Freedom/Foreknowledge and Ockham's way out

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Brandon C. Jones, May 15, 2005.

  1. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones
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    Some have adopted an Ockhamist approach to solving the freedom foreknowledge problem. This approach focuses the "truthmaker" for one's knowledge of the future. One thing that troubles me with the Ockhamist approach is that if you take God out of the equation the approach is the same. All you need is someone who claims to have knowledge of the future. That being said here are some details.

    Ockham's solution to freedom/foreknowledge:

    Necessarily, God is omniscient.
    Necessarily, God is omniscient entails that God knows that p (a proposition about the future) and that P is true. This would be knowledge of a soft fact as opposed to a hard fact.

    Let's make P a proposition about the future.
    P: Brandon will drive from Chicago to Kansas City on June 17th 2005.

    God knows P on May 15, 2005. The truthmaker, though, for God's knowledge of P will be whether or not I actually drive from Chicago to Kansas City on June 17th 2005. Does this mean that I must drive? No. Does this mean that God's knowledge of my driving leaves me without any freedom to drive? No. So what if I don't actually drive from Chicago to Kansas City on June 17th 2005? Well, God would have known differently because the truthmaker of His knowledge of the future is my free decision.

    My problems with the Ockhamist approach is that God does not merely know our future actions, but predicts them. How can the truthmaker for Christ's crucifixion not be part of His plans before the foundation of the world? Could the Romans have done otherwise? If they had, would God's knowledge of the crucifixion been different?

    The other problem is two fallacies involving foreknowing one's own actions. If I somehow was given a book by God that described my own future actions and it said that tomorrow, while in the Hobby Lobby parking lot I find one thousand dollars. Now for those who know me, they would know that I am usually not anywhere near Hobby Lobby, so why would I have been there tomorrow? But, now that I have this book, I will make it a point to be there tomorrow to get the money. See how this becomes viciously circular. Part of the reasons for my actions come from my foreknowledge of them. If God's foreknows His own actions, how is that different?

    Second, providentially, how can God do anything differently than what He already foresees Himself doing? Open Theists have exposed this providential flaw in a rather cogent manner when dealing with simple foreknowledge and ochakmism.

    I hope this can start an interesting discussion that is fair to both sides and perhaps God will help us all receive greater understanding of Him. After all, we are all here to know and love Him more.

    Blessings,
    BJ
     
  2. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones
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    I'm sorry let me explain how I view Omniscience a litte more:

    God is omniscient entails that God holds only true beliefs and rejects all false beliefs.

    If God knows something, P (whether about the future or not), it entails that God believes P, and that P is true.

    By the way this is why I also reject middle knowledge's solution (another thread topic) because they want to equate God's middle knowledge of what free agents "would" do with knowledge of what they "will" do. This is a distortion of omniscience. It is not enough for God to know what "would" happen, He must hold only true beliefs and reject all false beliefs. If he believes something, then it must be true (not maybe true...what would, but might not happen). But middle knowledge if for another thread.

    Good day,
    BJ
     
  3. Wes Outwest

    Wes Outwest
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    Can you demonstrate that God hold's any beliefs at all?

    The God I worship is not in need of beliefs, because God knows all there is, thus negating belief.

    "Beliefs" and "believing" are not attributes of the divine. God knows it, or it does not exist.
     
  4. icthus

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    Brandon, you have not shown how it is that God predetermines all events that come to pass, especially sinful actions of humans.

    I am aware of the reference often made by Calvinists to Acts 4:28, "to do whatever thy hand and thy council determined before to be done". It is assumed from this, that, because the crucifixion of Jesus, which indeed was a very sinful act, is said to have been "determined" by God, that this shows that God "caused" this event to take place. This assumption is wrong. The word "determined" is from the Greek "proorizo", which literally means, "to mark out before hand", or "to decide before". Sure, the course of action that God would take in the Redemption of mankind, was no doubt something that God did "decide" upon before the foundation of the world. But, just because God has something in His plan that invloves the sinful actions of man, cannot be taken to mean that He is the cause of their actions. God used the crucifixion at the hands of these evil men to carry out His plans, as a means to accomplish His end. This in no way shows that God in any way was the cause of these sinful actions. These acts were carried out of the free will of those who did them, and they,and they alone are responsible for them.

