Saturday, January 31, 2009

Was God luckly?

This is part of an ongoing discussion on determinism... (Paul, me, Paul, me, Paul, me, Paul)

Even if I granted that 21st century common man understands choice in a libertarian way… that doesn't imply that X-century BC Jews thought that way.

Paul is welcome to address the reasons I have already provided, based on the common consent of modern scholarship and extra-biblical Jewish writings.

Dan must grant the possibility that in an increasingly secular society, given the state of public education, and given the direction science is heading; the "common man" will believe this: "All things are physically determined with generalizations and conditionals having 100% probabilities associated with them."

I am not sure the common man is in a position to evaluate that claim.

as I argued from Kane, the common man also has problems with indeterminate happenings.

He only said they would, if they held certain mistaken notions.

Dan writes that the problem with my Princeton definition is that "Alternatives can be chosen. This is why I argued that a predetermined choice entails an impossible possibility and inalternate alternative." But the dictionary doesn't mention the word "can" and Dan also ignores hypothetical compatibilists. Is he going to argue that the dictionary weighs in on classical compatibilism?! Furthermore, compatibilists would agree that a different past, or decree, renders those alternatives the possible ones chosen. Is Dan going to argue that the dictionary weighed in on this?! When Dan says, "impossible" what does he mean? Given the decree of God, the alternative is not something that can genuinely be accessed. But there could be other possible decrees. So, what does he mean? And, can he argue that the dictionary supports this? Dan even admits that he doesn't "recall using the term 'genuine access to'" possibilities. Right, and that defeats his dictionary argument.

Paul mistakenly overlooked the word “can” in my dictionary.com quote (both the explicit reference and implicitly through the word “possible”). So again, the common sense notion of choosing and alternatives rules out determinism.

As for hypotheticals (i.e. if I had wanted to I could have chosen X or if I had chosen X, I could have done X) in reality (given God’s decree and the history of the world) both the counterfactaul choice and act are impossible. And to substitute a hypothetical ability with an actual one is an equivocal way of substituting the common definition of choice for the determinist one.

Finally, there is a difference between understanding what the dictionary says and applying what it says. By Paul asking if the dictionary addresses certain questions, he seems to be conflating these two things.

Lastly, Dan makes a non-sequitur. He says, "Again, if determinism is true, given the causal forces at play, I cannot choose or do counterfactuals." But, that doesn't mean you didn't choose to do what you did.

Sure it does, because given the common notion of choosing, the counterfactuals are possible, not impossible.

And, again, if libertarianism is true, given the luck, I cannot choose counterfactuals. Choosing requires a certain amount of control that libertarianism doesn't afford. Dan disagrees.

The bible disagrees, and I simply believe the bible. This “luck” line of reasoning is the one I warned about earlier as not open to the Christian. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. This means God is the first cause, so His first cause wasn’t causally predetermined. This is agent causation and it undermines the luck argument. Was God lucky to have Jacob? No, He chose him. But Paul’s reasoning would lead us to believe God was lucky. Arguments against the coherence of LFW are impermissible to Christians.

The dictionary doesn't say Jesus is the God-man, ergo, he isn't.

In this case the dictionary is accurate, but not complete. But regarding “chose”, Paul would have us believe the dictionary is inaccurate and he has provided counter-definitions.

As for Muslims using the word “choose”, if I recall correctly they hold Allah transcends logic. So probably they hold to both and neither determinism and LFW. Why should we expect them to be consistent?

As for the Gospel not being common sense, I would say that dead faith actually is among the common responses to the Gospel, but it’s true that justifying faith requires the inward illumination of the Holy Spirit.

9 comments:

PaulSceptic said...

Determinism is garbage. See my blog on why Paul is not a true apostle of Jesus Christ, how his many lies and contradictions with himself prove him to be a false apostle, and how his contradictions with Acts and his lies on the other apostles prove him to be a false apostle.

Robert said...

Manata wrote:

“So, even granting the point, it should never serve as a premise in accidentalist's arguments for accidentalism.”

