Thursday, July 9, 2009

Rabbit trail on PAP and Frankfurt Examples

Paul claims some libertarian philosophers deny PAP (Principle of Alternate Possibilities). He cites Timothy O' Connor, David Hunt and William Lane Craig. (link) This topic is somewhat tangential to our determinism/choose debate, but it's interesting so I thought I would address it. I tend to disagree with PAP but I also disagree with some of Craig's recent comments. I don't think O'Connor was denying PAP and I find Hunt's comments prima-facia inconsistent, so I will only address Craig.

PAP and Frankfurt Examples

PAP is the idea that a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise. (Free will Handbook. Fisher. Frankfurt-Type Examples and Semi-Compatiblism. p283.) Note that not just some, but all events for which we are accountable must be free and not necessary under PAP. So for example those holding to PAP must deny we are morally accountable for our actions that result from prior free choices but are themselves not free. Understood this way, not just some, but a great deal of libertarian thinkers deny PAP. Arminius' commentary on Romans 9:19 reveals he denies PAP: If, indeed, the man commits that which deserves hardening of free-will, he is subjected to blame, and is worthy of wrath, even if he may be hardened by that will, which can not be resisted. For resisting and that freely, the divine will, revealed in the word, which can be resisted, he is brought into that necessity of the divine decree, also revealed in the word, which can not be resisted, and so the will of God is done in reference to him, by whom the will of God is not done. (link) On the other hand, denying PAP is very different then saying man never has alternative possibilities (AP) or even that AP is necessary for moral responsibility.

Here's a Frankfort example: Suppose Jones is in a voting booth deliberating about wheater to vote fro Gore or Bush. After reflection, he chooses to vote for Gore and does vote for Gore by marking his ballot in the normal way. Unbeknownst to him, Black, a liberal neurosurgeon working with the Democratic Party, has implanted a device in Jones's brain which monitors Jones's brain activities. If he is about to choose to vote Democratic, the device simply continues to monitoring and does not intervene in the process in any way. If, however, Jones is about to chose to vote, say, Republican, the device triggers an intervention that involves electronic stimulation of the brain sufficient to produce a choice to vote for the Democrat (and a subsequent Democrate vote). (ibid. 282)

The Frankfort example has numerous problems, such as 1) there is no "sign" beforehand indicating what the choice will be, 2) there's no such thing as a "forced choice" so no device could trigger a choice, 3) the will is part of our immaterial soul, so no physical device could monitor and manipulate it. However, the interesting question is if the Frankfort example can be fixed. Let's look at Craig's attempt.

Response to William Lane Craig

William Lane Craig: "But as you note, I’m a libertarian who thinks that causal determinism is incompatible with freedom. That doesn’t imply that I hold to the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP), which states that a free agent has in a set of circumstances the ability to choose A or not-A. I’m persuaded that so long as an agent’s choice is not causally determined, it doesn’t matter if he can actually make a choice contrary to how he does choose. Suppose that God has decided to create you in a set of circumstances because He knew that in those circumstances you would make an undetermined choice to do A. Suppose further that had God instead known that if you were in those circumstances you would have made an undetermined choice to do not-A, then God would not have created you in those circumstances (maybe it would have loused up His providential plan!). In that case you do not have the ability in those circumstances to make the choice of not-A, but nevertheless your choice of A is, I think, clearly free, for it is causally unconstrained—it you who determines that A will be done. So the ability to do otherwise is not a necessary condition of free choice." (link)

I disagree with Craig's statement - while he patches some of the problems in the prior Frankfort example, he creates some new ones. Middle knowledge looks like it could successfully replace "the sign" and Molinism could replace the "forced choice" and work with an immaterial soul. So it seems the initial Frankfort problems are fixed. However, Craig has some new problems.

First, Craig defines PAP in a much broader sense than Fisher; Craig's not just going after responsibility, he's going after AP. Both Fisher and Craig deny PAP, but given their different definitions of PAP, Fisher denial entails actions that are "necessary but responsible", Craig's denial entails actions that are "necessary but free". For Fisher, the issue is "do you have to have AP in all cases of responsibility?" For Craig, the issue is "do you have to have AP in any cases of freedom?"

