simply mistaken here. In Molinism when the time comes for the choice to be made the choice being made is NOT merely the result of antecedent causes.

      Yes, Molinism makes this claim. It’s preposterous on a number of fronts; but my argument simply accepted it at face value. For this reason, I made no attempt to use determinism (or non) in my argument. For example, think about it — if the choice is not deterministic, then why is God able to fix it in every case, simply by setting up the person with the circumstances? If my choice isn’t determined by my circumstances, surely at least SOMETIMES it wouldn’t be possible to nail down my choice by nailing down my circumstances!

      Thus the choice is “up to us”.

      Non-sequitur. The fact that it’s non-deterministic doesn’t make it “up to us”. It could be random, or up to God, for…

    • wm tanksley

      (I don’t get it… That was 1984 characters long. Why did it truncate? As I was saying:)

      Non-sequitur. The fact that it’s non-deterministic doesn’t make it “up to us”. It could be random, or up to God, for example.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      To claim that this is undermined simply because God “knew” that if he created Universe X, Agent Y would freely choose to perform Act Z and then chose to create Universe X is to commit the very modal fallacy that Wade accuses you of.

      That’s why I do NOT “simply” make that claim. My claim, as it MUST be, is based on much more than God’s direct knowledge, as I’ve explained; and it depends on much more than the fact that LFW is indeterminist.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      On wills: I agree with you; this is one of the “big deals” for Molinism. It’s supposed to give God the sovereignty to direct the entire universe, without giving Him any blame for any moral evil — or at least avoiding some of it. The argument can then be made that this is the important part.

      I don’t buy this; I don’t think Molinism actually avoids the problem it’s designed to avoid. But this is a side issue, since I also don’t think Molinism is internally consistent; i.e. it couldn’t possibly be true.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      1. “It could be random, or up to God, for example.”

      If our actions are up to God in the sense that God is a sufficient explanatory cause of all our actions then determinism would be true. However, Molinism doesn’t posit this. In Molinism God simply actualizes this universe out of many knowing what free agents will do. Thus while God is a cause in the sense that He created this universe (in the same sense that a murderers great-grandmother is a “cause” of the murder) He is not a sufficient cause. There are numerous actors who exercise their wills independent of God including our own which are responsible for the state of affairs we find ourselves in. As to whether or not everything is purely random that is irrelevant to the discussion at hand since no one has made this claim.

      My point was simply that while Wade’s definition does not suffice in a macro sense for the purposes of this debate is it sufficient.

      2. “If my choice isn’t determined by my circumstances, surely at least SOMETIMES it wouldn’t be possible to nail down my choice by nailing down my circumstances!”

      This is where the Middle and Foreknowledge meet. God simply knows what you are going to freely choose. One does not need posit how He knows for such a thing is unfathomable.

      3. My claim, as it MUST be, is based on much more than God’s direct knowledge, as I’ve explained; and it depends on much more than the fact that LFW is indeterminist.

      Yet it is still God’s knowledge – whether it be of the Middle or Fore variety it is still knowledge and there is simply no way to leap from knowing to determinism. At the end of the day whether by fore or middle knowledge God created the universe having full knowledge of what will happen – determined this does not the world make.

    • wm tanksley

      Finally, on semi-compatibilism… That was me, not Hodge, I think. I stand by what I said: those writers were unmistakably speaking against fatalism. It’s like hijacking Ireneus to make him be saying that his opponents were denying transubstantiation — he wasn’t; he was saying that they were denying that Christ had a body made of matter, and they rejected the food and drink because they rejected the statement that Jesus was associated with matter.

      I admit that my statement about semi-compatibilism is a mere definition, not an argument. And it’s a vague one; it correctly reflects my ambivalence about determinism. I believe that man is free, and I don’t know how that works. I also believe that in at least some things, man is enslaved, and man is nonetheless morally responsible for his actions even in those areas.

      The Reformed believe that mankind has free agency. We are free as people, free to choose according to our desires. We deny that there is meaning in saying that man’s will is free. Yes, man is free; but man’s will is bound to serve the man’s desires. If a man’s will were free from every influence, his will would not be serving him, but rather itself.

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      It refers to the belief that, whether libertarian free will exists or not, morality is real and binding because your responsibility for your actions depend on whether you desired to perform them, NOT on whether you possessed libertarian free will.

      The link you provided for this defines semicompatibilism rather differently. A semicompatibilist is a “narrow compatibilist” (one who thinks moral responsibility is compatible with determinism and indeterminism) and is “agnostic about free will and determinism.” A quick Google search reveals this term is defined or described somewhat differently across various sources. Somewhat puzzling is your link’s initial definition of semicompatibilism as “the idea that moral responsibility is compatible with determinism,” which is a typical definition of compatibilism simpliciter.

    • Wade T.

      Unfortunately, that’s not a definition; it’s the negative space of a definition.

      Well, we can equivalently define LFW as “indeterminism is true with respect to human volition.”

      The “obvious contradiction” is the statement I made about “determinate indeterminism”; in a more precisely stated form (but less obvious), it’s the grounding objection (I said this in comment 15 above).

      Could you state the argument in detail, with clearly delineated premises and conclusion showing the contradiction between LFW and Molinism? I kind of requested this in post 20 of this page.

      God can create any initial conditions he likes, but if his created free agents refuse to freely choose what he wants (as often happens, unfortunately), God has feasibility constraints on His omnipotence. So as I said earlier, for the future to be actualized the individual must still make the choice. This way, the future isn’t entirely decided by God; it’s also decided by humans.

      But by Molinism that’s not POSSIBLE. God didn’t create a world in which individuals would ever choose to veto His will!

      This seems patently false; every time we sin we are going against the will of God. The fact that God needs our cooperation for us to freely choose his will is precisely why philosophers like Craig argue some worlds are not feasible for God to actualize.

      So although it’s POSSIBLE to veto God’s will, it’s not ever going to happen; Molinism claims that God carefully constructed a world in which nobody EVER will veto God’s will.

      For the moment let’s ignore that humans veto God’s will all the time; if under Molinism it is possible to veto God’s will (even though we do not do so) it seems to argue for indeterminism being true with respect to human volition, and therefore for LFW being compatible with Molinism.

    • Wade T.

      It uses Molinism’s own description of God’s creative activities. God specifically avoided the only possible situations in which a human could possibly will otherwise than the way God wanted him to.

      What is your argument that God specifically avoided the only possible situations in which a human could possibly will otherwise than the way God wanted him to? God knew someone S would choose action A1 under conditions C1, but it doesn’t follow that A1 is the only action a human could do under conditions C1. To use an analogy, God knows whether I will drink a root beer or not tomorrow. Both actions are possible, but God knows which one I will choose.

      I made a similar point before and you replied with “So what?” (see post #27 on page 4). Maybe the point I’ve made here doesn’t jeopardize your actual argument, but if so please clearly list out your premises and conclusion so I have a better idea of what your argument actually is. The following for example is a bit vague:

      Molinists, on the other hand, say that every possible decision we could make in every possible circumstance entirely precedes us; they are, in a sense, embedded in eternally true hypotheses; and the entire body of these hypotheses include created and not-created beings: and just as the content of these hypotheses are not “up to” the not-created beings, so also they are not “up to us”.

      The decisions precede us in what sense? Perhaps you mean the truth of them precedes us before we make them, and perhaps this is what you mean by “embedded in eternally true hypotheses.” But to then say that this somehow makes our decisions not up to us once again makes a fallacy of modal logic; and the addition of true counterfactual statements for non-created beings would not negate this fallacy. If I misunderstood you, please clearly list your premises and conclusion.

    • Wade T.

      For example, think about it — if the choice is not deterministic, then why is God able to fix it in every case, simply by setting up the person with the circumstances? If my choice isn’t determined by my circumstances, surely at least SOMETIMES it wouldn’t be possible to nail down my choice by nailing down my circumstances!

      God doesn’t “fix it,” he simply knows what you will choose when he actualizes those circumstances. Consider for example normal foreknowledge and LFW before you make a given choice. Before you make the choice, there are only the initial conditions and the choice has not yet been actualized. It thus doesn’t follow that because God knows you will do action A in conditions C you are determined to do A.

      Another approach: we can kind of think of God as a scientist to simulate middle knowledge if after he creates the initial conditions he is capable of knowing what you will choose if God doesn’t interfere further. Being sufficiently similar to normal foreknowledge, it’s plausible that God has this type of knowledge; do you agree? God creates conditions C1, and because of his supernatural knowledge, knows you will do action A1. God then “changes his mind” and creates conditions C2, and when he does so because of his supernatural knowledge knows you will choose action A2 (this idea is inspired by watching the Nicolas Cage movie Next).

      To recap, I define LFW as indeterminism being true with respect to human volition. We can define Molinism as God’s counterfactual knowledge (God knows that if he created conditions C1, someone S would have freely chosen action A1) as well as God’s ability to actualize certain conditions (e.g. C1) to help bring about a certain action (e.g. A1) that he knows would happen if he did so. That said, can you clearly delineate your premises and conclusion to show that LFW is incompatible with Molinism?

    • wm tanksley

      1. “It could be random, or up to God, for example.”
      If our actions are up to God in the sense that God is a sufficient explanatory cause of all our actions then determinism would be true.

      I don’t see why that follows, unless you believe that God is entirely deterministic. Of course, it doesn’t matter — if you insist, simply delete “or God” from my statement; my point was only that “indeterminism” alone doesn’t make things “up to us”. If you’re going to insist that God is purely deterministic while we’re free, I won’t argue at this point. (Out of curiosity, would you accept that our decisions could be undeterministic if they were “up to” quantum changes in our neurons? What if they were “up to” capricious Fates? Why are these things more free than God?

      However, Molinism doesn’t posit this.

      I’m talking about a definition of LFW, not of Molinism. Molinism doesn’t posit anything about free will; it merely assumes it without defining it; except that it can’t be part of Natural Knowledge; and that Molinism needs God to use it before Free Knowledge is possible.

      In Molinism God simply actualizes this universe out of many knowing what free agents will do.

      Really, that word “simply” shows up a lot in your writing. It glosses over some very important data. God doesn’t arbitratily actualize a universe! He does so in order to produce His desired outcome, following a very precisely described logic and action. If a human engineer did that, and we were able to decide that the human engineer’s works were reliable for their purposes, our conclusion would be that the human engineer knew some kind of law that his creation obeyed. Molinism insists this isn’t the case, and the grounding objection is the interaction with that claim.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, sorry- I ran out of comment space. This is complex.

      As to whether or not everything is purely random that is irrelevant to the discussion at hand since no one has made this claim.

      The specific claim was that LFW is defined as indeterminism within man’s will. I’m pointing out that this isn’t enough to work with as a definition; randomness fully meets the definition, and philosophers of will admit this (it’s the basis of Inwagen’s Mind argument).

      My point was simply that while Wade’s definition does not suffice in a macro sense for the purposes of this debate is it sufficient.

      A. It is not a definition at all. B. At least you want more — you want actions that are “up to us”.

      2. “If my choice isn’t determined by my circumstances, surely at least SOMETIMES it wouldn’t be possible to nail down my choice by nailing down my circumstances!”
      This is where the Middle and Foreknowledge meet.

      No, it isn’t. Free knowledge is a result of creation (or of decree). Foreknowledge is a Greek and Hebrew term that refers to God’s approval. Meanwhile, my argument is about the proposed relationship between my own freedom and God’s actions, not God’s knowledge of that freedom. If we are not determined by circumstance, then why does Molina insist that God sets the timeline by setting circumstances? If indeterminism is true, or more generally if our decisions are not determined by our circumstances, then setting our circumstances will not be enough to set our decisions! It will be an irrelevant action. Yet it’s the specific action that Molinism says God takes for that purpose.

      The two claims are contrary — unless Molinism doesn’t presuppose the same “free will” that you presuppose. Which is my point.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Somewhat puzzling is your link’s initial definition of semicompatibilism as “the idea that moral responsibility is compatible with determinism,” which is a typical definition of compatibilism simpliciter.

      Wade, this is exactly why I need to know your background and definitions for your own beliefs before I can start arguing against them. I got the term “semicompatibilism” as a result of discussion with Michael, in which he pointed out van Inwagen’s definitions for “compatibilism”. Using Inwagen’s terms, “compatiblism” is actually the claim that LFW is compatible with determinism (!!!!). Inwagen then brags that since he started writing, educated people abandoned the idea that compatibilism is valid. This is, of course, unsurprising since his definitions make “compatibilism” a fairly blatant contradiction in terms :-).

      For this reason, I use the longer word, since as far as I know it hasn’t been redefined. It’s been useful in conversation with Michael.

      And honestly, I do like Inwagen’s approach, even though I’m not satisfied with his redefinition of that particular term.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Well, we can equivalently define LFW as “indeterminism is true with respect to human volition.”

      No, one doesn’t change a non-definition to a definition by moving the negation. I’m not objecting to the sentence; I’ve already responded to it with an argument that attempts to show that Molinism makes claims about God’s actions that are inconsistent with indeterminism.

      It’s simply obvious that the sentence doesn’t adequately describe LFW, since it also describes a will behaving according to external sovereign caprice or pure randomness. (Michael says God can’t do this because He’s deterministic, but I don’t understand that.)

      Let me rebuild a previous argument involving indeterminism in numbered form. I actually enjoy doing that.

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      Well, we can equivalently define LFW as “indeterminism is true with respect to human volition.”

      No, one doesn’t change a non-definition to a definition by moving the negation….It’s simply obvious that the sentence doesn’t adequately describe LFW, since it also describes a will behaving according to external sovereign caprice or pure randomness.

      Actually, the “pure randomness” objection has been made against simple indeterminism, a variant of libertarianism. “External sovereign caprice” is inconsistent with this definition since that wouldn’t really be human volition. Mine is a pretty standard definition of libertarian freedom: (1) we have free will; (2) determinism is false with respect to our freedom. That is, we have the capability of choosing among genuine alternatives not determined by antecedent conditions (hopefully this makes it clearer). We can define Molinism as God’s counterfactual knowledge (God knows that if he created conditions C1, someone S would have freely chosen action A1) as well as God’s ability to actualize certain conditions (e.g. C1) to help bring about a certain action (e.g. A1) that he knows would happen if he did so.

      Let me rebuild a previous argument involving indeterminism in numbered form.

      OK, I’ll wait for that (hopefully you are referring to some argument for Molinism and LFW being incompatible).

