I guess Steve didn't realize he'd lost on this point several posts back. Let's see, God's knowledge transcends the boundaries of time, therefore, no matter what choice will be made, God already knows what it will be.”I'm doing this because it strikes me that sometimes we here at Tblog can be like the students in a Geometry class who do the proof in "short form." Sometimes, however, it's helpful to do the proof in the longest form possible in order for a less able to student to see the inner logic that he might not otherwise understand. Hopefully, this will help JCT and other readers who may not yet "get it."
So with that said, actually, we went over this and JCT never, really, ever answered except to continue saying "Because God is timeless." JCT's answer to this was "God knows because God is timeless." He basically just kept repeating this as if it answers the question - bu it doesn't say anything about how a libertarian choice's outcome can be known by God if it is only knowable in the mind of the acting agent up to and until the time the outcome is made into an effect.
Allow me to explain in an outline that JCT might just understand. Please follow very carefully.
JCT is basically arguing that God knows these choices *before* the agent makes them (from our standpoint). Fine, no problem. How? He says, "Because God is timeless." I might put it differently by pointing to God's omnipresence, via a spatial metaphor, instead of a temporal one, to say "because He is already there." ("Before" and "After" are spatial as well as temporal metaphors). I think this captures the essence of JCT's answer. If I'm wrong, he can correct me.
JCT is committed to LFW (libertarian free will).
So, given these basic premises, let's take a look why we are responding the way we are, in hopes that JCT will understand us:
In LFW, the outcome is CONTRAcausal in nature. This makes it indeterminate in nature, until it is instantiated. This is definitional to LFW. We can call this question, the question of "determinability," eg. the quality that attaches to an object of knowledge that is contracausal in nature. If an object of knowledge may change until it comes to pass, it is, by definition, indeterminate in nature.
So the Acting Agent (Agent A) is the only one who can have any relatively certain idea of the outcome until that time, for it is only in that agent's mind.
And it can only be made certain (eg. made determinate) due to the act of Agent A, eg. Agent A must choose in order for the outcome to be made certain.
Why? Because until and unless Agent A enacts the choice, the outcome can change. At that time, it becomes fixed, therefore, certain.
So - anything God might know about this object of knowledge *before* or *apart from* the action of Agent A act of choosing it is just a really good guess until Agent A makes his/her choice.
Put another way, God can only know the outcome of Agent A's act *as a result of the Agent's act of choosing.*
Why? Because the object of knowledge (Outcome A instantiated by Agent A) is an *indeterminate* object of knowledge until the moment it is instantiated.
So - The question is not "How does God know after Outcome A is instantiated?"
The question is "How does God know before Outcome A is instantiated, since Outcome A would be indeterminate in nature until it was instantiated?"
If something is knowable after or as a result of it's instantiation, it is a determinate object of knowledge, because it has been instantiated/it's instantiation; it is then fixed. In short, certainty corresponds with a determinate, fixed object of knowledge, not an indeterminate, unfixed object of knowledge. Only uncertainty obtains with respect to the knowability of an indeterminate, unfixed object of knowledge. In other words, an unfixed, indeterminate object is a moving target. You can guess, and you might be able to predict with great accuracy, but you can't know with infallible certainty where it will be every time you pull the trigger or shoot your arrow.
So the first thing we know now is that, on JCT's framework, God is *dependent* on Agent A for His own knowledge and this knowledge is infallible and certain. Therefore, this makes the object of knowledge determinate, for it is certain, and fixed, not indeterminate. This is inconsistent with LFW, which deals with indeterminate, not determinate, objects of knowledge.
Certainty = determinate object of knowledge
Uncertainty = indeterminate object of knowledge
Uncertainty = indeterminate object of knowledge
Ergo this is why Steve writes,
Because divine knowledge of the future commits J.C. to epistemic determinism.The key word is "epistemic." Why are you committed to epistemic determinism? We're talking about the knowability of an object (Outcome A). You are committed to this because of the underlying reasons that the object is knowable/known by God - namely it must pass from an indeterminate object of knowledge (in the mind of Agent A) into being a determinate object of knowledge (instantiated by Agent A) in order for God to know it with certainty.
