Reposting some comments I left on Facebook:
Steve Hays Olson says:
"I argue that belief in double predestination is simply logically incompatible with the claim that God is good—unless “good” is emptied of all meaning so that it is a useless cipher for something we don’t know."
Problem is, he doesn't argue that. He asserts that.
"But belief that God “designs, foreordains, and governs” hell for the reprobate who are unconditionally chosen by God for hell for his glory without regard to any truly free choices they make undermines belief in God’s goodness."
Where's the the supporting argument?
"So does belief that God “passes over” some he could easily save (because election to salvation is unconditional and saving grace is irresistible), damning them to hell, for his glory."
Where's the supporting argument?
"There is no conceivable analogous human behavior that we would call “good.” The very concept of “good” rules out such behavior."
I keep waiting for Olson to back that up with a supporting argument.
His entire case hinges on a key premise which he never defends. He assumes the very thing he needs to prove.
"To say nothing of Jesus’ own goodness and the New Testament’s commands for us to love our enemies and do good to them."
Hmm. Isn't Jesus the eschatological judge who consigns the wicked to hell? Is that doing them good?
"My point is, of course, that there exists a contradiction between two Calvinist beliefs…"
Except for one persistent little omission: he never gets around to giving the reader a reason to grant his key premise.
Jez Bayes Ok.
The argument, rather than assertion, is that it is incompatible with conventional notions of 'good' to propose that any character who would willingly select humans from birth to be consciously tormented forever, could be seen as good.
Annihilationist views may get off this hook.
Any character able to save others from certain ultimate pain, whether passing or eternal, but who chooses not to, while choosing other equally undeserving characters to be rescued, cannot be seen as good by normal criteria.
It is the behaviour of a psychotic untrustworthy despot and torturer.
Given that he is so repetitive that he should say less according to the OP, read further to find the supporting arguments.
Steve Hays Jez Bayes:
"Point 1. The argument, rather than assertion, is that it is incompatible with conventional notions of 'good' to propose that any character who would willingly select humans from birth to be consciously tormented forever, could be seen as good."
That's just another assertion in lieu of an argument.
"Annihilationist views may get off this hook."
Even if that's the case, Olson didn't invoke that escape clause.
"Point 2: Any character able to save others from certain ultimate pain, whether passing or eternal, but who chooses not to, while choosing other equally undeserving characters to be rescued, cannot be seen as good by normal criteria."
Once again, that's an assertion in search of an argument. With all due respect, don't you know the difference?
You need to state what constitutes "normal criteria." You need to explain why we should regard your criteria as normal–much less normative.
You need to give reasons for why it's wrong to treat equally undeserving people unequally.
"It is the behaviour of a psychotic untrustworthy despot and torturer."
Which begs the question.
In addition, Olson's contention backfires. The Arminian God refuses to intervene in situations where a virtuous human would step in. If a human refused to intervene in such situations, even though he was able to do so, we'd regard his inaction as culpable.
Therefore, the character of the Arminian God is disanalogous to human behavior we'd call good. The very concept of "good" rules out such inaction. To claim that the Arminian God is good empties "good" of all meaning so that it is a useless cipher for something we don't know.
Jez Bayes Meanwhile, this is a good piece on sovereignty:
Holley-Hull Lecture “A Relational View of God’s Sovereignty”
Steve Hays In that lecture, Olson indicates that he prefers a risky or open view of providence. A God who takes risks.
Problem is, we typically regard it as culpable for an agent to endanger other people. As a rule, if I risk your life to protect myself, that's blameworthy; if I risk my life to protect you, that's praiseworthy. It's one thing for me to assume a personal risk for the benefit of others, quite another to put others at risk.
Olson's God is taking chances with the lives of human beings. How is that commendable?
According to Olson's criterion, God's behavior would not be analogous to human standards of good.
Jez Bayes Steve Hays, if on the other hand you think double predestination is not incompatible with God's goodness, what's the supporting argument for that assertion?
Steve Hays These aren't symmetrical positions. It's not incumbent on me to argue that double predestination is compatible with God's goodness. It's not as if there's a standing presumption to the contrary which I must overcome. I'm not the one who's raising the objection. If you think double predestination is incompatible with divine goodness, the onus is on you to demonstrate your claim.
Jez Bayes That's a neat get out.
