Once again, I want to examine the counterfactual argument. As I originally put it:
“God knows what a man will freely choose. If the man chooses X, God knows that the man will choose X. But if the man would have chosen Y, then God would have known that the man chose Y instead. Therefore, the man’s choice is still free and self-determined, despite the fact that God knows what it will be.”The angle I want to approach this issue is slightly different from last time. I want to look into the mechanics of how God knows what He knows. The counterfactual argument is actually making an argument about omniscience, and so looking into this is important. How is it that God knows what He knows?
ἐΚΚΛΗΣίΑ said (although from the way the comment was structured, this may actually be a quote from William Lane Craig—I couldn’t tell):
The point is, that just because something is known to be true, doesn't mean that knowledge itself, makes it true.Now it is certainly true that just because something is known to be true, that does not mean that knowledge of the thing is what makes it true. However, this type of response is only relevant to time-bound creatures. That is, we understand the truth of this statement because we learn. And we know that how we know something is independent of the veracity of the thing itself.
But this is disanalogous from the way God knows what He knows. First of all, in classical Christian philosophy, God is eternal and omniscient, which means He never learns anything at all. He has eternally known everything that is possible to be known (my preferred definition of “omniscience”). Therefore, right off the bat we’re running into problems with the above argument, as stated by ἐΚΚΛΗΣίΑ.
Suppose that you know a specific fact, but that you never learned that fact. You’ve always known that fact. By what basis do you know that fact? You cannot appeal to “I learned this fact” or “I saw this fact as it occurred” because you’ve always known the fact. Indeed, your knowledge of the fact, in such a structure, must be independent of any manner of learning.
So let’s give a more specific example. Suppose I say, “I have always known, since the instant I became aware of anything, that on September 25, 2010 [tomorrow, at the time I write this] I will eat chocolate chip cookies after dinner.” How would you examine that claim? How would you verify whether what I have said constitutes knowledge or not? I daresay everyone would deny that my statement actually is knowledge, because none of us has the experience of knowing something without having learned it.
But let’s suppose this is a genuine occurrence. How would it be possible? The only way that it would be possible for me to have always known that I would eat cookies after dinner tomorrow is if the basis of my knowledge is coextensive with my own existence. To use truth-maker terminology (although I’m not completely sold on truth-maker metaphysics), the truth-maker that determines my knowledge of eating chocolate cookies tomorrow must exist at least as long as the entire duration of my existence, in order for me to have always known this fact.
The same thing would be true of God. If God knows that I will eat chocolate chip cookies tomorrow (and, if that is a true statement, then God’s omniscience requires that He does know this), then the truth-maker for that statement must be eternal. Why? Because God doesn’t learn. And therefore, the truth-maker for this knowledge must be eternal like God is eternal.
This immediately rules out any created thing or action as being a truth-maker for God’s knowledge. The only option that remains is that God Himself is the truth-maker. Which ultimately is saying, “God knows that X will occur because God is the truth-maker for X occur.”
How could that happen? Well, Biblically we know that God decrees what will happen. He foreordains whatsoever comes to pass. He has declared what will happen, and then He does it. In other words, it seems that Calvinism is the inevitable result of a belief in the eternal omniscience of God. The only way to avoid determinism or compatibilism is to assert that God is capable of learning—a denial of omniscience.