The problem with Craig's argument is that middle knowledge entails AP. Everything God knows via His middle knowledge is possible (included within God's natural knowledge). God could not know, via His middle knowledge, that you would choose something that would "louse up His plan", because God's plan totally failing is strictly impossible and not an object of His natural knowledge. This falls into the same category as God sinning. It's logically inconsistent to have a Sinning Holy One, so such scenarios are self-contradictory, logically impossible, and not part of God's natural knowledge. Only in a relative sense (removing some of God's attributes from view) can we even talk about such things without sliding into incoherence.

Nor could God still have middle knowledge of Jones voting democratic without the possibility of Jones voting republican because it would louse up His plan. By middle knowledge God knows which of two or more possibilities would obtain under various circumstances. If nothing else is possible, middle knowledge is unnecessary and superfluous, since God already knows what "would" happen - the only thing that can happen.

If you remove the "it would louse up God's plan" aspect, and just say God chooses not to create that world, then such a choice leaves man with AP. The person can, but will not (and would not) choose otherwise. So Craig's replacement of "the sign" was unsuccessful; it was replace by something that entailed AP - the very element he attempted to remove.

Further, causal indeterminism entails AP; it's the core element of AP. The deterministic/indeterministic distinction is broader than the agent/event causation distinction. Thus, even agent causation may be deterministic or indeterministic. If the agent doesn't have alternative possibilities, then his nature determines him to one and only one action. Although there is a difference between this and deterministic event causation, it's still deterministic, not indeterministic.

Finally, Craig's example doesn't rule out AP. Now God couldn't get me to vote for republican (since I wouldn't do so), but He could create a world where I live in Timbuktu. So there are three possible worlds: vote republican, vote Democrat, and riding a Camel in the Sahara. Now Craig goes further and says what if my voting Democrat messes up His sovereign plan. So God has to put me in the Sahara; permitting me to vote Democrat is impossible (since it would be unwise for God to do so). Oddly enough, we still have alternative possibilities: vote republican or ride a Camel in the Sahara. Not what I had in mind when I entered the voting booth, but twofold possibilities none-the-less, so it's still not deterministic. Even under the assumption that God wouldn't create me at all, "possible me" (the object of God's natural knowledge that did not get actualized) would still have had alternative possibilities.

Now don't get me wrong, I like Craig and still recommend his books. I have no idea how these recent statements he has made could be reconciled with his earlier works. In his chapter "Within One's Power Once More" in his book Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom: The Coherence of Theism : Omniscience, Craig states "But assuming that our actions are not causally determined, we have the ability to act in ways other than we in fact act" p. 161. But it seems this recent statements are mistaken.

Why I Reject PAP
I agree with Arminius on the hardness of hearts, but while such acts are voluntary they seem like they are less than choices. Recall Aristotle said: "Choice is manifestly a voluntary act. But the two terms are not synonymous, the latter being the wider. Children and the lower animals as well as men are capable of voluntary action, but not of choice. Also sudden acts may be termed voluntary, but they cannot be said to be done by choice." (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (ed. H. Rackham) II.3) Thus, rejecting PAP harmonizes with my choose arguments.

Futher, PAP seems to be interpreted too specifically for my taste. You must be able to vote Democrat or Republican. You must be able to do good or evil. You must be able to eat chocolate or vanilla... Aquinas broke freedom down into two parts: exercise and specification. "Now a power of the soul is seen to be in potentiality to different things in two ways: first, with regard to acting and not acting; secondly, with regard to this or that action. Thus the sight sometimes sees actually, and sometimes sees not: and sometimes it sees white, and sometimes black." (link) For me, it's enough to choose A or not - I don't need to extend things to the ability to choose A or B. Now this issue is mostly perception not real. Some determinists like to specify "B" and then show B is impossible. But both "A or not" and "A or B" are alternative possibilities. It's just one is more specific than the other.

23 comments:

Robert said...

Hello Dan,

I really wonder sometimes how you can put up with the verbal abuse of yourself which comes from the gang at Triablogue. I also wonder why you waste time arguing with them, you are not going to convince them to hold to the truth, they are fully committed to their errors.

