Monday, January 06, 2020

Flipping Molinist dominoes


Since CCFs do not depend for their truth values on God's will, and God is omniscient, God knows the field of CCFs "ahead of time," that is, in a way explanatorily prior to his decision to create. He can therefore foresee exactly what world will result from any set of initial conditions he might choose to create. Thus, Molinism is a No-Risk view, and it offers wide scope for divine providential control. For example, supposed it is true that if Eve were offered an apple by a snake, she would freely take and eat it. If God wishes Eve to eat such an apple, all he has to do is arrange for a snake to offer her one. On the other hand, if he wishes Eve to avoid this action, he simply sees to it that no such offer is made. In either case, God exercises providential control by  managing, so to speak what conditions free agents find themselves in rather than by making things happen directly as a result of his will, and either case Eve acts only on her free will. 

Theological determinism

It follows that determinism in this model is exclusively theological, and there need be no causal determinism in the created order. God can create as random a universe as you like, in the case that he can create a universe where, for example, there is no set of simple natural laws that describe all or nearly all of the events in the universe. On the other hand, it will not be random at all in the sense that it will be exactly the universe God intended to create. Heath White, Fate and Free Will: A Defense of Theological Determinism  (Notre Dame 2019).

This is interesting because it means Molinism is, in its own way, even more deterministic than Calvinism. If it's certain that the agent will respond in a particular way in a particular situation, then the initial conditions predetermine the outcome. Flip the first domino and all the other dominoes fall in a particular, inevitable sequence.

In Calvinism, by contrast, it's possible for the same outcome to eventuate from different initial conditions because it's not deterministic in that way. Rather, it operates more like dramatic logic, where the plot unfolds in a particular way, characters act in a particular way, for teleologically and psychologically plausible reasons. Not a mechanical domino effect, but because God prefers one world history or cosmic narrative over another. 

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