Archive for December 29th, 2010

December 29th, 2010

Overpower – Is God Ultimately Responsible for Everything?

by Max Andrews

This is in response to Rick’s comment regarding middle knowledge.  I’ll quote the section of his comment below for context and I’ll give a brief summation of the issue here.  The question is whether everything that happens in the actual world is ultimately determined by God and if so, is God thus responsible for everything including [Rick’s examples of] reprobation, evil, making libertarian freedom illusory, etc.

This question is incredibly vague and it depends on how one defines responsibility in the question.  I’ll just get to the real question like Rick gave, is God ultimately responsible for evil knowing what will happen?  No.  In Rick’s question he excludes the use of middle knowledge in God’s knowledge. It wouldn’t be determinism either, it would be fatalism.  The difference between fatalism and determinism is that fatalism suggests that events happen necessarily but are not causally bound whereas determinism is causally restricted.  The events in this world happen logically prior to God’s creative decree.  So, what will happen since God’s decision to create has already been factored into every state of affairs based on human free decisions for how they would respond to the circumstances they find themselves in.

God’s responsibility for creation is a governing responsibility.  Consider creation as an open system within a closed system.  God could have created a world in which everyone never sinned, but that world may not have been feasible.  God is responsible in causal sustaining sense as well, but that’s different from an actualizing sense.  God weakly and strongly actualizes every state of affairs.  As Plantinga defines the terms:  God weakly actualizes S iff there is an S* such that God strongly actualizes [direct causation] S* and S* → S, where → is “counterfactual implication” (Let S be a state of affairs).

So am I free to break the predicted pattern?  Well, the future is going to happen necessarily, but only because it will be a result of what we would do.  Remember, God’s foreknowledge is a reflection of what we would do.  In order to have an answer to that question, it depends on what I would do in whatever circumstance, that free choice will determine what will happen.  In the words of William Lane Craig, “If God simply foreknows that man will sin, then it’s too late, so to speak, to do anything about it, since it’s logically impossible to change the future.”  That’s why simple foreknowledge and Arminianism fails in my opinion.  For further elaboration see why I’m not an Arminian.  So is God responsible for everything in creation? Yes, but that does not include God determining everything in creation.

In the words of C.S. Lewis, “If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will…then we may take it it is worth paying.” (Mere Christianity)

Question reference:

Calvinism—Arminians object that, if God determines everything, He is to blame for everything; we don’t really have a choice in what we do, and thus we aren’t responsible ultimately for our actions. Molinists want to protect our (libertarian) freedom. But since God is the one who chose the possible world He wanted, and there is some way He could know that libertarianly free people will choose one thing over another, then He is ultimately responsible for all that happens after all. He could have chosen a possible world where Bill Smith would accept Christ rather than reject Him.Molinism seems to entail determinism after all. If God knows for certain (without possibility of being proved wrong) that I will act in certain ways given certain circumstances, a particular history, certain background beliefs, etc., then that implies that in that situation I can only act in one way, the way God foresaw. I am not truly free to break from the predicted pattern. If God can somehow know the future without in some way determining it, then I don’t see what Molinism gives that Arminianism doesn’t.