Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Middle Knowledge, Truth-Makers, and the 'Grounding Objection'"

http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2007/09/william-lane-craigs-middle-knowledge.html

Guest blogger, Turretinfan, has graciously allowed me to post this review on his behalf. It can also be found on his blog at the above link.

Comments are welcome @ either blog.

"Middle Knowledge, Truth-Makers, and the 'Grounding Objection'"

A Reformed Critique

The present author is in the process of responding to William Lane Craig's (WLC's) book, "The Only Wise God." In the process, however, it seems as though it would be useful to focus on the topic of the final chapter of that book, Middle Knowledge, and particularly on another of WLC's writings on the subject, specifically his article, "Middle knowledge, Truth Makers, and the 'Grounding Objection.'" This topic is doubly timely due to the present author's on-going discussion in the comments section of a treatment of another of WLC's related articles, on Newcomb's Paradox, in which the topic of truth-makers came up.

Presently, a copy of WLC's article is available here (link).

WLC's article purports to address a critical problem for any theory of Middle Knowledge, which he phrases as there being no true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, because there is nothing to make them true, but which might more aptly be described as there being no way for God to have "free" knowledge (including knowledge based on the (actual or hypothetical) exercise of creaturely freedom) prior to the divine decree.

As WLC admits, the objection is not an undercutting, but a rebutting rejection of Molinism, because if God does not have "middle knowledge," there can be no Molinism, and one must accept either Thomism/Calvinism (which states that God has "free knowledge" posterior to the divine decree) or Open Theism (which denies that God has "free knowledge" at least with respect to creatures).

It is worthwhile to point out, before we begin a detailed analysis of WLC's article, what middle knowledge is alleged to be. It is alleged to be God's knowledge of what "would" happen if a free creature were in a particular circumstance. Thus, it is God's knowledge of what state of affairs "would" result from the exercise of man's (or other free creature's) "free will" in a particular circumstance. Accordingly, this knowledge is a special kind of "free" knowledge, namely knowledge that depends on the creature's exercise of "free will," as constrasted with what Molinists (and most philosophers) refer to as God's "free knowledge," namely the knowledge that God has as a result of the exercise of his own free will.

WLC begins by setting forth the alleged warrant for the Molinist assumption (WLC himself calls it an "assumption").

The first alleged warrant is that "we ourselves often appear to know such counterfactuals." This warrant, however, can be readily dismissed. Our knowledge of "counterfactuals" generally falls into one of two categories, neither of which is consistent with the Molinistic assumption. The first category are counterfactuals that are true by virtue of the law of the excluded middle (i.e. we know that it is true that if President Fox were held by terrorists, the US government either would or would not intervene. The second category are counterfactuals for which our ground is causal inference, which negates freedom. An example in this category would include your knowledge that if you showed up late for work for a week and then insulted your boss to his face, your boss would react by firing you. There is not some third category of counterfactuals that we know to be true by some other mechansim. Thus, this alleged warrant falls flat on its face.

The second alleged warrant is that "it is plausable that the Law of the Conditional Excluded Middle (LCEM) holds for counterfactuals of a certain special form." As noted above, however, this is simply an example of the first category of counterfactuals that are true because they are just restatements of the law of the excluded middle. They do not assist Molinism in any way, because they do not depend at all on the exercise of a free will, and do not correspond to anything more than the application of a logical rule to a hypothetical scenario. Thus, this alleged warrant is also insufficient.

The third alleged warrant is that Scriptures are "replete with counterfactual statements." Scriptures, however, do not identify any creaturely acts as "free" in the Molinist (Libertarian) sense, and Scriptures also include counterfactual statements describing God's own actions. Finally, all such Scriptural statements are made posterior to the divine decree. Thus, such statements cannot possibly be a warrant for the Molinist assumption.

WLC implicitly notes at least some of these objections and suggests that "anti-Molinists" retreat to asserting that counterfactuals have no ground prior to the divine decree. WLC's only two responses are that "there seems to be no more ground now for many counterfactuals about creaturely free acts than there is logically prior to God's decree," and if "it is God who decrees which counterfactuals about creaturely free acts are true" then this seems to "make God the author of sin and obliterate human freedom."

The former of these objections ignores the obvious: posterior to the divine decree we have reality - the world that exists and operates according to the laws of Ordinary Providence. Thus, counterfactuals become grounded in reality.

The latter of these objections is wrong for enough reasons to occupy a major treatise (and Jonathan Edwards has written one that fully rebuts it). To briefly summarize, God is not the "author" of sin because he does not do sin: he is not a voluntary agent that performs a sinful act. Furthermore, God is not the "author" of sin because no one who sins is coerced into sin contrary to their will by God. If WLC means something else by "author of sin" we can respond with Vincent Cheung that we will simply grant the objection, and ask why that should be a problem. Used outside the first two items listed above, it is simply pejorative rhetoric, not a meaningful objection. Additionally, it is "libertarian" (not compatible) freedom that obliterates human responsibility, because it necessarily denies that man determines what man does. Or, to take a hint from WLC, we could simply deny the charge of obliteration of human responsibility and ask WLC to provide evidence. Nevertheless, as noted above Jonathan Edwards' "Freedom of the Will," has already thoroughly disabused any serious reader of the truth of either of the charges above, though (of course) WLC neither recognizes nor responds to Edwards' detailed and famous rebuttals.

Although we have seen that the Molinist assumption is philosophically warrantless, let us proceed to see what kind of response WLC is able to provide to the grounding objection.

WLC begins by explaining an alleged relationship between the grounding objection and a theory of "truth-makers." Theory, in essence, states that in addition to truth bearers (sentences, thoughts, or propositions) there are entities by virtue of which the truth bearers are true. Someimtes these truth-makers are labelled as "facts" or "states of affairs."

WLC recognizes what is intuitively obvious that the term "truth maker" suggests a causal relationship between the truth-maker and the truth of the truth bearer. (This same problem for the Molinist position had been observed by Dan in the comments section of the post linked-to above.) WLC's response is bafflingly off-base:

First, WLC responds that the truth-maker is usually conceived to be "such abstract entities as facts or states of affairs" and asserts that consequently a causal relation is not at issue here. This objection is bizarre, to say the least. While the terms "facts" and "states of affairs" are abstract, "facts" and "states of affairs" are categories of things that (mostly) have (or had or will have) tangible existence. Individual facts are not "abstract."

Second, WLC attempts to show that "negative existential statements" do not have truth-makers. If this were not presented as an attempted rebuttal, we would assume it were a poor play on words, for "do not have" with respect to statements of "negative existence" is fully consistent with a theory of truth-makers. The fact is that negative existential statements can be rephrased quasi-positively. Thus, "Baal does not exist" can be rephrased as "Everything that exists is a non-Baal," or more simply "All gods are non-Baals," since it is alleged that Baal is a god. Negative existential statements, therefore, can be converted to quasi-positive statements, for which there is an obvious truth-maker.

WLC then asserts that the various phrasing of the grounding objection are "crude construal[s]" of the problem. We have demonstrated, however, that WLC does not have an answer to the question variously phrased, but which amounts to:
Counterfactuals are supposedly true but not caused to be true by God, who then causes them to be true?
(A similar general question remains unanswered in the discussion thread identified above.)
The result of WLC's failure to answer this question is that WLC cannot provide an explanation for the truth of counterfactuals, and consequently can provide only an incomplete epistonomy.

Instead of identifying a cause, WLC simply calls the call for a cause (the request for grounding) "inept" and states that the objector must set forth some kind of "very special causal theory of truth-makers" in order to counter the "customary truth-maker theories." As we noted above, however, WLC has failed properly to analyze the customary truth-maker theories. Furthermore, no special theory of causality is required: everything external to God cannot be self-existent, and therefore requires a cause. The truth of counterfactuals is alleged to be external to God. Therefore, the Molinist should identify the cause, or acknowledge that the truth of counterfactuals is simply special pleading for Molinists.

WLC then identifies seven proposition that allegedly do not have "truth-makers." These include:

1) No physical objects exist.
(Which is not true, but if it were true the truth maker would be readily seen from the fact that "all things that exist are non-phsical things" has the truth-maker "all things that exist."
2) Dinosaurs are exitinct today.
(Which may be true, and if it is true today then the truth maker is a combination of the dinosaurs that once were (as to the implication of previous non-extinct status for the class of dinosaurs) and the status of all things as being members of the class "not-dinosaurs."
3) All ravens are black.
(If this were true, the truth-maker would be the color of all ravens.)
4) Torturing a child is wrong.
(If this is true, then the truth-maker is the standard of wrong, the moral law.)
5) Napolean lost the battle of Waterloo.
(The truth maker here could variously be ascribed to historians, Napolean's blunder, British genius, or God's providence.)
6) The president of the U.S. in 2070 will be a woman.
(If this is true, the truth-maker is inter alia God's decree.)
7) If a rigid rod were placed in uniform motion through the aether, it would suffer a FitzGerald-Lorentz contraction.
(Which has as its truth-maker the definitions of certain theories of 19th century mechanics and/or causal inference therefrom.)

In short, WLC presents seven propositions that he believes there is no truth-maker to be found for, and implicitly asserts that consequently there is no problem if no truth-maker can be found for counterfactual statements. But WLC, fortunately, does not rest on that idea (which has been demonstrated wrong above by provision of relevant truthmakers).

Instead, WLC continues with a section entitled "Do Counterfactuals of Creaturely Freedom Need Truth-Makers?" Of course, if WLC can answer this question negatively, then the problem would appear to be solved - regardless of the merit of any of the seven examples identified above.

WLC's contention appears to revolve around first, asserting that truth-maker theory is a minority philosophical position; second, some truth-maker philosophers permit some true statements to lack a truth-maker; and third, WLC has not found an explanation as to why counterfactuals should not be permitted to be without a truth-maker. None of these, of course, provide an excuse for counterfactuals to avoid the need for a truth-maker.

WLC's next question is whether such counterfactuals have truth-makers. WLC notes that Fredodoso has attempted to provide a truth-maker, namely the state of affairs that the propisition will have a truth-maker or that the proposition would have a truth-maker under the relevant condition. WLC recognizes that this alleged truth-maker creates the obvious, immediate, and insoluable problem of infinite regress, but seems to think that it is not so. WLC asserts that facts do not have to have truth-makers. That assertion may be true generally, to wit that ordinarily facts do not require truth-makers. This particular alleged fact, however, makes reference to another truth-maker, and thus creates the self-referential problem.

The problem is that WLC is taking shelter in the use of a similar technique to that used by philosphers who deny present grounding of future tense statements. Thus, WLC takes comfort in the fact that some explanatiosn of the grounding of future tense statements also suffer from infinite regress. WLC, however, seems to have overlooked the fact that many future tense statements can have other forms of grounding.

For example, the statement "tomorrow will be another day" is grounded in causal inference from the succession of time (and/or the definition of the word "tomorrow"), and "tomorrow will be rainy or not" is grounded in the law of the excluded middle. Finally, with respect to human perspective future tense statements that are not based on laws of logic or causal inference, such statements very rarely have grounding, and consequently are not "true" if, for a statement to be true, it must have grounds of truth. Note that what is being implied (but not stated) is that the statement must have grounds of truth for the speaker. In other words, the speaker must have a basis for the statement. The statement "a woman will be president of the U.S. in 2070" may turn out to be a correct statement of the state of affairs that transpires in 2070, but an ordinary human cannot have grounds for that statement - and, thus, while we might label the statement "true" after the fact, at the time the statement was made it was simply a guess.

This is not so with respect to divine omniprescience. God knows the future with the positive grounding of the divine decree. Thus, God's beliefs about the future are not guesses, but instead have the ground of the divine decree. Furthermore, God's beliefs about the hypothetical future are most readily grounded in causal inference, just as are ours - but God knows all the factors and thus has perfect knowledge of all hypotheticals posterior to the divine decree.

In contrast, for the Molinist, there is nothing that could ground God's knowledge of "counterfactuals" prior to the divine decree. Thus, God could not "know" such counterfactuals, and if God could not know such counterfactuals, then Molinism is dead.

WLC suggests that the ground of truth for a conditional "if A were in C, A would do S" is the hypothetical state of affairs described in the statement. This is somewhat similar to the non-predestinarian alleged grounding of future tense statements. The problem with that assertion, however, is that the hypothetical state of affairs does not exist, and (if it is really a counterfactual) will never exist. In other words, unlike future tense statements, there will never have been a corresponding state of affairs in which A is in C and does S, and the fact there will never have been a corresponding state of affairs in which A is in C and does S would "falsify" the future tense statement. Thus, WLC is relying for truth grounding on the very thing that would falsify a future tense statement, and a conditional statement does not purport to convey negative, but positive, information. Accordingly, even under a non-predestinarian analysis, WLC's basis for grounding is all wet.

Elsewhere, such as in "The Only Wise God," WLC has proposed an alternative basis for grounding. That basis is the fact that God knows all true counterfactuals. The problem with this attempted grounding should be immediately obvious. First, there is no reason to suppose that God knows all true counterfactuals prior to the divine decree, and perhaps even more plainly, it itself cannot have adequate grounding, unless we are to suggest that it is in God's nature to know all true counterfactuals. But if so, then true counterfactuals are part of God's natural knowledge, which both creates a paradox with respect to God himself, imposes necessity on counterfactuals, and takes out the "middle" from "middle knowledge." In short, an assertion that God's natural knowledge encompasses counterfactuals as much destroys Molinism as an assertion that God's free knowledge encompasses counterfactuals. Both scenarios destroy Molinism utterly.

WLC recognizes that the way that we treat normal hypotheticals (if I fire a shotgun at a pane of ordinary glass from a distance of 5 feet, the glass will break) is by identifying the causal inference. WLC, however, does not want to apply this to creaturely free acts, because he recognizes that doing so would destroy their libertarian freedom.

WLC even goes so far as to state that asking the question, "Why is F a fact?" or "What makes F a fact?" is to deny libertarian freedom, if F is a libertarian free act. The result is that WLC is unable to provide an account for the existence of F, and WLC is unable to handle Scriptural assertions that there are reasons why F is a fact (for example, there is a reason why Thomas believed). In short, WLC's philosophy falls prey to all the objections raised at great length and depth by Jonathan Edwards centuries ago.

Thus, when we arrive at WLC's conclusion that "anti-Molinists have not even begun to do the necessary homework," we are left with precisely the opposite impression. Specifically, we left with the impression that there is no warrant for accepting the Molinist assumptions, we are left with the impression that Molinism's assumption ends up contradicting Molinism, and we are left with the impression that Molinism fails to provide a complete epistemology: Molinism asserts that there are true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom and that they were known by God prior to the divine decree, but cannot give any account of them.

Finally, we may simply point out that the primary criticism raised against the Reformed view is essentially transitive to the Molinist viewpoint (in debate terms it is a "non-unique" criticism). That is to say, that while Molinists may deny that God makes the true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom true, nevertheless, God's selection of a particular world from all possible worlds (in Molinism) makes God in essence as much the cause of the evil that will be, as does God's selection of a particular world from all possible worlds in Calvinism or Thomism, because God recognizes that the consequence "If A is in C, A will do S," attaches just as certainly to C whether the link between C and S is causal (Calvinism/Thomism) or mysterious/unexplainable/impenetrable (Molinism/Arminianism). Thus, either way, C => S, and God's selection of C implies God's selection of S. In short, it is only the obviously mistaken position of Open Theism that an escape the charge that WLC attempts to level.

Thus, we may safely conclude that WLC has been unable to withstand the grounding objection proposed against Molinism, and the reader has no reason to believe in such a philosophical position. Instead, the reader should believe in the God who knows all hypotheticals on the basis of His infinite wisdom in combination with the Divine decree.

-Turretinfan

72 comments:

  1. Gene--

    You wrote:

    "6) The president of the U.S. in 2070 will be a woman.
    (If this is true, the truth-maker is inter alia God's decree.)"

    Do you think that your explanation can logically include the contingency of libertarian agents, or no?

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  2. "In contrast, for the Molinist, there is nothing that could ground God's knowledge of "counterfactuals" prior to the divine decree. Thus, God could not "know" such counterfactuals, and if God could not know such counterfactuals, then Molinism is dead."

    Isn't the problem one of what grounds the truth of counterfactuals, not what grounds God's knowledge of them? After all, God by definition knows the truth of all true propositions because (I figure you'd agree with me on this) they are actually concepts in his mind and surely he has access to those. Thus if the counterfactuals have grounding I don't see what the problem is for God's knowledge of them.

    Maybe you are saying that theres a knowledge problem because there's a grounding problem; is that more accurate?

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  3. "Furthermore, God's beliefs about the hypothetical future are most readily grounded in causal inference, just as are ours - but God knows all the factors and thus has perfect knowledge of all hypotheticals posterior to the divine decree."

    This seems to presuppose that God has compatiblistic-type freedom of some sort; at the very least that God is causally determined to do what He does (by his nature I would presume). Would you agree with that?

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  4. "WLC suggests that the ground of truth for a conditional "if A were in C, A would do S" is the hypothetical state of affairs described in the statement. This is somewhat similar to the non-predestinarian alleged grounding of future tense statements. The problem with that assertion, however, is that the hypothetical state of affairs does not exist, and (if it is really a counterfactual) will never exist. In other words, unlike future tense statements, there will never have been a corresponding state of affairs in which A is in C and does S, and the fact there will never have been a corresponding state of affairs in which A is in C and does S would "falsify" the future tense statement."

    Do you think that hypothetical propositions about the deterministic operations of entities have grounding? For instance, "If ball z is at point p1, and a wind blows it with certain velocity etc., it will move toward point p2". Lets say the objects in this state of affairs don't exist and it never takes place, but that at the same time it is in fact true that this would have taken place if the relevant physical objects had been in their respective positions. Would you say there is grounding for this? And would you say God can know this?

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  5. "The result is that WLC is unable to provide an account for the existence of F, and WLC is unable to handle Scriptural assertions that there are reasons why F is a fact (for example, there is a reason why Thomas believed). In short, WLC's philosophy falls prey to all the objections raised at great length and depth by Jonathan Edwards centuries ago."

    What do you mean by "reasons why F is a fact"? Do you mean deterministic causal explanations?

