Friday, December 2, 2011

A Handful of Anti-Molinist Arguments

Steve Hays recently launched a series of anti-Molinism arguments, mostly in response to William Lane Craig’s defense of Molinism here.

Steve’s first criticism of Molinism is to call it fate and fatalistic, because in Molinism God does not decide what we would freely do in various circumstances.  (link) Steve doesn’t explain why this qualifies as fatalism.  Was the Cowboys selection of Tryon Smith fatalistic just because the first eight players were off the board?  No, just because you don’t decide everything does not mean you cannot decide anything or that the outcome of what you do choose is inevitable.  While God does not determine what we would choose in various circumstances, He does decide the circumstances.  Steve is confusing the inability to determine everything with the inability to determine anything.

Steve’s second criticism of Molinsim is that “So not only must God play the hand he’s been dealt, but he was dealt that hand from a fictitious deck by a fictitious dealer!”  (link) Steve basis this argument on Craig’s statements that “the counterfactuals of creaturely freedom which confront Him are outside His control. He has to play with the hand He has been dealt” and on Craig’s denial that abstract objects, like numbers, exist.  But counterfactuals of freedom are not abstract objects like numbers.  Imagine God has a hypothetical simulator machine and keeps it in your basement.  He puts hypothetical people in it and it spits out scenarios.  The idea of the simulator machine or the idea of its output, the scenarios, may be abstract objects like numbers, but the machine is not.  It’s sitting in your basement.  Steve is confusing God’s thoughts and ability to hypothesize with the concepts of God’s thoughts and ability to hypothesize. 

Steve’s third criticism of Molinism is that it’s incoherent to talk about what a person would do if we assume they had a radically different past and were in completely different circumstances, like JFK being born in medieval Tibet.  This assumes there is nothing more to us than our nature, genetics and circumstances.  It’s like we could have an identity swap with another person, so long as that other person had our genetics, memories and upbringing.  But the bible does talk about what people would do if they had been born in another time, like the Pharisees in Christ time would have killed the OT prophets (Matthew 23:29-32) or what Christ’s servants would do if His kingdom had been of this world (John 18:36).  Such statements are not incoherent, in part because there is such a thing as “us”, over and above our circumstances and genetics.

Steve’s fourth criticism of Molinism is that God’s not determining what we would choose in every setting conflicts with His omnipotence.  Steve even compares William Lane Craig to a Rabbi who’s rejected by Orthodox Jews and popular among Mormans for denying omnipotence.  (link)  The comparison is uncalled for and would be like comparing Calvinists to Hindus with an evil god.  Probably Steve’s argument would look something like God cannot create a rock so big He cannot lift it because the idea of a rock so big God cannot lift is logically impossible.  There’s no such rock, and similarly there’s no such thing as libertarian free will. But if LFW is impossible, God does not have LFW, as Plantinga points out (see Theism and Persons within Advice to Christian Philosophers (link)). But perhaps Steve is a uniwiller; holding it’s impossible for more than one libertarian free will to exist.  If so, he should present his argument and meanwhile here’s a decent Molinist account of omnipotence by Flint and Freddoso (link). 

6 comments:

covnitkepr1 said...

I write and maintain a spiritual blog which I have titled “AccordingtotheBook” and I’d like to invite you to follow it.
I don't see a follow wedgit on this blog so I could follow you in return and I'd like to do so.

Godismyjudge said...

Good point. I joined your blog and added a follower wedgit. I am not really up on how best to run a blog, I just post things that interest me or things I want to comment on.

God be with you,
Dan

Toyin O. said...

I have never heard of Molinism, but this is a very interesting post.

Godismyjudge said...

Hi Toying,

Molinism reconciles God's providential control of the world with man's free will by saying God knows what we would choose in any setting. One of the best introductions to Molinism is Kenneth Ketherly's book called Sovereignty and Salvation. Last I checked the online wilki article was good as well. Of course anything by William Lane Craig is good as well but a bit advanced.

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

Sorry about the typo on your name. My spell check is overly helpful.

God be with you,
Dan

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