Saturday, December 08, 2007

Time, tense, and freedom

Libertarian freedom is commonly defined as the freedom to do otherwise in the same situation. On that definition, it assumes that an agent has the power to access and instantiate alternate possibilities.

But even if you agree in principle, there are some severe restrictions on this principle. And they are related to the divisions of time. We make decisions about the future in the present (or specious present). So we only have the freedom to choose between A and B. Either A or B. We cannot choose both. Hence, simultaneity imposes a limitation on libertarian freedom—even if you grant the principle.

Turretin Fan just did a post on this subject:

http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2007/12/choice-transitive-vs-intransitive.html

I’m taking the occasion to generalize this argument, and pull together some other things I’ve said.

This is a metaphysical restriction on libertarian freedom which is imposed by the nature of time. Libertarians have to accept this restriction because they have no choice in the matter!

Indeed, there’s even a coercive element to simultaneity. It forces you to choose between one thing and another.

But in that respect it’s an ad hoc restriction on the libertarian principle. Ideally, the libertarian principle would unconditional. The freedom to do otherwise without temporal impediments.

If libertarians could make time more flexible, there are occasions in which they would surely prefer to choose both A and B. It’s rather than ordering from a menu at a gourmet restaurant. It’s hard to choose because there is more than one equally delicious entrée, but you can’t eat them all at one sitting.

Or, to take a more serious example, a single Christian may be in love with more than one woman. And he may be in a position to marry either one. And he could make a wonderful life with either woman. But he has to choose. And each choice presents mutually exclusive goods. The goods unique to one marriage aren’t interchangeable with the goods unique to another.

Life confronts us with certain tradeoffs. That’s a large part of what makes fiction appealing. We can vicariously lead more than one life. Imaginatively exercise another option. The road not taken. In fiction, we can go down both roads.

But if the present limits our freedom to do otherwise, the past imposes a far more draconian restriction. The technical term for this is the accidental necessity of the past. And the necessity of the past is implicit in the restriction on simultaneous choice.


Even if you had the freedom to do otherwise, once you go through one door, all the other doors lock behind you. Once your present decision is past, it is unchangeable. Sometimes you can do something to reverse the effect of your decision, by you can’t reverse your decision. And, oftentimes, you can’t do much to reverse the effect of your decision.

That’s a major source of human regret. And the older you get, the more likely you are to say to yourself, “If only I could go back in time and do it all over again, I’d give anything to take that back!” The lost opportunities begin to accumulate.

And it isn’t always a regret over having made the wrong choice. In many cases, I may be happy with the choices I made.

The source of my discontent lies with my having had to make those choices. Even if they were good choices, they were not the only good choices. Libertarians like to talk about alternate possibilities, and this includes alternate goods. But you only get to choose one set of goods over another.

Once again, this limitation is not a logical implication of libertarianism. Left to its own devices, libertarians would probably prefer retrocausation. But time’s arrow is irreversible.

And this also reflects on our future limitations. Even if you suppose that the future is wide-open, in the sense of being indeterminate, such that human agents are co-creators of the future, the freedom to affect or even effect the future is of limited value unless you know in advance the future consequences of your present choices.

That, too, is a major source of regret. If we had known the outcome, we would often have chosen differently. That’s why we rue the necessity of the past. It’s locked in place before we have a chance to size it up.

We can speculate over the consequences of a given course of action, and choose accordingly, but this is—at best—an educated guess. In many cases, if we could actually foresee how each domino would fall, we would have chosen a different course of action.

But, by definition, an open future is a conjectural future. Unless and until it eventuates, the outcome is unknowable. And because it’s unknowable, you don’t know what’s in store for you further down the line. Each choice forecloses prior possibilities and generates a new set of possibilities (if you accept the libertarian premise).

And that’s the temporal paradox of libertarianism. You may have power over the future, but you don’t know what you’re getting into. You don’t know what future you’re ordering until it’s too late to put it back in the box and return it to the future for a refund.

Once more, this is an ad hoc restriction on the libertarian position. If he had his druthers, a libertarian would either like to test the consequences of each choice, or foresee the consequences of each possible outcome, and then finalize his choice, forearmed with a knowledge of what that choice was going to entail. But the metaphysical structure of time doesn’t respect his libertarian sentiments or scruples. The libertarian is not at liberty to do a test run, to experiment with each option, and then actualize the best option.

Time is the human agent’s field of action. Yet the past, present, and future all conspire to circumscribe the human agent’s field of action in ways that drastically truncate the libertarian impulse.

I’d add, on a final note, that a Calvinist who takes his theology to heart is not as regretful about the past. He knows that, in the providence of God, as long as he made conscientious decisions, he’s not going to ruin his life. And even if he made some sinful decisions, God will work all things together for the ultimate good.

47 comments:

  1. One other thing I'll point is the common human fallacy of ignoring the seemingly non-essential. We see this often in statistical analysis, which I've gone over before here and here. While those dealt with trying to determine specific attributes that caused certain effects, the principal can be extended to the free will discussion too.

    For instance, the Libertarian argues, as you started out, for the "freedom to do otherwise in the same situation." But when weighing any particular choice, since we are finite creatures we have to ignore myriad characters and attributes surrounding the choice. To take a simple example, suppose we are told to choose between chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

    This seems fairly straightforward, until we begin to examine the "hidden" characters that we take for granted. Let's take just one: Did we choose for the option to be given us in the first place?

    If we did not choose to be presented with the option to choose vanilla or chocolate, then our choice is predicated on something that is outside of our control (just as much, I might add, as physical inabilities are outside of our control--such as being lactose intollerant). If we did not choose to be presented with this option then we have no ability to do otherwise here.

    So not only is it the case that we can only choose one option at any point in time, but we have no control over the variables that get us to that very choice in the first place.

    To tie this into the Calvinism/Arminian discussions, let us suppose for the sake of argument that Christ does say "You can choose A) eternal salvation or B) eternal damnation" and you have the ability to choose other than what you do when you make a choice. Even if this is the case, you do not have the option to say, "I don't want to make the choice in the first place." And because you do not have that optino, you do not have the ability to do otherwise in this situation. You have to make a choice.

    So even granting libertarianism for as long as possible, there can be no actual libertarian choices given this definition of freedom.

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  2. You will have to define "Liberterian freedom"


    I say this because alot of free willers refuse to embrace what you define as "liberterian freedom".

    I am a synergist so I don't believe mankind is "free from God". How can we be free from God when we are simultaniously co-working/co-moving with God? I can't be free from someone I am with!


    So if you put that in your definition of "liberterian freedom" then I will automatically reject it.


    I also believe that our free will is "limited"


    So if you define "liberterian freedom" as some type of "unlimited freedom of the will" then I will automatically reject it.


    So define "liberterian freedom"





    JNORM888

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  3. The definition of libertarian free will that was being discussed was Robert's (and Henry, but I repeat myself) version, which stipulates a choice is only free if the agent has the freedom to do otherwise in the same situation.

    This was the opening paragraph of Steve's piece, BTW. If it doesn't fit your view, it's because it was dealing with Robert. :-)

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  4. JNORM,

    There are a couple of foils here actually.

    1. Godismyjudge is debating LFW with Turretinfan on his blog. GIMJ's version is, as I recall distinct from RobertHenronyemo's.

    2. Robert is not a strict Arminian. However, we generally use Arminian for "libertarian."

    3. Robert introduces ad hoc restrictions into his definition of LFW. On the hand, he's willing to grant that some events are determined (the murder of the Lord Jesus) and that God can deterministically inspire an inerrant autograph of Scripture, but then in matters pertaining to individual salvation, he introduces restrictions without argument. He says men are "robots" with respect to "exhaustive determinism," yet he then speaks contrariwise to some things. This is what you get when you don't get a positive exegetical argument from Robert. It would help us if he would just be up front about what his restrictions are and why.

    4. Strictly speaking, LFW would not mean we are free from God completely, rather, it would mean we do have contracausal freedom such that our choices are not determined in a twofold manner:

    a. By God's decrees and providence
    b. By desires, reasons, etc. such that these are sufficient causes to our actions.

    Anything that denies b is not a libertarian argument.

    Anything that denies a is also not a libertarian argument. Molinism would be a case in point, for if God instantiates this world and not any other possible world and then interferes to ensure particular outcomes, then choices cease to be free in a libertarian sense, for they are determined.

    So, what happens is that "free willers" end up introducing ad hoc restrictions into LFW to hold onto their libertarianism.

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  5. I find this latest thread started by Steve Hays to be fascinating. I really want to get into this thread, but must present a disclaimer first. I am in the midst of moving, and that includes moving a few thousand books, so I may or may not have much time to post much in the coming days. That having been said I want to comment briefly on the post of Jnorm.

    “You will have to define "Libertarian freedom"”

    I agree with Jnorm here, as much of what Steve Hays was saying about restrictions on choices is stuff I would agree with. And yet Pike says my view is what is being challenged here. Seems more like a caricature or straw man of my view is being challenged here. I do not believe that everything has been predetermined by God (i.e., I reject exhaustive determinism). I do believe that we experience choices as ordinarily understood, sometimes.

    I think an error being made here is what I call the Bucay error. Bucay is a famous psychotherapist who in one of his books discusses the error of confusing having a choice with being omnipotent. Having a choice means that you can actualize multiple available alternatives in a particular situation. But having a choice is to be distinguished from being omnipotent (which Bucay says occurs when people define free will as being able to do whatever you want whenever you want to do it with no restrictions on your will whatsoever; Bucay also argues this is both immature and out of touch with reality). No one has this "omnipotence" argues Bucay (and he is correct), even God cannot do everything (e.g., God cannot lie, God cannot engage in nonsense such as creating a rock that he cannot lift . . . ).

    Some people apparently believe that they can do whatever they want whenever they want to do so. I think that some calvinists prop up this mistaken view of free will as “libertarian free will” and then attack that. But I don’t hold that view of free will and I am sure that Jnorm does not hold such a view either. In fact no libertarian that I know holds such a view. So if this is what calvinists believe that we libertarians believe they are creating a straw man intentionally or unintentionally.

    “I say this because alot of free willers refuse to embrace what you define as "libertarian freedom".”

    Right, we “free willers” do not believe that having free will is to be omnipotent (what I call the Bucay error).

    “I am a synergist so I don't believe mankind is "free from God". How can we be free from God when we are simultaneously co-working/co-moving with God? I can't be free from someone I am with!”

    Jnorm is right here. Bible believing Christians who believe that God is sovereign never believe that we are completely “free from God”. And if we are living the Christian life in a way that produces fruit then we are abiding in Christ, definitely not free from Him or His influence.

    “So if you put that in your definition of "libertarian freedom" then I will automatically reject it.”

