Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Main Reason I am a Molinist

The scriptures teach God's providence and man's choice. Molinism reconciles the two cleanly. In explaining scripture, Calvinism has to 'explain away' man's freedom and Simple Foreknowledge has to explain away God's providence.

Consider Acts 4:28 and Matthew 23:37 :

Acts 4:27-28 - “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

Calvinist - God planned the events leading up to Christ's crucifixion
Molinist - God planned the events leading up to Christ's crucifixion
Simple Foreknowledge - Only the crucifixion was planned, not the events leading up to it.

Mt 23:37 - O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

Calvinist - Christ wanted to save the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but their leaders opposed Him
Molinist - Christ wanted to save the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but they opposed Him
Simple Foreknowledge - Christ wanted to save the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but they opposed Him

Similarly, Molinism reconciles warning passages with security passages:

Consider Hebrews 10:26-29 and Jude 24:

Hebrews 10:26-29 - For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

Calvinist - this is a warning to impostors
Molinist - this is a warning to true believers about falling from grace
Simple Foreknowledge - this is a warning to true believers about falling from grace

Jude 24 - Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,

Calvinist - God can keep you from falling
Molinist - God can keep you from falling
Simple Foreknowledge - if you don't start to fall, God can keep you from falling

All things considered, that's hundreds of passages that I take in the natural sense and other have to explain away. I am unwilling to let my system interfere with my reading of scripture.

70 comments:

Robert said...

Hello Dan,

You wrote:

"Calvinism has to 'explain away' man's freedom and Simple Foreknowledge has to explain away God's providence."

I understand the first part of this statement and agree, calvinists tend to explain away the ordinary understanding of free will out of a desire to preserve exhaustive predeterminism. But what do you mean by the second part of this statment?

I hold to simple foreknowledge and I don't have to "explain away God's providence". Rom. 8:28 explicitly states that in the case of believers, God's providence relates to them in a very personal way.

So Dan how exactly do those of us who hold to "simple foreknowledge" "explain away God's providence"????

Robert

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Robert,

Well, I have read a number of commentaries by those holding to simple foreknowledge on Acts 4:28, and most (all that I recall) say God did not ordain the actions of those involved in the crusifixtion. Some say there must have been a transposition of words in the Greek, others that the statement is paranthetical and that Christ was ordained, or they say the crusifixtion was ordained.

God be with you,
Dan

Robert said...

Hello Dan,

“Well, I have read a number of commentaries by those holding to simple foreknowledge on Acts 4:28, and most (all that I recall) say God did not ordain the actions of those involved in the crusifixtion.”

God foreknew what the response would be to the incarnation of his son Jesus. God knew they would conspire against him to have him killed, knew one of his disciples would betray him and help with the plot, etc. etc. God foreknew all of these actions (though not condoning the sinful actions involved and holding those responsible for their actions) and allowed them to occur. Since he knew what they would do and allowed them to do it, these sinful actions were going to occur with certainty. As God did not cause them to sin, these freely done sinful actions are actions for which the people are held responsible. So God’s foreknowledge made the crucifixion and the actions involved in the crucifixion certain.
“Some say there must have been a transposition of words in the Greek, others that the statement is paranthetical and that Christ was ordained, or they say the crusifixtion was ordained.”

This all sounds like gibberish to me!

Again, Dan, how does holding to simple foreknowledge lead a person to exclude God’s providence? Can’t God’s providence involve God foreknowing freely performed actions by people, even evil actions freely performed and foreknown by God?

Robert

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Robert,

Are you saying that God only knew 'they will kill Him' or are you saying He also knew, 'if I send my Son, they would kill Him'?

God be with you,
Dan

bossmanham said...

Dan,

I have considered embracing Molinism as of late. The only thing keeping me from doing this is the thought that if God initiated a specific possible world, that He essentially determined what we would do. Maybe you can explain why I'm wrong?

Robert said...

“Are you saying that God only knew 'they will kill Him' or are you saying He also knew, 'if I send my Son, they would kill Him'?”

Both. Since God knows everything, He knows all actual outcomes (“they will kill Him”) as well as all conditionals (“if I send my Son, they would kill Him”). Not sure what point you are attempting to make.

And I still want to know Dan, how does holding to simple foreknowledge lead a person to exclude God’s providence?

Robert

Anonymous said...

Simple foreknowledge is useless to God as Hasker proves.

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Robert,

It seems to me then, that you hold to more than simple foreknowledge and your interpretation of Acts 4:28 reflects that. So your explanation of scripture doesn’t suffer from the issues I indicated related to SF.

Maybe you’re operating under a different understanding of simple foreknowledge than I am, but my understanding of SF includes knowing ‘they will kill Him’, but not ‘if I send Him, they would kill Him’. In SF, in a logical order, it’s first true that they will kill Him and then God knows they will kill Him. Thus God cannot use His foreknowledge to prevent Christ’s death; although God has other means to prevent Christ’s death, foreknowledge isn’t one of them. So for SF, although the content of God’s knowledge is greater than under Open Theism, God’s providential means are equivalent to Open Theism.

Consider Limborich on this point (to my knowledge the first to articulate simple foreknowledge):

How could God admonish, exhort, entreat and beseech Men to repent, who he knew would never repent?

Answer.- For the Solution of this Difficulty many things have been offered by others: But since the Answer they have given is not sufficient to take off the Weight of the Objection, we shall pass it by -, and give another which we look upon to be more solid, and it is this: That God did not only foreknow what Man but also what He himself would do, which being foreknown, Man would do this or that. Therefore by virtue of the Divine Prescience it is necessary, that God should first of all try Man, and seriously exhort and admonish him, ext. before he foreknows that Man will or will not obey those Divine admonitions.


http://www.archive.org/stream/compleatsystemor01limb/compleatsystemor01limb_djvu.txt

Limborich says God’s foreknowledge is itself sequenced and that God first knows His actions, then our reactions. Clearly foreknowledge of this sort is not of providential advantage to God. In more recent times Dr. Olsen is a proponent of this view.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Boss,

In Molinism, God first knows what we can freely do, than what we would freely do, then He makes a choice and finally He knows what we will freely do. Is your object A) God cannot know what we would freely do so what we would do must be necessary or B) God’s choice coverts what we would freely do into what we will necessarily do or C) some other thing?

In short, is your issue with middle knowledge or God’s choice?

God be with you,
Dan

bossmanham said...

My confusion/issue is when God makes the choice of which possible world to instantiate. He knows all free choices we could make in any situation, but He starts in motion one of those paths, determining which choices we will make. It just seems that choosing one particular possible world is, in effect, determining what we will do. God making the choice seems to imply determinism.

bossmanham said...

Sorry for this addendum. My problem is not with middle knowledge, because I do think God has that knowledge.

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Boss,

Thanks for clarifying. The answer, I think, is in what Molinist call indirect actualization.

If I have a whole tomato and then put it into a salad, it’s still a whole tomato. On the other hand if I mash it and make it ketchup, it’s now a mashed tomato. In the same way, God’s making use of what we would freely does not make it unfree. Only if His choice someone impacts/interferes with our actions is libertarian freedom finished and causal determinism established. But God’s choice doesn’t interfere with our choices. He creates the world and provides the circumstances. That’s it. He doesn’t have to interfere with the choices themselves.

Further, middle knowledge corresponds to foreknowledge. If, before creating this world, God knew you would eat a cheeseburger, then you will eat a cheeseburger. If you will eat a hot dog instead, then God’s knowledge that you would eat a cheeseburger was wrong – the middle knowledge and foreknowledge don’t correspond. In the same way, if God know you would freely do something and you necessarily do it, God’s middle knowledge does not correspond to His foreknowledge. If God’s choice alters an action from free to necessary, then His middle knowledge (that the thing would be free) is wrong.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

Boss,

Sorry for this addendum. My problem is not with middle knowledge, because I do think God has that knowledge.

Middle knowledge (properly understood) and Molinism are the same thing.

God be with you,
Dan

Anonymous said...

who decides if its a whole tomato, sliced tomato, or mashed tomato?

In each scenario you freely decided, but only God instantiates the world. so in the end God is the deciding factor whether this world has you with a whole, sliced or mashed tomato.

#John1453 said...

I thought that simple foreknowledge was foreknowledge simpliciter, that is, without qualifications or conditions, and that simple foreknowledge was what Arminians believed. Am I wrong?

Consequently, I don't get "Simple Foreknowledge - Only the crucifixion was planned, not the events leading up to it." I would have thought that with simple foreknowledge God knew the whole enchilada. I'll read the article you referenced; is there anything else you suggest?

Lastly, as a molinist how do you deal with the grounding objection?

regards
#John

Godismyjudge said...

In each scenario you freely decided, but only God instantiates the world. so in the end God is the deciding factor whether this world has you with a whole, sliced or mashed tomato.