    • Hodge

      I probably missed this, but has anyone defined what they mean by “determinism.” It sounds like Wade means to be “forced to make a decision,” and William means “to be effectively persuaded to make a decision.” If that’s not correct, I’ll accept rebuke. 🙂
      It may be though that each is talking past one another in terms of Molinism’s compatibility with LFW. If determinism is effectively persuading an individual to make decision A, even though he technically can make decision B, but given the circumstances, never will, and Wade’s form of LFW (although I don’t think would be the common definition of it) allows for effective persuasion, it might bring about some light to the discussion regarding his definition of LFW.

    • wm tanksley

      Good point, Hodge. And well asked. I’m going to slow down a bit to answer it, and wait to see if my answer makes sense to Wade. If it doesn’t, my argument won’t make sense either.

      I’d say that an outcome is deterministic if it could be reproduced by recreating the same situation. We could also say that a deterministic outcome is “fully determined” by all the factors that go into it; a mathematical function is fully determined by precise values being assigned to all its variables, while a Newtonian physics simulation is fully determined by assigning momentum and position to all its particles.

      A partially determined outcome is one for which we lack control over some variables, and the outcome is therefore limited within a range or predictable with better probability than a less determined outcome would be.

      A non-determined outcome is one for which we lack information and/or control of any input parameters. Non-determined outcomes can be classed with undetermined outcomes, which (of course) have zero input parameters but which nonetheless vary.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      Hodge,
      Determinism as understood in the realm of philosophy is not typically the belief that one is “forced” to make a particular decision. This would be a narrower form of determinism, but determinism itself is a broader category. Simplistically it can be defined as a system in which all actions and states of affairs are the result of antecedent causes. Thus all of history is more or less a Rube Goldberg type machine and if one could have full knowledge of all present conditions one could then by cause and effect predict all future conditions.

    • Wade T.

      I’d say that an outcome is deterministic if it could be reproduced by recreating the same situation.

      That’s not quite right. If LFW is true, an outcome could be reproduced by recreating the same situation (since the individual could make the same choice). More accurately, determinism is “the claim that all events are the necessary result of previous causes.” I got that from my college philosophy textbook (The Philosophical Journey: An Interactive Approach, 2nd edition, by William F. Lawhead, page 253).

    • wm tanksley

      Wade, so is LFW the claim that choices made by a human will are not the effect of prior causes? (Sounds fair to me.)

      I’m pretty sure you’re wrong in your rebuttal. If the outcome is ALWAYS reproduced, you’ve got a fully determined outcome. If holding a set of variables constant holds the outcome constant, and changing any of those variables changes the outcome, you’ve found a fully determined outcome. If this is an experiment, the result is subject to inductive doubt…

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM

      “Wade, so is LFW the claim that choices made by a human will are not the effect of prior causes? (Sounds fair to me.)”

      I had to laugh here because this is more or less what I have been saying all along by saying that human choice is not merely the result of antecedent causes.

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, no humor intended, but it’s very welcome. You’ve always given me plenty of definitions; discussions with you are usually very concrete and clear. I was glad to see that Wade’s definition might be rephrased into something like yours, which is why I asked that. Since you’re both here, it would be nice if I could build an argument which addressed both of you.

      I’m taking more time to get started than I expected, due to a flu. Ugh, I hurt. (Wade, I see your definition of determinism. Thanks.)

      Thus all of history is more or less a Rube Goldberg type machine and if one could have full knowledge of all present conditions one could then by cause and effect predict all future conditions.

      Right. This is distinguished from God’s free knowledge, in that God simply KNOWS the future to be true (because it is). In keeping with this debate, it’s also distinguished from middle knowledge, in that although God can use middle knowledge to compute the futures (plural), He does so by using knowledge about future souls, which isn’t needed for a deterministic Gold Rhubarb[1] machine as described above. Therefore, Molinism doesn’t qualify as determinism by this definition.

      EDIT: but I intend to show that it is.

      -Wm
      [1]: My mom said that particular Spoonerism while late-term pregnant. She had a broken rib at the time. Everyone in the room nearly died trying not to laugh so that she wouldn’t hurt herself laughing.

    • Wade T.

      Wade, so is LFW the claim that choices made by a human will are not the effect of prior causes? (Sounds fair to me.)

      Well, more accurately prior causes do not determine the human action, and human decisions are not the necessary result of prior causes. Antecedent causes can still have some influence, e.g. if I have an itch I am more likely to scratch. Still, we have the capability of choosing among genuine alternatives not determined by antecedent conditions; that’s what LFW is all about.

    • […] Why I Reject the Arminian Doctrine of Prevenient Grace  C. Michael Patton, October 18, 2010 […]

    • wm tanksley

      (Addendum: oops, I didn’t send this. I don’t have time now, but it looks complete. Hope you’re both having a great New Year’s Eve!)

      human decisions are not the necessary result of prior causes

      I think you have to be very careful with things like this. There are at least two very different types of things that can, in a general sense, “cause” human choices. The first is electrochemical phenomena; the second is reasoning as applied to perception and desires. Some people, physicalists, claim to believe that all human decisions are completely caused by the first category of causes (a suicide argument applies here, as I’m sure you’re aware). But Calvinists are not physicalists.

      Even physicalists will agree that human decisions are not a necessary result of prior EXTERNAL causes (i.e. you’d have to dig inside to find a deterministic outcome, if such is even possible). The hardest of determinists among the Calvinists still believe that God designed our souls to apprehend reason and revelation (causes that move the soul, not primarily the neurons).

      So, here’s my next question: do you consider “reason” to be a “cause”? Reason, as in logic, whether flawed or accurate; numeric or propositional? Suppose a person thinks carefully about a problem and makes a decision based on his reasoning; is that person using his free will?

      I ask because most of the time, we only ask “what caused you to do that?” once we already know that a person did not use reason. We only hand a person over to the phsychiatrist once we know they’re not reasonable — and in those cases the psychiatrist looks for things like chemical imbalances that might “cause” a pattern of unreasonable choices.

      (Out of space. Next post, please.)

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Antecedent causes can still have some influence, e.g. if I have an itch I am more likely to scratch.

      But an itch isn’t a cause; it’s an input, but it’s not a cause. In theory, if there are any causes for our choices, they would be internal to us, not external. Perhaps there are no causes (your position, as far as I know), or perhaps the causes are immaterial (Jonathan Edwards’ position in “the Freedom of the Will”), or perhaps the causes are physical (Dawkins’ position, as far as I know); but nobody holds that the causes are external.

      The REASON you scratched was the itch; the CAUSE of your scratching wasn’t the itch.

      (I’m not asking this because it’ll prove determinism. It won’t, because there’s usually more than one reasonable choice in any situation, and even more when you consider that sloppy reasoning is still “reasonable”. So this isn’t a trap.)

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Happy new year!

      I was writing (and still am writing) my original response, when a simpler one occurred to me. Let’s submit it for peer review and see what happens. Just one thing I ask: respect the line numbers. If you’re going to dismiss this, tell me on which line number the error appears.

      1. LFW means determinism is not true of at least some choices made by humans.
      2. Determinism means that predictions can be made about a process using only information about its inputs.
      3. A prediction means that by giving information about inputs to a process, you receive information about the output.
      4. Molinism specifies that God uses information about a pair of inputs (person S, circumstance C) to get information about the output (action A). The important thing is that the mechanism actually has as its inputs and outputs ONLY information, not real objects.
      6. Molinism then claims God chains the results of these together to model a timeline, then creates the first link in the timeline, and then observes everything turn out exactly as specified, proving the perfect accuracy and precision of the prediction.

      7. Therefore, it’s possible in principle to construct a model to predict human choice under Molinism.
      8. Therefore, human choice under Molinism is deterministic and therefore not compatible with LFW.

      A comment: a model may be possible in principle but impossible in practice. Some reasons for this:

      A. Model complexity. The human brain contributes to human decisions, and is very complex.
      B. Information complexity. “All circumstances” is very complex, and is not generally possible to hold constant in an experiment (but it can be approximated).
      C. Unobservable variables. The human soul may be unobservable in principle.
      D. Sensitive dependence on initial conditions (AKA Chaos). This may sometimes apply.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      I said: “But by Molinism that’s not POSSIBLE. God didn’t create a world in which individuals would ever choose to veto His will!”

      This seems patently false; every time we sin we are going against the will of God.

      This is equivocation (not a moral term, BTW). This discussion previously was using “veto” to refer to your statement “For the future to be actualized though the individual must still make the choice”. I’m not sure what you meant by the idea of an individual somehow stopping the future from being actualized after God created the initial conditions and started the world rolling on its way, but I don’t know any meaning that makes sense.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      I’d still like to know why you said the following, Michael; and one little comment:

      If our actions are up to God in the sense that God is a sufficient explanatory cause of all our actions then determinism would be true. However, Molinism doesn’t posit this.

      Again, why is making our actions “up to” God deterministic, but making them up to us is nondeterministic? I simply don’t see how that’s associated.

      And I just noticed that comment about Molinism; but I wasn’t talking about Molinism there at all. I was only trying to say that simply denying determinism isn’t enough to define LFW in order to produce desirable results. I used “up to us” as an example of one of the desired results that you won’t get simply by positing nondeterminism, since I knew you liked that. I still don’t know why specifically Wade likes LFW; it’s actually possible that total randomness is OK with him (he actually briefly discussed it, and didn’t reject it).

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      It occurs to me that the same argument in my “Happy New Year” post might be construed to mean that God cannot have true knowledge of the future in a A-theory non-deterministic universe. I’m trying to see if there’s a way around this; one possible solution is that because God participates in the unfolding of time, He can decree the nondeterminism, so long as He allows that to Himself. This is conceivable for quantum events, for example; Molinism specifies that it is NOT allowed for “creaturely free” actions. This breaks down the philosophical nondeterminism, but preserves the mathematical and scientific concepts (which are the only ones that are positively defined anyhow).

      I’m poorly motivated to do this, since I find the A-theory of time to be somewhat implausible as philosophically expressed; it doesn’t make sense to me how God could make true prophecies if the future is philosophically indeterminate by nature. A partial A-theory still could be the case, of course, where the future is determinate to God but intrinsically undeterminable by us (this is a hidden-variable theory, but the hidden variables are almost certainly not physical at all).

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      A quick note: I found the following article very informative, since it specifically distinguishes Molinism from Open Theism.

      http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?id=6803

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Is anyone here? Wade? Michael?

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Another approach: we can kind of think of God as a scientist to simulate middle knowledge if after he creates the initial conditions he is capable of knowing what you will choose if God doesn’t interfere further. Being sufficiently similar to normal foreknowledge, it’s plausible that God has this type of knowledge; do you agree? God creates conditions C1, and because of his supernatural knowledge, knows you will do action A1. God then “changes his mind” and creates conditions C2, and when he does so because of his supernatural knowledge knows you will choose action A2 (this idea is inspired by watching the Nicolas Cage movie Next).

      I don’t think you’ll want to keep this argument — it requires God to create all possible worlds and then destroy all but one of them, with all souls. Eternally. If you suppose this you don’t need Molinism, of course — God simply picks the world He knows will have the best conclusion as the ‘keeper’.

      (It’s not clear to me that this is even metaphysically possible, either — it requires God to be undecided and needing time in order to make up His mind. It requires God to either undo an action in eternity, or to have the aborted remnants of an infinite number of universes eternally present to Him.

      If you put these problems aside, there’s still the Molinist assumption that our free choices are controllable simply by controlling our circumstances. If we have LFW, this simply cannot be true, as I’ve explained in my long-delayed detailed argument, posted above.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,
      I am on vacation skiing in the rockies so I’m not on the internet much and don’t have time to formulate a proper reply. As for Wade I think he is probably busy starting another semester of classes. I have a feeling what his responses will be to what you wrote, but I’ll give him the chance to make them before I say anything.

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, have a relaxing and pleasant vacation!

    • wm tanksley

      What is your argument that God specifically avoided the only possible situations in which a human could possibly will otherwise than the way God wanted him to?

      This is a fundamental premise of Molinism, not anything I should need to argue. Do you disagree?

      God knew someone S would choose action A1 under conditions C1, but it doesn’t follow that A1 is the only action a human could do under conditions C1.

      How does it not mean that? The only answer Molinists give is to draw a distinction between “could” and “would” which does not apply; they themselves take advantage of that inapplicability (Michael, tell me if I’m misusing this legal term:) thereby estopping themselves from pressing against me. See Craig’s article 6803 linked above. In short, Molinism says that God CAN NOT violate one of the true CCFs. If “cannot” applies to God, it applies a fortiori to man.

      To use an analogy, God knows whether I will drink a root beer or not tomorrow. Both actions are possible, but God knows which one I will choose.

      God knows which one you will choose because He “sees”, without mediation, your actual drinking of the soda. There’s nothing for God to see about a hypothetical you hypothetically drinking soda.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      I had said: “Molinists, on the other hand, say that every possible decision we could make in every possible circumstance entirely precedes us; they are, in a sense, embedded in eternally true hypotheses; and the entire body of these hypotheses include created and not-created beings: and just as the content of these hypotheses are not “up to” the not-created beings, so also they are not “up to us”.
      You began: The decisions precede us in what sense?

      Entirely. There is no way in which the eternally true CCFs do not precede us. Do you see an exception? They even exceed God’s power, according to Craig (although not in those words).

      Perhaps you mean the truth of them precedes us before we make them, and perhaps this is what you mean by “embedded in eternally true hypotheses.” But to then say that this somehow makes our decisions not up to us once again makes a fallacy of modal logic; and the addition of true counterfactual statements for non-created beings would not negate this fallacy. If I misunderstood you, please clearly list your premises and conclusion.

      I haven’t given the full derivation for this argument (I found it very complex and would like to see your reaction to the simpler one I presented), but I am curious what modal fallacy you’ve found above. As is perhaps common, I don’t see it, and if you found a fault with the simple form of the argument it would be silly to build the complex form.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      I saw an amusing blog post… The entire text was:

      Calvinism: God is the author of sin.
      Arminianism: God is the publisher and co-author of sin.
      Molinism: God is the editor of sin.
      Open Theism: God is the financier and reader of sin.

      From: http://aporeticchristianity.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/the-story-of-sin/

      I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. It’s an amusingly accurate metaphor, at least for Calvinism and Molinism; I won’t comment on Arminianism, and I don’t know Open Theism well enough to comment on it.

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      Is anyone here? Wade? Michael?

      Patience! I replied to you quickly before because I was on vacation and had a lot more time.

      I said: “But by Molinism that’s not POSSIBLE. God didn’t create a world in which individuals would ever choose to veto His will!”

      This seems patently false; every time we sin we are going against the will of God.