    I think Jnorm and I are both seeing that the Triablogers are setting up and knocking down an easy target, a straw man, not a strong libertarian position at all.

    “I also believe that our free will is "limited"”

    Preach it brother! I also preach and teach that our “free will” is very limited. As finite limited creatures we are very limited. Sometimes the most easy things become difficult due to circumstances beyond our control. And regarding being in control we are never in control, and seeking to be in control of your circumstances is a subtle version of playing God.

    “So if you define "libertarian freedom" as some type of "unlimited freedom of the will" then I will automatically reject it.”

    Again, I completely agree with Jnorm here. This “unlimited freedom of the will” concept is again what Bucay calls mistaking free will for omnipotence. We have choices sometimes, but our choices are subject to influence or restriction by all sorts of factors out of our control. If the Triablogers want to argue and assume that libertarian free will means “unlimited freedom of the will” they are dealing with imaginary libertarians. That is not what we believe at all.

    “So define "libertarian freedom"”

    Yea, why don’t you Triablogers define “libertarian freedom” so we can see if that is what we believe or not. Until you do so, and if you continue to parade this straw man that free will means “unlimited freedom of the will”, you won’t be dealing with our view of free will at all. And if you really want to refute our view you had better make sure you are taking aim at the right target. If you do not, you will just keep shooting yourself in the foot.

    Robert

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  6. It would seem to me that JNORM and Robert need to clearly define what they mean by LFW. I mean, why would the Triablogue team have to define it in the first place and second, it seems that they define it the way it is defined in literature.

    It is hard to interact about a subject matter when it is hard to pin down a moving target. When the common view of LWF is engaged it seems that you guys move the target and say, well that is not what we mean by LFW. Tell them then what it is you believe. It seems clear to this reader at least that you guys may not have a concrete definition of LFW. It is always limited, not free, etc. ?

    In order to save a great deal of time it would be of great help if you guys gave a concrete definition of what you mean by LFW?

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  7. ROBERT SAID:

    “Yea, why don’t you Triablogers define ‘libertarian freedom” so we can see if that is what we believe or not. Until you do so, and if you continue to parade this straw man that free will means ‘unlimited freedom of the will’, you won’t be dealing with our view of free will at all. And if you really want to refute our view you had better make sure you are taking aim at the right target. If you do not, you will just keep shooting yourself in the foot.”

    Let’s see. I defined my terms in the very first paragraph of my post. Was Robert drunk when he read it?

    I defined libertarianism as freedom to do otherwise in the same situation. And this isn’t *my* definition, per se. This is the definition that Hasker uses in Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion, 219.

    I also defined libertarianism with reference to alternative possibilities. This is another standard approach which you can find in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will.

    “If the Triablogers want to argue and assume that libertarian free will means ‘unlimited freedom of the will’ they are dealing with imaginary libertarians. That is not what we believe at all.”

    Once again, was Robert drunk when he read my piece? Did I say this is how libertarians define freedom? No.

    What I said, repeatedly and explicitly, is that libertarians are forced to scale back on the scope of libertarian freedom, not based on the inner logical of their position, but due to external constraints imposed on their position by the divisions of time.

    This is not a limitation which is implicit in libertarianism. Libertarians would logically prefer to have more control over the past, present, and future. But they have to accommodate their position to an unyielding reality which doesn’t respect the libertarian impulse. So these are ad hoc restrictions.

    I’d suggest that Robert reread my piece when he’s sober. He obviously had one too many when he read it before.

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  8. Robert said:
    ---
    Having a choice means that you can actualize multiple available alternatives in a particular situation.
    ---

    How is this different from "Libertarian freedom is commonly defined as the freedom to do otherwise in the same situation"?

    You beg for definitions, yet you argue exactly what was put forth in the post.

    Anyway, you said:
    ---
    But having a choice is to be distinguished from being omnipotent (which Bucay says occurs when people define free will as being able to do whatever you want whenever you want to do it with no restrictions on your will whatsoever; Bucay also argues this is both immature and out of touch with reality).
    ---

    Where is the dividing line then? If you can be free if you can't choose everything, then at what point are the restrictions on your freedom too many? Do you just need two options? If a mugger puts gun to your head and says, "Give me your money or die" you have two options, so that would be a free choice?

    You said:
    ---
    Bible believing Christians who believe that God is sovereign never believe that we are completely “free from God”. And if we are living the Christian life in a way that produces fruit then we are abiding in Christ, definitely not free from Him or His influence.
    ---

    Way to redefine the term in the middle of the argument! Classic case of equivocation here.

    A "free" will is not the same thing as being "free from God."

    That your position relies on such an obvious grammatical error ought to tell you how lame your position is.

    You said:
    ---
    I also preach and teach that our “free will” is very limited.
    ---

    What do you know, so do Calvinists! So why do you disagree? Are you lying? I'll be gracious and assume you're just stupid instead of sinful.

    You said:
    ---
    Yea, why don’t you Triablogers define “libertarian freedom” so we can see if that is what we believe or not.
    ---

    You have to define what we believe, then we'll tell you whether it's right or not. Sounds legit.

    Or could it be that you don't know what you believe other than that it's whatever Triabloggers DON'T believe.

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  9. By the way, I should also point out the error that Robert said:
    ---
    Having a choice means that you can actualize multiple available alternatives in a particular situation.
    ---

    Except, as Steve (and Paul in the past) has pointed out countless times, you can't actualize multiple available alternatives. It's impossible, because only one choice can be actualized.

    If Robert would actually read what's posted instead of giving us one-line commentary/summaries followed by paragraphs of nonsense unrelated to anything, he might actually figure out that his responses have all been preempted months ago.

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  10. Yea, why don’t you Triablogers define ‘libertarian freedom” so we can see if that is what we believe or not. Until you do so, and if you continue to parade this straw man that free will means ‘unlimited freedom of the will’, you won’t be dealing with our view of free will at all. And if you really want to refute our view you had better make sure you are taking aim at the right target. If you do not, you will just keep shooting yourself in the foot.”

    1. This is predictable. When pressed, Robert says "You're parading a straw man." But when the cards are laid on the table, we see it's the other way around - every time. For example, Robert regularly confuses the decree (certainty) with causality (providence) by consistently acting as if Calvinists believe that God determines outcomes irrespective of the means. His been answered a haf dozen or more times and he still presses on. He's no better than "Orthodox" was in that regard.

    2. Around here, as we have more than one time explained, we're using definitions of LFW that are standard, as Steve pointed out, definitions you'll find in the Oxford Dictionary of Free Will and other sources. Robert drops names all the time, but then when we present the content of what those names produce, he acts as if he's never seen the material.

    3. Steve above notes that what Libertarians (like Robert) do, however, is begin making ad hoc restrictions with respect to the definitions.

    a. We know that Robert does this, because we've caught him in the act more than one time. Very quickly "all things" for Robert becomes "some" with respect to Scripture telling us God works out all things by the counsel of his will. He'll rule out a concept like "effectual calling" in Calvinism as being out of bounds but he''ll then affirm that God inspired an inerrant autograph of Scripture. These concepts, however, turn on the same inner logic, but according Robert, one make men "robots'" and this is impermissible - not so the other one. He does this without giving us the exegetical basis for this distinction, which only shows us this is an ad hoc restriction he's placed on the text, a gag rule on the Bible. What rules does the Bible set for us to know what is "coercive" or "makes men robots" and what does not?

    But then, Robert has never given us a comprehensive exegetical argument for his position. We can only conclude this is because he is unwilling or unable to do so. By contrast, we have, in fact, offered ours many times.

    b. We are not, therefore, in need of tweaking the definition we present in order to meet every Libertarian on his own grounds; if we did we would be tracking down unstated restrictions all the time. As soon as we address one, they present another then claim we aren't addressing their position. As Daniel noted, we shouldn't have to track a moving target when we're not the one moving it. It's the Libertarians like Robert who need to get their act together and decide which restrictions they are going to offer, so if our definition of LFW doesn't fit Robert's ad hoc definition, then he has only himself to blame.

    Bible believing Christians who believe that God is sovereign never believe that we are completely “free from God”. And if we are living the Christian life in a way that produces fruit then we are abiding in Christ, definitely not free from Him or His influence.

    Of course, we know that theological "libertarians" like Robert draw a distinction between God's "influence" and God's "determination." So, we're by no means arguing that they don't teach this. In fact, we've acknowledged this many times. The point, however, is that, this is still reducible to simple indeterminism, so it comes off as ad hocery for this reason too. We are hardly the first to recognize this. It makes them look as if they are straddling the fence between the God of classical Christian theism and the God of deism.

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  11. Dear Steve,

    Why do you say this: "Libertarians would logically prefer to have more control over the past, present, and future"?

    God bless,
    Dan

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  12. Godismyjudge said...
    Dear Steve,

    Why do you say this: "Libertarians would logically prefer to have more control over the past, present, and future"?

    God bless,
    Dan

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

    Because libertarians like freedom of opportunity. The more opportunities the better. They oppose Calvinism because they think it denies freedom of opportunity.

    Greater power over the past, present, or future would expand their opportunities.

    From a libertarian standpoint, how can you make an informed choice about the future unless you know the future? Unless you know the consequences of your actions? What each potential future would entail?

    So, logically, libertarians would like to have more control over time—but time doesn't defer to their preference.

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  13. Peter,

    If as you charge that Libertarians have to concede that in such and so situations one has to make a choice, what then is deliberation?

    It seems that the power to will otherwise, the extension of which is the power to do otherwise, is found in the power to deliberate. In deliberation, I am staving off from making a decision, which on its face seems to require that I am choosing not to choose between alternatives, which also seems to entail PAP. If this is wrong, how do you gloss deliberation on a Compatibilist model exactly? If desires or reasons are doing all the work in terms of execution, what need is there for the folk psychological terms such as deliberation or even a decision?

    A standard definition of LFW among Libertarians, specifically Kane, Widerker, O'Conner, et al runs as follows.

    U + R + AP = LFW
    Ultimatimacy (U) requires that I be the source of my actions such that no antecedent state of affairs is either singly or jointly sufficient to render my choice for an option inevitable. But in order for this to be so, I have to be the source for the will that I have. Consequently I have to be responsible (R) for the kind of will I end up having.

    And in order for that to be the case, I have to be able to choose between types of wills, which implies alternative possibilities. (AP)

    While it is true that among Latin theological authors a more Scotistic notion of the will as an equilibrium which was the basis for the liberty of indifference was thought to be a necessary compoenant of LFW (which is funny since Scotus wasn't a Libertarian)a number of modern Libertarians don't think so. Likewise, the AP condition doesn't necessarily require the ability to do otherwise, but only the ability to will otherwise, as the current literature over the Flicker of Freedom strategy seems to show.

