Monday, January 27, 2014

Sundry Matters - LFW, Omniscience, Temptation & Permissive Sin


More and more people who consider themselves consistently Reformed Christians defend the tenets of libertarian free will (LFW), while not claiming the label “libertarian” for themselves. Nonetheless, they argue for the power of contrary choice, even while claiming it is compatible with divine omniscience. What is even worse is that if one dare defend the necessity of the will (especially in the context of the prelapsarian state), which is the only option aside from pure contingency, it is often alleged that he has denied the Reformed confessions while making God out to be the “the author of sin”, a term that is rarely defined by those who employ it most.

I will not provide here a refutation of LFW, nor will I go into any great detail regarding how it is incompatible with God’s omniscience. I have done that most extensively elsewhere on this Blog. I will, however, provide several quotations from past and present theologians that clearly indicate that this is not a new thought, that LFW is incompatible with divine omniscience. That is to say, LFW logically leads to Open Theism, which is simply a resurrection of sixteenth century Socinianism with respect to God’s knowledge. What this means is that the most distinguishing factor of Arminian theology, if taken to its logical end, leads to a rank heresy, the denial of God’s exhaustive omniscience.

“Ironically, the openness critique at this point strongly resembles the long-standing kind of criticism that many Calvinists have given to the classical Arminian model…Open Theists and these Calvinists agree... that classical Arminianism is seriously flawed in at least two of its major tenets: namely, that… exhaustive divine foreknowledge is compatible with libertarian freedom....” Bruce A. Ware (p. 41 God’s Lesser Glory)

“Hence, the Arminian should be driven by consistency to the conclusion of the Socinian, limiting God’s knowledge.” R.L. Dabney (p. 220 Systematic Theology)

“If [liberty of indifference] be the true theory of the will, God could not execute his decree without violating the liberty of the agent, and certain foreknowledge would be impossible.” A.A. Hodge (p. 210 Outlines of Theology)

“Libertarianism is inconsistent, not only with God’s foreordination of all things, but also with his knowledge of future events.” John Frame (p. 143 The Doctrine of God)

“Moreover, not only are such contingencies not knowable to God, but also such ‘future, free contingencies’ do not and cannot even exist because they do not exist in God’s mind as an aspect of the universe whose every event he certainly decreed, creatively caused and completely and providentially governs.” Robert L. Reymond (p. 189 A New Systematic Theology Of The Christian Faith)

“Actions that are in no way determined by God, directly or indirectly, but are wholly dependent on the arbitrary will of man, can hardly be the object of divine foreknowledge.” L. Berkhof (p. 68 Systematic Theology)

“But God’s omniscience is limited by what is knowable. If Jones is indeterministically free, then it is not knowable, either to God or to us or to any other observer, what Jones will do when, in a given set of circumstances, he is confronted with a choice.” Paul Helm (p. 61 The Providence of God)

“To suppose the future volitions of moral agents not to be necessary events; or, which is the same thing, events which it is not impossible but that they may not come to pass; and yet to suppose that God certainly knows them, and knows all things, is to suppose God’s knowledge to be inconsistent with itself. For to say, that God certainly, and without all conjecture, knows that a thing will infallibly be, which at the same time he knows to be so contingent that it may possibly not be, is to suppose his knowledge inconsistent with itself; or that one thing that he knows, is utterly inconsistent with another that he knows. It is the same thing as to say, he now knows a proposition to be of certain infallible truth, which he knows to be of contingent uncertain truth." Jonathan Edwards (p. 137 Freedom of the Will)

The libertarian who wants to hold onto the orthodoxy of divine omniscience asserts that Corey will choose x, not necessarily but contingently. Of course a contingent x, by definition, truly might not occur. Accordingly, all Arminians are left with God knowing that x might not occur while knowing it will occur – but these are contradictory truths and, therefore, impossible for God to know; if x will occur, then it is philosophically false that it might occur. Consequently, God would have to know contradictory truths given LFW. He would have to know contingently true, conditional propositions about creaturely free actions couched in the subjunctive mood; such as, if Corey were in state of affairs y, he would freely choose x. Such an alleged truth cannot come from God’s necessary knowledge since the truth would be contingently true, making its truth-maker itself, nothing or some unknown entity residing outside of God and his control.