I'm interested, I'm asking the question, so now in this conversation the onus is on you....See More
Steve Hays It's not my job to make your argument for you. Unless there's a reason to think double predestination is incompatible with God's goodness, there's nothing for me to disprove. I have nothing to work with.
Too many Arminian critics are intellectual freeloaders.
Jez Bayes I think double predestination is incompatible with God's goodness.
If combined with a concept of Hell that includes eternal conscious torment, then that makes God out to be a sadistic tyrant....See More
Steve Hays Groundless assertion #1:
"I think double predestination is incompatible with God's goodness."
Groundless assertion #2:
"If combined with a concept of Hell that includes eternal conscious torment, then that makes God out to be a sadistic tyrant."
Groundless assertion #3:
"Biblically, God is Love, so you need to show how you can hold to d p and a God of love."
Groundless assertion #4:
"For me, they are incompatible."
Which circles right back to #1.
You haven't provided a single argument to support your claims. All you've done is to posit that they are incompatible. You haven't even attempted to show how they are incompatible.
"If every one refused to justify their position because their own views made perfect sense to themselves, we would never exchange views and learn from each other."
I can't refute a nonexistent argument. Unless and until you put an actual argument on the table, there's nothing for me to evaluate.
All you've done is to treat me to your question-begging opinions. You don't begin to show how one thing follows from another by logical implication. It's assertions and gaps.
Thus far, all you've succeeded in demonstrating is that your position is indefensible.
Jez: The moon is made of green cheese.
Steve: That's an assertion. Where's the supporting argument?
Jez: The moon is made of green cheese because the moon is composed of green curdled milk.
Steve: That's circular.
Jez: If you deny that the moon is made of green cheese, where's your argument to the contrary?
Steve: Since you've given me no reason to believe the moon is made of green cheese, it's hardly incumbent on me to disprove a contention for which you offer no argument or evidence.
Jez: That's a neat get out. I'm asking the question, so the onus is now on you to show that the moon isn't made of green cheese.
Steve: There's no presumption that the moon is made of green cheese. The burden of proof is not on me to justify my disbelief in a groundless assertion. It's not my job to first make your own argument for you, then refute it.
Jez Bayes Steve: "Because I believe something and it appears true to me, it must be self evidently true, and to state the opposite is a groundless assertion which allows you to play rhetorical games rather than engage in actual dialogue with someone who is genuinely interested in reviewing aspects of faith and belief.
Calvinism is self evidently true and requires no explanation.
Arminianism is a groundless belief based on circular argumentation, akin to believing the moon is made of cheese.
Anyone drawn to see this the other way round is a lesser being more worthy of mild ridicule than serious dialogue."
Jez Bayes 1: "Double predestination is incompatible with God's goodness."
2: "Double predestination is compatible with God's goodness."
As stated, both are groundless assertions.
You may not be impressed with my arguments in favour of 1, and I don't claim to be a highly skilled theologian, philosopher or logician, so I don't doubt that your conclusions about my statements are correct.
Meanwhile rather than actually attempt to support statement 2 you would rather come across as evasive and ridiculing.
"Steve: 'Because I believe something and it appears true to me, it must be self evidently true…'"
I never said that or implied that. I'm simply responding to you own your own terms.
"…and to state the opposite is a groundless assertion."
As a matter of fact, all you've done thus far is to repeatedly assert the truth of your opinions. What makes it "groundless" is the lack of supporting argumentation.
"…which allows you to play rhetorical games rather than engage in actual dialogue with someone who is genuinely interested in reviewing aspects of faith and belief."
Pointing out that you still don't know the difference between an assertion and an argument is not a rhetorical game. Pointing out that I'm under no obligation to refute unjustified claims is not a rhetorical game. Rather, I insist on minimal standards of rational discourse. Too many Arminians, you included, take crucial intellectual shortcuts. I don't let you get away with that any more than I'd let an atheist get away with that.
"Calvinism is self evidently true and requires no explanation."
Which I didn't say or imply.
"Arminianism is a groundless belief based on circular argumentation, akin to believing the moon is made of cheese."
In my replies to you I didn't take any position on the groundlessness of Arminianism in general, but with reference to your own statements.
"Anyone drawn to see this the other way round is a lesser being more worthy of mild ridicule than serious dialogue."
Serious dialogue begins with serious arguments. I'm still waiting for you to give me reasons to justify your opinions about double predestination.