    In any case, you seem to be attacking the idea of how much freedom Libertarians can think we have, rather than the concept itself. Most Libertarians such as van Inwagen for example conceded long ago that we exercise LFW very infrequently.

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  14. Acolyte said:
    ---
    If as you charge that Libertarians have to concede that in such and so situations one has to make a choice, what then is deliberation?
    ---

    Actually you missed my point. My point was that Robert acknowledges that having some restrictions does not deny Libertarianism, and my question was therefore a simple at what point are the restrictions too many to be libertarian?

    You said:
    ---
    It seems that the power to will otherwise, the extension of which is the power to do otherwise, is found in the power to deliberate.
    ---

    The "power to do otherwise" is illusory power. No one can do otherwise (unless you have a time machine you're not sharing).

    Deliberation has nothing to do with the ability to do otherwise. It is the mind choosing to do one specific thing. Before the choice is made, it may feel like all options are open and it may feel that you might choose any number of alternate paths; but you can only choose one option of all the possible options.

    I have more to say on this, but it helps to quote a bit more of what you said first.

    You said:
    ---
    In deliberation, I am staving off from making a decision, which on its face seems to require that I am choosing not to choose between alternatives, which also seems to entail PAP. If this is wrong, how do you gloss deliberation on a Compatibilist model exactly? If desires or reasons are doing all the work in terms of execution, what need is there for the folk psychological terms such as deliberation or even a decision?
    ---

    This is akin to saying, "If the engine propels the car, then why bother with pistons?" Um, maybe because pistons are part of the engine in the first place. Likewise, desires and reasons often conflict internally, and their struggle is mentally expressed as deliberation. You cannot deliberate without having desires and reasons in mind.

    Therefore, the compatibalist position has no problem with deliberation at all. The point you continue to miss, however, is that regardless of what you deliberate, you can only actualize one choice. You are stuck with the inability to do other than you did. You cannot go into the past and get a do-over.

    You said:
    ---
    A standard definition of LFW among Libertarians, specifically Kane, Widerker, O'Conner, et al runs as follows.
    ---

    Thanks for providing this. It's more than HenryRobertArminobot has ever done. Just remember my previous comments were dealing with HIS concepts, not Kane, Widerker, O'Conner, et al.

    However, on to what you posted.

    You said:
    ---
    Ultimatimacy (U) requires that I be the source of my actions such that no antecedent state of affairs is either singly or jointly sufficient to render my choice for an option inevitable. But in order for this to be so, I have to be the source for the will that I have. Consequently I have to be responsible (R) for the kind of will I end up having.
    ---

    Of course this falls instantly to my first comment. There are innumerable characters about you that are antecedant to your ability to will that determine what you can or cannot will.

    My parents didn't drop me on my head as a child. If they had, I very well could have suffered brain damage from it. The results of that brain damage would be that I could not think the same way that I do now, and I would not will the same things that I will today. I have no control over what my parents did to me in the past.

    Likewise, I had no control over my genes. I am the product of my parents relations, and my genes most certainly influence how I can think. My parents took an intelligence test after they married, and they were told that their combined score was the highest that the company had ever seen for a couple (although neither of them scored the highest individually). As a result, myself and my siblings also test high on intelligence tests. I had no antecendent control over these factors, yet only an imbicile would say that disqualifies me from responsibility for my choices.

    You said:
    ---
    And in order for that to be the case, I have to be able to choose between types of wills, which implies alternative possibilities. (AP)
    ---

    Remember that the compatibalist points out that responsibility doesn't depend on AP, it only depends on the fact that you wanted what you chose.

    It doesn't matter why you want it. If you want it, then your choice is freely made consistent with your desires.

    You said:
    ---
    In any case, you seem to be attacking the idea of how much freedom Libertarians can think we have, rather than the concept itself. Most Libertarians such as van Inwagen for example conceded long ago that we exercise LFW very infrequently.
    ---

    And I only extend it from "infrequently" to "not at all" (according to those definitions provided).

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  15. Great post. Very helpful

    One thing struck me when discussing compatibilism with my arminian friends.

    We cannot pray in the same way when praying for someones salvation.

    For example, the arminian will pray that someone will come to their senses and choose God.

    That does not make sense from a calvinistic perspective.

    If prayers are not theologically sound, but well-meaning, is it ok for a calvinist to say amen to them?

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  16. Acolyte4236 said:

    "If as you charge that Libertarians have to concede that in such and so situations one has to make a choice, what then is deliberation?"

    *Imagining* the alternatives, and then choosing from one of the imaginary alternatives. And that choice will turn out to be the only live option—the option that God decreed.

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  17. Acolyte4236 said:

    "In any case, you seem to be attacking the idea of how much freedom Libertarians can think we have, rather than the concept itself. Most Libertarians such as van Inwagen for example conceded long ago that we exercise LFW very infrequently."

    What I'm attacking is the very basis of the concept. The discrepancy between libertarian ethics and libertarian ontology. Libertarians regard libertarian freedom as a necessary precondition of responsibility, but the metaphysical structure of the world circumscribes LFW (libertarian freewill) in all sorts of ways, so they must make all sorts of concessions to the various boundary conditions that severely limit LFW.

    Why, then, should they even believe in LFW? If they were starting with metaphysics rather than ethics, would they come up with LFW? Instead, they posit LFW as a given, then introduce a flurry of qualifications on the scope of their claim in the face of all the counterevidence. This isn’t a principled position. It’s a requirement of their system rather than a requirement of reality.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Peter, here's a reply to you.

    http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2007/12/10/piking-peter/

    ReplyDelete
  19. IF "contingency" is all one means by the term "Liberterian freedom" then I would agree with the term stated. However, in the post it seemed as if he meant more than that.

    Only God will know "all" possible options. We don't need to know all possible options in order to have contingency.

    All that is needed is "more than one" option.

    That is all anyone needs in order to have the freedom to do otherwise in the same situation.

    A choice is only sealed in stone once it is made.





    JNORM888

    ReplyDelete
  20. Nobody denies that God only knows all the possible options.

    However, the question would then be "What grounds God's knowledge of such options?" Such options are counterfactuals.

    In Libertarian action theory, the actions of the agent ground God's knowledge. How do you overcome the grounding objection? That is, if true, then these options cannot be known until they are instantiated, but they don't exist until instantiated.

    All that is needed is "more than one" option.

    But Libertarian action theory speaks to the determination of the agent, not just the determination of God. So, why does Agent A chose act B and not act C? And given your affirmation of indeterminism, how do you know that Agent A would chose or could choose Act C and not Act B in the same situation? You don't get a do-over.

    That is all anyone needs in order to have the freedom to do otherwise in the same situation.

    Really, and how do you know that to be the case? You're now begging the question in favor of indeterminism. Where is the supporting argument from Scripture?
    "Choice" and "libertarian freedom" are not convertible ideas.

    ReplyDelete
  21. In reading some of Pike’s comments I think I better understand the mistakes he is making. He writes:

    “Deliberation has nothing to do with the ability to do otherwise. It is the mind choosing to do one specific thing.”

    Actually, deliberation presupposes or assumes that we have the ability to do otherwise in a situation. When you deliberate you consider whether you should do this or that, believing that you in fact can do this or that option. If you did not believe that you could do either one you wouldn’t be deliberating about which option to actualize.

    “Before the choice is made, it may feel like all options are open and it may feel that you might choose any number of alternate paths; but you can only choose one option of all the possible options.”

    All right here is a major confusion. He starts with some standard beliefs about choice, and beliefs that I believe are true. Before we actualize one option rather than others, it feels like all of the options we are deliberating about are open to us. It also feels that we could/might choose any of these available options. But then Pike messes it up with the next line: “but you can only choose one option of all the possible options.” Pike states this line as if this is a problem for the libertarian. In fact, it is precisely because the libertarian believes that we can only actualize one of the possible options at a time that he deliberates about which one that will be. Pike seems to be unaware that the libertarian believes that he can only actualize one of the available options that he is deliberating about. But that is the whole point of deliberation, you have multiple options each which you believe that you could actualize, but then you can only actualize one of them, so you think about/deliberate about which one that will be.

    It occurs to me that perhaps Pike is thinking that when the libertarian is saying that we can do otherwise in the same situation, that the libertarian is saying that he can actualize two contraries at the same time in the same situation. Simple example to show the difference. Imagine a situation where I face a choice between voting for a motion (signified by raising my hand) and not voting for a motion (signified by keeping my hand down, not raising it to any extent). So I am deliberating about whether or not I should vote for this motion by lifting up my hand, or, whether I should not vote for this motion by keeping my hand down. When the libertarian says that we are able to do otherwise, we are not saying that we can both raise our arm and keep it down at the same time and in the same situation. That would be absolutely irrational. God created a world where our voluntary actions cannot be simultaneous contraries (e.g. like raising my hand and not raising my hand at the same time and in the same situation). That may be what Pike believes that libertarians believe. No wonder he is so hostile against it and believes it to be false and irrational. But that is not what we believe. When we speak of being able to do otherwise we mean, staying with the voting for the motion example. That up until the time that we either raise our hand to vote for the motion or choose to keep our hand down signifying that we do not endorse the motion, we could actualize either possibility (but not at the same time). We have to choose to do one or the other, but we cannot do both simultaneously. Now once the choice is made (either raising our hand to vote for the motion or keeping our hand down) we cannot go back and unring the bell and change the past. Once the choice is made it becomes a past event and cannot ever be changed.

    Now it is interesting that Pike in arguing that we can only actualize one option is arguing the libertarian position when he adds the words “but you can only choose one option of all the possible options.” Note especially the words “of all the possible options.” A determinist cannot say that and believe that. As Steve Hays says in another place to acolyte: “*Imagining* the alternatives, and then choosing from one of the imaginary alternatives. And that choice will turn out to be the only live option—the option that God decreed.”

    Steve Hays speaks as a determinist, note he says that while we may imagine the alternatives and choose from one of these imaginary alternatives, the action which we do is the only one we could do (“the only live option”) because it is the action which God predetermined (“the option that God decreed.”). Hays is affirming the opposite of what Pike is affirming. Pike says that “you can only choose one option of all the possible options” while Hays says you can only do the one action which is “the only live option”. Pike is affirming the libertarian view that while we end up only doing the one action which we choose, the other options which we did not choose were “possible options.” Hays is affirming the determinist view, that while we end up only doing the one action which we choose, none of the other options we were considering was possible. They were according to the consistent determinist impossible.




    Pike also wrote:

    “Likewise, desires and reasons often conflict internally, and their struggle is mentally expressed as deliberation. You cannot deliberate without having desires and reasons in mind.”