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  6. "makes God in essence as much the cause of the evil that will be, as does God's selection of a particular world from all possible worlds in Calvinism or Thomism, because God recognizes that the consequence "If A is in C, A will do S," attaches just as certainly to C whether the link between C and S is causal (Calvinism/Thomism) or mysterious/unexplainable/impenetrable (Molinism/Arminianism)."

    Isn't the question of whether or not God is "certain" (an epistemic notion) some bad event will occur in some world not whats at stake here? Isn't it instead the issue of what kind of metaphysical status that event has? After all, I can be certain that some kind of event is going to happen; but if I lack specific kinds of control over that event, I cannot be held responsible for it. Being certain that something will happen does not imply being culpable for it. (I realize that you are saying more than this here, and I can probably anticipate your response; but I'll let you explain yourself)

    Now, if libertarians are right about their criticism of compatiblist construals of moral responsibility, then doesn't it seem like Molinism would at least be better than Augustinian accounts insofar as it properly attributes the necessary metaphysical preconditions for moral responsibility to human agents? Note: that's a big "IF", and I'm not wanting to get into a discussion on it.

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  7. MG,

    Thank you for your replies...but this essay is from Turretinfan. Please be sure to address him :).

    ReplyDelete
  8. MG, TF can speak for himself, but I'll chime in until he does. If he comes back, he can agree or disagree with me. It's his essay, so he's the one in control here :).

    Isn't the problem one of what grounds the truth of counterfactuals, not what grounds God's knowledge of them? After all, God by definition knows the truth of all true propositions because (I figure you'd agree with me on this) they are actually concepts in his mind and surely he has access to those. Thus if the counterfactuals have grounding I don't see what the problem is for God's knowledge of them.

    The problem is the place in which they are grounded.

    A. If freedom is strictly libertarian, then the knowledge of them cannot be actualized until they occur, for they do not exist until actualized, except, perhaps, in the minds of men. So, they are unknowable to God, since they don't exist.

    B. One of the problems with WLC is not with his appeal to counterfactuals, per se, but with the way he defines counterfactual freedom in libertarian terms.

    This is question begging.

    For example, a Calvinist could affirm the counterfactuals of freedom, but define freedom in compatibilist terms.

    Likewise, a Calvinist could affirm the counterfactuals of freedom, but assign them then to the agency of God rather than the agency of man.

    Craig is simply supposing that you need to index counterfactual freedom to the human will rather than the divine will.

    No supporting argument is offered to warrant his presumption.

    Counterfactual knowledge does not entail middle knowledge. A Calvinist can affirm possible worlds without endorsing Craig’s ontology.

    To quote from Steve:
    But there are many different way of modeling possible worlds. For example:

    ***QUOTE***

    If we are to be realists about alethic modal truths, then the natural question is: What makes modal propositions true? What are they true of? In general, an objectively true proposition must be true of some aspect of reality. One way of spelling out this intuition is to say that in order for a proposition to be true, it must have a truthmaker, something in virtue of which it is true. The truthmaker is something worldly, and for propositions about concreta, it is something concrete.

    What, then, are the truthmakers of alethic modal claims? This question is deeply puzzling, since many alethic modal claims prima facie concern non-existent things such as unicorns. One proposed answer is that the truthmakers of alethic modal claims are possible worlds, and we have already seen that we have good reason to believe in possible worlds even apart from this. So this brings us to the second question: What are possible worlds?

    In his paper in this volume, William Lycan discusses six approaches to the problem of how to make sense of talk of non-existent possibilia, grouped into two wide groups. The actualist accounts reject any non-actual entities, any entities not found in the actual world, and thus must provide an account of the truth of modal claims in terms of this-worldly actual entities. The concretist accounts, on the other hand, say that there are concrete non-actual entities, such as unicorns existing concretely in concrete physical worlds different from ours, which serve as the truthmakers of modal propositions.

    Leibniz, who started the whole debate about possible worlds, argued that necessary truths, including modal truths such as that unicorns are possible, must exist somewhere. Finding Platonic entities too queer, he wanted to locate these truths as acts of thought or ideas in the mind of an omniscient, necessarily existent God who contemplates them. He then gave an account of possible worlds that matched this. A Leibnizian possible world is a maximally specific consistent thought in the mind of God of a way for the world to be.

    These acts of thought are actual entities, then, and so Leibniz has an answer as to what possible worlds are. Moreover, one might argue that Leibniz’s account makes some progress with respect to the question of how it is that the entities which are possible worlds represent concrete things. Recall that one difficulty with the Platonic approach was that of picking out which relation between concrete things and propositions was to count as the relation of representation. If one takes the controversial view that our thoughts are innately representative, the Leibnizian account may get around this problem by saying that that relation between divine thoughts and concrete things counts as the relation of representation which is the relation produced by that faculty in God’s mind which is analogous to the faculty of intentionality in us, and we can perhaps point out which of our faculties is the faculty of intentionality by ostension. There are many difficulties here, including first of all the Leibnizian’s very controversial commitment to thoughts being innately representative or to a faculty of intentionality. But if we find appealing the intuition that we can have a better grasp of what thoughts are, even divine thoughts, than we can of Platonic entities, because thoughts are something that we after all have direct experiential knowledge of, then we might prefer the Leibnizian account.

    However, this does not solve the main problem with the Platonic approach which was its failure to give an adequate account of what makes possibilities possible. The Leibnizian account does not help there at all, since those divine ideas that are singled out for being dubbed “worlds” are singled out in virtue of being consistent, that is possible. Their possibility is prior in the order of explanation to their being known by God to be possible (cf. Adams, 1994, p. 191). And so this approach is not relevantly different from singling out some collections of propositions for being dubbed “worlds” on the grounds of their being consistent. Positing a God who contemplates possible worlds as described above does not in any way help with Aristotelian intuitions about possibility being grounded in actuality, since, as far as the account goes, the thoughts could be just as causally inert as Platonic abstracta.

    However…there is a natural way to combine this account with Leibniz’s, by identifying the Aristotelian first cause with Leibniz’s necessarily existent God. Then, one could have both possible worlds, namely certain thoughts in the mind of God, and an answer to the problem of what makes these worlds possible, namely God’s power for initiating a causal chain capable of leading to their existence. The God of this theory would not only be omniscient but also omnipotent, then.

    http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/ap85/papers/ActualAndPossible.html

    ***END-QUOTE***

    On this general view, a possible world is a picturesque way of describing what-all God could possibly do, and not what the creature could possibly do.

    God knows what the creature would do because he knows what he would do with the creature. So God’s counterfactual knowledge is a species of self-knowledge.

    a. Molinism begs the question in terms of libertarian freedom.

    b. WLC in his own work states this about it's exegetical foundation:

    Since Scripture does not reflect upon this question, no amount of proof-texting can prove that
    God’s counterfactual knowledge is possessed logically prior to his creative decree. This is a
    matter for theological-philosophical reflection, not biblical exegesis. Thus, while it is clearly
    unbiblical to deny that God has simple foreknowledge and even counterfactual knowledge, those who deny middle knowledge cannot be accused of being unbiblical." (Middle Knowledge View: Foreknowledge of God, 4 Views, 123).

    So that immediately should send up some red flags.

    The Molinist is trying to do two things: ground middle knowledge in libertarian freedom of men and seek to uphold the infallible determination of all things.

    Let's grant for argument's sake the second object for which it aims. Molinism has God moving through externals, circumstances if you will, to ensure a particular result. Well, if that's true, then it's a defeater for libertarian freedom, since the results are ensured by God through determining circumstances. On that level, IMO, Molinism is self-defeating.

    MK also has an ethical aim, to get God "off the hook" in terms of responsibility - but if (a) He instantiates this universe and no other to ensure a particular result, and (b) He then interferes in it from time to time to make sure that those results happen, then Molinism has done nothing at all to get God off the hook. The same objections to the Augustinian view will thereby fall back on him with equal force. (To answer your last question).

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  9. Hi MG,

    Keep in mind that I don’t necessarily feel bound by Turretinfan’s formulations, but I will venture a few comments on a few of your questions:

    “Isn't the problem one of what grounds the truth of counterfactuals, not what grounds God's knowledge of them? After all, God by definition knows the truth of all true propositions because (I figure you'd agree with me on this) they are actually concepts in his mind and surely he has access to those. Thus if the counterfactuals have grounding I don't see what the problem is for God's knowledge of them.”

    Well, the question is *how* God can know the truth of all true propositions. Does Molinism/libertarianism remove a truth-condition for God’s knowing the truth of all true propositions?

    Now, even within a libertarian framework, God still knows all *possibilities*. He still knows everything an agent *could* do in every given situation. But this doesn’t mean he still knows what an agent *would* do in any given situation. If the agent’s future (hypothetical) action is indeterminate, then how is God is in any position to know what he (the human agent) would do under those circumstances?

    “Maybe you are saying that theres a knowledge problem because there's a grounding problem; is that more accurate?”

    Yes, I think that’s the point.

    “This seems to presuppose that God has compatiblistic-type freedom of some sort; at the very least that God is causally determined to do what He does (by his nature I would presume). Would you agree with that?”

    i) No, I wouldn’t. God isn’t determined by his nature to do anything. At most, you might say that God would refrain from doing certain things because some things are contrary to his nature. It’s a constraint on action rather than a determinate to action.

    ii) In terms of a Reformed formulation, God knows counterfactuals because God knows what an agent would do in any given situation if God decreed that scenario. So that’s how God’s knowledge of counterfactuals is grounded in Reformed theism.

    “Do you think that hypothetical propositions about the deterministic operations of entities have grounding? For instance, ‘If ball z is at point p1, and a wind blows it with certain velocity etc., it will move toward point p2’. Lets say the objects in this state of affairs don't exist and it never takes place, but that at the same time it is in fact true that this would have taken place if the relevant physical objects had been in their respective positions. Would you say there is grounding for this? And would you say God can know this?”

    God’s knowledge of hypotheticals isn’t grounded in a particular model of physical causation. There are different ways of effecting the same outcome.

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  10. Dear MG,

    I apologize in advance that my responses to your questions will come in bursts. I'm not ignoring the questions that I don't answer promptly.

    You quoted: "6) The president of the U.S. in 2070 will be a woman.
    (If this is true, the truth-maker is inter alia God's decree.)"

    And asked: "Do you think that your explanation can logically include the contingency of libertarian agents, or no?"

    I think I'm missing something you've assumed I'll take as understood in the question. I'll give it a shot based on my best understanding of what you are asking, but please feel free to clarify, restate, or explain the question.

    As best understood, you are asking whether God's decree as the truth-maker is mutually exclusive of the contingency of libertarian agents as the truth-maker.

    In general, an exhaustive decree of Providence appears (on its face) to be logically incompatible with contingency of libertarian agents. Thus, the answer to your question is "no, my explanation cannot logically include the contingency of libertarian agents."

    I think WLC might disagree, because his view of God's decree is different than mine. Nevertheless, although he would disagree, his reason for disagreement creates a new problem. Specifically, the new problem is that God's decree alone is an insufficient ground, if the agent is truly libertarian and with respect to contingent actions of that agent.

    In other words, and perhaps this is what you were hoping to get at, I would also hold that libertarian contingency is generally incompatible with foresight/"foreknowledge"/precognition of supposedly contingent acts.

    -Turretinfan

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  11. Dear MG,

    You quoted: "In contrast, for the Molinist, there is nothing that could ground God's knowledge of "counterfactuals" prior to the divine decree. Thus, God could not "know" such counterfactuals, and if God could not know such counterfactuals, then Molinism is dead."

    And you wrote: Isn't the problem one of what grounds the truth of counterfactuals, not what grounds God's knowledge of them? After all, God by definition knows the truth of all true propositions because (I figure you'd agree with me on this) they are actually concepts in his mind and surely he has access to those. Thus if the counterfactuals have grounding I don't see what the problem is for God's knowledge of them.

    Maybe you are saying that theres a knowledge problem because there's a grounding problem; is that more accurate?


    I respond:

    Not quite, though you seem to have the basic idea I was trying to convey.

    First, one of my conclusions is that Molinists are logically forced either to deny Omniprescience with the open theists, or deny libertarian freedom with the Calvinists/Thomists. Thus, I am not willing to concede that Molinists can take omniscience for granted.

    Second, in the Molinist model, and in the Calvinist/Thomist model as well, God does not have knowledge of all true propositions logically prior to the divine decree. For example, both Molinists and Calvinists ascribe God's "free" knowledge to his decree. In essence, God acquires "free" knowledge by exercising his freedom.

    However, Molinists assert that God knows what they call "counterfactuals" (though, of course, there is no "factual" for them to be "counter" to, yet - a topic for another post, some other time, perhaps) logically prior to the divine decree. But the response is that there is no way that God could know them at that logical moment.

    To respond that "God knows all true propositions," is to ignore the very distinction for which Middle Knowledge is required, namely the distinction between God's knowledge before and after the divine decree.

    Thus, such a response cannot be valid.

    There certainly is a relationship between grounding of the counterfactuals and the possibility of God knowing them. The fact that the Molinists cannot ground counterfactuals of free agency (at all, much less before the divine decree), prevents knowledge of them from being logically possible, and consequently prevents knowledge of them from being part of God's knowledge of all true propositions.

    -Turretinfan

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  12. Dear MG,

    You quoted:""Furthermore, God's beliefs about the hypothetical future are most readily grounded in causal inference, just as are ours - but God knows all the factors and thus has perfect knowledge of all hypotheticals posterior to the divine decree."

    And you wrote: This seems to presuppose that God has compatiblistic-type freedom of some sort; at the very least that God is causally determined to do what He does (by his nature I would presume). Would you agree with that?

    I respond:

    It was intended not simply to pressupose, but to state the compatible freedom position.

    Yes, God does what God does, because God is who God is. Thus, God is wholly self-determined, which is as free as it is possible to be, and much more free than we are.

    -Turretinfan

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  13. Dear MG,

    You wrote: [quotation omitted] "Do you think that hypothetical propositions about the deterministic operations of entities have grounding? For instance, "If ball z is at point p1, and a wind blows it with certain velocity etc., it will move toward point p2". Lets say the objects in this state of affairs don't exist and it never takes place, but that at the same time it is in fact true that this would have taken place if the relevant physical objects had been in their respective positions. Would you say there is grounding for this? And would you say God can know this?"

    I respond:

    Yes, hypothetical propositions about the deterministic operations of entities have grounding (what we call "causal inference" though it is more properly deduction - another tangent), and God knows the truth of such hypothetical propositions.

    -Turretinfan

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  14. Dear MG,
    You quoted: "The result is that WLC is unable to provide an account for the existence of F, and WLC is unable to handle Scriptural assertions that there are reasons why F is a fact (for example, there is a reason why Thomas believed). In short, WLC's philosophy falls prey to all the objections raised at great length and depth by Jonathan Edwards centuries ago."

    And you wrote: "What do you mean by "reasons why F is a fact"? Do you mean deterministic causal explanations?"

    I respond:
    I just mean the explanation for the existence of the fact. If that explanation is "deterministic" (I'm not sure if you are loading any philosophical special meanings into that word) and "causal" (same caveat) - I don't see any problem.

    In fact, unless the fact is to be indeterminate and/or uncaused, I'm not sure how an explanation would avoid falling into one or both of those categories. Presumably the way would be if those terms are given some special meaning.

    -Turretinfan

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  15. Dear MG,

    You quoted: "makes God in essence as much the cause of the evil that will be, as does God's selection of a particular world from all possible worlds in Calvinism or Thomism, because God recognizes that the consequence "If A is in C, A will do S," attaches just as certainly to C whether the link between C and S is causal (Calvinism/Thomism) or mysterious/unexplainable/impenetrable (Molinism/Arminianism)."

    And you wrote: "Isn't the question of whether or not God is "certain" (an epistemic notion) some bad event will occur in some world not whats at stake here? Isn't it instead the issue of what kind of metaphysical status that event has? After all, I can be certain that some kind of event is going to happen; but if I lack specific kinds of control over that event, I cannot be held responsible for it. Being certain that something will happen does not imply being culpable for it. (I realize that you are saying more than this here, and I can probably anticipate your response; but I'll let you explain yourself)

    Now, if libertarians are right about their criticism of compatiblist construals of moral responsibility, then doesn't it seem like Molinism would at least be better than Augustinian accounts insofar as it properly attributes the necessary metaphysical preconditions for moral responsibility to human agents? Note: that's a big "IF", and I'm not wanting to get into a discussion on it.


    I respond:

    The point about God's certainty was for emphasis. The main point is that God is aware of the consequences of placing A in C, and that consequently if the claim is that God is responsible because He intended the sinful result to occur, that criticism latches to the Molinist position just as readily. The analytical link is that it is usual to say that people intend the expected consequences of their actions (and this "usual-ness" grows stronger, the more certain the person is of the consequences), even when those consequences include the free acts of other agents.

    Usually, however, the reason for trying to escape to libertarianism to escape the implications of things like the statement: "God intended [insert some suitably upsetting evil act of man, such as, though it probably does not spring first to mind, "Adam's eating the forbidden fruit."]."

    To get down to your comment about IF libertarian criticisms were correct ... would Molinism then provide a better explanation than Augustinianism? (obviously paraphrased, not quoted)

    The answer is that I'm not sure. One of the objections is that libertarian freedom is required for moral responsibility. Thus, with respect to men, Molinism would provide a way to hold men accountable (keeping in mind that this is contingent - in the ordinary sense - on that big "if").

    I haven't seen a well-written objection the other way - namely that free agency cuts off moral responsibility from flowing back. Indeed, I think most people would not cut off moral responsibility from, for example, Saul for the murder (by Doeg - a free agent) of the priests of the Lord.

    So, that's my mixed answer, if it helps.

    -Turretinfan

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  16. Yikes, I apologize for not addressing my questions to the proper person. I will try to give some responses later today.

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  17. Annoyed Pinoy9/21/2007 1:17 AM

    I haven't read this blog yet, or the comments. But I was wondering what you all think about how there are more and more Calvinist theologians who are open to the concept of Middle Knowledge. For example, Terrance Tiessen, Bruce Ware, and (according to Ware's book _God's Greater Glory_) John Frame.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Annoyed Pinoy9/21/2007 4:21 AM

    GeneMBridges said:

    ***Quote***
    Likewise, a Calvinist could affirm the counterfactuals of freedom, but assign them then to the agency of God rather than the agency of man.