      This is equivocation (not a moral term, BTW). This discussion previously was using “veto” to refer to your statement “For the future to be actualized though the individual must still make the choice”.

      Well, perhaps I was insufficiently clear. God knows that we would veto his will in certain circumstances. For example, God knows if he creates conditions C1 that I would not do as His will (an exercise of my “veto” power) due to my imperfect moral nature and my freedom to sin, so God creates conditions C2 instead knowing that C2 will have a better outcome even though God prefers I would do the right thing under C1.

      Another approach: we can kind of think of God as a scientist to simulate middle knowledge if after he creates the initial conditions he is capable of knowing what you will choose if God doesn’t interfere further. Being sufficiently similar to normal foreknowledge, it’s plausible that God has this type of knowledge; do you agree?….

      ….[T]here’s still the Molinist assumption that our free choices are controllable simply by controlling our circumstances.

      That isn’t really an assumption of Molinism or my claim here. Here I’m assuming (1) God has foreknowledge in the normal sense, i.e. God knows what you will freely choose in the future; (2) after God creates the initial conditions, he is capable of knowing what you will choose if God doesn’t interfere further. Is knowledge (2) sufficiently similar to (1) such that if God has (1) then God has (2)?

    • Wade T.

      1. LFW means determinism is not true of at least some choices made by humans.
      2. Determinism means that predictions can be made about a process using only information about its inputs.
      3. A prediction means that by giving information about inputs to a process, you receive information about the output.
      4. Molinism specifies that God uses information about a pair of inputs (person S, circumstance C) to get information about the output (action A). The important thing is that the mechanism actually has as its inputs and outputs ONLY information, not real objects.
      6. Molinism then claims God chains the results of these together to model a timeline, then creates the first link in the timeline, and then observes everything turn out exactly as specified, proving the perfect accuracy and precision of the prediction.
      7. Therefore, it’s possible in principle to construct a model to predict human choice under Molinism.
      8. Therefore, human choice under Molinism is deterministic and therefore not compatible with LFW.

      Line 2 is false, strictly speaking. Determinism entails “that predictions can be made about a process using only information about its inputs” but that’s not what determinism means. Perhaps you were referring to entailment here, but if so line 8 doesn’t follow from any set of lines in your list; it certainly doesn’t follow from line 7. Recall God can predict our choices (in the normal sense of foreknowledge) based on whatever “inputs” His mind receives without robbing us of free will.

    • Wade T.

      God knew someone S would choose action A1 under conditions C1, but it doesn’t follow that A1 is the only action a human could do under conditions C1.

      How does it not mean that?

      Actually, the link you gave to the reasonable faith web page kind of addresses this. Because I’m training to be an analytic philosopher, I’ll use symbolic logic (though I can’t use the real symbols so I’ll approximate with text).

      ~p = “not-p” i.e. “p is false” [negation of p]
      p = “Possibly, p” (p could/could have happened)
      p-<>q = “If p is true, then q is true.”
      p[]->q = “if p were true, then q would be true.” [would-counterfactual]
      p->q = ~(p[]->~q), or in English, “if p were true, then q might be true.” [might-counterfactual]

      The problem Boyd seemed to have is that “might” doesn’t mean “could.” Might-counterfactuals are strictly defined as I did so above. So p[]->~q is inconsistent with p->q, but there is no logical contradiction between p[]->q and p->q, nor does one exist between p[]->q and p[]->~q. For example, because of the kind of person I choose to be, I know that if a defenseless person right next to me were to Spill a glass of water on Mt. Rushmore, I would not Murder that person just for doing that, i.e. S[]->~M. Because of my free will, I know I could do so if were to happen, i.e. S[]->M; just as I know that when the clock strikes Ten p.m. tomorrow, I could Kill myself but I know I will not do so (i.e. T->~K and T->K). While S[]->~M and S->M are inconsistent, S[]->~M and S[]->M do not appear to be for the same sort of reason that T->~K and T->K are not.

    • Wade T.

      God knew someone S would choose action A1 under conditions C1, but it doesn’t follow that A1 is the only action a human could do under conditions C1.

      How does it not mean that?

      Actually, the link you gave to the reasonable faith web page kind of addresses this. Because I’m training to be an analytic philosopher, I’ll use symbolic logic (though I can’t use the real symbols so I’ll approximate with text).

      ~p = “not-p” i.e. “p is false” [negation of p]
      {}p = “Possibly, p” (p could/could have happened)
      p->q = “If p is true, then q is true.”
      p[]->q = “if p were true, then q would be true.” [would-counterfactual]
      p{}->q = ~(p[]->~q), or in English, “if p were true, then q might be true.” [might-counterfactual]

      The problem Boyd seemed to have is that “might” doesn’t mean “could.” Might-counterfactuals are strictly defined as I did so above. So p[]->~q is inconsistent with p{}->q, but there is no logical contradiction between p[]->q and p->{}q, nor does one exist between p[]->q and p[]->{}~q. For example, because of the kind of person I choose to be, I know that if a defenseless person right next to me were to Spill a glass of water on Mt. Rushmore, I would not Murder that person just for doing that, i.e. S[]->~M. Because of my free will, I know I could do so if were to happen, i.e. S[]->{}M; just as I know that when the clock strikes Ten p.m. tomorrow, I could Kill myself but I know I will not do so (i.e. T->~K and T->{}K). While S[]->~M and S{}->M are inconsistent, S[]->~M and S[]->{}M do not appear to be for the same sort of reason that T->~K and T->{}K are not.

    • Wade T.

      Perhaps you mean the truth of them precedes us before we make them, and perhaps this is what you mean by “embedded in eternally true hypotheses.” But to then say that this somehow makes our decisions not up to us once again makes a fallacy of modal logic; and the addition of true counterfactual statements for non-created beings would not negate this fallacy. If I misunderstood you, please clearly list your premises and conclusion.

      I haven’t given the full derivation for this argument (I found it very complex and would like to see your reaction to the simpler one I presented), but I am curious what modal fallacy you’ve found above.

      Using the symbols I used in my previous post, I’ll add one more:

      []p = “Necessarily, p” (p can’t be/could not be otherwise)

      Here’s an example of a fallacy of modal logic:

      [](p->q)
      Therefore, []q.

      Here’s an example of that fallacy in action: let p be “I will drink a carbonated root beer beverage” and q be “I will drink a carbonated beverage.” We can see here (1) is true but that (2) does not follow from (1); it doesn’t follow from (1) that my drinking a carbonated beverage is something that could not be otherwise (for I still have libertarian freedom with respect to this matter).

      [continued in next post]

    • Wade T.

      [continued from previous post]

      Another example of that sort of modal fallacy:

      (1)it is necessarily true that [if it is true at time t1 (some time before time t2) that I will choose action A1 at time t2, then I will choose A1 at time t2].
      (2) Therefore, I cannot do otherwise than to do A1 at time t2.

      Here, p is “it is true at time t1 (some time before time t2) that I will choose action A1 at time t2” and q is “I will choose action A1 at time t2.” While line (1) is true in such a case, (2) doesn’t follow. Similarly, the fact that a truth is “eternally embedded” with respect to what I will choose does not entail that I will not have libertarian freedom with respect to A1.

    • wm tanksley

      Welcome back! I apologize for the impatience, but this is, after all, fun.

      Line 2 is false, strictly speaking. Determinism entails “that predictions can be made about a process using only information about its inputs” but that’s not what determinism means. Perhaps you were referring to entailment here, but if so line 8 doesn’t follow from any set of lines in your list; it certainly doesn’t follow from line 7.

      I think another way of phrasing your point here is: “It’s possible that something other than determinism could explain being able to know about the outcome of a process using only information about its inputs.” But this isn’t true. The entities which follow my definition of determinism are a subset of the ones which follow the “necessary” definition you gave; it’s logically possible to have a necessary consequence of information which is an unknowable consequence of the information, but it’s impossible to have a knowable consequence of information which is not a necessary consequence of the information.

      The above is a subset, not a *strict* (or proper) subset. God’s knowledge is exhaustive, such that He knows everything that is in principle knowable; thus, both types of determinism are the same for Him.

      As a side comment, I appreciate the symbolic logic (I’ve always enjoyed it, and didn’t know about the modal symbols), but you didn’t tie them in to what I said, so I’m not sure why you posted them. Nonetheless, thank you; I’ll try hard to follow whatever you’re about to write using them. I am a programmer in multiple computer languages and platforms, so it is in in principle possible for me to understand formal language.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Recall God can predict our choices (in the normal sense of foreknowledge) based on whatever “inputs” His mind receives without robbing us of free will.

      This is an expression of God’s “immediate” knowledge. “Immediate” here means “un-mediated”, in the sense that (for example) God doesn’t need to wait for photons to reach His “eyes” in order to see a thing; in general, the simple fact that a thing exists is sufficient for God to know about it.

      The problem is that God’s knowledge of the actual consequences of our “free choices” doesn’t follow from God’s immediate knowledge, because the consequences follow from our choices and not from anything that actually can be known to exist before the choices occur. In order for it to do so, you have to add an assumption. Some (not all) of the possible assumptions include a B-theory of time (i.e. the future is real); determinism (the future is in principle predictable based on the present); or something I’ll call pseudo-Molinism (there is a set of real things called CCFs).

      (I call that pseudo-Molinism because actual Molinism only states that the CCFs are true, not that they’re in some way real — although Craig’s claim that they restrict God does seem to imply that there’s some kind of reality to them.)

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Well, perhaps I was insufficiently clear. God knows that we would veto his will in certain circumstances. For example, God knows if he creates conditions C1 that I would not do as His will (an exercise of my “veto” power) due to my imperfect moral nature and my freedom to sin, so God creates conditions C2 instead knowing that C2 will have a better outcome even though God prefers I would do the right thing under C1.

      So do you then agree that God arranges the world such that no veto will ever occur? That it is in principle impossible, given middle knowledge and God’s creative action using it, for a creature to veto God’s will? That, in fact, the very fact that we exist as creatures of a middle-knowing God means that it is impossible for us to veto God’s will, and if we had been capable of vetoing God’s will in the circumstances in which He placed us we would not have been created in those circumstances at all?

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Wade, a purely non-rhetorical question: how does the []-> operator differ from the -> operator? I see they have a different symbol, but does their truth table differ?

      I really like your explanation of would versus might counterfactuals; it makes Craig’s use of the terms much more understandable. (I simply took his word for it before; your explanation makes his claims make sense.)

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      As a side comment, I appreciate the symbolic logic (I’ve always enjoyed it, and didn’t know about the modal symbols), but you didn’t tie them in to what I said, so I’m not sure why you posted them.

      I did tie them in. To recap, I said, “God knew someone S would choose action A1 under conditions C1, but it doesn’t follow that A1 is the only action a human could do under conditions C1.” To which you replied, “How does it not mean that?” I used symbolic logic to help answer that question. I noted there is no contradiction between p[]->q (e.g. I would do it under conditions C1) and p[]->{}~q (e.g. if conditions C1 were to come about, I could have chosen otherwise). Another way to look at it is that that p[]->q does not entail p[]->~{}~q.

      The second time I used symbolic logic was in response to “I am curious what modal fallacy you’ve found above.” I then used symbolic logic to help explain why a claim like “the truth of them precedes us before we make them makes our decisions not up to us once” makes a fallacy of modal logic (I wasn’t sure that’s what your argument was, hence my saying, “If I misunderstood you, please clearly list your premises and conclusion”). The following is a (somewhat notorious) fallacy of modal logic:

      [](p->q)
      Therefore, []q.

      So in our case p is “it is true at time t1 (any time before time t2) that I will choose action A1 at t2” and q is “I will choose A1 at time t2.” Line 1 is true but the conclusion is fallacious.

      I am a programmer in multiple computer languages and platforms, so it is in in principle possible for me to understand formal language.

      Heh, I myself am a software developer by trade, though I’m going back to school to get a degree in philosophy (last semester I took symbolic logic and aced it).

    • Wade T.

      Recall God can predict our choices (in the normal sense of foreknowledge) based on whatever “inputs” His mind receives without robbing us of free will.

      This is an expression of God’s “immediate” knowledge. “Immediate” here means “un-mediated”, in the sense that (for example) God doesn’t need to wait for photons to reach His “eyes” in order to see a thing; in general, the simple fact that a thing exists is sufficient for God to know about it.

      But apparently not necessary; there are plenty of future acts that have not yet been actualized yet God knows what we will do, and surely there are some counterfactual conditionals one can know about (e.g. I know that if a defenseless person near me spilled a glass of water on Mt. Rushmore, I would not murder that person just because of that) even if the conditions of those counterfactuals haven’t happened, and this isn’t limited to philosophy: scientific laws also license counterfactuals (e.g. if I were to let go of a ball, gravity would make it fall).

      The problem is that God’s knowledge of the actual consequences of our “free choices” doesn’t follow from God’s immediate knowledge, because the consequences follow from our choices and not from anything that actually can be known to exist before the choices occur.

      See above; I just don’t think that type of reasoning follows.

      You spoke of something you called “CCFs,” but what are they?

    • Wade T.

      I think another way of phrasing your point here is: “It’s possible that something other than determinism could explain being able to know about the outcome of a process using only information about its inputs.” But this isn’t true.

      Sure it is. God knows what we will do (using whatever inputs His consciousness has) without determinism being true with respect to our choices. Or do you have something specific in mind when you say “inputs”?

      So do you then agree that God arranges the world such that no veto will ever occur?

      Obviously not; we veto God’s will every time we sin—unless perhaps you’re using “veto” in some narrower sense.

      Wade, a purely non-rhetorical question: how does the []-> operator differ from the -> operator? I see they have a different symbol, but does their truth table differ?

      Would-counterfactuals don’t really have a truth-table. To give you a feel for the difference though, note that “If Oswald didn’t kill JFK, somebody else did” and “If Oswald were not to have shot Kennedy, somebody else would have” have different meanings and (possibly) different truth-values.

    • wm tanksley

      I did tie them in.

      I apologize — I should have said “I didn’t see any tie-in,” not “you didn’t tie them in.”

      To recap, I said, “God knew someone S would choose action A1 under conditions C1, but it doesn’t follow that A1 is the only action a human could do under conditions C1.” To which you replied, “How does it not mean that?” I used symbolic logic to help answer that question. I noted there is no contradiction between p[]->q (e.g. I would do it under conditions C1) and p[]->{}~q (e.g. if conditions C1 were to come about, I could have chosen otherwise). Another way to look at it is that that p[]->q does not entail p[]->~{}~q.