Why then would so many people who call themselves “Reformed” hold to a theory of the will that if consistently maintained would lead to a denial of God's omniscience? My guess is that they would like to protect God from being the “author of sin”, but in doing so they would have God not be God.

God is often pleased to lead his people into temptation:
The Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” What does such a petition presuppose? It presupposes “that the most wise, righteous, and gracious God, for divers holy and just ends, may so order things, that we may be assaulted, foiled, and for a time led captive by temptations.” (Westminster Larger Catechism: answer 195)

God tempts no man:
Certainly the Catechism does not contradict Scripture where it states: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” James 1:13, 14

The biblical balance:
We must do justice to both truths. Although God is not a tempter, he nonetheless, according to the counsel of his own will, sovereignly upholds, directs and disposes all creatures, actions and things, to the end that even his people may be assaulted, foiled and even led captive by temptations, precisely as God has determined, for his own glory and our profit. Matthew 4:1 couldn't be more explicit: "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil." (I'm thankful for Lisa bringing this to my attention.)

Does God merely "permit" sin?

"[Permits] is the preferred term in Arminian theology, in which it amounts to a denial that God causes sin. For the Arminian, God does not cause sin; he only permits it. Reformed theologians have also used the term, but they have insisted that God permission of sin is no less efficacious than his ordination of good." John Frame (p. 177 The Doctrine of God)

"But it is a quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing but the author of them." John Calvin (p. 176 Concerning the Eternal Predestination)

“By calling it permissive… we mean that they are such acts as He efficiently brings about by simply leaving the spontaneity of other free agents, as upheld by His providence, to work of itself under incitements, occasions, bounds and limitations, which His wisdom and power throw around.” R.L. Dabney (p. 214 Systematic Theology)

John Frame dissents from the Arminian view, which is that God does not cause sin and that he only permits it. Rather, Frame acknowledges that God’s ordination of sin is as equally efficacious as his ordination of good. As for Dabney, he is pleased to acknowledge that the incitements of sin (which are no less than the provocations or urgings) come from God’s providential wisdom and power, which he is pleased to “throw around.” Many today (those whom I call the “keepers of the Confession”) would hold Calvin in contempt of the Westminster standards, even if he merely meant by “author” the determiner or author of history, within which sin abounds. However, when people have not internalized their doctrine, any theological statement that does not use the precise language of the Confession is considered ipso facto unorthodox theology, regardless of content or intent, which is all too rarely lost on the "keepers of the Confession." Did not the Divines, after all, have to in some measure deviate from biblical language in order to exegete biblical meaning? To merely parrot the same words as what is contained in a passage or doctrinal statement conveys no understanding of the meaning of what is under consideration. If I want someone to explain to me the book of Job, the last think I want is only to be read the book of Job.

“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.’” Job 2:6
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34 comments:

Joshua Butcher said...

Ron,

Many thanks for this posting!

~Joshua

Anonymous said...

How does somebody who doesn't believe these things get ordained in a Reformed denomination?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

The reason so many candidates cannot answer that question correctly is because for one thing they aren't being taught about such things in seminary. And if they're not taught to think about such things in seminary, then after ordination there is a fair chance they won’t ask the next batch of candidates such questions from the floor of Presbytery. We're well into this vicious cycle. Accordingly, unless one has an interest in the rudimentary principles of metaphysics, basic questions like Frame's won't ever get asked. How many M. Div. grads can discuss the “grounding the objection” and how it relates to middle, free and necessary knowledge. What does Dabney mean when he says that Middle Knowledge in the right hands is no problem at all? What does the sophisticated Arminian mean by possible and feasible worlds? Would a Reformed elder or minister say that I could have chosen not to write this Blog entry but I would not choose not to? If so, he’s a Molinist and not Edwardsian, and his view of the will would lead to Open Theism if maintained with utter consistency.