    Craig is simply supposing that you need to index counterfactual freedom to the human will rather than the divine will.

    No supporting argument is offered to warrant his presumption.

    Counterfactual knowledge does not entail middle knowledge. A Calvinist can affirm possible worlds without endorsing Craig’s ontology.
    ***END-QUOTE***

    To everyone:

    Does the fact that T. Tiessen, B. Ware and J. Frame deny libertarian free will and hold to compatibilistic free agency make their appeal to Middle Knowledge (i.e. a Calvinistic Middle Knowledge) to help resolve issues of theodicy unncessary/superfluous?

    Also......

    While a lot of this is way over my head, I can't seem to get around the charge by hard determinists and occasionalists/continuous creationists (like V. Cheung) that if God is in control of the creation, preservation, and operation of our natures, then how is that any different than hard determinism? Aren't we then just making a distinction without any difference? Cheung even implies that compatibilism is kind of theological cop-out. Anyone know a good refutation of of this aspect in Cheung's theology (as found in his book _The Author of Sin_)?


    If these questions are too basic, I'll understand if they aren't responsed to. Thanks :-)

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  19. Dear AP:

    You wrote: "I haven't read this blog yet, or the comments. But I was wondering what you all think about how there are more and more Calvinist theologians who are open to the concept of Middle Knowledge. For example, Terrance Tiessen, Bruce Ware, and (according to Ware's book _God's Greater Glory_) John Frame."

    I respond: I would tend to view any such openness (and I cannot confirm that it exists) as an abberation rather than a trend. I'm inclined to suspect that - at least in some cases - the authors may be using the term "middle knowledge" apart from its original meaning.

    You also wrote: "Does the fact that T. Tiessen, B. Ware and J. Frame deny libertarian free will and hold to compatibilistic free agency make their appeal to Middle Knowledge (i.e. a Calvinistic Middle Knowledge) to help resolve issues of theodicy unncessary/superfluous?"

    I respond: "Calvinistic Middle Knowledge" would seem to be an oxymoron. This leads me to believe that a few authors have started to use terms in ways that are inconsistent with their original meaning.

    You further wrote: "While a lot of this is way over my head, I can't seem to get around the charge by hard determinists and occasionalists/continuous creationists (like V. Cheung) that if God is in control of the creation, preservation, and operation of our natures, then how is that any different than hard determinism? Aren't we then just making a distinction without any difference? Cheung even implies that compatibilism is kind of theological cop-out. Anyone know a good refutation of of this aspect in Cheung's theology (as found in his book _The Author of Sin_)?"

    I respond: Vincent Cheung is an abberation. Having read a few of his works, such as "The Author of Sin," I cannot help but believe that he has great enthusiasm but not much theological or philosophical sophistication. A person should not suppose that Cheung represents the Reformed community's view of the subject.

    Yes, Cheung calls himself a "hard determinist," but after reading his book, I really think that Cheung does not understand the philosophical terms involved.

    The main value that Cheung has (in this author's humble opinion) is in pointing out the worthlessness of labels standing alone. If you call Cheung a "hard determinist" and say that he makes God an "author of sin" Cheung just replies: "So what?"

    Cheung, thus, is actually a great answer to many of the mindless and/or ethereal critiques of Calvinism that are floating around today, because he forces the critic to dig deeper and explain why "hard determinism" "people being puppets" or "authorship of sin" is bad.

    Of course, unfortunately, because Cheung does not understand the philosophical issues he makes radical statements that are simply wrong: like his claims that compatiblism is essentially a cop-out.

    I should point out that my own opinion of Cheung's lack of philosphical/intellectual ability is not necessarily the opinion of this honorable blog (of whom I'm merely a guest).

    -Turretinfan

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  20. Steve wrote: "i) No, I wouldn’t. God isn’t determined by his nature to do anything. At most, you might say that God would refrain from doing certain things because some things are contrary to his nature. It’s a constraint on action rather than a determinate to action."

    The reader may note that this is slightly different than the answer I had provided. I'm not 100% sure why Steve would draw the line the way he does (perhaps in an attempt to ascribe to God "libertarian" freedom??), but any difference between us on this point should not significantly affect the remainder of the analysis, so I won't go off on a tangent about it.

    If Steve has time and/or interest in backchanneling me his reason, I'd really enjoy reading it. (my email address is available via my blogger profile)

    -Turretinfan

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  21. Wait a minute--Can someone again explain to me how it is that God cannot have counterfactual knowledge of future free events. Isn't this a flat out rejection of what it means for God to be omniscient?

    It seems to me that so long as God is omniscient, the grounding objection is really a false dilema.

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  22. properly basic said:
    Wait a minute--Can someone again explain to me how it is that God cannot have counterfactual knowledge of future free events. Isn't this a flat out rejection of what it means for God to be omniscient?

    It seems to me that so long as God is omniscient, the grounding objection is really a false dilema.

    ********************************************

    The question at issue is whether God can be omniscient given the assumption of libertarian freedom. Are these two propositions mutually consistent? If not, then the Molinist is not entitled to assume that God is omniscience if he (the Molinist) sticks to libertarianism.

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  23. I fail to see why Calvinist middle knowledge need be deemed an “oxymoron,” provided “middle knowledge” is not considered to be a synonym for Molinism. Middle knowledge, in its basic sense, refers to God’s knowing something prior to his decree (and hence to his free knowledge) but after (at least logically) his necessary or natural knowledge. Calvinists have traditionally objected to the concept of middle knowledge but this is, I believe, largely because they have been unable to consider the concept in its own merits, apart from the manner in which it is used by Molinists. In a forthcoming article in Westminster Theological Journal I explain why I think that Calvinists should believe in divine middle knowledge even though they reject Molinism.

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  24. Dear PB,
    You wrote:Wait a minute--Can someone again explain to me how it is that God cannot have counterfactual knowledge of future free events. Isn't this a flat out rejection of what it means for God to be omniscient?

    It seems to me that so long as God is omniscient, the grounding objection is really a false dilema.


    I respond:

    Steve put it well.

    The issue is whether libertarian freedom and divine omniscience are compatible. If they are not, something has to give.

    Since we know God is omniscient, the "something" is libertarian freedom.

    -Turretinfan

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  25. Terry Tiessen wrote:
    I fail to see why Calvinist middle knowledge need be deemed an “oxymoron,” provided “middle knowledge” is not considered to be a synonym for Molinism. Middle knowledge, in its basic sense, refers to God’s knowing something prior to his decree (and hence to his free knowledge) but after (at least logically) his necessary or natural knowledge. Calvinists have traditionally objected to the concept of middle knowledge but this is, I believe, largely because they have been unable to consider the concept in its own merits, apart from the manner in which it is used by Molinists. In a forthcoming article in Westminster Theological Journal I explain why I think that Calvinists should believe in divine middle knowledge even though they reject Molinism.

    ***********

    I respond:
    The phrase, "the concept in its own merits, apart from the manner in which it is used by Molinists," leaves this author scratching the historical side of his head, as it was the Molinists that invented the concept and word.

    There is no inherent problem in "plundering the Philistines" when it comes to vocabulary, but it is possible that any redefinition of the term away from the Molinist sense could cause confusion.

    Your article, and especially the definition you assign to non-Molinist "middle knowledge" (and how it differs - if at all - from Molinist "middle knowledge") is eagerly awaited.

    -Turretinfan

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  26. terry tiessen said...

    “Middle knowledge, in its basic sense, refers to God’s knowing something prior to his decree (and hence to his free knowledge) but after (at least logically) his necessary or natural knowledge.”

    I don’t know that that’s its basic sense. For one thing, modern writers prefer the phrase “middle knowledge” because most of us are English-speakers. But the original phrase is “scientia media,” and I don’t think that “media” (in the Latin sense of the term) is synonymous with “middle.”

    Rather, it goes to the fact that, in Molinism, God’s knowledge of what the creature would do is a mediate knowledge, mediated by the creature.

    God knows what the libertarian agent would do because what the libertarian agent would do is the cause of God’s knowledge. God isn’t causing the agent to do this, for if he were causing it, the agent would cease to be free in the libertarian sense.

    In Calvinism, by contrast, God knows what the agent would do because he knows what the agent would do if he caused the agent to do this or that in some alternative scenario. So, in Calvinism, God’s knowledge of hypotheticals or counterfactuals is immediate rather than mediate.

    Thus, Calvinism preserves divine aseity and impassibility, whereas scientia media compromises divine aseity and impassibility by making God’s knowledge of hypotheticals or counterfactuals contingent on what the creature would do, rather than what God would do with or do the creature.

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  27. SH&TT,

    Steve raises an interesting etymological question. Molina's work is available here, and I believe that Freddoso either is working on, or has recently published an English translation (in case one's Latin is a tad rusty).

    My own reading of Molina's work is (from the Index rerum notabilium) "Scientia media inter liberam, & naturalum in Deo, quae," which being translated is: "Middle Knowledge, which is between free and natural knowledge in God."

    While Steve's sense may be more useful for understanding, I'm not yet persuaded that it is the actual etymology.

    In any event, Steve's comments otherwise (aside from the etymological issue):

    "Rather, it goes to the fact that, in Molinism, God’s knowledge of what the creature would do is a mediate knowledge, mediated by the creature.

    God knows what the libertarian agent would do because what the libertarian agent would do is the cause of God’s knowledge. God isn’t causing the agent to do this, for if he were causing it, the agent would cease to be free in the libertarian sense.
    "

    are right on the money, as far as I can see.

    -Turretinfan

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  28. Steve, thanks for your comment on the intended sense of “scientia media.” I use it with the meaning construed by Turretinfan, to refer to a knowledge that is logically distinct from God’s natural knowledge but (logically, at least) prior to his free knowledge (which follows his decree).

    Reformed theologians have never doubted that God knew counterfactuals but they considered this to be part of God’s natural/necessary knowledge. Consequently, they rarely thought that God made use of this knowledge in formulating his decree, because the concept of divine deliberation troubled them. I, on the other hand, find benefit in postulating the middle moment because it underlines the wisdom of God’s decree. God didn’t choose this particular world from all the possible worlds that he naturally knew he could actualize arbitrarily. He chose it wisely and for his glory.

    I am not actually too concerned about whether or not other Reformed theologians agree with me about God contemplating possible worlds as something distinct from his natural knowledge (i.e. “middle”) but I do think that Reformed theologians assume God’s use of counterfactuals and that they would be wise to make the effect of that assumption more explicit.

    It seems to me that God’s knowledge of possible worlds is best understood as something that he contemplated once he had considered whether or not he would create one.

    Your concern about God’s knowledge of counterfactuals, in a middle knowledge framework, making God dependent upon the creature looms large in the Calvinist rejection of Molinism and its consequent lack of reflection upon the kernel of truth that Molina may have identified. My response is that God is not thereby made dependent upon the creature in any significant way. The creatures whom God contemplates in his reflection upon possible worlds do not exist, nor would they exist unless he chose to create them. All that I (and others) are doing here is drawing upon the essence of compatibilist freedom that is so widely affirmed in Calvinist theology. It is because any creature acts out of its nature that God is able to know how creatures would act if put in any number of different situations. God then decides whether or not he will bring about a world in which particular creatures find themselves in the particular situations in which they act as they do. This enables God to actualize a world in which creatures freely and responsibly sin without himself being morally responsible for their sinful acts.

    For the sake of space, I’d better quit there, but hopefully this will give you a sense of where I’m coming from.

    Shalom,
    Terry

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  29. Yea, I guess I’m completely confused by this apparent contradiction and incompatibility between omniscience and libertarian freewill. Even the Westminster Confession understands that all things are conceived in God's intellect in eternity, are planned and ordered in time according to His wisdom, and then "fall out" (from the Westminster Confession) by His will in time as either necessary, contingent or free actions. This is the logical and real-time progression. The whole process is called Providence.

    Terms aside, (Molinism) looks spot on, which explains why smart guys like Craig espouse it, and new school reformed folks appear to be open to it. Good thoughts, Terry!

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  30. Hi Terry,

    Come tomorrow or Monday, I plan to do a separate post on this subject in which I quote some statements from your book (Providence & Prayer), and then comment on the excerpts. I think that's a better way to proceed.

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  31. properly basic said...

    "Yea, I guess I’m completely confused by this apparent contradiction and incompatibility between omniscience and libertarian freewill."

    If an agent's future actions are indeterminate (a la libertarianism), then they do not supply a determinate object of knowledge since they could go either way.

    "Even the Westminster Confession understands that all things are conceived in God's intellect in eternity, are planned and ordered in time according to His wisdom, and then 'fall out' (from the Westminster Confession) by His will in time as either necessary, contingent or free actions. This is the logical and real-time progression. The whole process is called Providence."

    No, they are planned in (timeless) eternity, and executed in time. The planning is no part of the real-time progression. Providence involves a real-time progression, not predestination. Predestination decrees a real-time progression, but is not, itself, temporal.

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  32. Steve,

    According to Molina’s landscape, future free actions are not indeterminate in the sense that God is unaware of what free creatures would do in a specified set of circumstances. Molina would say that God’s knowledge is temporally prior to future free acts, but future free acts are logically prior since they explain God’s knowledge. To say that in order for God to know some future free act, that He must decree the act (in a causal sort of way), is problematic--because it removes God’s ability to maximally know all truths. In that case, at least one divine attribute of God would be in trouble.

    Blessings

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  33. properly basic said:

    "According to Molina’s landscape, future free actions are not indeterminate in the sense that God is unaware of what free creatures would do in a specified set of circumstances."

    You seem to experience a persistent difficulty in distinguishing between what a position claims, and whether it can made good on its claim.

    No one is saying that according to de Molina, God would lack foreknowledge. The question at issue, rather, is whether de Molina's attempting harmonize divine foreknowledge and (human) libertarian freedom is successful.

    Why are you unable to grasp the distinction between what a position claims, and whether its claims are successful in solving the problem it poses for itself?

    "Molina would say that God’s knowledge is temporally prior to future free acts, but future free acts are logically prior since they explain God’s knowledge."

    "Temporally prior"? Did de Molina believe that God was in time? That would be a departure from Classical theism. Are you sure about that?

    "To say that in order for God to know some future free act, that He must decree the act (in a causal sort of way), is problematic--because it removes God’s ability to maximally know all truths. In that case, at least one divine attribute of God would be in trouble."

    No, it would simply distinguish between God's necessary knowledge (i.e. his knowlege of all possibilities) and his free knowledge (i.e. his knowledge of all eventualities).

    The former is grounded in God's omnipotence, whereas the latter is grounded in his will (to decree a particular outcome).

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  34. Steve,

    You wrote: Why are you unable to grasp the distinction between what a position claims, and whether its claims are successful in solving the problem it poses for itself?

    Sorry-- I’m slow, but I’m waiting to hear about this alleged ‘problem.’ Maybe you can catch me up to speed. I’ve read a lot of Molina by way of Craig, and haven’t objected to much.

    Steve, have you read or spent time with the work of Molina, Flint, or Craig? If not, you should. A proper understanding of temporal and logical priority is important. As far as Molina’s preferred theory of time—I’m not sure!

    Blessings

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  35. You wrote: “If an agent's future actions are indeterminate (a la libertarianism), then they do not supply a determinate object of knowledge since they could go either way.”

    As far as I can tell, there is no good reason to think libertarianism entails indeterminate future actions. Maybe you can flesh this out for me a bit.

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  36. A response is up on my blog to Gene, Steve, and Turretinfan's comments. Feel free to comment if you are up for continuing to discuss this.

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  37. Plantinga Fan9/24/2007 1:36 AM

    Properly Basic wrote: Wait a minute--Can someone again explain to me how it is that God cannot have counterfactual knowledge of future free events. Isn't this a flat out rejection of what it means for God to be omniscient?

    It seems to me that so long as God is omniscient, the grounding objection is really a false dilemma.

    You need to recall that the Calvinist affirms compatibilistic freedom and cannot allow any room for libertarian freedom in his thinking. The Calvinist also does not want to explain the possibility of God having a capacity for middle knowledge, because in the molinist theory, middle knowledge presupposes the existence of LFW. Also, if some events were truly contingent then the total determinism as espoused by Calvinists would not be true. So given a choice between God’s foreknowledge of all events and LFW, the Calvinist will get rid of LFW. But his getting rid of LFW is not based on good arguments but on the nature of his system. Open theists like the Calvinist assume that Foreknowledge and LFW cannot coexist so they get rid of foreknowledge. It is significant that both Calvinists and Open theists assume the incompatibility of foreknowledge and LFW(both eliminates one the other eliminates the others, so they are opposite extremes of the spectrum). The bible appears to present both foreknowledge and LFW. And it is Calvinists, Open theists, and atheists who claim the two are incompatible. But this alleged incompatibility has never been shown only assumed. Plantinga in his little book calls this an atheologist argument one made famous by Pike and he shows that it is not difficult to deal with. You will often see Calvinists arguing about what grounds or upon what basis does God have middle knowledge? I spoke to Plantinga himself about this and he agreed that we do not know how God knows, but we know that He knows based upon his revelation of Himself. And in this revelation there are a few instances of places where he obviously has middle knowledge. As Tiessen said, we need to distinguish between molinism and middle knowledge. The system may have problems, but the idea or concept of middle knowledge occurs in scripture. So while we may not know how it works, we know that it does in fact occur.

    Steve Hays wrote: No, it would simply distinguish between God's necessary knowledge (i.e. his knowledge of all possibilities) and his free knowledge (i.e. his knowledge of all eventualities).

    The former is grounded in God's omnipotence, whereas the latter is grounded in his will (to decree a particular outcome).

    Note that he speaks first of God’s knowledge of possibilities and then His knowledge of eventualities.

