Friday, June 27, 2014

Response to Nathanael Taylor on Molinism


Nathanael P. Taylor is posting a series on Molinism (link) Here’s his description of Molinism.

In Molinism, it’s been true through all eternity past that if I were in a circumstance C, then I would have faith in Christ. Logically, this means that it was true prior to God choosing to create this actual world. However, this just happens to be true—it is a contingent truth. In other words, something different could have been true from all eternity past. The counterfactual that if I were in a circumstance then I would have faith in Christ could have either been truth or false.

Suppose this counterfactual statement turned out true—you might ask, “What makes this counterfactual true or false?” And the answer is that nothing makes it true. The counterfactuals of creaturely freedom are just true from all eternity past and, oddly, nothing makes them true. God can’t make them true because that would mean God has control over the counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, resembling Calvinism. Creatures can’t make them true because they were true before creatures existed. So nothing makes them true; they are just brute facts.

Molinists are not committed to saying “counterfactuals of creaturely freedom are just true and nothing makes them true”. We need not be committed to any specific view of grounding or if any grounding is required. We are however committed to denying any form of grounding that implies causal determinism. Take the classical text on Ezekiel’s mission (Ezekiel 3:6-7). God’s statement that foreigners would repent is true because, if they were in that circumstance, that’s what they would do. So we are committed to saying that, supposing God created a parallel universe in which He sends Ezekiel to say India, they would freely repent.

There’s a difference between grounding questions and grounding objections. It’s fine to say “I don’t know” if someone asks how counterfactuals are grounded. But if someone advances from the question to the objection that 1) nothing grounds counterfactuals of freedom and 2) counterfactuals of freedom need to be grounded in some existing thing, we need to examine their presuppositions that led them to this position. In Natanael’s case, he seems to be presupposing that only causal determinism could ground counterfactuals of freedom, which is to presuppose that there can be no counterfactuals of freedom. Indeed, he seems to hold this as a brute fact. It just is.

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