Another problem is that we have too many church historians teaching, or peddling, systematic theology. If they're not an historian, then maybe they're a great exegete, but that's not a sufficient condition for the post. Compare the rigorous thinking of Dabney or even Old Princeton with those who teach today. Edwards is considered passé today and not even a matter for worthy consideration. I'm convinced that Molinist William Lane Craig could murder most Reformed professors in a debate over the use of Middle Knowledge, but he couldn't get near touching a guy like Baptist, Paul Helm. Shameful! Who is coming up through the ranks, and will he be politically astute enough to get a systematic post, is the question that comes to my mind? I'm hopeful for guys like Lane Tipton. What impresses me about Lane is that he thinks hard, on his own, because his gifts would seem to run in that direction. He’s a thinker who has pursued academia rather than a professor who now must learn to think hard. He's gnawing on the bark while so many others are meandering through the forest. I don't agree with all his thoughts but at least he thinks hard and tends not to beg crucial questions like so many others I have seen. How many graduates from Westminster Philly really understand presuppositional apologeticts? What chance do they really have when we consider that the Westminster Theological Journal fell flat on its face in 2003 in an attempt to put the transcendental argument in symbolic form? I interact with that here: http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2006/03/formal-blunder-on-van-til-by-wtj-no.html I would disagree with Lane on that matter. I would also have to question Dr. Oliphint’s leanings on LFW as well. http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2007/02/oliphint-on-free-will.html

Ron

Anonymous said...

How can one be responsible if he cannot choose what he wants? Why does his choice have to be determined by God for God to hold him responsible?

Anonymous said...

Ron,
Your comments about the students coming out of WTS is especially poignant to me. One of the credo baptists at the center of the baptism controversy within our Session is a graduate of WTS Philly.

Dennis

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Hi Dennis,

This elder must be a paedobaptist by profession to be on session but obviously he has baptistic tendencies.

Cheers,

Ron

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

"How can one be responsible if he cannot choose what he wants? Why does his choice have to be determined by God for God to hold him responsible?"

A,

The person is not held responsible for choices he makes that are contrary to what he desires. In fact, no choice is contrary to what one desires. The reverse is in fact the case. One chooses according to what he desires most. That choices are determined by God is not the reason why the agent is responsible.

Ron

Anonymous said...

Ron,

It is absurd to think that God must determine a choice in order for him to know it in advance. He can simply know the choice in advance!

Calvinistic-Libertarian

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Ron,

It is absurd to think that God must determine a choice in order for him to know it in advance. He can simply know the choice in advance!


Universally speaking, one’s determination of future-x is not a necessary condition for knowledge of future-x. After all, what we know about the future is not because we determine it. What do you truly know about the future that you have determined? You can only know about the future what God has revealed to you about the future and none of that have you determined. Now having said that, of course God knows the future (which you affirm in your “Calvinism”) and, yes, God has determined the future (which you deny in your libertarianism). And although the logical relationship is determination, then foreknowledge (as opposed to foreknowledge, then determination), there is a middle component that you leave out, which is the key that unlocks your contradiction. The logical order, when creaturely choices are involved) is determination --> truth --> knowledge. (Of course God also knows undetermined truth(e.g., his knowledge of himself.)

Given the logical (not temporal) order as noted above, we can now get to your logical bind. If a choice is a libertarian free one, then by definition it is true that it might not occur, which means that it is not true that it will occur (for it truly might not occur!). To maintain “will” (occur) and “might” (occur) in the divine mind is to suggest that God can know contrary truths. The only way you can logically relieve your tension is to show that God knows contrary truths, or else show that those are not contrary truths. I’ll assume you don’t wish to try to argue the former, that God knows contrary truths. Accordingly, what does it mean for God to know x (as true) while also knowing that x might not come true?

Calvinistic-Libertarian

That two is by definition a contradiction.

Ron

Anonymous said...

I should have been more clear. The WTS grad is not on the Session. He is just a member.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Dennis,

WTS is not necessarily culpable for a graduate who remains a baptist or just muddled in his Presbyterianism, unless of course they are neglect in teaching the reason for infant baptism. Come to think of it, I know a WTS grad who is a pastor who struggles terribly on this very issue of baptism! Whew, don't remind me of such things!

Ron

Anonymous said...

Ron,

In one of your posts you argue in terms of accidental necessity and in doing so you speak in terms of God having believed something that remains still future. Is there a reason why you speak in terms of belief and not knowledge. I already appreciate from you that belief and knowledge have nothing to do with the subject because the point is whether that something (either believed or known) is true or not.

Thanks!