    A good example can be found in 1 King's, where the Lord says:

    "who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead? So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him. The Lord said to him, in what way? So he said, I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the Lord said, you shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so" (22:20-22)

    It is very clear from this account, that the Lord uses this lying spirit to accomplish His will. But, on no account does the Lord cause the sin, but simply uses it for His own purpose.

    Again, in 2 Samuel we read, "the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, go number Israel and Judah" (24:1). We read in verse ten, that this act of David was a sin, and not something that God desired him to do, and so punishes David for this. This looks like an open and shut case for the Calvinistic doctrine that God is the "cause" of our sins. However, we read in 1 Chronicles 21.1, "and Satan stood up against Israel and provoked David to number Israel" Here we have it. God uses Satan to stir up David to number Israel, though He did not actually do so Himself. Because God "allowed" Satan to do this, as He did in Job, it can be said that He "moved" David. Here we have the "means" that He used to accomplish his act. Very carefully the two passages show that it was Satan, and not God who provoked David to sin.

    I would like Scripture to show where God actually does "cause" us to sin against us. I am NOT interested in theology, but Scripture.
     
  5. johnp.

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    Hello icthus.
    2SA 16:11 David then said to Abishai and all his officials, "My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the LORD has told him to.
    That's one.
    Why did you stop at 1 Kings 22:20-22? 1KI 22:23 "So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you."
    Who put the lying spirits in the mouths of the prophets?
    That's two.

    Your reading of Samuel just shows the agent God used to entice David. This type of enticement did not get Job. Job knew it was God that was behind the things happening to Him though.

    john.
     
  6. Bob Krajcik

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    God will put it in the hearts of these to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast. These men were not forced against their will.

    Revelation 17:17 (KJV) For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.

    They act according to their will, i.e., none righteous, none that understandeth, none that seeketh after God, all gone out of the way, unprofitable, none that doeth good, no, not one, their throat is an open sepulchre, they have used deceit, the poison of asps is under their lips, mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their ways, the way of peace have they not known, no fear of God before their eyes, when they see Jesus there is no beauty that we should desire Him, Jesus is despised and rejected of men - Isa 53:2-3; Rom 3:10-18

    For those to be saved, a new heart is given, and so they are made willing to come to Christ.

    John 3:7 (KJV) Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
     
  7. Bob Krajcik

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    Romans 9:21 (KJV) Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
     
  8. Brandon C. Jones

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    Wes: Define knowledge and then we can talk about God's beliefs.
     
  9. icthus

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    2SA 16:11 David then said to Abishai and all his officials, "My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the LORD has told him to.
    That's one.
    Why did you stop at 1 Kings 22:20-22? 1KI 22:23 "So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you."
    Who put the lying spirits in the mouths of the prophets?
    That's two.

    Your reading of Samuel just shows the agent God used to entice David. This type of enticement did not get Job. Job knew it was God that was behind the things happening to Him though.

    john.
    </font>[/QUOTE]John, you continue to make God the author of sin by your misuse of the Scriptures. God uses whom He will to carry out His acts, but NEVER does He cause us to sin, as Calvinism teaches.
     
  10. icthus

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    Bob, what is the point from your two posts here? What you say does not mean that God "preordains" sin. No Scripture ever says that He does, even though this is Calcinistic dogma.
     
  11. Brandon C. Jones

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    Ichthus: This discussion is theology, not the Bible. If you want to talk Bible, then let's see verses that warrant belief in libertarian freedom and then passages that square libertarian freedom with God's foreknowledge of the future. From what I can tell the burden of proof is on the Arminian for both of these things since I reject libertarian freedom.

    If you want a biblical case from me: John the Baptist says that Christ was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world...that sounds like a sinful act to me for whoever slayed him. Or I could just mention the stock Calvinist verses that we are all familiar with. I am not defending libertarian freedom and foreknowledge: I thought that's what the libertarians were trying to do.

    regards,
    BJ
     
  12. Brandon C. Jones

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    BTW: No Calvinist says that God's foreordination of events "causes" these events. That is where the doctrine of second causes comes into play. The issue is how God can know the future and if that is compatible with the libertarian account of freedom.

    I would love to see a positive biblical case for libertarian freedom if an Arminian would start a thread that made such a case I would listen. Prove that the bible mandates libertarian freedom; that's the first step. Once that step is made, then we can talk about if and how libertarian freedom squares with God's foreknowledge of the future not to mention His ability to predict actions among other things that the Bible mentions.

