Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Contemporary Compatibilism

Steve posted below on Classical Compatibilism. I'll post on Contemporary Compatibilism. Hoping to bring the concept up to today, but recognizing that this brief post will not do the job justice. However, this will be, as in Steve's post, "a place to start." I guess I can start with drawing a contemporary distinction between semi-compatibilism SC and compatibilism proper CP.

SC is the view that determinism is compatible with moral responsibility, but not compatible with freedom to do otherwise.

CP is the claim that determinism is compatible with freedom to do otherwise.

I think most Calvinists who call themselves compatibilists actually are, more properly, defined as semi-compatibilists.

Classical compatibilists said, in an unrefined way, that all that is required for freedom is "ability to do what one wants to do." But, this has seen attack. For example, some people suffering from mental disorders do "what they want to do" yet we wouldn't say that they acted freely in these instances.

Contemporary compatibilists have sought to refine this idea, ruling out cases like the above. One such answer is that of Fischer. This can be called "Reasons-Responsive Compatibilism," RRC. The discussions about RRC are myriad, in depth, and detailed. I'll offer an "enough-to-get-started" quote from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

A reasons-responsiveness theory turns upon dispositional features of an agent's relation to reasons issuing in freely willed action. Appropriately reasons-responsive conduct is sensitive to rational considerations. The view is not merely that an agent would display herself in some counterfactual situations to be responsive to reasons, but rather that her responsiveness to reasons in some counterfactual situations is evidence that her actual conduct itself — the causes giving rise to it — is also in response to rational considerations. SOURCE


Now, there are a few things that sparked discussions leading to contemporary compatibilism. In interest of time, I'll mention one of them - Frankfurt Style Counter examples, FSC's. Names after philosopher Harry Frankfurt, the thought experiments ask us to imagine cases where a person S does an action A, and S did A of her own decision, i.e., she was not coerced, and S, in some of these experiments, was morally responsible for A. A classic example is,

Jones has resolved to shoot Smith. Black has learned of Jones' plan and wants Jones to shoot Smith. But Black would prefer that Jones shoot Smith on his own. However, concerned that Jones might waiver in his resolve to shoot Smith, Black secretly arranges things so that, if Jones should show any sign at all that he will not shoot Smith (something Black has the resources to detect), Black will be able to manipulate Jones in such a way that Jones will shoot Smith. As things transpire, Jones follows through with his plans and shoots Smith for his own reasons. No one else in any way threatened or coerced Jones, offered Jones a bribe, or even suggested that he shoot Smith. Jones shot Smith under his own steam. Black never intervened. SOURCE


Thus, for obvious reasons, many have concluded that FSC's are decisive refutations to a widely held libertarian constraint on free will called, in contemporary literature, PAP's: Principle of Alternate Possibility. Some, not willing to give up libertarianism, have rejected PAP's as a necessary feature of what is entailed by making a free choice. Theologically, we can also see how the notion of PAP isn't easily accepted by the Calvinist. God has determined the end from the beginning, and no one can thwart his plan. Many libertarians would hold that the historical past could have been exactly the same (including God's decree), yet S could have done other than S did in this world. Or, given the Calvinist notion of depravity, sinners cannot please God in their sinful nature. They do not have the ability to please God. But, they are still responsible, and Scripture says that they do what they do freely, i.e., without coercion (Acts 2 comes to mind, for one example).

Thus SC's think they have good reasons to believe that "freedom to do otherwise" is not necessary for free will or moral responsibility. S does what S wants to do, given the appropriate RRC, and these seem to satisfy requirements for freedom. So, the SC denies any "freedom to do otherwise" constraint. This does need to be specified in more detail, though. For example, there are different senses of "can" as used in "he can do otherwise." One way the compatibilist can agree that S "could" have done otherwise is by claiming that S was physically "able" to do A. Somewhat analogous, there is a sense in which Jesus' bones "could" not have been broken since Jehovah prophesied that they wouldn't be. But, there is another sense where they "could" have indeed been broken - they weren't made of steel. Jesus wasn't Wolverine. He had human bones and human bones "can" be broken. Thus, physically, an unregenerate "can" accept Christ since he can physically say the words "I trust and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." But, in another sense, he "cannot" (cf. John 6:44). So, "can" all men accept Jesus, sic et non.

Next, contemporary compatibilism has made interesting strides in regards to how one can be morally responsible for doing something that he was determined to do.

SC denies that determinism is compatible with "ability to do otherwise," (not all contemporary compatibilists agree. So, this is why I think Calvinists should be SC's) but they say that determinism is compatible with moral responsibility. Again, this is a detailed maze of arguments and counter-arguments. A person is morally responsible when she can not only do moral right and/or wrong, but also is accountable for her actions. Thus a person is a fitting subject of praise or punishment.

Contemporary compatibilism is very entrenched in this debate. Many think it is incoherent to punish or reward someone for doing what they were determined to do. Or, to punish or reward for simply acting according to some pre-determined nature. Interestingly, some say that you shouldn't beat your dog for panting, yet they give an "atta boy" to their dogs for "being loyal." Besides my canine digression, a contemporary distinction is drawn by Fischer regarding SC's view of moral responsibility being compatible with determinism. He makes a distinction with respects to Regulative Control RC and Guidance Control GC. And agent with RC can regulate between different alternatives. An agent with GC brings about her conduct, even if there are no other alternatives to her actions. Here in GC we see the denial of PAP's which were, you will recall, allegedly (and decisively IMHO) refuted by FSC's. Furthermore, invoking views of secondary causation like those found in the Westminster Confession of Faith allow for agents to guide their actions. Moreover, that all is determined by God does not mean that agents can't guide or bring about their actions. So, that S determined that S* would A does not imply that S did A instead of S*. For example, Acts 2 tells us that it was not God, but then lawless men, who put Jesus to death. We are also told that God foreordained this. Thus we see that S foreordaining that S* would do A does not imply that S* isn't the one who does A.

Thus, for Fischer, it is only GC that is necessary for moral responsibility. RC could not be necessary for morality given FSC's. GC assumes what is called Source Control. Source Control simply maintains that the agent must be the source of his actions in some important or crucial way. Many incompatibilists have constructed an argument against Source Control theories (remember, the Confession says that there is a sense that we cause our actions, hence I find a source theory there). The key premise for the argument is:

A person acts of her own free will only if she is its ultimate source .

Obviously "ultimate source" would need to be defined, but most Christians (libertarians included!) must deny that we are the ultimate source of our actions. Furthermore, it is an "important way" to be involved in bringing about your conduct if you are a means in bringing it about. Calvinism says that God works through means. He does not accomplish ends irregardless of the means. This is fatalism. Fischer employs an actual-sequence RRC mechanism which is fully possessed by the agent (i.e. it is his own mechanism) and issues in the agent’s guidance control over his own action. Thus the agent brings about his actions in an important way, even though s/he is not the ultimate source of said actions.

Lastly, some have asked about whether our choices are “real” given determinism. I admit I don’t really understand the point. Isn’t a choice “real” if it occurs at all? Furthermore, before me I have a Ruth’s Christ steak and a plate of cheese and crackers. There are two options and, given Semi-Compatibilism, I have the ability to choose whichever one I want to. So, I choose, of course, the sizzling and mouth tantalizing steak from Ruth’s Chris (which sizzles because it is on a plate that is about 500 degrees, and is cooked in butter). This was pre-determined. Given God’s decree, I could not have actually picked the cheese and crackers. I could not because as, say, Isaiah 46:10 tells us: “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure';” God declared that I would pick the steak, He cannot be wrong, hence I could not have, in a libertarian way, have chosen the cheese. But, did I not “really” chose the steak? After all, that’s what I wanted.

I think we can take our cue from Jesus. Before I explain, allow a brief digression, and apologies to those who aren’t familiar with the eschatological terms. I think one of the best lines I have ever heard was in a debate between gene Cook and Hyper-preterist H.L. James. Now, H.L. was kind of ridiculing the idea of a bodily resurrection. He pointed out that Jesus had holes in his hands, and so asked if Gene would have tattoos, scars, or things like that in heaven. Gene’s voice and response was unforgettable. In a humble sounding voice, he meekly replied: “If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.” Now, I don’t think Gene think we will have said scars, but even if we did, so what. Our Lord has them. Of course he has them for theological reasons that we don’t need to get into. My point in all this is to talk about a choice Jesus made. If it’s “good enough” for Him to cal it a choice, then it’s “good enough” for me to call my choices, choices. If it’s “real enough” for Jesus, it’s “real enough” for me.

In John 6:70 Jesus tells us that he chose all 12 disciples, yet one, speaking of Judas, was the devil. In John 13:18 Jesus tells us that he chose Judas, along with the other 11, “so that the Scriptures may be fulfilled.” Now, this shows that it was pre-determined that Judas would betray Jesus. We are told in Hebrews 6 that it is “impossible” that God can lie. So, was it “possible” that Jesus could have, in a libertarian way, chosen rabbi Larry over Judas? If Jesus had libertarian free will, wouldn’t his “choice,” to be real” have to be between at least two live options, both of which were possible to actuate? If it was “possible” that Jesus could falsify Jehovah’s prophecy, God would have turned out a liar. But, this is “impossible,” therefore it seems “impossible” that Jesus could have chosen otherwise. Yet. Jesus calls it a “choice.” Hence if my choices aren’t real, neither was Jesus.’ If the libertarian doesn’t allow me to have a “real” choice, so what? If it is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.

As many can see, the debate is a detailed and rigorous one. If the contemporary Christian wants to engage in a contemporary defense of our basic beliefs about God, His sovereignty, and man's responsibility, s/he would do well to study some of the contemporary literature. We should not sit back, at least those interested, while the Arminian makes headway in the area of analytic philosophy, making many of us look sloppy. I feel it can only strengthen our extremely strong theological case if we learn to employ contemporary philosophic arguments for compatibilism (semi, for us) and moral responsibility in light of determinism. Furthermore, many Arminians simply will avoid Scripture in the debate, and it would serve well to be able to answer them on their own grounds. Lastly, the above is, as I said, a rough and ready, all too brief, discussion of contemporary compatibilism. I recognize that many can find fault with the above. My main goal was to briefly explain some of the language and ideas used in contemporary debate, and possibly spur future interest. Hopefully I at least achieved the latter.

24 comments:

  1. AnnoyedPinoy4/05/2007 3:28 AM

    One of the things I love about this blog is that it delves into areas of theology/philosophy/apologetics that stretches me intellectually (much of it over my head).

    1. In the blog "Uncharted freedom tires" Steve notes the distinction between the Divine Will and the wills of man. So, I wonder if Paul's quotation of Gene is helpful (i.e. If it was good for Jesus, it's good enough for me.). Moreover, the Chalcedonian definition states that Christ had two wills (one human, and the other Divine), and so it seems difficult to apply what/how Jesus did/choose to ourselves (Not, WWJD, rather HDJC = How Did Jesus Choose [heh]).

    2. It seems to me that the problems that Compatibilism (SC?) solves results in problems of its own that can be solved by Clarkian/Cheungian views of God's sovereignty in relation to man's responsibility (cf. Cheung's _The Author of Sin_). Just as Clarkian/Chuengian views pose problems that Compatibilism (soft determinism) solves.

    What I would like to know is why the Cheungian views should automatically be rejected by knowledgeable Calvinists (with or without his occasionalism)? Or should it? Is it a viable option for Vantillian Calvinist (of which I'm one)? Would Paul call Cheung's views "fatalism"? If so, why (in light of Chueng's denial of "fatalism")? Anyway....., keep up the good work guys :-))

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  2. One of the problems with having a view of God's sovereignty based on such a complicated philosophical definition of seemingly common sense words like "free will" and "choice", is that many Christians are simply bewildered, perhaps justifiably, by all this.

    Max Weber famously argued that the confusion of Calvinist businessmen in 17th century England led to the rise of capitalism (link).

    Apparently they had been told that GOD had DECIDED which of them to save, and that there was nothing THEY could do about it, if they weren't CHOSEN. (to prove they were saved they looked for God's sign of approval through financial success(!))

    The common sense understanding of the above paragraph is that, no , you don't have free will, in any sense, under Calvinism. I think the great majority of people would read the above paragraph as completely ruling out free will in any regular (for proles) understanding of the word, and would be *very* sceptical of philosophical defenses that we *still*(!) had free will as sophistical hair-splitting. The immediate gut reaction is so strongly *against* us having free will, given the above, that a philosophical argument would have to VERY strong to overcome it.

    It seems to me that the reason that 'contemporary' philosophy is even debating these issues is because in a *secular* world view, the world is like billiard balls set in motion, and our actions are caused by something external to ourselves, we're just parts of the universe interacting with other parts of the universe, and have no free will of our own (in the commonly used meaning of the phrase). The atheists then tried to sophistically argue we DO have free will, against all evidence, and invented all these really rather meaningless distinctions. The Calvinists then borrowed the atheist's arguments and used them for themselves against libertarians. Anyway, that's what it looks like so far.

    Of course this doesn't by any means even touch an exegetical argument for compatibilism, because philosophical arguments do often come down to feelings and inuitions (writing this post was a very emotionally draining experience for me, at times I had to break off and weep like a little girl), and so it's probably best to check in the answer book which, lo and behold, says "Beware of philosophy"

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  3. Anonymous,

    Most of that was not what we would call argumentation.

    Secondly, many who had a "secular" and "billiard ball" view of reality allowed for an undetermined free will (e.g., Epicurus).

    Third, Augustine held many of these views, so we have a history.

    Fourth, the reason the debate is here is because of what the Bible says. So, we're fine if others want to drop all the philosophic terminology and presuppositions, and get into the text and exegete it.

    Fifth, the "answer book" DOES NOT say "beware of philosophy." Actually, we read:

    “Beware lest there be anyone who robs you by means of his philosophy and vain deceit after the tradition of men, after the elementary principles of the world, and not after Christ”

    So, we are told to "beware" of "philosophy" which is "*after the tradition of men*"

    So, it's not a warning against studying and engaging philosophy qua subject, but against a *specific kind* of philosophy.

    Indeed, I think Paul *is telling us* to study philosophy. Afterall, how can you beware of the philosophies after the traditions of men if you don;t study them and get to know them. And, how can you put forth a worldview, and critically interact with others, if you don't yourself have a philosophy.

    Lastly, philosophy is the love of wisdom, and so really is a love of Christ.

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  4. AnnoyedPinoy,

    1. I recognize the creator/creature distinction. God and man are on two levels. So, that makes sense when we talk about God causing something and man causing something. It's not like we're on the same table (plane) and if I have marbles (causes) then God can't have those marbles.

    But, that's not really dealing with my use of Jesus' "choice" as it bears on ours. The point here was, Jesus didn't have libertarian ability to otherwise, yet he still called what he did, a "choice." So, the stricture laid out by those cannot be necessary. And, I believe Steve agrees with this argument of mine, so it doesn't do much good to reference his post as somehow contradicting what I had said.

    2. Any acceptence of Cheung's views here render you unable to know them, or that they solve any problems.

    For example, when Cheung discusses an author's view on Augustine and compatibilism, Cheung points out that it's really just opinion:

    "Some of the above statements are questionable or at least imprecise, and what Augustine "knows" is sometimes just his opinion."

    So, you can hold to Cheung's view, and then drop out of the above debate since you'd be simply opining about determinism and free will and their relation.

    Cheung also denies that any type of freedom is required for moral accountability. Moral responsibility deals with commendation or condemnation. Anyway, so man is responsible for hitting another man on the head and a rock is not responsible for the same thing, why? Just because God decides to judge one over the other? So, it is possible, then, on Cheung's views, that rocks could be morally responsible for hitting someone on the head.

    Anyway, I think the account is sophomoric and simply unware of contemporary literature and moves in the debate.

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  5. Paul said (in the original article):
    ---
    Obviously "ultimate source" would need to be defined, but most Christians (libertarians included!) must deny that we are the ultimate source of our actions.
    ---

    I thought I'd flesh this out a bit with a quote from Fischer's "The Cards That Are Dealt You", which I know Paul already knows (since he sent it to me) but which other readers might appreciate:

    -----
    Suppose my parents had beaten me mercilessly when I was very young, so that I had significant physical (neurological) and emotional damage. If the damage had been sufficiently bad, I would never have developed into an agent at all. And yet it is quite clear that I never had any control over whether my parents beat me in this way. Similarly for an infinitely large number of factors. For example, I had no control over whether I was born with a significant brain lesion that would impair or expunge my agency. Had I been born with such a lesion, I would never have developed into an agent at all, or would have developed into an agent with a very different character and set of dispositions. Again: I had no control over the fact that I was not dropped on my head (accidentally or deliberately) by my parents when I was very young. But had I been dropped on my head in a certain way, I would not have developed into an agent at all, or might have developed into a very different sort of agent.

    When one begins to think about this sort of thing, one quickly realizes that we are incredibly lucky to be as we are. I had no control over the fact that I was not hit by a bolt of lightning when I was young (or, for that matter, yesterday), or that I was not hit by a meteorite, and so forth. But had any of these things occurred, I would not be the way I am today – and I certainly would not be typing this article at my computer! Life is extraordinarily fragile, and (from a certain perspective) we are remarkably lucky to be agents at all, or the particular agents we are (with the particular dispositions, values, and psychological propensities we actually have). Intuitively speaking, I am not ‘‘ultimately
    responsible’’ for my particular psychological traits or even for my very agency. We are not ‘‘ultimately responsible’’ for ‘‘the way we are,’’ and yet it just seems crazy to suppose that we are thereby relieved of moral responsibility for our behavior. Does it not seem highly counter-intuitive to suppose that I am not a morally responsible agent in virtue of the fact that I had no control over whether the earth was hit by a meteorite or the sun flickered out when I was young (or yesterday, for that matter)? How could my moral responsibility hinge on whether or not I can prevent the sun from rising or flickering out? We do not have ‘‘ultimate responsibility,’’ but it would seem much more plausible to suppose (with Feinberg) that such responsibility is not required for genuine, legitimate moral responsibility than to conclude that we are thereby rendered incapable of being held morally responsible.

