Monday, June 14, 2010

See, I Can Change My Mind; or Accepting Molinism

After much reflection on the issue, I have decided to accept Molinism as the correct way to view God's exhaustive omniscience as it relates to human freedom. Since I also think Arminius was a Molinist, I believe I am in good company.

Luis Molina, in response to the deterministic slant the reformers were taking, set out to articulate how he saw an omniscient being dealing with creation and free creatures. He postulated that we can see that God has three different "moments" in which He knows things.

  1. Natural Knowledge - This is the knowledge of what God knows could happen. In other words, what is broadly logically possible to happen. God possesses all necessary truths. This being the case, God has knowledge of any possible world.
  2. Middle Knowledge - This is God's knowledge of all counterfactuals. A counterfactual is a proposition that is in the subjunctive mood. For example, stating, "if I were rich, I would own a Ferrari," is a subjunctive proposition. So prior to His divine creative decree, God knew what any free creature would do in any situation they would be in. By this knowledge, God knows the range of feasible worlds He could create with free creatures.
  3. Free knowledge -  This is the knowledge of what will actually happen after God makes His decision to create from among the feasible worlds. God knows everything that will happen in the actual world. He knows everything that any of His creatures will actually do, and what He will actually do.
So, with this in mind, it is easy to see how God could very easily providentially guide creation to His ends and still deal with free creatures. Take, for instance, the crucifixion. Peter says in Acts that Jesus was "delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death" (Acts 2:23). Well we know that God Himself didn't cause the pharisees to be godless. Rather, God knew what kind of godless men the pharisees would be, and He knew that if they were put in the position they were in, they would act to murder Jesus. Thereby, God was able to decree that Christ would be crucified to accomplish His justice, and was able to use the freely chosen sinful actions of evil men to accomplish this.

I find this system to be extremely Biblical. God made predictions like in Jeremiah 38:17-18 where He said, "If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down; you and your family will live. But if you will not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be handed over to the Babylonians and they will burn it down; you yourself will not escape from their hands." Jesus used middle knowledge to tell the disciples that if they cast their net to the other side of the boat, they would catch many fish (John 21:6).

I think this system is the most Biblically and philosophically sound, and think it is mentally stimulating, since you can study it for a long time and still glean new insights. I recommend looking into it.

31 comments:

The Seeking Disciple said...

I bought Molina's work on middle knowledge but struggled through it. Do you know where I can get some good information on middle knowledge such as a good book (which I have Craig's book THE ONLY WISE GOD) or a website that offers easy to understand lessons on Molinism?

Steven said...

Molinism falls victim to the Consequence argument, the best argument libertarians have against compatibilism. See my post here.

Also, there is the grounding objection, and the foreknowledge argument, etc.

And William Watson Birch and JC Thibodoux both agree God is the author of evil on Molinism. See my post here, for WWB's comment and Brian's admission that God is responsible for evil on Molinism. For JC's admission, check the "Fallacy #8" thread on his blog.

Plus, it is hard to see how Molinism is very fair to reprobates, just like Calvinism is.

I'd be interested in your thoughts on my posts on the topic.

bossmanham said...

Steven,

I'm not sure why any of that is true. In Molinism, God is simply creating a world in which He knows everything that will happen, and is able to providentially guide it by use of His middle knowledge. You're assuming determinism if you think the consequence argument isn't viable on the system, because people actually are the agents who decide what they do. Molina was a rabid libertarian, as I myself would claim to be.

I don't see the grounding objection as a problem, because you could raise the same objection for God's free knowledge. In fact, that's exactly how open theists argue their point. If the person doesn't exist to know about, how does God know it? It's just part of God's omniscient knowledge of all true propositions. He knows what A will do if placed in situation X, X', X''... and on and on.

Reprobates are at fault for their own damnation, just as I have always believed.

Really, not much is changing about my approach, just that I am accepting the logical conclusion of what I already believed anyway.

Mitch said...

Boss,

Of course I agree with Steven, but that is no big surprise. I do have a question though about what you wrote in response to Steven-

He knows what A will do if placed in situation X,X',X”... and on and on.

Under this scheme/plan is it not God who places A in those specific situations? And the reason that He would place A in a given situation is to bring about His decree or plan, and/or to bring about the desired result that God wants that is in accordance with His overall plan?

Also, does this not deal a fatal blow to the power of contrary choice? In that, A is placed in a situation to bring about a specific result that God already knows. There is no ability to do otherwise once God places A in the given situation.

One more, since A does not place themselves in a situation how is this not comparable to God just moving the pieces to manipulate His desired result?

Steven said...