    Here he is personifying desires and reasons as if desires and reasons are persons struggling for supremacy and we are watching “their struggle” when we deliberate. Actually what is the case is that one person, the agent who is deliberating, is considering various reasons for doing particular actions. The agent is struggling with conflicting desires and reasons, the agent is the person who is struggling with this mental conflict occurring in his mind. And it is the agent who has the power to decide and actualize whichever options he chooses to actualize.

    Pike also wrote:

    “Therefore, the compatibilist position has no problem with deliberation at all. The point you continue to miss, however, is that regardless of what you deliberate, you can only actualize one choice. You are stuck with the inability to do other than you did. You cannot go into the past and get a do-over.”

    Again Pike’s comments suggest he does not understand the libertarian position. First of all deliberation is a problem for determinists/compatibilists. This is so because when deliberating we assume and believe that it is in our power to decide from multiple options, which one we will actualize. But if determinism is true, then it is not possible for us to actualize multiple options, we can only actualize the one action which has been determined for us. Or as Hays puts it, the other alternatives, options which we are considering though we imagine that we can actualize any of them, or believe that it is possible to actualize one of them. In reality this is imaginary, we cannot actualize any other possibility than the one action we in fact do. And the one action we in fact do is the one which has been predetermined for us. And if this is true then Pike’s statement that “but you can only choose one option of all the possible options” is false. It is false because if determinism is true then the other options are not possible, they are impossible.

    This is one of the key differences between libertarians and determinists. The libertarian says that up until you make the actual choice that you end up making, multiple options were capable of being actualized by you. You just ended up choosing one while excluding the others (the determinist on the other hand says that the other options which you chose not to actualize were not possible for you to actualize, you could only do the one action which had been predetermined). Choice by its very nature actualizes one option while excluding other options from being actualized. And Pike is right you cannot go back and “get a do-over.” The nature of choice and reality is that the various alternative options are only open up until the point when you make a choice and actualize one option while excluding others.

    I hope Peter now understands that libertarians do not believe that we can actualize contraries (like raising your hand and keeping your hand down) at the same time and in the same situation. To be able to do that would be to be able to actualize a contradiction. The reason that we cannot do that and the reason that that is not what a free choice entails is because God is orderly and rational and His creation manifests his character. In his creation you cannot actualize contradictions when it comes to doing contrary actions at the same time and in the same situation.

    Robert

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  22. Bryan Morton12/11/2007 8:41 AM

    How can you take a proposition as simple as libertarianism and twist it so badly? Libertarian freedom has absolutely nothing to do with freedom from your natural environment or time or any of the other bovine excrement you're debating. Rights, as well, cannot be held against God or nature. If you fall from a cliff and gravity pulls you to your death, it has not violated your right to life. Your rights to life, liberty and property can only be held against violations by other human beings. Libertarian freedom has to do with your negative rights only as they relate to the actions and equal negative rights of other people. It does not claim to correct for natural consequences or even the consequences of our own stupidity.

    ReplyDelete
  23. steve said:
    Bryan Morton said:

    "How can you take a proposition as simple as libertarianism and twist it so badly? Libertarian freedom has absolutely nothing to do with freedom from your natural environment or time or any of the other bovine excrement you're debating."

    You don't do yourself any credit when, like other clueless critics, you blow past the qualified terms in which I framed my analysis.

    "Libertarian freedom has to do with your negative rights only as they relate to the actions and equal negative rights of other people."

    Now you seem to be confusing libertarianism as a political philosophy with libertarianism as a theory of the will. It would behoove you to acquaint yourself with the actually position at issue before you sport the heavy-duty attitude.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am an "Incompatibilist" not an "indeterminist".

    A self determinist can not be an "indeterminist".


    If I choose act "A" over act "B" it is because I resisted an internal desire to choose "B" and embraced an internal desire to choose "A".


    Yesturday. I drove to KFC/Pizza hut because I had an internal crave to eat Pizza. Now when I pulled up to the drive through I saw other choices I wanted, but at the last minute I decided to ignore those cravings and stick with what I planned.

    It was a self determined choice to choose "A" over "B".

    God forknew before the foundation of the World which choice I made.

    In God's eyes the choice was already sealed in stone. But in my eyes it wasn't until I decided.




    JNORM888

    ReplyDelete
  25. JNORM,

    Would you say then that you a "real" choice then?

    If God knew from before the foundation of the world that you would choose Pizza Hut, then at that exact time yesterday did you have any chance to pick KFC?

    I would say no, but what do you say?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Daniel,

    God's knowledge isn't before anything, since God's knowledge doesn't occur in time.

    Second, knowledge isn't a cause. God knows lots of things about himself that he didn't cause. He knows he exists and no one caused that, not even God. God's knowledge of himself doesn't render the divine essence fixed and necessary. It is so, if it is so, for other reasons.

    So if God knows what I do, then he knows it.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Acolyte,

    Not sure about this, but were you trying to answer my question to JNORM?

    If so I need you to break it down even further than that so that I can understand what you are saying.

    He was saying that God knew before the foundation of the world that he would pick Pizza yesterday, but to him he did not know so he was still able to pick KFC, my question to him was how?

    How was he still free to "choose" KFC when it was certain before he was born that he would pick pizza?

    IOW, what percentage could be placed on his being able to chose KFC? I would say 0%, from your answer I have no idea what you would say.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Daniel,

    Yes it was in response to your question.

    I would say that it wasn't certain *before* what he would do, since God's knowledge isn't an act that occurs before anything. And that is because God is timeless and so his knowing is timeless. If it is timeless then it doesn't occur before anything.

    ReplyDelete
  29. OK, how does that change the question then? How was he free to still pick KFC if in God's timelessness it was certain to be pizza?

    What were the odds of picking it? I would still see it as 0%, what about you?

    ReplyDelete
  30. ROBERT SAID:

    “Actually, deliberation presupposes or assumes that we have the ability to do otherwise in a situation. When you deliberate you consider whether you should do this or that, believing that you in fact can do this or that option. If you did not believe that you could do either one you wouldn’t be deliberating about which option to actualize.”

    It's true that deliberation may commonly involve the *belief* that I can instantiate each option, but there are numberless concrete cases which gives the lie to this belief.

    I deliberate over which girl to date in the belief that I can win her heart. Does this mean I can make the girl I choose to date fall in love with me?

    If only that were so, but I suspect that real life experience tells against that presumption.

    I deliberate over joining the high school football team, in the belief that I can be a star quarterback. Does this mean that I can't fail to be a star quarterback?

    I deliberate over college majors. I choose a lucrative major. Does this mean I can't wash out? Is it impossible for the major to be more demanding than I anticipated?

    ReplyDelete
  31. I was free to still pick KFC when I had the time to choose. After I chose, I no longer had such freedom.

    God was Present when I chose because God is OMNI-Present.

    God was watching my choice, because God is "ALL SEEING"/"ALL KNOWING".

    God was empowering me to make the Choice, because God is Omnipotent.

    and

    God allows us to resist internal desires, because God is Omni-benevolent in making us self-determinators.

    I am a self determinist because I make choices. My choices are limited because God puts limits to them.

    God is the only one with unlimited freedom.

    IF God never allows people to go against His wishes then "free will" doesn't exist and everyone are nothing more than robots.



    Jnorm888

    ReplyDelete
  32. Steve Hays is confused in regards to the nature of deliberation, planning and achieving objectives.

    “It's true that deliberation may commonly involve the *belief* that I can instantiate each option, but there are numberless concrete cases which gives the lie to this belief.”

    Actually it is stronger than “may”; when we deliberate we believe and assume that we can actualize each option that we are deliberating about or we would not be considering the different options seriously.

    “I deliberate over which girl to date in the belief that I can win her heart. Does this mean I can make the girl I choose to date fall in love with me?”

    Deliberation precedes the making of a choice from alternative options. You may make the decision to date a certain girl (or you could have chosen another girl or chosen not to date anyone at all at this time, all choices all available options). Hays then adds “in the belief that I can win her heart.” That is speaking of a desired outcome or objective, which may or may not be achieved. Successfully achieving an objective would be an event that follows the deliberation and the choice to do some action. Deliberation and making a choice does not guarantee a desired outcome, and deliberation and achieving or failing to achieve the desired outcome are not the same thing.

    “If only that were so, but I suspect that real life experience tells against that presumption.”

    Real life experience is overwhelmingly for the reality that we deliberate about options we believe are available to us. And then we make a choice from the available options. At the same time real life experiences show that we do not always achieve our desired outcomes. Even with the best planning and intentions, things may not go the way you plan or desire the outcomes to go. Hays again is conflating and confusing deliberation with achieving or failing to achieve an objective.

    “I deliberate over joining the high school football team, in the belief that I can be a star quarterback. Does this mean that I can't fail to be a star quarterback?”

    Again Hays makes the same mistake. I deliberate about whether or not to join the football team. That is one thing. Whether I achieve the objective of being the star quarterback or not is again an outcome that may or may not occur. Hasn’t Hays learned yet that making choices and achieving desired ends are not the same thing? Hasn’t Hays learned that you can make the right choice and still have an unfavorable outcome? Most of these things are common sense that we have learned through life experience. We also know that if we don’t make certain choices then certain outcomes will not happen. If my desire is to be the star quarterback then I will need to start by joining the team (a choice that is up to me and I can also choose not to do so).

    “I deliberate over college majors. I choose a lucrative major. Does this mean I can't wash out? Is it impossible for the major to be more demanding than I anticipated?”

    Hays makes the mistake yet a third time. The choice of a major which may lead to a lucrative job does not ensure or guarantee that I will end up with a great job. I could make that choice and then have a serious car accident so that I could not do the job that I had gone to college to learn to do.

    Robert

    ReplyDelete
  33. JNORM,

    So God knew you picked Pizza Hut because he was there when you decided, but did he know before your choosing? After reading your last reply I am thinking that you may lean to the Open Theist view of God?

    ReplyDelete
  34. robert said...

    “Actually it is stronger than ‘may’; when we deliberate we believe and assume that we can actualize each option that we are deliberating about or we would not be considering the different options seriously.”

    Only if you’re a libertarian like Robert. I myself make no such assumption.

    Rather, I will always end up opting for the scenario that God decreed. And imagining various alternatives is a way, in the providence of God, of narrowing down the hypothetical options to the predestined scenario.

    I don’t know in advance what the predestined scenario is. I only know it in retrospect. I discover it by doing it. The timeless decree is realized in time and thereby revealed in time (with the benefit of hindsight).