    Fischer, John Martin. "The Cards That Are Dealt You." The Journal of Ethics (2006) 10:113-114

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  6. Philosophy is lame

    http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/essays/futlty_philos.html

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  7. Hey "YAWN,"

    Didn't I already send you back to Babinski with the bad news?

    The article you cite claims,

    "My plea is for science, the sole medium for the acquisition of knowledge. It consists of a rigid adherence to facts and the rejection of everything that cannot be measured by the yardstick of experience."

    The problems:

    (a) This claim can't be known, since it's not a scientific claim measured by the yeard stick of experience. Hence, the claim is self-refuting, if true, you couldn't know it.

    (b) The claim is philosophical. So, if philosophy is a waste of time, then so is the paper, and your claims.

    (c) A pure and thorough going empiricism reduces the radical skepticism. We can't know anything. And so yes, as also Hume believed, philosophy is a waste fo time. But, so is science too for its inductive principles cannot, on a pure empiricism, be known. So, we'd appreciate a follow up post letting everyone know that "science" is a "waste of time" as well.

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  8. Re: Yawn's post.

    Yeah...philosophy has no use whatsoever. Science is king here.

    Except what is science? Babinski says, in that link provided:
    ---
    Briefly, science is classified knowledge. It employs the empirical and inductive method in ascertaining truth. It draws its conclusions from carefully checked facts derived from observation and experiment.
    ---

    "Classified knowledge"? What's that? EPISTEMOLOGY! You mean we haven't escaped philosophy by appealing to science?!?! B-b-b-but Babinski SAID....

    Don't worry, it gets worse. Science also uses "the empirical and inductive method in ascertaining truth." That's right, empiricism and induction! Two philosophical methods! EGADS! There's still philosophy there!!!

    Babinski's argument here is, to be as charitable as possible, down right laughable. As soon as you define what is science and what is not--or even better, what is good science and what is not--you are engaged in the philosophy of science.

    Babinski invents a certainty in science that science itself cannot account for. The scientific method cannot be scientifically verified. It must be philosophically presupposed.

    To say that philosophy is futile is to deny all knowledge completely, including the knowledge that philosophy is futile. Sadly, all Babinski does here is prove his thinking is futile.

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  9. lol, ouch.

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  10. Paul Manata has now presented what I am going to call “Manata’s Judas argument” multiple times not only in this thread but now on a thread regarding “contemporary compatibilism”. Paul also says that Steve Hays approves of this argument. So in showing the problems with this argument, both of them will be shown to be mistaken. So that everyone sees Manata’s Judas argument I am reposting some of Paul’s comments were he refers to this argument. That way no one can claim that I am misrepresenting his argument when I show it to be false. Here are some quotes from Paul:
    ====================================================


    “I think we can take our cue from Jesus. Before I explain, allow a brief digression, and apologies to those who aren’t familiar with the eschatological terms. I think one of the best lines I have ever heard was in a debate between gene Cook and Hyper-preterist H.L. James. Now, H.L. was kind of ridiculing the idea of a bodily resurrection. He pointed out that Jesus had holes in his hands, and so asked if Gene would have tattoos, scars, or things like that in heaven. Gene’s voice and response was unforgettable. In a humble sounding voice, he meekly replied: “If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.” Now, I don’t think Gene think we will have said scars, but even if we did, so what. Our Lord has them. Of course he has them for theological reasons that we don’t need to get into. My point in all this is to talk about a choice Jesus made. If it’s “good enough” for Him to call it a choice, then it’s “good enough” for me to call my choices, choices. If it’s “real enough” for Jesus, it’s “real enough” for me.

    In John 6:70 Jesus tells us that he chose all 12 disciples, yet one, speaking of Judas, was the devil. In John 13:18 Jesus tells us that he chose Judas, along with the other 11, “so that the Scriptures may be fulfilled.” Now, this shows that it was pre-determined that Judas would betray Jesus. We are told in Hebrews 6 that it is “impossible” that God can lie. So, was it “possible” that Jesus could have, in a libertarian way, chosen rabbi Larry over Judas? If Jesus had libertarian free will, wouldn’t his “choice,” to be real” have to be between at least two live options, both of which were possible to actuate? If it was “possible” that Jesus could falsify Jehovah’s prophecy, God would have turned out a liar. But, this is “impossible,” therefore it seems “impossible” that Jesus could have chosen otherwise. Yet. Jesus calls it a “choice.” Hence if my choices aren’t real, neither was Jesus.’ If the libertarian doesn’t allow me to have a “real” choice, so what? If it is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.

    See, he admits that it is *possible* that Jesus could have not chosen Judas, hence making it *possible* that God would be proven a liar. If it was *possible* that Jesus could refrain from choosing Judas, then it was a possibility that God could have lied. It is not a possibility that God could lie. Therefore, it was not possible that Jesus could have refrained from picking Judas (in the libertarian sense). If, says Henry, this was not possible, then no choice occurred. But Jesus, whose word trumps Henry's, said that He did indeed choose. Thus Henry's constraint is false, and, therefore, his libertarian constraint on choice has been defeated.

    Thus due to the modalities involved, Henry's way out of the dilemma cannot be made for those who want to remain consistent with tota Scriptura.

    And so as I said above, if Henry can’t see this, that's not Calvinism's problem. But, the bottom line is that it was not possible given the prior decree that Jesus could have lied by not doing what he said he would do. If this was a real possibility, then we *must* say that it was a real possibility that God could have lied. We can't say the later, so we deny the former. What's left? That Jesus "made a choice."

    So, in actuality, the way out of the dilemma is for Henry to admit that Jesus' choice wasn't "real."

    QED

    Henry fails to grasp is that **at the moment** Jesus chose Judas he could not have **at that moment** chosen Larry.

    Henry says that God "looked into the his crystal ball, saw that Judas would betray Jesus, and the predetermined that Judas would betray Jesus. So, God "predetermined" Judas to do what Judas did without being predetermined.

    Anyway, despite that confusion, the **point is** that **at the moment** Jesus made the "choice" he could not have, **at the moment,** chosen Larry.

    Once the prophecy was made, the choice was determined.

    Henry says that *if* Jesus chose differently, prophecy would have been different. Okay. But, and here's his big problem, this contradicts indeterminism. Indeterminism says that **given the *same* ** history and background, S could have chosen different in W than W*, where W and W* had *the same* decree, and history.

    Anyway, Henry has the odd view that God "pre-destines" and "prophecies" about things he saw happen irregardless of his "pre-destining" and his "prophesying." He says we can't make sense of choice, he can't make sense of pre-destined" and "foreordain."

    Henry then wants to say, to get out of the dilemma, that God didn’t really predestine that anyone in particular would betray Jesus, just that someone would. Well, that's not correct. How can we say it? Someone who isn't anyone will betray Jesus.

    Then, Henry tries to do the same kind of move I do. I succeed, he doesn't. Jesus could have called down angels **HAD HE WANTED TO.** Doing what one wants is what is needed in compatibilism. So, I have avoided any charge of needing to drop Calvinism. Anyway, Jesus "could" do so in that he had the power and ability to do it if he had wanted to do it.

    Jesus' words don't trump my Calvinism.

    Henry's position is trumped by the fact that Jesus says he chose things, even though he could not have chosen otherwise.

    Anyway, we've seen no counter to the argument that:

    If it was possible, in a libertarian way, at the time of the choice for Jesus to chose otherwise than Judas, then it would have been possible that the prophecy regarding Judas could have been falsified. This would mean that God lied. But, it is impossible for God to lie, therefore it is impossible, given the prior decree, for Jesus to chose otherwise.

    QED


    Let's also note that Jesus' *choice* to chose Judas was *SO THAT* the prophecy would be fulfilled.

    "I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.'"

    The choice was never made, therefore, in absence of the decree.

    "If Jesus’ action of selecting Judas as an apostle was a necessitated action, Jesus could not have done otherwise, then Calvinism amounts to Jesus Himself not ever having a choice."

    Notice how Henry begs the question and lets his a priori assumption rule the Bible. If Calvinism is true, Jesus had a choice because JESUS SAID HE HAD A CHOICE.

    ==============================================================================================================

    So what is Paul arguing? It seems that he is arguing that if it was possible for Jesus to choose “Larry” rather than Judas as an apostle (or simply not to choose Judas), that these **possibilities** would negate biblical prophecy and so God would be shown to be a liar (i.e.,as not telling the truth about events which He spoke about in His predictive prophecies). Paul also believes that this sets up an inescapable dilemma for me. If I claim that Jesus **could have** (claim that the possibility of making that choice existed) chosen Larry instead of Judas, then I am claiming that it is possible for God to be a liar (obviously I don’t want that, so obviously I shouldn’t take that horn of the dilemma). Paul also emphasizes that Jesus himself said he make a choice when he chose Judas. So the other horn of Paul’s constructed dilemma is that if I then admit that Jesus **had to** choose Judas, since Jesus said that he had made a choice in selecting Judas. That means we then have a “choice” in which Jesus could not have done otherwise. And a “choice” in which Jesus could not have done otherwise, fits what Paul wants to believe (i.e., exhaustive determinism) very well. So then Paul can then make the claim that we are experiencing, making “choices” all the time, which are all predetermined. So everything is predetermined and yet we make choices. This is the form of compatibilism that Paul desperately argues for.

    From Paul’s repeated appeals to this argument, it seems that he must be very confident about it. And at first glance it **sounds very good**. But Paul has made some errors in logic here.

    I take a “choice” to mean that in a given situation that it is within a person’s power to do or refrain from doing something (recall again Plantinga’s definition of free will: “If a person is free with respect to a given actin, then he is free to perform that action and free to refrain from performing it: no antecedent conditions and/or causal laws determine that he will perform the action, or that he won’t”). A “choice” then, involves by its very nature, at least two **possibilities**. If you cannot actuate at least one of two available alternative **possibilities**, then you don’t have, or are not facing a choice. I am only stating the standard usage meaning for the word “choice” here. This is a given for most discussions like this.

    It also needs to be remembered that a **possibility** by its very nature means that the **possibility** IS NOT ACTUAL. If something is **actual** it is **not a possibility** and if something is a **possibility** then it is **not yet actual** (an action cannot be both a possibility and an actuality at the same time). Can we all agree as to these meanings for the words **possibility** and **actual** (or actuality)?

    So let’s look at the Manata’s Judas argument. He argues that if it was **possible** for Jesus to select Larry instead of Judas (or simply to not make a choice of Judas), then biblical prophecy would be falsified and God shown to be a liar. Manata is mistaken in his thinking in regards to **possibility** and **actuality** here.

    An extremely important question to ask which when understood and applied to Manata’s argument unravels the whole argument is this:

    What would it take to falsify a prophecy?

    What would **actually** have to take place in order for a given predictive prophecy to be shown to be false? We need a criteria for knowing what will falsify a prophecy before we can conclude that a given prophecy had been falsified. It seems to me that what **actually** happens in regards to a given prophesied event would have to be different from what had been prophesied would take place if the prophecy had **actually** occurred. Does that seem like a reasonable criteria?

    Another good question to ask here is: does the fact that something is ***possible*** negate something that is ***actual*** the case?

    In answer to my question about what it would take to falsify a given prophecy, it would take AN ACTUAL EVENT OTHER THAN THE EVENT WHICH GOD HAD PROPHESIED WOULD ACTUALLY OCCUR, TO OCCUR. Another event **actually** occurring, rather than what was prophesied to **actually** occur, would negate the biblical prophecy.

    With the prophecy about Judas betraying Jesus, it would take Judas **not actually** betraying Christ to falsify that prophecy (or Jesus not choosing Judas as an apostle, if he had not been chosen then he would not be in the place to be the apostle that betrays Jesus). I am sure that some already can see where I am going: is the **possibility** that Jesus could have chosen Larry (or someone else than Judas; or simply not chosen Judas) sufficient to falsify the prophecy that Judas **actually** would betray Jesus? The answer is NO.

    In order for Jesus to have experienced an actual choice in regard to choosing Judas as an apostle, it had to have been within Jesus’ power to choose Judas and refrain from choosing Judas. That is because the nature of a choice, if actually present, involves the person having within his power to actuate one of at least two alternative possibilities. Was it within Jesus’ power to choose Judas? Yes. Was it within Jesus’ power to refrain from choosing Judas (or choose someone else like “Larry” instead of Judas)? Yes. Now does the fact that both of these **possibilities** were within Jesus’ power, negate the ***actuality*** that in fact Jesus **actuated** the possibility of choosing Judas rather than doing otherwise and not selecting Judas? No.

    The only way that Jesus could have falsified the prophesy is if He had **actually** not chosen Judas as an apostle (i.e., if He had refrained from choosing Judas,or if he had picked someone else instead of Judas, or if He had not picked anyone at all to be an apostle). Jesus only could have falsified the prophesy if HE HAD ***ACTUALLY NOT CHOSEN*** JUDAS.

    The fact that it was both within Jesus’ power to choose Judas or not choose Judas, points only to the reality, the actuality that He was facing a real choice between alternative **possibilities**. The fact that it was possible for Him, or within His power not to choose Judas, is insufficient to falsify the biblical prophesy (because in order to have falsified the biblical prophesy he would have had to **actually** have not chosen Judas, to **actually** not have made the choice of Judas). But in fact He did choose Judas, faced with the **possibilities** of choosing Judas or not choosing Judas, he actuated the possibility of choosing Judas. Thus making the **actual** fact of the matter that His choice was to have Judas as an apostle and in doing so to fulfill biblical prophecy as Judas then later chose to betray Jesus.

    Manata’s Judas argument thus collapses due to critical misunderstandings in regards to the nature of choices, possibilities and actualities.

    Here is another example to make my argument crystal clear. It is an **actual** fact that I do not know how to speak the Spanish language. And let’s say that I grew up in Texas where they offered Spanish as a language learning **possibility** in High School. Let’s say due to budgetary problems, at my High School they only had two foreign language teachers (one Spanish teacher and one Russian teacher). So the choice I would have been faced with at that particular school under those circumstances were three (1) take Spanish, (2) take Russian, or (3) take neither (but let’s say it was required that you had to take some language classes in order to graduate; so we can rule out possibility # 3).

    At that time then, I had two **possibilities** before me of taking Spanish or Russian (having at least two **possibilities** from which to choose, I had an **actual choice**). But I foolishly took Russian thinking we were going to be taken over by the Russians as I mistakenly believed that we would be conquered by the Russians as a result of the “cold war”.

    Now does the **possibility** that I could have chosen otherwise and taken Spanish instead of Russian back then, **negate the reality** (or actuality) that I do not know Spanish now? The facts are that I did have the choice back then of actualizing either **possibility**, but did in fact actualize the Russian **possibility**. And suppose that because I made that choice, I do not know Spanish now and have forgotten all of the Russian which I learned back then. :-) Does the fact, the actuality, that I had the **possibility** back then of choosing Spanish rather than Russian, negate the fact that I do not know Spanish now? And say that God had prophesied that at a certain point in 2007 I would not know Spanish. Does the fact that I had the **possibility* of learning Spanish back in High School negate the fact that right now I do not know Spanish and thus negate God’s prophecy? No.

    But according to Manata’s Judas argument the **possibility** that I could have chosen Spanish instead of Russian in High School, wipes out the **actuality** that I do not know Spanish now. Anybody else see problems with this argument now?

    Jesus said that he had a choice involving choosing Judas. And he **did** have a choice between at least two **possibilities** (choosing Judas or refraining from choosing Judas). And since God has **foreknowledge** of all events (including the freely made choices of persons), He knows what specific ***choices*** will be actualized from out of the alternative possibilities. So He can then tell exactly what will actually occur in the future.

    It is exhaustive determinism such as the Calvinism that Paul believes in, that entails the ***impossibility of choices***. If God predetermined all events then in every given situation we can only perform the action that He predetermined that we would perform in any given situation. So alternative **possibilities** which are the preconditions for actual choices are eliminated in a completely predetermined world. Actual choices involving the ability to actuate from among various alternative possibilities is not possible in such a world. Both the bible and our daily experience however, present lots of evidence of the reality of choices.

    I thought it was interesting that Paul made no attempt to deal with the Matt. 26 passage which I had brought up which presents clear evidence of the reality of choices. Having said what I have said here, it will be useful to consider that passage again. Here is what I said about it:

    Scripture provides cases in which a person had an actual choice, they had the capacity to both do and refrain from doing an action AND yet made one choice rather than another.

    Matt. 26:52 presents just such a clear example involving Jesus.
    When Jesus was about to be arrested. A disciple cuts off the ear of the servant of the high priest and then Jesus says: “Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think that I cannot call on my Father and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

    Note that **according to Jesus himself** it is within Jesus’ power to call legions of angels to deliver him and prevent His arrest. We know that he had the ability to refrain from calling the angels, because in fact He did so. We know that he had the ability to call on the angels, because in fact He said so. So it was within Jesus’ power both to call upon the angels or refrain from calling on the angels. He could do either one of these alternatives, so He had a choice. And the choice He made was to refrain from calling on the angels in order to fulfill biblical prophecy. So in this verse we have a clear example of how an actual choice can be present for a person, a choice involving alternative possibilities and yet only one of these possibilities is actualized. A choice is made and Jesus refrains from calling upon the angels.

    Now in contrast to what I just shared: apply Manata’s logic to this statement in Matt. 26. Could Jesus have actually called on thousands of angels to deliver him? Jesus says that he could have, but Manata’s position would be NO he could not have done so. Since Manata believes every event is a predetermined/necessitated event, it was impossible for Jesus to **actually call upon these angels to deliver Him**. So according to Paul’s logic: it would make Jesus a liar (or deluded, or mistaken) for claiming to be able to do something which it was impossible for Him to do. In the actual world according to the biblical record, he refrained from calling upon the angels. And since according to Calvinism, no one can ever do otherwise than what was predetermined for this actual world (i.e. what he actually does in the actual world is all that he could do, since we can never actuate alternative possibilities according to Steve Hays). Jesus himself could not have done otherwise, could not have actuated an alternative possibility, according to Calvinism: yet Jesus **said** he could have done otherwise, that He could have actuated an alternative possibility.

    I can account for bible verses like this, while Manata’s Calvinism breaks down on these kinds of verses. So is Jesus lying, deluded, or mistaken about what he could or could not do, or is Calvinism mistaken?