Have you read any of my posts? Because it doesn't seem like you're dealing with the arguments. I gave a formulation of the Consequence argument on my blog and discussed it briefly with a guy named Brian, who I think is a Molinist. The conversation ended (for now) but check it out, because I think the argument really does go through.

"I don't see the grounding objection as a problem, because you could raise the same objection for God's free knowledge. In fact, that's exactly how open theists argue their point. If the person doesn't exist to know about, how does God know it? It's just part of God's omniscient knowledge of all true propositions. He knows what A will do if placed in situation X, X', X''... and on and on."

*I* don't have a problem about God's free knowledge, because I think presently obtaining conditions are sufficient for the truth of future propositions.

Of course, it doesn't answer the question of the grounding of any proposition of the sort C ⇒ A to answer that it's "just part of God's omniscience" to know it. If it's a part of his omniscience, then that means it's true--but what grounds its truth? That is the question.

"Reprobates are at fault for their own damnation, just as I have always believed."

That's not what my post dealt with. Read it and see my argument.

Marc said...

The Seeking Disciple:

In addition to Craig's book The Only Wise God, here are some other resources worth considering for further reading on Molinism. Keep in mind that most of the following is favorable toward Molinism.

Books

Divine Providence: The Molinist Account
- Thomas P. Flint

On Divine Foreknowledge
- Alfred J. Freddoso
(Since the majority of the book is a translation of some of Molina's writings, specifically consult the Introduction and the first five sections.)

Middle Knowledge
- Eef Dekker

Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views
- Gregory Boyd, David Hunt, Paul Helm, and William Lane Craig

Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach
- Kenneth Keathley

Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview
- J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig

The Nature of Necessity
- Alvin Plantinga

Online

http://www3.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/molinism.htm
("Molinism:")
- Alfred J. Freddoso

http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/grounding.html
("Middle Knowledge, Truth-Makers, and the 'Grounding Objection' ")
- William Lane Craig

http://www.iep.utm.edu/middlekn/
("Middle Knowledge")
- Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

http://people.ucsc.edu/~otte/articles/otte.adams.pdf
("A Defense of Middle Knowledge")
- Richard Otte

http://prosblogion.ektopos.com/archives/concept-of-god/molinism/
(Several posts devoted to discussing Molinism)
- The Prosblogion

Hope that helps. =)

Peace,

-- Marc

A.M. Mallett said...

Since I also think Arminius was a Molinist, I believe I am in good company.

The only two sources I have encountered that attempt to tie Arminius to Molinism are William Lane Craig and Eef Dekker. Arminius used the phrase "middle knowledge" in his public disputation IV but those who have studied him closely such as Olsen and Witt contend the context of its usage is considerably different than that intended by Molina or Craig (Olsen, Arminian Theology:Myths and Realities p.196).
Given Arminius rejected all mechanisms of determinism as leading to the authorship of sin, I do not see how his view of LFW could be compatible with Molina. I realize there are several Arminians who lean toward the Molinist view, I do not know that it can be said it fits within the classical Arminian perspective e.g. LFW.

Just my two cents worth ...

A.M. Mallett said...

Boss,
The more I look at Craig's position the more concerned I become that it is fraught with presuppositions that work against it. Consider that middle knowledge is an attempt to bridge the determinism of Calvinism and the foreknowledge of God with respect to LFW. Now, I'll borrow Forlines’ argument and quote him later for effect. Craig stated with regard to God’s natural knowledge:

“God’s natural knowledge includes knowledge of all possibilities. He knows all possible individuals that he could create, all the possible circumstances he could place them in, all their possible actions and reactions, and all the possible worlds or orders which he could create” - Craig, “The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom”, (Baker Book House 1987), p.129

Keep in mind that Molinism does not accept that God knows every free will choice and act but instead knows the possibilities. Using Forelines’ argument, how could God know all possible individuals without knowledge of every free will choice and action that leads to every individual? Quoting Forlines:

“For God to know that I would exist would require a knowledge of all the free acts from Adam and Eve to me that were involved in every marriage, every conception, and every birth of my endless number of grandparents, and my parents. If He knew that, He already had knowledge of free human choices and acts.” – F. Leroy Forlines, “The Quest For Truth”, (Randall House Publications, 2001), p.332

Given middle knowledge distances itself from exhaustive knowledge of free will choices and actions, the last sentence of the Forlines’ quote drives home the problem I have with Molinism. I have yet to encounter an argument that settles this matter in favor of the Molinist.

I do not know if you were looking to open discussion of Molinism here but it is a very interesting topic albeit non-essential to the faith.

Skeptical Rationalist said...

*shrug* It all seems no more or less untestable and arbitrary as any other attributes ascribed to God.