    “That is speaking of a desired outcome or objective, which may or may not be achieved. Successfully achieving an objective would be an event that follows the deliberation and the choice to do some action. Deliberation and making a choice does not guarantee a desired outcome, and deliberation and achieving or failing to achieve the desired outcome are not the same thing.”

    “Hays again is conflating and confusing deliberation with achieving or failing to achieve an objective.”

    “That is one thing. Whether I achieve the objective of being the star quarterback or not is again an outcome that may or may not occur. Hasn’t Hays learned yet that making choices and achieving desired ends are not the same thing? Hasn’t Hays learned that you can make the right choice and still have an unfavorable outcome?”

    “Hays makes the mistake yet a third time. The choice of a major which may lead to a lucrative job does not ensure or guarantee that I will end up with a great job. I could make that choice and then have a serious car accident so that I could not do the job that I had gone to college to learn to do.”

    Poor little Robert can’t keep track of his own argument. At the outset he spoke of our ability to “actualize each option” as a prerequisite of deliberation. But the ability to actualize each option is an outcome-based definition. The ability to realize that scenario, or some other scenario.

    When, to the contrary, he is forced to admit the obvious fact that we are often unable to achieve our chosen objectives, he is tacitly recanting his original definition. In that event we cannot actualize each option.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Daniel,


    My form of Christian Theism is "Panentheism". So there is no way that I can be an Open Theist. It is impossible.


    Acts chapter 17 says:

    "28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'"


    Notice the words """IN HIM"""? How can God's knowledge be open if everything we think, say, do is only because we are "IN HIM"?



    Colossians 1:17
    "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."


    How can God's knowledge be Open if everything is held together in Him?


    Whatever I do in the future is done because ......I did it "IN HIM".


    I lived, moved, and had my Being "IN HIM" in the past.


    I live, move, and have my being "IN HIM" in the present.

    and

    I will live, move, and have my being "IN HIM" in the future.



    Thus ......God's knowledge can't be open.


    Alot of false assumptions have been made on this blog by Calvinists.







    ICXC JNORM888

    ReplyDelete
  36. God Foreknew before the foundation of the World what I would believe, think, say, and do, because God is Omniscient. He is all knowing.


    HE knows what I will do 100 days from. And HE knew that before the foundation of the World.


    You are making the mistake in thinking that "Knowing" means "causing". Knowing does not mean "to cause".




    JNORM888

    ReplyDelete
  37. If I am making that mistake then I am sorry, but I do not see me making that mistake.

    Would you agree then to God things are determined, but to you things are still indeterminate?

    ReplyDelete
  38. Jnorm888 said:

    "You are making the mistake in thinking that 'Knowing' means 'causing'. Knowing does not mean 'to cause'."

    I don't see that Daniel is making any such mistake. Rather, I see him as saying that if a future event is an object of knowledge, then the outcome is certain. His argument, at this juncture, doesn't turn on any particular theory of causation. The point, rather, is that if a future event is an object of knowledge, then it can't be otherwise than it will be. This is not the same thing as determinism, but it does undermine indeterminism. As such, it can be used as preliminary step in a multistaged argument for (some form of) determinism.

    BTW, it's linguistically naive to infer panentheism from certain locative prepositions. The usage is metaphorical, not metaphysical. Picturesque spatial metaphors.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Steve said:

    "I don't see that Daniel is making any such mistake. Rather, I see him as saying that if a future event is an object of knowledge, then the outcome is certain. His argument, at this juncture, doesn't turn on any particular theory of causation. The point, rather, is that if a future event is an object of knowledge, then it can't be otherwise than it will be. This is not the same thing as determinism, but it does undermine indeterminism. As such, it can be used as preliminary step in a multistaged argument for (some form of) determinism."




    Fine, I'll go along with what you said above.

    Yes, I believe ""that if a future event is an object of knowledge, then the outcome is certain.""

    However, I would make a distinction between "certainty" and "necessity" in regards to a future event.


    Steve also said:

    "BTW, it's linguistically naive to infer panentheism from certain locative prepositions. The usage is metaphorical, not metaphysical. Picturesque spatial metaphors."



    I disagree. I see it as being both Metaphorical as well as metaphysical. The metaphore is based on the reality of the metaphysical.

    IF the Universe/creation is not really inside/within God than one can't speak of any metaphoric picture of God being Transcendent and Immanent.

    And all the scriptures I mentioned would be meaningless if Panentheism isn't Metaphysical.


    Daniel said:


    "Would you agree then to God things are determined, but to you things are still indeterminate?"



    IT all depends on what you mean by "Determined". I say that because I see humans as being self-determinators.

    So in this context I would say that we are God's subordinate co-determinators.



    At this point I would feel more comfortable with the statement:


    "To God everything is certain, but to me things are still uncertain?"





    JNORM888

    ReplyDelete
  40. It appears that Steve Hays thinks that certain restrictions negate the reality of choices as ordinarily understood. He starts by defining libertarian free will:

    “Libertarian freedom is commonly defined as the freedom to do otherwise in the same situation. On that definition, it assumes that an agent has the power to access and instantiate alternate possibilities.”

    One concern that I have is that I often see determinists attempting to argue that since some particular alternatives are not available to a person, therefore, “free will” as defined here does not exist. This does not follow logically. I have never argued that unless we can **always** actualize every alternative, that that is what free will means. It is much more modest than that: that in some situations we do face real choices where we can actualize multiple options before us (do this or do that, with the choice of which one we do being up to us).

    ”But even if you agree in principle, there are some severe restrictions on this principle. And they are related to the divisions of time. We make decisions about the future in the present (or specious present). So we only have the freedom to choose between A and B. Either A or B. We cannot choose both. Hence, simultaneity imposes a limitation on libertarian freedom—even if you grant the principle.”

    All of our decisions occur in the present. In fact, all of our deliberations and choices occur in the present. The past consists of a consecutive series of outcomes that have already occurred; the future consists of a consecutive series of outcomes that will occur.

    If by “simultaneity” Hays means that we cannot actualize contraries simultaneously, this is no problem for free will and in fact is necessary for the world to be orderly. If we could actualize contraries (e.g. I could type this post and not type this post at the same time) we would have chaos and disorder. God did not create such a world. This is not really a limitation but a necessary aspect of an orderly world.

    ”Indeed, there’s even a coercive element to simultaneity. It forces you to choose between one thing and another.”

    Actually there is no such force as “simultaneity” in the world that coerces us to do anything. Rather, it is the nature of choice that we cannot actualize contraries simultaneously. In situations where I am not coerced in my action, I am free to choose between one thing and another. And this ability and opportunity to “choose between one thing and another” is exactly what I mean by choice and what I have labeled “free will as ordinarily understood.”

    ”But in that respect it’s an ad hoc restriction on the libertarian principle. Ideally, the libertarian principle would unconditional. The freedom to do otherwise without temporal impediments.”

    Freedom to do otherwise is not an absolute principle. I may plan things and desire to see certain outcomes and yet lots of things may interfere with or outright eliminate certain alternatives from being actualized by me. Having limitations is part of what it means to be human, to be a created being. But having limitations on our range of choices is not the same thing as not ever having choices as ordinarily understood.

    ”If libertarians could make time more flexible, there are occasions in which they would surely prefer to choose both A and B. It’s rather than ordering from a menu at a gourmet restaurant. It’s hard to choose because there is more than one equally delicious entrée, but you can’t eat them all at one sitting.”

    I have no desire for a world where I can actualize contraries simultaneously. I enjoy the rational world that God has created just fine.

    Sometimes we can in fact choose to get hold of both alternatives A and B, when other options are available (such as a choice that includes both alternatives A and B). Hays talks about the gourmet restaurant where it is hard to choose because there are multiple options that you would like to actualize (but cannot do so simultaneously). No problem, go with different people and each person orders something different and then share the food amongst themselves (most people are aware of this option especially at Chinese restaurants, but why not other places as well? :-)). Also, in some situations they offer combinations, such as steak and shrimp, or even make your own combinations. Actually if you have enough money you can tell them exactly what you want on your plate and they will cheerfully oblige (given you have the money).

    ”Or, to take a more serious example, a single Christian may be in love with more than one woman. And he may be in a position to marry either one. And he could make a wonderful life with either woman. But he has to choose. And each choice presents mutually exclusive goods. The goods unique to one marriage aren’t interchangeable with the goods unique to another.”

    I disagree with this assessment. If he is considering two godly women they will have some good traits in common, they will not be opposites in every respect. Staying with his example, I would say that the single guy could choose either woman to marry. Hays on the other hand, would have to suggest that while it may appear to the single guy that both options are available and that he could choose either one (but not both), it is illusion, in reality he can only choose the one God predetermined for him to select.

    Hays forgets his own determinism here: if Hays’ exhaustive determinism were true, then “And he may be in a position to marry either one”, is a false statement. He cannot marry either one if everything is predetermined, in that case he could only marry the one which he was predetermined to marry. I don’t buy this and in fact scripture even presents marriage as a choice that is up to us as long as the person is a Christian, the choice we make is up to us (cf., 1 Cor. 7:39 “but if her husband is dead, she is FREE to be married to WHOM SHE WISHES, only in the Lord”).

    ”But if the present limits our freedom to do otherwise, the past imposes a far more draconian restriction. The technical term for this is the accidental necessity of the past. And the necessity of the past is implicit in the restriction on simultaneous choice.”

    Again, Hays brings up restrictions upon our range of choices as an argument against the reality that on some occasions we do in fact face a real choice as ordinarily understood. Finding restrictions is not sufficient to eliminate the reality of choices. There are restrictions upon God’s actions, does that mean that He does not ever have a choice? God cannot be irrational or engage in nonsense, does that mean due to these restrictions He never has any choices?

    ”Even if you had the freedom to do otherwise, once you go through one door, all the other doors lock behind you. Once your present decision is past, it is unchangeable.”

    No disagreement with the metaphysical reality that once you make a choice and actualize one opportunity you will be excluding others. We cannot “unring the bell”. So what! Again this does not come close to showing the nonreality of choices as ordinarily understood.

    ”That’s a major source of human regret. And the older you get, the more likely you are to say to yourself, “If only I could go back in time and do it all over again, I’d give anything to take that back!” The lost opportunities begin to accumulate.”

    Again, Hays forgets his determinism. The thought that “If only I could go back in time and do it all over again” is based upon the belief that in that situation we did what we did but also could have done otherwise (if given the opportunity to make the choice over again). This kind of thinking about past events is senseless if Hays’ determinism were true, as we could not have done otherwise even if we had the tape rewound to that same place again.