I went over and looked at their latest and found this humorous statement. But before I share it, keep in mind that according to the Triablogue gang since they ***want to believe*** that everything is predetermined and predecided by God, that if their view were true then ****WE NEVER EVER HAVE A CHOICE****. I have said repeatedly that determinists cannot live out their false theology/philosophy in daily life and that if you listen to them carefully they constantly betray their false views because they talk about people having choices just like everybody else. And yet their false view does not allow for us to ever have a choice where we could actualize either option.

Steve Hays writes:

"ii) Moreover, if the only choice at your disposal is to choose A or not, then that can often be a classic case of a forced option. I can either give the bank robber the combination of the safe or I can refuse to give him the combination–on pain of being shot in the head."

If Hays false view were true, then we would never ever have a choice. We could only do what we were predetermined to do. But that is ***not*** what Hays says here. He speaks just like anyone else who believes that we sometimes have choices. His words are no different at all then what any of us libertarians would say about the same situation.

Note he says that if confronted by the bank robber:

“I ***CAN*** (emphasis mine) ***EITHER*** (emphasis mine) give the bank robber the combination of the safe [option 1] ***OR*** (emphasis mine) I ***CAN*** (emphasis mine) refuse to give him the combination - on pain of being shot in the head [option 2]".

Hays as clearly as you can say it, in his **own example**, the one CHOSEN BY HIM says that you HAVE A CHOICE when confronted by the bank robber. But you only have a choice like this if Hays own view/exhaustive predeterminism ***is*** false. If his exhaustive determinism is true, then you don't ever have a choice like the one described in ***HIS OWN EXAMPLE***. Then only one possibility exists, only one option is accessible to you, the one you will have to choose (if God predetermined for you to give the combination then you will have to give the combination and it is impossible for you to do otherwise and not give the combination, [YOU HAVE NO CHOICE] OR if God predetermined for you to refuse to give the combination then you will have to not give the combination and it is impossible for you to otherwise and give the combination, [YOU HAVE NO CHOICE] you will only do what you were predetermined to do so you HAVE NO CHOICE, YOU CANNOT DO EITHER OPTION.)

This is why I say people like Hays are dishonest and not forthright about what they really believe. If he was consistent with his espoused exhaustive determinism, then he never would have made that statement, he never would have said that you ****can do either one****, that you can both choose to give the combination or choose to refuse to give the combination. The fact is Hays cannot live with his false theology and philosophy in the real world that God designed where we do sometimes have choices. He like everybody else believes we sometimes have choices and ***talks about*** our ***having choices***. But talk of having choices is both false and incoherent if his view were true. Just another example from many of the falsity of calvinistic determinism. This one from the “horse’s mouth”.

Robert

steve said...

Robert said...

"I really wonder sometimes how you can put up with the verbal abuse of yourself which comes from the gang at Triablogue."

I'm waiting for Robert to supply some verbatim quotes in which I verbally abused Dan in my response to his "Rabbit trail" post.

"This is why I say people like Hays are dishonest and not forthright about what they really believe."

Since Robert claims to espouse the virtues of honesty, I look forward to seeing him back up his accusation that I verbally abused Dan in my reponse to his "Rabbit trail" quotes. Let's see the evidence.

steve said...

Robert said...

“I really wonder sometimes how you can put up with the verbal abuse of yourself which comes from the gang at Triablogue.”

While we’re on the subject of verbal abuse, no one is more verbally abusive than Robert. Take a recent specimen: “They conceive of God wrongly, and they worship a god of their own imagination…I would add to your correct description here that they end up engaging in the same practices as non-Christian cults (i.e., the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality, the belief they are infallibly correct and everyone else is infallibly wrong; the mangling of scripture so that it fits their preconceived theological system, constant proof texting in an effort to defend, maintain, and promote their false system; appeal to the traditions of their group rather than the teaching of scripture thereby making the Word of God void through their man made traditions/”interpretations”; reinterpretation of texts that contradict their system so that the scripture is forced to fit the system rather than vice versa, etc. etc. etc.)… No one is so blind as one who intentionally does not want to see.”

i)Notice that Robert is talking about Calvinists in general, not just T’bloggers.

ii)Also notice that Robert resorts to a hard-edged us v. them mentality in the same breath as he affects disapproval of an us v. them mentality.



