Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Molinism - problems, problems, problems

Molinists and Calvinists agree over the soundness of the following argument, where x is a creaturely choice.

1. Necessarily, if God foreknows x, then x will happen
2. God foreknows x
3. Therefore, x will happen

Molinists and Calvinists even agree that the following argument is fallacious as written:

1. Necessarily, if God foreknows x, then x will happen
2. God foreknows x
3. Therefore, x will necessarily happen

The fallacy in view is that of transferring the necessity of the inference to the conclusion. The Molinist will not accept, however, that the fallacy can be made to disappear a number of different ways. One way is by establishing that a necessary condition for God’s foreknowledge of x is the necessity of x. Molinists assert that x will occur, not necessarily but contingently. Of course a contingent x, by definition, truly might not occur. Accordingly, Molinists are left with God knowing that x might not occur while knowing it will occur – but these are contrary truths and, therefore, impossible for God to know. Accordingly, God’s foreknowledge of x presupposes the necessity of x for the simple reason that might and will are semantically antithetical and it is true that x will occur. Consequently, if x will occur, then it is false that it might occur.

Another way of making the fallacy disappear is to argue successfully that necessarily, God foreknows x. Molinists agree in the validity but not the soundness of the following argument (in other words, they agree with the form of argument but not with all the premises):

1. Necessarily, if God foreknows x, then x will happen
2. Necessarily, God foreknows x
3. Therefore, x will necessarily happen

Molinists deny that necessarily God foreknows x. In fact, pop-Molinist William Lane Craig states “Christian theology always maintained that God’s creation of the world is a free act, that God could have created a different world – in which x does not occur – or even no world at all. To say that God necessarily foreknows any event x implies that this is the only world God could have created and thus denies divine freedom.”

In passing we might note that Molinsts are not typically well read in the areas of Reformed systematics and historical, Reformation Protestantism. In part IV, Section VII of Jonathan Edwards’s classic, The Freedom of the Will Edwards has much to say on this matter under the heading “Concerning the Necessity of the Divine Will.” Edwards so eloquently states that “It no more argues any dependence of God’s will, that his supremely wise volition is necessary, that it argues a dependence of his being, that his existence is necessary. If it be something too low for the Supreme Being to have his will determined by moral necessity, so as necessarily, in every case, to will in the highest degree holily and happily; then why is it not also something too low for him to have his existence, and the infinite perfection of his nature, and his infinite happiness, determined by necessity. It is not more to God’s dishonor to be necessarily wise, than to be necessarily holy… and, in every case, to act most wisely, or do the thing which is the wisest of all; for wisdom is also in itself excellent and honorable… One thing more I would observe, before I conclude this section; and that is, that if it derogates nothing from the glory of God to necessarily determined by superior fitness in some things; then neither does it to be thus determined in all things…”

My appeal to Edwards as a representation of Reformed, Orthodox theologians is merely to show that Craig’s remark is a bit gratuitous to say the least. Reformed thinkers consider libertarian free choices a philosophical surd, not just as the silly metaphysical notion pertains to man but as it pertains to God as well. Not only do Molinists like Craig not appreciate that the necessity of the divine will is held by a vast number of Calvinists, notice too the imprecision in Craig’s remark where he speaks of freedom. Molinists do not draw any distinction whatsoever between liberty (i.e. the ability to choose as one wants), and the power of contrary choice, which is the alleged ability to act contrary to how one will (libertarian free will). The two are the same for the Molinist; yet the former idea pertains to moral accountability, whereas the latter is metaphysical notion that in the end would destroy moral accountability. It’s sad to consider but has anyone ever read a Molinist where he has interacted with the notion of liberty, which is the very seat of moral accountability? Why isn’t the ability to choose as we want a sufficient condition for moral accountability? Do Molinists tell us why liberty is insufficient? No, they simply ignore the matter of liberty and make the bald assertion that we must be able to choose contrary to what we will in order to be morally responsible agents. What is it after all to be able to choose x, when we intend to choose ~x? If that’s a caricature of libertarian freedom, then will a Molinist explain this metaphysical notion in light of the infinite regress problem that is inherent to the notion?