    I started this thread for someone else who espoused ockhamism and wanted a clarification as to why I have issues with it (thus, it is inherently theological). If you want a biblical case, then make one yourself for libertarian freedom.

    regards,
    BJ
     
  13. Wes Outwest

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    You didn't answer my question, "Can you demonstrate that God hold's any beliefs at all?"

    Why then should I answer yours?
     
  14. Brandon C. Jones

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    Okay Wes: First of all I don't think we disagree. For instance, if we exclude the middle step "God believes that p" and just say God knows p and p is true I doubt you would have any issues.

    Where the beliefs comes in regards first God's relationship to time (is He eternal (timeless) or not?). If He is everlasting (not timeless), then it is not proper to say that God has no beliefs (but this of course means that we are on the same page regarding the meaning of knowledge and beliefs). Second, it regards the difference between a hard fact and a soft fact. Third, it regards the definition of knowledge: is it warranted true belief or something else? Fourth, it regards your distinction between true beliefs and knowledge, which I was trying to get you to clarify but instead you chose to be coy [​IMG] .

    Your objection is meaningless: what is the difference between saying that God knows everything or saying that God only knows true propositions and rejects false ones or saying that God knows that p entails God believes that p and p is true? I think you will see that the meaning is the same it's just how clear one wants to be in the explanation.

    When discussing Ockhamism it is easier to speak regarding a proposition about the future in terms of "beliefs" because these events have not happened--they are soft facts. If you want to avoid using the term "beliefs" when applying to God, then that is fine just exclude the middle part of my definition and say that if God is omniscient it entails God knows all p that are true and rejects all p that are false. This definition is the same in meaning as mine without using the term "beliefs." But I must say there is nothing to be scared of in saying that God has only true beliefs and rejects all false ones.

    As to if I can demonstrate that God holds any beliefs at all. Surely we agree that God holds many true beliefs and no false beliefs. Here are a few. "I will come quickly." "I will never leave you or forsake you." "I will by no means cast you out," etc.

    When you realize the erroneous notion of trying to make a significant (as opposed to merely semantic) difference between true beliefs and knowledge you will see that it is rather easy to demonstrate that God holds many true beliefs.

    regards,
    BJ
     
  15. Wes Outwest

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    Brandon C. Jones,
    You argue with the wind.

    I criticize your idea that God has beliefs. I Asked you to subtantiate that statement.

    Whoever has knowledge needs no belief in what he has knowledge of. Is there anything that God does not know? Is there anything then that God needs to believe?
     
  16. Andre

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    Hello Brandon:

    Good topic. I have always found this to be challenging and have tended to argue that Brandon must indeed make the drive from Chicago to Kansas City on June 17th 2005. Therefore, we cannot say that Brandon has free will - his life is inexorably driven (no pun intended) down a path that puts him in a car on the road to KC on 17 June 2005.

    I have always felt that those who argue otherwise are not able to deal with the "global" implications of God's foreknowledge. Instead they are sold on the admittedly pleasing intuition that God can passively view the complete timeline of Brandon's life without ever interfering with his free choice.

    I had not heard the truthmaker argument till you brought it up and my initial feeling is that this is an important way to conceive of the problem which had hitherto escaped my consideration (I have not read anything on this subject so my thoughts, for good or bad, are mine alone).

    I am still troubled though. I would make the following type of argument.

    1. God exists and can be meaningfully said to exist on May 15, 2005 (the date of this post).

    2. God is omniscient (in the common sense meaning of the word)

    3. If the future is a possible object of knowledge (see the end of my post for another possibility in this regard), then God knows everything about what Brandon will do on 17 June, 2005.

    4. On 15 May, God therefore holds knowledge about events on 17 June involving Brandon. Since it could reasonably be argued that Brandon has not even thought about what he will do in June, the "truthmaker" does not really exist on 15 May.

    5. Brandon is therefore robbed of free will and has no choice but to drive to KC.

    What I am trying to say is that a "snapshot" of our Universe taken on 15 May includes the fact of God knowing that Brandon will drive to KC on 17 June. In order to avoid inconsistency, this knowledge must be converted into a factual reality as time unfolds.