    Henry

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  11. Henry says:
    ---
    A “choice” then, involves by its very nature, at least two **possibilities**.
    ---

    I could respond to this, but Henry's shown that he's incapable of reading an opposing view. IN fact, it's down right amazing how Henry can completely ignore the numerous times that Paul, Steve, and I have shown this definition of "choice" to be erroneous. Henry's argument rests on his defining this term in a specific way, yet that very definition is what is in dispute to begin with. Never mind that little problem!!! Henry just keeps the broken record skipping.

    Everything that Henry says here has already been refuted. See here and here.

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  12. Henry,

    "Paul also says that Steve Hays approves of this argument. So in showing the problems with this argument, both of them will be shown to be mistaken."

    And, so has Sean Choi who, btw, is doing his dissertation on free will and compatibilism related issues at UCSB. But, I suppose he's another person who just can't seem to use "choice" in the proper/pre-philosophical way.

    "From Paul’s repeated appeals to this argument, it seems that he must be very confident about it. And at first glance it **sounds very good**. But Paul has made some errors in logic here.

    I take a “choice” to mean that in a given situation that it is within a person’s power to do or refrain from doing something'"


    And I've pointed out that this is sloppy. How is "power" to be understood? That is, was Jesus *physically able* to moth the words "I choose Larry over Judas."? So, on my view Jesus "had the power."

    Henry seems to mean by "power" the live option that S can actualize A or B.

    "(recall again Plantinga’s definition of free will: “If a person is free with respect to a given action, then he is free to perform that action and free to refrain from performing it: no antecedent conditions and/or causal laws determine that he will perform the action, or that he won’t”)."

    Three problems:

    1. Henry doesn't quote Plantinga is saying that this is how Plantinga defines the meaning of "choice."

    So Henry continues to smuggle his tendentious definition into the debate, even interpolating it into a quote.

    2. Even if that were how Plantinga defines it, we already know that Plantinga is a libertarian, so he naturally defines freedom in libertarian terms, which begs the question in favor of libertarianism.

    3. As shown by my verses above, this is false. God predestines people to do *whatever* His hand determined.

    "A “choice” then, involves by its very nature, at least two **possibilities**."

    But it doesn’t involve the ability to have to be able to actuate either. So, we have Judas and Larry as the possible choices. Jesus could not actuate Larry, but still chose Judas. A choice involves more than one thing on the table. A choice between steak or salad. Say God determined I'd pick steak. Say, I could not have actuated the salad option. I don't see how this doesn;t imply that I didn't chose the steak. After all, that's what I wanted. I chose what I wanted to chose.

    "If you cannot actuate at least one of two available alternative **possibilities**, then you don’t have, or are not facing a choice. I am only stating the standard usage meaning for the word “choice” here. This is a given for most discussions like this."

    And Jesus actuated one of the options. It's a non-sequitur to claim that he must be able to actuate *either* possibility. I'd prefer options. There was Larry and Judas on the table. Jesus chose Judas and not Larry. Jesus could not have chosen

    "So let’s look at the Manata’s Judas argument. He argues that if it was **possible** for Jesus to select Larry instead of Judas (or simply to not make a choice of Judas), then biblical prophecy would be falsified and God shown to be a liar. Manata is mistaken in his thinking in regards to **possibility** and **actuality** here."

    No, I argue that if it were *possible* to actuate Larry as a choice then it would be *possible* that God could be a liar. Henry thinks it is *possible* that Jesus could have actuated Larry over Judas, thus Henry thinks it's *possible* that God could lie.

    "In answer to my question about what it would take to falsify a given prophecy, it would take AN ACTUAL EVENT OTHER THAN THE EVENT WHICH GOD HAD PROPHESIED WOULD ACTUALLY OCCUR, TO OCCUR. Another event **actually** occurring, rather than what was prophesied to **actually** occur, would negate the biblical prophecy."

    No, I've argued simply that the possibility of falsifying the prophecy means that there is a possibility that God lied.

    But, it seems Henry has slipped. He said that something X needs to be actualized in order for prophecy P to fail. Thus, in our case, X *could not* have been actualized, even according to Henry. Therefore, Jesus "could not" (in a libertarian way) have refrained from actualizing Judas. There were two possibilities, but one was not able to be actualized. Ability to genuinely actualize either A or B is not required for a choice, even Henry must admit this. Since God cannot lie, it cannot be the case that an agent can have the power to actualize either option.

    So, Jesus *could not* actualize Larry, he could only actualize one option, yet he still calls this a choice. I frankly don't see how Henry can be missing all of this.

    "With the prophecy about Judas betraying Jesus, it would take Judas **not actually** betraying Christ to falsify that prophecy (or Jesus not choosing Judas as an apostle, if he had not been chosen then he would not be in the place to be the apostle that betrays Jesus)."

    Henry isn't even on the same page as I am.

    The debate here is about the strong modal operator used in Hebrews: "It is **impossible** that God can lie."

    If this is **impossible** then it is **impossible* that someone *could* actuate another alternative than the one God said would happen. Thus, S **cannot** bring about B just as easy as he could "choose" to bring about A.

    To say that B is **possible** is to say that it is **possible** that God could lie.

    "I am sure that some already can see where I am going: is the **possibility** that Jesus could have chosen Larry (or someone else than Judas; or simply not chosen Judas) sufficient to falsify the prophecy that Judas **actually** would betray Jesus? The answer is NO."

    And some can see that Henry hasn't grasped the argument. Is the **possibility** that Jesus could, in a libertarian way, chose Larry over Judas sufficient to show that it would be **possible** to make God a liar.

    It doesn't have to be actualized. All that matters for my argument to work is that Henry grants that it is **possible** for God to lie, and all that it takes to show this is that it is **possible** that Jesus could falsify God's prophecy.

    "In order for Jesus to have experienced an actual choice in regard to choosing Judas as an apostle, it had to have been within Jesus’ power to choose Judas and refrain from choosing Judas."

    Again, "within power" is vague. Anyway, it could not be within Jesus' power to make himself a liar. That's self-referentially incoherent. That a being who cannot lie can lie is contradictory. So, does God have "the power" to lie? No. Does he have "the power" to do something which would, if done, render him a liar? No. Why? Because it is **impossible** that he could lie.

    Stated in other terms: is it possible that pigs could fly? Yes. Is it possible that pigs could fly and not fly at the same time? No, that's impossible. Hence, it is not within the "pigs power" to actualize the state of affairs constituted by the latter.

    "Now does the fact that both of these **possibilities** were within Jesus’ power, negate the ***actuality*** that in fact Jesus **actuated** the possibility of choosing Judas rather than doing otherwise and not selecting Judas? No."

    Again, this is only borne out of a severe misunderstanding of the argument.

    "The only way that Jesus could have falsified the prophesy is if He had **actually** not chosen Judas as an apostle (i.e., if He had refrained from choosing Judas, or if he had picked someone else instead of Judas, or if He had not picked anyone at all to be an apostle). Jesus only could have falsified the prophesy if HE HAD ***ACTUALLY NOT CHOSEN*** JUDAS."

    Granted. My point, though, is that Jesus *could not* have actuated Larry because, as Henry admits, this would falsify the prophecy, and hence prove God a liar, and Henry admits this cannot be done. So, it was not within Jesus' "power" (genuine ability to actuate) to chose Larry over Judas. Hence, according to Henry, there was no choice. Jesus says there was a choice. Jesus wins over Henry, IMHO.

    "The fact that it was both within Jesus’ power to choose Judas or not choose Judas, points only to the reality, the actuality that He was facing a real choice between alternative **possibilities**. The fact that it was possible for Him, or within His power not to choose Judas, is insufficient to falsify the biblical prophesy "

    But, again, I'm not talking about the prophecy actually being falsified. I'm talking about the *possibility* that God could be a liar. Henry must say this is a real possibility. But, this contradicts Hebrews, hence, Henry is wrong, IMHO.

    "Manata’s Judas argument thus collapses due to critical misunderstandings in regards to the nature of choices, possibilities and actualities."

    Henry's counter fails for not even being in the same ballpark as my objection. Indeed, as we saw above, Henry refuted his own position.

    Henry’s analogy about Russian and Spanish classes fails under the same misunderstanding.

    Furthermore, it suffers from FSCs. That the gunman couldn't actualize the possibility that he walk away, thereby rendering the *ability* to do otherwise void, does not imply that the gunman didn't chose to kill the president.

    "But according to Manata’s Judas argument the **possibility** that I could have chosen Spanish instead of Russian in High School, wipes out the **actuality** that I do not know Spanish now. Anybody else see problems with this argument now?"

    How could people see the problems with *my* argument if you haven't given *my* argument?

    A better analogy is this: Suppose Henry had a mouth and tongue and vocal cord defect whereby it was physically impossible for his mouth to form and utter Spanish words.

    Now, Henry has two languages he could learn to speak, Spanish and Russian. Henry chooses Russian because he's aware of his defects. It was not *possible* for Henry to speak Spanish. To say this was a real *possibility* would be to deny that he had the undeniable physical defect we all agree he had. It would be impossible to bring about a state of affairs where by, given this prior defect, he could speak Spanish. For it to be a real possibility that Henry could have spoken Spanish it would have to be a real possibility that Henry didn't have the attending defect which would prohibit Spanish speaking. The latter, granting, was not a possibility, therefore it was likewise not a possibility that Henry could have actually spoken Spanish.

    So, as with Jesus and Judas, it was not a possibility that Jesus could have actually chosen Larry, thus he couldn't refrain from choosing Judas. But, Jesus calls what he did a choice, therefore, granting inerrancy, Henry is wrong.

    "Actual choices involving the ability to actuate from among various alternative possibilities is not possible in such a world."

    Yeah, but the problem is that I've proven that Bible does allow for a notion of "choice" which is less radical (for lack of a better word) than the typical libertarian notion that requires genuine alternative possibilities, but is nonetheless portrayed as being significant.

    So, it's Henry's philosophy verses the Bible.

    "I thought it was interesting that Paul made no attempt to deal with the Matt. 26 passage which I had brought up which presents clear evidence of the reality of choices. Having said what I have said here, it will be useful to consider that passage again. Here is what I said about it:"

    But, in reality, I did answer Henry. he just didn’t like my answer since it didn't agree with the cashier at Taco Bell's pre-philosophical notion of choice.

    "Could Jesus have actually called on thousands of angels to deliver him? Jesus says that he could have, but Manata’s position would be NO he could not have done so."

    Again, we must point out the consistent sloppiness of "could have," Jesus did have the power, he was Lord of the angels. Jesus could have decreed that such would be the case. But, as long as the Son decreed to not call the angels down, then he could not have because then he would make himself a liar. This is impossible, therefore..., well, you get it by now.

    "Since Manata believes every event is a predetermined/necessitated event, it was impossible for Jesus to **actually call upon these angels to deliver Him**. So according to Paul’s logic: it would make Jesus a liar (or deluded, or mistaken) for claiming to be able to do something which it was impossible for Him to do."

    No, by definition, an omnipotent being "could" have done so. But, in the sense of actualizing it, Jesus would not because, as Henry's verse points out:

    "53Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?"

    Thus, if Jesus could actualize the calling of the angels, then he *could* actualize the falsification of the Scriptures, thus not fulfilling what he said he would fulfill. Jesus cannot not fulfill what he says he will fulfill, therefore Jesus cannot actualize the calling of the angels as it would have been contrary to the *prior* decree.

    "I can account for bible verses like this, while Manata’s Calvinism breaks down on these kinds of verses. So is Jesus lying, deluded, or mistaken about what he could or could not do, or is Calvinism mistaken?"

    Actually Henry cannot account for the verses because his account means that there would be a *possibility* to make god a liar, which is *impossible.*

    In fact, i have engaged all of Henry's verses (all 1 or 2 of them), but we saw that he "accounts" for mine by waving his hand and uttering the magic words: "He's just proof texting." and, regards the two I gave directly above, Henry doesn't even touch them, but, for some reason, makes it a point to say that I "failed" to interact with his verses.

    Now, recall that Henry said this about my argument:

    "And at first glance it **sounds very good**."

    I've shown he's misrepresented it. I have taken his defeaters away. henry's only left with the option that the argument actually is "very good." Thus, Henry should, if consistent, drop his libertarianism. I doubt he will, though.

    ~PM

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  13. I believe that anonymous brings out some good points in their post.

    Anonymous says:

    “One of the problems with having a view of God's sovereignty based on such a complicated philosophical definition of seemingly common sense words like "free will" and "choice", is that many Christians are simply bewildered, perhaps justifiably, by all this.”

    One of my problems with calvinist compatibilists is that they do verbal magic tricks. Rather than being forthright about their views, they cover up what they believe with words like compatibilism, free agency, soft determinism, etc. What they believe is that everything is predetermined by God and so “choices” as normally understood do not occur, cannot occur. I would appreciate it if rather than redefining words away from their standard meaning and usage, they could simply acknowledge that their view eliminates the possibility of “choices” as ordinarily understood. Just look at Peter Pike’s attempts to redefine choice as doing what you want to do. OK, but when I do what I want to do, can I choose either possibility that I am considering when facing a **choice** (His view says no, so he has to redefine the meaning of choice)?

    This position of exhaustive determinism has some very bad implications including that if true, it eliminates free will and even the possibility of choices. Most christians know that they have “free will” and that they are constantly making choices, so these things are real to them and not needing further explanation. They also know their bibles well enough to know that it also presents real choices. Then they run into one of these verbal slight of hand magicians and it seems like they are being bambooozeld. Choice no longer means choice, and free will either does not exist or is redefined in such a way as to eliminate its possibility.

    They also do the same with bible verses. John 3:16 says God loves the world enough to send His Son . . . But the calvinist compatibilists come along and the passage needs to be modified a bit. For example bring in a distinction between “without exception” versus “without distinction”, and poof the verse loses its meaning since we now **know** that it doesn’t really mean everybody (without exception) but it must mean all types of elect people in the world (without distinction). So rather that being a clear verse on the love of God for mankind, it is really a verse telling us how he loves the elect throughout the world. The calvinists engage in semantic word games when it comes to words like “choice”, “free will”, “personal agency”, “alternative possibilities”, “deliberation”, etc. Etc. Etc.

    Anonymous gave a good example of the implications of exhaustive determinism:

    “Apparently they had been told that GOD had DECIDED which of them to save, and that there was nothing THEY could do about it, if they weren't CHOSEN.”

    If God has already preselected (this is the calvinist doctrine of unconditional election) who will go to Heaven and who will go to Hell, before they are born, before they have done any actions good or bad, then in respect to those preselected to damnation it is true that “there was nothing THEY could do about it, if they weren’t CHOSEN.” While some calvinists have suggested that God “merely passes over” these preselected damned souls, some calvinists are more consistent arguing that God actively works unbelief in these poor people’s souls (two examples: check out the website of Vincent Cheung and a website called STRANGEBAPTIST FIRE). On the other hand most christians believe that God loves people enough to send Jesus to the world to make salvation possible to all people and that people’s eternal destinies are not set before they are born, but depend how they respond as individuals to the work of God in revealing Himself to them. In theological determinism, the damned are damned “and there was nothing THEY could do about it, if they weren’t CHOSEN.” In the other view of non-calvinists, God makes it possible for all to be saved so all have the opportunity to be saved and those not saved are those who freely rejected God’s gracious working in their lives.

    Anonymous also wrote:

    “The common sense understanding of the above paragraph is that, no , you don't have free will, in any sense, under Calvinism. I think the great majority of people would read the above paragraph as completely ruling out free will in any regular (for proles) understanding of the word, and would be *very* sceptical of philosophical defenses that we *still*(!) had free will as sophistical hair-splitting. The immediate gut reaction is so strongly *against* us having free will, given the above, that a philosophical argument would have to VERY strong to overcome it.”

    One of the reasons that Calvinists have attempted to go to atheist philosophers to find arguments for their view is that they don’t have a strong philosophical argument to overcome people’s innumerable experiences of free will and choices. In order to deal with people’s vast experiences with free will and choices and their noncalvinistic understanding of the bible, the calvinists **do** have to resort to what you describe as “sophistical hair-splitting.” People who realize the implications of theological determinism quickly figure out that indeed this view rules out free will and the possibility of choices. What the calvinists then do to make the medicine easier to take is to argue for what they call compatibilism (i.e. God predetermines all events, and people are free in the sense that they can always do what they want, so the sleight of words goes, people are “free” to do what they want, so in **this** very narrow and carefully defined sense they have “freedom of the will”). More astute people will realize that if God predetermines everything then that would include every individual person’s **wants** as well. So how “free” are you when God is preselecting which wants you will have and so you will pursue those wants (with God holding the carrot and directing the horse at the same time so that it goes where he wants it to go: just like a divine puppetmaster who pulls **all** the strings)?

    Anonymous wrote:

    “It seems to me that the reason that 'contemporary' philosophy is even debating these issues is because in a *secular* world view, the world is like billiard balls set in motion, and our actions are caused by something external to ourselves, we're just parts of the universe interacting with other parts of the universe, and have no free will of our own (in the commonly used meaning of the phrase).”

    For secularists who reject the reality of the human soul, the immaterial mind and spirit of man as well as other spirits including God and angels, all that exists is the physical. As physical entities it is all ruled by the laws of physics and other laws of nature. So if everything is determined by causal chains of physical causation just like the billiard balls you mention how can there be free will or choices? And as you note our actions are not caused by our minds acting upon reasons, we are not performing our own actions, but something external to ourselves because we are just physical objects (“we’re just parts of the universe interacting with other parts of the universe”) determined by the laws of nature like every thing else is. For the secularist the all determining external factor is the laws of physics and nature, for the calvinist the external to our selves all determining external factor is God. In both cases, free will goes out the window and we do not ever experience actual choices.

    Anonymous continued:

    “The atheists then tried to sophistically argue we DO have free will, against all evidence, and invented all these really rather meaningless distinctions.”
    Actually, the atheists, being materialists, “against all evidence” that shows us to be persons with a soul making choices for reasons, usually argue against free will existing, using the findings of science to justify their unbelief in the soul, mind, spirits, free will, and choices (hey if everything is just physical configurations of atoms how can there be any souls or spirits or any other mysterious entities like that?). Usually they take the position that the brain determines our actions and as the brain is purely physical . . .