The proponents of Molinism (Flint, Freddoso, Craig, Plantinga...) used 'possible world' lingo to defined/defend Molinism. It's very helpful in many respects, but perhaps leads to confusion in other areas. It's not the case that 'only God instantiates' every aspect in the world. God creates, does miricles, provides grace, governs..., but permits our choices to instantiate what we do.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

Hi John,

I thought that simple foreknowledge was foreknowledge simpliciter, that is, without qualifications or conditions

Robert posited knowledge of not just the future, but also of conditionals. That's why I thought he moved beyond SF.

As for foreknowledge without qualifications or conditions, I suppose all that hold to foreknowldge (SF, Molinist & Calvinists) believe this.

and that simple foreknowledge was what Arminians believed. Am I wrong?

Some Arminians do, but other Arminians are also Molinists. As the name of my blog implies, I am interested in the history of Arminianism. Arminius, Episcopius, Grotius, & Grevencovius all taught middle knowledge, so from the first generation, that's the bulk of the leaders. To my knoweldge the first Remonstrant to hold to simple foreknowledge was Limborich.

Consequently, I don't get "Simple Foreknowledge - Only the crucifixion was planned, not the events leading up to it." I would have thought that with simple foreknowledge God knew the whole enchilada.

Knew yes, planned, no.


I'll read the article you referenced; is there anything else you suggest?

Dave Hunt defends SF in Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views. It's a good overall book, but I wasn't impressed with his defense. In addition, Rodger Olson has a discussion of the topic in Arminian Theology; myths and realities.

Lastly, as a molinist how do you deal with the grounding objection?

This isn't a short answer. D.V., I will pull my thoughts together and post on it shortly.

God be with you,
Dan

Robert said...

"Simple foreknowledge is useless to God as Hasker proves."

Odd I never received that memo! :-)

Is that the same Hasker that "proves" that God does not foreknow future events that involve libertarian free will?

Do you really believe an open theist is going to accept simple foreknowledge?

Just checking.

Robert

Robert said...

Hello John,

You wrote:

"Lastly, as a molinist how do you deal with the grounding objection?"

John can you explain why the grounding objection is such a supposedly devastating objection to molinism? I have read this claim numerous times and yet I find the so-called "grounding objection" to not be a major problem for molinism and I am not even a Molinist! :-)

Robert

Roberrt said...

Hello Dan,

"Robert posited knowledge of not just the future, but also of conditionals. That's why I thought he moved beyond SF."

So Dan are you suggesting that if one believes that God knows everything including "conditionals" then one cannot hold to "simple foreknoweldge"? Dan how do you define the "simple foreknowledge" view then? I thought it meant that you reject calvinism (God only foreknows what he ordains) you reject open theism (God cannot foreknow future events involving libertarian free will) and you reject molinism. In other words it is kind of a catch all category for those who believe God has exhaustive foreknowledge but are not calvinists, open theists or molinists! :-)

Robert

#John1453 said...

My understanding of simple foreknowledge was that there is one definite future and God knows what that is. Moreover, simple foreknowledge does not propose any particular means by which God has this knowledge; He just has it.

The grounding objection against Molinism is that Molinists cannot give any grounds (reasons, etc.) for how God knows what free creatures will do in a particular circumstance. Yet having this knowledge is essential to the Molinist theory. Like believers in simple foreknowledge, Molinists can only state that God has this knowledge.

The difference between simple foreknowledge and Molinist foreknowledge is that under simple foreknowledge God knows only what will indeed occur, whereas under Molinism God knows also what would occur. That is, God knows what a person will do if placed in circumstances "X", and what that person will do if placed in different circumstances "Y". It is then up to God to actualize either circumstance X or Y.

Open theism, or better "contingent future theology", has more than one variety which share many concepts in common but which also differ in some respects. One of the differences is that not all contingent future theologies propose that God does not know the future; some do propose that He does know the future.

regards,
#John

Robert said...

Hello John, (part 1)

Thanks for your response. Your response gives me a perfect opportunity to make some important points.

“My understanding of simple foreknowledge was that there is one definite future and God knows what that is.”

Right, assuming there is a future, then that future will consist of some actual outcomes, some events that will in fact occur. I believe that scripture presents clearly that God knows everything (which will include the future as a subset of knowing everything). So if there is a future consisting of a set of actual events, then God knows it.

“Moreover, simple foreknowledge does not propose any particular means by which God has this knowledge; He just has it.”

Here is where an extremely important point needs to be made.

Let me start with another area that is non-controversial and yet parallel and then talk about how this impacts the discussion of God’s foreknowledge.

Take the ex-nihilo creation of the universe (i.e. God creating everything out of nothing). Every orthodox Christian that I know affirms THAT God created everything out of nothing. And yet nobody knows HOW God created everything out of nothing. Or take the incarnation. Again, every orthodox Christian believes THAT God became flesh and dwelt among us. And yet nobody knows HOW the incarnation occurred. Realities like this convince me that at times we need to make a clear distinction between THAT something does in fact occur and HOW that something occurs. And I would suggest that when it comes to God we often know THAT he does something but not precisely HOW. I would also suggest that the THAT/HOW distinction applies to how God knows things as well.

God is an immaterial Spirit; he has no physical body, no brain, no sense organs, etc. so his way of knowing things is much different than ours. We do not even know how he knows the present let alone the future. Again every orthodox believer believes that God knows things, but we do not know HOW he knows what he knows (now the calvinist claims that God knows because he ordained every event, but that is merely begging the question).

Robert

Robert said...

Hello John (part 2),

“The grounding objection against Molinism is that Molinists cannot give any grounds (reasons, etc.) for how God knows what free creatures will do in a particular circumstance.”

Notice in your statement here that you state explicitly that Molinists “cannot give any grounds . . . for HOW GOD KNOWS (MY EMPHASIS) what free creatures will do in a particular circumstance.” In other words the grounding objection seems to involve demanding that the Molinist tell us HOW GOD KNOWS what people will do in the future. But I think that is an unanswerable question for anyone, Molinist or anybody else. And to then conclude that since they cannot tell us HOW God knows future events involving libertarian free will, that that must mean that he does not or cannot know these events does not logically follow.

It is like demanding that a Christian explain HOW God did the ex-nihilo creation of the universe. The Christian responds “I do not know” and so the critic then erroneously concludes that God did not create the universe ex-nihilo! But just because I do not know HOW something occurs, does not mean that it does not occur. We understand this reasoning with the ex nihilo creation, the incarnation, miracles, etc. so why doesn’t it also apply to God’s foreknowledge? Do I have to explain how a miracle occurs in order for it to be true? Do I have to explain how God created the world in order to establish THAT he created the world out of nothing?

So I believe the grounding objection is operating in the area of demanding an explanation of HOW does God know something. And not being able to answer that question does not mean that he does not know the future since in the bible He reveals that he knows the future.

“Yet having this knowledge is essential to the Molinist theory. Like believers in simple foreknowledge, Molinists can only state that God has this knowledge.”

Actually having knowledge of how God knows the future is not essential to the theory nor to any other theory since **nobody knows** nor can know HOW God knows the future (or even how God knows the present).

What **is** essential to the theory, in my opinion, is whether it can be shown that God knows conditionals (if David did this, then . . . and if David did otherwise, then . . .). and in fact we have a few scriptural passages like this where God clearly has knowledge both of how it is actually going as well as how it could have gone as well. And these bible passages that do exist show both that God knows conditionals, knows how people could do otherwise and also that they can do otherwise, that their actions are not necessitated.

“The difference between simple foreknowledge and Molinist foreknowledge is that under simple foreknowledge God knows only what will indeed occur, whereas under Molinism God knows also what would occur. That is, God knows what a person will do if placed in circumstances "X", and what that person will do if placed in different circumstances "Y". It is then up to God to actualize either circumstance X or Y.”

I guess by your words here then I must not be a person who holds to “simple foreknowledge” then. :-) I would say God knows all possibilities, as well as all actualities, as well as all conditionals, or anything else that could possibly be known, He knows everything.

Robert

#John1453 said...

Robert offers up some useful clarifications and propositions.

I take issue, however, with his that/how distinction in relation to the knowledge of God.

The two illustrations that Robert gives--creation ex nihilo and incarnation--are facts that we can examine. They have already happened (or, at least Christians believe that they have happened). Consequently, even if we do not know how they happened, we cannot deny that they did happen (unless we depart from orthodox Christian beliefs). Our belief in those events as facts is not at all grounded in an explanation of how they occurred, but rather is grounded on other things. Therefore, the lack of an explanation of "how" does not throw doubt on whether those events occurred.