    What if we try to solve this problem by saying that the future is not a thing about which God can have knwowledge? This sounds obviously non-biblical. However, the future is a funny kind of beast. We assume that there is "a" future, but is this necessarily true? Could we not say that God "makes plans" about what He will do and always follows through on those plans, but that He does not really know the future as we common-sensically think that He does?
     
  17. johnp.

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    That is why free will is negated. It is because the future has not happened but God brings His will into play and directs the steps of man. You will drive the car because God's plan involved you driving the car.
    You cannot be robbed of free will if free will does not exist. It would be like saying we was robbed of telepathy because we can't read minds.

    The future does not exist as a reality. God knows what He wants it to become. So He knows what it will become because He knows that He will bring it to pass. That is God's foreknowledge. He cannot see the future because it has not happened yet but He knows what it will be like because He will drive the present there.
    If God's foreknows His own actions, how is that different? The future knowledge of a thing to be is part of His plan so He is not reacting but causing. If you knew the future you would react and end up at the Hobby Lobby. You did not end up there because God foresaw you ending up there so caused you to end up there but He caused you to end up there because it is part of His plan.
    Not his life only but the whole of history was shaped to bring this one event about.

    Hello icthus.
    Why did you stop at 1 Kings 22:20-22? 1KI 22:23 "So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you."
    Who put the lying spirits in the mouths of the prophets?


    That was two questions you did not answer with scripture but with your opinion. Please answer the questions with scripture.

    Why did you stop at 1 Kings 22:20-22 and not include 1KI 22:23?
    Who put the lying spirits in the mouths of the prophets?

    john.
     
  18. icthus

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    Hi John, If you read my response, you will see what the meaning of verse 23 is. As I showed from the account of David numbering Israel, where the account in 2 Samuel 24 says that "the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, go, number Israel and Judah". However, in 1 Chronicles 21, we are told how it is that God did this. He used Satan, where it says, "and Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel"

    Though it says that God moved David to number Israel in the account in Samuel, yet we learn from the one in Chronicles how God did this. He used Satan, since He Himself cannot tempt anyone to sin. It is clear from both accounts, that what David did was sinful in God's eyes, and God punished Israel for this. Are you saying, that God caused David to sin, and then punished him for it? This is an impossibility, for God cannot be tempted to sin, nor can He tempt anyone to sin. This is an impossibility with the nature of God. If God did compel David to sin, then we have serious problems with the Holiness of God.

    A another example can be found in the treatment of Jesus at the hands of Pilate. We read in the Goepel accounts, that "when he had scourged Jesus" (Matthew 27:26). Although it says that Pliate "scourged Jesus", yet he would have not have done this himself, but handed Jesus over to the Roman soldiers who would have beaten Him.
     
  19. Brandon C. Jones

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    Wes: now who's arguing with the wind? I tried to show you that knowledge IS warranted (or justified if you like) true BELIEF. This unnecessary bifurcation of true beliefs vs. knowledge is in your mind. I did substantiate that statement with definitions, but they are probably meaningless to you because you refuse to define knowledge. It's not my fault that you criticize what I said without offering any reason why beyond your tautology: Knowledge is knowledge but beliefs are beliefs.

    Your statement here opens the door to a discussion of internalism vs. externalism: "Whoever has knowledge needs no belief in what he has knowledge of." Does that statement hold true on earth and on heaven or one instead of the other?

    Start another thread if you want to really discuss what knowledge is. If you just want to ignore everything I said, then fine but don't repost your false dichotomy like you have already.

    So I will ask you again for my own sake: what is the difference, according to Wes (yes, you can define and use your own terms just tell them to me), between true belief and knowledge?

    regards,
    BJ
     
  20. Brandon C. Jones

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    Andre, there is much in print on this issue for you to peruse if you like. I would recommend a very readable volume by John Feinberg called "No One Like Him," and he discusses freedom/foreknowledge in it.

    As to whether or not the future is knowable, well that is the standard philosophical argument. The way out of it is to say this:

    P: Either the Kansas City Royals will win the world series this year or they will not win the world series this year.

    That is a true proposition about the future. However, one can still know a true proposition in this form:

    P1: The Kansas City Royals will not win the world series this year.

    If I claim today (May 16), that P1 is true then it is a soft fact until the Royals win the world series or are mathematically eliminated from competition. When one of those two things happen, then my belief today will either be true or false.

    some food for thought Andre let me know what you think,

    Blessings,
    BJ
     

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