February 13th, 2013
In the spectrum of human freedom there are typically four distinct positions: hard-determinism, soft-determinism, hard-libertarianism, and soft-libertarianism. Hard-determinism is the belief that free will is illusory and all actions/decisions are causally determined by antecedent conditions, which could be natural laws or God. Soft-determinism, also known as compatibilism, maintains that free will and determinism are compatible. Hard-libertarianism suggests that humans always have free will while soft-libertarianism commits to the belief that humans have free will at significant times.
There are five tenets of soft-libertarianism particular to Christianity.
- Ultimate Responsibility: UR indicates that an acting agent is responsible for the outcome and origin of decisions made.
- Agent Causation: A person is the source and origin of choices.
- Principle of Alternative Possibilities: At crucial times, the ability to choose or refrain form choosing is genuinely available. 1 Cor 10.13 promises that God “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” It follows that any Christian who does not in some circumstance endure but succumbs to temptation had it within his power to take the way of escape instead, i.e., he had the liberty of opposites in those circumstances.
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May 31st, 2012
Here is an old lecture PPT defining the differences between soft/hard libertarian freedom and soft/hard determinism. There are a lot of discussion points in the notes section. I ususally have a great discussion with the class when I teach this. So, for you teachers out there, feel free to use this material as you wish and, if anything, I hope it helps grow your knowledge on the subject. Feel free to follow the sources cited.
Determinism: Choices are caused by prior decisions
Hard Determinism: Free will is an illusion
Soft Determinism: Free will is compatible with determinism
Libertarianism: Choices originate within persons
Hard Libertarianism: Persons always have free will
Soft Libertarianism: Persons have free will at significant times
May 4th, 2012
Humans possess a certain level of libertarian freedom, prima facie. The arguments supporting the free will are the evidence of human volition, moral accountability, and moral duty. In the end, there are no good reasons to believe the contrary. By libertarian freedom I mean that our freedom is a derived freedom, humans are not completely independent or completely autonomous. In Molinism, unlike Calvinism, God is completely sovereign over the eternal destinies of a world of libertarian free creatures who have, in Augustinian terminology, “free choice” and not merely “free will.” MacGregor explains that for Augustine, “free choice” (i.e. libertarian free will) entailed the freedom to choose between opposites in both the physical and spiritual realms. Thus fallen humanity, by virtue of the imago Dei, can freely choose whether or not to respond to God’s prevenient grace. By contrast, Augustine defined “free will” (i.e. compatibilist free will) as the ability to choose without any external constraint between the options compatible with one’s nature. 
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May 2nd, 2012
Surely, the biblical witness is that God sovereignly controls everything in creation, but it does not mean He causes all things. God knows what will happen because He makes it happen. If the interpretation of the Bible is understood in light of God causing everything, He inevitably becomes the author of sin, since it is He who moved Judas, for example, to betray Christ, a sin which merits everlasting perdition for the hapless Judas. Whatever is foreknown by God must occur, which is often taken as theological fatalism. The problem foreknowledge may have, as theological fatalism, is its effect it may have on human freedom confusing necessity in sensu composito and in sensu diviso.
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May 2nd, 2012
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.
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May 1st, 2012
The grounding objection asks the question: By what means or grounds does God know what he knows (particularly middle knowledge)?
Suppose I have an argument similar to the grounding argument from the grounding objection claiming that contingent truths are not self-explanatory but must simply exist, from all eternity, as an ungrounded, metaphysical surd. How would I, as a Molinist, respond?
This objection is merely the result of misunderstanding the means by which God knows what he does. God’s knowledge is wholly intuitive and relies on no existent entity and is completely compatible with divine aseity. According to Luis de Molina,
God does not get his knowledge from things, but knows all things in himself and from himself; therefore, the existence of things, whether in time or eternity, contributes nothing to God’s knowing with certainty what is going to be or not to be… For prior to any existence on the part of the objects, God has within himself the means whereby he knows all things fully and perfectly; and this is why the existence of created things contributes no perfection to the cognition he has of them and does not cause any change in that cognition… [And] God does not need the existence of those things in his eternity in order to know them with certainty.
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April 30th, 2012
If God doesn’t have middle knowledge then he has only natural and free knowledge. There are two options. The first option is that God possess mere or simple foreknowledge. If one turns to simple foreknowledge, there lies no good sense in God’s providential planning of a world of free creatures in the absence of middle knowledge. William Lane Craig insists that,
…On such a view of God [He has], logically prior to the divine decree, only natural knowledge of all possible scenarios but no knowledge of what would happen under any circumstances. Thus, logically posterior to the divine decree, God must consider Himself extraordinarily lucky to find that this world happened to exist. “What a break!” we can imagine God’s saying to Himself, “Herod and Pilate and all those people each reacted just perfectly!” Actually, the situation is much worse than that, for God had no idea whether Herod or Pilate or the Israelite nation or the Roman Empire would even exist posterior to the divine decree. Indeed, God must be astonished to find Himself existing in a world, out of all the possible worlds He could have created, in which mankind falls into sin and God Himself enters human history as a substitutionary sacrificial offering! [Anthropomorphically speaking]
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