    He claims the first, the knowledge of possibilities is grounded in omnipotence not omniscience. This is merely his Calvinist assumptions dictating things. Most people would argue that God’s knowledge of possibilities is grounded in his omniscience, not his omnipotence. And part of that omniscience would include his capacity for middle knowledge. By claiming that God’s knowledge is grounded in omnipotence rather than omniscience, this also leads to a major Calvinist weakness. For them, unless God predetermined for an event to occur, He cannot know what would happen in the future (again they like the Open theists cannot believe that future free actions can be knows if LFW obtains). Hence, since he cannot know via middle knowledge, he knows because he will make it occur (i.e.. omnipotence). Hays also speaks according to the Calvinist assumption that what actually occurs is only a result of God having decreed or ordained whatsoever comes to pass, so the eventual events are grounded in decrees of outcomes. Put simply Hays statements here simply beg the question for calvinism by assuming calvinism.

    Properly Basic wrote: As far as I can tell, there is no good reason to think libertarianism entails indeterminate future actions. Maybe you can flesh this out for me a bit.

    You will not get a good argument against the incompatibility of foreknowledge and LFW here from those who are Calvinists, they simply assume them to be incompatible. Plantinga on the other hand deals with this very well in his essay: ON OCCAM’S WAY OUT. If you have not read it, read it and see what he says about how foreknowledge and LFW and an actual future that is determinate can all simultaneously exist.

    Plantinga Fan

    ReplyDelete
  38. Dear Dr. T,

    In view of your clarification, I would not find what you are calling "middle knowledge" especially objectionable. I would just (with Turretin) not see any reason to separate it from natural knowledge.

    -Turretinfa

    ReplyDelete
  39. PB wrote: "Yea, I guess I’m completely confused by this apparent contradiction and incompatibility between omniscience and libertarian freewill. Even the Westminster Confession understands that all things are conceived in God's intellect in eternity, are planned and ordered in time according to His wisdom, and then "fall out" (from the Westminster Confession) by His will in time as either necessary, contingent or free actions. This is the logical and real-time progression. The whole process is called Providence.

    Terms aside, (Molinism) looks spot on, which explains why smart guys like Craig espouse it, and new school reformed folks appear to be open to it. Good thoughts, Terry!
    "

    PB:

    Your comment "I guess I’m completely confused by this apparent contradiction and incompatibility between omniscience and libertarian freewill" undercuts your comment "Terms aside, (Molinism) looks spot on." Your bolstering ad hominem "smart guys like Craig espouse it, and new school reformed folks appear to be open to it," doesn't really add to the discussion.

    The point is that WLC is wrong, not that he is dimwitted. WLC ends up where he does because of a prior commitment to LFW, as has been and will further be demonstrated.

    -Turretinfan

    ReplyDelete
  40. PB wrote: "According to Molina’s landscape, future free actions are not indeterminate in the sense that God is unaware of what free creatures would do in a specified set of circumstances. Molina would say that God’s knowledge is temporally prior to future free acts, but future free acts are logically prior since they explain God’s knowledge. To say that in order for God to know some future free act, that He must decree the act (in a causal sort of way), is problematic--because it removes God’s ability to maximally know all truths. In that case, at least one divine attribute of God would be in trouble."

    I respond:
    PB - it's only problematic if you assume LFW to be a true description of reality.

    In other words, yes - if you assume LFW to be true, then God's omniscience suffers, which cannot be right. The problem is that LFW is not true.

    It's a bit like saying that denying God knowledge of the geneology of Cinderella's fairy godmother "removes God’s ability to maximally know all truths." There is no such person as Cinderella's fairy godmother, and consequently, the fairy godmother does not have a geneology, and God cannot know such a geneology - because it has not correspondence with any reality.

    Same goes for LFW. It is as much a fictional account of things as the story of Cinderalla, and consequently it is no denial of God's omniscience to reject LFW. Without LFW, there is no reason to have "middle knowledge" (or at least the kind of middle knowledge that Molina and company speak of). Instead, God has natural knowledge (of all that was possible) and free knowledge (of all that is actual).

    Reject LFW and you'll be well on your way to a coherent, consistent philosophy.

    Incidentally, we are well aware of the attempted distinction between logical and chronological priority: that distinction does not - in any way - rescue the Molinist position.

    -Turretinfan

    ReplyDelete
  41. PB quoted: “If an agent's future actions are indeterminate (a la libertarianism), then they do not supply a determinate object of knowledge since they could go either way.”

    PB wrote: "As far as I can tell, there is no good reason to think libertarianism entails indeterminate future actions. Maybe you can flesh this out for me a bit."

    PB,
    Very briefly you have four options, and - as far as I know - only four:

    1. "Hard Determinism" - Man is not free and everything that happens is determined.

    2. "Soft Determinism" / "Compatibilism" - Man is free and everything that happens is determined.

    3. "Libertarianism" / "Autonomism" - Man is free and the actions of free agents are not determined.

    4. Irrationalism - Everything happens without determination.

    If you believe that everything happens determinately (as opposed to indeterminately), you should be classifying yourself as a compatibilist, not a libertarian. You also should recognize that you are "in bed with" Calvinism rather than Molinism at least insofaras your explanation of the world goes. (Though you may not accept/understand/appreciate/whatever the famous "five points.")

    -Turretinfan

    ReplyDelete
  42. MG, I'll check out your blog for the comments there.

    -Turretinfan

    ReplyDelete
  43. PF wrote:
    "You will not get a good argument against the incompatibility of foreknowledge and LFW here from those who are Calvinists, they simply assume them to be incompatible. Plantinga on the other hand deals with this very well in his essay: ON OCCAM’S WAY OUT. If you have not read it, read it and see what he says about how foreknowledge and LFW and an actual future that is determinate can all simultaneously exist."

    I respond:

    Perhaps I'll find time to respond to the first parts of PF's comments latter. For now, it should suffice to point out that - in fact - there will be a forthcoming response to Craig's "The Only Wise God," which will deal with exactly the issue of alleged compatibility between omniprescience and LFW.

    As they say, "Stay tuned for more."

    -Turretinfan

    ReplyDelete
  44. properly basic said:

    "As far as I can tell, there is no good reason to think libertarianism entails indeterminate future actions. Maybe you can flesh this out for me a bit."

    Maybe because that's how libertarians define libertarianism in the libertarian literature.

    Libertarians attribute contracausal freedom to the agent such that an initial set of conditions cannot determine or predict for a specific outcome.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Plantinga Fan9/24/2007 10:25 AM

    Steve Hays wrote: Libertarians attribute contracausal freedom to the agent such that an initial set of conditions cannot determine or predict for a specific outcome.

    God does not predict or guess what will occur in the future, he knows. Question for you Steve: If God does not determine or predetermine a future action by a human person, can God know what that future action will be? If not, why not?

    Plantinga Fan

    ReplyDelete
  46. plantinga fan said...

    “You need to recall that the Calvinist affirms compatibilistic freedom and cannot allow any room for libertarian freedom in his thinking. The Calvinist also does not want to explain the possibility of God having a capacity for middle knowledge, because in the molinist theory, middle knowledge presupposes the existence of LFW. Also, if some events were truly contingent then the total determinism as espoused by Calvinists would not be true. So given a choice between God’s foreknowledge of all events and LFW, the Calvinist will get rid of LFW. But his getting rid of LFW is not based on good arguments but on the nature of his system.”

    It’s true that my belief in Biblical Calvinism commits me to certain propositions, just as my being a Christian commits me to the falsity of Islam or naturalistic evolution or moral nihilism.

    At the same time, platinga fan’s sophistical exercise in well-poisoning also overlooks the fact that I have reasons for my Calvinism, as well as reasons apart from my Calvinism for rejecting Molinism and libertarianism.

    I’m not ashamed of the fact that, as a Bible-believing Christian, my interpretation of Scripture commits my to certain propositions. And I’m quite capable of defending my interpretation of Scripture. Indeed, I defend Reformed exegesis on a regular basis.

    “I spoke to Plantinga himself about this and he agreed that we do not know how God knows, but we know that He knows based upon his revelation of Himself.”

    I channeled Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, and Leibniz last night at my weekly séance, and they agreed with me.

    “The bible appears to present both foreknowledge and LFW.”

    An assertion in lieu of an argument. And we’ve addressed this challenge on many different occasions.

    “The system may have problems, but the idea or concept of middle knowledge occurs in scripture.”

    Where?

    “So while we may not know how it works, we know that it does in fact occur.”

    So he’s admitting that he can’t defend middle knowledge on philosophical grounds.

    “By claiming that God’s knowledge is grounded in omnipotence rather than omniscience, this also leads to a major Calvinist weakness.”

    Only a weakness if it’s false. Where’s the argument?

    “Put simply Hays statements here simply beg the question for calvinism by assuming calvinism.”

    Put simply, plantinga fan’s statements here simply beg the question for middle knowledge by disregarding my many arguments for Calvinism.

    “Question for you Steve: If God does not determine or predetermine a future action by a human person, can God know what that future action will be?”

    No.

    i) You’ve already connected my rejection of Molinism with Calvinism. So, by your own reasoning, any exegetical argument for Calvinism would constitute an exegetical argument against Molinism or (middle knowledge). So why don’t you begin by interacting with Baugh, Beale, Carson, Murray, Piper, Schreiner, &c.

    ii) You’ve already conceded defeat on the philosophical front. For philosophical arguments against Molinism, why don’t you begin by interacting with Adams, Pike, Hasker, van Inwagen, &c.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Here's my reply to MG, which I already posted over at his blog:

    “All propositions are divine concepts.”

    Fine.

    “God is directly aware of their truth value.”

    Fine.

    “Furthermore, there are true conditional subjunctive propositions about the libertarian freewill actions of creatures.”

    Begs the question. Where’s the supporting argument?

    “Because these propositions are in God’s mind, He can know their truth value.”

    He can know them if we concede the tendentious assumption.

    “Without assuming the falsity of MK, (ie. the non-existence of these propositions, their lack of truth value, or their grounding in compatiblist agency) would you be able to show what is wrong with this suggestion?”

    i) It assumes what it needs to prove.

    ii) The presumption is against it because the assumption is counterintuitive. This is not just what Calvinists think. Middle knowledge also has critics from Thomism, open theism, Robert Adams, &c.

    The problem is internal to libertarianism. if the future choice is indeterminate, then how can it supply a determinate object of knowledge?

    “Your statements seem to imply you agree with me that God has libertarian freedom.”

    No, my position is more qualified than that.

    i) God isn’t constrained to do anything.

    ii) There are certain things, due to his wisdom and goodness, that God is constrained not to do.

    iii) If God does something, that may commit him to doing something else (e.g. if he makes a promise, he must keep his promise).

    “This, if true, implies that the concept of libertarian freedom is coherent. It would be inconsistent, I suppose, for someone who admits one particular case of libertarian freedom to rule out the possibility human libertarian freedom based on the alleged incoherence or impossibility of libertarianism (though obviously you could rule it out for other reasons).”

    I’ve already rejected your premise, but even I accepted your premise, I would still reject your argument from analogy since the case of God is, in many respects, bound to be sui generis.

    “Would you characterize yourself as in disagreement with other triabloguers, who have argued for the incoherence of libertarianism in the past?”

    I’m unaware of any disagreement, although that wouldn’t be a capital offense.

    “Also, I wonder: would you also agree with me then that Jesus had libertarian freedom?”

    No, I think that Jesus was impeccable. Hence, there was no possibility that he would ever sell his soul to the devil (Mt 4), to take one example.

    “I was not assuming that the hypothetical deterministic events would require a particular model of physical causation; I was just asking if they have grounding. Would you agree that they do?”

    If they’re deterministic, they’re grounded; if they’re indeterministic, they’re groundless.

    ReplyDelete
  48. MG,

    If it is any encouragement to you, I am a Calvinist who does not deny that God can know the future acts of libertarianly free creatures. I am prepared to grant the plausibility of W. L. Craig’s thesis that God knows all true propositions and that propositions about the actual future are true. If it is true (as a present tense statement) that I am writing to you now, it was true yesterday (as a future tense statement) that I will write to you tomorrow.

    But, like Turretinfan and many others, I believe that the grounding objection is fatal for Molinism. Unlike the actual future, the counterfactual does not have truth value. Hence, if God does have knowledge of counterfactuals (as Scripture clearly affirms, though it does not specify whether this knowledge is natural or middle) then creatures do not have libertarian freedom. That is why the stakes are so high for Molinists in regard to the grounding objection.

    So, I disagree with Open Theists that God cannot know the future acts of creatures, even if they are libertarianly free (which they are not J), but I agree with Open Theists that simple foreknowledge does God no good. As Hasker says, by the time God knows the future it is too late for him to do anything about it.

    Cheers,
    Terry

    ReplyDelete
  49. Plantinga Fan9/24/2007 7:12 PM

    Steve Hays says: It’s true that my belief in Biblical Calvinism commits me to certain propositions, just as my being a Christian commits me to the falsity of Islam or naturalistic evolution or moral nihilism.

    So what, this says nothing, everyone’s beliefs commit them to other beliefs. A person committed to atheism could say that that commits them to the falsity of Islam, the truth of naturalistic evolution and moral determinations by what is rational.

    Steve Hays writes: At the same time, platinga fan’s sophistical exercise in well-poisoning also overlooks the fact that I have reasons for my Calvinism, as well as reasons apart from my Calvinism for rejecting Molinism and libertarianism.

    Again so what. “overlooks the fact that I have reasons for my molinism as well as reasons apart from my Molinism for rejecting calvinism and compatibilism.”

    Steve writes: I’m not ashamed of the fact that, as a Bible-believing Christian, my interpretation of Scripture commits my to certain propositions. And I’m quite capable of defending my interpretation of Scripture. Indeed, I defend Reformed exegesis on a regular basis.

    Again, I’m not ashamed of the fact that, as a Bible-believing Christian, my interpretation of Scripture commits me to certain propositions. And I’m quite capable of defending my interpretation of Scripture. Indeed, I defend Molinist exegesis on a regular basis.

    Steve Hays writes: I channeled Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, and Leibniz last night at my weekly séance, and they agreed with me.

    Now we actually have a contrast, I made reference to a conversation that I had with Plantinga. You have to mock and make reference to a séance that never occurred. Mockery is not argument last time I checked.

    Steve Hays writes: An assertion in lieu of an argument. And we’ve addressed this challenge on many different occasions.

    You also regularly make assertions without arguments as well. A big one which I wanted to hear from the horses mouth is that you concede that unless God predetermines a future event he cannot know that future event. So you place limitation on God’s foreknowledge, and that limitation just happens to be your own theology, that he has to predetermine the future to know the future. As others throughout church history have suggested, God may know the future because he sees all things at one time. I am very open to this notion, because if a person had knowledge of everything it would be like seeing everything at once. And one would not need to have predetermined all events to be able to see all of these events simultaneously, if one were God.

    Steve Hays asks in regard to the claim that scripture presents cases of middle knowledge: Where?
    This is a bit disingenuous on your part Steve. You know what bible passages Molinists have brought into the discussion. Apparently, you simply reinterpret them from a calvinistic perspective so that they no longer exist. Explaining them away does not mean they aren’t there. Reminds me of how cults do the same thing with key passages. After you hear their “interpretation” you then understand why they believe that those passages are not really speaking about the trinity, or the deity of Christ or . . .

    Steve Hays writes: So he’s admitting that he can’t defend middle knowledge on philosophical grounds.

    I do not need to do so here, and if you want fair treatments, you already know where to go: Flint and Craig have provided clear philosophical grounds for molinism. But I’m guessing that you have read them and rejected them so what else could be added to satisfy you?

    Steve Hays writes: Only a weakness if it’s false. Where’s the argument?

    First, no one knows how God knows anything. The bible passages are very clear that His understanding is far above ours. The bible presents that He does in fact know everything. It also presents that He knows how a person would have acted had different choices been made. Now how he knows these things is completely beyond our understanding and grasp. Second, molinism attempts to use this reality that He knows how persons would have acted had certain choices been different and develops an explanation as to how this works (appealing to the three types Natural, Middle, etc.). The Molinist does not know how it works for God to know things, nor does the calvinist. Both attempt to fill the void of ignorance with their own theory (e.g. calvinists argue that God knows the future because He predetermines it, but that is mere assertion, cannot and has not been proven, and simply begs the question).

    Steve Hays writes: Put simply, plantinga fan’s statements here simply beg the question for middle knowledge by disregarding my many arguments for Calvinism.
    None of your arguments for calvinism show how God knows things. I do not assume molinism because I am not a Molinist. I believe that you and they are both wrong in that you are trying to fill a gap, knowing how God knows what He knows, which the bible does not provide and philosophical reasoning could never rise to.

    I asked Steve Hays: Question for you Steve: If God does not determine or predetermine a future action by a human person, can God know what that future action will be?

    Hays answered: No.

    Here it is, God does not tell us how he knows and even if he did it would probably be beyond our understanding, and yet Steve Hays based on his own authority declares that God cannot know future events unless he has predetermined them. How could anyone know that to be true? By what authority or argument does he know that to be true? In order to know that God cannot do so, one would need to know precisely how God knows things, so that one would know what God does not and cannot know. And yet the bible suggests that God knows all things and includes passages where He clearly knows what a person(s) would do if the freely made choices had been different.
    It seems reasonable to me that while I do not and cannot know how God knows future events, if his revelation contains incidents, examples where He knows how a person would have chosen otherwise when making a free decision, then I conclude that yes in fact He does and can know what future free decisions would be. But knowing He can, does not mean that I know how he knows. And yet just because I cannot explain how he knows these kinds of things, does not prove that in fact he cannot know these kinds of things. Similarly, I do not know how he created the universe ex nihilo, and yet the bible affirms it so I believe that He did so. I can know that He did so, without knowing how he did so. It is interesting that no one tries to explain how he did this creation out of nothing and yet some believe they can explain how he knows what he knows.

    Steve Hays writes: i) You’ve already connected my rejection of Molinism with Calvinism. So, by your own reasoning, any exegetical argument for Calvinism would constitute an exegetical argument against Molinism or (middle knowledge). So why don’t you begin by interacting with Baugh, Beale, Carson, Murray, Piper, Schreiner, &c.