“This is why I say people like Hays are dishonest and not forthright about what they really believe. If he was consistent with his espoused exhaustive determinism, then he never would have made that statement, he never would have said that you ****can do either one****, that you can both choose to give the combination or choose to refuse to give the combination. The fact is Hays cannot live with his false theology and philosophy in the real world that God designed where we do sometimes have choices. He like everybody else believes we sometimes have choices and ***talks about*** our ***having choices***. But talk of having choices is both false and incoherent if his view were true. Just another example from many of the falsity of calvinistic determinism. This one from the ‘horse’s mouth’.”

This criticism is inept on a couple of grounds:

i) The point at issue was whether a “forced choice” is a real choice. But even a libertarian can view a “forced choice” as a real choice since, on libertarian grounds, if someone puts a gun to your head, you can do what he says or refrain from doing what he says. Here I’m merely answering Dan on his own terms.

ii) Moreover, we can cast a “forced choice” in hypothetical terms: If X obeyed at gunpoint, that would be a choice. But if X disobeyed at gunpoint, that would also be a choice.

The hypothetical formulation is perfectly consonant with determinism. It doesn’t commit one to PAP. Rather, it merely states, in conditional terms, that in case X obeyed at gunpoint, that would be a choice. But in case X disobeyed at gunpoint, that would also be a choice. Each case needn’t be in play for either case to count as choosing.

iii) Furthermore, in the past, Robert brags from time to time about corresponding with John Martin Fischer. I wonder if he ever told Fischer that Fischer was intellectually dishonest. Perhaps I should email Fischer and ask him about Robert’s views on the intellectual dishonesty of determinists.

Robert said...

So Steve Hays wants to talk about integrity and accusations?

I have a history with Hays and it is not a good one. I posted over at his blog Triablogue and was repeatedly verbally attacked and ridiculed by the folks of Triablogue. I responded to these insults by calling for them to interact with others whether they are believers or nonbelievers in line with what the bible says. This was argued with and ignored by the Triablogers. Hays himself accused me of being a **false teacher** and also claimed that **I was hell bound**. I asked him who the pastor(s) were whom he is in submission to in his local church to which he responded that he was not under their authority. I asked about this because I have nothing to fear of a church discipline situation and I would have gone through it with Hays and his local church leadership. But if you are not in submission to the local church leadership and you are a loose cannon as Steve Hays is, then you have no accountability for the things you say and do over on your blog. And that is precisely the problem, Hays is a loose cannon with no accountability. So he is free to attack and ridicule and falsely accuse anyone as He continually does, with no accountability seemingly. I say “seemingly” because God will hold him accountable for all his verbal attacks on others as well as his attempted rationalizations and justifications of his actions. Perhaps he is already being disciplined by the Lord when you examine his actual life circumstances. Numerous people have challenged Hays and the other Triablogers in regards to their manner of posting and interacting with others. Whether it is believers or unbelievers it does not matter, they attack, ridicule, engage in inappropriate sarcasm and humor with them all. They have been challenged on numerous occasions to repent of their sinful verbal behavior. There is never any change, never any sign of repentance. They just continue to engage in their sinful practices. If a person will not listen to and obey the bible and is not in submission to local church leadership then they have no accountability and you really cannot say much to them or have any positive influence upon them. In this situation it is wise to not further interact with such a person.

And I stand fully behind my comment regarding the Triablogers: ““I also know that the Triablogers are some of the worst professing Christians that I have ever seen when it comes to character and actions” because the statement is true.

I have been teaching the bible for many years, never had my doctrinal beliefs questioned by any professing Christians except for the Triablogers and their fans. Hays made his false accusations against me publicly and no other Triabloger challenged him on this, so I can only assume they hold the same view. When a completely loose cannon, who continually sins on his blog wants to attack me and challenge me on integrity, his criticisms can be completely ignored. Hays continues to be a bad example of someone who professes allegiance to Christ but does not live the life.

Robert

steve said...
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steve said...
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steve said...

“[Robert] I have a history with Hays and it is not a good one.”

That’s mutual.

“I posted over at his blog Triablogue and was repeatedly verbally attacked and ridiculed by the folks of Triablogue.”

Let’s see…you compare Calvinists to cult members and devil worshipers. Then you presume to play the victim.

“I responded to these insults by calling for them to interact with others whether they are believers or nonbelievers in line with what the bible says.”

i) We exegeted your prooftexts about what the Bible says. You had no counterargument.

ii) And speaking of what the Bible says, it also condemns gossiping about others, yet you freely violated that Biblical prohibition.