Pressing on, we should see that the minor premise that “necessarily, God foreknows x” is indeed true. If God’s foreknowledge of x was not necessary, then it was contingent. Forget for a moment that future contingencies - being truly contingent - defy eternal truth values with respect to their outcome, (which Open Theists have demonstrated). How about the simple truth that everything eternal (God and his thoughts) must be necessary? After all, did God deliberate? Did God move from not knowing to knowing? Moreover, where is “x will happen” grounded if not in the eternal, determination of God? And if there, what does it mean to determine x without determining a cause of x? Did contingent causes determine God’s eternal decree, which would include the Arminian notion of "contingent certainties"?!

A third way to get rid of the fallacy is to utilize facts that are grammatically in the past tense yet contemplate acts still future. The progression below takes no shortcuts so it might seem a bit tedious, but each step is appropriate.

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

Molinists will again find the argument valid but take issue with some of the premises, namely 5 if not also 2. With respect to 2, a Molinist might wish to assert that the necessity of the past does not apply to the entire past, but that’s an arbitrary stricture. A Molinist might also object to premise 5, where a change of modality occurs whereby accidental necessities (necessities about the past) are intermixed with metaphysical necessities having to do with actions of choice. This, however, represents a classic case of drawing a distinction without a relevant difference. The Molinist objection is to the transfer of necessity principle, yet they permit the very same principle of logic when dealing with the validity of argument 3! Accordingly, their objection should only be with premise 2 of argument 4, but are they prepared to argue that the past is contingent and not necessary?!

Given an objection to the transfer of necessity principle, the Molinist position reduces to: Tom's choice of x will necessarily occur but contingently. What is it though for x necessarily to occur by contingent means? In other words, what does it mean for a necessary occurrence to fall out contingently?! (Again, "will = might" for the Molinist.)

In summation, Craig’s lament with argument 3 is that one cannot prove the necessity of God’s foreknowledge. If one can prove that necessity, then I am led to believe by his say-so that he would accept the conclusion of argument 3 above, which asserts the non-contingent nature of choice. Consequently, the issue with Craig and his disciples over the 10-step proof should not be over any change in modaltity in step-5, since the same sort of modality change occurs in argument 3 without objection! Craig’s objection to argument 3 is not a change of modality objection but rather strictly a metaphysical objection pertaining God’s free will. Having no modality objection there, Craigites should find none in argument 4 either. Consequently, Craig and his disciples should at least begin by conceding that in time God’s foreknowledge became necessary (step 3 – argument 4), which should lead him to embrace all the valid arguments on the page as being sound given no modality objection for argument 3. Now why won’t they? Because the matter is ethical, not intellectual, that’s why. God has blinded the Arminian to the glorious doctrines of grace, which is why they say things like: “How can God find fault, for who can resist his will?” I’m afraid that Arminians don’t recognize that Romans nine is speaking to them.

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Joshua Butcher said...

Thanks for commenting more fully on Molinism, Ron. Their arguments appear more sophisticated, but the same basic (false) assumptions of Arminianism prevail. Better to trust in the clear Word of Scripture than to place one's trust in our tainted intuitions.

f.y.i - You have a typo in the last paragraph (least is spelled "leasat")

Tim Harris said...

Ron, given your view of necessity, I'd be curious how you exegete the phrase from Chap 3 of the WCF, "nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established."

Reformed Apologist said...