"You may not be impressed with my arguments in favour of 1"
It's not that I'm unimpressed with your arguments in favor of 1. Rather, you have't presented any arguments in favor of 1. Instead, you've expressed your disapproval of double predestination. You've paraphrased your assertions. And you've used pejorative adjectives to characterize double predestination.
None of that amounts to a reasoned argument. There's no argument for me to be unimpressed with.
Likewise, there's nothing for me to "evade." You've expressed your personal disapproval of double predestination. That's an autobiographical statement of your feelings. There's nothing for me to respond to at that level. It's like telling me you find spinach icky.
Jez Bayes Meaning that if you see it one way, you tend to think the other perspective is groundless, and ultimately it's impossible to prove one way or the other?
Steve Hays Meaning "groundless" because you have yet to present a bona fide argument for your perspective. You just give me repackaged assertions.
This isn't a trick. Arminian critics (of Calvinism) need to master the difference between assertions and arguments. Arminians need to become aware of their unexamined assumptions. Arminians need to learn that just because something *seems* to be wrong to them, that creates no presumption that their perception is correct. Arminians need to become cognizant of how often they beg the question.
Roger Olson and Jerry Walls are serial offenders in that regard. They usually shield themselves from scrutiny by playing to a sympathetic audience or airing their views in a controlled setting (which they themselves moderate). They don't usually risk direct engagement with opponents in their own weight class. And for good reason.
1. A necessary condition for love is desiring the well-being of others with no ulterior motive
2. If damnation is eternal conscious torment, then damnation does not promote the well-being of anyone who is damned
3. If damnation does not promote the well-being of those who are damned, then any being who knowingly damns others does not desire their well-being with no ulterior motive
4. If damnation is eternal conscious torment, then any being who knowingly damns others does not desire their well-being with no ulterior motive (2,3)
5. Any being who knowingly damns others does not love those who are damned (1,4)
6. Assume: God loves all beings
7. God does not knowingly damn any beings (5,6)
8. If God loves all beings, then God knowingly damns no one (CP)
There you are, Steve.
i) That's not an argument against double predestination. At best, that's an argument against everlasting punishment.
ii) You suggest that God knowingly damns no one. Does that mean God damns no one, or that God unknowingly damns some people? Does God damn people without knowing it? Does God accidentally damn some people?
iii) You say God loves all "beings," rather than all "human beings." What does that mean? God loves all bacteria?
iv) You need to provide a supporting argument for #1. If you mean to suggest that, by definition, love is disinterested, then husbands and wives never love each other, since men and woman are motivated to seek a mate to satisfy a natural need.
v) Why do you begin with divine love rather than divine justice? Justice is no less an essential attribute of God than love.
Moreover, justice can take precedence over love. If my son murders a coed, it's my duty to turn him into the authorities. All things being equal, loving my son is primary. If, however, he commits a heinous crime, then he forfeits preferential treatment. In that event, the murder victim and her family deserve justice. That becomes the new priority.
Gareth McNab This was hard to read. I'd like to know where in the scriptures the rule about the onus being on the dissenter from prevailing opinion etc. Our Father invited Isaiah to come and reason together - really disappointed that despite jez's best efforts to ask questions and listen to answers, he was provided with none and worse, was ridiculed for not playing by the made up rules. Bullies at school do that to my five year old daughter.
Steve Hays Gareth, you are infantilizing Jez.
Jez Bayes Steve, re-read what Gareth wrote and work out whose behaviour he was describing and critiquing.
Just to reassure you, I didn't feel infantilized.
Gareth McNab Steve - that is an assertion and not an argument. Stop being an argumentative sonuvawotsit and please engage in actual discussion so we can all be enlightened.
Steve Hays Gareth, I'm responding to you on your own terms. You used the "bully/5-year-old" comparison, not me. By definition, that's infantilizing.
Jez Bayes Ok, you're correct, but he's not describing me, he's describing you as like someone who would bully a 5 year old.
If you want to use a term like infantilizing, then he's infantilizing you rather than me.
Personally, I think you're insulting Gareth and being deliberately evasive of a direct question.
Steve Hays He's casting you in the role of a 5-year-old schoolgirl who's bullied by me. So, yes, that infantilizes you.
It's funny that you think I'm the one who insulted Gareth when he compared me to a schoolyard bully. But I've come to expect that kind of cliqish partisanship from Arminians.
Unable to furnish even prima facie reasons for your objection to double predestination, you fall back on verbal abuse. Always nice to see Arminian love and ethics in action.