“Hays himself accused me of being a **false teacher**”

Since you’ve said the same or worse about Calvinists, who are you to complain?

“And also claimed that **I was hell bound**.”

Provide a verbatim quote where I said you, Robert, are hellbound.

“I asked him who the pastor(s) were whom he is in submission to in his local church to which he responded that he was not under their authority. I asked about this because I have nothing to fear of a church discipline situation and I would have gone through it with Hays and his local church leadership.”

Really? Feel free to give us the contact info of your church. The names of your elders. As well as your own name.

Since you say you believe in a church-structured accountability system, what’s your name, the name of your church, the name of your pastor, and elders, plus email addresses.

“But if you are not in submission to the local church leadership and you are a loose cannon as Steve Hays is, then you have no accountability for the things you say and do over on your blog.”

This accusation is coming from a man who conceals his true identity. Yet he goes around from one blog to another posting defamatory comments about his theological opponents.

Who is holding you accountable for what you say here or elsewhere, Robert? Give us a list of names and contact numbers.

“So he is free to attack and ridicule and falsely accuse anyone as He continually does, with no accountability seemingly.”

You mean the way you are free to attack and ridicule and falsely accuse any Calvinist you please with complete impunity?

“I say ‘seemingly’ because God will hold him accountable for all his verbal attacks on others as well as his attempted rationalizations and justifications of his actions.”

That applies to you in spades, Robert.

“Perhaps he is already being disciplined by the Lord when you examine his actual life circumstances. Numerous people have challenged Hays and the other Triablogers in regards to their manner of posting and interacting with others.”

That cuts both ways, Robert. Numerous people have challenged you and your demeanor as well. You’re hardly a model of civility yourself. I already quoted some choice statements of yours. I could easily quote others.

steve said...

steve said...
“[Robert] They have been challenged on numerous occasions to repent of their sinful verbal behavior. There is never any change, never any sign of repentance. They just continue to engage in their sinful practices.”

You could be describing yourself, Robert.

“And I stand fully behind my comment regarding the Triablogers: ‘I also know that the Triablogers are some of the worst professing Christians that I have ever seen when it comes to character and actions’ because the statement is true.”

This is just another example of the way you hide behind empty, self-serving accusations.

Start by documenting your allegation that two or more of the T’bloggers are sockpuppets. Name who they are, and present your evidence.

I also notice that you failed to back up your accusation that I verbally abused Dan in my response to his “Rabbit trail” post. We’re still waiting for you to quote the incriminating evidence.

“I have been teaching the bible for many years, never had my doctrinal beliefs questioned by any professing Christians except for the Triablogers and their fans.”

Robert questions the doctrinal beliefs of Calvinists en masse.

“Hays continues to be a bad example of someone who professes allegiance to Christ but does not live the life.”

This is an example of Robert’s kinder and gentler approach to dealing with people who disagree with him.

Robert said...

(response to Hays part 1):
I have neither the time nor interest to engage Steve Hays point by point. And doing so would have no effect upon him as he is committed to his sinful practices and is unrepentant concerning them. I do however want to clarify four issues since I post in different places and I want all to be aware of exactly where I stand on these issues so I do not have to keep explaining where I stand on these particular issues.

First, there is my view about calvinists, Hays claims that I compare them to“devil worshippers” and “cultists”:

“Let’s see…you compare Calvinists to cult members and devil worshipers. Then you presume to play the victim.”

First I have not compared calvinists to “devil worshippers”. I make no claim that calvinists intentionally worship Satan. I happen to know some real ex-Satanists, not the Hollywood type that openly talk about their “faith”. But the real ones that are secretive and worship Satan in order to obtain real supernatural power. Calvinists do **not** engage in this type of worship, nor are they secretive about their beliefs, and I have never claimed they do so.