You raised that question with me once before: http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2006/09/could-jesus-have-sinned.html I appreciate your consistency. :)

I would suggest that the Confession is not speaking of the power of contrary choice, which would be the ability to act contrary to God’s decree and, therefore, require LFW. For one thing, the Divines did not have an Arminian view of the will. I would think that the Confession when speaking of “liberty” is speaking of the freedom to do as we want, which opposes the notion fatal necessity or a blind fate. With respect to the Confession’s use of “contingency,” I find it very natural to take the word in the colloquial sense, meaning a dependence upon a previous state of affairs. In other words, God’s ends will not be accomplished apart from the ordained secondary-causal-means upon which those ends are contingent upon. This sense of contingency works quite nicely with the theology the Confession is putting forth, which is a theology that opposes fatal necessity. The Confession is concerned with putting forth a theology that would establish in the face of God's eternal decree (1)secondary causes, (2)the liberty of the human will and (3) the means to ends, which are those events that are contingent upon one another.


Reformed Apologist said...

Tim writes: It won't do to say that WCF is thinking of "colloquial use." First, "dependence upon a previous state of affairs," is neither colloquial, nor indeed supported by any definition in my Webster's. Second, the divines certainly had the philosophical meaning in mind. Third, their statement wouldn't be called for or make sense if it did carry the meaning you impute.

I would suggest you are leaning too hard on "propositional necessity." This leads to confusion between truth-value, and necessity.

Ron responds:


Webster certainly supports the definition I am using: "something liable to happen as an adjunct to or result of something else."

Walk with me for a moment: If I say to you, I'll meet you CONTINGENT upon my getting off work at a certain hour, means that my meeting you is DEPENDENT upon something else (i.e., dependent upon some other state of affairs obtaining). So again, the Divines are saying just that and it makes perfect sense. They are saying that God's decree does not take away but rather establishes those MEANS and secondary causes that the ends are dependent / contingent upon. Far from meaning LFW, they are simply saying that the eternal decree does not violate the causes / means to ends.


JB said...

Hello, Ron. I hope you don't mind, but since a mutual friend of ours directed me to your post, I decided to write up a response on my new blog. (I think I have too much to say to convey it via a simple comment here, alas.) I'd love to hear your feedback at some point, if you have time.

In Christ,

Reformed Apologist said...


Keith sent me a link to your site. I'll copy and paste your thoughts on my blog and interact point by point. I'll probably have something up today, Lord willing.


Reformed Apologist said...

JB says: “He jumbles an epistemic "might" with a "might" construed in simple terms of possible world semantics in the paragraph after the second numbered sample argument.”

Ron States: For the Molinist, in any feasible world (i.e., one God can instantiate) Jones will choose x even though Jones “might not” choose x. {The molinist needs the might-counterfactual in order to preserve LFW.} Consequently, the Molinist ends up with contradictory truth values. The truth value of what will occur is incompatible with the truth value of the metaphysical contingency that the Molinist requires to preserve libertarian freedom. After all, what does it mean to say that it is true that Jones might choose x? With respect to counterfactual logic, if it is true that Jones might do x, then it is philosophically false that Jones would not do x; and if it is true that Jones might not do x, then it false that he would do x. Accordingly, given LFW, there can be no true counterfactual of freedom regarding what Jones would do; and if there are no such counterfactuals, then God cannot know them as true.

JB says: “Later, in his attempt to establish the necessity of "God foreknows x", I can only wonder whether Di Giacomo knows anything about Molinism. From whence he pulls some of his queries, I can only surmise.”

Ron States: Rhetoric or argument?