      I didn’t answer this because it seemed obvious from context that this didn’t address what I was saying. But I’m wrong, because the context is so old; it’s not obvious. The context is our discussions of vetoes, and I’ll discuss that in my response to your post about that, so that we can reduce the number of simultaneous threads on the same topic (you know how dangerous it is to use shared memory while multithreading!).

      The second time I used symbolic logic was in response to “I am curious what modal fallacy you’ve found above.” I then used symbolic logic to help explain why a claim like “the truth of them precedes us before we make them makes our decisions not up to us” makes a fallacy of modal logic

      Okay. I don’t think that helps, because it doesn’t seem to me to be connected at all — but that’s not your fault, since as you said, my argument was both terse and vague. Let’s postpone working on that until I decide to post a full argument on that; in the meantime, we’ll look at my currently better-developed argument.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      I had said: “in general, the simple fact that a thing exists is sufficient for God to know about it.”

      But apparently not necessary;

      This is highly contentious; it’s therefore not “apparent”.

      there are plenty of future acts that have not yet been actualized yet God knows what we will do

      Also contentious — you have to believe that the future isn’t actual to say that God knows about non-actual future acts. I do concede that the B-theory of time may possibly be true, in which case God’s knowledge may require some additional term.

      However, due to the conceptual difficulties involved in B-theory, I think it’s very unlikely to be true, and in the total absence of a believable model, shouldn’t taken as a primary theory.

      and surely there are some counterfactual conditionals one can know about (e.g. I know that if a defenseless person near me spilled a glass of water on Mt. Rushmore, I would not murder that person just because of that)

      But you say you have knowledge of this; if I asked you why you knew this, you’d be able to answer me. You might answer something like “I don’t break the law in small ways, and therefore I probably won’t ever break it in such a huge way with no reasonable pretext.” In other words, you know this not because you know an abstract “thing”, but rather because you know something about your own person.

      even if the conditions of those counterfactuals haven’t happened, and this isn’t limited to philosophy: scientific laws also license counterfactuals (e.g. if I were to let go of a ball, gravity would make it fall).

      I don’t think this is true. I’m uncertain, but it seems to me that science only exhibits implications, not counterfactuals. And the implications are based on inductions and deductions — inductions from specific facts TO general principles, and deductions from general principles to specific facts…

    • wm tanksley

      You spoke of something you called “CCFs,” but what are they?

      A generally used term in Molinism, “Counterfactual(s) of Creaturely Freedom”. A statement for the terms that together make up the body of Middle Knowledge.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      I said: I think another way of phrasing your point here is: “It’s possible that something other than determinism could explain being able to know about the outcome of a process using only information about its inputs.” But this isn’t true.

      Sure it is. God knows what we will do (using whatever inputs His consciousness has) without determinism being true with respect to our choices. Or do you have something specific in mind when you say “inputs”?

      Whew. One sentence, MANY problems.

      First, you’re responding to my brief statement of my position rather than my argument for my position. And you’re doing so with a statement of your own position rather than any kind of refutation. Argument is an intellectual process; contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.

      Second, we’re talking about God prior to creation (the critical time for Molinism). So there’s no meaning of “inputs” that can possibly make God have inputs prior to creation. Nothing aside from God existed.

      Third, my argument stands unchallenged: knowable determinism is stricter than philosophical determinism, and identical in the case of God (who knows everything that’s knowable). All you’ve done is contradict me, not argue against me.

      Oops, I just noticed your nice explanation of would-counterfactuals — sorry I didn’t see it while I was writing my previous message. More in a second.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      So do you then agree that God arranges the world such that no veto will ever occur?
      Obviously not; we veto God’s will every time we sin—unless perhaps you’re using “veto” in some narrower sense.

      Okay, here are your words that I’m replying to:

      God knows that we would veto his will in certain circumstances. For example, God knows if he creates conditions C1 that I would not do as His will (an exercise of my “veto” power) due to my imperfect moral nature and my freedom to sin, so God creates conditions C2 instead knowing that C2 will have a better outcome even though God prefers I would do the right thing under C1.

      I mean the word ‘veto’ in THAT sense, the one you used in that message I was replying to. You proved that you know exactly the sense I meant.

      If you really think the word ‘veto’ is inappropriate for that, give me a different word. I really want to explore Michael’s claim that people might possibly be able to make a choice that stops the flow of time; my use of the word ‘veto’ has possibly stopped the flow of useful argument, but I don’t know a better word.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      “Wade, a purely non-rhetorical question: how does the []-> operator differ from the -> operator? I see they have a different symbol, but does their truth table differ?”
      Would-counterfactuals don’t really have a truth-table. To give you a feel for the difference though, note that “If Oswald didn’t kill JFK, somebody else did” and “If Oswald were not to have shot Kennedy, somebody else would have” have different meanings and (possibly) different truth-values.

      Those aren’t actually would-counterfactuals. Let’s see if I can make one:

      “If William were in this situation, then he would write a comment to Wade.”
      “If William is in this situation, then he writes a comment to Wade.”

      Okay, the linguistic meaning is different. I see that. But the truth table is identical, and even the idea that the conditional need not be true is preserved. Why is there a need to include these in symbolic logic?

      Might-counterfatuals are clearly different, and I see the possibility of a clue here. Might-counterfactuals don’t actually HAVE a boolean truth value — or if they do, it should almost always be true. A might-counterfactual is certainly NOT the simple negation of an implication.

      Hmm. This isn’t boolean logic; it’s something else.

      Okay, I think you’ve answered my question. These notations are useful in reasoning, but they’re not boolean logic. And since I’ve studied other kinds of logic, I think I’ll stop with that… It gets complicated fast, and even implication itself gets messy with more than two truth values.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      Maybe you got this but I think I will step in a clarify. I don’t think I ever claimed that people can make choices which “stop” the flow of time in the sense that the choice changes God’s knowledge of what will happen in the future (if I did I apologize as that would entail Open Theism which I do not believe). Rather I believe God has perfect knowledge of the future and knows exactly how it will play out. However, I don’t believe this entails determinism and to assert such commits the modal fallacy.

      As for as veto power – humans have veto power in the sense that the choices we will make with our free will limits the range of possible universes which God can actualize. We have free will in the sense that our actions cannot be simply predicted from knowing the antecedent causes. In other words our choices cannot be mechanistically predicted.

    • Wade T.

      Sure it is. God knows what we will do (using whatever inputs His consciousness has) without determinism being true with respect to our choices. Or do you have something specific in mind when you say “inputs”?

      ….
      [W]e’re talking about God prior to creation (the critical time for Molinism). So there’s no meaning of “inputs” that can possibly make God have inputs prior to creation.

      OK, so apparently the answer is “yes” you do have something specific in mind when you use the word “inputs.” I was using it in the sense of doxastic inputs, i.e. whatever set of inputs is used in one’s forming of beliefs. From God’s doxastic inputs he is capable of knowing what we will do without determinism being true with respect to our choices.

      First, you’re responding to my brief statement of my position rather than my argument for my position.

      What argument? If you’re referring to the argument I responded to in post 16, note how I said that the conclusion doesn’t appear to follow from the premises. Perhaps it would be help to rewrite your argument in such a way to mention where some lines follow from other lines, e.g. this:

      (1) If it’s raining, then I will get wet.
      (2) It is raining.
      (3) Therefore, I will get wet (from (2) and (3)).

      I think that would make it easier for me to follow your line of reasoning.

    • Wade T.

      So do you then agree that God arranges the world such that no veto will ever occur?

      Obviously not; we veto God’s will every time we sin—unless perhaps you’re using “veto” in some narrower sense.

      Okay, here are your words that I’m replying to:

      God knows that we would veto his will in certain circumstances. For example, God knows if he creates conditions C1 that I would not do as His will (an exercise of my “veto” power) due to my imperfect moral nature and my freedom to sin, so God creates conditions C2 instead knowing that C2 will have a better outcome even though God prefers I would do the right thing under C1.

      I mean the word ‘veto’ in THAT sense, the one you used in that message I was replying to. You proved that you know exactly the sense I meant.

      Not really. I’m aware of the sense of veto I was using in both cases, however the sense of “veto” I was using in both quote is the same; I was using it in a fairly generic sense. Yet you appear to be using “veto” in a sense that applies to my second quote yet not the first (if I am mistaken, please correct me). So can you give a clear definition of what you mean by it if you’re not using it in the way that I am?

      I didn’t answer this because it seemed obvious from context that this didn’t address what I was saying. But I’m wrong, because the context is so old; it’s not obvious. The context is our discussions of vetoes, and…

      Actually, the context in that case was that I said, “God knew someone S would choose action A1 under conditions C1, but it doesn’t follow that A1 is the only action a human could do under conditions C1.” To which you replied, “How does it not mean that?” I used symbolic logic to help answer that question. If anything, the context has to do with God’s middle knowledge not entailing determinism.

    • Wade T.

      “Wade, a purely non-rhetorical question: how does the []-> operator differ from the -> operator? I see they have a different symbol, but does their truth table differ?”
      Would-counterfactuals don’t really have a truth-table. To give you a feel for the difference though, note that “If Oswald didn’t kill JFK, somebody else did” and “If Oswald were not to have shot Kennedy, somebody else would have” have different meanings and (possibly) different truth-values.

      Those aren’t actually would-counterfactuals.

      Actually what I mentioned is a somewhat classic way to illustrate the difference between indicative conditionals (e.g. “If Oswald didn’t kill JFK, somebody else did”) and counterfactual conditionals (“If Oswald were not to have shot Kennedy, somebody else would have”). You can find this in Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (page 52), The theory of ontic modalities by Uwe Meixner (page 5), on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterfactual_conditional#Example), and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/conditionals/#Int).

      The counterfactual conditional as I said doesn’t really have a truth table. In material conditionals, the antecedent being false is enough to render it true, whereas this isn’t the case for counterfactual conditionals.

    • Wade T.

      even if the conditions of those counterfactuals haven’t happened, and this isn’t limited to philosophy: scientific laws also license counterfactuals (e.g. if I were to let go of a ball, gravity would make it fall).

      I don’t think this is true.

      Engineers rely on it all the time, e.g. “If this machine were to operate on Tuesday, it would function this way due to the physical laws operating in the way we understand them.” Take a college level physics class (as I did) and you’d likely get homework problems asking you what would happen under certain hypothetical situations. If you took such a class and wrote on your homework “There is no right scientific answer because science can’t license counterfactuals” your physics professor would likely be less than convinced.

    • wm tanksley

      I’m going to stop talking about vetoes; I did have a strong curiosity about what you meant, Michael, but it’s going to take WAY too long to bring the conversation back around. I’m going to try to stick to the new argument as much as possible.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      From God’s doxastic inputs he is capable of knowing what we will do without determinism being true with respect to our choices.

      This sentence proves that it’s possible to form an English sentence that describes a state of affairs under which my argument would be false. Unfortunately, as described in my argument (and my response to your question about point #2), there is no such circumstance. The English sentence you speak here therefore has no connection with reality.

      I said: “First, you’re responding to my brief statement of my position rather than my argument for my position.”

      What argument? If you’re referring to the argument I responded to in post 16, note how I said that the conclusion doesn’t appear to follow from the premises.

      No, that’s not what you said. You critiqued point #2, and said IF point #2 failed THEN the conclusion didn’t follow. I posted a response attempting to defend point #2, and you quoted me saying “but this isn’t true”, and ignored the rest of the post (containing the actual defense of point #2) completely, as if I hadn’t made it.

      The defense is at http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/10/why-i-reject-the-arminian-doctrine-of-prevenient-grace-2/comment-page-6/#comment-46623 .

      If my defense of point 2 is weak, rebut it. You can’t simply contradict it without any grounds; and right now, you’re simply ignoring my defense of it. It’s not prima facie false, and in fact it’s a definition that’s actually in use in the real world (in mathematics and quantum physics). In addition, I explained (but didn’t prove) that both our definitions collapse to the same one given omniscience (defined as knowing all knowable truths).

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      The counterfactual conditional as I said doesn’t really have a truth table. In material conditionals, the antecedent being false is enough to render it true, whereas this isn’t the case for counterfactual conditionals.

      A good way to put it, yes. Another way is to say it is that the truth of the counterfactual depends on whether or not the implication is actually supported in the real world, not merely the boolean value of both propositions. (Although I don’t think my rephrasing is GENERALLY correct, it’s at least helpful to me.)

      Ah, here’s another one: there must be some form of causation, not merely logical correlation. (NOTE: I’m not arguing my anti-Molinism point now. I’m aware that if that were PERFECTLY true it would refute the possibility of CCFs, so I’m assuming it’s only imperfectly true.)

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      From God’s doxastic inputs he is capable of knowing what we will do without determinism being true with respect to our choices.

      This sentence proves that it’s possible to form an English sentence that describes a state of affairs under which my argument would be false. Unfortunately, as described in my argument (and my response to your question about point #2), there is no such circumstance.

      (1) I assumed that we both agreed that God has foreknowledge of our future choices without determinism being true (perhaps I was mistaken); (2) My English sentence utters a logically possible proposition (if you think it’s not, please derive a self-contradiction from it), and if it’s logically possible that is enough to show that premise 2, “Determinism means that predictions can be made about a process using only information about its inputs” is false. Determinism entails that, but that isn’t what determinism means. At least, it doesn’t mean that if the type of inputs we’re talking about are doxastic inputs. Are we? If not, exactly what “inputs” did you have in mind?

      No, that’s not what you said. You critiqued point #2, and said IF point #2 failed THEN the conclusion didn’t follow.

      I actually said that if point #2 was about entailment (in which case point #2 would be true, as I said) the conclusion doesn’t follow.

      “It’s possible that something other than determinism could explain being able to know about the outcome of a process using only information about its inputs” is true in the sense that such a thing is logically possible. If you think it is not, please derive a self-contradiction.

    • Wade T.

      I posted a response attempting to defend point #2, and you quoted me saying “but this isn’t true”, and ignored the rest of the post (containing the actual defense of point #2) completely, as if I hadn’t made it.

      I wasn’t aware what you said was intended to be a defense of #2. If it is, I’m not sure what your argument is for #2. You said, “it’s impossible to have a knowable consequence of information which is not a necessary consequence of the information.” This isn’t strictly true (suppose the A being a consequence of B is not necessary but probabilistic, e.g. 99.99999% certainty; while knowing A one would still be properly justified in thinking that B would occur) but even if it were, so what? How does that entail that “Determinism means that predictions can be made about a process using only information about its inputs” (if indeed it is intended to show that)? It just doesn’t seem to follow, particularly if the reason knows one will do action A1 is not because of some state of affairs that A1 is a necessary consequence of. Suppose for example the information about someone doing A1 is obtained by a person traveling to the future to see the person’s libertarian choice and then moving back into the past. This is at least a logically possible way for one to know a future libertarian choice.