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2007/12/molinists-and-calvinists-agree-in.html

The above link is where I employ that argument. I formatted the argument that way simply because that is a very common formulation, but your instincts seem quite correct to me. In fact, step 4 states: "Necessarily, if 100 years ago God believed Tom will do x tomorrow, then Tom will do x tomorrow." The certainty of the consequent implies that the belief the antecedent contemplates cannot end up being false. Consequently, given the certainty of consequent, the belief presupposes justification and, therefore, knowledge. If the belief were not knowledge, then step 4 would have to be more tentative, like: "Necessarily, if 100 years ago God believed Tom will do x tomorrow, then Tom might do x tomorrow (because the belief was not knowledge)", but that wouldn't advance the argument; it would in fact destroy it, would it not? As you suggest, the point of the argument is that the past-truth is now necessary and the rest of the argument works toward the transfer of that necessity to the metaphysical choice that still awaits. Belief is simply introduced (by me anyway) to make the argument more accessible (pesonal if you will), but to speak in terms of non-knowledge belief (that need not be true belief) would be to destroy the argument beginning in step-4.

Keep in mind that the justification of the belief, making the belief knowledge, may not be attributed to God's determination in that particular argument. Therefore, how God knows (whether by his determination or not) is not the issue, so no Molinist should have an issue with using "knowledge" since the justification of that knowledge need not be agreed upon; the focus is on the accidental necessity of the choice, which makes it not free. Now if you're dealing with an Open Theist and not a Molinist, then neither belief nor knowledge is useful. The use of belief fails as shown above and no Open Theist will subscribe to foreknowledge of contingent free choices. Not even the truth of the proposition will be accepted since they, like Calvinists, agree that such choices are neither true nor false prior to the choice itself.

Why do you ask, or dare I ask?

Ron

Anonymous said...

Another blogger said that it has to be "belief" and never would give a reason why. Your statement makes perfect sense and I linked him to your statement... Thanks again.....

Anonymous said...

Of course I did explain why, multiple times. And of course I also said I agreed with you and Ron. However, since many libertarians do not, and the same argument goes through regardless of whether you use the term 'knowledge' or 'belief' then it is simply unwise to wast time arguing about whether to say 'know' or 'believe,' and this is unwise.

A1 said...

Ron,

I'm the "anonymous" that is two above this post. I'll call myself A1 from now on.

To the second Anonymous: no you didn't. I can't believe you say you did. It's on Steven's website and I can get the link for Ron. You disagreed with me and Ron and when I pasted the link from Ron's you said you could care less about what Ron thinks. You even said there is a philosophical reason why and that I must get beyond Turretin and Edwards. I am glad you came to Ron's post to see his reason.

A1 said...

Ron: Here is what the guy said on Steven's blog before he wrote on yours saying he agrees with you!

"I don't care. You can believe whatever you want regarding the issue. I actually know I am right and have no desire to read Ron's thoughts on the matter..."

Then he comes to your Blog with this wopper:

"And of course I also said I agreed with you and Ron..."

Sounds like he changed his mind to come to your thread and lucky for him you changed his mind!

A1 said...

He - Paul Manata - also said this and can be found here: http://steven-n.blogspot.com/2009/11/again-on-foreknowledge.html

Using knowledge rather than belief assumes that when we say "God's past knowledge that p" that the "p" itself is necessary even if p is about the future. That's analytic in terms of 'know.' That's what is attemtping to be established, so I'm not assuming it as a premise.


There's a reason why EVERYONE involved in the debate casts the debate in terms of God's beliefs and not his knowledge. Yes, EVERYONE. Calvinist philosophers, Arminian, Open Theist, Atheistic...EVERYONE.

I suggest you familiarize yourself with the relevant literature (which has, sorry to say, progressed since Turretin, Edwards, etc). There's a reason why EVERYONE involved in the debate casts the debate in terms of God's beliefs and not his knowledge. Yes, EVERYONE. Calvinist philosophers, Arminian, Open Theist, Atheistic...EVERYONE.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

O.K. enough boys. It is clear to me that Paul and you (A1) agreed on the essentials. In all fairness though, it would also appear from looking at the thread that Paul thought there was a substantial philosophical difference between using "believed" as opposed to "knew". His reasons for his objections would have made no sense if they only pertained to what is the wisest course to take. Moreover, it's a bit strange that he would now insist that an Open Theist would have a preference for "believed" that would be wise for the Calvinist to honor. Again, the consequent of the proposition in view entails a certainty that does not logically comport with a mere belief that does not entail knowledge. Any thinking Open Theist would recognize that. In other words, it's not as though the fourth proposition of the argument can become more palatable for the Open Theist by our slipping in "believed" as opposed to "knew".