    Hays’ line about “the lost opportunities begin to accumulate” is also senseless if his exhaustive determinism were true. These “lost opportunities” could only have been available in these past situations if in fact the libertarian conception of choices were true. If determinism were true, you do only what you were predetermined to do, so no other opportunities could have been actualized. Note again how Hays cannot escape talking like a libertarian at times. This is true because the actual world, the real world which God has created and in which we do our actions, does in fact include some instances where choices are real as ordinarily understood. I have never seen a determinist who consistently lives out their philosophy or talks (in ordinary conversation) as if their philosophy is true. Listen to them carefully and watch their actions and you will see them betray their determinism constantly. Thomas Reid has some great quotes on this, that I may share sometime.

    ”Once again, this limitation is not a logical implication of libertarianism. Left to its own devices, libertarians would probably prefer retrocausation. But time’s arrow is irreversible.”

    Just as I do not want to live in a world where contraries are simultaneously actualized, similarly, I do not want to live in a world where people could go back and change the past and engage in retrocausation. If time’s arrow were reversible, chaos and confusion and disorder would result.

    ”And this also reflects on our future limitations. Even if you suppose that the future is wide-open, in the sense of being indeterminate, such that human agents are co-creators of the future, the freedom to affect or even effect the future is of limited value unless you know in advance the future consequences of your present choices.”

    Who says the future is “wide open in the sense of being indeterminate”? In my thinking the past consists of a series of consecutive outcomes that has occurred, so the past is determinate. But if an actual future exists then the future like the past also consists of a set of consecutive outcomes that will occur. The future is determinate in the sense that a definite and actual future is coming, consisting of definite outcomes. So where does all of this leave us? In the present. It is in the present that we deliberate and make our choices from among alternative possibilities.

    We are technically not co-creators of the future, rather, we are co-creators of the present, and the present has consequences and outcomes that make up the future. Choices that we make now will have consequences in the future.

    ”But, by definition, an open future is a conjectural future. Unless and until it eventuates, the outcome is unknowable. And because it’s unknowable, you don’t know what’s in store for you further down the line. Each choice forecloses prior possibilities and generates a new set of possibilities (if you accept the libertarian premise).”

    Steve can keep repeating his argument that we do not know all of the consequences of our choices, but again, this does not show the unreality of choices as ordinarily understood.

    And that line about “open future.” How is the future open? Could multiple futures all be true at the same time? So in one future Steve recants his determinism and in another future he continues advocating his determinism. There will only be one actual future, and that actual future will consist of a series of consecutive outcomes which God knows will occur but we do not know. Again, there is only one actual past and only one actual future, what openness exists for us exists only in the present. And it is in this realm of the present that we commonly experience choices.

    ”Once more, this is an ad hoc restriction on the libertarian position. If he had his druthers, a libertarian would either like to test the consequences of each choice, or foresee the consequences of each possible outcome, and then finalize his choice, forearmed with a knowledge of what that choice was going to entail.”

    Hays keeps talking about if the libertarian had his way then he would go back in time and replay the tape, he would want to be unrestricted in all of his choices, and now he would know the future so that he can make sure he does the right choice now. This is all fantasy and science fiction having nothing to do with reality. The fact that we as limited and finite beings are limited in our information does not change the fact that life confronts us with real choices as ordinarily understood.

    ”Time is the human agent’s field of action. Yet the past, present, and future all conspire to circumscribe the human agent’s field of action in ways that drastically truncate the libertarian impulse.”

    The present is our “field of action” as we no longer have access to the past and we only experience the present not the future. Hays could come up with lots of restrictions on our range of choices and that would still not eliminate the fact that sometimes we have a choice as ordinarily understood.

    ”I’d add, on a final note, that a Calvinist who takes his theology to heart is not as regretful about the past.”

    Actually a calvinist/determinist who really believes his determinism to be true, should never have any regrets because he never could have done otherwise, there were no lost opportunities and he is simply doing God’s secret will anyway. Remorse only makes sense in a world where choices are real, there really are lost opportunities (things we could have done differently), and everything is not exhaustively determined.

    Robert

    ReplyDelete
  41. ROBERT SAID:

    “It appears that Steve Hays thinks that certain restrictions negate the reality of choices as ordinarily understood.”

    Robert can never learn from his past mistakes. He keeps repeating the same mistakes, no matter how often he’s been corrected. Clearly someone is pulling his strings.

    If Robert were not a puppet, he would remember that I already rejected his linguistic criterion. How choices are “ordinarily” understood is irrelevant to the “reality” of choice. Reality doesn’t necessarily conform to what most folks happen to believe. These common sense appeals are wholly irrelevant to where the truth lies.

    Robert is a demagogue. He resorts to these ad populum fallacies because he can’t win on the intellectual merits of the case.

    “One concern that I have is that I often see determinists attempting to argue that since some particular alternatives are not available to a person, therefore, ‘free will’ as defined here does not exist. This does not follow logically. I have never argued that unless we can **always** actualize every alternative, that that is what free will means.”

    Contrast this with what Robert originally said in objection to my post:

    “Actually, deliberation presupposes or assumes that we have the ability to do otherwise in a situation. When you deliberate you consider whether you should do this or that, believing that you in fact can do this or that option. If you did not believe that you could do either one you wouldn’t be deliberating about which option to actualize.”

    Now, however, Robert is admitting that when we deliberate, we don’t necessarily have the ability to do otherwise in the same situation. That we may falsely believe that we can exercise this or that option when, in fact, we cannot.

    Robert is now admitting that when we deliberate, some of the apparent alternatives aren’t real alternatives. So these must be imaginary or illusory alternatives. We think that we can actualize this or that option, but we are self-deluded (the “we” being the libertarian).

    So what becomes of Robert’s “presupposition”?

    “If we could actualize contraries (e.g. I could type this post and not type this post at the same time) we would have chaos and disorder. God did not create such a world. This is not really a limitation but a necessary aspect of an orderly world.”

    And what’s the logical relationship between freedom and order? It’s not as if one entails the other. Robert is admitting that unfettered freedom is unstable.

    “Rather, it is the nature of choice that we cannot actualize contraries simultaneously.”

    That’s not due to the nature of choice, but the nature of time.

    “I may plan things and desire to see certain outcomes and yet lots of things may interfere with or outright eliminate certain alternatives from being actualized by me.”

    Notice how Robert is retreating from his original definition (see above).

    “I disagree with this assessment. If he is considering two godly women they will have some good traits in common, they will not be opposites in every respect.”

    A straw man argument since I never said otherwise.

    “Hays on the other hand, would have to suggest that while it may appear to the single guy that both options are available and that he could choose either one (but not both), it is illusion, in reality he can only choose the one God predetermined for him to select.”

    Notice that Robert his now attempting to change the subject. Instead of defending libertarianism in relation to the example I gave, he’s ducking that objection by claiming that this is a problem for Calvinism. Even if it were a problem for Calvinism, that doesn’t absolve it from being a problem for libertarianism as well.

    He’s also repeating his stock objection to Calvinism, as if I (and others) hadn’t already fielded that objection many times before.

    If Robert were a man of honor rather than a demagogue, he would stop repeating the same objections as if no one had ever responded.

    “Hays forgets his own determinism here: if Hays’ exhaustive determinism were true, then ‘And he may be in a position to marry either one’, is a false statement.”

    Robert is such a simpleton. I’m explicitly responding to libertarianism on libertarian grounds. That’s irrelevant to my own position.

    “I don’t buy this and in fact scripture even presents marriage as a choice that is up to us as long as the person is a Christian, the choice we make is up to us (cf., 1 Cor. 7:39 ‘but if her husband is dead, she is FREE to be married to WHOM SHE WISHES, only in the Lord’).”

    A lovely example of Scripture-twisting. But we’d expect that from a false teacher like Robert.

    The “freedom” at issue in 1 Cor 7:39 is not a debate between libertarianism and compatibilism, but whether a widow is morally at liberty to remarry. Is it a sin for her to remarry? No. Remarriage is a licit option in the case of a widow. That’s what Paul is teaching.

    “Again, Hays forgets his determinism. The thought that ‘If only I could go back in time and do it all over again’ is based upon the belief that in that situation we did what we did but also could have done otherwise (if given the opportunity to make the choice over again). This kind of thinking about past events is senseless if Hays’ determinism were true, as we could not have done otherwise even if we had the tape rewound to that same place again.”

    Once again, Robert is incompetent to follow his own argument. Going back in time with the benefit of hindsight would not be choosing otherwise in the same situation. Rather, it would radically change the noetic situation in which I was weighing the consequences of different course of action. I would now be choosing in light of a detailed knowledge of what my original choice entailed. Will I repeat it, or opt for a different alternative—forearmed with the knowledge of how my original choice turned out. Quite different from the freedom to do otherwise in the same situation.

    “Hays’ line about ‘the lost opportunities begin to accumulate’ is also senseless if his exhaustive determinism were true. These ‘lost opportunities’ could only have been available in these past situations if in fact the libertarian conception of choices were true. If determinism were true, you do only what you were predetermined to do, so no other opportunities could have been actualized. Note again how Hays cannot escape talking like a libertarian at times.”

    Here he repeats the same mistake. Choice is prospective, but regret is retrospective. It is only in light of experience that we bemoan lost opportunities. That’s a result of experience, which is, in turn, a result of a choice which was made apart from a personal experience of the outcome. The sense of loss is not available to us at the time we deliberate. Since the knowledge is unavailable to us at the time, the opportunity is unavailable to us at the time, since we only see the value of the lost opportunity, and the shortsightedness of our actual choice, after the fact.

    “Just as I do not want to live in a world where contraries are simultaneously actualized, similarly, I do not want to live in a world where people could go back and change the past and engage in retrocausation. If time’s arrow were reversible, chaos and confusion and disorder would result.”

    This is backhanded concession to a fundamental tension in libertarianism, where you have a constant conflict between the choices of one agent and the contrary choices of another agent. Who wins out depends on who can elbow his way to the front of the line.

    “Who says the future is ‘wide open in the sense of being indeterminate’?”

    Robert doesn’t know his way around his own position. He needs to brush up on the freedom of future contingents.

    “And that line about ‘open future.’ How is the future open? Could multiple futures all be true at the same time? So in one future Steve recants his determinism and in another future he continues advocating his determinism.”

    You can always count on Robert to be obtuse as ever. Steve isn’t stating his own position. Steve is mounting an internal critique of libertarianism.

    “This is all fantasy and science fiction having nothing to do with reality.”

    And that’s the problem with libertarianism. Reality doesn’t bend and mutate to the libertarian impulse. Reality is resistant—even impervious—to the way we’d like things to turn out. We must yield to reality, not the other way round.

    “Actually a calvinist/determinist who really believes his determinism to be true, should never have any regrets because he never could have done otherwise, there were no lost opportunities and he is simply doing God’s secret will anyway. Remorse only makes sense in a world where choices are real, there really are lost opportunities (things we could have done differently), and everything is not exhaustively determined.”

