Thursday, January 30, 2014

Is God rolling the dice?

I'm going to post a brief email exchange I had with a friend. His statement is indented:

i) I could see a freewill theist saying God can instantiate the circumstances, but not the free choice. That's because the circumstances don't select for any particular choice. LFW severs any causal link between circumstances and choices. If Peter is free to either accept or reject Christ under the same circumstances, then the choice is independent of the circumstances. In that sense, what the agent will or would do is beyond God's control. 

If, however, that's the case, then we seem to have the following consequences:

ii) Since the circumstances lack predictive value, God can't know in advance what world he's getting when he instantiates the circumstances. It's a shot in the dark. How it turns out is unforeseeable. 

iii) God doesn't really instantiate worlds. He doesn't have a catalogue of feasible worlds to choose from. Rather, he can only instantiate circumstances. For worlds are more than circumstances. Worlds include the choices of agents in worlds. 

iv) The distinction between circumstances and choices is somewhat arbitrary, for choices can also be circumstances. For instance, the prior choices of parents create circumstances for their children. But that generates a regressive impediment to God instantiating circumstances. Some of my circumstances were created by my parents' past choices. Some of their circumstances were created by my grandparents' past choices. You can't have some present or future circumstances without the past choices, but the intertwining of free choices with resultant circumstances extends backwards indefinitely.

The circumstances lack predictive value," but only in the sense that knowledge of circumstances by itself doesn't give God knowledge of what the agent would do. Middle-knowledge is knowledge of conditionals, where the antecedent specifies the circumstances and the consequent specifies the choice. God knows the whole conditional, and gets 'predictive value' from that. God's lacking control over the truth-value of these conditionals doesn't deprive God of the ability to know the conditionals, and that's all he needs to exercise meticulous Molinist providence.

Since there's no causal link between antecedent circumstances and subsequent choices, how does knowing the conditional confer knowledge of the outcome? 

Put another way, although the conditional by posit a logical (if/then) relation between the antecedent and the consequence, what makes that a valid implication? Since the circumstances don't pick out one choice rather than another, the conditional seems to be an arbitrary stipulation. 

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