From my point of view, it just looks like a game of theological Twister to get around thorny issues that at least to this particular agnostic seem pretty silly.

I doubt I'm your target audience, so, don't mind me.

Steven said...

"*shrug* It all seems no more or less untestable and arbitrary as any other attributes ascribed to God."

Why isn't it testable? What if scripture teaches God doesn't have middle knowledge--that'd be a test. And what if middle knowledge is impossible (e.g., the grounding objection)--then we can know God can't have it. It doesn't seem arbitrary to me.

"From my point of view, it just looks like a game of theological Twister to get around thorny issues that at least to this particular agnostic seem pretty silly."

Of course, if you think God doesn't exist, then you'd think of all theology as pointless puzzle-solving and mind-games, like a logic puzzle. But who cares.

Thanks for letting us know?

bossmanham said...

Everyone, I don't have a lot of time at the moment to respond. I have to make this quick.

then that means it's true--but what grounds its truth?

The fact that it's how the future would actually be if certain people acted a certain way in a certain situation. I don't really think the grounding objection is that strong. God just knows what certain people will do. He's that awesome.

Even the Calvinist would have an issue with what is grounding truth prior to creation. No states of affairs existed to infer what the future would be without creation.

bossmanham said...

Marc,

Thanks for those great resources. As a new Molinist, they'll be a great help to me.

Steven said...

"The fact that it's how the future would actually be if certain people acted a certain way in a certain situation. I don't really think the grounding objection is that strong. God just knows what certain people will do. He's that awesome."

You haven't answered the question. "The fact that it's how the future would actually" is what needs the grounding, not what does the grounding. What makes it a fact that that is how the future would be? You're not addressing the problem.

And the grounding objection is probably the strongest objection to Molinism--if you don't think it's that strong, and you offer a lackluster response like that, I have nothing to say except perhaps you maybe don't quite get it.

"Even the Calvinist would have an issue with what is grounding truth prior to creation. No states of affairs existed to infer what the future would be without creation."

God's presently obtaining mental states, his inner determinations about what will be the case, or his timeless decrees, etc., are sufficient to ground the truth of such propositions.

bossmanham said...

You haven't answered the question. "The fact that it's how the future would actually" is what needs the grounding, not what does the grounding

Incorrect. See my post on Billy's blog. You are assuming there needs to be a concrete object to ground truth in. But that's certainly not been shown by any truth-maker theorist.

Furthermore, my response is fairly similar to Freddoso's. He says what grounds the truth of future tense statements is the fact that that statement will have a grounds of its truth, or would in the case of counterfactuals of creaturely freedom.

And the grounding objection is probably the strongest objection to Molinism

Which is why I accepted Molinism. It's weak. The same issue can be brought up about any future tense statement, since the future does not exist.

God's presently obtaining mental states, his inner determinations about what will be the case, or his timeless decrees, etc., are sufficient to ground the truth of such propositions.

Wow, then God knowing what A would freely do in situation B is sufficient to ground that counterfactual of creaturely freedom.

bossmanham said...

Other issues:

Roy,

Sorry I overlooked your post there. I think Marc has you covered.

Steven,

Molinism falls victim to the Consequence argument, the best argument libertarians have against compatibilism.

I think Brian answered you sufficiently there on your blog. We have a maximal state of affairs that we deal with. So while we aren't responsible for the world in which we make choices, we are responsible for the choices we make in this world.

And William Watson Birch and JC Thibodoux both agree God is the author of evil on Molinism.

I think there's quite a bit of misunderstanding about Molinism among my Arminian friends.

Mitch,

Under this scheme/plan is it not God who places A in those specific situations? And the reason that He would place A in a given situation is to bring about His decree or plan, and/or to bring about the desired result that God wants that is in accordance with His overall plan?


Yes, but God knows what they will freely do based on His middle knowledge. Him creating a world in which they exist no more constrains their freedom than it does in any of the other worlds God creates. God has this knowledge of counterfactuals of free creatures because of what they would choose in different worlds. I have yet to see why that is an issue for me.

Also, does this not deal a fatal blow to the power of contrary choice?

How would it? The whole reason God has this counterfactual knowledge is because these creatures actually CAN behave differently than they do. It was possible that Peter not deny Christ, even in the specific situation he was in. He is the one who made the decision to deny Christ. God simply created the world in which Peter did this.

This objection rings just as hollow as does the objection that God knowing the future makes in necessary.

Steven said...

"Furthermore, my response is fairly similar to Freddoso's. He says what grounds the truth of future tense statements is the fact that that statement will have a grounds of its truth, or would in the case of counterfactuals of creaturely freedom."