He further confirms my conclusion that rather than calling Calvinists “determinists”, they ought to be called “necessitarians” (a necessitarian is one who espouses exhaustive determinism with the result that all events that occur in actual history are necessitated events which must occur and it is impossible that they not occur: thus, all events are necessitated). He responds by referring to my own position as “accidentalist.” Now this once again shows both Manata’s dishonesty and intentional attempt to misrepresent other people’s positions. Manata really is a “necessitarian”. But apparently referring to his position as “necessitarian” so bothered him that he had felt compelled to come up with his “come back” that I am an “accidentalist.” :-) He knows my position already from previous discussions: that I hold to substance dualism and with regard to action theories that I hold to agent causation (and that I believe that when we do intentional actions we are acting with libertarian free will and we are choosing to do our actions for **reasons** and that we have libertarian free will as God does as well). He already knows all of this, so for him to label my position as “accidentalist” apparently is some sort of put down. I guess he wants people to think that I believe that our intentional actions are mere **accidents**.

He likes to suggest that we do a “thought experiment” and take an intentional action involving libertarian free will and “play back the tape” and in doing so we then (according to Manata)will see the action as involving luck. Let’s do that with God’s action of creating the world ex nihilo. So we “play back the tape”, and presumably God just prior to creating the world, **had the choice** of both creating the world or not creating the world. God as a free agent with libertarian free will had a genuine choice between these two possible alternatives (both of which he could actualize, though not simultaneously). So God **had a choice** (he did one thing, but also could have done otherwise). We also believe that his choice was not necessitated (he did not have to do it, there were no necessitating factors that meant he had to create the world and that it was impossible for him to do otherwise)nor coerced (he was not forced to create but freely chose to do so). So his action involved libertarian free will and was not necessitated or coerced. The action of creating the world was also not an **accident** nor did it occur as a result of **luck**. God intentionally created the world and did so for reasons.

Now say we played back the tape a hundred times and say God on 51% of the replays created the world and 49% of the replays chose not to create the world (note I believe that we could grant that God creates the world in 100% of these replays and yet this still does not mean his action was necessitated, but for the sake of Manata’s argument we will assume that sometimes he does one thing and other times he does another thing). In ***every instance***, whether he created or did not create/refrained from creating the world, his action was in fact, *******done for reasons*******. I do not believe it’s fair or right to claim that since he sometimes created and sometimes did not create, that luck was somehow involved in his actions, or that these intentional actions done for reasons ought to be characterized as “accidents”. I mean we play back the tape and sometimes he chooses to create and sometimes he chooses to not create, so the factors are all the same and yet he chooses differently, I guess we ought to conclude with Manata that these actions involve luck and so God did not have sufficient control of his actions, he just was not in control of his actions? Poor God, whether he created the world or chose not to create the world, if his actions involved libertarian free will, and though his actions were always done for reasons, nevertheless his actions were mere “accidents”. Yeh, right.

As many other Christians (e.g., Plantinga, Moreland) believe, I believe that our actions are similar to the way God acts when he does intentional actions for reasons. As with him, our freely chosen actions are not necessitated, not coerced, not accidental, do not involve luck, done for reasons, and we could have done otherwise. Now Manata wants to describe freely performed actions that are done for reasons, as “accidentalist” or “accidentalism.” If my view of actions is “accidentalist”, then we should describe God’s actions as “accidentalist” as well.
And let’s take another example to make this point clear. The necessitarian believes that while all events in history are necessitated, nevertheless, when God made choices of people’s eternal destinies (he had the choice of electing a person to salvation or reprobating that same person to eternal damnation) HE HAD CHOICES regarding each individual person. Assume that unconditional election were true, for the sake of argument. God was not necessitated to choose the elect and yet God also could have done otherwise and reprobated the same person. Whether God elected or reprobated the individual, in either case, he had a choice and God would have made the choice for reasons. Should we characterize God’s having a choice and then making a choice about someone’s eternal destiny for reasons, as “accidentalist.”??? Was it just “luck”? What necessitarian would say that? They would say that the choice was not necessitated, not coerced, done for reasons, not accidental and not involving luck on the part of God’s actions.