    Anonymous made a very perceptive comment about calvinist compatibilists:

    “The Calvinists then borrowed the atheist's arguments and used them for themselves against libertarians. Anyway, that's what it looks like so far.”

    You are correct. The Calvinist determinist looks for any argument that could possibly be used to support the exhaustive determinism which he wants to believe. So they borrow from atheists like Harry Frankfurt who argues that we can be held responsible for our actions even when we cannot do otherwise. Well who wants to argue that we are held responsible when we cannot do otherwise? Why the theological determinist of course. They want to believe that everything is predetermined and that God **still** holds people responsible even though they do not have free will, do not have any choices, but they are doing exactly what God wants them to do as He has predetermined what they want and everything else about them. So it makes for strange bedfellows when the calvinist uses arguments from atheists to support his determinism. And why is there this connection?

    Because the bible teaches **both** that God is sovereign and that we have free will and are responsble for our choices. Who is it that does not want to believe that we are morally accountable for our actions? Unbelievers. So who wants to justify their actions, so their actions will not be judged as immoral? Unbelievers. So who has a lot at stake in coming up with arguments against free will and personal responsibility? Unbelievers. You see, if we do not have free will and are not responsible for our choices/actions, then we cannot be accountable to a Supreme Being. This is part of their sinful rebellion against their Creator. If we are just a complex configuration of matter, just another part of nature, that got here by mere chance operating over long perioids of time, then we are just biological machines spreading our genes around as Dawkins puts it. “Free will” then is just an illusion, and as Smilansky puts it, a **useful fiction** to keep the masses contented. And the Calvinist desperate for any argument to justify their theological determinism then borrows from atheistic arguments against free will and responsibility to **prove** his determinism.

    You are absolutely right about the Calvinist borrowing atheistic arguments to argue againt Christians who hold to free will and the libertarian conception of free will.

    Sadly, one of the greatest gifts God gave us was to create us as individual souls capable of performing our own actions based upon reasons and doing actions which we have freely chosen to do. And this gift of being able to make our own choices from alterntive possibilities, this gift of opportunities to make our own choices, that are up to us, not determined by some external factor outside of ourselves (including God Himself). This is attacked by the atheistic worldview in which everything is just physical causation like billiard balls colliding and by calvinist compatibilists with their theological determinism. If God created us with the capacity for free will and actual choices, and if that is His design plan for us, His will for us, then any form of exhaustive determinism is an attack on Christianity, a rebellion against God and His plans for mankind.

    And ironically, both the atheist and the Calvinist compatibilist in formulating their arguments against free will and the reality of choices, are using the very gift that God gave them to do so. If they did not have free will and the abillity to make their own choices, then how would **they** be deciding which arguments they will use, when they will use them, and where they can find the latest arguments against free will and the reality of choices, and what words they will use in formulating their arguments? Free will and the reality of choice are such basic inescapable realities for human persons (because that is the way God made reality) that even when we argue against them we are inescapeabley involved with them and must use them. If you want to argue against free will, that’s **your choice**, and then you will use words. And **who** made the choices about which words to use? **You** did so. Either that, or you are just experiencing an overactive imagination, refusing to submit to the reality that you have no free will and never experience genuine choices because you are just a puppet having your strings pulled.

    Henry

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  14. Well Henry and Anonymous, the problem I have with your view is simple: it contradicts the Bible.

    Jesus says that no man is **able** to come to Him unless the father draws that man, and then Jesus will raise that man on the last day.

    So, Henry says that to be free we must be *able* to actualize options A or B. Jesus says that men are *unable* to actualize the option of "coming to Him," unless the father draws that someone.

    Now, the Father doesn't draw *everyone* because if that happened then *everyone* would be raised to eternal life. This is false, therefore the father doesn't draw everyone.

    Thus the father only draws *some* people, and he must chose who to draw. So, God is sovereign in salvation.

    Henry's theories, despite the problem of being demonstratably false, is that it constantly butts head with Scripture.

    My Calvinism can deal with passages like John 6:44, Henry cannot incorporate them into his view.

    Anyway, I think Henry used up all his arguments in his first post. All he's done is to re-serve his re-heated objections. His main argument seems to be to just assume his libertarianism, assume that everyone has these notions in their head before they study the "ebil philosophy from da debil," and tell people that they can't have a choice (despite my unrfebutted argument), and that they assume libertarianism whilst refuting it.

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  15. Paul wrote:

    “Well Henry and Anonymous, the problem I have with your view is simple: it contradicts the Bible.”

    Actually, my view, as I believe that the bible teaches that some events are determined some are not, better explains the biblical and experiential data than your view which believes **all events** are predetermined. Your view has to rule our both free will and the reality of choices. My view can incorporate both determined events as well as events involving free actions by human persons. I don’t have to redefine “choice” so that it becomes a “choiceless choice”. I also do not have to prove the universal negative that we never encounter situations in which we can actuate from among various alternative possibilities (i.e. prove that choices as normally understood **never** arise). You have not gotten close to proving this universal negative which your view requires. You have attempted to ***redefine “choices”*** so they do not involve actual choices, but you have not shown the impossibility of choices. Nor can you, as the moment you make choices regarding which words and arguments you will attempt in proof of the nonreality of choices, you have **already engaged in choice** thus refuting yourself before the argument/plane has ever left the ground.

    “Jesus says that no man is **able** to come to Him unless the father draws that man, and then Jesus will raise that man on the last day.”

    And you are operating from an underlying assumption that you cannot prove from scripture: that only the elect are drawn by God. All believers have been drawn by God and respond in faith to the work of the Holy Spirit, but this does not mean that **only** the believers are drawn or that the Holy Spirit **only** convicts the elect of sin, righteousness, and judgement. The Spirit does this with the world according to John 16:8-11 (and the world is not made up of only the elect). Just as the Son is given by the Father for the world (Jn. 3:16ff), and the Son dies for the sins of the world (1 Jn. 2:2) the Spirit works on the world. And Jesus says that the drawing involves Him being lifted up on the cross and this drawing involves all men (“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” Jn. 12:32). But not all for whom the Son is given believe nor do all who experience the convicting work of the Spirit all believe, nor do all men drawn by Jesus’ lifting up on the cross believe.

    People can and do resist the work of the Spirit. Stephen in the midst of an evangelistic message in which the Spirit was certainly working explicitly states that people do (which means they can) resist the Holy Spirit: “You men who are stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did" (Acts 7:51, just as their fathers did, means that this resisting of the Holy Spirit was not a one time occurrence or exception, but occurred repeatedly, it occurred in the Old Testament, in the New Testament [e.g. the Pharisees committing the unpardonable sin in response to the Ministry of Jesus] and it occurs today as well).

    “So, Henry says that to be free we must be *able* to actualize options A or B. Jesus says that men are *unable* to actualize the option of "coming to Him," unless the father draws that someone.”

    Before a person becomes a Christian they have to experience the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who illuminates scripture, convicts of sin, shows who Jesus is and what He has done, shows the sinner that he is a sinner in need of forgiveness, etc. Etc. Apart from the work of the Spirit, no one is drawn, nor will they ever be in position to respond in faith to the gospel message. If I do not know about some alternative I will not be able to choose that alternative. Likewise if I do not know and understand the work of Christ, the way of salvation through Christ alone, by faith alone, I could never choose to respond in faith (“So faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” Rom. 10:17, “How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard” Rom. 10:14) . In order to make certain choices we have to have awareness or knowledge of those alternatives or we won’t be capable of choosing them. We can only be in a position to trust in Christ after the Spirit works on us.

    Calvinists often caricature non-calvinists representing the non-Calvinists as believing that anyone can just waltz right into faith in Christ based on solely their own efforts without the work of the Spirit. In reality, no work of the Spirit in a person’s life, means no possibility of salvation. Though if the Spirit works on a person, that does not **necessitate** salvation as people do in fact resist the Spirit. If you want lots of evidence of resistance of the Spirit, just examine the Old Testament and see how many times God’s people resisted the Lord. Even as Christians at times we continue to resist the Spirit as scripture says that we sometimes **grieve** the Holy Spirit by our actions (Eph. 4:29-32, and that is not referring to the unregenerate).

    “Now, the Father doesn't draw *everyone* because if that happened then *everyone* would be raised to eternal life. This is false, therefore the father doesn't draw everyone.”

    First you are merely asserting your Calvinism here. You are **assuming** that if one is drawn then they must become Christians (that is your assumption, your belief in irresistible grace). Second, you are also **assuming** that God only draws the elect (that is your assumption, your belief in unconditional election). Third, the possibility which you leave out is someone being drawn by God and yet resisting the Holy Spirit, responding in unbelief. The convicting work of the Spirit is done with the world, though most of the world does not respond with faith. It is similar to the atonement in which Jesus is given for the world, but not all of the world has the atonement applied to them because it is only applied to you if you believe. The cross of Christ is a provision for all but only applied to those who believe. Just because the provision is sufficient for all does not automatically lead to universalism with everyone being saved. Fourth, you are leaving out the fact that the Spirit may draw a person but if they do not respond to the gospel with faith, they cannot be saved. The drawing alone is not sufficient for a person to be saved. Over and over in the NT the point is made that a person is saved or justified not by works but by faith and if He has no faith he cannot be justified. So the Spirit must draw a person and that person must respond with faith or they will not be saved.

    “Thus the father only draws *some* people, and he must chose who to draw. So, God is sovereign in salvation.”

    Merely stating your assumption. No where in the text of John 6 or anywhere else for that matter does it state that only the elect are drawn. Also where in the text of John 6 does it say “he must chose who to draw” with the meaning that He only draws the elect? It says No one comes unless drawn, it says that if they respond in faith to this drawing they will be believers and will be raised up (throughout John 6 the point is made repeatedly that if you do not **partake** of Christ you cannot be saved; and in the context it is not talking about cannibalism but about having faith in Christ; if you have faith in Jesus you will be saved and raised, if you do not partake of His flesh/have faith in Jesus you cannot be saved). Calvinists tend to prooftext from isolated verses in John 6 without also emphasizing the other verses about the importance of faith to salvation which are actually more frequent in John 6 than the Calvinist “prooftexts”.

    “Henry's theories, despite the problem of being demonstratably false, is that it constantly butts head with Scripture.”

    You have not demonstrated the unreality of choices (proved the universal negative that choices as normally understood never are present in our experience), you have simply ***refined*** “choices” so that it becomes a “choiceless choice” (the person may believe they have a choice, that they can actuate different possibilities, but in reality since their every move is predetermined they never experience choices as normally understood). My view does not constantly butt heads with scripture (if the text presents an event as predetermined then it is, if the text presents a genuine choice then there was a genuine choice, if the text says that people are able to and do in fact resist the Spirit then they do so, if the text says that God’s redemptive work is for the world then it is for the world, etc. Etc. Etc.).

    “My Calvinism can deal with passages like John 6:44, Henry cannot incorporate them into his view.”

    I can incorporate them into my view, I have explained how, but you will not accept my answer because my answer involves both the reality of choices and the denial of unconditional election and irresistible grace.

    “Anyway, I think Henry used up all his arguments in his first post. All he's done is to re-serve his re-heated objections. His main argument seems to be to just assume his libertarianism, assume that everyone has these notions in their head before they study the "ebil philosophy from da debil," and tell people that they can't have a choice (despite my unrfebutted argument), and that they assume libertarianism whilst refuting it.”

    We both operate according to certain presuppositions. So how does one decide between these competing conceptions of reality? What it amounts to is an abductive argument, or asking which explanation best explains the available data. You believe that your compatibilism best explains the data, I believe that the data is best explained if we see some events as determined and other events as not determined. Regarding assuming that we all have the same notions in our heads, I do assume that the majority of people when using their common sense know that they sometimes experience what is commonly called choices. Because your view never allows for choices as commonly understood, you have to either get rid of the term choice or redefine it so it fits your belief in exhaustive determinism (so you end up with a “choiceless choice”). I believe that rather than redefining the term, determinists ought to just come clean and forthrightly admit that they do not believe that **choices as normally understood** are ever experienced in a completely predetermined world.

    But to ***redefine*** the term into a “choiceless choice” is just playing semantic word games in order to defend and maintain a preferred view. It is precisely these kinds of semantic word games that Anonymous observed as part of your philosophizing. People engaging in common sense know that they are capable of choices, have experienced choices, and have no problem understanding what the word choice means and refers to. Then the compatibilist comes along and says “No, that’s just the pre-philosophical meaning for the word choice, what it actually means is that you do what you want to do, even though you really cannot actuate different alternatives, unless of course God had predetermined a different world than this actual world, in which case then you could have done otherwise, of course you also have to understand the proper meaning of “can”. Isn’t this all just obvious?” People hear this kind of thing and conclude that Philosophers are simply out of touch with the real world. A real world where people face choices all the time, a world where your choices will influence every area of your life.

    Regarding evil philosophy from the devil it seems clear that if God designs us to be a certain way, and then someone else comes along and argues that we are not really that way, it is very reminiscent of the one who came to us in the garden and asked “did God really say . . .”. Careful thinking or philosophy done in a manner that honors God and helps His people think through issues and situations clarify concepts and ideas is a good thing. But that kind of philosophizing has also got to be accompanied by obedience to the biblical instructions regarding the manner in which we ought to be discussing things with nonbelievers and believers. When those biblical instructions are ignored or put aside so that people can merely be argumentative, condescending, verbally combative, then the philosophizing that ought to be taking place is impeded and obstructed and can become quite evil.


    Henry

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  16. Henry,

    "Actually, my view, as I believe that the bible teaches that some events are determined some are not, better explains the biblical and experiential data than your view which believes **all events** are predetermined."

    Actually, your view as stated above, was that a person's salvation is one of the things *not* determined. So, the above was simply a red herring. My response was in the context of your claims about libertarian freedom in salvation.

    Really, forget the debates about God determining whether I'd have chocolate or vanilla ice cream, a bigger concern for me is in the area of soteriology.

    " You have attempted to ***redefine “choices”*** so they do not involve actual choices, but you have not shown the impossibility of choices."

    Henry still fails to interact with my argument. It is not *me* who "redefines" choice, but, rather, Jesus - who calls an action a "choice" that Henry would not call a choice. Henry on the one hand, Jesus on the other, who does Henry want me to believe?

    "And you are operating from an underlying assumption that you cannot prove from scripture: that only the elect are drawn by God. All believers have been drawn by God and respond in faith to the work of the Holy Spirit, but this does not mean that **only** the believers are drawn or that the Holy Spirit **only** convicts the elect of sin, righteousness, and judgement."

    Unfortunately Henry left out Jesus' claim, i.e., "and I will raise Him up on the last day."

    See, Jesus says that no one is *able* to come to Him unless the Father draws HIM, and I [Jesus] will raise HIM up on the last day.

    Henry's choices: Either all men are raised, or the two tokens of "him" in the verse are different hims. The first is false, the second is exegetically and grammatically impossible (esp. since the text doesn't talk about the one who *does* come, but just about being *able* to come).

    " And Jesus says that the drawing involves Him being lifted up on the cross and this drawing involves all men (“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” Jn. 12:32)."

    (a) Can Henry prove that "all men" means "all men" in a quantitative way? Just because it uses a word that is universal, does not mean that is how it is being used in this passage. There is such a thing, which philosophers of language recognize, as restricted quantification. Philosopher of language William Lycan, speaking on restricted quantification, writes that, "What logicians call the domains over which quantifiers range need not be universal, but are often particular cases roughly presupposed in context" (Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction, p.24).


    (b) Without exegeting anything, Henry just assumes John 12 is talking about John 6 (even though in 6 it is *the Father* who does the drawing and in 12 it is *the Son*)

    (c) What's the context of John 12:

    20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

    Jesus is ending his public ministry. He, with his disciples, will go into private after this. These words of Jesus are prompted by the "Greeks" who wanted to "see Jesus." So, Jesus has non-Jews seeking him now. Right after this, v.23, Jesus says "the hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified."

    Now, we have some of the context for Jesus words in v.32. Let's cite more of the passage so as to avoid Henry's continued errors of eisogesis and proof-texting.

    27 "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." 30 Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.


    Let's note, then, that the *prompting* of Jesus' words were due to the fact that *Gentiles* came to see Jesus. Jesus is talking about Jews and Gentiles by saying "all men." Secondly, a bigger problem is that Henry's interpretation would, if consistently applied, say that the cross drew every single individual human being. But, what does the Bible teach about the cross? Let's look at 1 Corinthians 1:22-24,

    22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

    See, Paul says the cross is for those who are called, both to Jew and Gentile! Is the cross something that "draws" and "compels" Henry's "every single human being?" No, it repels those not called. It is a "stumbling block" and "foolishness" to them.

    Thus these points, coupled with the context of the Greeks seeking Christ, lend itself to the Calvinist interpretation, not Henry's Arminian one.

    (d) Lastly, as pointed out above, if Henry really wants to push John 12 into John 6, and make the drawing the same, then he must make the effect of the drawing the same, i.e., the raising of "every single human being" to everlasting life.

    "People can and do resist the work of the Spirit. Stephen in the midst of an evangelistic message in which the Spirit was certainly working explicitly states that people do (which means they can) resist the Holy Spirit: “You men who are stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did" (Acts 7:51)"

    Some problems:

    (1) Henry needs to show where Calvinists deny that people can "resist" the holy Spirit in the sense spoken of in places like Acts 7:51).

    (2) Henry would do well to actually read some Calvinists on the matter. For example, as James White says in his response to Dave Hunt: "The doctrine [irresistible grace] has nothing to do with the fact that sinners 'resist' the common grace of God and the Holy Spirit every day (they do)." He then cites Acts 7:51 in support of this! So, irresistible grace is simply the claim that when God decides to raise a dead sinner to life, this accomplishment does not depend on any conditions within the sinner. Jesus raised Lazarus without asking Lazarus' "permission." Furthermore, this raising will achieve its intended result.

    (3) So, Henry needs to actually show that Acts 7:51 is the *same thing* as in verses Calvinists actually use to support the idea of irresistible grace.