The second thing is that I do not claim calvinists to be members of a non-Christian cult which denies essential Christian doctrines. As far as I know, calvinists affirm essentials such as the deity of Christ and the trinity. This is not what I am claiming. Hays cited me where I said that their ***practices*** are like those that cult members practice:

“I would add to your correct description here that they end up engaging in the same practices as non-Christian cults (i.e., the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality, the belief they are infallibly correct and everyone else is infallibly wrong; the mangling of scripture so that it fits their preconceived theological system, constant proof texting in an effort to defend, maintain, and promote their false system; appeal to the traditions of their group rather than the teaching of scripture thereby making the Word of God void through their man made traditions/”interpretations”; reinterpretation of texts that contradict their system so that the scripture is forced to fit the system rather than vice versa, etc. etc. etc.).

The key words to exegete my own words here were: they end up ENGAGING IN THE SAME PRACTICES as non-Christian cults”. And then I gave some examples. I have a lot of experience dealing with non-Christian cultists. And sadly, calvinists do engage in these exact same practices and exhibit the same mentality. The parallels are both uncanny and also indicative that calvinism leads to unnecessary division and confusion in the church. Unfortunately it always has and always will, ever since Augustine and then the reformers brought this “Trojan horse” into the church.

Robert

Robert said...

(response to Hays part 2):

Second, is their response to my presenting scripture about how we ought to interact with believers and unbelievers:

Hays quotes me as saying and then responds:

“I responded to these insults by calling for them to interact with others whether they are believers or nonbelievers in line with what the bible says.”
i) We exegeted your prooftexts about what the Bible says. You had no counterargument.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
When someone repeatedly engages in sinful verbal behavior and you present scriptures such as Eph. 4:1-3, 17-32; Eph. 5:1-2; Col. 3:12-14; and 2 Tim. 2:24-26, Col. 4:5-6, etc. Passages that speak of interacting with kindness, gentleness, love, etc. both with other Christians and also unbelievers, you expect a response such as: “yes we all ought to, as best we can, obey and live out those verses in our interactions with others.” You expect agreement and then a desire to live out what the Bible says. If instead these professing Christians then **argue** with these verses, reinterpret them and present counter arguments to these scriptures. Arguments such as: “well Jesus was harsh to the Pharisees in Matt. 23:1-36 and Paul in Galatians 5:12 told the Judaizers to cut themselves off, then since Jesus and Paul were sometimes harsh and insulting, therefore we can do the same to you. I mean we are supposed to follow their example aren’t we?” There is ***no counter argument*** to this kind of mangling of scripture, ignoring scripture and trying to rationalize and justify sinful speech behavior. If people are going to such lengths to avoid obedience to scripture, and to mangle scripture in that way in order to justify their sin, you cannot reason with them nor will any “counter argument” be persuasive.

Robert

Robert said...

(response to Hays part 3):

Third there is Hays’ accusation that I am a false teacher and so going to hell.

Consider the following exchange:
“Hays himself accused me of being a **false teacher**” (me)

Since you’ve said the same or worse about Calvinists, who are you to complain? (Hays)

“And also claimed that **I was hell bound**.”(me)

Provide a verbatim quote where I said you, Robert, are hellbound. (Hays)
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Steve Hays accused me of being a false teacher. Hays knows the bible well enough to know that in the New Testament those who are false teachers are both nonbelievers and hell bound. And this brings up a big difference between me and Hays. I make a distinction between a Christian who may be teaching and presenting beliefs that are false, and a ***FALSE TEACHER*** in the New Testament sense. A false teacher in the New Testament is someone who is not saved, denies essentials of the Christian faith (such as denying the deity of Christ or the trinity) and is going to end up in hell. A Christian teacher on the other hand who affirms essential doctrines such as the deity of Christ and the trinity, etc. may at the same time teach and present beliefs that are false.

John Piper as far as I can tell is a genuine believer who holds to the essentials and yet he teaches calvinistic beliefs that I would argue are false. I would never say Piper is a “false teacher” in the New Testament sense, though I would have no hesitation saying he teaches false beliefs (namely his calvinism). Hays when he accused me of being a false teacher also cited the New Testament passages referring to false teachers (passages which show them to be non-believers and hell bound).

And again he knows the bible well enough to know that if you say someone is a false teacher **in the New Testament sense**, they are not saved and going to hell.
Now if Hays wants to retract this accusation and say that he only meant that I was teaching and presenting beliefs that he believes are false (namely non-Calvinism), that would be helpful. But make no mistake he knew exactly what he was doing when he made the accusation and none of the Triablogers challenged him on it or corrected him on it or offered any clarification that they did not mean false teacher in the New Testament sense.

