Posts tagged ‘determinism’

February 12th, 2014

Boethius, Foreknowledge, and Human Freedom

by Max Andrews

Boethius discusses the problem in reconciling genuine human freedom with God’s foreknowledge in “Divine Foreknowledge and Freedom of the Will” (proses III-VI).  He bases his whole discussion on whether or not something that is foreknown happens by necessity.  He offers the disjunctive option of the necessity of either thing, which are going to happen be foreseen by God or that what God foresees will in fact happen—either way, he argues, human will is removed.  When discussing the uncertainty of future events he concludes that, for God, there must be no uncertainty in these events because it’s then reduced to possible conditionals, or could-counterfactuals.  Hence, the law of excluded middle is true for knowledge of future tensed events.  He makes an interesting point when discussing aspects about Cicero’s contribution to the problem.  If foreknowledge is removed then the events of human will are no longer necessary. Considering all of the discussion so far he believes that everything that happens does so by necessity.

May 6th, 2013

Q&A 21: John 6, Calvinism, and Free Will Revisited

by Max Andrews

Question:

Hey! My name is Josh. I’m a young college student by day (and christian apologist by night, jokes). But in my personal life, apologetics is important to me.

Aside from that, I have a question I think you could help me with. I’m a Calvinist (hold the tomatoes) because I think, Biblically, it’s the most accurate putting together of scriptural truth (basically the best systematic theology). My problem is this:

Total Inability and free will. How are we morally responsible if we cannot choose otherwise? And since no one seeks God (Romans) and no one can come to Christ unless the Father brings them (John 6), how is it that we can really talk about free will? How would this be the best possible world where most free creatures choose Christ, when they cannot choose Him unless He first removes their inability? It seems that it doesn’t matter what world God created becaue technically speaking, He could remove the inability from all people, resulting in everyone freely choosing Christ. I hope my questions make sense. I’m eager to hear your response.

February 18th, 2013

Q&A 11: Is the Belief in Free Will a Properly Basic Belief? Defeaters?

by Max Andrews

Question:

Is the properly basic belief that I have free will indefeasible? I’m thinking of the fact that a properly basic belief can be defeated, but was wondering how far that goes. So can someone ever provide a defeater for the idea that we have free will? The thought came to me again when I was listening to a podcast by Glenn Andrew Peoples and he made a comment about how we should give up the idea of free will if a good enough theory (of mind) came along that denied free will. I disagree with Glenn on this but was wondering if you ever could be presented with defeaters for free will. I can sort of see an undercutting defeater might but not a rebutting defeater.

Answer:

John,

For those who may not be familiar with the issue, a properly basic belief is a belief that is held via non-doxastic justification, which is self-evident to the subject. For example, a properly basic belief is the belief that I am a mind or that there is an external reality beyond myself. The first question is whether or not free will is a properly basic belief–and I think not.

February 13th, 2013

The Tenets of Soft-Libertarianism

by Max Andrews

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.

  1. Ultimate Responsibility: UR indicates that an acting agent is responsible for the outcome and origin of decisions made.
  2. Agent Causation: A person is the source and origin of choices.
  3. 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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June 8th, 2012

The Molinism Directory

by Max Andrews

I’ve decided to gather all my posts on Molinism in one post for easy reference.

  1. Ebook: An Introduction to Molinism: Scripture, Reason, and All that God Has Ordered
  2. Middle Knowledge in a Nutshell
  3. A Review of Salvation and Sovereignty (Journal Publication)
  4. Review Essay: Four Views on Divine Providence
  5. Defining Omniscience
  6. Theological Elites and Their Dismissiveness of “Philosophy”
  7. Q&A 9: Layering Divine Middle Knowledge
  8. The Problem of Bad “Biblical” Rhetoric
  9. Why I’m Not an Arminian
  10. Why I’m Not a Calvinist
  11. The Incoherence of Theistic Determinism–Moral Responsibility
  12. Overpower–Is God Ultimately Responsible for Everything?
  13. The Singular Redemption View of the Atonement
  14. Is a Molinist Concept of Providence Discomforting?
    read more »

May 31st, 2012

Free Will vs. Determinism PPT

by Max Andrews

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 2nd, 2012

Divine Foreknowledge In Sensu Composito

by Max Andrews

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.[1]  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.

May 2nd, 2012

Does God Ultimately Determine Everything?

by Max Andrews

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.

May 1st, 2012

Molinism and the Grounding Objection

by Max Andrews

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.[1]

April 13th, 2012

Why Didn’t God Just Create Heaven First?

by Max Andrews

This is a legitimate question. The claim that God could have created us in the state of heaven avoiding all this evil and suffering in the world is a nuanced version of the problem of evil.  If we are going to heaven and our telos, our purpose and end, is to worship God and enjoy him forever in heaven then why didn’t God skip this earthly step?  Surely, one may think that there’s a possible world in which we all exist in heaven.  It’s my contention that the instantiation of heaven alone is not a possible world.

Aside from other theodicies and defenses such as soul-making, perhaps the most relevant to this question, I think it’s critical to understand that heaven isn’t some lone possible state of affairs by itself.  Heaven is, necessarily, a contingent state of affairs.  It’s a consequent, if and only if, there are prior antecedent conditions or states of affairs.  Heaven is a result of our choices during this life.  In other words, this earthly life is a necessary condition for heaven to be brought about (aside from the salvific will of the Father and saving power of Christ, I’m merely stating that this life must precede heaven.

This also leads to a very important question: How does God guarantee that there will be no evil among the saved in heaven?  This is a very tough question and here are a few possible answers to consider.