    "Calvinists often caricature non-Calvinists representing the non-Calvinists as believing that anyone can just waltz right into faith in Christ based on solely their own efforts without the work of the Spirit. In reality, no work of the Spirit in a person’s life, means no possibility of salvation."

    Of course the cautious reader will recall that I did no such thing. I even *anticipated* Henry's move that all are drawn and included the reductio to that. Thus all of Henry's words are simply wasted words. All the time he spends not interacting with my argument is really an attempt to bring as much baggage into the debate as possible, hoping we confuse which bags we were originally looking for.

    "First you are merely asserting your Calvinism here. You are **assuming** that if one is drawn then they must become Christians (that is your assumption, your belief in irresistible grace)."

    No, I'm assuming what Jesus said. He said if "him" is drawn then "him" is raised. So, Henry is assuming the two him's are different. Furthermore, Henry is reading into the text what is not there. He wants to say that the one drawn is the one who *actually* comes. But, the text doesn't say any of that. It speaks of those *able* to come. No one is able to come unless the Father draws the unable one, making him able, and Christ will raise the able one up on the last day. Thus if the drawing makes *all* men able, then *all* men are raised. The text doesn't say Christ raises the one who in fact comes (which, of course, he does), the text only speaks about those able and unable. The able are raised.

    Furthermore, Henry says that I'm assuming all given (drawn) by the father will necessarily come to Christ is my imposing Calvinism on the text. In fact, we get this idea, not from me, but from Jesus himself. John 6:37 "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out." Two verses later we read, "And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day." So, Jesus says that all drawn or given will become Christians. If those given, before time, to Jesus *will* be raised up on the last day, it sounds like they couldn't actuate an alternate possibility, otherwise Jesus would, again on Henry's view, be lying.

    " Second, you are also **assuming** that God only draws the elect (that is your assumption, your belief in unconditional election)."

    No, I'm assuming that universalism is negated.

    "Third, the possibility which you leave out is someone being drawn by God and yet resisting the Holy Spirit, responding in unbelief."

    I only leave out the possibilities Jesus does: "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out." On Henry's view Jesus should have said, "Unless, of course, they resist the Holy Spirit, then those who the Father gives will not come."

    "The convicting work of the Spirit is done with the world, though most of the world does not respond with faith."

    Though all those saved have been convicted, the converse isn't true. Not all those convicted are saved. Thus, the convicting work of the Spirit, as Henry notes, doesn’t necessitate salvation. But, no Calvinist has ever denied this. So, Henry, quite ironically, talks about Calvinists misrepresenting Arminians -- though he didn't quote me -- while it is Henry who misrepresents Calvinists! A bit of projection, maybe?

    "It is similar to the atonement in which Jesus is given for the world, but not all of the world has the atonement applied to them because it is only applied to you if you believe."

    Well, Calvinists believe God is just and so wouldn't want to have God punishing people who already had their sins punished by Christ. God doesn't accept double-payment. It's "an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth," not "two eyes for one, two teeth for one."

    "You have not demonstrated the unreality of choices (proved the universal negative that choices as normally understood never are present in our experience), you have simply ***refined*** “choices” so that it becomes a “choiceless choice” (the person may believe they have a choice, that they can actuate different possibilities, but in reality since their every move is predetermined they never experience choices as normally understood). "

    And of course this is in the context of my argument from Jesus, Judas, and Larry (JJL, hereafter) remaining unanswered.

    "Regarding evil philosophy from the devil it seems clear that if God designs us to be a certain way, and then someone else comes along and argues that we are not really that way, it is very reminiscent of the one who came to us in the garden and asked “did God really say ."

    And on Henry's view we don’t have to be the way God designed us! We are free men, master of our fate and destiny. We define our character, not God. If the design plan calls for me to X in situation Y, I don't have to. Maybe we'll just Z in situation Y. Can't have God determining and causing our choices. We will. Self-caused. We're the masters of our fate.

    Henry's position has been sliced and diced both on philosophical and theological grounds, but his assumptions and a priori philosophy takes precedence.

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  17. “And, so has Sean Choi who, btw, is doing his dissertation on free will and compatibilism related issues at UCSB. But, I suppose he's another person who just can't seem to use "choice" in the proper/pre-philosophical way.”

    Who is Sean Choi and what does he have to do with anything here? I do not understand why you bring in someone who has not posted, what is your purpose here?

    It is significant that you refer to seeing “choice” in the proper “pre-philosophical way.” This suggests that you know that there are two very different conceptions of free will (compatibilism and libertarianism). Why is the libertarian view labeled as the *pre-philosophical way”? People like Plantinga, Moreland, Craig, Flint are very capable philosophers and they hold to the libertarian conception of free will. So are you claiming their conception is inferior to yours on a philosophical level?


    “And I've pointed out that this is sloppy. How is "power" to be understood? That is, was Jesus *physically able* to moth the words "I choose Larry over Judas."? So, on my view Jesus "had the power."

    Henry seems to mean by "power" the live option that S can actualize A or B.”

    I don’t care whether you call it “power” or “ability” my point is that it is within the person’s capacities to do a particular action or refrain from doing that action.

    Do you believe that when it comes to a live option that S **can** actualize A or B? And if you answer No, why do you call it a “live option” then?

    “Three problems:

    1. Henry doesn't quote Plantinga is saying that this is how Plantinga defines the meaning of "choice."

    So Henry continues to smuggle his tendentious definition into the debate, even interpolating it into a quote.

    2. Even if that were how Plantinga defines it, we already know that Plantinga is a libertarian, so he naturally defines freedom in libertarian terms, which begs the question in favor of libertarianism.

    3. As shown by my verses above, this is false. God predestines people to do *whatever* His hand determined.”

    Regarding (1) I quoted Plantinga in order to get the concept of both doing an action and refraining from doing an action into the discussion. That concept was important to what I was suggesting.

    You speak of me smuggling my tendentious definition into the debate, how is your definition of a choice as a **choiceless choice** also not smuggling in a tendentious definition? How is your redefinition of the word choice so that it does not involve a choice not a partisan move?

    Regarding (2) you say of Plantinga that “we already know that Plantinga is a libertarian, so he naturally defines freedom in libertarian terms”. Couldn’t the ***exact same thing be said of you and other compatibilists***: “we already know that Manata (or any other compatibilist) is a compatibilist, so he naturally defines freedom in compatibilist terms.”?

    You then add: “which begs the question in favor of libertarianism.” Couldn’t ***exactly*** the same thing be said about you when you use your definition: “which begs the question in favor of compatibilism?”

    This is a double standard here. If I make statements where I use choice as commonly understood, which is in line with the libertarian conception, that gets ridiculed and put down as “pre-philosophical” and not allowable as that “begs the question”. But then you naturally redefine “choice” so that it is in line with compatibilism and that is OK and not question begging?

    Why is it not OK for me to operate from the common definition of choice but it is perfectly OK for you to redefine the word “choice” to mean a **choiceless choice**?

    And why must you ridicule the word “choice” as commonly used?

    Regarding (3) I have a couple of questions for you on this: (1) assume for the sake of argument that I can point to 100 bible verses that clearly and unequivocally refer to particular instances of events being predetermined by God, am I then logically justified in concluding from these 100 verses that God has predetermined all events which occur? (2) Why or why not?

    I had written:

    A “choice” then, involves by its very nature, at least two **possibilities.

    “But it doesn’t involve the ability to have to be able to actuate either. So, we have Judas and Larry as the possible choices. Jesus could not actuate Larry, but still chose Judas.”

    In the libertarian conception a person ***does*** have the ability to be able to actuate either. Only in a compatibilist conception is that not possible. So you are merely stating your preferred conception here. Judas and Larry could not be “possible choices” unless either one could be actuated. How is it accurate logically to say that something is a **possible** CHOICE if that possibility is impossible for the person to actuate, not within their ability to actuate?

    “And Jesus actuated one of the possibilities. It's a non-sequitur to claim that he must be able to actuate *either* possibility.”

    Again, it is only a non-sequitur if the libertarian notion is incorrect. You have not shown this, you have simply redefined the word choice so that it fits with your compatibilism. Again, you do not prove this to be true, you merely assume it. So when I assume my conception it is unacceptable, it is begging the question, but you can do so and it both acceptable and not begging the question.

    How is this not a double standard?

    “No, I argue that if it were *possible* to actuate Larry as a choice then it would be *possible* that God could be a liar. Henry thinks it is *possible* that Jesus could have actuated Larry over Judas, thus Henry thinks it's *possible* that God could lie.”

    Start with the last line: I do not think that it is possible for God to lie.

    Regarding whether or not it was possible for Jesus to have actuated Larry over Judas. If Jesus had a choice as commonly understood, as understood in the libertarian conception, then it was within His ability to actuate whichever alternative he wanted to choose. I showed how it could be possible for Jesus to be able to actuate either alternative and yet having that ability to do so would not result in God lying. I also stated in another place that if Jesus had chosen differently, say He had chosen “Larry” instead of Judas, then the biblical prophecy would have been about Larry. This is true because God has foreknowledge (i.e., the ability to know future events including the free choices of human persons). So whichever way anyone chooses God knows the outcome, which choice will be made before it is made. So by His foreknowledge He always knows exactly how things will turn out, and this knowledge is His because of His foreknowledge. And He can never get it wrong.

    Most Calvinists believe that God can ***only*** foreknow what He has predetermined to occur. If this is true, then God couldn’t foreknow the outcomes of future free choices (in the libertarian sense) of human persons or events which He had not predetermined. Wouldn’t this be putting a limitation on God’s knowledge (he can **only** foreknow what is predetermined) or what does not involve choices (in the libertarian sense)?

    Because some Calvinists place this limitation on God, they end up agreeing with the open theist that God cannot foreknow the future free choices of human persons. So they choose to abandon free will and choices, and the open theist choose to abandon God’s exhaustive knowledge of future events. But isn’t it true that you do not believe that God could foreknow undetermined events, events in which a choice (in the libertarian sense) occurs unless He has predetermined the event? And how do you know that God cannot know the future unless He has predetermined it?

    “No, I've argued simply that the possibility of falsifying the prophecy means that there is a possibility that God lied.”

    There is no possibility that God could lie, He says that he cannot do so. And there is no way we could falsify a prophecy if God foreknows all future events accurately (which He does).

    “But, it seems Henry has slipped. He said that something X needs to be actualized in order for prophecy P to fail. Thus, in our case, X *could not* have been actualized, even according to Henry. Therefore, Jesus "could not" (in a libertarian way) have refrained from actualizing Judas. There were two possibilities, but one was not able to be actualized. Ability to genuinely actualize either A or B is not required for a choice, even Henry must admit this. Since God cannot lie, it cannot be the case that an agent can have the power to actualize either option.”

    At one point here you say “Therefore, Jesus ‘could not’ (in a libertarian way) have refrained from actualizing Judas.”

    Then later in the same paragraph you write: “Ability to genuinely actualize either A or B is not required for a choice, even Henry must admit this.” For the libertarian “Ability to genuinely actualize either A or B IS REQUIRED FOR A CHOICE. So why ***must*** I admit this conception of choice to not be accurate? So in the beginning of the paragraph you rule out the libertarian conception and then do so later in the paragraph and claim that I must agree with the elimination of the libertarian conception of choice. Now why should I do that or admit that?

    Why am I going to admit that my notion of choice is not required for a choice to occur?

    And if I did so, then how would your argument be addressing my libertarian conception of choice since then I would not be operating according to the libertarian notion of choice? Talk about attempting to put words in my mouth.

    I said that a choice will involve the ability to actuate both (of at least two) alternatives. But having the ability to possibly do something is not the same as actually doing so. And as I pointed out, what it would take to negate a prophecy is an actual event different from the prophesied event taking place instead of what was prophesied. I have also made the point that if Jesus had chosen differently, than God in His foreknowledge, would have known that and the prophesies would have been different due to God’s accurately knowing the future choices which would actually be made.

    If (X) had been actualized then God in his foreknowledge would have known that (X) would occur and so prophesied that (X) would occur. If Jesus had refrained from choosing Judas then God would have prophesied about someone else.

    “So, Jesus *could not* actualize Larry, he could only actualize one option, yet he still calls this a choice. I frankly don't see how Henry can be missing all of this.”

    Jesus had the ability to actualize whichever alternative He wanted to actualize (that is what it means to have a choice in the libertarian sense). However having that ability is not sufficient to falsify the biblical prophesy unless he actually did something different than what was prophesied. Frankly, I do not understand why you are missing what I am saying and even trying to have me argue without the libertarian notion of choice.

    “If this is **impossible** then it is **impossible* that someone *could* actuate another alternative than the one God said would happen. Thus, S **cannot** bring about B just as easy as he could "choose" to bring about A.

    To say that B is **possible** is to say that it is **possible** that God could lie.”

    IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD TO LIE.

    It is not impossible for God in His foreknowledge to know what a future free choice (in the libertarian sense) will be and so prophecy accordingly. If S ***cannot*** bring about B just as easy as he could “choose” to bring about A” is not my view. Perhaps some suggest that in making a choice all of the alternatives have equal weight for the person. But I do not agree sometimes each alternative is easier or harder than the others. And sometimes it would be easier to do one action and yet the right action in the situation is harder to do. It is not about which is easier or harder to actuate, but whether or not you have the ability to actuate one possibility from among multiple available possibilities. There are also constraints of various kinds on our choices. For Jesus for example, we know one of His own constraints to be a desire to do God’s will. So a person may have the ability to actuate differing possibilities in a specific situation and yet due to a constraint makes the choice of one alternative rather than another. A Christian businessman who travels a lot and is married, will have opportunities and temptations which though he has the ability to actualize sinful possibilities, he nevertheless chooses not to actualize these possibilities because one of His constraints is the marriage vows of marital fidelity that he promised he would fulfill. Joseph certainly had the ability and multiple opportunities to be intimate with Potiphar’s wife and yet he repeatedly made the right choice because he was constrained to do God’s will.

    Libertarians realize that constraints may be present which influence a persons choices (so while he has the ability to actuate a particular alternative, that does not mean he will do so). I may face a temptation, so I have the ability to give in, but just because there is the possibility that I might give in does not mean that I have given into the temptation. You seem to be committed to claiming that just because the ability to do something is present, that is the same thing as doing the action. But in some situations you may have the ability to do (X) and yet (X) will not occur unless you choose to do (X) [note one of the problems with fatalism is that the fatalists ignores the fact that some actions will not occur unless the person chooses to do them so if the person does not choose to do those actions those actions will not occur and so the future will not be what it is regardless of people’s choices and actions]. If Jesus had a genuine choice then he could have, he had the ability to, pick either Larry or Judas, actuate either possibility. And whichever way he actually chose, God’s prophecies would have accurately represented which choice he actually would have made. That being the case, how could Jesus having possible choices falsify what God predicted He would actually do? Either way he chooses, the prophecy gets it right.

    “And some can see that Henry hasn't grasped the argument. Is the **possibility** that Jesus could, in a libertarian way, chose Larry over Judas sufficient to show that it would be **possible** to make God a liar.”

    No the mere possibility that Jesus could choose either way, had the ability to choose either way, is not capable of making God a liar.

    “It doesn't have to be actualized. All that matters for my argument to work is that Henry grants that it is **possible** for God to lie, and all that it takes to show this is that it is **possible** that Jesus could falsify God's prophecy.”

    Here is an incredible statement, Paul says that all it would take, “all that matters”, for his argument to work IS THAT HENRY GRANTS THAT IT IS **POSSIBLE** FOR GOD TO LIE.

    BUT I DON’T GRANT THAT. AND HOW MANY TIMES DO I NEED TO REPEAT THAT I DO NOT BELIEVE IT IS POSSIBLE FOR GOD TO LIE?

    “Anyway, it could not be within Jesus' power to make himself a liar. That's self-referentially incoherent. That a being who cannot lie can lie is contradictory.”

    When have I ever said that Jesus could lie?

    “So, does God have "the power" to lie? No.”

    No God cannot lie, and I agree but you just said that for your argument to work I would have to grant that it is possible for God to lie.

    “Does he have "the power" to do something which would, if done, render him a liar? No. Why? Because it is **impossible** that he could lie.”

    Again, I do not, nor have I ever claimed that God could lie, or even possibly lie. Note your own sentence here: you state yourself that not only would he have to have the power to do it, he would also have to actually do it (“if done”), to render God a liar.

    “Stated in other terms: is it possible that pigs could fly? Yes.”

    Actually, I have to disagree with you here, I do not believe that it is possible for pigs to fly. Your argument is getting bizarre at this point.

    “Is it possible that pigs could fly and not fly at the same time? No, that's impossible.”

    Well not only is it impossible for pigs to fly, they certainly could not fly and fly at the same time. Now if you want to suggest that God through some sort of miracle could cause them to fly, or lift them up in the air as if they were flying, that is possible. But to fly on their own, is impossible, because it is not within their capacities to do such a thing.

    “Hence, it is not within the "pigs power" to actualize the state of affairs constituted by the latter.”

    Oh my, now our ability to actuate one possibility when faced with several possibilities (i.e., to make a choice), is compared to the inability of a pig to fly? God made pigs in a way so that they cannot fly. God however made us in His image with the capacity to make our own choices and perform our own actions, even to the point of choosing to come up with bizarre claims of flying pigs. As bizarre as this argument is, the fact that you could choose to share it, is itself yet more proof for the reality of choices (in a libertarian sense). Now if you want to claim that God predetermined for you to talk about flying pigs you go right ahead. I believe **that** as much as I believe in flying pigs. :-)

    "The only way that Jesus could have falsified the prophesy is if He had **actually** not chosen Judas as an apostle (i.e., if He had refrained from choosing Judas, or if he had picked someone else instead of Judas, or if He had not picked anyone at all to be an apostle). Jesus only could have falsified the prophesy if HE HAD ***ACTUALLY NOT CHOSEN*** JUDAS."

    “Granted.”

    You grant my argument but then argue that I misunderstood you.

    “My point, though, is that Jesus *could not* have actuated Larry because, as Henry admits, this would falsify the prophecy, and hence prove God a liar, and Henry admits this cannot be done.”