    A Calvinist can regret the results of his sinful choices. And, once more, Robert is merely repeating his stock objection to Calvinism although I (and others) have responded to that objection on multiple occasions. Robert never addresses the counterargument. Never advances his original argument.

    But that’s because Robert is a puppet. So he has a limited repertoire of moves and countermoves. He resorts to the same set of preprogrammed arguments, even though they’ve been rebutted many times before.

    ReplyDelete
  42. WOW!!!


    THAT was awsome Robert!!! WOW!!!


    May the Lord bless you in your work.


    JNORM888

    ReplyDelete
  43. JNORM888 SAID:

    “I disagree. I see it as being both Metaphorical as well as metaphysical. The metaphore is based on the reality of the metaphysical.”

    Which leaves the reality signified by the metaphor undefined. You need to supply an argument for what reality the metaphor is based on. Metaphors are open-textured. By themselves, they don’t pick out any particular referent. Rather, their significance has to be assigned by the author or culture.

    “IF the Universe/creation is not really inside/within God than one can't speak of any metaphoric picture of God being Transcendent and Immanent.”

    Sure one can. Omnipresence would be a metaphor for God’s literal omniscience and omnipotence. His knowledge and powers aren’t conditioned by the limits of time and space.

    One also needs to distinguish between scriptural and unscriptural immanence. The pagan gods were immanent. But that’s a false model of divine immanence.

    “And all the scriptures I mentioned would be meaningless if Panentheism isn't Metaphysical.”

    That’s an assertion, not an argument. And I just explained why it’s misguided.

    ReplyDelete
  44. In discussing Hays’ clumsy illustration about a guy having to choose between two Christian women, being in a place to marry either one, I wrote:

    I don’t buy this and in fact scripture even presents marriage as a choice that is up to us as long as the person is a Christian, the choice we make is up to us (cf., 1 Cor. 7:39 ‘but if her husband is dead, she is FREE to be married to WHOM SHE WISHES, only in the Lord’).

    Hays responded:

    ”A lovely example of Scripture-twisting. But we’d expect that from a false teacher like Robert.

    The “freedom” at issue in 1 Cor 7:39 is not a debate between libertarianism and compatibilism, but whether a widow is morally at liberty to remarry. Is it a sin for her to remarry? No. Remarriage is a licit option in the case of a widow. That’s what Paul is teaching.”

    There are lots of problems with these comments.

    First, just because I interpret the passage differently than Hays does, does not make me a false teacher. Again, Hays needs to stop making these kinds of accusations and insults [I wrote in another post and assume that Hays did not see it as his insults and accusations continue. So I say it again here: “I really would like to discuss subjects here without Hays’insults and personal attacks. And the bible clearly calls believers to engage in interactions which build up one another, manifest gentleness, kindness and love. There are clear commands on this in the New Testament (some which have been presented by others here before). I do not believe that my request is unreasonable. Steve if your personal attacks towards me do not stop, and stop now, then give me the name of your senior Pastor and the local church you attend and we will go that route.]

    Second, my interpretation is held by many, many people and is the majority view on this passage. The only people who would interpret the passage otherwise are determinists like Hays who realize that taken at its plain and evident meaning, the passage suggests the reality of choices as ordinarily understood and the falsity of exhaustive determinism.

    Third, Hays is correct that the specific context of the passage is not a debate between libertarianism and compatibilism: the context is Paul discussing various scenarios related to marriage and remarriage. Note Hays’ words that: “but whether a widow is morally at liberty to remarry. Is it a sin for her to remarry? No. Remarriage is a licit option in the case of a widow. That’s what Paul is teaching.” Paul is talking about whether or not “a widow is morally at liberty to remarry” in that Hays is correct. Hays is also correct when he says “Is it a sin for her to remarry? No. Remarriage is a licit option in the case of a widow.” Hays is even correct when he says “That’s what Paul is teaching.”

    But Hays intentionally I believe, leaves out the key part of the passage which I brought up. IN ADDITION to what Paul says and Hays is correct about, the apostle Paul also says:

    “‘but if her husband is dead, she is FREE to be married to WHOM SHE WISHES, only in the Lord’”

    Look at these statements carefully. First, Paul says if her husband is dead (i.e., she is now a widow). Second, Paul says “she is FREE to be married to WHOM SHE WISHES.” This refers to her freedom to choose whomever she wants to remarry (with the one condition or requirement of the choice being that the man be a believer; “only in the Lord”). This is clearly what the passage explicitly states and teaches. But you see a determinist like Hays has to twist the scripture (or in this case intentionally omit the part that clearly presents free will and choice as ordinarily understood) because if the scripture is saying what it appears to be clearly saying then this is clearly an instance of choice as ordinarily understood. And if the scripture itself presents instances of choice as ordinarily understood, then exhaustive determinism which denies this possibility, is necessarily false. That also explains why Hays stopped short in his “interpretation” of the passage (i.e., he said all the right things up to a point, but with regard to the crucial part of the passage under discussion he intentionally made no comment, completely avoided the phrase “she is FREE to be married to WHOM SHE WISHES.”).

    Fourth, the bible is full of scriptures such as this that clearly present the common and ordinary understanding of choice as being present and real. Each of these passages contradicts Hays’ determinism and show it to be false. This is one of my major problems with calvinism: some bible passages are so clear (e.g., John 3:16) and yet it appears to noncalvinists that the determinist has to engage in eisegetical gymnastics in order to avoid the plain and obvious meaning of the texts.

    Robert

    PS – Gene Bridges frequently claims that there is no exegetical basis or support for the libertarian conception of free will. Well Gene why don’t you try to “exegete” your way out of 1 Cor. 7:39 and show that this passage does not present the reality of choice as ordinarily understood.

    ReplyDelete
  45. ROBERT SAID:

    “First, just because I interpret the passage differently than Hays does, does not make me a false teacher.”

    When you rip it out of context, that makes you a false teacher. Of course, that’s not the only thing that makes you a false teacher. Paul’s opponent in Rom 9 is a libertarian. The fact that you take the side of Paul’s opponent also makes you a false teacher.

    “Again, Hays needs to stop making these kinds of accusations and insults.”

    Because you say so? Sorry if I don’t share your inflated sense of self-importance.

    “And the bible clearly calls believers to engage in interactions which build up one another, manifest gentleness, kindness and love.”

    I’ve already rebutted your misappropriation of these passages. They don’t deal with false teachers—like yourself.

    If you want to be treated like a Christian, act like a Christian. That means, among other things, a commitment to simple honesty—something you sorely lack.

    “Steve if your personal attacks towards me do not stop, and stop now, then give me the name of your senior Pastor and the local church you attend and we will go that route.]”

    That’s very amusing coming from a guy who conceals his personal identity. Why don’t you give me your full name, the name of your senior pastor and the local church you attend and we will go that route.

    Since I’m not a communicant member of the church I attend, I’m not under their care, so your threat is toothless.

    Given the fact that Calvin used invective against his libertarian opponents (e.g. Pighius), and the further fact that the Synod of Dort executed Remonstrants for heresy, my conduct is quite mild by the standards of Reformed tradition.

    “Second, my interpretation is held by many, many people and is the majority view on this passage.”

    Feel free to cite the leading commentators on 1 Corinthians who construe this verse as a prooftext for libertarianism.

    “The only people who would interpret the passage otherwise are determinists like Hays who realize that taken at its plain and evident meaning, the passage suggests the reality of choices as ordinarily understood and the falsity of exhaustive determinism.”

    People take refuge in question-begging adjectives like “plain and evident meaning” when they have no argument to support their contention.

    I don’t interpret the passage deterministically. The passage is silent on the compatibilist/incompatibilist debate.

    “This is clearly what the passage explicitly states and teaches.”

    “Explicitly states and teaches”? Hardly. This clause is perfectly consistent with compatibilism.

    But that’s beside the point since the function of the clause is to underscore the fact that there is no moral impediment to remarriage in the case of a widow.

    Moreover, Robert is, himself, omitting a restrictive clause (“in the Lord”). Standard commentators like Garland and Thiselton deny that she is free to marry whomever she pleases. Rather, she is only at liberty to marry a fellow Christian.

    “Because if the scripture is saying what it appears to be clearly saying then this is clearly an instance of choice as ordinarily understood.”

    Of course, Robert hasn’t made any effort to establish what is “ordinarily understood” in Pauline usage. He merely superimposes his notion of what is “ordinarily understood” onto this 1C text.

    “This is one of my major problems with calvinism: some bible passages are so clear (e.g., John 3:16) and yet it appears to noncalvinists that the determinist has to engage in eisegetical gymnastics in order to avoid the plain and obvious meaning of the texts.”

    Notice that, with Robert, adjectives do all the heavy-lifting (“clear,” “plain,” “obvious,” “eisegetical,” “gymnastic”) while the arguments play hooky.

    ReplyDelete
  46. ROBERT SAID:

    “I have overestimated Steve Hays.”

    This is another example of Robert’s self-importance. He acts as if other people exist to meet with his approval.

    “I thought he was a more mature Christian and that based upon this belief, that I could appeal to New Testament commands about how Christians are to interact with each other (because I assume that mature Christians are characterized by being consistently obedient to scripture).”

    Anyone can quote Scripture. Robert quotes Scripture the way the Pharisees and Sadducees quote Scripture, the way Jehovah’s Witnesses quote Scripture, the way prosperity preachers quote Scripture, the way the Devil quotes Scripture.

    He quotes it out of context. He quotes Scripture while I exegete Scripture. He offers no alternative exegesis. Both Gene and I have corrected his misappropriation of Scripture. How does he respond? By simply repeating himself.

    “Then I attempted to go the local church leadership route (i.e., if you have a disagreement with another believer bring in other mature believers to help the situation).”

    Is this supposed to be an allusion to Mt 18? But Mt 18 says nothing about “church leadership” or “elders” or “senior pastors.” So if he’s alluding to Mt 18, he’s simply reading his hierarchical bias into this passage.

    “That cannot work because Hays is not accountable to local church leadership anywhere.”

    Of course, Robert has a Catholic concept of accountability. It only goes one way—from the top down.

    I reject the Catholic concept of accountability. I uphold a collegial concept of accountability. It’s a two-way street. Mutual accountability.

    “It is not an issue of self importance, it is an issue of obedience to what scripture commands. Steve Hays ignores what scripture says about how Christians ought to act towards one another. And he has done so repeatedly and intentionally. I believe that I now understand why this is happening. Steve Hays has no accountability to either scripture or local church leadership.”