    Actually that is not accurate. If someone held to say the five points, TULIP, and also held to middle knowledge, they could still be a calvinist (e.g. Tiessen provides an example extremely close at hand, :-)). I am guessing that in the future article that Tiessen mentioned will be in WTS, he is going to bring this possibility to your awareness. :-)

    Steve Hays writes: ii) You’ve already conceded defeat on the philosophical front. For philosophical arguments against Molinism, why don’t you begin by interacting with Adams, Pike, Hasker, van Inwagen, &c

    First I have not conceded anything. Second, I believe that Flint, Plantinga, Freddoso are doing quite well in showing the philosophical justification for the middle knowledge concept. That partially explains why more calvinists like Ware and Tiessen are adopting middle knowledge into their calvinistic systems.

    Plantinga Fan

    ReplyDelete
  50. Dr. T,

    I appreciate your cordiality, but your comments leave me scratching my head a bit.

    Let me pose the following:

    1) Assume, for the sake of the argument, that there is at least one creature who has a Libertarian Free Will (LFW).

    2) Assume, also that God knows the future acts of that LFW creature.

    How does God possess that knowledge? Is it by:

    1) Natural Knowledge;
    2) Causal Inference / Deduction; or
    3) Perception

    (or some other category, I don't mean to skewer you on a false dilemma)

    WLC's (slightly modified):

    1) God knows all true propositions,
    2) Some true propositions are propositions about the future acts of the LFW creature,
    3) Therefore, God knows the true propositions about the future acts of the LFW creature,

    is simply a statement THAT God knows the future (as a subset of all things), not an explanation of how God knows the future (a fact that WLC and some of his followers seem to overlook).

    -Turretinfan

    ReplyDelete
  51. PF:

    You don't seem to be keeping up with the discussion. Let me point out how it is going on a few items:

    1. You attempt to poison the well by claiming that Steve has a precommitment to Calvinism.

    2. Steve (a) points out that the argument is logically fallacious with the kicker that he has Biblical ground for his views and (b) points out that everyone has precommitments, thereby destroying the uniqueness of your fallacious argument.

    3. Now, in your most recent comment, your reply to (b) is "so what" and a rephrasing of Steve's reply (a), above; and your reply to (a) is essentially agreement with Steve. You're arguing with yourself, which is a reasonably sure way to determine that this thread of argument is a waste of your time and space in the combox.

    ********

    1. You claim to have had a conversation with Plantinga.

    2. Steve jests that he spoke with the spirits of dead greats.

    3. You miss the point of Steve's jibe, indignantly asserting that your converstation was real. Steve was trying to humorously point out that whether you had a personal discussion with Plantinga or not is irrelevant.

    **********

    1. Steve points out that you make an assertion without backing it up by reasoned argumentation.

    2. You respond by asserting that Steve does the same, and then making the argument (at last) that God knows the future via perception (i.e. because he sees all things at the same time).

    I respond:
    I seriously doubt that Plantinga would approve, and I'm certain that WLC would not. The problem is that perception is logically subsequent to the event, which creates some interesting paradoxes when it comes to God's own acts in history. In any event, foresight (or atemporal omnisight) cannot provide a mechanism for God to know counterfactuals (hypothetical results) because there is nothing for God to see.

    ************

    1. You asserted that Scripture provides examples of middle knowledge.

    2. Steve asked "where?"

    3. You refused to provide any examples. Come on, man. You definitely lost this one when you failed to provide any example. Your assertion that Steve is being "disingeneous" is disheartening, because it is more of the same ad hominem you presented in your original comment.

    ***********

    1. You make no philosophical argument for molinism.

    2. Steve points this out, and suggests you cannot.

    3. You respond by asserting that Flint and Craig have already done a good job and suggesting that you could add nothing. This post, however, was a rebuttal of one of Craig's articles (perhaps you missed that). If you cannot add something, Craig stands rebutted, and you with him (since you are unwilling - perhaps unable - to add anything).

    **********

    1. You had claimed that anti-Molinism's weakness was an inability to account for God's knowledge of LFW acts.

    2. Steve observed that this is only a weakness if anti-Molinism is false, and asked for an argument.

    3. Your argument begins: "First, no one knows how God knows anything." That's simply not true, and is contrary to the teachings not only of the Calvinists but of the Molinists as well.

    You then argue:

    A) The bible passages are very clear that His understanding is far above ours.

    To which the response is:
    Fine, but irrelevant.


    B) The bible presents that He does in fact know everything.

    To which the response again is:
    Fine, but irrelevant.

    C) It also presents that He knows how a person would have acted had different choices been made.

    To which the response again is:
    No, it presents that He knows how a person would act if the circumstances were different. WLC admits that much, as does every Molinist I've ever heard of. If you meant to say what WLC says, then fine, but again, irrelevant. If you meant what you said, then please provide the Bible passages.

    D) Now how he knows these things is completely beyond our understanding and grasp.

    I respond: Your claim is autobiographical only, i.e. it is simply beyond your grasp so far. However, Scripture does provide the solution, as has been adequately demonstrated.

    E) Second, molinism attempts to use this reality that He knows how persons would have acted had certain choices been different and develops an explanation as to how this works (appealing to the three types Natural, Middle, etc.).

    I respond:
    No, Molinism attempts to reconcile creaturely freedom of the LFW variety with predetermination. Molinism addresses the case of what would have happened if circumstances had been different. Molinism invents (not appeals to) middle knowledge in an effort to provide compatibility between LFW acts and God's predetermination.

    F) The Molinist does not know how it works for God to know things, nor does the calvinist.

    I respond:
    The latter half of that assertion is false. The Calvinist does know how it works for God to know things, and the Molinist also knows hos it works for God know everything else besides the LFW acts of creatures. The Molinist just carves out an exception for the logically inconsistent portion of his philosophy.

    G) Both attempt to fill the void of ignorance with their own theory (e.g. calvinists argue that God knows the future because He predetermines it, but that is mere assertion, cannot and has not been proven, and simply begs the question).

    I respond:
    On the contrary, even Molinists like Craig agree that God knows the future because He predetermines it (by picking a set of circumstances, in which he knows men will respond in particular ways).

    But perhaps I should not have been surprised in view of the next thread of arguments:

    ************

    1. You made some contra-Calvinistic question-begging assertions.

    2. Steve called out to task for that.

    3. You respond with:
    A. None of your arguments for calvinism show how God knows things.

    I respond:
    This is just wrong. You yourself briefly stated the the Calvinist explanation of how God knows future things. You just disagree with Calvinism. That's worlds apart from Calvinism not showing how God knows things.

    B) I do not assume molinism because I am not a Molinist.

    I respond:
    Ok.

    C) I believe that you and they are both wrong in that you are trying to fill a gap, knowing how God knows what He knows, which the bible does not provide and philosophical reasoning could never rise to.

    I respond:
    Interesting, we're both wrong, eh? And how do you know that? Apparently by references to passages that state that God's knowledge far exceeds our own (something that both Calvinists and Molinists - and even Open Theists - agree on). Your "let's give up" brand of philosophy defeats itself.

    As we can see in the next interchange:
    ***********
    1. You asked whether God could know some future event without determining or predetermining it.

    2. Steve responded "no."

    3. Now you respond by:

    A) Here it is, God does not tell us how he knows and even if he did it would probably be beyond our understanding, and yet Steve Hays based on his own authority declares that God cannot know future events unless he has predetermined them.

    I respond: That's simply a libel against Steve. Steve derives his doctrine from Scripture. Steve does not state "no," on his own authority but by logical deduction from the nature of God taught in Scripture (i.e. God is not self-contradictory).

    B) How could anyone know that to be true?

    I respond: Read, for example, the post to which this combox belongs. Better yet, read Edwards' "Freedom of the Will." It is a delightful, thorough, Scriptural exposition of the very truth that Steve advocates.

    C) By what authority or argument does he know that to be true?

    I respond: See above.

    D) In order to know that God cannot do so, one would need to know precisely how God knows things, so that one would know what God does not and cannot know.

    I respond:
    Not true. It's sufficient to know that God is not self-contradictory, and to understand what terms like "Libertarian Free Will," "predetermine," and so forth, mean.

    E) And yet the bible suggests that God knows all things and includes passages where He clearly knows what a person(s) would do if the freely made choices had been different.

    I respond:
    This has been answered above. Your statement of the issue is so confused that it is clear that you have not understood the issues involved.

    F) It seems reasonable to me that while I do not and cannot know how God knows future events, if his revelation contains incidents, examples where He knows how a person would have chosen otherwise when making a free decision, then I conclude that yes in fact He does and can know what future free decisions would be.

    I respond:
    The statement contains grammatical and logical irregularities. Nevertheless, Calvinists like Hays do not disagree that God does and can know what future free decisions will be (and what they would be under other circumstances). We (Hays and I, though as he pointed out, he is not bound by my formulations) just disagree with a "libertarian" definition of "free."

    G) But knowing He can, does not mean that I know how he knows.

    I respond:
    Which leaves your philosophy incomplete at best. More to the point, howevever, it is not just a matter that you don't know how He knows, you cannot handle the objection that such knowledge is logically impossible.

    H) And yet just because I cannot explain how he knows these kinds of things, does not prove that in fact he cannot know these kinds of things.

    I respond:
    Agreed. Your inability to articulate your position does not mean your position is wrong.

    I) Similarly, I do not know how he created the universe ex nihilo, and yet the bible affirms it so I believe that He did so.

    I respond:
    It's not "similar" because there is no Biblical affirmation of "middle knowledge" or libertarian free will, and because there is Biblical affirmation of predetermination.

    J) I can know that He did so, without knowing how he did so.

    I respond:
    Agreed. You can know that, though, because He said so.

    K) It is interesting that no one tries to explain how he did this creation out of nothing and yet some believe they can explain how he knows what he knows.

    I respond:
    The explanation is that we take God at His word.

    *********

    1. You claimed that Steve was against middle knowledge because he was Calvinist.

    2. Steve pointed out that if your claim were true, then you should be prepared to grant him the point about middle knowledge if he can demonstrate other aspects of Calvinism.

    3. To which you provided the self-defeating point that T.T. is a Calvinist but holds to middle knowledge. Obviously, that undercuts your original claim, and so there is nothing left to discuss on that thread of thought.

    ************
    1) You admitted defeat philosophically by refusing to argue.

    2) Steve pointed this fact out and suggested you interact with anti-Molinist philosphers, such as Hasker.

    3) You responded:
    A) First I have not conceded anything.

    I respond: Sure you have. You've conceded you cannot add anything to the philosophical portion of the debate, and you have claimed that philosophy cannot rise to the occasion.

    B) Second, I believe that Flint, Plantinga, Freddoso are doing quite well in showing the philosophical justification for the middle knowledge concept.

    I respond:
    Since you disagree with their conclusions, misstate the underlying issues, and assert that their conclusions are unknowable that's hardly a sufficient commendation.

    C) That partially explains why more calvinists like Ware and Tiessen are adopting middle knowledge into their calvinistic systems.

    I respond:
    I have yet to see how Tiessen adopts "middle knowledge" into a Calvinistic system without it reducing to a species of natural knowledge. I seriously doubt you are better informed, but I would welcome your explanation about how either Ware and/or Tiessen accomplishes that feat, if you can provide it.

    -Turretinfan

    ReplyDelete
  52. plantinga fan said...

    “Now we actually have a contrast, I made reference to a conversation that I had with Plantinga. You have to mock and make reference to a séance that never occurred. Mockery is not argument last time I checked.”

    1.First off, it’s not as if arguments are your forte. Most of you initial commentary was simply an ad hominem genetic fallacy, viz. Hays opposes Molinism because Hays is a Calvinist.

    The problem with that line of attack is that it cuts both ways. I could just as well say that plantinga fan opposes Calvinism because plantinga fan is a Molinist.

    So the “argument” you led with was a self-refuting fallacy.

    2.You then bolstered your fallacious argument with a fallacious appeal to authority, invoking a vague, unverified conversation you had with Plantinga, as if Molinism must be true because Plantinga believes it. Plantinga himself would never use that “argument.”

    Plantinga is a philosopher, and he knows that such an ad hominem appeal to authority is not a philosophical argument. So you’re defending a philosophical position by an unphilosophical argument.


    As such, I mocked your appeal. It deserves mockery. When you resort disreputable “arguments,” the message that sends is that your position is disreputable—otherwise you could offer some respectable arguments instead of parading palpable sophistries in defense of your position..

    “You also regularly make assertions without arguments as well.”

    Since I “regularly” do this, I look forward to a systematic listing of examples.

    “So you place limitation on God’s foreknowledge, and that limitation just happens to be your own theology, that he has to predetermine the future to know the future.”

    This is another sophistry. And anyone can play that game. Neotheists use the same style of argument against Molinists. They say that a Molinist is placing a limitation on God by insisting that God can’t control the future unless he knows the future.

    The neotheist will then use something like a chess analogy to show that even if God didn’t know the future, he could control the outcome by outmaneuvering his human opponent.

    So, by your own logic, Molinism is imposing a limitation on God by insisting that omniprescience is a necessary precondition of providence.

    Do you have a single honest argument for your position?

    “This is a bit disingenuous on your part Steve. You know what bible passages Molinists have brought into the discussion.”

    Yes, I know the stock Molinist prooftexts. Unfortunately for the Molinist, they don’t prove middle knowledge. At most they only prove God’s knowledge of counterfactuals, which is not the same thing as middle knowledge. Middle knowledge is a particular theory of how God knows counterfactuals.

    “Apparently, you simply reinterpret them from a calvinistic perspective so that they no longer exist.”

    One doesn’t have to be a Calvinist to see that Molinist prooftexts fall short of proving Molinism. You yourself tacitly admitted as much when you attempted to peremptorily dismiss *every* position which opposes Molinism—which is yet another example of your chronic sophistry.

    “Explaining them away does not mean they aren’t there.”

    Since you haven’t bothered to explain them in the first place, I don’t have to “explain them away.” All you’re doing is to beg the question—which is not an argument. You keep racking up fallacies.

    “Reminds me of how cults do the same thing with key passages.”

    That’s an argument from analogy minus the argument. I thought you were big on arguments. But you seem to be short on arguments.

    “I do not need to do so here, and if you want fair treatments, you already know where to go: Flint and Craig have provided clear philosophical grounds for molinism.”

    Yes, I wrote a critique of Craig.

    “But I’m guessing that you have read them and rejected them so what else could be added to satisfy you?”

    How about one good argument for starters.

    “First, no one knows how God knows anything.”

    In which case you’ve just admitted that Molinism can’t make good on its claims. For Molinism posits a theory of divine knowledge to underwrites God’s knowledge of counterfactuals. But you say that’s unknowable. Hence, there’s nothing left for me to refute.

    “Here it is, God does not tell us how he knows and even if he did it would probably be beyond our understanding, and yet Steve Hays based on his own authority declares that God cannot know future events unless he has predetermined them.”

    To the contrary, in Isa 40-48, God tells us that he knows the future by determining the future.

    “If his revelation contains incidents, examples where He knows how a person would have chosen otherwise when making a free decision, then I conclude that yes in fact He does and can know what future free decisions would be.”

    There’s nothing in his revelation about “free” decisions in the libertarian sense. Rather, that’s a philosophical construct which you are superimposing onto the text. That isn’t exegesis, and it’s open to challenge on philosophical grounds as well.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Plantinga Fan9/25/2007 12:33 PM

    Speaking to Tiessen, Turretin fan wrote: How does God possess that knowledge? Is it by:

    1) Natural Knowledge;
    2) Causal Inference / Deduction; or
    3) Perception

    (or some other category, I don't mean to skewer you on a false dilemma)

    Here is precisely the issue in a nutshell. We all (if we believe what God Himself reveals in scripture) believe that God has knowledge of everything, including “the future acts of that LFW creature”. So far so good. But then T asks “How does God possess that knowledge?” And this answer is unanswerable, nobody knows, and anyone who claims to know is both presumptuous and prideful. Molinists claim it is via middle knowledge, Calvinists claim it is via having decreed or ordained whatsoever comes to pass. Both are speculating, both really don’t know. There is nothing wrong with making rational conjectures about how he knows, but it must be recognized, that that is all these things are, conjectures.

    Turretin fan wrote: 1. You attempt to poison the well by claiming that Steve has a precommitment to Calvinism.

    It is not poisoning the well to state a fact, Steve Hays does in fact have a precommitment to Calvinism. Everyone has precommitments. And with many if you know their precommitments you know exactly what railroad track they are on, and precisely where it is going.

    T continues: 2. Steve (a) points out that the argument is logically fallacious with the kicker that he has Biblical ground for his views and (b) points out that everyone has precommitments, thereby destroying the uniqueness of your fallacious argument.
    Hays has no biblical grounds for knowing how God knows things. This has not been revealed and even if it had been, it would probably be way beyond our puny understanding to comprehend it anyway.

    T wrote: 1. You claim to have had a conversation with Plantinga.

    2. Steve jests that he spoke with the spirits of dead greats.

    3. You miss the point of Steve's jibe, indignantly asserting that your converstation was real. Steve was trying to humorously point out that whether you had a personal discussion with Plantinga or not is irrelevant.

    Actually it is not irrelevant to my point. What I said to him was that I believe that we can know that God knows everything (as He says that He does, which is sufficient for any bible believer) but God does not tell us how He knows, nor can we know this. He agreed with me on this. I did not bring up Plantinga to “prove” molinism, but only to show that we really cannot know how God knows things and that a top Christian philosopher acknowledges this to be true. Now he agrees with me but you do not. You seem to think that you really can know how God knows things.

    Take one scripture verse as an example, though there are others, this is one you Calvinists will be quite familiar with:
    Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! Rom. 11:33

    God Himself says you cannot know or figure out His knowledge, judgments, ways, and yet you folks have the arrogance to claim that you’ve got it all figured out.
    I take an agnostic stance towards how God knows things. He clearly reveals that He knows things, but not how. And it is perfectly sufficient for my Christian faith to trust Him at His word (so that if He says that He knows the future, then He knows it, case closed) without having understanding of how he knows the future.

    Hays brings up Isa. 40-48 as his “proof” that God knows the future by determining it fully. But where in those texts does it say that? Where does it reveal how God knows what He knows? Where does it say that he has predetermined all things? It clearly affirms that God knows the future and is an excellent text to use when conversing with Open theists, but it does not reveal how he knows things. Within that section it even has statements that we cannot know how he knows (e.g. Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth. Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. 40:28). He says his ways are “inscrutable” and yet Steve Hays has them all figured out? Your pride is incredible.