    Wait a minute, you said earlier that in order for your argument to work I would have to grant the possibility that God could lie. Now a second time you explicitly state that I admit that God cannot lie. Am I saying that God could lie or not? If I am not, then by your own words (“All that matters for my argument to work is that Henry grants that it is **possible** for God to lie”) your argument doesn’t work

    “So, it was not within Jesus' "power" (genuine ability to actuate) to chose Larry over Judas. Hence, according to Henry, there was no choice.”

    Wait a minute, I argued that it was within Jesus’ power to choose Judas or to refrain from choosing Judas. I also argued that Jesus faced a real choice (in the libertarian sense). So when was I (“according to Henry, there was no choice”) claiming that there was no choice? Another attempt to put words in my mouth.

    “Jesus says there was a choice. Jesus wins over Henry, IMHO.”

    If Jesus said there was a choice (in the libertarian sense) then there was a choice involving the ability to both do something and refrain from doing something. Also, the libertarian conception of choice has been around in all human cultures for a long time. I also believe that it is highly likely that Jesus when he used the word choice was using it in the “prephilosophical way” because that is how his first hearers would have understood him. And if they understood the word choice to mean choice as commonly understood (i.e. in the libertarian sense) and yet Jesus knew they thought of it that way, and yet He was using it with a different meaning, then Jesus would have been intentionally misleading them. I do not think that was the case, he was in fact using “choice” in the “prephilosophical way”. If choice did not mean what it normally means, Jesus would have clarified that and said something different. Incidentally, if you examine scripture you see plenty of statements in language that can only be the libertarian sense of free will and choices. Words like “choose you this day”, “you should have done” etc. Etc.

    “But, again, I'm not talking about the prophecy actually being falsified.”

    I was, because mere possibilities do not negate actualities. Because in order for God to be a liar His prophecy has to be false, and in order for it to be false, a different event than the one prophesied would actually have to occur. And unless that different event actually occurs God cannot be telling a lie. Or can God be a liar even though all of his prophecies actually occur just as He says?

    “I'm talking about the *possibility* that God could be a liar.”

    I am talking about the actuality of God being a liar, what it would take to make that true. Regarding the possibility of God lying, again, I do not think that possible.

    “Henry must say this is a real possibility. But, this contradicts Hebrews, hence, Henry is wrong, IMHO.”

    Again, Paul himself says that I would have to grant that it is possible that God could lie AND HE ALSO SAYS MULTIPLE TIMES THAT I DO NOT GRANT THIS POSSIBILITY, BUT NOW HE IS SAYING THAT I **MUST** SAY THIS IS A POSSIBILITY.

    Is this the pig flying and not flying at the same time again????

    I say that it is impossible that God lie. Paul says multiple times that I do not believe that God can lie. But then in the same post Paul says that I must say that it is a real possibility that God could lie: SO ARE THE PIGS FLYING OR ON THE GROUND? WHICH IS IT?

    “Henry's counter fails for not even being in the same ballpark as my objection. Indeed, as we saw above, Henry refuted his own position.”

    I guess if pigs can fly and not fly at the same time, and if I can claim that God cannot lie and at the same time I must say that God possible can lie, then I guess anything is possible and I am probably not in the same ballpark as Manata. In the ballparks that I have been, pigs cannot fly, nor can the same pigs simultaneously be flying and on the ground at the same. The person sliding in at home plate attempting to score cannot be both out and safe at the same time. Apparently Paul goes to different ballparks where bizarre things do happen, like me simultaneously claiming that God can lie and cannot lie, pigs flying and being on the ground at the same time, and even pigs flying in the first place.

    “Henry’s analogy about Russian and Spanish classes fails under the same misunderstanding.”

    He doesn’t like my analogy, so just as he feels compelled to redefine the word choice, he has to tweak my analogy.

    “Furthermore, it suffers from FSCs. That the gunman couldn't actualize the possibility that he walk away, thereby rendering the *ability* to do otherwise void, does not imply that the gunman didn't chose to kill the president.”

    What in the world is this? Must be an accidental posting from somewhere else that he just slipped in.

    “How could people see the problems with *my* argument if you haven't given *my* argument?”

    Well if you want to argue that God could possibly lie, something I won’t grant, and have not granted, so your argument according to your own words breaks down, then go right ahead and claim I didn’t deal with your argument. You claimed that the libertarian view would lead to God being a liar, I showed how this is not true.

    “A better analogy is this: Suppose Henry had a mouth and tongue and vocal cord defect whereby it was physically impossible for his mouth to form and utter Spanish words.

    Now, Henry has two languages he could learn to speak, Spanish and Russian. Henry chooses Russian because he's aware of his defects. It was not *possible* for Henry to speak Spanish. To say this was a real *possibility* would be to deny that he had the undeniable physical defect we all agree he had. It would be impossible to bring about a state of affairs where by, given this prior defect, he could speak Spanish. For it to be a real possibility that Henry could have spoken Spanish it would have to be a real possibility that Henry didn't have the attending defect which would prohibit Spanish speaking. The latter, granting, was not a possibility, therefore it was likewise not a possibility that Henry could have actually spoken Spanish.”

    This is an awful argument, because Paul presents this as if I had no choice that because of my defect I could not have taken Spanish. But my defect is that I cannot **speak** Spanish, not that I can’t learn it, or choose to take it. The choice was between taking Spanish or taking Russian. If I wanted to graduate I had a constraint that I had to take a language class. My defect prevents me from learning to **speak** Spanish, so Paul thinks that I then must take Russian and have no choice between the two anymore (what if I was going to be a Wycliffe translator of a Spanish bible? Would it then make sense for me to take Spanish anyway even though I wouldn’t learn to speak it? But having the physical defect does not eliminate certain choices, it only eliminates the possibility of speaking Spanish.

    In a given circumstance for various reasons we may not be able to actuate an action that we normally could do, but not being able to do that particular action at that time is not the same thing as saying we do not have the capacity to actuate that possibility under ordinary or normal circumstances. I had a friend who once broke both legs in a skiing accident, so he was temporarily not able to drive his car. But just because he could not drive his car during that time when his legs healed does not mean that he had lost the capacity to drive his car. He just was not able to actuate it at that time. And furthermore, Jesus had no defects, so he was a fully functioning human being when he made the choice to pick Judas. There were no defects in Jesus’ physical body or in his mind, so how does the not being able to speak Spanish analogy apply to whether or not Jesus had a real choice (in the libertarian sense) when He had the ability to choose Judas or refrain from choosing Judas?

    “So, as with Jesus and Judas, it was not a possibility that Jesus could have actually chosen Larry, thus he couldn't refrain from choosing Judas. But, Jesus calls what he did a choice, therefore, granting inerrancy, Henry is wrong.”

    If Jesus said He had a choice, and he meant it in the libertarian sense, then he really did face a choice in which case it was within His power to actuate either possibility. But having the power to actuate both possibilities does not amount to God being a liar unless God prophesied one thing and something else happened. But something else did not happen, and if it had, then God would have foreknown that.

    “Yeah, but the problem is that I've proven that Bible does allow for a notion of "choice" which is less radical (for lack of a better word) than the typical libertarian notion that requires genuine alternative possibilities, but is nonetheless portrayed as being significant.”

    Why is the libertarian notion “radical” and the compatibilist notion of **choiceless choices** not more radical? The ordinary conception of choice works for a whole lot of people throughout their lives. A Sunday school teacher take some kids to Baskin Robbins 31 flavor ice cream and tells them they can choose whatever flavor they want, then when they state their choices, the children’s choices are ignored. The teacher then buys them all the same flavor ice cream and says: “see kids you had a choice, just like Jesus meant when He had a choice but had no alternatives, that is what the word choice means kids.” Then Manata runs into the store and gives the teacher a gold star for getting the definition of choice right, for using the ***less radical*** compatibilistic notion of choice. I think in that situation that even the kids would have a problem with Paul’s redefinition of the word choice, they certainly wouldn’t understand why their actual choice was taken away and replaced with a more radical meaning of the word choice, one which actually led to them not having a choice.

    “So, it's Henry's philosophy verses the Bible.”

    Fortunately for me, the bible uses the word choice the same way that I do. And at least in my philosophy pigs don’t fly. Of course they do not fly in the bible either.


    “But, in reality, I did answer Henry. He just didn’t like my answer since it didn't agree with the cashier at Taco Bell's pre-philosophical notion of choice.”

    Oh my, the poor cashier suffers from common sense in regard to the meaning of choices as well. We’re going to have to reeducate a lot of people to eliminate the more radical common sense meaning of choice that these poor commoners keep using.

    What an elitist comment. I guess Manata thinks he is superior to the cashier at Taco Bell. I’ll bet that that cashier does not believe that pigs can fly though.

    “Again, we must point out the consistent sloppiness of "could have," Jesus did have the power, he was Lord of the angels. Jesus could have decreed that such would be the case. But, as long as the Son decreed to not call the angels down, then he could not have because then he would make himself a liar. This is impossible, therefore..., well, you get it by now.”

    Boy this misses the point of the text, Jesus did not call the angels down, but he says that he could have if he wanted to. If he had the ability to refrain from calling them down, which in fact is the possibility that he actuated, and if he had the ability to call them down, because He said that He did, then He really had a choice (in the libertarian sense). But Manata cannot see that, probably because he is looking in the sky looking for one of those flying pigs.

    “No, by definition, an omnipotent being "could" have done so. But, in the sense of actualizing it, Jesus would not because,”

    Wait a minute you just gave away the store here.

    You say here explicitly that he could have done so (by definition, an omnipotent being ‘could’ have done so”), that he had the ability to do so, but would not do so (i.e. chose not to do so, chose not to actuate this possibility) because even though it was within his ability to do so (it was possible for him to do so). HE CHOSE NOT TO DO SO IN ORDER TO FULFILL BIBLICAL PROPHECY. So here is Jesus with a real choice, the ability to actuate either possibility and yet He chooses one in order to fulfill biblical prophecy.

    And how is that any different from the choice of Judas where it was also within his power to actuate two possibilities but he chose to actuate the one which fulfills biblical prophecy?

    In Matthew 26 Jesus had a choice, he had the ability to actuate either possibility, and just because he had the ability to actuate either possibility (as you yourself say: He had this ability as an omnipotent being; so that he could have done so if he had wanted to do so, if He had chosen to do so), does not mean that having that ***possibility*** falsifies biblical prophecy?

    Your ship has just sunk. You’ve been hoisted on your own petard.

    Henry

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  18. "Wait a minute you just gave away the store here."

    But of course above I've toaken the time to break down "ability" and "can." So, I only gave up "the store" if Henry viewd my use of "could" in a *libertian* way.

    Henry just sunk himself.

    Anyway, still wating for a refutation of the simple claim:

    If it was possible that Jesus could actuate soemthing contrary to God's prophecy then it is possible that God woud have lied.

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  19. Hi, I'm an Arminian. I've been Lurking here for a while. I want to tell Henry that "Calvinism is not heresy!" Why do you have to be so rude? I want to see a good debate, but Henry keeps acting like a jerk, and saying the same thing over and over. This probably upsets the Calvinists, and I can understand that.

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  20. Like I have said numerous times: there are different ways one can say that someone "can" do something.

    I used this example: God decreed that Jesus' bones would not break. This would never happen. So, would we have to say that Jesus had unbreakable bones? No. The bones were human, and human bones "could" be broken.

    That doesn't mean that I think it was a live option for someone to actually do that.

    So, despite all the words Henry used, (a) he still hasn't dealt with the modal argument from possibility. He thinks that for it to be *possible* that God lies it must be *actual* that he lied. This is simply untrue. And, (b) Henry claims I messed up only by assuming a libertarian understanding of "could" in my words.

    That was a major mistake on his part. It is just more evidence of the caliber of Henry's argumentation here. Henry simply has *assumed* libertarian ideas about everything.

    Recap: I've showed that PAPs are false. I've showed the infallible world of God has a different understanding of 'choice' than does Henry. I've shown that we are not free in salvation. I've also posted other posts which refute Henry's notion of agent causation, Henry's not interacted with those.

    Henry can have the last word. The debate is simply taking tool much of my time.

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  21. Paul Manata wrote:

    “Henry can have the last word. The debate is simply taking too much of my time.”

    Well thank you for taking the time to present your arguments for your views. I did not have the time to respond to many of the things you wrote due to my own time constraints.

    Now that you will stop posting, I can take some of your points and respond to them appropriately. With your nonparticipation I can catch up a bit with things which you have posted. One of the things that can sometimes occur is that someone will post lots and lots of material that you simply do not have time to respond to because of personal time constraints and other commitments. There is no doubt that appropriate responses can be given, you just don’t have the time to do so, yourself. If only we had some clones! :-)

    Paul with you now deciding to stop posting, I will have all the time I need to respond to your points. And I can even choose to do so, at my leisure, according to my chosen timing, with no time deadlines. “What a country!” :-)

    Henry

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  22. Paul Manata wrote:

    “And on Henry's view we don’t have to be the way God designed us! We are free men, master of our fate and destiny. We define our character, not God. If the design plan calls for me to X in situation Y, I don't have to. Maybe we'll just Z in situation Y. Can't have God determining and causing our choices. We will. Self-caused. We're the masters of our fate.”

    The first line is a bizarre comment on my view. In my view, God designed us to be, in a manner analogous to Him, to be agent causes of our own actions. Thus, to be the causes of our own actions, **is** the way God designed us to be. If that is the way that God designed us to be, then how could it be true that “on Henry’s view we don’t have to be the way God designed us”? If anything, when we are making choices and agent causing our own actions, we are acting that way **precisely** because God designed us to be that way.

    Next Manata appeals to the Invictus poem to misrepresent my view. In that poem, man is represented as “master of his fate” and “captain of his soul.” In other words, man controls everything including his destiny and daily circumstances. One thing that I have learned in my brief time on this planet is that there is only one “Master of the Universe”, only one “master of all”, and it is not me or any other human being. We don’t even know for sure if we are going to be breathing five minutes from now. “Master of our fate”? Not even close. So why does Manata bring up this nonbelieving motto to represent my thinking?

    I believe that we have **very limited control**. We control our own actions ordinarily, but even that is subject to lots of constraints and unforeseen circumstances. Notice that I said we control our own actions **ordinarily**, not always. If God has some sovereign purpose that He wants to accomplish, then my “free will” does not mean much and may be eliminated or suspended or controlled in any way He wants to. And why is that?

    Because God is truly sovereign meaning that: HE DOES AS HE PLEASES (cf., Ps.115:2-3 “Why should the nations say, ‘Where now, is their God?’ But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” Ps. 134:5-6 “For I know that the Lord is great, And that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.”) He does as He pleases, with whatever, whomever, whenever. None of His plans or purposes are ever thwarted.

    That also means that if He wanted to create us as persons capable of doing our own actions (always subject to His sovereignty), that he could do **that** if He pleased. When I look around at the actions of other persons I see abundant evidence that this purpose was successfully met. I also see that while we are capable of choices and do make choices, these actions are always subject to the sovereignty of God.

    One of my favorite examples in scripture (Daniel 4:1-37)is King Nebuchadnezzar. He was King of a powerful empire and he got so prideful that God decided to humble him and teach him a lesson about who alone is truly sovereign. So God had him eating grass like an animal (vv. 28-33). Before this direct intervention by God, Nebuchadnezzar made lots of choices and knew that he had free will. But the free will and ability to choose as a human person went out the window when God acted sovereignly and had him eating grass like cattle. He was allowed to return to “normal” and again was making choices and performing his own actions, but only after He learned about who alone is truly Sovereign.

    Ask Pharaoh about this idea that we always have free will and can do whatever we want whenever we want to: after God hardened him. It should be obvious that my position is not the straw man view that: free will means that we can do whatever we want anytime we want to do so and no one even God would **ever** interfere with our free will. That is not my view, but I think that Manata really believed that that was my view. We do not have **absolute** power to the contrary, because there can be constraints on our will including God Himself.

    Are we “master of our fate”? Not if God alone is sovereign and we are mere mortals with lots of limitations and constraints on our actions. Our whole life is full of contingencies (i.e. we will only be able to do such and such if other things are in place or occur, if these other contingent events do not occur, then things we may have desired to do, will not happen). We even have a famous cliche that speaks of this ever-present contingency (i.e., “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket”, why? Because if you do so and some contingency goes differently than you expect you can lose it all and be in an awful place circumstantially).

    Manata then says: “If the design plan calls for me to X in situation Y, I don’t have to. Maybe we’ll just Z in situation Y.”

    This represents some real misunderstanding of my view once again. If you didn’t know, I borrow the concept of “design plan” from Alvin Plantinga’s series on warranted belief. He uses it to refer to the idea that God designed our cognitive faculties a certain way: specifically to yield true beliefs under appropriate conditions. I like this concept, that God designed human nature to be a certain way, and the way we are supposed to be is according to the “design plan” of God. In regard to the performance of our actions I believe that God also had a “design plan”. The plan was to create humans to be beings capable of doing their own actions based upon reasons, beings who agent cause their own actions in a way that is analogous to the way God Himself agent causes His own actions (i.e., God has the capacity to make choices and does so, and makes His choices for reasons, and we are analogous to Him in these respects). So in my way of thinking, the “design plan” for us is not a predetermined plan that involves the predetermination of all of our actions (i.e. exhaustive determinism, theological determinism, Calvinism). Rather, the “design plan” is that we be capable of our own actions, actions which often involve choices and these choices are done for reasons.

    So let’s say that I am at Baskin Robbins 31 flavors ice cream parlor deciding which flavor of ice cream to choose from the available alternatives. According to Manata’s statement above, the “design plan” calls for me to do X but I can go against the “design plan” and do Z instead. That is **neither** Manata’s view (in his view I do only what God predetermined for me to do in each and every situation and I never have a choice, I have “choiceless choices”; if God’s exhaustive predetermined plan calls for me to do X then I will do X and cannot do otherwise, cannot do Z instead). Nor is it my view (the “design plan” is that you are capable of doing your own actions, capable of choices, not which particular choice you will actuate).