I understand your response. Again, you haven't responded to my point. The fact that it will be so is what requires grounding. What grounds the fact that it will be so, or would be so, etc.?

"Which is why I accepted Molinism. It's weak. The same issue can be brought up about any future tense statement, since the future does not exist."

Yes, I know that--and I don't see how you take this as making a point in your favor. That any future contingent proposition lacks a truthmaker (unless determinism is true, etc.) is a serious problem for people who think future contingent propositions are true--and you are dismissing it with cavalier arrogance.

"Wow, then God knowing what A would freely do in situation B is sufficient to ground that counterfactual of creaturely freedom."

No, the truthmaker of P must be explanatorily prior to the truth of P; it has to explain why P is true. God's knowing S will freely do A does not explain the truth of "S will freely do A" but presupposes it, so it cannot act as a ground.

"I think Brian answered you sufficiently there on your blog. We have a maximal state of affairs that we deal with. So while we aren't responsible for the world in which we make choices, we are responsible for the choices we make in this world."

(i) You don't address my latest point, which Brian never responded to. My argument goes through if you consider my latest posts, because "God was in that mental state peculiar to beings choosing to actualize α" still necessarily entails Peter eats ice cream, or whatever the proposition was, while not being a soft fact at all.
(ii) Your response to the anti-Molinist consequence argument is open to the compatibilist against the anti-determinist consequence argument. If you can be responsible for Q, even if Q is entailed by P which is something for which you are not responsible, then the consequence argument is invalid all across the board, not just against the Molinist. This is a denial of (β*), which is open to the compatibilist too.

Mitch said...

Boss,

I fail to see how God creating a world that puts A in a given situation does not constrain their freedom. The minute God instantiates the world all other avenues are cut off. So in the example of Peter, God instantiated the world that Peter denied Christ, there was no chance that Peter could do otherwise.

Also, you did not address how this is different than saying that God is just moving the pieces to bring about what He wants. Sticking with the Peter example, God knew that by placing Peter in that situation that he would deny Christ. I fail to see how Peter had LFW? It does you no good to say “if Peter had done otherwise God would know” for the simple fact that God placed Peter in that particular situation to get that desired result. Sure God would've known if Peter would do otherwise, but the reason God instantiated that particular situation is because He planned for Peter to deny Christ.

Also, by admitting that God knows what someone will do in any and all situations you effectively close the door on LFW in my opinion. Let me explain, a staple of the LFW view postulates that A can do otherwise in any situation and that the outcome can be different. Yet you say and I assume agree that God knows by placing one in a given situation that the outcome will always be the same or else God would be dealing in probabilities. This runs counter the LFW view and in my opinion this is where most libertarians want their cake and eat it too. In that, they say that God knows by placing A in situation X it will bring about Z and then still claim that A can do Y in situation X. If that were true then as I stated above God is dealing in probabilities.

bossmanham said...

What grounds the fact that it will be so, or would be so, etc.?

The fact that person X would act in a certain way in situation Y.

What you really have a problem with is how God could know such counterfactuals, it seems. It appears to me fairly obvious that certain counterfactuals of freedom would be true than to say they must be grounded in some sort of concrete reality. Why should I think that the truth of propositions must be derived from concrete objects? The future isn't actual yet, but there are certain statements that correspond to the truth of the future. All that truth as a correspondence requires is that a proposition about a future state of affairs actually will be true. Likewise with CCF, all a proposition needs to actually be true is that it correspond to how X would act in situation Y. But if God can, using middle knowledge, can "‘run scenarios’ by placing hypothetical people in hypothetical circumstances to see what they would do." Therefore, that is as far as the grounding needs to go to make statements about CCF's true.

That any future contingent proposition lacks a truthmaker (unless determinism is true, etc.) is a serious problem for people who think future contingent propositions are true

But it isn't, because I've already given a ground for that reality, the fact that that event will actually happen. Your rejection of that isn't really a problem for me, primarily since you've given me no good reason to think it is. You asserting something is a problem the truth it makes not.

"God was in that mental state peculiar to beings choosing to actualize α" still necessarily entails Peter eats ice cream, or whatever the proposition was, while not being a soft fact at all.

Just cause God knows, doesn't mean He is infringing on libertarian freedom, nor does it mean Peter couldn't have chosen otherwise.

I assume Brian stopped conversing because you never stop, and you disregard previous discussions. One can only go on so long.

If you can be responsible for Q, even if Q is entailed by P which is something for which you are not responsible,

That's ridiculous nonsense. No libertarian has ever held that they have control over what situation they were born into, which is the Q in that bunch of baloney. What the consequence argument shows is that if events in the remote past, before we had cognition, determined our choices, we aren't responsible for those choices. So while God can place us in situations, if events in the remote past aren't causal constraints on our choices (as the libertarian argues, since the will is self-determined) then we have LFW, and that's the only way for us to be responsible for our actions.