Where Manata is intentionally inconsistent showing his dishonesty, is that he wants to simultaneously claim that OUR intentional actions if they involved libertarian free will, and though they are done for reasons, ARE a matter of **luck** or ought to be characterized as “accidentalist”, while GOD’S intentional actions that involve the same factors of involving libertarian free will, not being necessitated, not being coerced, actions which he does though he also could have done otherwise, actions which are always done for reasons, ARE NOT **luck**. Either both God’s and man’s intentional actions involving libertarian free will and doing actions for reasons, are actions involving luck and are accidental, or both are actions not involving luck and accident.

I have noted before (and I get this observation from Plantinga) and note again here: many of the objections leveled at agent causation when it comes to human intentional actions completely break down when we apply the same standards/reasoning to God’s intentional actions. I believe the reason for this is easy to explain: while we are not identical to God, God engages in intentional actions which involve libertarian free will, and as we are made in God’s image, we share certain similarities with God (one of those being our capacity to perform our own intentional actions for reasons, actions which we do and yet also do freely and could have done otherwise). Put simply both God and men experience libertarian free will. Now to refer to intentional actions which are done for reasons as mere “accidents” is an intentional misrepresentation by a person not concerned about truth, but only “winning a debate”. Now if someone wants to actually argue with my stated view (that our intentional actions involve libertarian free will and are done for reasons, though neither the reasons nor any other factor necessitates the action, and we could do otherwise than we end up doing) and show that to be incoherent or false, I don’t have a problem with that. But Manata and his other necessitarian friends don’t attack my view, they merely mock it and misrepresent it. As if mocking and ridiculing and misrepresenting something makes it false (perhaps we ought to call that the “Manata fallacy” since he engages in it so often with people he considers his “opponents”). Since they know my view and continue to intentionally misrepresent it and ridicule it, and just engage in personal insults, this just shows a lack of Christian character on their part.

To answer Dan’s question posed at the beginning of this thread: God did not get “lucky” when he created the world, nor was it an accident, and neither are our intentional actions involving libertarian free will and done for reasons merely accidents. When Ben Roethlisberger the Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback, with about half a minute left in the game, freely chose and intentionally aimed and threw the ball to his receiver in the corner of the end zone, his intentional action was done for reasons and it was no accident (likewise the intentional catching of the ball by the receiver). It was a good example of agent causation and libertarian free will it was not an accident nor was it luck! Sorry Cardinal fans! :-)

Robert

Acolyte4236 said...

While I think your relocating the problem to theology proper is correct, there are a few suggestings to help clean up the thinking.

The tape roll back is a device used to illustrate what an agent does across different logically possible worlds, where these are logically possible sets of circumstances.. We consider all those worlds which are the same as the actual world or the world under consideraiton up to such and so point in time, and then these worlds diverge from that point.If an agent performs some act in all logically possible worlds, then that is the way of cashing out the idea of necessity. So if God created in every logically possble world, then the world would be necessary.

Also, reasons are not causes. Decisions are causes. So doing something for a reason only renders the action intentional, where an intention is a plan of action.

Arminian said...

Acolyte4236 said: "reasons are not causes"

****Actually, they are. In standard usage, reasons are considered a type of cause. Poeple use that sort of language regularly. Even the dictionary gives this as one standard definition of "cause". For example, my American Heritage lists "A reason; motive" as definition # 2.

Acolyte4236 said...

Standard usage is not common usage. Standard usage refers to professional and technical vocabulary. Among philosophers, specifically in action theory, most do not take reasons to be causal.

2nd common language dicitonaries are notoriously unreliable for ascertaining the meaning of technical terms in spefic domains of inquiry, especially philosophy.

Further, if reasons were causes, decisions would be ephemeral and explanatorily unnecessary.

Arminian said...

Acolyte4236 said: "Standard usage is not common usage. Standard usage refers to professional and technical vocabulary. Among philosophers, specifically in action theory, most do not take reasons to be causal."

*****You are offering a definition here. But I was using "standard" in a standard way. "Standard" does not necessarily refer to "professional and technical vocabulary", but can readily be used to indicate something that is, to quote Merrian-Webster's online: "substantially uniform and well established by usage in the speech and writing of the educated and widely recognized as acceptable" or even something that is well-established and very familiar. Here's the whole entry.