Cheers,

Ron

Godismyjudge said...

Ron,

I followed the link from Steven's blog to find myself here. This argument is from your previous post:

http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2007/12/molinists-and-calvinists-agree-in.html

Establish the necessity of God’s belief about Tom’s choice:
1. 100 years ago God believed that Tom will do x tomorrow
2. If x is believed in the past, it is now necessary that x was believed then
3. It is now necessary that 100 years ago God believed that Tom will do x tomorrow

Establish the necessity of Tom’s choice, given the necessity of God’s belief:
4. Necessarily, if 100 years ago God believed Tom will do x tomorrow, then Tom will do x tomorrow
5. If p {i.e. God's historical belief about Tom's choice} is now necessary (3), and necessarily if p, then q; then q {i.e. Tom's choice of x tomorrow: (consequent from 4)} is now necessary [transfer of necessity principle]
6. Therefore, it is now necessary that Tom will do x tomorrow [3, 4 and 5]

Establish that Tom does not act freely, given the necessity of Tom’s choice:
7. If it is now necessary that Tom will do x tomorrow, then Tom cannot do otherwise
8. Therefore, Tom cannot do otherwise than x tomorrow
9. If one cannot do otherwise, then one does not act freely
10. Therefore, when Tom does x tomorrow, he will not do it freely


The problem I see with it is in 4 & 5; specifically, it conflates truth with the basis of truth. The proposition 'Tom does X' isn't the same thing as Tom doing X; one is a proposition, the other is a person performing an action.

4 should state:

4~. Necessarily, if 100 years ago God believed Tom will do x tomorrow, then the proposition 'Tom will do x tomorrow' is true.

4~ is true, but 4 is not. A truth cannot entail an event, only another truth. 4 conflates truths with the basis of truths.

4 also slides from God’s belief (which is a historic event or state) to the truth of God’s belief. It moves from ‘the necessity of the past’ as argued in 1-3 to necessity based on God’s essential omniscience. The necessity of the past is causal; since it assumes causation works forward in time. God’s essential omniscience means it’s not logically possible for God’s beliefs to be false (i.e. ‘God’s false beliefs’ implies a contradiction). So the argument has changed its basis from causal necessity to logical necessity.

With 4~ in mind, 5 should be revised to:

5~. If p {i.e. God's historical belief about Tom's choice} is now necessary (given God’s essential omniscience), and necessarily if p, then q; then q {i.e. that the proposition 'Tom will choose x tomorrow' is true: (consequent from 4~)} is now necessary [transfer of necessity principle]

5 subtly and invalidly moved from the logical necessity of the combination of two truths to the causal necessity of a past and future event.

From this, it should be reasonably clear that the type of necessity transferred is not causal necessity or the necessity of the past. Rather it's the logical necessity of the combination. P and not-Q are logically incompossible. But this does not threaten libertarian freedom. LFW assumes the causal possibility of choosing otherwise (i.e. it’s with Tom’s power to choose X or nonX and the logical possibility (i.e. ‘Tom chooses X’ is not a contradiction.)

The rest of the argument does not follow after 5 is corrected.

God be with you,
Dan

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

The problem I see with it is in 4 & 5; specifically, it conflates truth with the basis of truth. The proposition 'Tom does X' isn't the same thing as Tom doing X; one is a proposition, the other is a person performing an action. 4 should state:

4~. Necessarily, if 100 years ago God believed Tom will do x tomorrow, then the proposition 'Tom will do x tomorrow' is true.

4~ is true, but 4 is not. A truth cannot entail an event, only another truth. 4 conflates truths with the basis of truths.


First off, given the antecedent of 4, that which the consequent contemplates is true, regardless of any metaphysical cause of the consequent. Secondly, your strictures regarding the proposition “Tom will do x tomorrow” and the proposition: “the proposition Tom will do x tomorrow is true” affords you nothing. Neither addresses the metaphysical question that is apparently driving your arbitrariness.

4 also slides from God’s belief (which is a historic event or state) to the truth of God’s belief.