The situation is different with knowledge of future events. We do not, in fact, know what God's knowledge of the future is or consists of. Therefore, in thinking about what God's knowledge of the future is we have to think about what is possible for God to know about the future. If something is impossible for God to know, then we conclude that God does not know "it" because "it" is not something that is knowable or knowable in a certain way. This is the same sort of thinking that we do when we conclude that it is not possible for God to make 2 + 2 = 5, or to make a round square or a solid hole or a rock too big for Him to move.

Thus, explanations of God's knowledge (including how) are important for discussions of the knowledge of God in a way that they are not important for concrete physical past events that we can know or investigate by other means.

The second difference is that creation and incarnation are exercises of God's unlimited power, whereas knowledge of the future is not an exercise of power.

Third, God's knowledge of the future is something that He has had eternally (i.e., even without or "before" the creation of time , whereas creation and incarnation are not, and require an exercise of his power.

Therefore we have good reasons to believe that God's possession of knowledge is different from His exercise of power.

Of course, it is possible that God could know the future in ways that are not apparent to us, or seem impossible to us, but then that reduces us to to talking about God in hocus pocus language. If anything and everything is possible, then we don't have to worry our heads about any explanations at all (and it is possible for 2 + 2 to equal 5).

Thus if something is impossible for God to know, or to know in a certain way, then that thing does not constitute knowledge (or, at least know possible knowledge, or knowledge taht any one could have). Hence, explanations of the possible scope, content, and nature of knowledge become important for understanding what it is, in fact, that God knows.

regards,
#John
(I use #John, or #John1453 because John (my real first name) is such a common name, and there exists people with my same first and last name).

Anonymous said...

Simple Foreknowledge is useless

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Robert,

So Dan are you suggesting that if one believes that God knows everything including "conditionals" then one cannot hold to "simple foreknoweldge"?

Yes, at that point it's no longer 'simple'.

Dan how do you define the "simple foreknowledge" view then? I thought it meant that you reject calvinism (God only foreknows what he ordains) you reject open theism (God cannot foreknow future events involving libertarian free will) and you reject molinism. In other words it is kind of a catch all category for those who believe God has exhaustive foreknowledge but are not calvinists, open theists or molinists! :-)

Defining SF as bunch of knots get's one all tangled up. :-) Such a definition picks up those who are undecided, or who think it's a mystery or for whatever reason don't have a defined system. SF (as explained by Olsen for example) is a system, so that's more along the lines of what I have in mind.

God be with you,
Dan

Arminian said...

Why Simple Foreknowledge is Still Useful

(I think even stronger argument can be made, but Hunt successfully makes his case. Moreover, simple foreknowledge can be combined with counterfactual knowledge for people who actually exist at some point to make for a still yet stronger position.)

Anonymous said...

Reading both Hunt and Hasker it seems clear by any reasonalbe standard that Hasker makes the sounder case.

It is good for people to read both and come to their own conclusions.

#John1453 said...

Anonymous' comment above, consisting solely of the line "simple foreknowledge is useless", was a link to an article by W. Hasker.

That article provided an explanation of simple foreknowledge that corresponded to what I always thought it was. Hasker wrote,

"The doctrine of simple divine foreknowledge (SF) is probably the most common way of understanding divine knowledge of the future among nonCalvinist evangelicals. Simple foreknowledge means that God has complete, exact, and certain knowledge of the actual future, including the future free actions of human beings, in contrast with the probabilistic knowledge of the future postulated by open theism. Simple foreknowledge is "simple" in that it affirms merely that God knows the future, but not that he predetermines it as is held by theological determinism (Calvinism). And simple foreknowledge implies that God knows the actual future, but not (as is asserted by the theory of divine middle knowledge, or Molinism) that he knows hypothetical futures, such as what actions would be chosen by free creatures under possible circumstances that never in fact occur."

One should also note that there are varieties of "open theism" "contingent futurism", and thus Hasker's explanation of open theism is not the only one, nor is Sanders'. I believe in a fully contingent future, but I don't believe this requires me to agree that there is knowledge about the future that God does not possess.

I believe that the future is ontologically different from either the present or the past, and that God knows future events according to the various natures of those events.

regards,
#John

Arminian said...

Hopefully it was clear that my last post contained a link to Dave Hunt's response to Hasker showing that simple foreknowledge is useful despite Hasker's attempt to prove otherwise. See the link that says "Why Simple Foreknowledge is Still Useful".

However, it should be noted that one can hold to simple foreknowledge and that God has knowledge of hypothetical futures, such as what actions would be chosen by free creatures *who actually exist at some point* under possible circumstances that never in fact occur. Indeed, such counterfactual knowledge of creaturely freedom for creatures who will actually exist in the future may be regarded as part of God's foreknowledge. Perhaps it would be best to term it simple middle knowledge or, if one thinks it is not in any way between what is known as God's necessary knowledge and his decision to create, simple counterfactual knowledge (as opposed to Molinist middle knowledge, which includes such knowledge of every possible person including those never created). I dare say that most believers who believe in simple foreknowledge also believe in some type of divine counterfactual knowledge.

Robert said...

Hello John, (part 1)

“I take issue, however, with his that/how distinction in relation to the knowledge of God.”

I am surprised by this, if one understands who God is and who we are, then it ought to be obvious that we know THAT God does or has done certain things, and yet we do not (and cannot) know HOW God does or has done certain things. It’s like inspector Harry Callahan puts it: “a man’s got to know his limitations!” :-)


“The two illustrations that Robert gives--creation ex nihilo and incarnation--are facts that we can examine.”

No they are not. We have biblical testimony about both of these facts, and we can ascertain whether the bible is reliable or not, but we cannot examine these facts directly or examine their nature or HOW THEY OCCURRED.

Care to explain how God created everything out of nothing? Do you have any clue?

“Our belief in those events as facts is not at all grounded in an explanation of how they occurred, but rather is grounded on other things.”

Yes these “other things” being primarily **what scripture presents**. The scripture properly interpreted is our grounds for believing these facts. I know that God created the world ex-nihilo because that is what HE SAYS ABOUT IT in the bible. I cannot prove it nor can I know the nature of how he did it, I either accept his word for it or I don’t.

Now you attempt to argue that while the THAT/HOW distinction applies with God’s actions it does not apply to God’s knowledge (that appears to be a completely arbitrary distinction on your part).

“The situation is different with knowledge of future events. We do not, in fact, know what God's knowledge of the future is or consists of.”

Actually again, in the bible we do know that God knows the future because like the creation event, we take His own word for it. He says he knows the future and scripture has some real clear instances of it, so we conclude as we do with creation that if He says he does then he does.

“Therefore, in thinking about what God's knowledge of the future is we have to think about what is possible for God to know about the future.”

You are deciding “what it is possible for God to know” or not know and you want to believe he does not know the future. But your declaration that he does not and your attempted argument that he does not, is **contradicted** by what He says in the bible.

Robert

Robert said...

Hello John, (part 2)

“If something is impossible for God to know, then we conclude that God does not know "it" because "it" is not something that is knowable or knowable in a certain way. This is the same sort of thinking that we do when we conclude that it is not possible for God to make 2 + 2 = 5, or to make a round square or a solid hole or a rock too big for Him to move.”

This is mixing apples and oranges. That God does not engage in contradictions is true (so he will not both say and not say that something is true or false). God does not engage in absurdities such as “the rock too big for Him to move”. But God not engaging in contradictions or logical absurdities is not at all like God knowing a future event (especially WHEN HE HIMSELF SAYS THAT HE KNOWS THE FUTURE). You are contrasting hypothetical logical absurdities such as 2 + 2 = 5 and moving a rock too big to move, with express and explicit statements in scripture that he can and does know the future. The Christian church for all of its history has believed that God foreknows the future, just as the church has believed in the ex-nihilo creation and the incarnation and miracles of Jesus and the resurrection of Jesus, etc. Only some have denied the plain and clear teaching of scripture about God’s knowledge (earlier Socinians and presently open theists).


“Thus, explanations of God's knowledge (including how) are important for discussions of the knowledge of God in a way that they are not important for concrete physical past events that we can know or investigate by other means.”

Again, we cannot investigate the ex-nihilo creation or incarnation or deity of Christ through “other means” (we either accept the biblical testimony about these realities or we do not). And again explanations of how God knows are in the same boat as explanations of the ex-nihilo creation (they may make for interesting thinking and philosophizing but they cannot be shown to be true or confirmed, you either believe them or you don’t).

“The second difference is that creation and incarnation are exercises of God's unlimited power, whereas knowledge of the future is not an exercise of power.”

You are making a category mistake here. Whether we are discussing his power or his knowledge we are talking about God and that is precisely why we may affirm certain things (that) but not explain (how).


“Third, God's knowledge of the future is something that He has had eternally (i.e., even without or "before" the creation of time, whereas creation and incarnation are not, and require an exercise of his power.”

Again, this makes no difference, in either case we are discussing something that we can affirm but not explain.