    • wm tanksley

      Thank you, Wade. Good answers.

      (1) I assumed that we both agreed that God has foreknowledge of our future choices without determinism being true (perhaps I was mistaken);

      We both agree with “God has knowledge of our future choices.” I don’t know the logical function you intend “without” to have; I read it as meaning “and not”, so you were asking me to agree that God knows the future and determinism is false. I don’t, in fact, know that determinism is false, and I don’t even have reason to suspect that it’s false.

      (2) My English sentence utters a logically possible proposition (if you think it’s not, please derive a self-contradiction from it), and if it’s logically possible that is enough to show that premise 2, “Determinism means that predictions can be made about a process using only information about its inputs” is false.

      Why should begging the question disprove anything?

      Determinism entails that, but that isn’t what determinism means. At least, it doesn’t mean that if the type of inputs we’re talking about are doxastic inputs. Are we? If not, exactly what “inputs” did you have in mind?

      Oh, so that’s what’s wrong. I was talking about the process’ inputs. “Determinism means that predictions can be made about a process using only information about its [the process’] inputs.” No, the inputs to a process are not doxastic; in the case of Molinism I’m claiming that the CCFs in middle knowledge make it possible to model free will as a deterministic process with two inputs (a soul and circumstances) and an output (the single choice the soul would make were it placed under those circumstances). So the inputs to the process in this case are a description of a specific soul and a description of a specific set of circumstances; the inputs are information (not belief, since God didn’t “believe” that I exist prior to creation), as is the ouput.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      1. “(1) I assumed that we both agreed that God has foreknowledge of our future choices without determinism being true (perhaps I was mistaken);

      We both agree with “God has knowledge of our future choices.” I don’t know the logical function you intend “without” to have; I read it as meaning “and not”, so you were asking me to agree that God knows the future and determinism is false. I don’t, in fact, know that determinism is false, and I don’t even have reason to suspect that it’s false.”

      Let me clarify for Wade here since I think it is pretty obvious what he meant. Do you agree that God “CAN” have foreknowledge of our future decisions without necessitating determinism (i.e. it is possible for God to have exhaustive knowledge of the future and LFW to still exist)? This simply goes back to the modal fallacy discussed ad naseum earlier.

      2. “in the case of Molinism I’m claiming that the CCFs in middle knowledge make it possible to model free will as a deterministic process with two inputs (a soul and circumstances) and an output (the single choice the soul would make were it placed under those circumstances).”

      Except this isn’t what Molinism posits. In this universe God knows what Soul X will do in Circumstance Y, however in another universe the same Soul X in the same Circumstance Y might do the opposite. The deterministic process you claim breaks down because in Molinism the behaviour of a soul is indeterministic – it has free will. I also think you are again committing the modal fallacy because you are again improperly moving from knowledge of what Soul X will do in Circumstance Y to that being determined. I really feel we are playing “hide the modal fallacy” here.

    • wm tanksley

      Hmm. I phrased point 2 as: “Determinism means that predictions can be made about a process using only information about its [the process’] inputs.”

      Perhaps I should have said: “A process is deterministic if predictions can be made about it using only information about its [the process’] inputs.”

      Thusly:

      1. LFW means determinism is not true of at least some choices made by humans.
      2. A process is deterministic if predictions can be made about it using only information about its [the process’] inputs.
      3. A prediction means that by giving information about inputs to a process, you receive information about the output.
      4. Molinism specifies that God uses information about a pair of inputs (person S, circumstance C) to get information about the output (action A). The important thing is that the mechanism [of Molinism] actually has as its inputs and outputs ONLY information, not real objects.
      6. Molinism then claims God chains the results of these together to model a timeline, then creates the first link in the timeline, and then observes everything turn out exactly as specified, proving the perfect accuracy and precision of the prediction.
      7. Therefore, it’s possible in principle to construct a model to predict human choice under Molinism[, exactly as though human choice were a deterministic process].
      8. Therefore, human choice under Molinism is a deterministic process and therefore not compatible with LFW.

      Contrariwise: If LFW were true, there is no set of facts that would be sufficient to know with total precision what a person’s choice would be. If there were a set of facts God could change in order to predetermine a person’s choice, AND God could change the facts to make that person choose the other way, then the choice would be up to God and not up to the person (by Michael’s definition of “up to you”).

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Except this isn’t what Molinism posits. In this universe God knows what Soul X will do in Circumstance Y, however in another universe the same Soul X in the same Circumstance Y might do the opposite.

      We’re talking about prior to creation; the only being is God Himself, no universe. I think what you’re trying to say is that middle-knowledge reports to God what’s actually true; it doesn’t CAUSE the soul to act, and therefore doesn’t constrain how the soul acts. And I agree entirely with that; I’m not arguing at all that middle knowledge constrains people to act.

      What I am claiming is that Molinism describes itself in a way which contradicts the claim that free will is nondeterministic. It requires the ability to be able to predict a single outcome to a free choice when you have all the data the soul making the choice has (plus all the data about the soul). And that kind of action is called a “prediction”, and is possible only for deterministic processes.

      The deterministic process you claim breaks down because in Molinism the behaviour of a soul is indeterministic – it has free will. I also think you are again committing the modal fallacy because you are again improperly moving from knowledge of what Soul X will do in Circumstance Y to that being determined. I really feel we are playing “hide the modal fallacy” here.

      It’s fine to know how created soul X will behave in the future, because soul X and the future actually exist — God can “see” what they’ll freely do (or predict what they’ll non-freely do). But prior to creation, that soul does not exist and does not have the ability to make free choices.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      You said, “it’s impossible to have a knowable consequence of information which is not a necessary consequence of the information.” This isn’t strictly true (suppose the A being a consequence of B is not necessary but probabilistic, e.g. 99.99999% certainty; while knowing A one would still be properly justified in thinking that B would occur)

      A 99% certainty is a “might” counterfactual, not a “would” counterfactual, and that’s exactly what I’m talking about.

      but even if it were, so what? How does that entail that “Determinism means that predictions can be made about a process using only information about its inputs” (if indeed it is intended to show that)? It just doesn’t seem to follow, particularly if the reason knows one will do action A1 is not because of some state of affairs that A1 is a necessary consequence of. Suppose for example the information about someone doing A1 is obtained by a person traveling to the future to see the person’s libertarian choice and then moving back into the past. This is at least a logically possible way for one to know a future libertarian choice.

      First, I did state that only information about the soul and the circumstances are available; your “counterexample” improperly makes the actual soul and circumstances real.

      Second, your counterexample is only logically possible in conjunction with a future realism (B-theory). And it’s not at all possible prior to creation.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      I wanted to clarify something I said.

      First, I did state that only information about the soul and the circumstances are available; your “counterexample” improperly makes the actual soul and circumstances real.

      By “improper” I mean that your counterexample doesn’t fit within Molinism, first because applying it to the Molinist model of creation assumes time travel prior to the creation of the timeline (in other words, the timeline exists prior to its creation); and second, even if we don’t apply it to God’s act of creation (but simply allow you to use it as an example), it still violates the basic assumptions of Molinism, because it requires that the people who make free choices exist in order to allow me to see their actions.

      This latter point is reminiscent of the grounding objection, but my objection is not rooted in the grounding objection.

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      You said, “it’s impossible to have a knowable consequence of information which is not a necessary consequence of the information.” This isn’t strictly true (suppose the A being a consequence of B is not necessary but probabilistic, e.g. 99.99999% certainty; while knowing A one would still be properly justified in thinking that B would occur)

      A 99% certainty is a “might” counterfactual, not a “would” counterfactual, and that’s exactly what I’m talking about.

      That’s irrelevant to my point. I can be properly justified in accepting the true belief that B will be the consequence of A, and if that’s the case your claim, “it’s impossible to have a knowable consequence of information which is not a necessary consequence of the information” is false.

      but even if it were, so what? How does that entail that “Determinism means that predictions can be made about a process using only information about its inputs” (if indeed it is intended to show that)? It just doesn’t seem to follow, particularly if the reason knows one will do action A1 is not because of some state of affairs that A1 is a necessary consequence of. Suppose for example the information about someone doing A1 is obtained by a person traveling to the future to see the person’s libertarian choice and then moving back into the past. This is at least a logically possible way for one to know a future libertarian choice.

      [Y]our “counterexample” improperly makes the actual soul….By “improper” I mean that your counterexample doesn’t fit within Molinism, first because….your counterexample is only logically possible in conjunction with a future realism (B-theory). And it’s…

      All of this is irrelevant to my point: what I described is at least a logically possible way for one to know a future libertarian choice via doxastic inputs despite the choice being indeterministic.

    • Wade T.

      1. LFW means determinism is not true of at least some choices made by humans.
      2. A process is deterministic if predictions can be made about it using only information about its [the process’] inputs.
      3. A prediction means that by giving information about inputs to a process, you receive information about the output.
      4. Molinism specifies that God uses information about a pair of inputs (person S, circumstance C) to get information about the output (action A). The important thing is that the mechanism [of Molinism] actually has as its inputs and outputs ONLY information, not real objects.
      6. Molinism then claims God chains the results of these together to model a timeline, then creates the first link in the timeline, and then observes everything turn out exactly as specified, proving the perfect accuracy and precision of the prediction.
      7. Therefore, it’s possible in principle to construct a model to predict human choice under Molinism[, exactly as though human choice were a deterministic process].
      8. Therefore, human choice under Molinism is a deterministic process and therefore not compatible with LFW.

      8 doesn’t follow from 7. As an analogy, God can predict actual future human choice as though it were deterministic, but that doesn’t entail human choice is in fact deterministic. Still, I think I can see where you’re going. Presumably the only “inputs” premise 4 is talking about is process inputs (which you haven’t explained exactly what they are, but presumably they are some set of initial conditions—if this is mistaken please correct me), but why limit only process inputs for God’s doxastic inputs for CCFs? God knows that (S&C)[]->A, but that doesn’t imply that (S&C)[]->~{}~A (though you seem to be saying it does) and therefore (S&C)[]->A being true doesn’t entail determinism. It’s clearly possible to know a CCF (counterfactual of creaturely freedom) without determinism being true.

      [continued next]

    • Wade T.

      [continued from above]

      You may say, “No, it’s not possible to know a CCF without determinism!” but it’s easy to give a counterexample. Remember, I know that if a defenseless person right next to me were to Spill a glass of water on Mt. Rushmore, I would not Murder that person just for doing that, i.e. S[]->~M. Because of my free will, I know I could do so if it were to happen, i.e. S[]->{}M; just as I know that when the clock strikes Ten p.m. tomorrow, I could Kill myself but I know I will not do so (i.e. T->~K and T->{}K). While S[]->~M and S{}->M are inconsistent, S[]->~M and S[]->{}M do not appear to be for the same sort of reason that T->~K and T->{}K are not. The idea that p []-> q entails p []-> ~{}~q is just as modally fallacious as p -> q entailing p -> ~{}~q (as if by arguing “…if it were true then it couldn’t possibly be false…”). Knowing the consequent of a would-counterfactual does not entail that the consequent could not have been otherwise if the antecedent were actualized.

      So here we have a counterexample to the claim that “(S&C)[]->A entails (S&C)[]->~{}~A.” Your argument appears to make a fallacy of modal logic.

    • wm tanksley

      That’s irrelevant to my point. I can be properly justified in accepting the true belief that B will be the consequence of A, and if that’s the case your claim, “it’s impossible to have a knowable consequence of information which is not a necessary consequence of the information” is false.

      We’re using the word “know”, which has some difficult philosophical ambiguities; I wonder if we’re running into one. Clearly you’re accepting a 0.0…01% probability of error as acceptable; but a probability of error in a binary choice doesn’t mean that your opinion of the future has a slight error that might be within tolerance. Rather it means that something ENTIRELY DIFFERENT than you believed might happen, and whether or not that happens is completely out of your control. You really shouldn’t call that “knowledge”; it’s actually just belief.

      So no, you are not justified in “accepting the true belief” [sic] that B will be the consequence of A. You are free to believe that the risk of ~B is low, but you’re not free to believe that it’s zero.

      All of this is irrelevant to my point: what I described is at least a logically possible way for one to know a future libertarian choice via doxastic inputs despite the choice being indeterministic.

      Even if the part you quoted were irrelevant (arguable!), the part you didn’t quote directly contradicted what you just said. Let me say the same thing it another way, though. What you’re doing by timetravel is actualizing for yourself the person and the circumstances you want data about, and allowing the person to make their own choice. This is not the same thing as being able to predict the outcome without the actual person being available, which is what middle knowledge does.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      God knows that (S&C)[]->A, but that doesn’t imply that (S&C)[]->~{}~A (though you seem to be saying it does)

      I never used “could not” (I think that’s what ~{} means, right?). On the contrary, I find it a baffling irrelevancy, because it’s throwing in completely unnecessary modalities into an argument that’s already complicated enough.

      OTOH, I do assume that (S&C)[]->A implies that ~((S&C) {}-> ~A) — in English, I intended to say that asserting a CCF implies the denial that S “might do otherwise” in those circumstances. This is not me bringing in an extra modality; it’s simply a law of modal logic that asserting a “would” produces a denial of a “might not”.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      8 doesn’t follow from 7.

      It does, by 2.

      As an analogy, God can predict actual future human choice as though it were deterministic, but that doesn’t entail human choice is in fact deterministic.

      This is true, but it is not analogous. As I keep saying: If you accept that God’s knowledge of the future is unmediated/immediate, then it follows from #2 that God does not “predict” future human choices, but rather simply experiences them. He knows about them because they’re real. Molinism accepts that this is God’s “free knowledge”. But this is not available prior to the creative decree.

      Still, I think I can see where you’re going. Presumably the only “inputs” premise 4 is talking about is process inputs (which you haven’t explained exactly what they are, but presumably they are some set of initial conditions—if this is mistaken please correct me),

      #2 is fairly general — I intended it to fit a number of fields, including the mathematics of “deterministic systems” and the study of “deterministic algorithms” (Wikipedia has articles on both, but I dunno if they’ll be helpful). So a “process input” is “whatever the process asks for as part of how you start it”. In this case, we’re talking about the “S” and “C” of the CCFs: if God sets a C, and plonks down a S into it, the outcome will always happen, and will always be A.

      but why limit only process inputs for God’s doxastic inputs for CCFs?