I’m happy to state the argument in terms of God’s knowledge because what he believes he knows. Moreover, God can be taken out of the argument because the issue pertains to truth, which so happens to be believed and known.

It moves from ‘the necessity of the past’ as argued in 1-3 to necessity based on God’s essential omniscience.

My argument has nothing to do with God’s essential omniscience. That’s something you’ve imposed upon it. All that is in view is one bit of knowledge, not omniscience. Moreover, God’s knowledge of a past proposition that contemplates an act still future could just as easily been worded as your knowledge of a past proposition that contemplates an act still future; knowledge presupposes the truth of the proposition, no matter who knows it, which is why we can leave knowledge out of it; the issue is that the proposition is true and not whether it is known.

The necessity of the past is causal; since it assumes causation works forward in time.

That’s a bit ambiguous.

God’s essential omniscience means it’s not logically possible for God’s beliefs to be false (i.e. ‘God’s false beliefs’ implies a contradiction). So the argument has changed its basis from causal necessity to logical necessity.

Even allowing for your premise that my argument somehow pivots on omniscience, you have just taken a quantum leap in reason. Allow me to jump down to the bottom of the funnel. You closed with: “LFW assumes the causal possibility of choosing otherwise (i.e. it’s with Tom’s power to choose X or nonX and the logical possibility (i.e. ‘Tom chooses X’ is not a contradiction.)

Why should we believe that if it is “logically impossible” for x to be caused that it is indeed true that x might be caused? You are left with something that is logically impossible to be caused, yet metaphysically possible to be caused! Need not your metaphysic comport with your logic, or may the two be isolated and independent? In sum, you have an illogical metaphysic because it need not comport with what you would like to call logical truth.

Godismyjudge said...

Ron,

You seem to be arguing that the truth of the proposition is part of the past and therefore necessary. I disagree. Even if we grant that the truth of propositions is part of the past (which seems true in one sense and not in another) I don't think we can conclude they are necessary. Past events and states are necessary because they have been caused to be and also because there is no such thing as retro causation but past truths are not necessary.

Perhaps we also disagree on the definition of logical necessity. A truth is logically necessary if its negation is self contradictory. This applies to a truth by itself or multiple truths taken in combination. But if two truths in combination are logically necessary that does not mean each is separately. Assuming that they are is a division fallacy. So I maintain 'Tom does A at T 'is logically possible but the combo of 'Tom will do A' and 'God's past belief that Tom will do B at T was true' is logically impossible. Similarly, the combo of 'Tom will do A' and 'Tom will do non-A' is logically impossible, even if 'Tom will do A' is logically possible.

So looking at 4 & 5 once more and with your kind permission changing God's past belief with a true proposition and also understanding the consequent as a propositional truth as well we get:

4*. Necessarily, if 100 years ago 'Tom will do x at T' was true, then 'Tom will do x T' is true

Thus 4 is reduced to a totology and we can get rid of it. Now 5, in light of 3...

3. It is now necessary that 100 years ago God believed that Tom will do x a T

5. If p {i.e. God's historical belief about Tom's choice} is now necessary (3), and necessarily if p, then q; then q {i.e. Tom's choice of x tomorrow: (consequent from 4)} is now necessary [transfer of necessity principle]

First, 5 should be changed to:

5.* If p {i.e.'Tom will do x at T' was true} is now necessary (3), and necessarily if p, then q; then q {i.e. 'Tom will do x T' is true} is now necessary [transfer of necessity principle]

Second, to assume 5 follows from 3 is an invalid conflation of a truth ('Tom will do x at T'was true) and a past event (God's past belief). So 5 as it stands should be rejected and it doesn't seem in can be repaired.

God be with you,
Dan

P.S. You may be confusing me with someone else who argued about knowedge vs. belief.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Dan,

You are not interacting with the refutation that is before you.

You seem to be arguing that the truth of the proposition is part of the past and therefore necessary.

Yes, that is the argument but it is not assumed; it is deduced. You have yet to interact with the proof. You are simply presupposing that it cannot be true and then simply asserting the same, that it cannot be true.

I disagree.

Of course you disagree - you’re an Arminian. I’m waiting upon your interaction with the refutation of your assertions which, by the way, never addressed the original proof.

Even if we grant that the truth of propositions is part of the past (which seems true in one sense and not in another) I don't think we can conclude they are necessary.