God is quite explicit in his conversation with Job for example (Job 38:1-41:34), that there are some things we are just not going to know. Humility requires that we acknowledge our limitations as created beings. And there is no spiritual requirement that we fully know and understand everything about God or his actions or his knowledge.

Robert

Robert said...

Hello John (part 3),


“Of course, it is possible that God could know the future in ways that are not apparent to us, or seem impossible to us, but then that reduces us to to talking about God in hocus pocus language.”

This is an illogical statement. Just because I do not know how God does or knows certain things it does not follow that therefore I am “reduced” to “talking about God in hocus pocus language”. I can clearly state that God knows the future and everyone with normal mental capacity knows exactly what I mean. Having limitations and freely admitting them is again **not** “hocus pocus language”. If someone comes to me and claims to fully understand God and his ways, I find his claim to be laughable.

“If anything and everything is possible, then we don't have to worry our heads about any explanations at all (and it is possible for 2 + 2 to equal 5).”

This is another extreme statement and overgeneralization. Who said “anything and everything is possible”? Who said that God engages in contradictions like saying and not saying something at the same time in the same instance?
How do you get from admitting that we have limitations when it comes to God and “anything and everything is possible”? That is quite a logical leap and an unjustified leap at that. And affirming that God knows the future because he says that he does, is not affirming some irrationality like 2 + 2 = 5! Actually speaking of irrationality, I think it is a bit irrational to dismiss that God knows the future despite his clear statements that he does in the bible and claim that his own claim that he knows the future is equivalent to an admitted irrationality such as 2 + 2 = 5.


“Thus if something is impossible for God to know, or to know in a certain way, then that thing does not constitute knowledge (or, at least know possible knowledge, or knowledge taht any one could have).”

And who says that it is impossible for God to know the future? Apparently you. On the other hand, He says throughout scripture that he **does know the future**. Should I take John’s word for it on this issue, or God’s word for it?

“Hence, explanations of the possible scope, content, and nature of knowledge become important for understanding what it is, in fact, that God knows.”

This conclusion is not established by you anywhere in your post. You appear to equate and argue that God knowing the future with logical impossibility like 2 + 2 = 5. And your argument is not persuasive at all. On the other hand, in contrast to your arguments or attempted arguments we have what God himself has said throughout scripture on the subject.

Robert

Robert said...

Arminian makes the point that:

" Perhaps it would be best to term it simple middle knowledge or, if one thinks it is not in any way between what is known as God's necessary knowledge and his decision to create, simple counterfactual knowledge (as opposed to Molinist middle knowledge, which includes such knowledge of every possible person including those never created). I dare say that most believers who believe in simple foreknowledge also believe in some type of divine counterfactual knowledge."

This is a very important point. I am not sure there are many Christians who hold a simple foreknowledge view in which God does not know counterfactuals or know all possibilities or all conditionals. Most believers that I know take the following approach: God knows everything. So that means that God knows the past, the present and the future. And God also knows all counterfactuals (e.g. if David stays in Keilah then . . .; if David leaves then . . .)and all possibilities. So I believe that Arminian is correct, most Christians hold a combination of simple foreknowledge and some form of Molinism, though not the full blown version of people like William Craig.

Robert

Anonymous said...

So I believe that Arminian is correct, most Christians hold a combination of simple foreknowledge and some form of Molinism, though not the full blown version of people like William Craig.

Perfectly sums up the point that simple foreknowledge is useless to God and it proves Dan’s point.

Robert said...

“Perfectly sums up the point that simple foreknowledge is useless to God and it proves Dan’s point.”

I think that what threw me off a bit personally was how Dan originally posted. If you recall he contrasted three categories: (1) Calvinist, (2) Molinist, and (3) Simple Foreknowledge. Well if that is how you are going to categorize things, then since I reject both calvinism and Molinism, that leaves me in the simple foreknowledge boat. But as discussion has progressed here it is clear that I also do not fit the STRICTLY simple foreknowledge view either (i.e. that God has foreknowledge but does not know counterfactuals or conditionals). I also believe that most Christians hold my view (they also are neither calvinists nor Molinists, they believe God knows everything including the future and future events involving freely chosen actions, that God knows what would have occurred if different choices were made, e.g. David at Keilah being a clear example, that God knows all possibilities and all actualities as well).

So Dan what should we call this fourth category? The category that is probably the majority view among Christians? The category that you left out when you first provided your three categories? :-)

Robert

PS – if Hasker is simply attacking “STRICT simple foreknowledge” a view that most Christians do not even hold, then even if his arguments are strong, they are irrelevant to what most of us believe anyway. On the other hand it may be possible that Hasker when talking about the simple foreknowledge view is talking about something different than what Dan is talking about when using that phrase.

#John1453 said...

Knowing counterfactuals is an aspect of the Molinist view of the future and God's knowledge, but is not a necessary aspect of the simple future knowledge view.

Robert misconstrues the argument I was making in my earlier posts.

We know that we and the universe exist, and that we both came into existence. There are very strong physical and philosophical arguments that the universe came into existence a finite (i.e., measurable) time in the past. Thus, it is something that we know did happen, ande we can investigate it. We not only know that it did happen, but we can also investigate the nature of the universe that did come into existence.

The same is true of the incarnation of Christ. No historian doubts that he did exist. There are arguments about whether he rose from the dead, but a very strong case can be made that he did (e.g., the books by Habermas or Wright or Strobel).

And I again note that these are exercises of God's power.

Robert correctly points out that our knowledge of what God knows about the future is based upon statements in the Bible. Note, that we only have the claims, we have no physical evidence to investigate as we do with the incarnation and creation.

Therefore, we have to rely on language, which involves rational thought (which, formally, is called philosophy). So, when we say that God knows the future, what is it that he knows? Does he know counterfactuals? Not everyone who has written on this topic would agree that he does or that they exist as "future events".

Calvinists argue that God knows what he decrees. The future is known by God because he decrees it. The simple foreknowledge view (at least one form of it) argues that God simply knows the actual future. Molinists argue that God also knows possible futures and that he actualizes one of the futures that he knows.

A molinist would argue that God knows what a person would do in a potential future circumstance; a Cavinist would argue that that is nonsense.

Some open theists (contingent futurists) argue that "what someone actually does in the future" is unknowable and therefore does not constitute knowledge. Other open theists argue that God does know every possible future event, but that the nature of his knowledge varies with the nature of the future event. Those future events that are definite, God knows as definite. Those future events that are not definite God knows as "might / might not".

There is no verse in the Bible that unequivocally means that God knows all events in the future as, and only as, definite events. There are many verses, however, that either directly state, or entail the proposition, that God knows the future as a might / might not."

So, it's not as simple as saying, "God knows the future"; we must answer "what is this thing, "the future", that God knows?" and "what is the nature of God's knowledge of this thing.

For a particular future event, the question might be slightly different. If God states, without qualification, that an event will occur, then it will.

regards,
#John

Arminian said...

Anon said: "Perfectly sums up the point that simple foreknowledge is useless to God and it proves Dan’s point."

**** Not really. Robert's point was descriptive. Hunt shows that simple foreknowledge itself can be useful. And as i said, his case could be strengthened; I would say greatly strengthened. However, it is true that the addition of simple counterfactual knowledge greatly increases God's providential advantage over simple foreknowledge without counterfactual knowledge. But that doesn't make simple foreknowledge alone useless.

#John1453 said...

In "Hello John, (part 1)" at 12:13 p.m., Robert states that we cannot know "how" God created the universe nor how He became incarnate. That is true, and I agree; but that was not my point. There is a difference between the past and the future that is ontological, that is, in the nature of what they are. The past has happened and cannot be contingent.

However the beginning happened, we do know that it did. If we say that we know that God created the universe, we know what it is that he did because we can investigate and experience the universe.

The same cannot be said about the future "in general" or "simpliciter". Not only do we not know how God knows the future, but we do not know what the future is.

For specific future events that God speaks about we can know the what, because the "what" is the content of God's speech about it (e.g., I will bring Assyria to destroy Jerusalem; I will raise up Jesus; I will come again, etc.).

For some formerly future events that are now past, we can know both the content of God's future knowledge as entailed in His statement about it, and the nature of that knowledge, because we can investigate both God's initial future oriented statement and the facts regarding what did in fact happen.

For example, when God gives Jonah the message, "At the end of forty days, Nineveh will be overthrown!”, that is not an indication of a knowledge of a definite future.

regards,
#John

#John1453 said...

At 3:46 p.m. (18th) Robert writes that he, like most Christians, believes: "God knows everything including the future and future events involving freely chosen actions, that God knows what would have occurred if different choices were made, e.g. David at Keilah being a clear example, that God knows all possibilities and all actualities as well"

That, to me, indicates Molinism and so I'm not sure why Robert does not consider that set of beliefs to be Molinism. Perhaps, Robert, you could explain why?

regards,
#John

Godismyjudge said...