      I’m not sure what you mean here. Note, though, that “inputs” is being used for two totally different purposes, so that might be a problem. “Process inputs” means “inputs to a process”, while “God’s doxastic inputs” means “what God knows”.

      In this case, the “process” is an unknown thing called “S’s free choice in C” whose outcome is described by a CCF. The process inputs are S and C; vary those and God gets different outcomes, hold…

    • wm tanksley

      (Interrupted!) … The process inputs are S and C; vary those and God gets different outcomes, hold them constant and God gets the same outcome.

      Unfortunately, nobody is willing to define what “free will” is, so I’m forced to simply observe how people describe it. Watching the Molinists, it’s very clear that for them, free will is a deterministic process — a thing whose outcome can in principle be predicted from a knowledge of the initial conditions.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      You may say, “No, it’s not possible to know a CCF without determinism!”

      I’m not sure whether it’s possible to know a CCF. I do know that whatever a CCF is, if it’s true at all it describes a deterministic process.

      but it’s easy to give a counterexample.

      Same as before: you know those things not as CCFs, but rather as facts about your personal character. You know that you “wouldn’t do that” because you know that you’re not the kind of person to do that. Your knowledge expressed as a would-statement is grounded in a real human being.

      The idea that p []-> q entails p []-> ~{}~q is just as modally fallacious

      That’s no part of my argument.

      So here we have a counterexample to the claim that “(S&C)[]->A entails (S&C)[]->~{}~A.” Your argument appears to make a fallacy of modal logic.

      That is not my claim.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      I’m not sure that I’ve mentioned before… I’m making a distinction between “prediction” and “knowing” that I think is important. My definition of prediction is given in point #3 of my argument above. By this definition, according to Molinism, God doesn’t predict the future. We might say that God designed the future, so His knowledge flows from His “decree” (a word that’s normally used by Calvinists, but which is appropriate here); or, if we accept that the future is real (theory-B, IIRC) we would say that God simply knows the future.

    • Melani Boek

      This is just another way to argue that a man cannot have faith unless he is first regenerated. It is a big smoke screen to keep men from the truth. However…

      When we understand what Biblical regeneration is, then this topic becomes irrelevant. Biblical regeneration occurs when God sends Jesus Christ into the heart of a man (Eph. 3:17) to give him the gift of eternal life (1John 5:11, 12). This is the act of God that saves a man—we are saved by His life (Rom. 5:10), saved by regeneration (Titus 3:5), made alive with Jesus Christ by grace we have been saved (Eph. 2:5). No man has life if he doesn’t have the Lord (1John 5:12). And if a man does not have Jesus Christ, he is not one of His (Rom. 8:9). Before a man is given new life in regeneration, he is made to die in conjunction with Jesus Christ via baptism (Rom. 6). A man is crucified with Christ before Christ lives in him. The new life he is given in regeneration is eternal life when Jesus Christ comes to live in his heart, and when he is made alive with Jesus Christ he is saved.

      When did men begin to be baptized by Jesus Christ? When did men begin to be indwelt by Jesus Christ? Isn’t it interesting that Peter tells us that men were born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1Peter 1:3). Could men be born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ before Jesus Christ rose from the dead?

      cont…

    • Melani Boek

      Romans Chapter 5 gives us some very important details. Note the end of the chapter—“grace reigns through righteousness into eternal life” (Rom. 5:21). Note eternal life, remember that is the indwelling of God’s Son. Romans 5 tells us about many things that happen in a man before Jesus comes to dwell in him. Everyman is born a sinner (Rom. 5:8, 19), ungodly (5:6), under judgment, condemned to die (Rom. 5:16, 18). A man is reconciled to God through the death of His Son (Rom. 5:10) via the baptism into Christ’s body, into Christ’s death. He goes from many transgressions to justification (5:16). He was justified in His blood (Rom. 5:9) when the blood of Jesus Christ cleansed him from all unrighteousness (1John 1:7). Justified by faith he has peace with God (Rom. 5:1). He went from being an enemy to being reconciled to God. A man is first cleansed and at peace with God before Jesus comes to live inside of him. Therefore he was introduced by faith into the grace (favor) in which he stands (Rom. 5:2). He receives a gift of righteousness (5:17), an acquittal (5:18), made righteous (5:19) –grace reigns through righteousness into eternal life. Grace came by Jesus Christ (John 1:14). Jesus Christ is the gift of grace. Romans 5:15 literally says, “much more, the grace of God and the gift in grace, the one man Jesus Christ into the many abounds”.

      In Reformed Doctrine regeneration is the first grace (irresistible) and without it no man can have faith. In Reformed Doctrine you must have regeneration before faith. If faith comes before regeneration then there is no Reformed Doctrine of predestination. In the Bible however, men had faith long before men began to be regenerated. After God began to regenerate men, faith still preceded regeneration (faith precedes Christ dwelling in hearts, and faith precedes the eternal life and salvation given in regeneration). Faith introduces us to grace (Rom. 5:2), not grace introducing us to faith.

    • Wade T.

      So no, you are not justified in “accepting the true belief” [sic] that B will be the consequence of A. You are free to believe that the risk of ~B is low, but you’re not free to believe that it’s zero.

      I’m not sure why the [sic] is there, but here you seem to be suggesting that knowledge requires certainty of the belief being true. But is that really the case? I do not know for certain that the Holocaust occurred; it is not an analytic truth like “all bachelors are unmarried.” Nonetheless, that the Holocaust happened is very, very likely. Should we say we don’t know it happened simply because of the 0.0…1% that it didn’t?

      All of this is irrelevant to my point: what I described is at least a logically possible way for one to know a future libertarian choice via doxastic inputs despite the choice being indeterministic.

      Even if the part you quoted were irrelevant (arguable!), the part you didn’t quote directly contradicted what you just said. Let me say the same thing it another way, though. What you’re doing by timetravel is actualizing for yourself the person and the circumstances you want data about, and allowing the person to make their own choice. This is not the same thing as being able to predict the outcome without the actual person being available, which is what middle knowledge does.

      Which (again) is irrelevant to my point; I wasn’t talking about middle knowledge here. My point: what I described is at least a logically possible way for one to know a future libertarian choice via doxastic inputs despite the choice being indeterministic.

    • Wade T.

      God knows that (S&C)[]->A, but that doesn’t imply that (S&C)[]->~{}~A (though you seem to be saying it does)

      I never used “could not” (I think that’s what ~{} means, right?). On the contrary, I find it a baffling irrelevancy, because it’s throwing in completely unnecessary modalities into an argument that’s already complicated enough.

      Well, this is what you seemed to be arguing. You say that Molinism specifies that God uses information about a pair of inputs (person S, circumstance C) to get information about the output (action A) and seem to say that God knowing (S&C)[]->A somehow makes the process deterministic, which would imply that (S&C)[]->A entails (S&C)[]->~{}~A, whereas such entailment is fallacious.

      Unfortunately, in your argument you didn’t explain which lines followed from which, and this contributed to (1) your argument appearing invalid; (2) your line of reasoning seeming a little hazy.

      8 doesn’t follow from 7.

      It does, by 2.

      8 doesn’t follow from 7 and 2 either. To illustrate:

      (2) Determinism means that predictions can be made about a process using only information about its inputs.
      (7) It’s possible in principle to construct a model to predict human choice under Molinism [exactly as though human choice were a deterministic process].
      (8) Therefore, human choice under Molinism is a deterministic process and therefore not compatible with LFW (supposedly follows form 2 and 7).

      Unfortunately you still haven’t explained what inputs line (2) refers to. If it’s simply the initial conditions of the system, then I’ll grant for sake of argument that line (2) is true (assuming predictions are “that which is known with certainty”). But even the combination of (2) and (7) doesn’t yield (8). One reason is that God’s doxastic inputs aren’t limited to just initial conditions. Another is a clear counterexample of knowing a CCF where one’s choice isn’t deterministic.

    • Wade T.

      You may say, “No, it’s not possible to know a CCF without determinism!”

      I’m not sure whether it’s possible to know a CCF. I do know that whatever a CCF is, if it’s true at all it describes a deterministic process.

      It has similarities to a deterministic process, but it isn’t quite the same thing, since the outcome isn’t a necessary result of previous conditions. It’s easy to construct a counterexample where a CCF is known (i.e. it’s true and one is properly justified in believing it to be true) and yet the choice is not deterministic.

      but it’s easy to give a counterexample.

      Same as before: you know those things not as CCFs, but rather as facts about your personal character.

      Are the two inconsistent? Can’t knowledge of the CCF arise from knowledge of personal character? More to the point, doesn’t my counterexample give an instance where a CCF is true and one is properly justified in believing it to be true? Isn’t it the case that “If a defenseless person were to spill a glass of water on Mount Rushmore, I would not murder that person just because of that” is true and that I am properly justified in believing it to be true?

    • wm tanksley

      but here you seem to be suggesting that knowledge requires certainty of the belief being true.

      No. To know something, that thing must actually be true — it must correspond to reality. (The rest of the definition of “know” gets very complicated; I typically use knowledge == “justified true belief”, but it’s complicated.) With God it’s simple; He knows all knowable things. But something that’s only probable is not knowable.

      Let me say the same thing it another way, though. What you’re doing by timetravel is actualizing for yourself the person and the circumstances you want data about, and allowing the person to make their own choice. This is not the same thing as being able to predict the outcome without the actual person being available, which is what middle knowledge does.
      Which (again) is irrelevant to my point; I wasn’t talking about middle knowledge here. My point: what I described is at least a logically possible way for one to know a future libertarian choice via doxastic inputs despite the choice being indeterministic.

      No. It’s not irrelevant. Please read what I wrote. You’re gathering data FROM THE ACTUAL PERSON. Not from information about the person. I don’t know why you started using the phrase “doxastic inputs” (are you confused by my use of the term “process inputs”, which is a completely different concept?), but the vital concept is that anything that can be completely modeled using only information is a deterministic process (I’m being terse and possibly incomplete — see my argument).

      Furthermore, even if I completely ignore that you’re getting your data by “cheating” and peeking, you’re still making the completely unwarranted assumption that the person will make the same choice the same way “next time” history rolls around — so your assumption that you’re gathering useful data is unsupported.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      It has similarities to a deterministic process, but it isn’t quite the same thing, since the outcome isn’t a necessary result of previous conditions. It’s easy to construct a counterexample where a CCF is known (i.e. it’s true and one is properly justified in believing it to be true) and yet the choice is not deterministic.

      The similarities are proven, and are actually part of both mathematical and computer science definitions of “deterministic process”. The differences are entirely hypothetical, based on unsubstantiated claims. And worse yet, what you forgot to mention is that the “proper justification” for believing the thing is your direct experience with your own character and choices. Prior to creation nobody has direct experience with any humans.

      I said: “Same as before: you know those things not as CCFs, but rather as facts about your personal character.”

      Are the two inconsistent? Can’t knowledge of the CCF arise from knowledge of personal character?

      If mere data (about the character or about anything) is sufficient to determine ALL CHOICES, then choices are deterministic processes. If it’s only enough for some choices, Open Theism is right, and Molinism is wrong.

      More…

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      More to the point, doesn’t my counterexample give an instance where a CCF is true and one is properly justified in believing it to be true? Isn’t it the case that “If a defenseless person were to spill a glass of water on Mount Rushmore, I would not murder that person just because of that” is true and that I am properly justified in believing it to be true?

      Well, let’s say that if we ever hold a RTM meet’n’greet at Mt. Rushmore I’ll be sure to stay away from glasses of water. 😉

      But honestly, this is harder to answer than I’ve been indicating. It’s not because it’s obviously right; it’s more because it’s so obviously a misfit, not at all similar to the cases under discussion. In addition to the serious philosophical problems I mentioned (why it’s not parallel to the case under discussion), there are obvious reasons why this example *appears* to be so likely true.

      1. The conditions (C) are (deliberately) immensely narrow (location, stimulus, and even your internal mental state).
      2. The outcome (~A) is a negative rather than a positive, meaning that it’s infinitely broad (“I might do anything, aside from murdering that person”).

      You’ve chosen an example where I, a person who knows close to nothing about you, feels willing to agree that you won’t do this (under that specific mental state). Doesn’t that trouble you? Don’t you expect a tiny bit more from Molinism than an example so utterly trivial that it takes NO data whatsoever to solve?

      At the same time, since I know nothing about you, I have to admit that I might be wrong. We know that humans DO sometimes crack for non-reasons, and the odds of even this one being false is nonzero — so I can’t simply say that I know it; I can say that I’d trust it without giving it a second thought, but I also trust my own driving, so now you know what my trust is worth.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Well, this is what you seemed to be arguing. You say that Molinism specifies that God uses information about a pair of inputs (person S, circumstance C) to get information about the output (action A)

      Agreed.

      and seem to say that God knowing (S&C)[]->A somehow makes the process deterministic,

      Disagree. As I’ve said, it’s not “God knowing” that makes the process deterministic. It’s the “fact” (under Molinism) that God can model you as a process with predictable outputs that proves that you are deterministic (under Molinism).

      which would imply that (S&C)[]->A entails (S&C)[]->~{}~A, whereas such entailment is fallacious.

      Of course, if I used this logic I would be making a fallacy. But I didn’t draw the conclusion that we “could not do otherwise because God knows that we would do this.” You’re assuming that the only way to prove that something is deterministic is to show that its outcome is necessary, and you already know that Molinism doesn’t have a detailed enough model to make any claims about necessity. Unfortunately for Molinism, mathematics has made advances since Molina’s day; the rules of philosophy still apply, but additional and more specific rules can apply where there’s special cases.

      And Molinism provides exactly the special case we need, by claiming that ALL human action can be reduced to a lookup table.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      “And Molinism provides exactly the special case we need, by claiming that ALL human action can be reduced to a lookup table”

      Said it before will say it again. No Molinist of which I am aware claims what you assert they claim. Now it may be that Molinism logically necessitates this, but you haven’t proven that. Every Molinist of which I am aware would say that God knows what person X will do in situation Y in Universe Z, but at the same time maintain that the choice in question was still free and indeterministic. No offense, but I have yet to see you make a convincing argument proving that this is logically incoherent.

    • wm tanksley

      Michael, I admit that the sentence you quoted is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration. The lookup table needed would presumably be infinitely large, making it NOT comparable to a normal data structure.

