Freedom/Foreknowledge and Molinism

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Brandon C. Jones, May 20, 2005.

  1. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones
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    Having discussed Ockhamism (I am not assuming that it has either been upheld or rejected), let's turn to another Arminian solution to God's exhaustive definite foreknowledge of the future and its compatibility with man's libertarian free will.

    Molinism (or the Middle Knowledge defense) is named after a Spanish monk Luis de Molina, who came up with this intriguing solution.

    The term middle knowledge stands in distinction to God's natural knowledge and free knowledge:

    Natural knowledge: God's exhaustive knowledge of all possibilities (what could happen)

    Free knowledge: God's exhaustive knowledge of all actualities: past, present, and future (what has, is, and will happen)

    Middle Knowledge: God's exhaustive knowledge of the counterfactuals of free agents (what would happen if a libertarianly free agent is put in a certain situation).

    This defense invokes possible world talk. Nothing too scary, it just poses that there are an infinite amount of possible worlds. A possible world is a logically consistent state of affairs. For instance, there is a possible world, W~BJ, where the only thing different between that world and the actual world is that I do not exist in W~BJ. Obviously, that would indeed be a sad world for everyone, but it is still possible. Molinism invokes possible world talk to show that God knows all possible worlds, and if they include libertarianly free agents, then God knows what they would do in each possible world.

    There is debate among philosophers whether or not God exists in every possible world, but this defense does not depend on a conclusion on that matter. This defense does depend on God, "before" (you can use this defense whether God is eternal (timeless) or everlasting (sempiternal) He chose to create the actual world, choosing to create this world as opposed to many other possible worlds.

    Among these possible worlds are many worlds that involve libertarianly free agents. God knows what these agents would do in any possible world. Since He has this middle knowledge, then He decides to create this world already knowing what the libertarianly free agents in this world would do in any situation. This is how they are still libertarianly free, but He already knows everything they will do. Libertarian free will is upheld as well as God's exhaustive foreknowledge of the future!

    Critique: As I alluded to on the Ockham thread, my biggest issue with this defense is that is tries to sneak God's knowledge of what free agents WOULD do and make that equal to God's knowledge of what free agents WILL do. There is a tiny difference between the two, and that difference renders libertarian freedom in jeopardy with this defense. The difference is that if God's knowledge of what they WOULD do still means that they can do otherwise--then this does not count as knowledge, but as something else--beliefs (yes Wes, I am familiar with the general way that people use this word). This means that God may have some false beliefs and is not omniscient.

    The Molinist could respond and say, no, God, through middle knowledge knows what WILL happen. Well, if that is the answer then we have gotten no where with this defense. How does He know what will happen, until they actually make decisions? He just does...or the ockhamist defense...etc.

    The Molinist could also respond and say, no, God, through middle knowledge, knows what COULD happen. Well, then my first point of critique applies and God's omniscience and foreknowledge are rather shaky since He could be wrong.

    I hope this was fair to both sides and that this will invoke some good discussions instead of stock rhetoric and semantic issues.

    For those interested in more on Molinism see William Lane Craig's website (google it for the address) or consult some fine print sources like his little book "The Only Wise God."

    In Christ,
    Brandon Jones
     
  2. whetstone

    whetstone
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    you think a lot.
     
  3. Brandon C. Jones

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    Trinity will do that to you whetstone. [​IMG]
     
  4. gb93433

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    Nothing too scary, it just poses that there are an infinite amount of possible worlds.

    How can there be an infinite number of possible worlds? What God creates is finite. He is infinite. For something to be infinite it would have to be God. The infinite cannot be equal to itself. All it creates is less then infinite. Therefore the creation of an infinite number of possible worlds cannot exist.
     
  5. Brandon C. Jones

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    This seems to fall under "semantic quibbling." Please consider what is written before objecting because I no where said that anything was infinite, but the amount of something was. There are an infinite amount of possible worlds because there is no end to how many combinations of states of affairs there can logically possibly be. There are also an infinite number of positive intergers, but no one claims that they have divine status...I think the same would hold true for possible worlds.

    Regarding what God creates being finite...yes, a possible world is not the actual world (but the actual world was a possible world before it was actual) and every possible world is finite--what is infinite is how many possible worlds there are. Perhaps God knows the limits, but only He would know, and I see no need to put a mathematical "cap" on how many there could be...that's what the word "infinite" is for.

    I think you are confusing what is infinite in my post, not the possible world itself, but how many of them there are.
     
  6. Brandon C. Jones

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    GB: after looking at your post I don't think you have the amount confused with the possible world itself--sorry. Regarding whether or not God "creates" logical possibilities is another issue for another time. But "infinite" just means indefinite, and there is no need to avoid the word when dealing with indefinite issues from our standpoint.

    regards,
    BJ
     
  7. BobRyan

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    AS has been stated before - "it is tough to BE God".

    The correct way to deal with the problem is in terms of "boundaries" rather than a rigorous attempt to "be God" on this subject.

    The boundary in this case states that God does know the future and that God has free will (options and choices FOR REAL).

    Since that is true - so also does man. Furthermore - God is not "prevented" from giving man that "free will set" of REAL choices any more than He himself is prevented by His own foreknowledge.

    "HOW" He does it - gets back to "being" God.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  8. Wes Outwest

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    It ain't too tough or George Burns couldn't have been God in the movie, OH GOD!

    Besides, from God's perspective, I would have say it is much tougher being man. God has no boundaries, man has many boundaries. God is not limited in anyway whatever, yet he remains Holy God! Man is limited in everyway yet he cannot become holy under his own power.