JB says: “in asking about the grounding of "x will happen", he fails to recognize that Molinists would contend that statements regarding God's free knowledge (in which category "x will happen" falls) are grounded in God's creative decree; ”

Ron States: In Molinism, that Jones would choose x is not according to God’s free knowledge, let alone his free knowledge of the eternal decree! That Jones would choose x is a truth that God is alleged to know according to His alleged middle-knowledge. This is a foundational axiom of the system you would like to purport.
For the Molinist, the grounding of God’s choice to instantiate a world where Jones acts in accordance with God’s alleged middle-knowledge of how Jones would choose is, of course, indexed to God’s creative decree. Notwithstanding, the would-counterfactuals of creaturely freedom that are to be found within all feasible worlds are not grounded in God’s free knowledge of the creative decree - for the decree is logically subsequent to (not prior to) the would-counterfactuals in view. In fact, these true-counterfactuals (for the Molinist) are not grounded at all! Their grounding cannot be indexed to God’s determination, for that would be determinism. Neither can they exist due to the agents themselves, for the agents themselves are not eternal. {You do deny retroactive causation, don’t you?}

JB says: “in using the phrase "contingent causes", Di Giacomo fails to understand that causality is highly extraneous to the discussion of the relationship between middle knowledge and God's decree;

Ron States: Please excuse my surprise but that is simply a remarkable statement coming from a professing Molinist. The reason contingency is relevant to the discussion is because Molinism posits that God knows x will occur when x might not occur – and the reason that x might (or might not) occur is due to the pure contingency of LFW choices, another axiom of Molinism!

JB says:“and in asking whether God "deliberate[d]", Di Giacomo fails to acknowledge that in Molinist thought, the four logical moments involved are not separated by any temporal interval ”

Ron States: God having to deliberate is a necessary consequence of the Molinist position since the Molinist position posits LFW within the Godhead. For the Molinist, God’s will, not being a necessary consequence of God’s perfection, must require that something other than an eternal, necessary attribute trigger God’s will. Such a schema requires temporal sequence and cannot be relieved in logical-moments because of the logically-antithetical nature of true-counterfactuals and pure contingency. Again, with respect to counterfactual logic, if it is true that Jones might do x, then it is philosophically false that Jones would not do x; and if it is true that Jones might not do x, then it false that he would do x. Accordingly, given LFW, there can be no true counterfactual of freedom regarding what Jones would do; and if there are no such counterfactuals, then God cannot know them as true in eternity. He must learn the outcome in time, or if God is to know the outcomes of such contingencies in eternity, then he must look outside himself to uninstantiated essences or to mysterious (god-like) stand-alone truth values not subject to anything (a heretical thought indeed), which of course would then require that God deliberate over these matters, not being sourced to his creative-will or eternal being. At this juncture you might wish to assert that God is eternally informed and eternally processes that information apart from sequence, which I won't bother to debate, for you would have just conceded the dualism of your religion.

JB says: “I note that after that paragraph, he begins to introduce the wholly ill-defined concept of "now-necessity", which has absolutely no place in any of this. ”

Ron States: Obviously you are unaware of accidental necessities.


I’ve debated a fair number of Molinists in my day. The discussions are fairly quick. We typically part ways once they admit, along with the heros of Molinism, that they don’t feel any need to ground counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. Accordingly, they are left with eternal truths that do not proceed from the attributes or eternal will of God, which I point out, denies the historic Christian faith regarding God’s sole eternality. This doesn't occur to Molinists, that prior to creation all that existed was God and His will. Accordingly, when Plantinga smugly dismisses the grounding objection as not bothersome to him, he rejects the historic Christian faith.

JB, I don’t particularly delight in debating Molinists because the issue is not intellectual but moral and only God can persuade the Molinist of the plain teaching of Scripture on the matter. Not all things are plain in Scripture, but God's determination most certainly is I would say. More so, I’m not inclined to debate professing Molinists who do not adhere to the foundational tenets of their own Arminian, philosophical system.

In the final analyses, the god of Molinism is eternally informed of the alleged would-counterfactuals of men, either by their uninstantiated essences or other uncreated realities, since the Molinist position does not allow for God to determine such so-called counterfactuals. Such a theology is heretical, for it reduces to dualism, and this heresy begins with the philosophical surd of LFW.

Best of providence,


Anonymous said...

Great post Ron. I simply don't get what the big thing is. Isn't it obvious? Why the need for all the sophisticated arguments?