      Nonetheless, I have posted an argument, and I’ll next expand and annotate it (Wade was right to complain that it had no attempted annotation). I don’t know why you’re worrying about persuasiveness; it would seem that validity is more of a pressing concern :-). I’d like to draw your attention, however, to the enormously complex claim Molinists make without any argument or evidence whatsoever. The challenge of the Open Theists (that would-counterfactuals destroy actual LFW) should have been taken seriously rather than being brushed off by Dr Craig because they’re unpopular (?).

      Really, look! http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?id=6803&page=NewsArticle

      His first objection is that Boyd hasn’t captured many followers. His second point is that “if mights exist, why shouldn’t woulds” — but by saying that he completely ignores Boyd’s _reasons_ for proposing this. The question isn’t whether counterfactuals “exist”, but rather whether they can be known to be _true_ along with LFW. And “might” can obviously be known in the presence of the ability to do otherwise, while “would” is questionable. Apparently Craig is content with the mere logical possibility of universes in which one does otherwise; Craig refers to that as “the ability to do otherwise”, even though this “ability” need not attach to the actual person making the choice or be available in the actual universe.

      I simply don’t see how Craig’s argument leaves him with any objection to Calvinism, which after all does the exact same thing — it’s logically possible that we could have done otherwise than follow God’s predestinate plan in this universe (because it’s logically and metaphysically possible that God could have willed otherwise).

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      I’ve rephrased some of my points to allow me to more clearly cite sources (and to use terms you’ve used). The intent is the same, but if the meaning has changed I’ll stand by this one in place of the previous one.

      1. LFW means determinism is not true of at least some choices made by humans. (axiom: given)
      2. A deterministic system is a system for which a model could exist. (axiom: definition of “deterministic system”, Wikipedia)
      3. A model could exist if, given information about the initial conditions for an event, the outcome can in principle be perfectly predicted even in the absence of the system. (axiom: definition, Wikipedia “deterministic system”, and the link to “model” if you want details)
      4. Molinism specifies that God uses information about the complete initial conditions for a “free choice” (person S, circumstance C) to perfectly predict a single outcome (action A). (definition: “molinism”, Craig)
      4a. God’s prediction occurs prior to His creation. (definition: “molinism”)
      4b. Therefore, God’s prediction requires only information, not any existing free creatures. (from 4a)
      5. Molinism then claims God chains the results of these together to perfectly model all “feasible worlds” (Craig’s term), chooses the most satisfactory one for His purposes, then creates the first link in the timeline, and then observes everything turn out exactly as specified, proving the perfection of the predictions. (definition: “molinism”, Craig)

      6a. Therefore, it’s possible in principle that a model would perfectly predict each human choice under Molinism. (from 3, 4, 4b)
      6b. Therefore, the same model would perfectly predict every human choice that occurs in the actual world. (from 5, 6a)
      7. Therefore, every human choice under Molinism is a deterministic system. (from 2, 5, and 6)
      8. Therefore, Molinism is not compatible with LFW. (from 1 and 7)

      I apologize for the sublettering scheme, but I felt it was right to break down the compound…

    • wm tanksley

      I said: “You’ve chosen an example where I, a person who knows close to nothing about you, feels willing to agree that you won’t do this (under that specific mental state).”

      I was thinking about this some more. Not only are the preconditions narrow and the outcome broad, but the implicit assumptions also constrain the probability of the statement being true. When you specify “on Mt. Rushmore” as the location, this appears to be an irrelevant addition; it seems intuitively likely that the probability of the statement is only slightly reduced by this addition. If I then think about the statement WITHOUT that additional specificity, it becomes clear that you’ve probably already been in those circumstances; and the fact that you’re going to church with Michael means you’re probably not posting from criminal psych confinement, as one would expect for a person who would murder only because someone accidentally spills a glass of water in any location.

      So I adopt this as my prior probability. so, given the fact that you in fact do not murder when people spill water in any of the places where you’ve been in the past, what is the probability that you would murder on Mt. Rushmore, specifically?

      The answer is: so low that I can safely accept the risk (especially when I’m not at Mt. Rushmore with you!).

      But all of this is inherent in the structure of the question, not in my own knowledge. I know the upper bound on this probability not because I have a special type of knowledge, but rather because the question itself contains information about its probability. The answer would be exactly the same for any equally precise definition of “S” and “C”.

      The CCFs of Middle Knowledge are not this type of question; not only do they contain precise information about the initial state, they also contain precise and unique information about the outcome.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      (Huh, my argument post got truncated — by my software I was well under 2000 characters. What I said was:)

      I apologize for the sublettering scheme, but I felt it was right to break down the compound statements.

      -Wm

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      1. When I talk about pursuasivness I meant I found your arguments against the logical incoherency of Molinism thus far unpursuasive and in particular your arguments for Molinism logically entailing things Molinists don’t claim.

      2. On your latest formulation I don’t see how the simple fact that something can be modeled implies determinism. After all can model Quantum Fluctuations even though they are ultimately indeterminate. Furthermore a Molinist would probably dispute the term “models” as it applies to God. A Molinist would say that God simply knows because he possesses Middle Knowledge in the same way that God knows because he possesses foreknowledge. Molinists do not appear to to posit that God knows X through some intermediate modeling process. He simply knows because by the definition of omniscience he knows all truths.

      3. On logical argumentation – if you are going to prove something to be logically incoherent you need to rephrase your argument to remove any equivocation. As long as any statement in your proof is eqivocal it remains possible for something to be logically coherent. I found you’re arguments using “could”, “possible”, etc. very confusing given the context.

    • wm tanksley

      1. When I talk about pursuasivness I meant I found […] in particular your arguments for Molinism logically entailing things Molinists don’t claim.

      I’ve made it very clear that my argument is intended to prove (entail) something that many Molinists (Craig in particular) not only do not claim, but actively deny.

      I think that you MEANT to say that my arguments REQUIRE things that Molinists do not claim. This is correct; Molinists do not take positions on the definition of a deterministic system, both because that definition is a settled matter of fact and thus not arguable; and also because they assume that Molinism doesn’t deal with deterministic systems. My intent is to question that assumption based on Molinist’s own models.

      2. On your latest formulation I don’t see how the simple fact that something can be modeled implies determinism. After all can model Quantum Fluctuations even though they are ultimately indeterminate.

      Perhaps I should have said “deterministic model”; but my definition as it stands is unambiguous, since it requires a single outcome for a completely specified initial state.

      Furthermore a Molinist would probably dispute the term “models” as it applies to God. […]

      I don’t purport to provide a mechanism for God, nor did I say that God used a mathematical model. I simply stated that the Molinist’s definitions imply the possibility, in principle, for a model to exist.

      3. […]if you are going to prove something to be logically incoherent you need to rephrase your argument to remove any equivocation.

      That’s a great suggestion, and I welcome any pointing out of possible ambiguities and/or equivocation. I’ll try to figure out what you’re referring to; could you attempt to be as specific as possible?

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Here are the phrases where I use “could” or “possible”.

      2. A deterministic system is a system for which a model could exist. (axiom: definition of “deterministic system”, Wikipedia)
      3. A model could exist if, given information about the initial conditions for an event, the outcome can in principle be perfectly predicted even in the absence of the system. (axiom: definition, Wikipedia “deterministic system”, and the link to “model” if you want details)

      These are not equivocation; the second precisely defines the first.

      6a. Therefore, it’s possible in principle that a model would perfectly predict each human choice under Molinism. (from 3, 4, 4b)

      The only possible dual meaning this could have actually would weaken my argument, not make it apparently stronger. But I don’t want you to be able to do that, so I’ll rephrase it:

      6a*. Therefore, a model could exist for human choice under Molinism. (from 3, 4, 4b)

      I’ve rephrased it to precisely match the definition in 3, to which it directly refers.

      As a side comment, I don’t mean for “existence” to imply created or uncreated status. I’m happy to leave that unspecified, and simply note that most mathematicians think mathematics exists uncreated, just as Molinists think the CCFs exist uncreated.

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      Which (again) is irrelevant to my point; I wasn’t talking about middle knowledge here. My point: what I described is at least a logically possible way for one to know a future libertarian choice via doxastic inputs despite the choice being indeterministic.

      No. It’s not irrelevant. Please read what I wrote. You’re gathering data FROM THE ACTUAL PERSON. Not from information about the person.

      That’s irrelevant too. Remember, I’m making a rather modest point here: what I described is at least a logically possible way for one to know a future libertarian choice via doxastic inputs despite the choice being indeterministic. The fact that I gathered data from the actual person etc. doesn’t make this point any less true. But since this is almost to the point of a digression by now, I may stop speaking about this further.

    • Wade T.

      More to the point, doesn’t my counterexample give an instance where a CCF is true and one is properly justified in believing it to be true? Isn’t it the case that “If a defenseless person were to spill a glass of water on Mount Rushmore, I would not murder that person just because of that” is true and that I am properly justified in believing it to be true?

      But honestly, this is harder to answer than I’ve been indicating. It’s not because it’s obviously right; it’s more because it’s so obviously a misfit, not at all similar to the cases under discussion.

      Even if true, it’s irrelevant to the point I’m making. Here, my point is modest: there is a real example a CCF (“If a defenseless person were to spill a glass of water on Mount Rushmore, I would not murder that person just because of that”) that is true even though my choice is indeterministic. In any case, you didn’t quite answer my question. Isn’t it the case that “If a defenseless person were to spill a glass of water on Mount Rushmore, I would not murder that person just because of that” is true and that I am properly justified in believing it to be true?

      Furthermore, even if I completely ignore that you’re getting your data by “cheating” and peeking, you’re still making the completely unwarranted assumption that the person will make the same choice the same way “next time” history rolls around — so your assumption that you’re gathering useful data is unsupported.

      I wouldn’t say it’s unwarranted; time travel entails the B-theory of time; the choice in effect has already been “made” and so ex hypothesi there is no “next time” history rolls around. That said, you could argue that observing it somehow changes the time-stream, but we can add a law of physics in our logically possible scenario such that this sort of thing doesn’t happen.

    • Wade T.

      but here you seem to be suggesting that knowledge requires certainty of the belief being true.

      No. To know something, that thing must actually be true — it must correspond to reality.

      I agree, but it’s possible for a belief to be both true and probably true. Probability is, after all, a measure of likelihood of the proposition being true; it is not a degree of the proposition’s truth. Hence a statement like, “But something that’s only probable is not knowable” doesn’t appear to make much sense without the “knowledge requires certainty” criterion. Suppose a proposition is (1) true; (2) one believes it is true; (3) one’s justification for accepting the proposition is that (from her evidential base) the probability of it being true is 99.99999%. Isn’t she properly justified in believing the true proposition? If so, isn’t it true that she knows it to be true?

    • Wade T.

      Well, this is what you seemed to be arguing. You say that Molinism specifies that God uses information about a pair of inputs (person S, circumstance C) to get information about the output (action A)

      Agreed.

      and seem to say that God knowing (S&C)[]->A somehow makes the process deterministic,

      Disagree. As I’ve said, it’s not “God knowing” that makes the process deterministic. It’s the “fact” (under Molinism) that God can model you as a process with predictable outputs that proves that you are deterministic (under Molinism).

      Which sounds very much like saying that (S&C)[]->A entails (S&C)[]~{}~A, and that of course is fallacious. True, under Molinism God knows (S&C)[]->A and in this sense can be said to model a process with predictable outputs: God knows if he put someone S in conditions C, action A would result; this follows necessarily from (S&C)[]->A. But this does not at all entail that (S&C)[]->~{}~A is true. If you do not mean “God can model you as a process with predictable outputs” in the sense that I described, what exactly do you mean?

    • Wade T.

      1. LFW means determinism is not true of at least some choices made by humans. (axiom: given)
      2. A deterministic system is a system for which a model could exist. (axiom: definition of “deterministic system”, Wikipedia)
      3. A model could exist if, given information about the initial conditions for an event, the outcome can in principle be perfectly predicted even in the absence of the system. (axiom: definition, Wikipedia “deterministic system”, and the link to “model” if you want details)

      1 and 2 risk equivocating definitions of “determinism.” Determinism with respect to metaphysics means that effects are necessary results from antecedent causes. What do you mean by “model” in line 2? You didn’t specify, but if it is “given information about the initial conditions for an event, the outcome can in principle be perfectly predicted even in the absence of the system” (you said this entailed a model in 3, but you didn’t say whether this was a necessary condition) then I disagree that God can model human behavior, nor does Molinism entail such a thing can be done. So this premise:

      4. Molinism specifies that God uses information about the complete initial conditions for a “free choice” (person S, circumstance C) to perfectly predict a single outcome (action A). (definition: “molinism”, Craig)

      appears to be false. Certainly if I were a molinist I would never agree to this, and you gave no citation for Craig thinking this. True, under molinism God knows (S&C)[]->A, but that doesn’t imply that God’s knowledge of the initial conditions is sufficient for Him to know this. To use an analogy, God knows whether I will drink a root beer tomorrow, but God’s knowledge of the initial conditions is insufficient for him to know what I will freely choose tomorrow; God’s doxastic inputs extend beyond mere initial conditions.

    • Michael T.

      WM,

      Couple things and then I’ll sit back and eat popcorn again while I watch you and Wade debate.

      “Perhaps I should have said “deterministic model”; but my definition as it stands is unambiguous, since it requires a single outcome for a completely specified initial state.”

      1. Can a system which is ultimately indeterminate in the final analysis behave and be modeled in a determinate manner?? I think quantum mechanics undermines your point.

      2. Furthermore, I think your point would apply to the general foreknowledge of God in addition to Middle Knowledge which gets us back to the modal fallacy. Think about it – even traditional Arminians hold that God knows the single outcome that will occur given a specific person in a specific circumstance. Yet as we have established to equate this knowledge to determinism is logically fallacious.

    • wm tanksley

      1 and 2 risk equivocating definitions of “determinism.” Determinism with respect to metaphysics means that effects are necessary results from antecedent causes.

      You know, I did completely forget to work the results of that discussion into my argument. I’ll do that, and post a new version. Of course, you’ll recall that although the two definitions are not in general equivalent, the “necessary” definition is the more general one, and the “capable of being deterministically modeled” is a more specific one. So I’m proving a stronger result, not a weaker one. (But I still need to make that explicit in the proof.)

      What do you mean by “model” in line 2? You didn’t specify, but if it is “given information about the initial conditions for an event, the outcome can in principle be perfectly predicted even in the absence of the system” (you said this entailed a model in 3, but you didn’t say whether this was a necessary condition)

      I didn’t give a real definition, I admit. I did mention that Wikipedia’s article on “Deterministic system” gives a link to “Model” (the article’s name is “Mathematical model”). But I don’t need a necessary condition for being a model; all I need is a sufficient condition.