    Manata then adds his little jibe: “Can’t have God determining and causing our choices.” Well this idea that God determines our choices so we never have choices is Manata’s determinism. If God causes our action instead of us then it is not our action. I believe the actual “design plan” is the capacity for choices and performing our own actions, but due to circumstances sometimes beyond our control (including God intervening and carrying out one of His purposes) and constraints (If I am sick with a high fever I probably will not be on the mat practicing my black belt level forms). So yes, we are capable of making choices and freely doing our own actions on occasion, but this is a far cry from the unbiblical and contrary to reality notion that we can do whatever we want to do, any time we want to do it, without constraints, without limits, a law unto ourselves. I agree with “Dirty Harry’s” line: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” :-)

    Manata then caricatures some more with: “We will. Self-caused. We’re the masters of our fate.”

    We **do** will our own actions. And our actions usually are caused by us, by our self, by our soul, by me. But just because God created us as persons capable of doing our own self-caused actions (that this was part of the “design plan” for human persons), does not entail that we are “masters of our fate.” And that is the heart of the misrepresentation: just because you believe in agent causation on a ***limited scale***, (a scale which is always subject to the sovereignty of God as well as all sorts of other limitations and constraints) does not mean that you believe that we are “in control”. Or that we “control” our daily circumstances. Sometimes you have to get to the bathroom quickly because in certain circumstances you really are not in control of that. This idea that we **are** in control is pure illusion (or delusion).

    Though there are lots and lots of examples. Just a couple will make my point. A friend was telling me about this guy who spent hours and hours polishing the chrome on his bike (a Harley). Spent a ton of money on it, subscribed to lots of biker magazines, he **literally** worshipped this bike. He thought he was “master of his own universe”, until the bike got stolen. Jesus spoke about a man who was wealthy and filling his barns (Lk. 12:13-21) and he thought he was “master of his own universe” until God called him out of this world. But what happened to his “free will”, what happened to all that wealth he’d accumulated?

    How can any human person be in control or master of the universe, when our God tells us in Isa. 40 that the nations are less than a drop in the bucket compared to God? And that is **nations**! My position is not that we are **in control** but that we have very **limited control** as finite, limited, created beings with other constraints and limitations and always subject to God’s sovereignty. Nevertheless, just because God **is** sovereign and we are limited finite creatures does not mean that we never control our actions to any degree or that we never experience real choices.

    Henry

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  23. I missed this Manata attack against agent causation but just noticed it by accident. Manata’s attempt shows both the desperation and extremely weak arguments against agent causation which he is advancing. Manata quotes from a paper by Ted Honderich in which Honderich refers to some statements by Van Inwagen. In pastoral counseling we are told to always consider the source. This means if you know who said it you sometimes immediately know why a particular bias is being expressed by their words.

    Both Honderich and Van Inwagen are **physicalists**. Both deny that we have a human soul, an immaterial aspect to our human nature. People like myself who advocate agent causation **and** are substance dualists **and** Christians, believe that the source of our human actions is our soul. Physicalism claims that all human actions can be explained completely by means of physical explanations. Actually physicalists who are not Christians, such as Dennett and Flanagan go even further, claiming the “causal closure principle”. This is the unsustainable belief that everything can be explained solely by appeals to physical explanation, so there are no entities (including God, or angels, or human souls) that are immaterial and interact with the physical world. Physicalists in their explanations tell only ½ of the story as they leave out the role of the soul. Since human persons are a unity of both the immaterial soul and the physical brain/body, our actions will involve a physical component. If I raise my arm, the arm raising will involve my muscles, nerves, bones, brain, all physical entities that can be explained by physical explanations. What gets left out however in physicalist explanations is the role of my soul, or “me” in the lifting of that arm. Physicalist explanations also leave out both intentionality (conscious intention to do something) and teleology (the intentional doing of something for a purpose).

    Why am I talking about these things? Because people need to understand that both Honderich and Van Inwagen are physicalists believing that the human being is solely a physical being. So their explanations by their very nature are going to leave out things such as the role of the immaterial soul and the interaction between the immaterial and the material in human actions. They are only going to tell ½ of the story!

    So Manata starts with:

    “Agent-causation
    van Inwagen pushed this argument as a libertarian. So, the below argument isn't prejudiced by compatibilist assumptions.”

    These words **are very biased** against agent causation because of physicalist assumptions on the part of both Honderich and Van Inwagen. Van Inwagen may not be a compatibilists, but he is a physicalist, so there is major bias against agent causation here from the get-go.

    Next Manata quotes Honderich who is referring to Van Inwagen’s comments. I will quote portions and then interact.


    **QUOTE**

    _________________________

    ”I want to close by explaining why van Inwagen thinks one important group of incompatibilists, those who appeal to what is called agent-causation, do not appreciate the depth and difficulty of the problem of free will. Many philosophers would agree with this judgment for the simple reason that they think that the concept of agent-causation is incoherent, or think that agent-causation is metaphysically impossible.”

    Agent causation is not incoherent. Actually it is quite simple to understand and as we have all directly experienced it countless times we have no difficulty at all understanding it. Agent causation involves the claim that human persons when they perform intentional actions do so for reasons. These agent caused actions are neither predetermined nor are they random (i.e. without cause, without **reason**). Peter Pike tried to argue unsuccessfully for his little false dilemma that human actions are either predetermined or random. He left out agent causation which is **neither** predetermined or random (by chance).

    Have any of us directly experienced the doing of actions for various reasons? Yes, countless times, to deny this universal human experience is to be in major denial of ordinary reality.

    Notice that Honderich says agent causation is both incoherent and METHAPHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE. How could he know that it is metaphysically impossible unless he knows that physicalism is true? How does he know that God is not a perfect example of agent causation? Honderich is an atheist and a physicalist, so he simply ASSUMES that agent causation is metaphysically impossible. Perhaps at another time I will share some quotes by Honderich where he ridicules and mocks substance dualism, God’s existence, the human soul, and the claim that there are entities that are not physical.

    “Van Inwagen is inclined to agree with them (although he has no firm opinion on this question), but he has lately stressed a different point. It is this: suppose there is nothing conceptually or metaphysically impossible about agent-causation; suppose in fact that agent-causation is a real phenomenon and that an episode of agent-causation figures among the antecedents of every voluntary movement of a human hand or limb or vocal apparatus.”

    So Honderich is saying that Van Inwagen is going to assume that agent causation is possible, that it is not incoherent or metaphysically impossible. Van Inwagen is then going to construct a thought experiment/argument to show a supposed problem for agent causation.

    “Van Inwagen’s position is that even if this is so, and even if (as some have argued) we understand the concept of agent-causation at least as well as we understand the concept of event-causation, all this does nothing to diminish the mystery of free will.”

    First, a mystery does not mean that the mystery does not involve a real truth. Second, I believe that **I** agent cause the lifting of my arm when I decide to lift it, but it **is** a mystery to me, how my immaterial soul interacts with my physical brain and body. I know this interaction takes place but I cannot fully explain it. I also know that God is a Spirit and that He interacts with this physical world but I cannot explain that fully either. If one is an acceptable mystery so is the other.

    “I will try to explain why van Inwagen thinks this by considering a particular human action. Suppose Marie wants to vote in favor of the proposal before the meeting, and that, for this reason, she raises her right hand when the chair says, “All in favor. . .?” Suppose that one of the causal antecedents of her hand’s rising was a certain event in her brain that was undetermined by past events, that the state of her body and her immediate environment at the moment this brain-event occurred was causally sufficient for her hand’s rising, that if this event had not occurred, her hand would not have risen, and that she, Marie, a particular member of the metaphysical category “substance” or “continuant,” was the cause—that is to say, the agent-cause—of that crucial brain-event.”

    OK hold it right there, the physicalism is already raising its ugly head here. He speaks of a “certain event in the brain”. Marie’s action if it is agent caused by her human soul, starts not with a “certain event in the brain” but with activity in her immaterial soul which then interacts with her physical brain and body. Why no mention of the soul or the mind, instead the explanation starts with an event in the brain? And why does the explanation of a supposedly agent caused event make no reference to the reasons which Marie had for raising or refraining from raising her arm?

    “The friends of agent-causation, if van Inwagen understands them, believe that these suppositions are sufficient for her having freely raised her hand. If that is so, these suppositions must entail the following proposition: at some moment shortly before Marie raised her hand, she was able to raise her hand and she was able not to raise her hand.”

    So at some moment shortly before the raising of her hand Marie was **able** to both raise her hand or refrain from raising her hand. Sounds like an acceptable description of free will.

    “But van Inwagen doesn’t see why this entailment should be supposed to hold.”


    But Van Inwagen does not agree with what at first appears to be the case. And he develops the following argument:

    “In fact, he thinks he sees a good argument for the conclusion that it was not up to her whether her hand rose. Suppose God were miraculously to return the world to precisely the state it was in, say, one minute before Marie raised her hand, and that he then allowed affairs once more to proceed, without any further miracles. What would happen? What would Marie do? Well, if her raising her hand was a free act, and if free will is incompatible with determinism, then we can’t say. We can say only that she might have raised her hand and might not have raised her hand. If God were to cause this episode to be thus “replayed” a very large number of times, it might turn out that she raised her hand in thirty percent of the replays and refrained from raising it in seventy percent of the replays.”

    So if we **replayed** the tape, 30% of the time she chooses to raise her hand and 70% of the time she chooses not to raise her hand, she chooses to refrain from raising her hand.

    Now here comes the supposed problem:

    “This much is a simple consequence of incompatibilism, and it brings one of the main reason philosophers become compatibilists into stark relief. It seems to lead us inescapably to the conclusion that on each particular replay, what Marie does on that occasion is a mere matter of chance. And if there are no replays, if there is only one occasion on which Marie is in this situation, it seems to lead us just as inescapably to the conclusion that on that one occasion what Marie does is a mere matter of chance. And if it is a mere matter of chance whether Marie raised her hand, then it cannot have been true beforehand that Marie was both able to raise her hand and able to refrain from raising her hand, for to have both these abilities would be to be able to determine the outcome of a process whose outcome is due to chance. It is true that we have, by stipulation, inserted into this process, this process whose outcome is due to chance, an episode of agent-causation. But, if I may so express myself, so what? That doesn’t change the fact that the outcome of that process was due to chance. If God caused Marie’s decision to be replayed a very large number of times, sometimes (in thirty percent of the replays, let us say) Marie would have agent-caused the crucial brain event and sometimes (in seventy percent of the replays, let us say) she would not have. Surely, then, whether she agent-caused the brain-event was a mere matter of chance? Whether her deliberations were followed by her agent-causing the brain event was, it would seem, a matter of chance; Marie, therefore, cannot have been both able to agent-cause the brain-event and able to refrain from agent-causing the brain-event, for to have both these abilities would be to be able to determine the outcome of a process whose outcome was due to chance—an impossible ability.”

    OK what words gets repeated here over and over here?

    CHANCE.

    The argument is that if she chooses to raise her hand sometimes (30%) and sometimes chooses to refrain from raising here hand (70%), then her agent caused action is just a result of CHANCE.

    In seeing this argument there are multiple ways of attacking it, but one that jumped out at me was this: Van Inwagen and Honderich are making a major, major category mistake in this argument. They claim that this “argument” is problematic for agent causation and they claim that in their argument they were claiming that agent causation was true for the sake of argument. I have not read the literature exhaustively on agent causation (not even close), but in my reading I have never seen a person who holds to agent causation suggesting that our actions are a result of CHANCE. That our agent caused actions are random.

    In fact, the agent causal theorist holds TO THE DIRECT OPPOSITE. Chance events are events that do not involve intentionality, events that are not done “on purpose”, events that do not involve reasons. Agent caused events on the other hand, do involve reasons, are done for a purpose. Purposeful actions are one category, chance events are another category.

    The agent causal theorist would argue that EACH AND EVERY TIME Marie agent causes a particular action (either raises or refrains from raising her arm) SHE DOES SO FOR REASONS. Say she raises her hand because in her thinking there are good reasons to endorse the proposal. This would mean that each time she raises her hand for these reasons (the 30%) she is not acting by chance at all, but for reasons. Similarly, if she has reasons to not vote for the motion and so she refrains from raising her hand (the 70%),she is AGAIN doing her actions FOR REASONS. So if she was acting for reasons in each instance, which **is** the view held by agent causation proponents, then 100% of the time she WAS NOT ACTING BY CHANCE. 100% of the time she was instead acting for reasons and none of her actions were by chance. Now an outsider may not like the reasons which Marie has for raising her hand or refraining from raising her hand, but if SHE IS ACTING FOR REASONS THEN SHE IS NOT ACTING RANDOMLY AND HER ACTIONS ARE NOT A RESULT OF CHANCE.

    I find it amazing that Van Inwagen and Honderich present an argument as weak as this against agent causation. And yet Paul Manata desperate for anything that could be used against agent causation brought up Van Inwagen’s argument as if it were some strong knock-down argument. Does Manata fail to see the category mistake present in this argument? Is Manata able to distinguish between events that are random from events that occur as a result of agents acting for reasons? And if he is able to do this, which I am quite sure he can do, then why does he intentionally try to present agent causation as involving chance, being random?

    “I conclude that even if an episode of agent-causation is among the causal antecedents of every voluntary human action, these episodes do nothing to undermine the prima facie impossibility of an undetermined free act. Postulating agent-causation, therefore, does nothing to diminish the mystery of free will.”

    So we are supposed to conclude from this extremely weak argument of Van Inwagen’s that agent causation is impossible? I guess God is unable to do actions that are not as a result of being predetermined by some outside factor or random, but are done for reasons? If doing actions for reasons is impossible for us, then why is God capable of doing actions for reasons? And if God is capable of doing actions for reasons and decided to create humans with this same capacity, then why would **that** be metaphysically impossible and/or incoherent?

    “Van Inwagen’s conclusion is that incompatibilists had better abandon the concept of agent-causation, and seek a resolution of the mystery of free will elsewhere—if, indeed, there is an “elsewhere.”"

    Van Inwagen expects us to conclude from this exceedingly weak argument, this major, major category mistake, that we should abandon the concept of agent causation? When he completely confuses chance and doing actions for reasons? When he, as a Physicalist, leaves out the role of the immaterial human soul in our actions? I don’t think so. Van Inwagen’s argument is not even close to justifying his conclusion here.

    Manata did not see the weakness of this argument nor did Peter Pike who wrote:

    “That's a really good thought exercize there! I think it shows the dilemma perfectly. . . . .
    I, for one, look forward to seeing how Henry gets out of this caper....”


    How do I get out of this caper?

    Very, very, very simply, by understanding that actions done for reasons are not actions that are a result of chance. By understanding the difference between something that results from the use of our minds and consideration of reasons, and something that is random, without reason, without intentionality, by chance. Apparently, Paul Manata and Peter Pike do not see the problem with Van Inwagen’s argument. They are just **so desperate** to find something, anything, that can be used against against causation that they are willingly to appeal to Van Inwagen’s extremely weak argument.

    It is sad that Manata and Pike do not seem to understand the agent causation view.

    If a person does an action or refrains from doing an action **for reasons**, then those actions are neither predetermined nor are they random (by chance). And considering that Manata and Pike have been doing their own actions **for reasons** for many years they ought to be quite familiar with this concept and the reality of this truth that they do many of their actions **for reasons**. In denying agent causation, Manata and Pike are arguing against God’s design. He designed us to be beings capable of doing our own actions for reasons. To deny **that** is to deny the design plan of God for human persons. It is also to engage in an unwinnable campaign: no matter what Manata and Pike come up with, it will always be defeated by the simple reality that indeed we were created to be capable of doing our own actions for reasons, and we in fact engage in this capacity all the time. Fighting against agent causation is fighting a war that you cannot win.

    Henry

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  24. Paul Manata needs to see this response as well.

    I had written:

    “They also do the same with bible verses. John 3:16 says God loves the world enough to send His Son . . . But the calvinist compatibilists come along and the passage needs to be modified a bit. For example bring in a distinction between ‘without exception’ versus ‘without distinction’, and poof the verse loses its meaning since we now **know** that it doesn’t really mean everybody (without exception) but it must mean all types of elect people in the world (without distinction). So rather that being a clear verse on the love of God for mankind, it is really a verse telling us how he loves the elect throughout the world.”

    And Steve Hays responded:

    ”Henry is now advertising his ignorance of Biblical lexicography. “Kosmos” doesn’t have a single meaning in NT usage generally or Johannine usage in particular. Rather, it has wide semantic domain. For example, Peter Cottrell & Max Turner list seven different senses (among others) for kosmos, including “the beings (human and supernatural) in rebellion against God, together with the systems under their control, viewed as opposed to God,” Linguistics & Biblical Interpretation (1989), 176.

    Which meaning is appropriate depends on the given context as well as overall theology of the author.”

    I am quite aware of the various lexicographical meanings for “world” in the apostle John’s writings. My favorite commentary on John, which in my opinion is the best commentary on John: is D.A. Carson’s commentary. It was unavailable to me for a time, at a friend’s house, and I just got it back. I like the way Carson lays out the various meanings for “world” in his commentary. When preaching and teaching I have repeatedly used **his** definition of “world” to make my points when evangelizing.