Reformed Apologist said...

Tim, there is no need for sophisticated arguments, other than to play on the field of the "highly educated." We are to "sanctify the Lord God in [our] hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks [us] for the reason of the hope that is in us..."

Your point is well taken though. There is no need for sophisticated arguments to persuade because, as you say, the Reformed position is obvious because revelation is clear on the matter.

As for simple arguments, how about:

p1. If I can act contrary to how God knows I will act, then God’s decree might not come to pass

p2. It is false that God’s decree might not come to pass

Therefore, I cannot act contrary to how God knows I will act


The argument is valid and the premises are true, so the conclusion is reliable. Yet the Molinist will reject at least one of the premises.

Again, the Molinist cannot reconcile the metaphysical implications of LFW with divine foreknowledge. How can it be true that x will occur if it's true that it might not occur?


Reformed Apologist said...

Joshua, I didn't acknowledge your post at the top. AND, I didn't know you are Pelleas, the one and only!


Joshua Butcher said...


I should have mentioned my alias! I had not considered that I had never done so before. It is good to see you posting again. I must admit that Molinism has been one of the more confusing positions I've encountered, but you have provided a clear exposition and argument through all the muddle, er middle, um yeah :-D

Reformed Apologist said...

Mabye my next post should be named the muddle-of-middle... thanks for the seed thought.

Happy Christmas,


Joshua Butcher said...

muddle-of-middle sounds good!

Happy Christmas to you and yours as well,


Reformed Apologist said...

W/ respect to contingency, Clark in his commentary quotes Zanchius:

In consequence if God’s immutable will and infallible foreknowledge, whatever things come to pass, come to pass necessarily, though with respect to second causes and us men, many things are contingent, i.e. unexpected and seemingly accidental

Unknown said...

Thanks for the post. I'm a molinist, and would simply like to say that molinists do address liberty. For example, see Moreland/Craig in "Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview" where they discuss things like doxastic voluntarism, the causal theory of action, causal deviance, dual ability, and first/second order powers. Check out their section on Free Will and Determinism, and I believe you will find the things you asked Molinists to interact with =)

Reformed Apologist said...


If you would like offer a refutation of what's before you, maybe I'll entertain it if it's "reasonable". I've read the Molinists and found them lacking but maybe you have something new to offer. :)


Reformed Apologist said...

The scope of necessity in the consequent is ambiguous [in 2] between:

2’ If S believes p at t1, then necessarily S believes p at t1.

2’’ If S believes p at t1, then that ‘S believes p at t1’ is necessarily true per se.

It’s not ambiguous at all. It, of course, cannot mean the former for that would be to transfer the necessity from the entire antecedent to the belief within the proposition. I go to great pains in fact to address that fallacy of transfer, so I doubt I would have made it!

But 2’’ says something else entirely: if it’s true that S believes p at t1, then ‘S believes p at t1’ is necessarily true.

That would seem obvious!

But surely it’s not necessarily true that S believes p at t1.

It’s necessary if it’s true, but you have now moved to argue something not contained in the premise! You wish to argue that it is not necessary that God had know P is true (incidentally, whether one believes or not is irrelevant). We’re talking about anything that is true and how that omniscience of that truth implies its necessity; I accomplish that by discussing the particular truth as past and defining the entire past (of which the particular is part) as necessary.

It’s possible that –p is true, for instance, and hence the inference is invalid.

It’s not possible that something true is not true. Accordingly, since we're talking about actual truths, there is no invalid inference.

In sum, I never confuse x is necessary true with x occurs necessarily, yet I do reduce to absurdity the notion that x will occur but might not occur! Again, what is it for something to necessarily occur contingently?!


Reformed Apologist said...

If Derek was referring to presmise 2 in the 3-step proof and not the long proof, then I've already addressed all those concerns in even greater detail.

Reformed Apologist said...

"Surely, suppose that 'Derek is sitting' is actually true. But it could have been false."