    Robert is not accountable to Scripture. He pays lipservice to the authority of Scripture, but he simply quotes Scripture. He doesn’t bother to exegete his prooftexts. And when his misappropriation of Scripture is corrected, he offers no counterargument. Rather, he merely repeats himself.

    Robert lost the exegetical argument. Robert lost the philosophical argument. So his last resort is the argument from authority. Appealing to human authority. The fallacious ad populum argument. Trying to silence his opponents because he can’t win the argument on exegetical or philosophical grounds.

    “All who have challenged Hays to improve his verbal behavior have been attacked and/or ignored.”

    And what about all the people who have challenged Robert? But with Robert, accountability is a one-way street. He has one standard for himself, and another standard for everyone else.

    “I never misappropiated bible passages: I presented passages which all genuine Christians are to obey.”

    Yes, he quotes Scripture. He doesn’t exegete Scripture. Just quotes it. Gene and I exegete Scripture. We have interacted with his acontextual appeals to Scripture. How does he respond? By repeating himself.

    “I now understand how Hays evades compliance with these scriptures.”

    Robert evades compliance with Scripture by failing to exegete his prooftexts. Gene and I use the grammatico-historical method. Robert simply cites chapter and verse, under the groundless assumption that his interpretation and application are correct, although he can’t bring himself to substantiate his interpretation or application through responsible exegesis.

    “If someone disagrees with him and believes differently than Hays does, he designates them to be false teachers/unbelievers.”

    A demonstrably hyperbolic claim.

    “I had urged Steve Hays to stop the insults and sinful speech towards me and did so by appealing to the bible.”

    Yes, by appealing to the Bible the way the Pharisees and Sadducees appeal to Scripture, among others.

    “Others have also made this appeal.”

    Robert’s fallacious ad populum argument. And he disregards all the folks who have taken him to task.

    This is one of Robert’s hypocrisies. On the one hand, he tries to impose on me an unscriptural standard which I reject. On the other hand, he doesn’t abide by his own standards.

    “This is another serious problem, as the bible is very clear that all believers must be involved in the local church and be in submission to its authority (cf. Heb. 13:17 ‘Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account’.”

    This is a sterling example of how Robert is guilty of Scripture twisting:

    i) The text in Heb 13:17 doesn’t state a universal duty. Rather, it’s addressed to a particular house-church.

    ii) The imperative is tied to a particular situation. As Lane explains, “The unequivocal demand for obedience is relative to the importance of the issue at stake and the peril of apostasy to which members of the community were exposed.”

    So the imperative is conditioned by the concrete situation. The immediate audience. Their particular circumstances. The crisis that occasioned this letter.

    iii) In addition, Robert disregards the force of the verb. As Lane also points out, “The specific quality of the obedience for which peithesthai asks is not primarily derived from a respect for constituted structures of authority. It is rather than obedience that is won through persuasive conversation and that follows from it.”

    I’m always open to a good argument. But Robert doesn’t try to persuade. Rather, he tries to intimidate his opponents after he loses the argument. He resorts to the fallacious argument from authority—just like the Pope.

    iv) And what, according to the author of Hebrews, qualifies the leaders to be leaders? Well, according to v7, it was their oral transmission of the gospel. The spoken word.

    This was before the NT canon was complete. Before most Christians had private copies of the Bible. Rates of literacy also fluctuated according to one’s social class. So Robert simply disregards the underlying rationale.

    v) This was also before the days of modern denominations. Nowadays, membership in a local church, unless it’s an independent church, means membership in a particular denomination.

    But that’s an extrascriptural development. (And independent churches are also extrascriptural developments.)

    In NT times, baptism conferred church membership. Any baptized Christian was automatically a member of the new covenant community. You didn’t join a local church. Rather, you were already joined to all NT churches.

    So Robert is trying to impose on me an extrascriptural standard of church membership. Robert doesn’t know how to exegete Scripture. He only knows how to quote Scripture. As a result, he comes up with the anachronistic interpretations that have no basis in the original intent of the sacred text.

    “I overestimated Steve Hays here. For all his **talk** about theology and the bible, he is an independent spirit, extremely prideful, hateful of people, yet professing to be a Christian. My bible is clear if you profess to be one of Jesus’ disciples, then this will show in: your love for God and his people (‘The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.’ 1 Jn. 2:9-11; ‘We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother, is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.’ 1 Jn. 3:14-15), your obedience to His commands (‘The one who says, I have come to know Him, and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him . . . . the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked,’ 1 Jn. 2:4-6), your character reflecting Christ, and you will be manifesting the fruit of the Spirit rather than the works of the flesh. Steve Hays manifests continuous hatred and pride on this blog, is disobedient to scripture by labeling other Christians as false teachers and nonbelievers and interacting with them in a sinful manner, and repeatedly manifests not the fruit of the Spirit but the works of the flesh. He is no mature Christian, unfortunately, he may not be a Christian at all (cf. Matt. 7:21-23).”

    Three problems:

    1.”Hatred” is Robert’s imputation to me. Robert is projecting.

    2.As usual, he’s quoting Scripture out of context. How did John’s opponents exhibit hatred towards the brethren. By challenging their assurance of salvation on the basis of their heretical and antinomian theology.

    But Robert doesn’t apply any of the elementary principles of grammatico-historical exegesis on his Johannine prooftexts. He doesn’t stop to ask how “hatred” is defined by the historical context.

    3.Notice Robert’s double standard. He’s at liberty to be judgmental and question the salvation of a professing believer, but no one else is at liberty to measure him by his own yardstick.

    “According to Proverbs one of the marks of the wise person is that they appreciate correction and discipline.”

    Which Robert applies to everyone except himself.

    Robert is welcome to correct my exegesis. But he doesn’t offer an exegetical refutation of my position. He simply repeats himself, citing chapter and verse bereft of responsible exegesis.

    “This is true because if your goal is to mature, to be more like Christ, to grow as a Christian, then correction done in the right spirit is a good thing.”

    Except that Robert is impervious to correction. The Tbloggers have repeatedly corrected his false claims. How does he respond? By reinteratinghis false claims.

    “Incidentally, Hays asks me why I don’t post my full name.”

    No, I simply challenged him to abandon his duplicity and apply to himself the standard he tries to impose on me.

    “When you do prison ministry as I do, you do not give inmates any unnecessary information about yourself.”

    Well, I’m flattered to think that the inmates to whom Robert is ministering are regular readers of Tblog. I commend their theological discernment.

    “Hays now attempts to **justify himself** by saying his conduct is ‘quite mild’ when compared with the actions of the reformers (that is the problem, the standard is not the reformers but scripture). What Hays fails to see is that both his and their conduct was sinful judged by scripture.”

    I made no attempt to justify myself or commend the behavior in question. Robert can’t follow his own argument. I’m merely answering him on his own grounds.

    Robert thinks that I’m obligated to submit my case to the elders of the church I attend. Well, if I’m attending a local Reformed church, would they say, with Robert, that Calvin and the Fathers of Dort weren’t even Christians? Hardly.

    So Robert contradicts himself. He attacks the Reformed tradition while, in the very same breath, insisting that I should submit to representatives of the Reformed tradition. But, if I did so, they would scarcely share his damnatory view of Calvin and the Fathers of Dort.

    “Greg Welty in a recent paper on unconditional election took a position opposite Hays.”

    Yet another fallacious appeal to authority.

    “God never sent a man to hell for being inconsistent, but only for his sins. . . .”

    I happen to agree with Greg’s statement.

    Continuing with Robert:

    “Perhaps the problem with Hays is that he worships the deterministic system of calvinism rather than the Lord.”

    Perhaps the problem with Robert is that he worships the indeterministic system of libertarianism rather than the Lord.

    “If you love the Lord you will love His people whether they be fellow Protestants, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, whatever.”

    Really. Is that what Robert truly believes? But just before this, he made the following statement:

    “Then there were the people running the inquisition, they also professed to be Christians ‘doing God’s will’, and so they tortured and killed people who believed differently.”

    Hmm. And who were the people running the Inquisition anyway? Weren’t they…uh…Roman Catholics?”

    Does Robert love the Roman Catholics who were running the Inquisition? Is this how Robert expresses his love for Roman Catholics?

    How about the Eastern Orthodox? They could be every bit as brutal as the Inquisitors.

    Does Robert love his fellow Protestants? Does he love Calvin and the Fathers of Dort? Does he love Bishop Laud?

    Notice that Robert spent all his time talking about me, and no time exegeting Scripture.

    I’m not interesting in talking about myself. Hence, unless Robert has something substantive to offer the next time around, his subsequent comments will be deleted.

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  47. “Hays is now attempting to justify his disobedience by claiming that the passage is merely situational and only had application to the readers of Hebrews, not all of us today. Hays is wrong in this.”

    Notice how Robert chooses to blow past the exegesis of Bill Lane. Robert doesn’t care about the meaning of Scripture.

    “Not hyperbole, this is in fact precisely what Hays did with me.”

    Notice how Robert is now redefining his original claim, which was about “everyone” I disagree with.

    “I have met the requirements of being an elder.”

    What denomination does Robert belong to?

    As an elder, he has even less excuse for his persistent failure to uphold standards of common honesty in his dealings with me or other members of Tblog.

    “Evangelism = I have been involved in numerous people’s coming to the Lord.”

    Meaning his false gospel?

    “Hays is single and living with his mother.”

    Robert is guilty of gossip-mongering.

    “public ministry = I oversee a prison ministry that involves about 80 staff and volunteers and about 6,000 inmates in multiple states.”

    Richard Roberts had a far larger public ministry.

    “First, I am speaking contemporaneously. Today, if I am to obey scripture, then I am to love my brothers and sisters who are part of the one universal church, whether they be Protestant, Catholic or Eastern Orthodox (cf. the Nazis did reprehensible actions and yet I would not hate a modern German who had no part in the actions of his predecessors, similarly, the Catholics that I know and believe to be saved had no involvement in the inquisition). Second, in my opinion those who ran the inquisition, the KKK, and even some of the Reformers who executed others for believing differently, though they all professed to be Christians, were probably not saved persons. There is no New Testament justification for torturing and/or killing people who believe differently than you do. Third, from Hays’ words it appears that he only loves those who think and believe just like he does and he despises those who believe differently. In my case, it is the opposite, while I may disagree with Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and others in regards to some of their specific beliefs.”

    Robert is very selective about the Catholics and Orthodox he loves. He only loves those he approves of.

    Catholics and Orthodox don’t drive a wedge between “contemporary” Catholics or Orthodox and Catholics or Orthodox who lived centuries past.

    Robert persistently refuses to exegete his prooftexts. Instead, he resorts to ad populum arguments. I warned him that if he did that, his comments would be deleted.

    ReplyDelete