Further, I would argue that P entails Q only in the sense that God is certain about what you will do. P does not necessarily entail Q, which is the same fallacy I've dealt with before. God knowing your free choice in the situation you're in doesn't magically transfer the responsibility elsewhere.

Now here's what you'll do; you'll claim I don't understand what you were actually saying or some nonsense like that. If that's what you're going to do, don't bother posting a reply.

bossmanham said...

Mitch,

I fail to see how God creating a world that puts A in a given situation does not constrain their freedom. The minute God instantiates the world all other avenues are cut off. So in the example of Peter, God instantiated the world that Peter denied Christ, there was no chance that Peter could do otherwise.

No they aren't. Peter can still choose differently, God just knows what he'll do. This is no different from the argument that God's foreknowledge makes the future necessary. I dealt with that here.

Also, you did not address how this is different than saying that God is just moving the pieces to bring about what He wants. Sticking with the Peter example, God knew that by placing Peter in that situation that he would deny Christ. I fail to see how Peter had LFW?

Think about it. Did your parents placing you in whatever school you went to strip away the power of choice you had? No, and neither does God's instantiation of a world constrain our choices to one. We can still choose, God simply knows what we will choose.

It does you no good to say “if Peter had done otherwise God would know” for the simple fact that God placed Peter in that particular situation to get that desired result.

I'm not seeing a reason to think this in anyway strips Peter's freedom. This is a freedom permitting circumstance. God knowing what will happen doesn't constrain someone's will.

Also, by admitting that God knows what someone will do in any and all situations you effectively close the door on LFW in my opinion

Then it doesn't seem you understand LFW. Why does it strip LFW if the agent still can choose?

Yet you say and I assume agree that God knows by placing one in a given situation that the outcome will always be the same or else God would be dealing in probabilities. This runs counter the LFW view and in my opinion this is where most libertarians want their cake and eat it too.

Mitch, until you show how God knowing what someone will certainly do makes it necessary that they do it, and takes the power of alternate choice away, I have no reason to think this is the case. Peter actually could choose otherwise, but God knew what Peter would do.

As I predicted, the arguments here are fairly similar to the ones faced by the non-Molinist libertarian.

bossmanham said...

"No libertarian has ever held that they have control over what situation they were born into, which is the Q in that bunch of baloney"

Is obviously not Q, but P.

Mitch said...

Boss,

Thank you for the time and responses. I will try to show you why I believe that it necessary that they do it, thereby stripping them of LFW.

It's not just that God knew what Peter would do that is the problem, the issue for me seems to be that God knows that if Peter were placed in that situation that 100% of the time he would deny Christ. Adding to that I would say that the reason that God placed Peter in that situation was to get that specific response, in this case Peter denying Christ.

Now I'm of the opinion that necessary means ”that something is a required condition for something else to be the case” and it seems apparent to me that God placing Peter in that situation to bring about that result is necessary in that it is what God wanted to further the overall plan that He has in mind.

When it comes to not being able to do otherwise in this situation it seems clear to me, but I will try one more time to explain why I believe it to be so. What LFW means is that A could be placed in situation X 100 times and each time could pick something different. Yet I ask myself why would God place someone in situation X? If it is true that they can go different ways 100 times then it is turns God into playing probabilities, yet you've stated that God knows what A will do in any and all situations. My argument and belief is if that is true then God places the person in that situation to get that specific result and by God wanting that specific result to be actualized there is no chance that A can do otherwise in that situation or else God would place them in a different situation.

I view it like this, Peter could not do otherwise but to deny Christ because God placed him in that situation. If God did not want Peter to deny Christ then God would place him in a different situation.

Common sense tells me that if a person is placed in a situation to bring about a desired result or in accordance to further the plan then it must be necessary for that result to be realized.

One more thing that bears on this is your admission that God is the one that places people in these situations and not the person. After all Peter could say that if God had actualized a different situation then he would not have denied Christ, but notice the key here is that it is God that decides what plays out and what situation is realized and thereby eliminating any notion of PAP.

Robert said...

Hello Brennon, (part 1),

While I am not a Molinist, I am very sympathetic towards Molinism. I have read through some of the comments here and it appears to me that some are making mistakes concerning what Molinists hold to. For example,

A.M. Mallett wrote:

“Keep in mind that Molinism does not accept that God knows every free will choice and act but instead knows the possibilities.”