Could it have been false because the choice was metaphysically free (i.e. purely contingent)? Then no, it could not have been otherwise. However, you seem to want to introduce possible worlds discussions, which gets you nowhere.

"That is, there is a possible world W where 'Derek is sitting' is false, and had that world been actual, then 'Derek is sitting' would not be true."

Ah, then the proof would have used a different premise given a different world! In that world, Derek would have been standing and not sitting. Accordingly, let me alter the argument to deal with the world you have chosen: consider that two years before Derek was standing in that world at t1, the proposition p: "derek is standing at t1" is true. Accordingly, the next year (one year prior to the event of derek standing) the proposition from two years prior is now necessary being past. If the proposition is necessary, then that which it contains is necessary.

To introduce possible worlds as you have gets you nowhere. My argument on the blog is sound but for some reason you've chosen not to interact with the argument and instead decided to raise irrelevant points to try to refute. You might do well to try to internalize what is before you rather than moving on to other things that you don't seem well versed in either.

Reformed Apologist said...

Randy, I got the email.


Contingent, by definition is possibly X and possibly not-X. The truths God would know, then, would be that "possibly X and possibly not X" with "X will happen in the actual world."

What you failed to interact with is that there is no grounding for the justification the knowledge of “X will happen…” if indeed it is metaphysically false that X will happen. In other words, if X might (and might not) happen, then it is philosophically false that it will happen. Accordingly, being false that X will happen, knowledge of X happening cannot be maintained since only truth can be known.

Strictly speaking, these are not contradictory truths.

Are you one of those who would prefer the term “contrary” truths? That’s simply a distinction without a difference; yet one Open Theists like to use in their otherwise fine polemic against Molinism.

Therefore, we can see the claim that if X happens it was necessary is based on fallacious reasoning.

There’s no fallacy being employed at all. Molinists simply cannot reconcile their metaphysical contingency with the desired truth value of the contingency under consideration. If it is true that X might not occur, then it is false that it will occur, otherwise it would not be true that it might not occur. Might pertains to uncertainty, which God is not.

Your next argument has an aside that reeks of poisoning the well. Referring to Dr. Craig as a "pop-Molinist," as you may or may not be aware, is to imply that he is not a scholarly writer on the subject, which is patently untrue.

The philosophy PhD’s I’ve dealt with coined the phrase. I agree w/ them but let’s not quibble over whether Craig ought to be taken seriously.

“The argument "necessarily, God foreknows X" seems to be confused in this area as well. For you say, "If God’s foreknowledge of x was not necessary, then it was contingent." The emphasis in this statement is seemingly the foreknowledge itself, while in the argument it is foreknowledge of X, where X stands for any variable which is known to God. If you meant to emphasize simply X, or the content of God's foreknowledge, it really doesn't result in anything scandalous (at least sans begging the question). In what sense are you using the word "eternal?" I suppose it does not matter, but you should know that, strictly speaking, abstract objects do not exist in spacetime. They are not causal or personal agents, and cannot be shown. They are conceptual in nature (which overcomes your concern with dualism as well). So propositions are not affected in this way, by being necessary.

There is no valid progression of thought here so rather than try to cast these musings in the best possible light so as to interact with them – I’ll pass. After all, if I refute what I believe you could be trying to say, I won’t want to feel constrained to deal with: “that is not what I meant”. But if you understood more clearly what you wanted to say (and what I have put forth) then the assertions would probably be a bit more lucid.

I'm not spending much time dealing with Arminians who are one step away from being Open Theists...

Best of providence,


Randy Everist said...

