Thursday, April 1, 2010

Necessary and Sufficient Conditions vis a vis God and the Human Will

One particularly notorious determinist and I are discussing our different views on God's relation to the events in creation. He thinks that God has made any and every even that happens necessary by divine decree. I hold to libertarianism and think that God created free creatures whose actions are causally distinct from God in some circumstances.

I claim his view seems to implicate God in all sin. He asserts that I don't escape this problem because since I believe that God foreknows all things, He foreknew that the only way sin would happen would be to create free creatures, and that implicates God in their sin. As I argued in my response to James Swan (found here) this is not the case. It is logically inappropriate to transfer the responsibility for the sins of independent creatures to God simply because He foreknows them.

Consider this example that I used in response to this: If no one invented the airplane, then 9/11 wouldn't have occurred. Hence: 9/11 causally depends on the invention of the airplane. Therefore Wilbur and Orville Wright caused 9/11.

Or consider this example: The inventor of the automobile probably foresaw the potential tragedies that could come about from smashing a couple tons of steel into someone, but he obviously thought that the greater good that would come from having such a convenient form of transportation was worth it. He likewise can't be blamed for the negative future consequences that occurred because of the automobile's invention, even though he knew they most likely would occur.

This is where recognizing the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions come in. The creation of free creatures is only a necessary condition for evil. Those free creatures did not have to sin, but in order for them to sin they would have to be free. On the determinist end, however, God's decrees become the sufficient condition for sin. All that is needed for necessitated creatures to sin is the simple decree made by the determiner. The determiner is therefore the responsible party, since they are the one who has made all these events necessary, even sin.


drwayman said...

Brennon - I think your reasoning regarding the Wright brothers' culpability in 9/11 makes tons of sense.

Since the fall of mankind, humanity has been looking to blame someone. In the garden of Eden, Adam, in Gen 3:12, said, "That woman, the one YOU gave me, gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it (emphasis mine)." Rather, than accept responsibility for his choices, Adam blamed God.

I wonder if this determinist concept that implicates God in all sin comes from Aristotle's concept of the "unmoved mover" or the "prime mover." Essentially, since God started it all, He has to be responsible for everything.

I would prefer to gain my theology from the Bible than Aristotle.

Thanks for defending God's character.

William Watson Birch said...

Moreover, the airplane and automobile examples serve another example of responsibility, because all people have a responsibility to utilize the freedom which God has granted them to NOT crash planes into buildings, thus killing thousands of people, and to drive automobiles responsibly.

But when did God's foreknowledge become causal? And since God foreknows free will decisions, and allows them, how does that make Him responsible? Because He did not stop the free will actions? Seriously? But we are not robots -- and Calvinists agree with this statement. If we then are not robots, and we can reason and make our own choices, without them being foreordained (and thus God's choices for us), then Libertarian Free Will is correct and Determinism is false (which we already knew, because Scripture gives a plethora of examples of God interacting with free creatures).

Marcus McElhaney said...

My response.Thanks, Brennon. These posts really help me!

Robert said...

Hello Brennon,

I mentioned the calvinist/determinist’s argument that since God created the world, nothing could happen in the world unless God had created the world, so God is responsible for all that happens in the world, to a friend. I liked his response:

“That reminds me of the guy who after being arrested by the Police said: ‘Why are you arresting me? If my parents had not have had me, I never would have committed the crime! Arrest **them** cause it’s their fault they brought me into this world!’”

If you can understand why the criminal here is wrong about who is responsible for **his** crime, then you can also understand why the sinner not a Holy God is responsible for **his** sins.