While I agree with John and anonymous that God knowing what we would do under any circumstance is a Molinist idea (but perhaps not a full blown Molinist system) overall I am coser to Robert and Arminian than to OT.

John or anonymous how would you respond to a Muslim who says in the koran allah knows more, can do more and never looses vs. the OT view?

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Arminian,

Some Molinists insert a decee to create in between natural knowledge and middle knowledge because of the concern you bring up about 'possible people'. I don't,but I don't think having the concern automatically means the person is not a Molinist.

As for most people, I agree. The differences is no system vs. having a system rather than possible people.

God be with you,
Dan

Anonymous said...

I would tell the Muslim to repent and believe the Gospel and that the Koran is of no use. This “allah” that he vainly worships is a false god, so who cares what this silly idol is alleged to be able to do.

Back to this, pure simple foreknowledge is useless and we clearly see here how people add molinist ideas to what they claim to be simple foreknowledge.

Godismyjudge said...

So you won't answer their objection?

BTW, I agee with you on SF.

God be with you,
Dan

Anonymous said...

Not answer their objection???

I would answer it in the most loving and honest way, by pointing them to the Truth. You state that they worship a man made idol and it doesn’t matter what they claim this idol can or can not do.

They need to repent and believe, turn from their idol and worship the true King of Kings.


IMO, if one believes in strict simple foreknowledge, nothing added, it would be worse then OT.

#John1453 said...

turizRe Dan at 7:45 on the 18th

I would respond in some ways the same way that I would respond to a Calvinist, and in some ways different, if I were responding on this issue and not on something more directly related to evangelism.

As for "same" I would talk about the impossibility of moral responsibility without a contingent future, and I would go to Old Testament passages that show God demonstrating through words and actions that a contingent future (as a result of libertarian free will) is necessary for moral responsibility and the morality of meting out justice.

As for different, I would not have to overcome the Calvinist belief that their system is Christian and underpins the gospel.

I see the Calvinist and Muslim god as knowing the least of all, and being the weakest, most impotent and timid, as well as the most unjust, of all the perspectives on God.

In the contingent futurist view that I believe is most tenable, God knows everything that will definately happen and everything that might or might not happen and from all eternity has prepared a response to each. Furthermore, where God intends to have something specific happen (which is rare) He will intervene to the degree necessary to make that event happen. If such intervention includes overriding someone's otherwise free choice, then he will do that (though it seems doubtful that he does so), even though such an override means that He cannot hold the person morally or otherwise responsible for that action.

The Calvinist and Moslem god can only what He decrees and is too weak and uncertain of Himself to embue humans with the same freedom of contingent future that He Himself possesses.

regards,
#John

#John1453 said...

In case it is not evident from my comments thusfar,some criticisms of open theism pertain only to some versions of open theism (e.g., the charge that open theism diminishes God by denying that God knows all truths, or the charge that open theism denies exhaustive foreknowledge). Such charges, if made, should be made in respect of a particular model of open theism and should not be generalized to open theism as a whole.

regards,
#John

Godismyjudge said...

John,

Are these differences substanative or just semantic?

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

John,

Going over chioce and responsibility seems like a reasonable approach.

But you're view of Allah as impotent due to fear surly is derived from mixing your view and theirs. Using such a mix to limit Allah's knowledge and power seems wrong. I believe it remains fair to say Allah has more knowledge and power than God does in your view.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

Of course I mean to say their view of Allah has greater knowledge and power than your view of God.

#John1453 said...

The various views of open theism differ substantively in how they describe the content and nature of God's knowledge of the future, though of course they all agree that the future is contingent and causally open. Some, such as Sanders, argue that future events do not constitute knowledge and thus do not impinge upon omniscience. Others argue that future events do constitute knowledge, but that the nature of the knowledge depends on whether the future events are "will be" or "might be". Etc.

I say that Allah and the god described by Calvinism are weak and fearful because they can only deal with and actualize one particular future, the future they decree. They cannot take in the infinite amount of information represented by a contingent future and libertarian freewill, nor can they manage all the decisions that they would have to make pre-creation were libertarian free-will true. Furthermore, they cannot handle giving humans libertarian free will as they possess, nor could they accomplish their will if they did so give it.

Open theism, on the other hand, posits a God that has the capacity to know an infinite number of possible futures; the knowledge, wisdom and power to know and decide what to do with respect to each possible future; the ability to bring His entire focus and power and knowledge to bear on each of the possibilities; and the confidence, wisdom and power to bring about what He wills despite giving humans libertarian free will.

regards,
#John

Robert said...

Hello John, (part 1)


You quoted me as saying:

"God knows everything including the future and future events involving freely chosen actions, that God knows what would have occurred if different choices were made, e.g. David at Keilah being a clear example, that God knows all possibilities and all actualities as well"

And then responded with:


“That, to me, indicates Molinism and so I'm not sure why Robert does not consider that set of beliefs to be Molinism. Perhaps, Robert, you could explain why?”

Notice carefully what I intentionally left out: the claim that God considers many “possible worlds” (each representing a Fully Determinate World where every detail is predecided by God, or predetermined by God) and then he chooses which of these Fully Determinate Worlds (FDW’s for short) to actualize, which then becomes the one actual world that we find ourselves in. It seems to me that both calvinism and Molinism hold this premise or idea, or assumption, that God selects one FDW from among various FDW’s that he is considering in eternity. My problem with this is that if these worlds are really fully determinate then I do not see them as containing libertarian free will. Or put another way, if the world history sometimes has events involving LFW then it is NOT a FDW. It seems to me that a FDW and a world where LFW sometimes exists are contraries (if you have one then you cannot have the other).

What this means is that in my view (and I am neither a calvinist nor a Molinist) since God decides to create a world where LFW is sometimes present, that he is then NOT creating a FDW. It also appears to me that both calvinism and Molinism hold to the FDW concept. I have even seen some calvinists argue againts Molinism by arguing that if the world is a FDW then it will not, cannot contain LFW (e.g. if all events are foreknown by God then LFW is excluded is one of their arguments). So I reject the FDW concept and instead believe that God creates an actual world with certain design features. In this one actual world some events involve LFW and some events involve determinate events (e.g. sin involves LFW, the second coming of Jesus is determinate involving a unilateral action of God).

Robert

Robert said...

Hello John, (part 2)

Recently I have had one calvinist in particular, a guy with a real lack of character, repeatedly attempt to argue with me by taking premises that **he holds** and then putting them on me as if I believe them and then arguing against my view using HIS PREMISES!! He will argue that God could have created a “possible world” in which everyone is saved if he wanted to.

Well the problem that should be immediately obvious with this claim is that it involves the notion of God creating a FDW, a notion that I reject.

Now he as a calvinist holds to this notion (he does in fact believe that God considers multiple FDW’s and then chooses to actualize the one FDW that he wants, so everything is determined, everything is predetermined and goes according to God’s supposed total plan/secret plan/sovereign plan).

But that is calvinism ***not*** my view.

So to take a notion that I reject, that comes straight out of his view, and then try to claim that my view involves his notion, is dishonest (because I have repeatedly said I don’t hold his premises and do not appreciate it when he takes his premises and puts them on me; he is in effect creating a false representation, a straw man of my view by using HIS OWN PREMISES to attack my view, again that is not honest).

So John I don’t accept this idea that God surveys possible FDW’s and then chooses the one that he wants to actualize which becomes the actual world we find ourselves in. I do not believe that God creates a Fully Determinate World where everything is “fixed” by Him beforehand. That thinking may be held by both calvinists and Molinists, but it is not held by me. And again I believe that if God creates a world where we sometimes have LFW (as we do in this present world), then by its very nature this world is not a Fully Determinate World. The actual world that we find ourselves in does seem to include a mix of events determined by God and events determined by us. As such it is not a FDW. So while I hold LFW and the idea that God has middle knowledge in common with a Molinist, I do not hold in common their view of how God creates the actual world (which for them is this present FDW) from among various FDW’s that God considers. It seems to me that both calvinists and molinists are operating with this FDW premise, but I don’t! :-)

Does that answer your question John?

Robert

#John1453 said...

Yes it does, Robert. Thanks for your post. I'm interested in continuing to dialogue on whatever thread you take up next (or this one). I see that there is now a new lede post on the grounding objection to Molinism / middle knowledge. Are you going there next? Is this thread exhausted?

BTW, I was over at Justin Taylor's blog, where he had a post (a video) of Sproul answering the question of whether God really wants to save everyone:
http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2009/11/18/does-god-really-want-all-people-to-be-saved/#comments

Anyway, this guy steve hays, who I learned blogs at Triablogue, started responding to my posts. I experience the same sort of thing that you describe: the other person misquotes me or attributes to me beliefs that I don't hold or has no clue what basic definitions in the field are. It was very frustrating.