    In another section T writes: 3. Your argument begins: "First, no one knows how God knows anything." That's simply not true, and is contrary to the teachings not only of the Calvinists but of the Molinists as well.

    You then argue:

    A) The bible passages are very clear that His understanding is far above ours.

    To which the response is:
    Fine, but irrelevant.

    B) The bible presents that He does in fact know everything.

    To which the response again is:
    Fine, but irrelevant.

    C) It also presents that He knows how a person would have acted had different choices been made.

    To which the response again is:
    No, it presents that He knows how a person would act if the circumstances were different. WLC admits that much, as does every Molinist I've ever heard of. If you meant to say what WLC says, then fine, but again, irrelevant. If you meant what you said, then please provide the Bible passages.

    D) Now how he knows these things is completely beyond our understanding and grasp.

    I respond: Your claim is autobiographical only, i.e. it is simply beyond your grasp so far. However, Scripture does provide the solution, as has been adequately demonstrated.

    Notice especially the statement that knowing how God knows is “simply beyond your grasp so far”. So knowing how God knows is something that T thinks that he knows via his Calvinism, but not something that I know. He then claims that Scripture does provide the “solution”. No, it does not, and it is exceedingly prideful to claim that you understand how God knows what he knows. T also claims that this has been adequately demonstrated. No it has not, not here, not anywhere.

    This line of reasoning by T reminds me of when an atheist claims that God has never existed anywhere. The Christian can respond: in order to know that God has never existed, wouldn’t you have to be everywhere your self in order to know that God isn’t anywhere? In other words wouldn’t you need to in effect be omnipresent yourself to know that God is not omnipresent. And if you were omnipresent wouldn’t you in effect be God yourself?

    Similarly, in order to know how God knows wouldn’t you need to have the same mind as God so that you would know how he knows? But if you had the same mind as God then you would in effect be God yourself? And T is convinced that my admission that I do not know how God knows is merely “autobiographical” while T really knows how God knows. T claims the solution is in scripture and has been demonstrated. Huh?

    God has not revealed how he knows in scripture, and T and the rest of the Calvinists (and the Molinists as well) do not have the mind of God, therefore I conclude that they do not know how God knows either. And to claim otherwise is pure pride and conjecture.

    Plantinga Fan

    ReplyDelete
  54. "Here is precisely the issue in a nutshell. We all (if we believe what God Himself reveals in scripture) believe that God has knowledge of everything, including 'the future acts of that LFW creature'."

    i)No, we don't all agree that God knows what a *libertarian* agent would do. That is smuggling something into Scripture that isn't there.

    ii)The Scriptural revelation of predestination is just as clear and abundant as the Scriptural revelation of God's foreknowledge.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Thanks for your thoughts, Plantinga fan!

    ReplyDelete
  56. PF wrote: "It is not poisoning the well to state a fact, Steve Hays does in fact have a precommitment to Calvinism. Everyone has precommitments. And with many if you know their precommitments you know exactly what railroad track they are on, and precisely where it is going."

    I respond: Wrong. One does not have to lie to the poison the well.

    PF wrote: "Here is precisely the issue in a nutshell. We all (if we believe what God Himself reveals in scripture) believe that God has knowledge of everything, including “the future acts of that LFW creature”. So far so good. But then T asks “How does God possess that knowledge?” And this answer is unanswerable, nobody knows, and anyone who claims to know is both presumptuous and prideful. Molinists claim it is via middle knowledge, Calvinists claim it is via having decreed or ordained whatsoever comes to pass. Both are speculating, both really don’t know. There is nothing wrong with making rational conjectures about how he knows, but it must be recognized, that that is all these things are, conjectures."

    I respond:
    Since I have claimed to know, and you have stated: "this answer is unanswerable, nobody knows, and anyone who claims to know is both presumptuous and prideful," I expect you to back up your assertion that the question is unanswerable with proof. Your saying that is unanswerable repeatedly does not qualify. If you cannot, I expect you to withdraw your judgment of pride and presumption against me.

    PF wrote: "Hays has no biblical grounds for knowing how God knows things. This has not been revealed and even if it had been, it would probably be way beyond our puny understanding to comprehend it anyway."

    I respond: That's just a repetition of the same assertion, not a reason for someone to accept the assertion. Logical fallacy here - ipse dixit.

    PF continued: "Actually it is not irrelevant to my point. What I said to him was that I believe that we can know that God knows everything (as He says that He does, which is sufficient for any bible believer) but God does not tell us how He knows, nor can we know this. He agreed with me on this. I did not bring up Plantinga to “prove” molinism, but only to show that we really cannot know how God knows things and that a top Christian philosopher acknowledges this to be true. Now he agrees with me but you do not. You seem to think that you really can know how God knows things."

    I respond:
    And Plantinga was a smart dude, but your argument is a logically fallacious appeal to authority. Hence, your argument is logically invalid. Even assuming that Plantinga understood what he was agreeing to, and that you understood Plantinga's comment as agreement (neither of which should be taken for granted), all that you've done is lined one smart guy up on your side of the table, which is not a rational argument for your position.

    PF wrote: "Take one scripture verse as an example, though there are others, this is one you Calvinists will be quite familiar with: Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! Rom. 11:33"

    I respond:

    Taken.

    PF continued:"God Himself says you cannot know or figure out His knowledge, judgments, ways, and yet you folks have the arrogance to claim that you’ve got it all figured out."

    I respond: Your analysis of the text is wrong. The text does not say that we cannot know or figure out His knowledge, judgments, ways, etc. Instead, it is a statement of magnitude: we cannot plumb the depths of God's knowledge. Nevertheless, we can know that God knows everything, and we can know how God knows everything, because He has revealed that to us in Scripture.

    PF continued:"I take an agnostic stance towards how God knows things. He clearly reveals that He knows things, but not how. And it is perfectly sufficient for my Christian faith to trust Him at His word (so that if He says that He knows the future, then He knows it, case closed) without having understanding of how he knows the future."

    I respond: No, you take a dogmatic antignostic view. You claim that others cannot know, and you call them names like, proud, arrogant, and presumptious when they say they do know.

    PF wrote: "Hays brings up Isa. 40-48 as his “proof” that God knows the future by determining it fully. But where in those texts does it say that? Where does it reveal how God knows what He knows? Where does it say that he has predetermined all things? It clearly affirms that God knows the future and is an excellent text to use when conversing with Open theists, but it does not reveal how he knows things. Within that section it even has statements that we cannot know how he knows (e.g. Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth. Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. 40:28). He says his ways are “inscrutable” and yet Steve Hays has them all figured out? Your pride is incredible."

    I respond: Steve saying that he knows how God knows what God knows is not a contradiction of Isaiah 40:28.

    PF wrote: "Notice especially the statement that knowing how God knows is “simply beyond your grasp so far”. So knowing how God knows is something that T thinks that he knows via his Calvinism, but not something that I know. He then claims that Scripture does provide the “solution”. No, it does not, and it is exceedingly prideful to claim that you understand how God knows what he knows. T also claims that this has been adequately demonstrated. No it has not, not here, not anywhere."

    I respond:

    Again, no that's just a repetition of your claims/accusations.

    PF continued: "This line of reasoning by T reminds me of when an atheist claims that God has never existed anywhere. The Christian can respond: in order to know that God has never existed, wouldn’t you have to be everywhere your self in order to know that God isn’t anywhere? In other words wouldn’t you need to in effect be omnipresent yourself to know that God is not omnipresent. And if you were omnipresent wouldn’t you in effect be God yourself?"

    I respond: That's a remarkable apt analogy, because you - like the athiest - are making a universal negative claim. The Christian's response to the athiest is quite similar to my response to you.

    PF continued: "Similarly, in order to know how God knows wouldn’t you need to have the same mind as God so that you would know how he knows? But if you had the same mind as God then you would in effect be God yourself? And T is convinced that my admission that I do not know how God knows is merely “autobiographical” while T really knows how God knows. T claims the solution is in scripture and has been demonstrated. Huh?"

    I respond: No, clearly that is not true. We can know WHAT and HOW he knows, without knowing everything that God knows, as long as He tells us.

    PF wrote: "God has not revealed how he knows in scripture, and T and the rest of the Calvinists (and the Molinists as well) do not have the mind of God, therefore I conclude that they do not know how God knows either. And to claim otherwise is pure pride and conjecture."

    I respond:
    Again, another repition of the same assertion/accusation without support.

    -Turretinfan

    ReplyDelete
  57. Plantinga Fan9/27/2007 11:31 AM

    Turretin fan writes: I respond: Your analysis of the text is wrong. The text does not say that we cannot know or figure out His knowledge, judgments, ways, etc. Instead, it is a statement of magnitude: we cannot plumb the depths of God's knowledge. Nevertheless, we can know that God knows everything, and we can know how God knows everything, because He has revealed that to us in Scripture.

    T says that “we can know how God knows everything”. And that God “has revealed that to us in Scripture.”

    Sure that you know how God knows everything that He knows, huh Turretin fan?

    OK, let’s walk you through it a bit, since you just do not seem to understand.

    Let’s start with ourselves: how do we know things?

    With our senses? God has no senses. We think when our brain and senses are involved, but God is a Spirit with no brain.

    Through testimony from other persons? God knew it all when there was no one else to tell Him anything.

    Through our personal experiences in the world? God does not have personal experiences like we do.

    Through education and learning from others? God was never educated and needs no education.

    Through trial and error? No, He needs no trials or errors to know.

    Through propositional statements in our language that we analyze? God has no human language by which he interprets or thinks through things.

    Obviously the way in which He knows must be very different than the way we know things.

    So T how does he know?

    Does he know intuitively?
    Does he know by means of propositions?
    Does he know by creating and using metaphors?
    Does he know from recalling from memory?
    Does he know via testimony of other persons?
    Does he know by the association of ideas?
    Does he know by logical analysis?
    Does he know by deduction?
    Does he know by induction?
    Does he know by abduction?
    Does he know through addition, subtraction, multiplication?
    Does he think using numbers?
    Does he know by reading books?
    Does he know by trial and error?
    Does he know through tradition?
    Does he know through experimentation?
    Does he know by syllogisms?
    Does he know by truth tables?
    Does he think by reasoning by analogy?
    Does he represent things via images so that He can think about them?
    Does he think by taking different points of view on a subject?
    Does he think by doing a cost/benefit analysis?
    Does he imagine things in order to think about something?
    Does he know through his unconscious?
    Does he know through dreams and visions?

    How does it actually work for him when he thinks about something?

    How does an omniscient and omnipresent Spirit think?

    You claim to know, tell me.

    And you claim to know through scripture, present the scripture that reveals this.

    Plantinga was at least humble enough to admit that he does not know. But as you say yourself, he is just one man, what does he know about this subject anyway? You claim to know, give us your best shot and explain how the almighty, eternal, all-knowing God, knows things.

    Plantinga Fan

    ReplyDelete
  58. Plantinga Fan9/27/2007 11:43 AM

    properly basic said...
    Thanks for your thoughts, Plantinga fan!

    You are welcome.

    Don’t you find it both amusing and sad that people will make these grand declarations (whether they be Calvinists or Molinists) with such confidence about how God knows things, when in fact no one really knows and it is all conjecture? And they make these claims in spite of the clear bible passages that speak of how His ways are above our ways, inscrutable, unfathomable, etc. etc. But they are just convinced that they know. I believe that God knows everything, via testimony, the Lord’s testimony, and His Word is completely trustworthy. But as to how He knows everything, until I have the mind of God, which I do not expect to be having soon, or ever, I am quite content not knowing how He knows what He knows. All I really need to know anyway is that in fact He knows everything. And He says that He knows everything so . . . .

    Plantinga Fan

    ReplyDelete
  59. Plantinga Fan, I hear you...and don't get me started =)

    ReplyDelete
  60. Plantinga Fan9/27/2007 6:15 PM

    PROPERLY BASIC SAID:
    Plantinga Fan, I hear you...and don't get me started =)

    Check out the thread on this blog called PROVIDENCE AND PRAYER you may get a kick out of what I just posted there as well. As I am sure that you know: a claim may be true even if our evidence for it is inconclusive or even absent. Something may be true even if we cannot explain how it works. I believe that God created the world out of nothing, but have no clue as to how it was done.

    Calvinists claim that God cannot know the future free actions of persons if libertarian freedom is real. How do they know that? They also claim that God could not know such future actions. How do they know that? They argue that He knows the future because He has completely predetermined it, but that is begging the question. So they arbitrarily dismiss the possibility that God could (and does) know the future free actions of human persons who have libertarian freedom.

    When pressed they then argue: but what are the grounds for God knowing these actions? Which of course no one knows. But if no one knows what they are, and yet they do exist, does it follow that they do not exist? No one knows how God created everything out of nothing, does it follow then that it did not happen? No one knows how the miracles recorded in the bible actually occurred, does it follow that they did not occur? No one knows exactly what the glorified bodies described in 1 Cor. 15 will be like, does that mean there will be no such bodies?

    What should we call this fallacy, that if we do not ourselves know that something exists, or how something occurs, that we then incorrectly conclude that that something does not exist or cannot occur?

    Plantinga Fan

    ReplyDelete
  61. Plantinga Fan: Perhaps folks are content to impose tradition even when reason is at stake?

    Blessings

    ReplyDelete
  62. Plantinga Fan9/28/2007 9:33 PM

    Plantinga Fan said:
    Tiessen said: I have argued that even if God gave creatures libertarian freedom he could know what they will freely choose to do in the future because the factuality of these events gives them truth value.

    And Steve Hays responded: But if they have libertarian freedom, then how would God know, in advance of the *fact*, which event will eventuate and thereby ground their truth-value?

    Here it is: if human persons actually had libertarian free will, according to Hays it would be impossible for God to know what they actually will do/”which event will eventuate” in the future. Interesting that Steve Hays knows how God’s knowledge is limited (He cannot know future events if they were freely chosen by agents acting with libertarian freedom). This is precisely the argument which open theists use: if people had free will in the libertarian sense, then God could not know what they will do in the future. The open theists use this to argue against God’s exhaustive foreknowledge, and the Calvinists use this to argue that unless God predetermines future events He cannot know the future. And if God can and does know freely chosen actions in the future, then they would both be wrong.

    And note carefully Hays’ reason for making this claim: “and thereby ground their truth-value.” In other words, since we do not know what the grounds would be for such knowledge of future free actions, therefore, God could not have such knowledge of freely chosen actions in the future. Since we don’t know what the grounds for such knowledge would be/could be, therefore, it is impossible for God to have such knowledge.

    Anybody else see a major problem here?

    What if God is capable of having knowledge of such future freely performed actions, but that the “grounds” for such knowledge are unknown to us, or beyond our capacity to understand? In this case, He would in fact have grounds for such knowledge, but we could not know what these grounds are. But our ignorance of these “grounds” is not the same as saying that they do not exist. In the scriptural examples cited by Molinists and Tiessen, God does in fact have knowledge of future freely chosen actions of human persons. So we know from scripture that He is able to have this knowledge. But we do not know (or better – cannot know) what the grounds for this knowledge are.

    If I am ignorant of something does that mean that that something does not, or cannot exist?

    Hays writes: To the contrary, the whole thing is the result of divine determination. How does God know you so completely that he knows under what circumstances you would yield to temptation to steal? He knows that because he’s responsible for who you are and for your circumstances. Therefore, God is not getting this information from you, as if he were dependent on you for his information.

    Rather, God determines the outcome by determining your character and circumstances alike. And the same factors apply in a hypothetical scenario.

    If God completely determines everything “by determining your character and circumstances alike” then whatever we do and are is completely predetermined by God. And if that is so, then why does he punish eternally people whose character and circumstances were God’s responsibility (“He’s responsible for what you are and your circumstances”)? Hays spoke earlier using the metaphor of a novelist and his novel. So this “divine novelist” predetermines the character and circumstances of every “character” in his novel, he is according to Hays completely responsible for all of this, but then the novelist holds them responsible for their actions?

    Plantinga Fan

    ReplyDelete
  63. Plantinga Fan9/28/2007 9:35 PM

    Plantinga Fan said:
    William Craig in his essay on the grounding objection writes: What is the grounding objection? It is the claim that there are no true counterfactuals concerning what creatures would freely do under certain specified circumstances–the propositions expressed by such counterfactual sentences are said either to have no truth value or to be uniformly false–, since there is nothing to make these counterfactuals true. Because they are contrary–to–fact conditionals and are supposed to be true logically prior to God's creative decree, there is no ground of the truth of such counterfactual propositions. Thus, they cannot be known by God.

    Notice what he says here, there are according to opponents of molinism, supposedly no things that would make these counterfactuals true. And since there are no grounds, then the truth of these kinds of propositions cannot be known by God. I am suggesting what if there are grounds for God to know these kinds of propositions, but in order to know what they are you would have to know how God thinks about future free actions of persons. But since we cannot know how God thinks, we cannot know what these grounds are. And so to argue that the Molinist is not providing them so they do not exist is not a fair criticism. They may exist, and it may be the case that the Molinist or anyone else cannot provide them because to provide them you would need to know how God thinks which we cannot know.

    Greg says: No, but that's not the inference Hays is making. Hays is answering Tiessen on his own terms. It was Tiessen who sought to ground the "truth value" of divine foreknowledge in something: "the factuality of these events" (namely, "what they will freely choose to do in the future"). As he put it, "I have argued that even if God gave creatures libertarian freedom he could know what they will freely choose to do in the future *because* the factuality of these events gives them truth value" (emphasis mine).

    So Tiessen is suggesting what the grounds are. OK, and my point remains, what if no human person can know what the grounds are? Does that then mean that they do not exist? Or that God cannot know the future free actions of persons if they are operating with libertarian freedom? You Calvinists seem to think that it would be impossible for God to know these future free actions if people had libertarian freedom. It has never been shown that libertarian freedom does not exist, and in fact there are strong reasons for believing that it does exist.

    Greg says: To the extent then that *Tiessen* is right that the truth-value needs to be grounded in something, Hays is simply pointing out that grounding it in future events doesn't do the trick. For if divine foreknowledge is, as Hays put it, "in advance of the *fact*" of the human free choice, then *there is no grounds* for the foreknowledge. It doesn't exist when God has the foreknowledge. (I don't think it matters if you construe the 'when' in terms of logical priority or temporal priority.)