From my reading of Molinists, that is not their belief. They believe that God knows what “every free will choice and act” will be, and not just as possibilities. If I understand Molinism correctly, all possibilities are part of God’s “natural knowledge.” While what we will in fact do, is known by God through his “middle knowledge.” So the Molinist does believe that God knows both all possibilities as well as all that will actually occur (whether past, present, or future).

Mitch has been making even more mistakes particular concerning his comments on libertarian free will. I have corrected him before and he never accepts it, but I will point some things out again for your sake Brennon.

Mitch over and over commits what I call the “conflation error”. It is an error made by determinists who are trying to argue against LFW. Here are two statements, the first making the conflation error, the second better representing what advocates of LFW believe.

P1 = conflation error = you could do otherwise than you in fact will do.
P2 = better representation of LFW = you could do otherwise before you do what you will in fact do.

P1 is false (actually it is logically absurd). Say that I will **in fact** watch the Laker/Celtics seventh game today (which is later than I am posting these comments). If I **in fact** will watch the Laker game later, could I do otherwise than, watch the Laker game later? No. And yet innumerable determinists will present LFW as the belief that we can do otherwise than we will in fact do. This is a misrepresentation, and as determinists keep making it (even when corrected) it is a false misrepresentation, a lie. Consider for a moment what it would mean for me to do otherwise than I will in fact do. It would mean staying with my example that when the time comes I could BOTH watch the game and not watch the game at the same time!! That is a logical and experiential impossibility (I will **in fact** either watch the game or not watch the game, but I cannot do both simultaneously). Any time that you hear a determinist say something like: if I placed you in the exact same circumstances and we played the tape 100 times, LFW means that you COULD DO OTHERWISE THAN YOU WILL IN FACT DO. But if **in fact** I will say watch the Laker game, then it is impossible for me to not watch the Laker game. The other major and repeated mistake by determinists is to infer from the fact that we cannot do otherwise than we will in fact do, to the conclusion that that means that we did not have free will, that our action was necessitated.

Robert

Robert said...

Hello Brennon (part 2),

Now consider P2. This is not saying that I can do otherwise than I will in fact do (which again is absurd and impossible). What P2 does is to not conflate the actual outcome and the presence of LFW. When does LFW exist? It exists (if it does with respect to a particular choice) BEFORE you make the choice. Put another way, HAVING A CHOICE (if you really have a choice) precedes MAKING A CHOICE in time. And the actual outcome that we speak about refers not to the HAVING OF A CHOICE but to the MAKING OF A CHOICE. Before the Laker game comes on tonight, I have a choice between watching the game or not watching the game. That is when LFW is present, up until the choice is actually made and becomes an actual outcome. Once I make the choice, say watch the Laker game (then I no longer have a choice, as I have made the choice to watch the Laker game rather than making the choice not to watch the Laker game). Determinists often conflate the time frame in which we have the choice and the time frame in which we make the choice. If you conflate the two you end up making these absurd claims that LFW is doing otherwise than you will in fact do. Again, you can never do otherwise than you will in fact do. The issue however is whether or not, before you do what you will in fact do, you HAVE A CHOICE (with the normal meaning of those words, that you could do one thing or do another different thing, like watch the Laker game or not watch the Laker game tonight).

Now with these things in minds consider some examples from Mitch the determinist:

“Also, by admitting that God knows what someone will do in any and all situations you effectively close the door on LFW in my opinion. Let me explain, a staple of the LFW view postulates that A can do otherwise in any situation and that the outcome can be different.”

He speaks of “a staple of the LFW view postulates that A can do otherwise in any situation”. Yes if you mean BEFORE THE ACTUAL OUTCOME, before the actual outcome occurs, the choice is made, then Yes. But then he commits the conflation error when he adds: “and that outcome can be different.” No it can’t, the actual outcome, what I in fact do, is what I will in fact do (it cannot be otherwise than what I will in fact do). If the choice **is** different, then the outcome will be different. But if that particular outcome (say me watching the game is the actual outcome) is X then it cannot be the case that the outcome could be not-X (this would be like saying that if the particular outcome is that I do in fact watch the Laker game, that if I have LFW then I could also do otherwise, actualize another actual outcome of not watching the Laker game, which is both absurd and the conflation error). And yet did you see how Mitch said that LFW would be the ability to actualize an outcome that is different than the actual outcome? (the conflation error, P1 from above). If I have a free choice, my choice is not necessitated, than before the actual outcome (which will be either watching the game or choosing not to watch the game) I could choose either option. I really have a choice. If I choose to watch the game then watching the game is the actual outcome: if instead I choose to not watch the game then not watching the game is the actual outcome. The actual outcome cannot be both (i.e. I cannot simultaneously choose to watch the game and not watch the game, I will in fact choose to do one or the other, and whichever option I choose I cannot do otherwise than what I in fact choose).