What this also means is that while I can respect a calvinist bible teacher and grant that you can learn from them (John MacArthur is a perfect example, I believe He is an excellent bible teacher) and yet at the same time they are teaching some things that are false (in the case of MacArthur, again his calvinistic teachings).

Robert

Robert said...

(response to Hays part 4):

Fourth I have **repeatedly** explained that I do not post my full name nor post personal information about myself when posting publicly to protect myself and my family. Hays tries to make this into some sort of dishonesty or lack of Christian character.


“This accusation is coming from a man who conceals his true identity.”

Hays challenges me to reveal my full name and other personal information in a public blog such as this. I have said repeatedly and again been ignored, that I work with a large prison ministry (now over 6,000 inmates over several states of the United States). Inmates are very ingenious at using personal information against people in order to trap them or con them or manipulate them. For these reasons those who work in corrections (and that includes me) are told and reminded repeatedly not to get too close to inmates or give out **any** personal information (as this information can be used against you in ways that may threaten you and your family). I use my real name, but do not give my last name and I try to avoid giving out personal information when posting in public. I do so to protect myself and my family. I have made this point repeatedly and yet Hays brings it up as if it is something sinister when it is not and anyone in my shoes would do exactly the same thing.

Robert

steve said...

[Robert] “Steve Hays accused me of being a false teacher. Hays knows the bible well enough to know that in the New Testament those who are false teachers are both nonbelievers and hell bound. And this brings up a big difference between me and Hays.”

Of course, that’s an arbitrary disjunction. A false teacher is defined by his false teaching. That’s what makes him a false teacher. He teaches falsehood.

Robert classifies Reformed theology as false doctrine. So, by definition, a Reformed preacher or theologian is a false teacher.

If Robert also defines a false teacher as a hell-bound individual, then, by his own definition, a false teacher, such as a Reformed preacher or theologian, is hell-bounded.

Robert uses one set of definitions for his own verbal practices, but a different set of definitions for his opponent’s verbal practices.

“Now if Hays wants to retract this accusation…”

Robert needs to retract his double standards.

“I use my real name, but do not give my last name and I try to avoid giving out personal information when posting in public. I do so to protect myself and my family. I have made this point repeatedly and yet Hays brings it up as if it is something sinister when it is not and anyone in my shoes would do exactly the same thing.”

So Robert is a loose cannon. He not accountable for his public statements.

He uses the excuse that he’s protecting his family. Even if that were the case, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s not accountable for his public statements. Yet he demands accountability on the part of his opponents.

Another one of Robert’s self-serving double standards.

If Robert’s job exempts him from being accountable for what he says about other people on the Internet, then he should refrain from attacking other people on the Internet. This is no excuse to attack others, demand accountability, but shield yourself from the same scrutiny.

steve said...

[Robert] “When someone repeatedly engages in sinful verbal behavior and you present scriptures such as Eph. 4:1-3, 17-32; Eph. 5:1-2; Col. 3:12-14; and 2 Tim. 2:24-26, Col. 4:5-6, etc. Passages that speak of interacting with kindness, gentleness, love, etc…”

When Robert says Calvinists engage in exactly the same practices as non-Christian cults, or says we become what we worship, and what we worship is Satanic, does he consider that to be a good example of kind, gentle, or loving speech?

If that’s consistent with his own interpretation of his chosen prooftexts, then what could a Calvinist ever say that is inconsistent with Robert’s own interpretation of his chosen prooftexts? If that’s not verbally abuse, then what is? If it’s not verbally abusive for a non-Calvinist to speak that way of Calvinists, would it be verbally abusive of a Calvinist to speak that way of non-Calvinists?

steve said...

I see that Robert has chosen to disregard Dan’s request that we avoid the personal stuff and stick with the issues. So be it.

“First I have not compared calvinists to ‘devil worshippers’.”

Of course he has. Robert is on record as stating that the God of Reformed theism is Satanic or diabolical. He also says we become what we worship.

If Robert rejects the logical implications of his past statements, then now is the time to retract his past statements.

“I make no claim that calvinists intentionally worship Satan.”

Suppose I were to say “I make no claim that Arminians intentionally worship Satan. They’re unintentional devil-worshipers.”