      (Michael also pointed out that I’m talking about “deterministic models”, rather than models in general. Oops, good catch.)

      then I disagree that God can model human behavior, nor does Molinism entail such a thing can be done.

      Molinism does in fact entail that it can be done; and in fact God must effectively model human choice a large number of times prior to creation, in order to view the final outcomes of all feasible worlds (surely a large number!) and select the one with the best outcome.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      So this premise:
      4. Molinism specifies that God uses information about the complete initial conditions for a “free choice” (person S, circumstance C) to perfectly predict a single outcome (action A). (definition: “molinism”, Craig)
      appears to be false. Certainly if I were a molinist I would never agree to this, and you gave no citation for Craig thinking this. True, under molinism God knows (S&C)[]->A, but that doesn’t imply that God’s knowledge of the initial conditions is sufficient for Him to know this.

      Molinism is quite explicit that it’s not sufficient; God also uses middle-knowledge (and Molinism doesn’t specify where that comes from). But I’m puzzled now as to why you think this affects my argument. Why does that make #4 false? Are you thinking that a model can never use anything more than the raw information contained in the initial conditions given to it? All real models have to be constructed, and that construction alone adds information that isn’t contained in the inputs.

      God’s doxastic inputs extend beyond mere initial conditions.

      You really like the words “doxastic inputs”, don’t you. 🙂

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Couple things and then I’ll sit back and eat popcorn again while I watch you and Wade debate.

      Hours of entertainment — and such a low cost! 🙂

      1. Can a system which is ultimately indeterminate in the final analysis behave and be modeled in a determinate manner?? I think quantum mechanics undermines your point.

      As I mentioned (and am putting into my rework), I should have specified “deterministic model”, not just any model; I know of several nondeterministic models, I’ve worked on several different military ones (although, amusingly, all of my programming was done on one of the only deterministic ones).

      2. Furthermore, I think your point would apply to the general foreknowledge of God in addition to Middle Knowledge which gets us back to the modal fallacy.

      Nope, not at all. Point #3: if the system is present, the existence of a model won’t prove anything, since the system may provide corrective feedback to the model.

      Think about it – even traditional Arminians hold that God knows the single outcome that will occur given a specific person in a specific circumstance. Yet as we have established to equate this knowledge to determinism is logically fallacious.

      Agreed. But it’s not a fallacy because it’s impossible that the thing be deterministic; rather, it’s a fallacy because there are other possible ways the things could be associated to produce that valid logical relationship. It’s like the rules of statistics: never confuse correlation with causation. But, at the same time, it’s still possible to prove causation — you just can’t do it with statistics.

      -Wm

    • jim

      I would like to say this is all very interesting….but I’m having a really hard time following most of this post….you guys appear to know what your talking about…..but I really don’t know.

      Pass me the popcorn and I’m going to try another channel. It’s like in the 60’s when Robin says in reply to one of Batman’s philosphical pronouncements which is way over his head……Holy Cow Batman!!!

    • wm tanksley

      A quick comment… I’m probably not going to have time today to edit together a revision. I hope by tomorrow, but who knows.

      This one’s a fairly major revision, since Wade’s now clearly provided a definition of LFW that has more detail than “determinism isn’t true about human choices”; I’m going to use the best definition I have. But, of course, incorporating this is going to take more time.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      That’s irrelevant too. Remember, I’m making a rather modest point here: what I described is at least a logically possible way for one to know a future libertarian choice via doxastic inputs despite the choice being indeterministic. The fact that I gathered data from the actual person etc. doesn’t make this point any less true.

      In order to understand what you’re saying, I need to know what you mean by “to know via doxastic inputs”. The context for your argument makes it sound like you’re trying to provide a counterexample to my argument, but I never used that phrase.

      In order to provide a valid counterexample, you’d have to show how, in the absence of the system itself, it’s possible to know the future of the system using only information about the starting state of the system.

      Your example here doesn’t do that work — it allows you to know the future state of the system because it requires that the system actually exist prior to you knowing its future.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Suppose a proposition is (1) true; (2) one believes it is true; (3) one’s justification for accepting the proposition is that (from her evidential base) the probability of it being true is 99.99999%. Isn’t she properly justified in believing the true proposition? If so, isn’t it true that she knows it to be true?

      I see your problem. You’re confusing the fact high probability is adequate justification for believing something, with the incorrect idea that high probability makes something true. Another way to put this is that you’re assuming that epistemic probability is the same as ontological probability.

      So I believe that you’re not going to murder someone who spills water on Mt. Rushmore; and I’m justified in that belief; but unless it’s actually true that you don’t DO that, I don’t KNOW that. Even if my belief is VERY justified!

      I could modify the statement to make it true: I could say “If someone spills a glass of water on Mt. Rushmore, the probability that you’d kill them for that reason is less than 0.00001%.” Now, even without going to Mt. Rushmore, I could prove that I know this statement: it’s objectively true, I believe it, and my belief is justified.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      It’s going to be a while before I can post again; perhaps next week. I’m doing renovations on my argument; I stand by my previous version (there’s nothing wrong with it), but I’m happy to add requested features. My general approach is to switch Wade’s old definition from the vague “not deterministic” to a somewhat more specific “outcome isn’t a necessary result of previous conditions” (the philosophical definition of the term, rather than the model theoretical one I’d picked). The result is going to be a lot longer; it’s helped a little by some more specific mathematical theories (dynamical systems).

      The biggest help I could receive would be an actual definition of LFW from Wade; you asked for a proper definition of “model” from me, but you won’t give either a necessary or sufficient condition for LFW, so I’ve wasted a lot of time posting arguments that don’t contact yours.

      I’d also like you guys to interact with what I’ve said, of course; your comments have been very helpful, and I’d like to see you address my responses. (Some of our discussions are leaving me puzzled — it’s becoming apparent that some of your “counterexamples” might possibly be counterexamples to something other than what I thought they were, and I’d like to understand their target better.)

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Is anyone here? I’ve got my rework partially completed, but stopped while waiting for feedback on my above questions. There are too many directions I could take this, I really need to know.

      Michael, I think your objection’s the best one. The answer is simple — quantum theory has a deterministic wavefunction, but a nondeterministic wave collapse. It’s not a question of being able to model a nondeterministic process with a deterministic one; rather, it’s two distinct processes. I won’t be able to incorporate that into my argument, because it’s actually a side issue; but it’s a good, observant one.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      While researching for my reworked argument, I found a very interesting model of human decisions, which although it doesn’t deal with my Molinism argument at all, it does impinge on our other discussions, and will allow me to develop some ideas I’ve long had but was unable to justify. I think you’ll like how this goes — basically, this explains how nondeterminism might work within the process of human choice, allowing us to validly suppose that human agency CAN be creative (in the sense of producing things that are not the necessary results of prior events), while still allowing it to work in a “adequately deterministic” manner, in theory allowing the human to be in reasonable control of his own choices.

      http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/standard_argument.html summarizes adequately.

      This provides a nice counterexample against the hard determinist position, which makes me happy. Of course, I still claim that Molinism is hard determinist.

      -Wm

    • Wade T.

      Molinism is quite explicit that it’s not sufficient; God also uses middle-knowledge (and Molinism doesn’t specify where that comes from). But I’m puzzled now as to why you think this affects my argument. Why does that make #4 false?

      Well, it depends. I had originally understood it to mean that knowledge of antecedent conditions were sufficient knowledge to know the outcome. If that is rejected, then the premise is true, but then #4 being true wouldn’t entail determinism (and thus the argument would appear invalid).

    • Wade T.

      It seems that I a post can only be 1000 characters long (argh) so here we go:

      That’s irrelevant too. Remember, I’m making a rather modest point here: what I described is at least a logically possible way for one to know a future libertarian choice via doxastic inputs despite the choice being indeterministic. The fact that I gathered data from the actual person etc. doesn’t make this point any less true.

      In order to understand what you’re saying, I need to know what you mean by “to know via doxastic inputs”.

      Pretty much what it sounds like; doxastic inputs are those inputs in which beliefs are formed in response to (for us humans at least, this would include e.g. sensory perception).

    • Wade T.

      I see your problem. You’re confusing the fact high probability is adequate justification for believing something, with the incorrect idea that high probability makes something true.

      No, that’s not what I’m doing. I’m not claiming that high probability makes something true.

    • Wade T.

      The biggest help I could receive would be an actual definition of LFW from Wade; you asked for a proper definition of “model” from me, but you won’t give either a necessary or sufficient condition for LFW, so I’ve wasted a lot of time posting arguments that don’t contact yours.

      I apologize if this wasn’t clear before, but one necessary condition is that determinism is false with respect to human volition; that is, the results of human choices are indeterministic, and are not the necessary results of previous causes (they could have been otherwise). There are various doctrines of LFW; one is simple indeterminism (where basically human choice is a random event) and the other is agency theory, where an agent (person, self) brings about events.

      Regardless, I look forward to your revamped argument.

    • wm tanksley

      Okay, “human choice is not deterministic” and “the results … could have been otherwise”. I still need specifics (as I’ve complained, this is a vague and negative definition), but I’m going to hazard some guesses.

      May I assume:

      1. that every nondeterministic event is caused rather than uncaused (nor can it be its own cause)? (Justification: Kalaam)

      2. that, therefore, when we say “could have been otherwise” we require that the results, if different, would have actually been caused in a different way (possibly by different things, certainly by different amounts of things)? (Justification: in a lawful universe, two effects with the same cause seem to be the same effect)

      3. SO THAT saying (negatively) “human will is not deterministic” is the same as saying (positively) “human will includes the ability to determine which of the causes of a decision will produce effects”?

      Hm… I like it. No events without a cause; simply effects that never exist.

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      I had originally understood it to mean that knowledge of antecedent conditions were sufficient knowledge to know the outcome. If that is rejected, then the premise is true, but then #4 being true wouldn’t entail determinism (and thus the argument would appear invalid).

      My argument breaks out WHY #4 being true entails determinism. Please address the reasoning to explain where it breaks down; simply finding that #4 is not where it breaks down doesn’t prove that it must break down somewhere else.

      Edit: my most recent argument appears to be http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/10/why-i-reject-the-arminian-doctrine-of-prevenient-grace-2/comment-page-7/#comment-46978

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Remember, I’m making a rather modest point here: what I described is at least a logically possible way for one to know a future libertarian choice via doxastic inputs despite the choice being indeterministic. … doxastic inputs are those inputs in which beliefs are formed in response to.

      I haven’t been trying to deny that it’s logically possible; rather, I’ve been questioning the idea that it has anything to do with what we’re discussing.

      First, for example, where (prior to creation) does God form beliefs about anything? If God doesn’t form beliefs, then He’s not using doxastic inputs.

      Second, what does this have to do with any of my arguments? You bring it as a counterexample, but what is it a counterexample against?

      I also raised some questions as to its logical possibility with some of the other premises of our arguments (obviously it’s not logically possible to time-travel prior to the creation of time), but this isn’t your point. What…

    • wm tanksley

      …is?

      -Wm (wow, the counter’s wrong. This is the end of my previous post, truncated by the comment script.)

    • wm tanksley

      No, that’s not what I’m doing. I’m not claiming that high probability makes something true.

      There are two separate lines of argument in which I see you making that claim. Let me know where I err.

      First, when we’re discussing whether I can “know” that you won’t kill me because I spill a glass of water on Mt. Rushmore, you insist that because there’s less than 0.00000…01% probability that you would do that, therefore I can know that you wouldn’t.

      Second, http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/10/why-i-reject-the-arminian-doctrine-of-prevenient-grace-2/comment-page-6/#comment-46664 directly pertaining to my argument, you claim that it’s possible to know things as a result of information even when there remain live contradictions to what you know (so long as they’re very, very low probability).

      We’ve been going over this for a while. What points were you actually trying to make?

      -Wm

    • wm tanksley

      Melani, your position is mainstream, but your arguments are completely untenable. The passages you cite do not support the meanings you hang on them.

      Biblical regeneration occurs when God sends Jesus Christ into the heart of a man (Eph. 3:17)

      False: Eph 3:16-17 says that Christ’s indwelling is the result of the Holy Spirit’s preceding strengthening work.

      to give him the gift of eternal life (1John 5:11, 12).

      False: the purpose of Christ’s indwelling is in Eph 3:18-19.
      False: the claim in 1Jn 5:11-12 (and the entire section) is regarding the distinction between those who have and those who do not have, not anything about the process of conversion.

      This is the act of God that saves a man—we are saved by His life (Rom. 5:10),

      False: saved *from God’s wrath*, not saved from our unregeneration.

      saved by regeneration (Titus 3:5),

      True! But this regeneration is God’s work, not ours.

      I’m out of space, and don’t see any point in…

    • wm tanksley

      Wade, did you see my previous messages? They’re on page 7, at the very end; I’m wondering if they’re hidden from you. I’m trying to narrow down some possibilities to keep me from having to make two distinct (fairly long) arguments.

      -Wm

    • […] just as Dr Olson continued to explain his further challenges with Calvinism, Michael explained his challenges with […]

    • Nathan

      Mike B, I’m with you on that one. It appears the God desires all men to be saved, so what did he do? He taught them what to do–this is a sort of “awakening” where we are convicted of our sins. Now, given free will we can reject or accept the call by believing and following Christ.

      TO ALL:
      I believe it may have something to do with one’s conversion experience. I look back and see how God spoke and loved through my friends to draw me unto him, to the point where I repented (I had already believed but was living very sinfully) and “picked up my cross.”

      When you read the Bible, O how alive it is! when all you see is how sinful and incapable man is, and how God is patient unto man’s repentance, saying, “If you would only believe.” To me, that’s God initiating faith, telling us we can. God is loving, but also wroth. I preach to all to “believe in Christ and you will be saved. If you don’t you will be cast into Hell.” Some people do, some don’t. I don’t think it’s for us to understand why. Just worship the LORD for the Salvation he has given!

    • […] just as Dr Olson continued to explain his further challenges with Calvinism, Michael explained his challenges with […]

    • Duane

      Sir,

      All due respect, your whole premise is flawed from the beginning. Arminians do NOT believe in Total Depravity in the exact same way as Calvinists. Arminians do believe that man’s nature is corrupt from birth due to adamic nature but do not believe that we are depraved to the extreme/extent that the Calvinist takes it. In other words the Arminian belief system teaches that no one can come to God except he “call” them (Meaning you have to be convicted in one’s conscience about the saving Grace of Christ and given that invitation), but it does teach that man is capable of acknowledging and seeking God due to his general revelation, etc.

      Regards,

      Duane

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