Thanks for your reply Ron.
When you say "metaphysically false," that is the same as saying it is "necessarily false." But what we seek to establish is in fact necessity, so that to posit it as necessary only begs the question. Further, this seems to misunderstand the nature of Counterfactuals of Creaturely Freedom; things can be "true" without being in the actual world (1 Samuel 23). If you're simply saying there is no grounding for CCFs, this is simply untrue. For we may ask, what is the cause of my choice? And I may answer "the will." You may ask, "but what causes the will to choose as it does?" But this either commits the fallacy of equivocation or does not use "cause" in a very clear sense in the first case. Strictly speaking, nothing "causes" the will to choose. Antecedent character, antecedent circumstances, present circumstances, antecedent choices, and God's acting in the world are all persuasive, but not coercive, factors. In any case, to say if something is contingently true it is false that it will be actually true is patently false. We would need to see some argument establishing such.

I would not prefer "contrary truths," since they are not contrary to each other (the two being "possibly X and possibly not-X" and "X will happen in the actual world."

Implying that philosophy Ph.D.'s do not take Craig's argument seriously is highly implausible. Of course, as I cannot know who you deal with, I can only but give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you have a limited scope.

Reformed Apologist said...

When you say ‘metaphysically false,’ that is the same as saying it is ‘necessarily false.’

Not so. It’s logically false given the metaphysical implications of pure contingency. “Metaphysically false” is simply shorthand. Accordingly, there’s no begging the question.

Further, this seems to misunderstand the nature of Counterfactuals of Creaturely Freedom; things can be "true" without being in the actual world (1 Samuel 23).

You’re getting very far afield. I deal with CCF’s elsewhere on this site so won’t waste time here on that matter. In any case, even granting counterfactuals they need not be according to LFW and that alone undermines this particular premise of yours.

For we may ask, what is the cause of my choice? And I may answer "the will."

The will is simply the faculty of choice, or if you prefer that by which the mind chooses. The will, however, has to be inclined – as Scripture teaches: It is God who causes one both to WILL and to DO of his good pleasure. The will in that sense is the inclination or intention of the agent and the doing is the action that proceeds from the inclination that God causes. There is no LFW in view for wherever there is a cause there is necessity, not contingency.

You may ask, “but what causes the will to choose as it does?" But this either commits the fallacy of equivocation or does not use "cause" in a very clear sense in the first case.

Once again, you are simply rambling and leaving me with nothing to interact. Saying I’m equivocating does not make it so.

Strictly speaking, nothing "causes" the will to choose. Antecedent character, antecedent circumstances, present circumstances, antecedent choices, and God's acting in the world are all persuasive, but not coercive, factors.

You are left with an effect without a cause, which is a philosophical surd. What’s more, given LFW you would be forced to allow for a philosophy of choice that could allow for the removal of only one particular antecedent with the resultant action being different, yet that is peculiar to causality not pure contingency! Consequently, your view of LFW would also have to make room for pure contingency in the physical realm and not just in the metaphysical realm if you were to remain consistent. After all LFW allows for the removal of an antecedent in a feasible world (one God could instantiate without interrupting an agent’s LFW) that results in a different action occuring from the will yet such an act is not a contingent act! Causality and necessity is implied in all such scenarios of antecedent manipulation that occur in the physical world - hence your inconsistency. Consequently, if consistent, you are not able reconcile the physical world of necessity and causality if you apply your same allowances for pure contingency to be present when one variable is altered resulting in a contrary outcome in the meta-physical realm. Think about it. (You won't find that Craig deals with that one.)

Randy, I truly pity you. Molinism is erected upon the foundation of LFW which is nowhere taught in Scripture. Moreover, even if you had LFW you couldn’t know it since you can’t know that something in the universe is not causing your choices. Finally, your quest for autonomy and to reduce God to your standards of righteousness is forcing you to argue (if consistent) that something which might or might not happen will happen. Yet “might” and “will” are semantically antithetical. In the final analyses, your problem is ethical and not intellectual.

I don’t have the luxury of spending more time with you on this matter.


Anonymous said...

In any case, to say if something is contingently true it is false that it will be actually true is patently false. We would need to see some argument establishing such.