Would Robert consider that an appropriate way to characterize Arminians?

“Hays cited me where I said that their ***practices*** are like those that cult members practice…they end up ENGAGING IN THE SAME PRACTICES as non-Christian cults”.”

Which corroborates my original claim. Robert is comparing Calvinists to cult-members.

Once again, suppose I said the ***practices*** of Arminians are like those that cult members practice. Arminians end up engaging in the same practices as non-Christian cults.

Would Robert consider that an appropriate way to characterize Arminians?

“And then I gave some examples.”

He gave some tendentious examples which beg the question. And, of course, a Calvinist would say the same thing in reverse about the varieties of freewill theism.

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Robert and Steve,

Please either discontinue this particular conversation or continue it somewhere else.

God be with you both,
Dan

steve said...

Dan,

I agree. Now make him agree.

Robert said...
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Robert said...
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steve said...
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Godismyjudge said...

Dear Robert and Steve,

I deleted the comments posted after my last request. Again, there are other ways of having the conversation continue, but this is not what I want this blog to be about.

God be with you both,
Dan

steve said...

Dan,

Sounds fair to me.

Robert said...

Steve Hays wrote:

“iii) Furthermore, in the past, Robert brags from time to time about corresponding with John Martin Fischer. I wonder if he ever told Fischer that Fischer was intellectually dishonest. Perhaps I should email Fischer and ask him about Robert’s views on the intellectual dishonesty of determinists.”

These comments merit clarification as Steve Hays is posting all sorts of things and doing so inaccurately.

First, I have not “bragged” about corresponding with John Martin Fischer. I have made reference to discussions that I have had with him on occasion, as he is one of the most prominent contemporary philosophers on the issue of free will and determinism. In particular I have made reference to an important distinction that Fischer makes (i.e. a determinist will believe that we may make choices we just never have choices in a fully determined world). Call this the “Fischer distinction”. This distinction is important because it brings out the idea that we are acting freely only when WE HAVE CHOICES. If we make choices but our choices are necessitated so that it is impossible for us to do otherwise, then we do not have a choice and we are not acting freely as ordinarily understood.

Second, while Fischer is honest enough to admit that in a fully determined world WE NEVER HAVE CHOICES, some other determinists are not that honest or forthright about their view.

Hays wonders: “I wonder if he ever told Fischer that Fischer was intellectually dishonest.”

Actually I would not charge Fischer with intellectual dishonesty because he is in fact completely honest about determinism: he freely admits that in a fully determined world we might make choices BUT WE NEVER WOULD HAVE CHOICES. This is honest and in my opinion he is correct. The dishonesty is present when someone claims that the world is fully determined but does not admit that in that case we would never ever have choices.

Third, there is another reason to discuss the “Fischer distinction” (i.e. that in a fully determined world you may MAKE CHOICES but you would NEVER HAVE CHOICES). In a recent post Steve Hays is attempting to argue that myself and other Arminians disagree concerning the definition of choice:

“You’d think that Arminians could at least agree on the definition of “choice.” After all, that’s a central plank in their belief-system. More so considering the fact that Dan has put so much weight on the correct definition of “choice” (and “choosing”). Yet over at Dan’s blog, major disagreements have repeatedly broken out over this key concept. If Arminians can’t agree on the fundamentals of their system, including the definition of choice, then it’s hard to see how they’re in much position to attack the Reformed definition of choice.” (cited from “Freedom of choice”, posted at Triablogue on July 18, 2009)

We do agree on the definition of choice (i.e. choosing is making a selection from alternative possibilities). It should also be noted that we agree that a person is acting freely only when they have a choice and then make a choice. That is not where we disagree.

The disagreement concerns whether or not we make choices in a fully determined world. We disagree about the “Fischer distinction”. I agree with Fischer that in a fully determined world while we would be ***making*** choices we would not ***have*** choices. Some others (including Dan) believe that we cannot make a choice unless we have a choice. So they believe that since in a fully determined world we would never have choices, therefore they conclude that we would not be making choices either in that determined world.

For Steve Hays to take our disagreement about the “Fischer distinction”, about whether or not we make choices in a FULLY DETERMINED WORLD, as evidence that we disagree about the meaning and nature of making a choice in this world or in general, is not accurate.

Robert