Ah, but a proof with a valid form concludes they are necessary. The only question is whether the premises within the proof are true, which you have yet to deal with.

Past events and states are necessary because they have been caused to be.”

In this discussion the only thing that is past is the future tense truth proposition about a future creaturely choice. That the proposition is caused is irrelevant to the question of whether the action the proposition contemplates will be caused. That this escapes you indicates that you are a novice in this matter. That, of course, is not shameful (apart from the fact that you are posturing yourself as one who has something significant to offer).

Perhaps we also disagree on the definition of logical necessity. A truth is logically necessary if its negation is self contradictory.

Dan, I’m well aware of what a logical necessity entails. What you fail to grasp is that a logical necessity about a metaphysical occurrence implies the necessity of the occurrence. To assume the contrary is to affirm that something that must logically occur need not metaphysically occur; which is to assert that causality is not logically relevant – which is to suggest that causality is not logical. No Molinist has dealt with the weight of the quandry. They assume contradictory truths, that something will occur yet might not occur.

As for the rest of your post, you’re simply repeating yourself and in doing so showing yourself unwilling (or unable) to deal with your internal inconsistencies and the clear argument that remains before you.

Dan, that is strike 2. One more time and you're out and if you do nothing more than repeat yourself, don't expect to for your post to be published.

Ron

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Dan's position is: Some things that can be caused by man are logically impossible to occur. Since causality is logical, a more glaring way of putting it would be: Some things that logically can be caused are logically impossible of being caused. Again, the Arminian simply cannot reconcile their might-counterfactuals with their would-counterfactuals.

Molinism is simply rank Arminianism all dressed up in sophisticated confusion. They would have God in the dock.

Romans nine addresses the Arminian: "How can God find fault? For who has resisted his will?" In other words, they would say to God: if we don't have LFW, then we cannot be held responsible! The apostle under the inspiration of God rebukes such nonsense.

Ron

Anonymous said...

Ron and A1,

My reasons for perferring 'belief' over 'know' are the same as the ones Paul Helm gives (who Ron cites in his post), cf, his n.25 in his chapter in the Four Views book.

I gave reasons for the use of believe over know, both philosophical and prudential.

"Moreover, it's a bit strange that he would now insist that an Open Theist would have a preference for "believed" that would be wise for the Calvinist to honor."

Huh? That's not my view, Ron. I and the Open Theist are making the same argument against the Classical Arminian.

Look, the reasons for using belief are out there. Even if you disagree with the philosophical reasons, since most libertarians in this debate *do think* that to use 'knowledge' (a) begs the question and (b) undoubtably is a soft fact, then since Ron and A1 think that the argument goes through *just the same* regardless of using "believe" and "know", then why not just use 'believe'?

Thus, and this is mainly for A1, there's not really been any substantive interaction with my point on your end.

Anonymous said...

Ron:

Have you seen the way Dan is using Romans 9 on his blog?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Not interested. Romans nine is abundantly clear. The Arminian asks "How can God find fault, for who has resisted his will?" I find great comfort that the same objection Paul got, Calvinists get.

Ron

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

“My reasons for perferring 'belief' over 'know' are the same as the ones Paul Helm gives (who Ron cites in his post), cf, his n.25 in his chapter in the Four Views book.”

I’ll have to check Helm to find out what your reasons might be because I haven’t seen where you have given them. I do remember reading from you that everyone thinks this way and that there are well known reasons but that doesn’t seem very substantial. BTW, the Helm quote I noted doesn’t come from the four views book.

“I gave reasons for the use of believe over know, both philosophical and prudential.”

You keep saying you have, so maybe you wouldn’t mind producing them. I must have missed them on the thread.

“Ron said: "Moreover, it's a bit strange that he would now insist that an Open Theist would have a preference for "believed" that would be wise for the Calvinist to honor."

Paul responds: Huh? That's not my view, Ron. I and the Open Theist are making the same argument against the Classical Arminian.”