    Again, how does he know that it doesn’t or cannot exist? He doesn’t. In order for him to know that he would need to know the mind of God, which he most certainly does not know.

    Greg says: Now, Hays might be right or he might be wrong. But he's not saying anything as obtuse as:

    (i) We are ignorant of the grounds;

    (ii) Therefore, it is likely there are no grounds.

    I did not say that we are ignorant of the grounds therefore it is likely there are no grounds. I said, it could be the case that there are grounds for God knowing the future freely performed action, and if we do not know those grounds (and I argue that we cannot know them because to know them we would need to know how God knows things) it does not follow that since we do not know the ground (or cannot know the grounds) therefore these grounds do not exist. You Calvinists argue: you Molinists do not know upon what grounds these future events are made to be true. And because you do not know, therefore there must be no grounds that make these future events true. But it does not follow that because the Molinist does not know what the grounds are, that there are no grounds.

    You Calvinists claim that the grounds of His future knowledge of events is that he predetermined the event which occurs therefore he knows the event and that it is impossible for God to know future free actions if libertarian freedom is involved. But you do not know how God knows the future either; you simply put your conjecture in the blank. They put middle k in the blank and you put predetermination of all things in the blank, you both assume that you know what goes in the blank. But to know what goes in the blank you would need to know how God knows things, something that is beyond the grasp of both of you. If you don’t and cannot know how God knows things, then you cannot know how God knows future free actions of persons. Because how God knows a particular future free action is wrapped up in how he knows future free actions of persons. And how he knows future free actions of persons is wrapped up in of how he knows. You do not know how he knows, so you don’t know how he knows future free actions of persons. You bypass this little problem and go straight to filling in the blank. If you take a test and the sentence is in a language that you don’t know and is a fill in the blank question, how will you fill in the blank if you don’t even understand the question or context in which the blank is found?

    Steve Hays says: Dr. Welty has already shown that plantinga fan missed the point: I was answering Tiessen on the level at which he chose to frame the issue.

    Both you and Tiessen are disagreeing about what to put in the blank. He says one thing, you argue with his answer. I say neither of you can fill in the blank because neither of you understands the language or context in which the question occurs.

    Steve Hays says: ii) Beyond that, the Bible does inform us that God’s knowledge of the future is indexed to his purpose for the future (e.g. Isa 46:9-11).

    The passage does not say he predetermines every event. It says he knows and declares the end from the beginning. So he knows all things, but that is not the same as saying that he determines all things. The passage also speaks about the fact that he accomplishes the purposes that He has. But he may also have some events which involve his purposes that he accomplishes and some events which he allows or permits. For example he purposes to raise Jesus from the dead after Jesus’ crucifixion, but he may not purpose each event which involves human sin. In order for your view to be established from that text it would have to say that he purposes every event which occurs, it does not say that.

    Consider this, if we say that when Joe gets angry he does X. From this statement it does not follow that Joe is always angry and always does X. Likewise, when God has a purpose that he wants to accomplish, he will accomplish that purpose. But it does not follow from this statement that he purposes every event which occurs.

    I asked:

    “If God completely determines everything ‘by determining your character and circumstances alike’ then whatever we do and are is completely predetermined by God. And if that is so, then why does he punish eternally people whose character and circumstances were God’s responsibility (‘He’s responsible for what you are and your circumstances’)?”

    You replied: I’ve already addressed that objection on many different occasions. And that is also irrelevant to the dialogue with Dr. Tiessen.

    You brought up the novelist metaphor in your initial post in which you wanted to use it to show problems with Molinism. You brought up the metaphor so I am asking you about it because it also shows problems with Calvinism. I have no doubt you have an answer for it, I just wanted to hear what your answer was.

    Plantinga Fan

    ReplyDelete
  64. Plantinga Fan9/28/2007 9:37 PM

    Plantinga Fan said:
    Steve Hays writes: It shows how little regard he has for the authority of Scripture that plantinga fan doesn’t bother to study the interconnections in the text.

    Wow what a logical jump: Hays infers from the fact that I disagree with Calvinism and its interpretation of biblical texts to the conclusion that “it shows how little regard he has for the authority of Scripture.”

    So all who disagree with Calvinism, must then have “little regard for the authority of Scripture”? What an unjustified inference, and prejudicial at that. I hope Hays does not teach a logic class anywhere, students deserve better than that. Actually, it is because I take all of the biblical texts seriously that I reject Calvinism. So it is my commitment to the authority of scripture that causes me to reject the false theological determinism of Calvinism.

    Steve writes: Let’s consult a standard commentary on Isaiah by John Oswalt. As an OT prof. at Asbury, the flagship of Arminian seminaries, Oswalt is hardly predisposed to support a Calvinist reading of Isaiah. Yet this is some of what he has to say:

    Ok, so we are now going to cite an Arminian source to prove that the bible teaches theological determinism as hoped for by Steve Hays?

    Here is the citation: “Here [46:10-11] the three participles make a direct link between predictive prophecy (declaring the outcome at the start) and divine intervention in history (calling from the east a bird of prey)…As several commentators (e.g. Young) have noted, the three participles move from general to particular to specific…In the first instance, God tells in general what will happen in the future. He can do so because the future is fully shaped by his own plans and wishes. This is the same point that was made in ch. 14 concerning Assyria (vv24-27)…The repetition [46:11] serves to emphasize the unshakable connection between promise and the performance, between divine talk and divine action…This parallelism underlines again that the reason God can tell what is going to happen is that what happens is only an outworking of his eternal purposes,” J. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40-66 (Eerdmans 1998), 236-37.

    I believe the two key lines in this citation are:

    [He can do so because the future is fully shaped by his own plans and wishes.]

    [the reasons that God can tell what is going to happen is that what happens is only an outworking of his eternal purposes]

    Now assuming that Oswalt who makes these statements is Arminian, we can safely claim that he believes in libertarian free will on the part of both God and man. We can also safely, I think, claim that Oswalt does not promote or believe in or teach theological determinism as conceived by Calvinists. So could someone who teaches free will in the libertarian sense and who does not hold to the predeterminism of all events make those two statements within his own framework of Arminianism? Of course, and rather easily. In the Arminian conception God is sovereign over His creation and over history so He can shape a history which includes His own interventions, His predetermination of certain events, His allowing or permitting certain events, all in line with a set of “eternal purposes” (e.g., one of His “eternal purposes” could include creating Human persons with libertarian free will, another could be developing and setting up a method of salvation that includes the free decisions of human persons; a method that also includes the free decisions of rejecting the gospel by human persons). Could God conceived in this way by the Arminian “shape” the future by his own plans and wishes, without predetermining every event? Do not Arminians believe that God allows people to freely choose Christ for salvation, and so God foresees that some will make this free will choice and so God elects them? Calvinists may not like this or agree with it, but it certainly would be “in bounds” in respect to the claim that God is “shaping” the future as Oswalt claims.

    In the second line it speaks of God “outworking” what happens according to his eternal purposes. Again, according to an Arminian framework, this outworking could and would include God’s sovereign interventions in history as well as what He permits people to freely choose. In an Arminian framework wouldn’t this outworking include both events which are predetermined such as the cross, and events which are permitted or allowed and result as a consequence of libertarian freedom, such as sinful actions?

    Steve Hays writes: So Isaiah embeds foreknowledge in foreordination. And he states this as a general principle, of which Cyrus is simply a special case.

    Here you merely reassert your own Calvinistic belief that foreknowledge is based upon foreordination. But Oswalt’s statements do not need to be construed in this way at all. And if we asked Oswalt I am quite sure he would not agree that God can only know future events if he has predetermined for them to occur.


    Steve Hays writes: He predetermined the Fall, which is a paradigmatically evil event (Rom 11:32; Gal 3:22). He predetermined the Crucifixion, which is a paradigmatically evil event (Acts 2:23; 4:28). There are many other examples in which sinful deeds are providentially ordered (e.g. Gen 45:5; 50:19-20; Exod 10:1,20; 2 Sam 16:10-11; Is 10:5-7).

    Romans 11:32 = For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.

    Where does it say that God predetermined the fall here? Back in Romans 5:12 it says after directly referring to the fall: and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. God allowed them all to sin (shut up all in disobedience) so that, or in order that, He might show mercy to all. Rom. 11:32 does not say that God predetermined the fall, but it does say that all men have sinned and God did this in order that He might have mercy on all. This claim that God did so with the purpose of having mercy on all, does not fit Calvinism at all. So the verse Hays cites does not say what he wants to believe that it says and at the same time strongly argues against his Calvinism by explicitly asserting that God wants to have mercy on all. The text does not say that God only wants to have mercy on some preselected individuals. It says He allows the universal sin, so that He can have universal mercy. It does not say all will be saved, but it also does not say that He only wants to have mercy on some, the elect.

    Galatians 3:22 = But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

    The phrase “shut up” in the Roman legal system speaks of a situation in which someone is so guilty that their mouth is shut up. In such a condition in the legal proceedings they would even hit the person on the mouth to signify that they are so obviously guilty that they are to be silent (cf. Acts 23:2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth). So in Gal. 3:22 Paul is saying that scripture testifies against mankind, so that all of mankind is shut up under sin, so guilty before God as to be silenced. Paul argued this same point in the early chapters of Romans. It should be noted that Gal. 3:22 also makes no mention of the fall. Actually it states that scripture is what has shut up men. Scripture then shows all men to be guilty of sin before a holy God. So both of Hays prooftexts that God predetermined the fall fail to show this. God foreknew the fall would occur, but the bible does not teach that God predetermined the fall. Calvinism teaches that the fall, like everything else is predetermined by God.

    Steve Hays had brought up the metaphor of the novelist writing his own story. Hays says this is an apt illustration of how God has predetermined all events, in the same way that an author determines every element of his story. Hays then asks: How does that show problems for Calvinism? If a fictitious character commits murder, do we put the novelist on trial for homicide?

    First of all, if a fictitious character in a fictitious story commits murder we do not hold fictional characters responsible for anything nor do we hold the novelist responsible for committing any crime.

    But the Calvinist story involves a real world with real human persons who commit real sins (including murder). In the Calvinist story the characters and circumstances are real and completely predetermined by the novelist, God. These characters are exactly what the novelist wants them to be. They do everything the novelist wants them to do. And yet the Calvinist wants us to believe that these characters ought to be held responsible for their sinful actions. These characters whose every line, every move, is predetermined by the novelist. And yet at the same time the novelist is not responsible. So these characters commit actions which they are predetermined to commit, are judged, and then eternally punished for doing the actions which the novelist wanted them to do.

    And this is all real, none of it is fictional, the poor characters predestined for hell, live real lives, commit real sins, and then are eternally punished in a very real hell. And according to the Calvinist this is all well and good, because whatever the novelist wants to occur in his story is what will happen. Lots of people see all sorts of problems with this scenario, including things such as this scenario literally makes God the author of all sin. This scenario does not show the actions of a good, loving, or merciful person.

    God says some things in scripture (which the Calvinists call the moral will, the revealed will of God) which He then contradicts in the actual outworking of the story (which the Calvinists call the sovereign or secret or decreetal will) what He has revealed in scripture. He says in the bible not to murder, but in His secret will He predetermines every murder that occurs. He says in the bible to treat children decently, but in His secret will He predetermines every act of child molestation in every lurid detail. The examples could be multiplied endlessly. If we want to see what God’s sovereign will is, just look at what is actually happening, and you will see what God has predetermined to occur.

    It is significant that Hays readily admits that God is like a novelist who predetermines all of the circumstances and characters, but when Arminians bring up metaphors such as men being totally controlled like puppets or robots under this framework (the Calvinist framework). The Calvinists respond that this world predetermined by the novelist is different. Puppets and robots are not inanimate objects, they are not real people that have wills and do as they please. And yet in the Calvinist novel the characters please to do only what the novelist wants them to do, has predetermined for them to do.

    The problem is that you say on the one hand that God predetermines every circumstance and what character people will have, like a novelist writing up his story. But then on the other hand these human persons are held responsible for doing what they had to do, with each and every one of their actions being necessitated. This would be no problem if He had all of the characters doing the right thing. But in this supposed story, He has people doing some extremely evil actions, suffering incredible circumstances, and then most of them going to eternal punishment for doing the very things they had to do. That is cruel and unusual punishment and does not seem to fit the God as revealed in the bible, who reveals Himself as loving, good, merciful (cf. Rom. 11:32 that he might show mercy to all), desiring for all to be saved, etc. etc. There are some major disconnections between God as He has revealed Himself in the bible, and Steve Hays’ conception of a novelist who predetermines everything in his story.

    Plantinga Fan

    ReplyDelete
  65. Plantinga Fan9/28/2007 9:40 PM

    Plantinga Fan said:
    Properly Basic thanks for a great post.

    You wrote: In terms of sovereignty it was God prior to creation who saw it fit to actualize this possible world. He could have created a different world, one with different people and consequences but he saw it good to create the one we know. There are better ways to discuss sovereignty than to attribute all events to God. Sovereignty is not synonymous with causation.

    Right, and in his sovereignty if He wanted us to have libertarian freedom then that is what we have. I also like your point that sovereignty is not synonymous with causation. That is in my opinion, the key error made by Calvinists: instead of defining sovereignty biblically as he does as He pleases in all situations and can control any situation or circumstance. They equate sovereignty with total determinism. So if he has not determined everything, he is not sovereign and cannot be in control, in their opinion.

    Properly Basic wrote: Precision and detail were never primary functions for Hebrew authors, but story telling was huge. That's one reason I believe Western bible readers interpret the bible so poorly. We read it like the Greeks!

    Very good point, the bible tells stories, it does not present syllogisms. Though correct syllogisms can be drawn from it.

    You quoted Craig: Craig put's it like this: 'In Hebrew thought they have this extraordinarily strong sense of divine sovereignty in which everything that happens in a sense can be attributed to God but they don't see this as antithetical or exclusive of human freedom by any means. A beautiful illustration of this is the story of Saul's suicide in 1 Samuel 31:4, 5 and 1 Chronicles 10:14. In Samuel it describes Saul as he sees the Philistines about to take him and so in order to avoid capture by the Philistines Saul falls on his own sword and commits suicide. In the Chronicles account we have the same story with Saul committing suicide but the Chronicler adds this commentary, "thus the Lord slew Saul" (1 Chronicles 10:14).' And so there is this sense that both Saul and God are responsible for the suicide - Saul more directly of course. It seems to me there is a Jewish understanding of God's directive will (a will in which he is the effective cause of an event) and his permissive will (a will in which he permits the acts of his creation).

    Where is this in Craig? I would appreciate the citation, thanks.
    I make a similar distinction as the one mentioned here: events that God directly determines, interventions, and events which God allows or permits. Craig says it is the directive will and the permissive will. When God speaks of His purposes being done with nothing stopping him, it is referring to interventions where he “puts his foot down.” But when it comes to mundane ordinary events, such as should I tie my shoe now or a few seconds from now, the permissive will is probably involved (though even the smallest detail may be involved when He intervenes).

    Properly Basic wrote: There are countless Jewish examples of this in scripture. We might remember the Joseph story where he acknowledges both the will of men and God. And I quote, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive" (Gen 50:20). I don't think we want to interpret the Jewish understanding of sovereignty in such a way as to obliterate human free agency thereby relieving men from responsibility. The Jews didn't, why should we? Joseph seemed to understand that it was his brothers who sold him into slavery.

    The Joseph story is a good example. In the story every event had to occur in the sequence in which it occurred for him to end up where God wanted him to be. And yet some of these events involved the free will actions of human persons. God knew what they would do and allowed them to do it (including evil actions such as the brothers putting him in the pit, selling him into slavery, the phony rape charge by Potiphar’s wife, etc.) So God achieved the outcome that he wanted to occur, and yet everyone is responsible for the actions they did. Sovereignty and responsibility simultaneously occurring. Could God have miraculously delivered Joseph from prison? Yes if He had wanted to, but that was not the way God allowed it to go.

    This story may also involve what Thomists call dual intentionality, an event in which two intentions are operating, God to accomplish his purpose, man to do what he wants to do in the situation. This kind of dual intentionality occurs occasionally and may also account for some events such as the way the scripture is both God’s Word and also written in the styles of the human authors. But we also have to differentiate occasional cases of dual intentionality from the claim of total predetermination of events/calvinism.

    Properly Basic brings up the confession: The Westminster Confession understand that all things are conceived in God's intellect in eternity, are planned and ordered in time according to His wisdom, and then "fall out" (from the Westminster Confession) by His will in time as either necessary, contingent or free actions. This is the logical and real-time progression. The whole process is called Providence.

    The key words that jump out of this quotation are: by His will in time as either necessary, contingent or free actions. Necessary would refer to events that are determined when He puts His foot down. Contingent would refer to events in which the actions of persons were involved (actions they did, but were not compelled to do). For me the free actions would be actions involving libertarian free will, though the compatibilists would take this in the compatibilist way.

    Properly basic brought up a quote from Witherinton: As Witherington wisely says, "The problem with John Piper and other scholars who read the Bible as if it were written by Augustine or Calvin rather than by early Jews, is that they do not understand how early Jews thought about these subjects, which involves allowing there to be more than one source of causation in the universe. The alternative is indeed to make God the author of what God in fact calls evil repeatedly in Scripture--- which is a huge besmirching of the character of God. It is equally problematic to make God's sovereignty the hermeneutical key by which then one tries to fit God's other attributes into a procrustean bed. For example God's love or God's desire that none should perish but all have everlasting life (see e.g. Jn. 3.16-17; 1 Tim. 2.6) do not fit the Augustinian understanding of sovereignty. And while we are at it, Ephes. 1.11 simply tells us that God is almighty to save. It is in no way a commentary on the cause of evil and tragedy in this world."