    For those who do not have access to this commentary here are some statements showing the meaning of “world” that is critical to the proper interpretation of the word in John 3:16-17:
    ============================================
    Quotes:

    John 1:9-

    Because John has insisted that the Word was the agent of creation, it might be thought that when he now describes that Word as coming into the world he means nothing more than that the Word has invaded the created order he himself made. But world for John has more specific overtones. Although some have argued that for John the word kosmos (‘world’) sometimes has positive overtones (‘God so loved the world’, 3:16), sometimes neutral overtones (as here; cf. also 21:24-25, where the ‘world’ is a big place that can hold a lot of books), and frequently negative overtones (‘the world did not recognize him’, 1:10), closer inspection shows that although a handful of passages preserve a neutral emphasis the vast majority are decidedly negative. There are no unambiguously positive occurrences. The ‘world’, or frequently ‘this world’ (e.g., 8:23; 9:39; 11:9; 18:36), is not the universe, but the created order especially of human beings and human affairs) in rebellion against its Maker (e.g., 1:10; 7:7; 14:7, 22, 27, 30; 15:18-19; 16:8, 20, 33; 17:6, 9, 14). Therefore when John tells us that God loves the world (3:16), far from being an endorsement of the world, it is a testimony to the character of God. God’s love is to be admired not because the world is so big, but because the world is so bad. Barrett (pp. 161-162) thinks that in 3:16 the world can be ‘split up into its components’, those who believe and those who do not. In fact, the ‘world’ in John’s usage comprises no believers at all. Those who come to faith are no longer of this world; they have been chosen out of this world (15:19). If Jesus is the Savior of the world (4:42),that says a great deal about Jesus, but nothing positive about the world. In fact, it tells us the world is in need of a Savior. (p.122-123)

    John 3:16 –

    All believers have been chosen out of the world (15:19), they are not something other than ‘world’ when the gospel first comes to them. They would not have become true disciples apart from the love of God for the world. Even after the circle of believers is formed and the resurrection has taken place, these Christians are mandated to continue their witness, aided by the Spirit, in hopes of winning others from the world (15:26-27; 20:21). In other words, God maintains the same stance toward the world after the resurrection that he had before: he pronounces terrifying condemnation on the grounds of the world’s sin, while still loving the world so much that the gift he gave to the world, the gift of his Son, remains the world’s only hope. (p. 205)

    John 15:18-19 –

    The purpose of these verses is to eliminate the surprise factor when persecution does break out, i.e., to accomplish what John more prosaically accomplishes elsewhere by a simple warning: ‘Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you’ (1 Jn. 3:13). If the world hates you – and the assumption is that it will – keep in mind it hated me first. The world (kosmos; cf. notes on 1:9), as commonly in John, refers to the created moral order in active rebellion against God. The ultimate reason for the world’s hatred of Jesus is that he testifies that its deeds are evil (7:7). Christ’s followers will be hated by the same world, partly because they are associated with the one who is supremely hated, and partly because, as they increase in the intimacy, love, obedience and fruitfulness depicted in the preceding verses, they will have the same effect on the world as their Master. They, too, will appear alien. The world loves its own: this is not a sociological remark about inborn suspicion of strangers, but a moral condemnation. The world is a society of rebels, and therefore finds it hard to tolerate those who are in joyful allegiance to the king to whom all loyalty is due. Christians do not belong to the world, not because they never belonged, but because, Jesus avers, I have chosen you out of the world (cf. notes on 6:70-71; 15:16). Former rebels who have by the grace of the king been won back to loving allegiance to their rightful monarch are not likely to prove popular with those who persist in rebellion. Christians cannot think of themselves as intrinsically superior. They are ever conscious that by nature they are, with all others, ‘objects of wrath’ (Eph. 2:3). But having been chosen out of the world, having been drawn by the Messiah’s love into the group referred to as the Messiah’s ‘own’ who are still in the world (13:1), their newly found alien statue makes them pariahs in that world, the world of rebels. (p. 525)

    End quotes:

    I had said about Jn. 3:16 that it was “a clear verse on the love of God for mankind.” And what is the biblical term for mankind apart from God, in rebellion against God? THE WORLD. As Carson makes clear, the term referring to this rebellious group is consistently negative not neutral (“although a handful of passages preserve a neutral emphasis the vast majority are decidedly negative”). And this group is “in rebellion against its Maker”. I especially like Carson’s line: “God’s love is to be admired not because the world is so big, but because the world is so bad.”

    When I speak on this I tweak it a bit and say things like: “when it says God loves the world, it is not saying He loves the world because the people are so good, or because they are living lives that please Him, or because we are just so loveable, or because the world deserves it, actually if we got what we deserve we would all instantly get hell. No, the amazing thing is that God gave His Son to the world of people who are totally in rebellion against Him, who break his commandments and enjoy doing so. The amazing thing then is that God loves this world that is ***so*** bad!”

    Another point that I regularly make is that ***at one point all of us are part of the world***. We are either still in the world, or, if we have become believers we came out of the world by the grace and mercy of God. My way of saying this is: everyone at some point was part of the world, but not everyone is now part of the world. So does the “world” mean every human person? Well Jesus was never part of the world, Adam and Eve before they fell were not part of the world, and an argument can be made that John the Baptist was regenerate from birth and so was not part of the world. With these exceptions in mind, the rest of us, both those who are now believers and unbelievers were/are part of the “world”. Believers are those who thought they were of the world at one time, if we have come to believe then we have come out of the world to serve the one and only true God.

    The noncalvinists need not show that “world” refers to all human persons without exception. Rather what needs to be shown is that the “world” includes people who will never become Christians. What is critical and strongly attacks the Calvinist view is this. While some persons come out of this rebellious world and become Christians, others do not, they never come out of the world, they remain in their unbelief and rebellion. But the text of John 3:16-17 says that God so loved THE WORLD that he gave His Son, Jesus, to die for THAT WORLD. So this means that God has a redemptive love for THE WORLD, and that means that God has a redemptive love even for those who never come to be believers (i.e. God loves what the Calvinists calls the “nonelect,” the “reprobate” with a redemptive love). John 3:16-17 then when properly interpreted (i.e., in line with Carson’s suggested meaning of “world” as the group of unbelieving rebellious sinful mankind who are not saved) negates the Hays’ calvinist doctrine of “limited atonement”. Because instead of God **only** having a redemptive love for the “elect” (believers who come out of the world) as Calvinists such as Hays suggest. He has a redemptive love for nonbelievers, some of whom will never turn to him in faith and trust Him for salvation. Will **all** of the “world” be saved? No. So this means that God has a redemptive love, gives His Son Jesus, as an atonement for people who will not respond in faith to the gospel offer. This point refutes calvinism which claims that God has a redemptive love ***only*** for people who are believers, who come out of the world (what they call the elect).

    Steve Hays seeking to enlighten me about the meaning of “world” in Jn. 3:16 cited some commentators. Check them out and ask yourself: do any of them challenge Carson’s meaning of “world” in Jn. 3:16?


    ”Likewise, Horst Balz defines kosmos in such ways as: “in the Johannine theology one finds again the basic elements of the Pauline understanding of kosmos in the extreme and intensified radicality of the estrangement and ungodliness of the kosmos…the concern is with the nature of the world that has fallen away from God and is ruled by the evil one,” EDNT 2:312.”

    Hmm, “the concern is with the nature of the world that has fallen away from God and is ruled by the evil one.” That supports the Carson meaning.


    ”And as Andrew Lincoln, in his recent commentary on John, explains, “Some argue that the term ‘world’ here simply has neutral connotations—the created human world. But the characteristic use of ‘the world’ (ho kosmos) elsewhere in the narrative is with negative overtones—the world in its alienation from and hostility to its creator’s purposes. It makes better sense in a soteriological context to see the latter notion as in view. God loves that which has become hostile to God. The force is not, then, that the world is so vast that it takes a great deal of love to embrace it, but rather that the world has become so alienated from God that it takes an exceedingly great kind of love to love it at all,” The Gospel According to St. John (Henrickson 2005), 154.”

    Hmm, “with negative overtones – the world in its alienation from and hostility to its creator’s purposes.” Further confirmation of Carson.

    And “the world has become so alienated from God that it takes an exceedingly great kind of love to love it at all.” Wow, so Jn. 3:16 is telling us that God has this incredible love for total rebels, so the focus is not upon anything good about the world but about the awesome redemptive love of God for **this world**?

    Hays continues to attempt to enlighten me about the meaning of “world”:


    ”Henry pays lip service to Scripture, but he’s too lazy to consult the standard commentaries, lexicons, or monographs on lexical semantics. In Johannine usage, “kosmos” does not mean “everyone.” Rather, it’s a loaded word with a qualitative rather than quantitative connotation.

    But even if you don’t know Greek, or read the standard exegetical and lexical literature, you could figure out for yourself that “kosmos” can’t mean “everyone” in general Johannine usage, by spending a little time with an English concordance. Just try substituting “everyone” for “world” in the following verses and see how much sense it makes:”

    I repeat my principle again: **everyone** (with the exception of Jesus, Adam/Eve prefall, and possibly John the Baptist) at some point was part of the world, but **not everyone** (without exception)is now part of the world. I think my principle handles all the verses that Hays then brought up so I will ignore his further “instruction.” I **do** understand what “world” means in Jn. 3:16-17 and it goes against the Calvinist system precisely because it means that GOD HAS A REDEMPTIVE LOVE for some human persons who will never become Christians.

    Jn. 3:17 is also **devastating** for the Calvinist view: “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” God has such a love for the “world”/the rebellious persons/unbelievers under Satan, that he sent His Son that THE WORLD SHOULD BE SAVED THROUGH HIM. Will all of the world be saved? From other passages we know the answer to be No. And yet this verse as explicitly and clearly as can be said, says that God has a redemptive love for unbelievers some of whom will never become Christians. Calvinism cannot allow for this truth and as the Bible is true, Calvinism must be false. Many people faced with the clear teaching of John 3:16-17 versus the system of calvinism, have rejected calvinism because it directly contradicts biblical texts such as this one.

    Steve Hays brings up a another major problem for Calvinism when he writes:

    ”i) Is loving sinners just enough to make salvation merely *possible* for everyone while leaving everyone vulnerable to eternal damnation the most loving thing that God could do?

    Which is more loving—to throw a drowning man a life preserver and say to him: “now you have a chance to save yourself–take it or leave it!” Or jumping in and actually pulling him to safety?

    An Arminian lifeguard never rescues a drowning man since that would violate his freewill. Instead, the Arminian lifeguard throws him a life preserver, then goes on a lunch break.”

    This analogy is so off base that I wanted everyone to see it again in its entirety. Hays opens up a “can of worms” that his Calvinism cannot handle. And he does so by his own choice to bring it up and caricature the noncalvinists view. Note his question: “Is loving sinners just enough to make salvation merely **possible** . . . the most loving thing that God could do?”

    So Hays wants to discuss which conception is **more loving**. Surely he must know that his Calvinism will come out on the short end of the stick in this one. But I am glad that he brought it up so I can show the contrast between the Calvinist and noncalvinist conceptions of the love of God with respect to the salvation of sinners/the “world” of John 3:16-17.

    Notice how he describes the noncalvinist view as God being like a lifeguard who **merely** throws the drowning man a life preserver, then goes on a lunch break. He goes on to say that the noncalvinist believes the “lifeguard” just throws the life preserver towards the drowning man and says “now you have a chance TO SAVE YOURSELF, take it or leave it” (emphasis mine).

    Hays is obviously **mocking** the view he disagrees with. But is his analogy here what noncalvinists really believe? No.

    Allow me to rework the analogy a bit to make it more accurate so that we can see which conception is “more loving.”

    Imagine a beach, with a lifeguard leader (Mr. G. Clark) with 10 lifeguards under his authority. These 10 other lifeguards do whatever the lead lifeguard tells them to do. A little ways off shore, a boat with a captain and 10 sightseeing visitors on board develops a problem and begins to sink. The captain radios for help and the lead lifeguard, Mr. Clark, finds out about the situation. He also finds out that all 10 people are paraplegics in wheelchairs unable to swim, completely unable to save themselves. Mr. Clark has the ability to save all 10 paraplegics, if he sends all 10 lifeguards to attempt the rescue. According to Calvinism he intentionally sends only two lifeguards to save only two persons and he intentionally allows the others to drown making no effort to save them whatsoever (though he is fully able to save all 10 of them). Mr. Clark had some sort of secret decision so that if this event would arise he would save only two and intentionally leave the rest to drown. How loving is Mr. Clark in this situation?

    In the noncalvinist conception, the Lead lifeguard sends all 10 lifeguards who dive into the water and head for the drowning persons. Upon arriving at each person, each person is asked “do you want help or not?” So all have the possibility of being saved. And if they are saved it was not by their strength that they are saved but by the efforts of the lifeguards to save them. All have the opportunity to be saved. Those who reject the offer of the lifeguards drown by their own choice and have no one to blame but themselves. Those who accept the offer are saved by the efforts of the lifeguards alone and so have no reason to boast.

    Now which is the **more loving** thing to do? To have the ability to save all ten, but to intentionally save only two and to intentionally let the others drown when you were perfectly capable of saving them all? Or to make life possible for all, with those rejecting the offer of life being solely responsible for their drowning?

    Most people understand this difference between the two conceptions. And because they do so, they are repulsed by the Calvinist view, and they understand that Calvinism is the less loving conception. And not only is it less loving in this analogy.

    Scriptures such as Jn. 3:16 make it abundantly clear that the lead lifeguard (the Father) sent sufficient lifeguards to save all(the Son). But Calvinism has to reject scriptures such as Jn. 3:16 and has to argue for a God who desires to save only some, though He is perfectly capable of saving them all, but intentionally damns most to eternal punishment. Which conception is more loving? Which conception fits what scripture says? IT IS NOT CALVINISM, but noncalvinism that presents a God who truly **loves** the “world” with a redemptive love. Just as Jn. 3:16 clearly and explicitly states.

    We also know some things about the lifeguard who comes to save us. He did not just throw a life preserver at us and go off to lunch. He dove into a sinful world, a world in total rebellion against Him. And He gave up His life to save us. To mischaracterize his efforts as merely throwing out a life preserver and going out to lunch, mocks the gospel message and the true lifeguard the true good shepherd. The gospel message is of a God who so loves THE WORLD that he sends His own Son, who then is mistreated, tortured and killed by the very world for which He came to save.

    Steve Hays continued:

    ”ii) In what sense does Henry think that everyone has a shot at salvation? Everyone hasn’t heard the gospel. So Henry must take the position that you don’t have to believe in Jesus to be saved. Yet, in opposing universalism, he says that you do have to believe in Jesus to be saved. Or does Henry subscribe to postmortem evangelism?”

    In what sense does everyone get a chance at salvation? I make a distinction between the able bodied/minded and those who are not. Infants and the mentally diminished do not have the capacity to exercise saving faith in response to the gospel. While the bible does not tell us a lot about this issue, I believe we can trust that God will be merciful to them and save those who are incapable of exercising faith.

    Regarding those who are able bodied/minded and “never hear the gospel”, I am not sure about the answer to that, and I will not speculate on that issue here. But I do **know** that the bible teaches that for those who able bodied/minded and they hear the gospel message (those who accept the gospel and respond with faith are saved; those who reject the gospel and keep rejecting the gospel throughout their lives will be separated from God for eternity).

    When Hays writes: “So Henry must take the position that you don’t have to believe in Jesus to be saved”. That is intentionally misleading, as I would say you don’t have to believe in Jesus to be saved if you are an infant or mentally diminished (and perhaps those who have never heard the gospel, though scripture does not speak about that). But if you hear the gospel message then you have to believe it or you cannot be saved.

    And I also do not believe in postmordem evangelism and made no reference to this false idea. So why does Hays bring it up and attempt to attribute this concept to me? Just another one of his personal attacks against me. Hays simply cannot have a civil and rational and biblical discussion, he **has to** attack anyone who thinks or believes differently than he does (this is abundantly demonstrated by perusing his posts and interactions with both Christians and nonchristians).

    Hays then tries to bring up a problem for me as an “Arminian” (note- I am not Arminian). I will end by addressing another version of Hays’ “what is more loving” argument:

    ”An in classical Arminianism, to which Henry evidently subscribes, God foreknew who would freely spurn his grace and spend eternity in hell, and yet God went ahead and created the damned in full knowledge of their infernal fate. How is that the most loving thing that God could do for them?”

    Let’s start with the Calvinist view. The Calvinist believes that God foreknows everything because He predetermined every detail of a completely prescripted play. And in this view, God intentionally preselected only a few to be saved and intentionally created the rest knowing full well that they had no chance to be saved, no opportunity to be saved. Although if He had wanted to, he could have saved them all. This lifeguard knew all 10 were drowning (actually since he predetermines all events he intentionally ensured for the boat to start sinking so that they would be drowning) and he saved two and intentionally let the other 8 paraplegics drown. And those 8 who drowned, never had a chance to survive. Some Calvinist writers (e.g. Clark, Cheung) will even speak of how God relished the drowning of these 8, that God **caused** them to drown for his own **good pleasure**. This conception of God does not present him as being very loving and it definitely does not fit the way scripture presents our lifeguard, Jesus. The God of this conception is actually quite sadistic and cruel even hateful towards those He damned without any chance to be saved.

    On the other hand, in the noncalvinist view. God desired to create human beings capable of worshipping Him and enjoying Him forever. God did not want automatons or puppets whose every string was pulled so they “loved” the puppet master. No, God desired creatures that were similar to him, creatures with self awareness, rationality, the ability to do their own actions for reasons (including having a personal relationship with God and worshipping God as He deserves to be worshipped).

    Since God knew via his foreknowledge that these creatures would freely sin and so would need an atonement for their sins. God also knew that he could provide an atonement sufficient for all, but which would be efficient only for those who trusted Him. God knew that some would reject Him and the gospel offer and that some would accept Him and the gospel offer. And He knew who would be who before they accepted or rejected the offer of the gospel. Was He loving? Yes, the fact that some would respond in faith and have a loving and eternal relationship with their creator is the greatest blessing any person could experience. And what of those who freely rejected the gospel and the God behind the offer? Had God been unloving to them? No, He offered His Son Jesus for them, what **more loving** thing could be done for them? Did they have the opportunity to be saved? Yes. Did God force them to accept Him? No. Did God foreknow that some would reject Him and the gospel offer? Yes. Is God in any way unjust or unloving to those who reject the message when given the opportunity? No.

    Further, as the creator, God had both the right and the power to decide what human nature would be like and for humans to be capable of free choices and performing their own actions. If anyone has a problem with the way things were set up in regard to human nature, their problem is with God and his design.

    So compare the two conceptions again, which is move loving? Cleary the answer is noncalvinism. Which conception better fits what the biblical texts present about such things as God **loving THE WORLD(Jn. 3:16-17)? Noncalvinism.

    If Steve Hays wants to compare the Calvinist and noncalvinist conceptions of God’s love, in a competition to see in which conception God **is more loving**, the answer is crystal clear. And it is not Calvinism. Calvinism loses this one rather badly. Which is why Calvinism will never be the majority view among Christians who take their bibles seriously.

    Henry

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