So I went over to Triablogue where Hays had posted a comment about the above thread at Taylor's blog. So I made comments and used the same arguments I was using at Taylor's blog. Triablogue banned me that very day and deleted all my posts. I guess they can't handle someone showing that they don't know what they claim to.

regards,
#John

#John1453 said...

Robert, given your views re Molinism, you would likely enjoy the following paper: Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers University), "Yet Another Anti-Molinist Argument" at http://fas-philosophy.rutgers.edu/zimmerman/Anti-Molinist-Arg-Jan-25.pdf

I'm not sure what your level of knowledge of philosophy is. I found it heavy going, but reading the conclusion helped me understand where he was going and to figure out what he was saying.

regards,
#John

#John1453 said...

I posted too soon, I meant to add that Zimmerman makes an argument against Molinism that is very similar to the one you make.

regards,
#John

Robert said...

Hello John,

“Yes it does, Robert. Thanks for your post. I'm interested in continuing to dialogue on whatever thread you take up next (or this one). I see that there is now a new lead post on the grounding objection to Molinism / middle knowledge. Are you going there next? Is this thread exhausted?”

Why should this thread be exhausted when I want to know whether or not you believe that God creates Fully Determinate Worlds (FDW’s)?? :-)

“BTW, I was over at Justin Taylor's blog, where he had a post (a video) of Sproul . . . .”

Yeh, I posted on that thread as well.

I noticed you and Hays got into quite a long prolonged discussion there as well.

“Anyway, this guy steve hays, who I learned blogs at Triablogue, started responding to my posts. I experience the same sort of thing that you describe: the other person misquotes me or attributes to me beliefs that I don't hold or has no clue what basic definitions in the field are. It was very frustrating.”

Hays is a not a good person to have discussions with. He will constantly and repeatedly create false representations of what others are saying. Another habit he has is to argue against you by using his own premises, things he believes, things that come out of his calvin-ism and injecting them into your view pretending that you hold them as well and then attacking that.

Example –in your discussion with Hays over at Justin’s, Hays kept arguing that based upon “libertarian premises” there must be a possible world/a FDW that God could create, where everybody freely chooses to believe in Jesus. But this thinking that God considers various FDW’s/possible worlds and then selects one of them to be the world that he wants **is** Molinism and Calvinism. It is the Molinists and Calvinists that believe that God selects from various FDW’s. But if you hold to libertarian free will, you may believe that a world where we have real choices is not going to be a Fully Determinate World. So you will reject this thinking held by Molinists and Calvinists that God selects one **determinate** world that is fully determined. For Hays to then come in and claim that proponents of LFW hold to FDW’s (as he does), and then argue that that is the thinking of all non-Calvinists who hold to LFW is dishonest. He knows better and yet keeps doing so.

“So I went over to Triablogue where Hays had posted a comment about the above thread at Taylor's blog. So I made comments and used the same arguments I was using at Taylor's blog. Triablogue banned me that very day and deleted all my posts.”

Did you use profanity? Did you make inappropriate personal attacks? What did you do?

If you merely disagreed with Hays about calvinism and got banned for THAT, that would be sad but not surprising coming from the Triablogue group.

“Robert, given your views re Molinism, you would likely enjoy the following paper: Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers University), "Yet Another Anti-Molinist Argument" . . . .”

Thanks for the recommendation, I already knew of this paper. But it is so long (90 pages) that I had not yet read it.

“I meant to add that Zimmerman makes an argument against Molinism that is very similar to the one you make.”

Please tell me: how is Zimmerman making a similar argument as I am making?

Robert

#John1453 said...

Robert, all I did on Triablogue was cut and paste my posts from J. Taylor's blog so that I could have the debate directly on their site. I didn't know how Taylor would perceive (or care) about how the debate was going, and I thought that Hays would be open to holding the same debate on his own blog.

On Zimmerman. He rejects Molinism, but not (in the article) for the grounding objection. He presents an argument that Molinims effectively destroys relevant freewill by being deterministic(like Calvinism) in a manner that is incompatible with morally and causally relevant free will.

I know that I'm not conversant with all the latest literature on the topic, but I found his set up a bit long and for a long time I wasn't sure where he was going. It wasn't until the conclusion that it started to make sense.

I'll respond to your other question later.

regards,
#John

#John1453 said...

Whether I believe in FDWs

Romans is pretty that even the unsaved have accurate moral intuitions: Romans 2:2:15 They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them, 2:16 on the day when God will judge the secrets of human hearts, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.

One of our moral intuitions is that we are morally responsible because our wills are causally free, that is not determined by someone or something outside of ourselves, nor by our own physical and spiritual make-up, i.e., that we could have done otherwise than we did.

One thing that I am completely convinced of in this regard is that Calvinism is very very wrong. As to what is right, I am committed only to what the Bible states: God knows all that can be known, He places real choices before us, we can freely choose.

I'm not committed to any one explanation of how that goes together. Of the three free will explanations, I think that one of the varieties of open theism is most likely correct, then simple foreknowledge and then Molinism as least likely.

So, I think it likely that God has determined that a number of things will come to pass, but that He has not determined a number of other things, nor has he in some respects not yet fully determined how some of the things that will come to pass are going to be brought about. As a lame example, God may have determined that Jane will be saved from cancer, but has not determined yet who will pray for her or if He will just give her remission.

So, I don't think that fully determined worlds are the most likely option, but I'm not ruling them out. I'm open to being convinced.

regards,
#John

Robert said...

Hello John, (part 1)

Sorry that I did not respond to you sooner, but you happened to post at one of my two favorite holidays (Thanksgiving = I have a lot to be thankful for and was spending some quality time with friends and family over the last few days, so blogging was not much of a priority at that time, hope you understand).

“Robert, all I did on Triablogue was cut and paste my posts from J. Taylor's blog so that I could have the debate directly on their site.”

That’s it, you got banned for merely disagreeing with Hays? Hays may be the worst example of a nasty Internet calvinist blogger that I am aware of.

“On Zimmerman. He rejects Molinism, but not (in the article) for the grounding objection. He presents an argument that Molinism effectively destroys relevant freewill by being deterministic(like Calvinism) in a manner that is incompatible with morally and causally relevant free will.”

If that is his argument I think he has a point, it seems to me that both Molinists and calvinists when they claim that God chooses from among Fully Determinate Worlds, which one he wants to actualize. That in actualizing the one FDW that makes things completely predetermined and so does things become too deterministic.

“Whether I believe in FDWs

Romans is pretty that even the unsaved have accurate moral intuitions: Romans 2:2:15 They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them, 2:16 on the day when God will judge the secrets of human hearts, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.

One of our moral intuitions is that we are morally responsible because our wills are causally free, that is not determined by someone or something outside of ourselves, nor by our own physical and spiritual make-up, i.e., that we could have done otherwise than we did.”

Good points arguing that we sometimes have libertarian free will.

“One thing that I am completely convinced of in this regard is that Calvinism is very very wrong.”

You got that right! :-)

“As to what is right, I am committed only to what the Bible states: God knows all that can be known, He places real choices before us, we can freely choose.”

The bible does not limit God’s knowledge to “all that can be known”, that is what open theists claim. The bible seems to claim that instead God knows everything.

So we agree that we sometimes have libertarian free will but disagree about the extent of God’s knowledge.

Robert

Robert said...

Hello John (part 2),

“I'm not committed to any one explanation of how that goes together. Of the three free will explanations, I think that one of the varieties of open theism is most likely correct, then simple foreknowledge and then Molinism as least likely.”

I think that simple foreknowledge proponents make some valid points as do proponents of Molinism. I also believe that open theists are mistaken, the bible properly interpreted does not present God as not knowing the future.

“So, I think it likely that God has determined that a number of things will come to pass, but that He has not determined a number of other things, nor has he in some respects not yet fully determined how some of the things that will come to pass are going to be brought about. As a lame example, God may have determined that Jane will be saved from cancer, but has not determined yet who will pray for her or if He will just give her remission.”

OK now is where it gets interesting. I also believe that God determines some things and some things result from our exercise of libertarian free will (both good and bad things come from our freely made choices). The calvinist determinist is one extreme: that God predetermines everything. The deist is the other extreme: that God created the world and now never intervenes or gets involved with it. What is between calvinistic determinism and deism? A world that involves both God sometimes determining events unilaterally AND a world where we sometimes have libertarian free will. And if the world is a combination of some determined events and some freely chosen events, then the world is not a Fully Determinate World (but instead a partially determinate world).

“So, I don't think that fully determined worlds are the most likely option, but I'm not ruling them out. I'm open to being convinced.”