1 a: constituting or conforming to a standard especially as established by law or custom (standard weight) b: sound and usable but not of top quality (standard beef)
2 a: regularly and widely used, available, or supplied (standard automobile equipment) b: well-established and very familiar (the standard opera)
3: having recognized and permanent value (a standard reference work)
4: substantially uniform and well established by usage in the speech and writing of the educated and widely recognized as acceptable

It is strange you would object to my use of the word "standard" when I used a standard defnition of the term!

Acolyte4236 said: "2nd common language dicitonaries are notoriously unreliable for ascertaining the meaning of technical terms in spefic domains of inquiry, especially philosophy."

*****But we are talking about common man undrerstnding. That has been a major part of Dan's point. And you can be sure that neither the ancient authors of the Bible nor biblical scholars translating the Bible into common speech are using technical philosophical terminology. This is one reason why Dan has been winning what I have read of this debate.

Acolyte4236 said: "Further, if reasons were causes, decisions would be ephemeral and explanatorily unnecessary."

*****You don't seem to realize that you are assuming a certain definition of cause in this point. Look, causes as reasons influence decision, which brings about action contingently, and can thus legitimately be said to resistibly or non-necessarily cause action. One can also speak of cause in the sense of necessitating cause (i.e., a cause that irresistibly brings about action). My point was that when people speak of cause, they often mean reson or motive, and this is reasonable, correct, and valid, even if it is not the only way the language can be used.

BTW, Acolyte4236, are you Paul Manata? Just wondering.

Robert said...

Hello Acolyte,

“The tape roll back is a device used to illustrate what an agent does across different logically possible worlds, where these are logically possible sets of circumstances.. We consider all those worlds which are the same as the actual world or the world under consideraiton up to such and so point in time, and then these worlds diverge from that point.If an agent performs some act in all logically possible worlds, then that is the way of cashing out the idea of necessity. So if God created in every logically possble world, then the world would be necessary.”

I understand some modal logic and you are correct that if something is done in all logically possible worlds, that is how we refer to necessity in modal logic.

I was trying to make the point that when the necessitarian argues from the play back the tape thought experiment (i.e., because sometimes the person does one thing other times another, **so** luck must have been involved in the process). They are overlooking what occurs when actions are intentional, agent caused, and done for reasons.

If the particular action is done for a reason, regardless of what action it is, then it is not accurate to describe it as random nor is it an event resulting from chance or luck. By their very nature intentional actions are not luck and are caused by the agent not by luck.

Furthermore, there is no such thing as luck as an entity or force that causes events to occur (“luck” is simply a common verbal description that we sometimes use). So luck does not exist nor cause intentional actions (agents do so)nor should intentional actions done for reasons be described as random. Something is random if it is unintentional not purposed by the agent, not intentionally brought about by the agent (cf., “he was lucky” meaning it was not something he intended, not something he intentionally brought about, it was something that “just happened to him”).

“Also, reasons are not causes. Decisions are causes. So doing something for a reason only renders the action intentional, where an intention is a plan of action.”

I agree that reasons are not causes, rather, it an agent acting upon reasons that results in the intentional action.

I am not sure that I would agree that decisions are causes. The agent makes up his mind and arrives at a decision, which is itself a choice from different possibilities. Arriving at the decision involves deliberation and the making of the decision by the agent is an action by the agent. But the “decision” itself is not a cause. Searle talks about three gaps in his discussion of free will. One of the gaps is between deliberating between alternatives and then making a choice from among those alternatives (arriving at the decision). Another gap is between the decision and then taking action. And we have all experienced this gap, we make a decision, but then sometimes do not act upon it or we change our minds about doing something. If the decision itself were causal then every time we make a decision the decision would then cause something to follow. But this is not true, because as Searle correctly notes, there is a gap between our arriving at a decision and then our acting on that decision. According to Searle the self operates in that gap and determines which possibility will be actualized.

Robert

Arminian said...

Acolyte4236,

I didn't realize you had a profile. You're obviously not Paul Manata! I shiuld have been more careful to click on your blogger prfile before asking.

God bless.

Acolyte4236 said...

Uhm, yeah, I am Orthodox and Paul is not. We have locked horns before. Just search Orthodoxy or me at Triablogue and you'll see.