*sigh* yes, the Open Theist and the Calvinist agree that at a metaphysically free choice cannot be known because it defies a prior truth proposition about the future occurrence. However, my statement above presupposes the fact that the Molinist and the Calvinist agree that God knows all creaturely choices in advance and that God’s beliefs are always equated to knowledge. Whereas consistent Open Theist philosophy allows for God to believe things that may not occur simply because mere belief (apart from the warrant that would necessitate knowledge) is less than knowledge and, consequently, can be wrong. Therefore, your pragmatic argument, as you call it, would be in an effort to accommodate only the Open Theist since the Molnist and Calvinist already agree up front that God’s belief equates to his knowledge. So, again, my remark is warranted. It’s a bit strange that you would find it best to use “belief” to accommodate the Open Theist when the Open Theist will obviously disagree with the universal premise that God’s belief of x implies x’s occurrence, which is premise 4 in the argument. The argument is not useful at all with the Open Theist. See more of an elaboration below…

“Look, the reasons for using belief are out there.”

This is laughable. You keep saying they are out there but you never once show what they are. In fact, you even at weaker moments have conceded the point that we agree.

“Even if you disagree with the philosophical reasons, since most libertarians in this debate *do think* that to use 'knowledge' (a) begs the question and (b) undoubtably is a soft fact…”

Paul, the use of belief gets you nowhere with consistent Open Theism since God can believe things that won’t come true! For the Open Theist God does not know all choices that are according to ccf. Accordingly he may believe (yet without certainty) that a certain choice will obtain. God’s confidence, for the Open Theist, increases to the level of knowledge (allegedly somehow) but not all beliefs about x, y and z imply the actual occurrence of x, y and z because the belief of those variables are not a belief that x… is true but that it will probably become true. Therefore, step-4 is objectionable for the OT whether you use belief or knowledge! Therefore, the accommodation (your pragmatism) is useless. The argument is only appropriate to be used on Molinists, not Open Theists, and Molinists already agree that God’s belief is knowledge. Please remember that A1’s original objection was that the use of belief could just as easily be knowledge, to which you objected first of philosophical grounds and then on pragmatic grounds. I have not seen the former and the latter has shown deficient.

Ron

Semper Reformada said...

Ron,

Great post. Your distinction on compatibalism being valid during any period (pre-fall, post-fall, glorification) is very helpful.

My question is on moral neutrality. Bahnsen teaches us that moral neutrality does not exist. I agree with this. As such, a fallen human cannot be neutral on a moral decision, such as whether to steal or whether God exists. Neither can a regenerated Christian.

But what about the question of what flavor ice cream to eat? Isn't that an amoral question? Therefore, one's decision to eat chocolate over vanilla is in no way skewed by the fall, right? Obviously, LFW still does not apply, but this is a morally neutral question, right? I think I might just be confusing myself.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Off the top of my head I can think of two ways morality can impinge upon such a choice. First, the choice is to be made to God's glory with thanksgiving. IN that respect, all choices are moral. Secondly, did you take the last scoop of Chocolate when there was plenty of Vanilla left? :)

Best,

Ron

Roger said...

The libertarian who wants to hold onto the orthodoxy of divine omniscience asserts that Corey will choose x, not necessarily but contingently. Of course a contingent x, by definition, truly might not occur. Accordingly, all Arminians are left with God knowing that x might not occur while knowing it will occur – but these are contradictory truths and, therefore, impossible for God to know; if x will occur, then it is philosophically false that it might occur. Consequently, God would have to know contradictory truths given LFW. He would have to know contingently true, conditional propositions about creaturely free actions couched in the subjunctive mood; such as, if Corey were in state of affairs y, he would freely choose x. Such an alleged truth cannot come from God’s necessary knowledge since the truth would be contingently true, making its truth-maker itself, nothing or some unknown entity residing outside of God and his control.

Excellent post, Ron! While you specifically refer to "Arminians" here, I'm assuming that your comments would equally apply to Molinists. The only way that God could infallibly know what we would do under any conditions is if our will is not free but rather causally determined by His decree and providential control over all things. Is that correct, or am I missing something?

Reformed Apologist said...

Hi Roger,

Yes, this would apply to all stripes of Arminians. Those who believe in free will, if they are consistent, will have to say that God cannot know the future. Open Theists are consistent.

Roger M from God's Hammer? :)

Roger said...

Hi Ron,

Yep, I'm the same Roger from God's Hammer. I've seen your blog before in the past, but had forgotten about it. I'll definitely be following it now and commenting from time to time...

Grace and Peace!

Reformed Apologist said...

Roger,

I see you ran across an anti-Calvinist on another thread. Best of providence with that!