I do not believe that God considers various FDW’s and then selects the one that he wants from among the set of possible and feasible FDW’s. Instead, I believe that God creates the **type of world** that he wants. A world with certain features that he wants (e.g., a world where humans sometimes have and make their own choices).

While I am not an open theist and am convinced it is a mistake, I do believe that many determinists caricature open theism and do not fairly represent it at all. Example, they will argue that the God of open theism “gets surprised sometimes since he does not know the future”. That is false. If the open theist believes that God knows the past exhaustively as well as the present then how is God going to be surprised by some action that we do? If he knows the present then he will know what options we are thinking about in our minds, and though he may not know which option we will select he knows what options we were thinking about before we selected one of them. John if I knew all of your thoughts right now and all of the options what you were considering, and then you picked one of them, how would I be surprised by any option that you select? I may not like them or have preferred that you chose differently, but surprise, I don’ think so.

Anyway sorry about the delay in responding to you, consider that I have now started rolling the ball again.

Robert

#John1453 said...

Re Robert, Dec. 1, 1:02

R writes, "The bible does not limit God’s knowledge to “all that can be known”, that is what open theists claim. The bible seems to claim that instead God knows everything."

This issue is, "what is 'everything'?"

God cannot know that 2 + 2 = 7. Such a thing is nonsensical. The same with knowing the future. Some open theists argue that knowing with certainty what a libertarian free willed person will do is nonsensical, and therefore not something that can constitute knowledge. If something cannot constitute knowledge, it cannot be known. Consequently, your definition of knowledge and the open theists' definition of knowledge are the same in terms of the nature or ontology (?) of knowledge: if something does not constitute knowledge, it cannot be known; if it does, it can. So, for example, both you and the open theist would agree that 2 + 2 = 5 does not constitute knowledge and so cannot be know.

That is to say, both you and the open theist agree that God's knowledge is unlimited in the sense that whatever can be known by God is known by him.

The difference is that you and open theists disagree over what constitutes a knowable thing.

Some open theists argue that the outcome of a future causally free choice is by definition not knowable. However, other open theists would argue that future casually free choices can be known but that the relationship of knowing is different for such future choices as compared to past choices or currently occuring or existing things / actions.

This second group of open theists would argue that God's knowledge of the past and present is definite (has occurred, is occurring), but that His knowledge of the future is not expressed by a will / will not contradiction. The nature of His knowledge of the future is expressed by might / might not. On this view the bivalence of truth is maintained (true, not true) but the opposition of contradiction is between "might/might not" vs. "will/will not". "Will" and "will not" are then contraries, not contradictories.

Anyway, bottom line of my point is that your definition of knowledge is the same as the open theists in that you both agree that God knows "everything", and that God can only know what can be known, and things that cannot be known do not count against His omniscience.

regards,
#John

#John1453 said...

Re Robert's comment on Dec. 1 at 1:04 a.m. where he wrote, "I also believe that open theists are mistaken, the bible properly interpreted does not present God as not knowing the future."

Many open theists believe that God does know the future and that he does know it exhaustively. However, they argue that God knows future causally free choices as might/might nots rather than will/will nots.

Because God's knowledge of knowable things is exhaustive, and because He is infinite, He can devote "all" of his attention on each of the (seemingly) infinite number of might/might nots and decide on His response to each one. God's responses to the might/might nots are directed toward achieving with certainty the ends that He wishes to attain.

Under that view, God is never surprised in the sense that He learns (goes from not-knowledge to knowledge) about some possibility that never before occurred to Him.

The only thing that changes in respect of God's knowledge is that something that was known as a might/might not becomes known to Him as a "is doing" in the present and a "did" in the past.

So, God finds out what a person actually does do, what the person actually choose in real time. But God has already known from before creation what He (God) would do if that choice was made and has always had His response prepared.

BTW, I'm a "presentist" and believe in the A series of time. I believe that only the present exists and that neither the past nor the future exist as physcal entities. The past only exists as "memories" in the minds of humans or God and in the mechanical nature of the present physicality if we assume that the past operated mechanically at a physical level (e.g., the car is now rolling down the hill in the present because in the past someone made a car and put it at the top of the hill without brakes on). That is, the physical past exists in the sense that it is the basis for what physically exists now.

The future, of course, does not exist in that sense (i.e., the past sense) unless one views God's relationship to time and dimensionality differently.

regards,
#John

Robert said...

Hello John, (part 1)

“God cannot know that 2 + 2 = 7. Such a thing is nonsensical. The same with knowing the future.”

I disagree with your reasoning here. 2 + 2 = 7 is a logical impossibility in our present world because 2 + 2 = 4, not 7. God knows all facts such as that 2 + 2 = 4 (2 + 2 = 7 is a not a fact, not a reality in the history of this universe). But knowing the future is not the same as knowing something that is false or a logical impossibility.

I am considering going to a playoff high school football game on Friday night (a semifinal between two extremely good local teams, one team is in fact 12-0). If I end up going to the game then it is a fact, a fact that is a part of this world history that I went to that game. If I end up not going to the game then it is a fact, a fact that is part of this world history that I did not go to that game. Either way, one of those events will in fact occur, once of those events will be a fact. God knowing the future knows which of those two possibilities will be an actuality and will be a fact of world history. I say God can and does know those kinds of things (open theists deny this). My claim that he knows which possibility will be the actual event is nothing close to knowing that 2 + 2 = 7.

“Some open theists argue that knowing with certainty what a libertarian free willed person will do is nonsensical, and therefore not something that can constitute knowledge.”

Why is it “nonsensical” if God has done it already before? It is not as if the bible contains no examples of God knowing a future event involving human choices.

“if something does not constitute knowledge, it cannot be known; if it does, it can. So, for example, both you and the open theist would agree that 2 + 2 = 5 does not constitute knowledge and so cannot be know.”

2 + 2 = 5 cannot be known because it is not a fact, it is a logical impossibility. But me going or not going to the game on Friday night is not a logical impossibility and one of those two possibilities is going to be actualized and become a fact Friday night.

“That is to say, both you and the open theist agree that God's knowledge is unlimited in the sense that whatever can be known by God is known by him.”

No, the open theist limits God’s knowledge to facts about the past and the present (not facts about the future, such as whether or not I am going to that game on Friday night!).

“The difference is that you and open theists disagree over what constitutes a knowable thing.”

I say that God knows all facts, including facts in the future. The open theist limits God’s knowledge of facts to only facts about the past and the present.

Robert

Robert said...

Hello John (part 2),

“Some open theists argue that the outcome of a future causally free choice is by definition not knowable.”

It is only unknowable “by definition” if you define it that way (truth by definition). And again that is not very persuasive in light of God’s past track record about knowing future events as presented in the bible.

“However, other open theists would argue that future casually free choices can be known but that the relationship of knowing is different for such future choices as compared to past choices or currently occuring or existing things / actions.”

Not sure what you mean here. The open theists that I know and have read believe that God cannot know and does not know “future causally free choices.” They deny God’s foreknowledge and keep libertarian free will.

“This second group of open theists would argue that God's knowledge of the past and present is definite (has occurred, is occurring), but that His knowledge of the future is not expressed by a will / will not contradiction.”

But with for example my going or not going to that game, I either will or will not go.

“The nature of His knowledge of the future is expressed by might / might not.”
I don’t buy that at all. Again it is wrong to say about my going to the game on Friday night that either I might or might not (I either will or will not).

“Anyway, bottom line of my point is that your definition of knowledge is the same as the open theists in that you both agree that God knows "everything", and that God can only know what can be known, and things that cannot be known do not count against His omniscience.”

We don’t agree, the open theist denies that God knows the future (while I say that he does).

“So, God finds out what a person actually does do, what the person actually choose in real time.”

He can only “find out” if he did not know. I say he knew, he does not “find out” once we do something (he knows we will do it before we do it).

“BTW, I'm a "presentist" and believe in the A series of time. I believe that only the present exists and that neither the past nor the future exist as physcal entities.”

WE may experience only the present, that may be our experience. But I believe that God transcends time, He is beyond time and space. His relation to time is different than ours.

“The future, of course, does not exist in that sense (i.e., the past sense) unless one views God's relationship to time and dimensionality differently.”
The future may not exist for us, and again I would suggest that we do not directly experience the “future”, rather we experience a series of consecutive “presents”. But the future is known to God though it has not yet occurred for us. God already knows if I am going to that game on Friday night (or not). But the present of Friday night has not yet been experienced by me.

Robert

#John1453 said...

Robert on Dec. 3, at 12:09 wrote, "But knowing the future is not the same as knowing something that is false or a logical impossibility."

Incorrect, and that is the point that open theists make. Knowledge of a future libertarian causally free choice is not logically knowable, and is therefore illogical and thus something that is not knowable. Of course one can define future knowledge in a way that is logical (e.g., either simply assert and thus assume that God knows the future, or have some theory such as "God is outside time"), and so define the future as something that is knowable.