Robert

Robert said...

Hello Brennon (part 3),

“This runs counter the LFW view and in my opinion this is where most libertarians want their cake and eat it too. In that, they say that God knows by placing A in situation X it will bring about Z and then still claim that A can do Y in situation X.”

Another mistake that Mitch makes repeatedly is to insist that if God knows how you will in fact choose (i.e. God knows the actual outcome, he knows what choice that you will make) and “places you in a particular situation” knowing how you will in fact choose, that that eliminates LFW, that you could not have done otherwise. Again he conflates the time when we HAVE A CHOICE, with the time when we MAKE THE CHOICE. When we talk about God knowing what I will actually do in circumstance X, aren’t we talking not about a hypothetical, but about an actual outcome (i.e the actual choice I will make)?? And again it is true, that if God knows that I will in fact watch the Laker game, then I will in fact watch the Laker game and I will not do otherwise. But does God “placing me” in a position, necessitate my choice? That is what Mitch assumes as he assumes determinism. But that is not what the libertarian believes. We believe (and Molinists believe this is the case since God has “middle knowledge”) that regarding any situation we could be placed in that God knows not only how we could choose (i.e., in the time when LFW exists, when we HAVE A CHOICE; prior to the actual outcome, the choice being made), but how in fact we will choose (i.e. what choice we will in fact make). And there is no conflict if we do not conflate HAVING A CHOICE with MAKING THE CHOICE that we will in fact make. Virtually all of Mitch’s confused and mistaken statements involve not understanding this distinction, not properly representing the position of the LFW advocate. I fully agree that we cannot do otherwise than we will in fact do. But I believe, that we sometimes have a choice, which means that we decide which of at least two different options will be actualized. If the choice to watch the Laker game or not is up to me tonight, then I really can choose either option, neither option is necessitated. And yet whichever choice that I make, which ever option is actualized as the actual outcome, as the choice that I will in fact make, God knew what it would be before the actual outcome occurs.

So Brennon don’t let some of these mistakes and misrepresentations of LFW and Molinism get you off track! :-)

Robert

Mitch said...

I wondered how long it would take before Robert crawled out of the weeds to “enlighten” some of you.

I notice that he goes from blog to blog and if someone talks about his pet issue he feels the need to condescend and blow smoke. I do appreciate that he believes that there is no such thing as ability to do otherwise than we will in fact do, now if he can only convince all those other libertarians of that fact the world would be a better place.

For those who see through his bluster you will notice that he never truly engaged the argument. In fact, when it comes to God just playing a cosmic game of chess, by manipulating the situation that will bring about His desired result, he is painfully silent.

One more thing, notice that Robert tries to sneak ability to do otherwise back in after his concession by saying that this ability is present before you make a choice. Alright, if you have this ability before the choice then it seems only logical that God has to wait to see which way you will go. Congratulations you have just turned God into a person who watches the tape. Yet it has already been admitted that the reason that God places someone in any and all situations is to bring about His desired outcome. So this HAVING A CHOICE is because God arranged/planned for you to have that choice to bring about you MAKING THAT CHOICE that He wanted to further His plan.

There is the usual bluster about the choice not being necessitated, yet I take necessitate to mean “(usually passive) to compel or require (someone to do something)” so God necessitates the outcome, by placing you in that particular situation that will require that that SPECIFIC CHOICE be made, all to bring about the desired result that God wants to further His plan.

Now I do not write this for Robert, he has repeatedly shown that he is a one trick pony who will only say the same thing over and over again, never truly engage the other side and just gets more long winded as he cuts and pastes his usual responses, no I say it for anyone else who may be reading this

bossmanham said...

Mitch, while it seems you may not like Robert, I don't see anything he said here as deserving of being ridiculed. I'd be interested in seeing your response to what he argues.

One more thing, notice that Robert tries to sneak ability to do otherwise back in after his concession by saying that this ability is present before you make a choice.

Robert is a libertarian, as am I. the power and ability to choose otherwise exists within our wills if this is true. Where does he sneak it in?

His argument, which you seem to not be getting at all, is that what we WILL do is different from what we CAN do. We CAN choose from a myriad of choices depending the circumstance. We WILL only do one of those things. But just because we WILL do something doesn't mean we HAVE to do it by necessity. As has been shown multiple times here and on other blogs, God's knowledge does not force us to do anything.

Alright, if you have this ability before the choice then it seems only logical that God has to wait to see which way you will go

Mitch, you keep throwing this straw man around. All I'm looking for here is a little intellectual honesty. God can know what we will do without making it so we have to do it. It simply does not follow.