1. You affirm that God's foreknowledge of this object is certain and infallibly so.
2. You deny that God foreordained it, and
3. You stipulate to LFW and the instantiation of the object of knowledge by the agent, and
4. You argue "because God is timeless" this means He knows it.
Well, on those premises, JCT, God knows these objects of knowledge:
A. "After" the agent instantiates the choice, or, put another way,
B. "Because" the agent instantiates the choice.
Ergo, the choice (the object of knowledge in question) passes from being an indeterminate object of knowledge (in the mind of Agent A) to a determinate object of knowledge, instantiated by Agent A and thus fixed. Then it is known by God. This is the very definition of epistemic determinism. Why? Once we pass from the "determinability question" (eg. Is the object of knowledge indeterminate or determinate?), we then know it is determined if it is known with certainty by agents (in this case God and man).
Corollary: This, by the way directly attacks the Independence of God and thus ultimately runs counter to classical Christian theism, if consistently followed. God is made to depend on the acts of free agents for His knowledge. Our dispute with Arminians on this has always been that, if they were consistent, they'd be Socinians - and their own history is littered with alliances to Socinianism, so we have good historical reason to recognize this too.
This poses a particular problem for Advocates of Middle Knowledge since God chooses to instantiate this universe and only this universe and He does so in way in which He knows all the libertarian choices in it and decrees that universe so that they all occur with certainty, before He decrees any of it. Remember, God does this from *many* possible universes? So, what grounds His foreknowledge of those choices if these are only *possible* universes? That's what we call the "grounding objection."
A similar objection obtains for the Simple Foreknowledge View of which JCT seems to be an advocate. Why? The outcome is already *determined* if it's *certain.* Which gets us here:
“Steve tried to dance around this, but was never able to explain how if the omniscient God's knowledge was not bound by time, why He would be unable to know a libertarian choice (speaking from our temporal perspective) before it is made.
We actually answered this, and JCT ignored the answer. In my original comment I said "JCT is such a liar." I apologize. On second thought, I just think he doesn't understand the answer (thus this post).
1. How is that object knowable *before* the Agent acts? Saying "because God is timeless" is no answer, *because God depends on the agent's action.* God only knows the act *as a result of the action.*
This means God only knows it *after* the agent acts, not *before.* It's JCT who chose to use these spatial and temporal metaphors (before and after), so now he needs to actually deal with them.
2. He's confusing the ontology of God with an epistemological category related to how things are known by God. The issue isn't the timeless nature of God (ontology - God's nature)) but *epistemological question* related to the knowability of the object (Outcome A, which is an instance of Agent A, a human being, an agent other than God).
It begs the question that the object (Outcome A) is a knowable object of knowledge to argue that it is knowable due to God's timeless nature. That's just an assertion. How many times do we have to repeat ourselves?
By the way, these categories of indetermination and determination are standard, and the arguments employed by Steve and Manata are standard. If JCT wishes to vary with them, that's fine, but he'll need to make the argument.
Now - We know God is timeless, and we agree to that, but we also know that He understands relational sequence, eg. that A comes before B and so on. Why, JCT, or more properly, How is this so? We know He internally intuits everything in "eternal simultaneity" (to borrow a classical term), but what about the logical, orderly, and certain relations with that single intuition?
Is it because He is "timeless?" That has been your answer so far. We'll run with that. Our question to you is, "If so, then how do we get from God's timelessness - an ontological category related to an agent other than Agent A (a human being) to questions of logical, certain, relational sequence with respect to the actions of other agents than God - an epistemological category?" Saying that God is timeless or omnipresent begs the question. You need a supporting argument - that's what we've been waiting for.
In Reformed theology, we answer this easily: God knows them because He knows His decree. He therefore knows these things because He knows Himself. God's (fore)knowledge of our acts is a species of His self-knowledge.
While you're at it, will you please show us where LFW is taught by Scripture. You have yet to successfully do so. Until you do, everything else is just so much bluster. Please demonstrate from Scripture that our choices are contracausal in nature.