    Properly basic could you be so kind as to share where this quotation comes from? I have a friend who says he is a both/and kinda guy, meaning that he believes that God is sovereign and we have libertarian free will, and both are simultaneously present in the world. Mr. Both/And can handle any verses that you throw at him! :-)

    Properly basic continues with: BWIII continues, "But perhaps the greatest failure of the Piper model of sovereignty is that it gets wrong the whole nature of God's love, which involves freedom not only on the part of God but also real freedom of response on the part of those he is wooing and loving. It is a case of "freely you have received, freely give". Love is not something that can be predetermined and still be love. Automata are not capable of love. And as 1 John reminds us in so many ways God is love. This I would suggest must affect the way we think about God's sovereignty or else we are actually Moslems, not Christians with a belief in pure fatalism, all things predetermined. The alternative to Augustinianism is not Deism-- it is rather a full orbed view of all of God's attributes including God's love. God is not the only actor in the universe whose will matters, and this is because God chose for it to be otherwise from before the foundations of the universe."

    What he calls pure fatalism, as Muslims hold to, is the same kind of theological determinism as that of Calvinists. And it has the same problems. I like the phrase a full orbed view, because the goal is to hold all of the Lord’s attributes together. God is really the only actor in the universe if Hays’ novelist God is carrying out his completely predetermined story. Again, where is this quote from Witherington, I like to have citations of good quotes like this.

    Thanks for your post Properly Basic, now you just need to be ready for the Calvinist response that you will certainly receive! Batten down the hatches!

    Plantinga Fan

    PS- I have reposted some posts here because Steve Hays said they would be deleted out of another thread, that they would be more appropriate here.

    ReplyDelete
  66. plantinga fan said...

    “The passage (e.g. Isa 46:9-11) does not say he predetermines every event. It says he knows and declares the end from the beginning. So he knows all things, but that is not the same as saying that he determines all things.”

    It shows how little regard he has for the authority of Scripture that plantinga fan doesn’t bother to study the interconnections in the text. Let’s consult a standard commentary on Isaiah by John Oswalt. As an OT prof. at Asbury, the flagship of Arminian seminaries, Oswalt is hardly predisposed to support a Calvinist reading of Isaiah. Yet this is some of what he has to say:

    “Here [46:10-11] the three participles make a direct link between predictive prophecy (declaring the outcome at the start) and divine intervention in history (calling from the east a bird of prey)…As several commentators (e.g. Young) have noted, the three participles move from general to particular to specific…In the first instance, God tells in general what will happen in the future. He can do so because the future is fully shaped by his own plans and wishes. This is the same point that was made in ch. 14 concerning Assyria (vv24-27)…The repetition [46:11] serves to emphasize the unshakable connection between promise and the performance, between divine talk and divine action…This parallelism underlines again that the reason God can tell what is going to happen is that what happens is only an outworking of his eternal purposes,” J. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah Chapters 40-66 (Eerdmans 1998), 236-37.

    So Isaiah embeds foreknowledge in foreordination. And he states this as a general principle, of which Cyrus is simply a special case.

    “But he may also have some events which involve his purposes that he accomplishes and some events which he allows or permits. For example he purposes to raise Jesus from the dead after Jesus’ crucifixion, but he may not purpose each event which involves human sin.”

    He predetermined the Fall, which is a paradigmatically evil event (Rom 11:32; Gal 3:22). He predetermined the Crucifixion, which is a paradigmatically evil event (Acts 2:23; 4:28). There are many other examples in which sinful deeds are providentially ordered (e.g. Gen 45:5; 50:19-20; Exod 10:1,20; 2 Sam 16:10-11; Is 10:5-7).

    “You brought up the novelist metaphor in your initial post in which you wanted to use it to show problems with Molinism. You brought up the metaphor so I am asking you about it because it also shows problems with Calvinism. I have no doubt you have an answer for it, I just wanted to hear what your answer was.”

    How does that show problems for Calvinism? If a fictitious character commits murder, do we put the novelist on trial for homicide?

    “Wow what a logical jump: Hays infers from the fact that I disagree with Calvinism and its interpretation of biblical texts to the conclusion that ‘it shows how little regard he has for the authority of Scripture’.”

    Since I didn’t refer to a Calvinist for my exegesis of the text, you are now the one who’s making the logical jump, not me.

    “So all who disagree with Calvinism, must then have ‘little regard for the authority of Scripture’?”

    You know, I don’t have to put up with these smartass caricatures of what I said. Posting comments is a privilege, not a right. You’re a guest here. If you don’t know how to act like a guest, I can make you go away.

    This is your first, last, and only warning. I’m not going to take the time to correct all of your sophomoric distortions of what I actually said. So shape up or you will find all of your comments magically disappear.

    “Ok, so we are now going to cite an Arminian source to prove that the bible teaches theological determinism as hoped for by Steve Hays?”

    Yes, it’s standard practice to quote a concession from the opposing side. Since someone on the other side of the debate can’t be accused of having a vested interest in conceding a point to his opponents, such concessions are valuable in debate. An example would be when a Darwinian candidly admits weaknesses in the theory or evidence.

    “Now assuming that Oswalt who makes these statements is Arminian, we can safely claim that he believes in libertarian free will on the part of both God and man. We can also safely, I think, claim that Oswalt does not promote or believe in or teach theological determinism as conceived by Calvinists.”

    Actually, many Bible scholars go out of their way to avoid prejudging their interpretation of the text—by distancing exegetical theology from systematic theology, even if they themselves adhere to a particular theological tradition. They do not start with systematic theology, and interpret the text accordingly. Rather, they avoid introducing systematic theology into their exegetical deliberations at that stage in the hermeneutical process.

    i) Plantinga fan then proceeds to gloss Oswalt’s exegesis in such as way as to leave out Oswalt’s explicit connection between God’s knowledge of the future and his purpose for the future, in which the former is grounded in the later. Plantinga fan treats the will of God and the knowledge of God in separation, thereby isolating what Isaiah nested—contrary to Oswalt’s careful exegesis of text.

    ii) In addition, Oswalt also admits that Isaiah’s argument moves from the general principle to a specific application—which undercuts plantinga fan’s objection at another point.

    iii) Plantinga fan makes no attempt to offer an integrated, alternative exegesis of the text. His only concern is to diffuse and defuse the exegesis of Oswalt.

    iv) BTW, plantinga fan’s resistance to Oswalt’s exegesis shows how disingenuous he is when he professes to be agnostic about “how” God knows the future. Far from being agnostic, plantinga fan is dead-set against indexing God’s knowledge of the future to his foreordination of the future. So Plantinga fan simply dissembles when he feigns agnosticism on this question. He is far from being noncommittal on the subject.

    “Here you merely reassert your own Calvinistic belief that foreknowledge is based upon foreordination. But Oswalt’s statements do not need to be construed in this way at all.”

    To the contrary, I’m summarizing his *explicit* exegetical conclusions.

    “And if we asked Oswalt I am quite sure he would not agree that God can only know future events if he has predetermined for them to occur.”

    i) This is just hand-waving in the face of what Oswalt actually wrote.

    ii) Moreover, what *Oswalt* personally believes about the relation between foreknowledge and foreordination is irrelevant to what *Isaiah* believes. The role of an exegete is not to state his *own* beliefs, but to explicate the beliefs of the *author* he is exegeting.

    iii) And notice plantinga fan’s duplicity. If I were to quote a Reformed exegete (e.g. Ridderbos, Young) on Isaiah, he would dismiss that interpretation out of hand has coming from a Calvinist. But when I quote an Arminian exegete to prove the same point, he also tries to explain that away. So he will never accept any exegesis from any quarter that contradicts his libertarian precommitments.

    “Where does it say [Rom 11:32] that God predetermined the fall here?”

    i) Because it’s an allusion to Rom 5. As N. T. Wright (not a Calvinist) points out in his commentary on Romans, “In order to understand and appreciate the point Paul is making, we have to cast our minds back through the long argument of the letter so far. He declared, and demonstrated, that the whole human race was under the power of sin. All were “in Adam,” The New Interpreter’s Bible, 10:694.

    ii) And Paul, in 11:32, attributes this event to the agency of God, as a means to a higher end.

    “Back in Romans 5:12 it says after directly referring to the fall: and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. God allowed them all to sin.”

    Paul doesn’t say that God “allowed” them to sin, either in Rom 5:12 or 11:32.

    “Rom. 11:32 does not say that God predetermined the fall.”

    It attributes the fall to divine agency, and causes precede their effects.

    “This claim that God did so with the purpose of having mercy on all, does not fit Calvinism at all.”

    Now he’s changing the subject. Even if this were a prooftext for universalism, it wouldn’t change the note of divine predetermination.

    I’ve discussed universal quantifiers on more than one occasion. I don’t have to repeat myself here. And God’s ultimate objective in decreeing the fall irrelevant to whether he did, indeed, foreordain the fall.

    Plantinga fan wouldn’t resort to this diversionary tactic except on the tacit admission that it does teach divine predetermination, and so he has to cast about for some other way to deflect attention away from the Reformed reading.

    “So the verse Hays cites does not say what he wants to believe that it says and at the same time strongly argues against his Calvinism by explicitly asserting that God wants to have mercy on all.”

    I was citing it to prove a different point, which this objection does nothing to obviate.

    “The text does not say that God only wants to have mercy on some preselected individuals. It says He allows the universal sin, so that He can have universal mercy.”

    Notice, once again, that he’s trying to shift attention away from what it says about sin to what it says about mercy—as if what it says about mercy subtracts from what it says about sin.

    “It should be noted that Gal. 3:22 also makes no mention of the fall.”

    It doesn’t have to since it forms a Pauline parallel to Rom 11:32—as various commentators recognize. What sin imprisons “everyone”? Original sin (Rom 5; 1 Cor 15).

    “So both of Hays prooftexts that God predetermined the fall fail to show this. God foreknew the fall would occur, but the bible does not teach that God predetermined the fall. Calvinism teaches that the fall, like everything else is predetermined by God.”

    Notice how he simply reinterprets inconvenient verses to make them say what the do not say. Rom 11:32 doesn’t say that God “foreknew” the fall. Rather, it refers to a prior action of God, precipitating that event.

    “First of all, if a fictitious character in a fictitious story commits murder we do not hold fictional characters responsible for anything nor do we hold the novelist responsible for committing any crime.”

    Which illustrates the limitations of the metaphor.

    “And yet the Calvinist wants us to believe that these characters ought to be held responsible for their sinful actions.”

    That’s because I don’t use metaphors as a substitute for argument or exegesis. Rather, I used metaphors to illustrate truths which are established independent of the metaphor.

    The Bible is full of metaphors as well, but that doesn’t authorize us to pull them in every conceivable direction. The question, rather, is what was the metaphor deployed to illustrate—and is it analogous in that particular respect?

    “And this is all real, none of it is fictional, the poor characters predestined for hell, live real lives, commit real sins, and then are eternally punished in a very real hell.”

    I distinguish between exegetics and apologetics. Unlike a closet humanist such as plantinga fan, I don’t begin with what is the easiest position to defend, then shade my exegesis to make my apologetic task easiest.

    Libertarians constantly raise these moralistic objections, as if that’s a knock against Reformed theology. To the contrary, every time they cast these issue in such terms, they’re admitting that their own theology is agenda-driven. They refuse to stare Scripture square in the face because they regarding certain exegetical conclusions as a priori unacceptable.

    They begin with their foregone conclusion that God would never do such a thing, then invent a nice little backstory to narrate their foregone conclusion.

    “Lots of people see all sorts of problems with this scenario.”

    Yes, that’s true—which is utterly irrelevant to disinterested exegesis and sound theological method. Exegesis isn’t a beauty pageant or popularity contest.

    “Including things such as this scenario literally makes God the author of all sin.”

    Since, in this context, “authorship” is a literary metaphor, it would, at most, *figuratively* make God the author of sin—not literally. It would also figuratively make God the potter, and we the clay. Fancy that!

    “God says some things in scripture (which the Calvinists call the moral will, the revealed will of God) which He then contradicts in the actual outworking of the story (which the Calvinists call the sovereign or secret or decreetal will) what He has revealed in scripture. He says in the bible not to murder, but in His secret will He predetermines every murder that occurs. He says in the bible to treat children decently, but in His secret will He predetermines every act of child molestation in every lurid detail.”

    I’ve been over this ground many times before, from many different angles. I’ve discussed the explicit Scriptural basis for this. I’ve discussed the morality of this. And I’ve also discussed how easy it is to raise moralistic objections to the libertarian alternatives—all of which plantinga fan disregards.

    i) There are Scriptural examples which illustrate the difference between God’s preceptive will and his decretive will (e.g. Gen 22; Exod 4:21-22; 7:2-3; Isa 10:5-7).

    ii) If you’re looking for a philosophical justification as to how determination is consistent with responsibility, study the compatibilist literature (e.g. John Martin Fischer).

    Plantinga fan simply regurgitates the same schoolboy objections to determinism that have always been around, as if no one had ever responded to these objections before.

    iii) What is the Arminian God doing for the victim of child rape at the time the rapist is molesting him or her?

    What would plantinga fan do in the same situation? Wouldn’t he feel it was incumbent upon him to intervene to stop it or prevent if he could? But, in so doing, he would violate the freewill of the child rapist.

    Yet, in his theology, God doesn’t do what he would do. God doesn’t step in to prevent the crime. God won’t violate the freewill of the child rapist, although that’s what plantinga fan would be prepared to do.

    iv) According to plantinga fan, God foreknew this event, but he didn’t plan it to happen that way. He could see it coming, but it was an unplanned event. He didn’t plan for it to happen that way, even though he knew it would occur—in exactly that way. Is that the least bit coherent?

    v) By choosing to create the world in full knowledge of the outcome, God made the occurrence of this crime both possible and certain. He actualized this possibility. So how does the Arminian God evade complicity?

    Don’t appeal to freewill, since freewill allows for more than one outcome. So God didn’t have to actualize this particular outcome.

    vi) And, according to plantinga fan, it happens for no good reason. It’s a gratuitous evil. If God didn’t purpose for this to happen, then it can serve no good purpose in the will of God.

    This examples show, once again, how craven and duplicitous folks like plantinga fan are. They don’t hesitate to use arguments which could be turned against them in a flash if they got into a debate with a quick-witted atheist.

    “It is significant that Hays readily admits that God is like a novelist who predetermines all of the circumstances and characters, but when Arminians bring up metaphors such as men being totally controlled like puppets or robots under this framework (the Calvinist framework). The Calvinists respond that this world predetermined by the novelist is different. Puppets and robots are not inanimate objects, they are not real people that have wills and do as they please. And yet in the Calvinist novel the characters please to do only what the novelist wants them to do, has predetermined for them to do.”

    I never said I object to the idea of total control. And you can illustrate that narrow idea however you please.

    Any metaphor is potentially suitable as long as it’s analogous at the immediate point of comparison. The problem is when it’s overextended to the point where the parallel falls apart.

    “Properly basic brought up a quote from Witherinton: As Witherington wisely says, ‘The problem with John Piper and other scholars who read the Bible as if it were written by Augustine or Calvin rather than by early Jews, is that they do not understand how early Jews thought about these subjects, which involves allowing there to be more than one source of causation in the universe’.”

    i) An ignorant straw man argument since confessional Calvinism is committed to a doctrine of second causes.

    So we have plantinga fan ignorantly quoting Properly basic, ignorantly quoting Witherington’s ignorant statement.

    ii) BTW, I reviewed Witherington’s book when it first came out—as well as his commentary on Romans.

    “It is a case of ‘freely you have received, freely give’.”

    Ripping the verse out of context. In context, it isn’t referring to the faculty of the will (i.e. libertarian freedom), but to the fact that something doesn’t cost you anything.

    “Love is not something that can be predetermined and still be love. Automata are not capable of love.”

    These are standard Arminian slogans. Slogans in lieu of arguments. Slogans that beg the question every step of the way.

    “This I would suggest must affect the way we think about God's sovereignty or else we are actually Moslems, not Christians with a belief in pure fatalism, all things predetermined.”

    Yet another ignorant straw man argument, as if fatalism and determinism are synonymous. This evinces a studied ignorance of the theological and philosophical literature.

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  67. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  68. Plantinga Fan: stay clear from these parts. It's bad for your spirit. Send me a link to your page if you have one. Or drop by

    http://myspace.com/DEFEATINGDEFEATERS

    Steve so kindly wrote, “Yet another ignorant straw man argument, as if fatalism and determinism are synonymous. This evinces a studied ignorance of the theological and philosophical literature.”

    Steve, your unwillingness to associate your [system] with a kind of fatalism or determinism doesn’t preclude the good possibility that indeed you do resemble quite closely those very systems. Don’t be too quick to call so much “yet another ignorant straw man argument!” You do that quite often. Perhaps, you need to reflect a little on self.

    You also wrote, "this evinces a studied ignorance of the theological and philosophical literature."

    Should I think that you’re a stupid idiot because of your inability to wrap your head around the various problems built-in your systematic theology?

    Cheers, buddy!

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  69. PF:

    You responded to my claim that you had misinterpreted Scripture with a lengthy set of questions (presumably intended to be rhetorical). Your concluding demand "You claim to know, tell me" is going to be answered by:

    Do a little reading. Plenty of folks on both sides have explained. If you don't know their explanation, your dogmatic antignosticism has been exposed as mere tantrum.

    I would have similar remarks to make about your bizarre refusal to interact meaningfully with what Steve Hays has to say, but I don't feel additional time is warranted on this.

    Steve has already fully answered each of the objections presented (even those that have strayed rather far from the subject of this post) and I don't think there's much I can add.

    -Turretinfan

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  70. Plantinga Fan10/03/2007 4:33 PM

    Properly Basic wrote: Plantinga Fan: stay clear from these parts. It's bad for your spirit. Send me a link to your page if you have one. Or drop by

    http://myspace.com/DEFEATINGDEFEATERS

    Thanks for the warning. You are correct the acid-laced comments and hate emanating from here, is really not good for the spirit. They seem to believe that insults and venom are a proper substitute for reasoned arguments. I much prefer reasoned arguments, than the things on offer here.

    Properly Basic I attempted to contact you through the site that you mention above and was unsuccessful. I also tried to contact you through “Metaphysician” who is pictured on your blog. Send your email address to him and he can then send it to me.

    I appreciated your comments here, and you are correct, it is best to stay clear of these parts.

    Plantinga Fan

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  71. defeatingdefeaters@yahoo.com

    blessings

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  72. Thanks PF and PB for the conversation.

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