    That's why it is By God's grace that He saves any man period, and he says he saves only those who have faith in Him.
     
  9. rc

    rc
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    Brandon,

    Greg Boyd's garbage is an old lie. As R.C. says "If it hasn't been grasped by the Church for thousands of years, it's a wise to disregard it as bad theology." Molina is a satellite in the sphere of heresy hovering around the mass of truth.

    Colossians 2:8 8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

    This is completely philosophical and vanity. It is not grounded by scripture at all. If you can find a scripture that defines "middle knowledge" please give it to us.... Other wise count it as intellectual gymnastics. Or as I call Open theism.... Arminians intellectual response to Calvinism. Boyd and Sanders fall so far short of the understanding of the Glory of God it is shameful what they are doing in taking liberal theology to embarrassing lows.
     
  10. Brandon C. Jones

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    what's embarrassing are posts like these...did you read my critique?
     
  11. rc

    rc
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    Yes I did.

    And will state again. Unless scripture is the basis of the topic and scripture is used for the answers to the topic, it's philosophy. I just rather get board with topics that "include" God but not have Him the Object of what we are discussing. This type of thinking I believe is dangerous because it leads one to read the Bible in a "readers response" mentality instead of an "authours intent" mentality.
     
  12. Brandon C. Jones

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    hmmm...i'll use the same defense of Calvinism:

    It's tough to be God: He is not the author of evil but still decrees all things. Those who want to know how that works want to be God.

    He still holds man responsible with compatibilistic freedom since they act on their desires and are not constrained. Those who want to know how that works want to be God.

    Those are my boundaries...the issue is settled I guess.
     
  13. BobRyan

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    The fact that Calvinism will cling to a contradiction is not "Surprising" or a validation of Calvinism.

    The reason my method works and yours does not is that BOTH sides agree that God is all-knowing and BOTH sides agree that God STILL has choice, options, free will.

    Your point that Calvinism is conflicted and conradictory in its OWN beliefs -- does not have that advantage, so-- Calvilnism is simply wrong.

    The point remains.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  14. Brandon C. Jones

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    Boy BR that sure was an objective treatment of the issue. BOTH sides agree with your premises? Last time I checked, no Calvinist would agree with only one definition of free will, namely the Arminian definition. Calvinists believe that God decreed the events of the world and they are set from before He created anything...so you are simply wrong to say that both sides agree with your premises.

    So your solution does not work...and the Calvinist would say that the Arminian has an internal contradiction of her OWN since the Arminian account of human free will cannot fit with God's foreknowledge of libertarianly free decisions.

    The point remains that your solution may convince Arminians, and if I use the same solution it may convince Calvinists...but it sure does not solve anything between the two.

    You always say that you are objective, but your veil is thin to say the least. You assume your own terms and definitions for both sides...dress up a straw man that you label Calvinism...knock the straw man down...and then proudly proclaim victory because "Calvinism" has been defeated.

    Your method does not "work" it just sidesteps any attempts to examine if a position has logical consistency by hiding behind "you are not God and you should not question how God works because you are just showing that you want to be God."

    If that is your explanation for how libertarian freedom and foreknowledge fit together, then fine, but don't object when I do the same explanation for Calvinism (at least I didn't pretend that both sides agree with Calvinism's premises).
     
  15. BobRyan

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    "details" - guess you would have to deal with them.

    #1. God is allknowing. Is this where Calvinism falls down or does it accept it?

    #2. God has free will, choice REAL option. Is this where you claim Calvinism can't keep up??

    Just say when.

    Those were the ONLY two points the post addressed for agreement.

    This part just isn't that hard.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  16. BobRyan

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    Really - nice of you to notice that detail.

    I was about to give up.

    nonsequitter. Just pick one of the two and show that Calvinism fails to "get that obvious point".

    I am still waiting....

    Fine - Show it. SHOW that God's free will is impinged by his foreknowledge so you can have "space" to restrict mans free will in the same way.

    The point remains

    So far you simply dance around it.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  17. Brandon C. Jones

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    #2: God has free will, choice REAL option.

    We've been here before on another thread except you claimed that my inquiry was obscurist. So if you now have decided that it is relevent, then let's discuss whether or not God has libertarian free will.

    I will post a new thread.
     
  18. Wes Outwest

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    Hogwash!

    The bible is not just a bunch of numbered phrases, it is thoughts, most of which ARE PHILOSOPHY! OUt of that Philosphy comes THEOLOGY!

    Get on Board Rc!
     
  19. rc

    rc
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    Wes, So you say the Bible is contradicting itself?
    Colossians 2:8 8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

    And OUT of philosophy COMES THEOLOGY? I honestly think that might be the most absurd statement I ever read on this forum.
    To quote Turtillion:
    There will never be and CAN never be ANY agreement between Athens and Jerusalem... For Athens is the worship of human philosophy and Jerusalem the worship of the things Divine.

    What ever "Board" your on I'm not getting on it, and I strongly recommend you getting off it! Because that ship is sinking straight to hell !
     
  20. Wes Outwest

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    If you don't understand that Religion is Philosophy, you really should re-think.

    Scripture is God's Philosophy for spiritual life!

    As such, I repeat that the scriptures, though in the form that we have them today, are not just a series of numbered verses that are stand alone monolithic individual thoughts. The scriptures must be understood to be concepts and ideas in the same manner that any philosophy is concepts and ideas.

    Too many people, as demonstrated on this BBS, quote a numbered verse OUT OF CONTEXT as "proof text" that supports their own personal philosophy, but when left 'in context' that same scripture does nothing of the kind! Yes, it is a matter of philosophy, and to see it any other way, one is merely being myopic.
     

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