So this HAVING A CHOICE is because God arranged/planned for you to have that choice to bring about you MAKING THAT CHOICE that He wanted to further His plan.

This is based on fallacious reasoning, as seen here. God created a world in which He knew what choice you would make in a situation. God actualizing that situation doesn't force your choice. He simply knows what you WILL do and is able to providentially work in light of that. God's knowing does not entail that you MUST do it.

Instead of degenerating into ridicule and insult, as you have the tendency to do over at Ben and JC Thib's blog, why not amiably engage the arguments?

Mitch said...

Boss,

Robert did not argue for any relevant point and he failed to address the meat of what I wrote. In fact, if you had read my comment you would see that not only was I far nicer than he is to us Calvinist, but that this is his pet issue. I'm amazed that you guys are silent when he spouts some of the stuff that he does against us Calvinists, I guess because he is one of your own you just let that go. Also, I laugh out how he condescends even his supposed friends, “Now Boss don't let the determinist worry you, let me tell you how wrong they are.” lol

Who cares though, you guys will keep letting him get passes and demand that people that disagree with him be held to a higher standard. Moving on...

Tell me how you avoid the charge that God is just playing a game and manipulates what you WILL DO by placing you in circumstances that will bring it about? Furthermore, how can a libertarian believe that circumstances always being the same the outcome will always be the same as well?

I read the article you linked to and no surprise I do not think that you answered the problem I brought up. Let me try again, the problem or issue is not that God foreknows x will happen, the issue is that it is God that is directing and bringing to pass what will happen. I also addressed the necessitate view and showed how God does indeed necessitate what will happen. The problem is that you just want to attribute that God “knows”, the issue and the problem is that God does more than just “know” what will happen. He is the one that is placing you in that situation to bring about that specific result. That is something that I've yet to see you, Robert, JC, Ben, Bob, Fred, Tom, Harry... address. It is my opinion that you guys turn God into nothing more than a spectator, who because of His being God can then work with what you do. Yet God is active and intentionally bringing this all to fruition to further His plan.

To be clear, God controls the circumstances and He controls the result by manipulating the circumstances that will bring about the result that He wants and that is in accordance with His plan. So in the Peter example, God not only knew that Peter would deny Christ three times, but God is the one that controlled the circumstances and manipulated the situation to bring about that Peter would deny Christ three times. Think about that for a moment! God placed that maid/girl there to get that response. What a truly awesome God!!! He did not just “know” that Peter would deny Christ three times, but He controlled all the circumstances and moved all the pieces to where that was the only result that would be actualized.

Mitch said...

Boss,

Furthermore, how can yo not see the issue with LFW when it comes to God placing you in any and all situations. While you agree that once someone makes the choice then they cannot do otherwise (even if they could go back in time), the problem is much more serious. What you believe, I assume you agree with Robert, is that if someone HAS NOT made a choice in a particular situation then they can do otherwise, but if the person is so consistent that when placed in a particular situation that they always choose the same thing then you kind of dilute LFW, in my opinion.

Think about it this way, BEFORE you make a choice, say X, God knows that you will ALWAYS choose X because of the circumstances and situations surrounding the choice. Yet most libertarians say that the circumstances and situations do not contribute in any meaningful way to the choice you make. Sure they may play a minor role, but they do not cause you to choose they way you did. Again I have to ask, why state that God knows that by placing you in Z that you will do X if Z (meaning the situations and/or circumstances) do not contribute in any meaningful way to you choosing X?

Does common sense not kick in and say that if you have libertarian free will then you being placed in situation Z plays no vital part in you choosing X? So what point is there in saying that God knows that by placing you in Z that you will do X? If libertarian free will is true then Z shouldn't matter. Do you see how saying that if placed in Z you will do X undermines libertarian free will?

Oh well, it is late and I need to go.

J.C. Thibodaux said...

Steven N., FYI, I never said anything about Molinism making God the author of evil. I merely stated that your objections against Molinism were meaningless to me since I'm not a Molinist.

Tom said...

Molinsm is believable to me because there are physical processes that as far as we know are genuinely probabilistic or cannot be determined or calculated exactly, no matter how sophisticated our measuring equipment becomes (e.g. quantum physics, three-body gravitational motion). But I don't think there's any approximation or probabilistic process from God's perspective.

So it's not illogical to apply the same reasoning to human will, even if we can't comprehend it.

Mitch said...

Boss,

You are correct, I need to apologize to Robert for my rude comments.

Robert please forgive my rudeness and harsh tone. In the future I will strife to be more civil and respectful, please feel free to call me on inappropriate remarks and point out my hypocrisy when it rears its ugly head. I'm truly sorry and ask for your forgiveness.