The point is that the future is not something that is inherently knowable regardless of how it is defined, but rather its knowability depends on how it is defined. How the future is defined depends on what someone thinks the future is composed of, or the nature of its existence. As a presentists, I do not think that the future "exists" t all.

Robert writes, "Why is it “nonsensical” if God has done it already before? It is not as if the bible contains no examples of God knowing a future event involving human choices."

The examples of God "knowing" the future are examples of Him announcing what He will make happen. It's like me saying to my friend that tomorrow I will go to work and then the next day I call my friend from work. In order to make my "prediction" I didn't have to know the future, but I did have to be able to control events to make my desired future happen.

God is the kind of being that can make whatever He wants to happen, happen. If God does not want a messenger to reach the king, He can do it by "over-riding" free will or by causing the horse to stumble and fall over a cliff, or causing an angel to block the way and having a donkey speak, etc.

Robert writes, "The open theist limits God’s knowledge of facts to only facts about the past and the present."

Incorrect, though it depends on how one defines "facts" and so different kinds of open theists would address this issue differently. I think that the more defensible type of open theism states that the "facts" that God knows about the future consist of "might / might not" propositions rather than "will / will not" propositions in relation to causally free choices. His knowledge of his own actions consists of "will / will not", and his knowledge of future physical states of the universe depends on how you conceptualize the quantum nature of the universe.

So, regarding your example of the game, God's knowledge of you future attendance consists of "Robert might or might not go to the game". God knows what he will and will not do if Robert goes to the game and what he will
and will not do if Robert does not go to the game. If it is important to God that Robert not go to the game, then God will cause circumstances to exist that will prevent Robert from going to the game.

regards,
#John

#John1453 said...

Robert wrote, "Again it is wrong to say about my going to the game on Friday night that either I might or might not (I either will or will not)."

Nope. But the disagreement about whether future events are properly described as "might / might not" or "will / will not" is part of the philosophical debate about this topic. Many philosophers, but not all, agree with you and argue that the future should be described as "will / will not". Each description is defensible, but I believe that the "might / might not" description is the stronger, more defensible description.

Robert believes that God is outside time and exists in the future just as much as in the past. That is one way, but not the only way of describing it. It is not something that can be derived from the Bible but something that must be brought to the Bible. I don't believe that God any longer exists without time or that he exists in the future or that he is somehow outside of time and sees an "actual" future that is as real as the present.

My description of reality is just as consistent with the Biblical text as Robert's, so it is not the Bible that will assist in choosing between the two descriptions of reality. I would argue that my description is more compatible with a natural reading of the texts (i.e., the texts do not assume the reality of a fully determined future), but the text is not conclusive either way.

regards,
#John

Robert said...

Hello John, (part 1)

“Incorrect, and that is the point that open theists make. Knowledge of a future libertarian causally free choice is not logically knowable, and is therefore illogical and thus something that is not knowable.”

This is just a dogmatic assertion made by open theists. We know that the future is knowable because again God has shown this ability throughout scripture. If God does it as he does in the bible, then it is logically possible.

“The point is that the future is not something that is inherently knowable regardless of how it is defined, but rather its knowability depends on how it is defined.”

It is open theists who come along and redefine things to make knowledge of the future impossible. It is an attempt at truth by definition and persuades only those who are so defining things.

“The examples of God "knowing" the future are examples of Him announcing what He will make happen.”

In some cases (e.g. the visible second coming of Jesus, Yes), but not in cases involving freely chosen human actions (e.g. the foretelling that Judas would betray Jesus).

“God is the kind of being that can make whatever He wants to happen, happen.”

True and this being that can make whatever He wants to happen decided that mankind would have free will (meaning that at least some of our actions result from libertarian free will, and these actions are not unilateral actions where God controls the future).

“If God does not want a messenger to reach the king, He can do it by "over-riding" free will or by causing the horse to stumble and fall over a cliff, or causing an angel to block the way and having a donkey speak, etc.”

And if God knows that in the future there will be a messenger and knows the message and knows he will be riding a horse, wouldn’t God need to know these future realities in order to plan that in the future he would cause the horse to stumble or send an angel to block the way? And if he knows these future things then it is again evidence that he does in fact know the future.

“Incorrect, though it depends on how one defines "facts" and so different kinds of open theists would address this issue differently.”

Again open theism is a view based on carefully redefining things with meanings conducive to open theism.

“So, regarding your example of the game, God's knowledge of you future attendance consists of "Robert might or might not go to the game".”

This is again an example of open theists redefining things. I believe it was Greg Boyd that invented the “might or might not” language, while the rest of us refer to future events as “will or will not happen”.

Robert

Robert said...

Hello John (part 2)

“Nope. But the disagreement about whether future events are properly described as "might / might not" or "will / will not" is part of the philosophical debate about this topic.”

Again, open theists begin with an a priori (i.e. that God does not and cannot know the future as ordinarily understood) and then they look for philosophical arguments to bolster their guiding and controlling presupposition. It is similar to compatibilists who begin assuming that God predetermines all events, and then redefine free will so that it lines up with their presupposition (free will then does not mean that you have choices but only that when you make a choice you are doing what you want to do, that you were not coerced in your action).

People just reading the bible without these philosophical axes to grind will conclude that we sometimes have free will as ordinarily understood and that God foreknows the future as ordinarily understood.

“Robert believes that God is outside time and exists in the future just as much as in the past. That is one way, but not the only way of describing it.”

God created everything including matter and energy which is what space and time comes from. Time is part of our created universe and God is an eternal being. His relation to time is going to be different than ours. And if viewed dimensionally while we experience some dimensions, God would experience them all, so again his relation to what we call time is going to be very different. God is not just a bigger man, but a being that transcends the creation.

“It is not something that can be derived from the Bible but something that must be brought to the Bible.”

Disagree, from statements in the bible we deduce that God created everything, including matter and energy which are not eternal and are the basis of space and time. It is from the bible that we know that God alone is eternal, that all other realities are created and temporal realities. So no it is not importing something from outside the bible into the bible but taking the bible statements about God and deriving conclusions from those.

“I don't believe that God any longer exists without time or that he exists in the future or that he is somehow outside of time and sees an "actual" future that is as real as the present.”

You don’t want to believe it because it goes against your preferred theology. But your preferred theology is constructed upon your own definitions and redefining ordinary usage of terms and also mistaken interpretation of biblical texts (I am quite aware of how open theists reinterpret biblical texts; it is similar to how calvinists reinterpret the “all” statements to fit their theology, likewise, open theists reinterpret biblical texts dealing with God’s knowledge of the future).

“My description of reality is just as consistent with the Biblical text as Robert's, so it is not the Bible that will assist in choosing between the two descriptions of reality.”

I believe you are mistaken here. Most bible believers hold to the fact that God knows the future because the bible clearly presents texts showing this. And the issue is not whether or not your view is compatible with scripture but is it true? Calvinists would claim their interpretations are compatible with scripture as well, but their interpretations are mistaken.

“I would argue that my description is more compatible with a natural reading of the texts (i.e., the texts do not assume the reality of a fully determined future), but the text is not conclusive either way.”

Actually the text is pretty clear which is why most Christians are not open theists. Same goes with Calvinism: the texts are clear so most Christians are not Calvinists. It is interesting that both open theists and calvinists are the groups reinterpreting biblical texts and arriving at conclusions that are contradicting what the church as a whole has always believed.

Robert

#John1453 said...

Robert on December 1st at 6:01 p.m. wrote, " We know that the future is knowable because again God has shown this ability throughout scripture. If God does it as he does in the bible, then it is logically possible."

It's not a dogmatic assertion, is a definitional issue. Open theists define and analyse knowledge of the future differently than simple forknowledge theorists or Molinists. Different analyses and definitions are permissible so long as they are rationally justified.

The Bible does not define God's foreknowledge as only consistent with the Molinist view or the simple foreknowledge view. Different interpretations of the relevant scriptures are rationally justifiable and so available to believers. Hence it is not true, (from the open future theorist view) that God's knowledge of the future is only as Robert defines and describes it.

Of course Robert may disagree with the interpretation of scripture by the open future theorists, but all that means is that the argument between him and open future theorists must be resolved at that level.

Given the interpretation of scripture by open future theorists, it is valid for SOME of them to say that knowledge of the future is illogical and irrational and thus the future is unknowable. It is also important to remember that not all open future theorists argue that the future is unknowable.

Because Robert and I do not yet agree on the distinction between working assumptions, there is no point in responding to his other comments as to do so would be as ships passing in the night.

The open future theorist arguement follows from their definitions and analysis of the future. Robert can argue that it's premises or assumptions are wrong or untrue, or that the argument is incoherent illogical. However, he cannot prove that it is wrong using HIS assumptions or premises.

regards,
#John