It is hard to know where to begin with you. If what you mean by "contingently true" is that it is true that the choice will occur but being metaphysically free it might not occur, then you are left with the problem of assigning a truth value to the outcome when the means to the end are yet still contingent. If you mean by "contingently true" that the truth of the outcome is contingent then although it can be true that X will occur, it cannot be known in advance given that the outcome is truly contingent. It's obvious you are not familiar with this subject.

Dejoyadelareformada said...

Simple and understandable. Thank you brother.

Grace and Peace from the Lord

Jordan Burch

Anonymous said...

Monergism recently addressed this issue:


Anonymous said...

Shameful that Lane Keister believes such things.

Anonymous said...

I am not completely following your 10-step process of refuting Molinism's claims. I am struggling with how you are using the term "necessary", particularly in the progression of steps 4-6.

With that admission of my inability, I do have some very practical questions regarding implications of your view. But let me back-up for framing and for confirming understanding.

I hear you arguing that since God has an eternal decree, any actual deliberation on his part is ruled out. And that all things decreed must necessarily flow from his divine character, and not from any lesser contingent source (such as a human’s free choice). Am I rightly understanding this much?

You deduce that any uncertainty of foreknown actions by any individual is impossible. In other words, what God KNOWS in advance MUST necessarily happen. So you equate God's foreknowledge with His decree: God both foreknows and decrees every action of every person at all times. His foreknowledge and his decree are united (e.g. 2 sides of the same coin). All of this "necessarily". So I hear from both Calvinists and Open Theists that "God can only know what He has decreed". And from the Calvinist: "God has decreed everything, exhaustively."

Not only do you deny Libertarian Free Will for any creature, but even to God Himself, as He is necessarily bound by His character which disallows Him to be fully free; at least in the sense of having the ability to do otherwise.

Am I grasping this accurately?

As I ponder this, I am thinking deductive arguments may be insufficient for such topics. (Just as 2D is incapable of accounting for 3D reality).

If God (to quote C.S. Lewis) is "unbounded by time", and may be seen to interact with the world in His ever-present "now", then His interactions with us could seemingly be before, during, or even post any particular event. But, the Calvinist is pre-committed to defining God's sovereignty whereby He must deterministically control everything, as if all actions are playing out an unchangeable script -- one pre-written from eternity past.

How is this truly different from fatalism?

Why can we not re-envision God's sovereignty as interactive, real-time supervision toward an ultimate end rather than as absolutely prescribing every event?

If God has pre-decreed every detail that happens in the world, how is He not then the "author of evil" and how is He not Himself realistically responsible for man's sinful activity (which He determined)?

I can conceive of a different view wherein God DOES retain absolute freedom as one of His eternal attributes. God thus remains free at any moment to interact with people's choices while still knowing all things -- both actual and potential.

An analogy: In guiding a 2-year old to sit on a couch, a Dad has a multitude of options: He may use reason (occasionally effective), direct commands (which may get direct obedience or defiance), rewards (food placed on the couch) or can pick the small child up and appropriately move the child to the desired destination. The Outcome is known, the process may be variable.

Why would we deprive God of similar adaptive options of persuasion toward his desired ends? Why do you require that for God (in this analogy) to know how the child will move to the couch MUST be via one pre-determined way? Why Is God deprived of using a variety of variable intermediate steps toward ultimate outcomes?

Viewing God as not having LFW to adapt in real-time to human agents but who merely watches the playing out of what was scripted from eternity past rather than shaping it moment by moment -- seems to reduce God to a being more akin to Deist imagination and distance.

How is personal interaction with a personal God maintained if all is pre-determined? How does prayer meaningfully function if there is no impact on how God answers and engages?

This rejection of Molinism seems to reduce God's capacity rather than enhance it.

Reformed Apologist said...

Correct. You’re not following. Here are a series of my posts on Molinism. https://philosophical-theology.com/tag/molinism/