September 11th, 2012
Rowe makes a strong positive case for why atheism is true. He supposes that, as especially in the absence of other arguments, anyone who observes the amount of human and animal suffering in the world and the truth of premise 1 in the evidential argument (that there are probably pointless evils) then this person would be rationally justified in believing atheism to be true. He presents two basic forms of the argument: the logical and the evidential problems of evil. The logical problem of evil argues that the existence of God and the existence of evil are logically contradictory claims. However, these aren’t explicitly contradictory—they are implicit (i.e. a married bachelor is an implicit contradiction and a married non-married person is an explicit contradiction). Rowe recognizes that we must abandon the logical problem of evil because the contradiction has yet to be proved (though he states that just because it has yet to be demonstrated doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t one).
The evidential problem is a probabilistic argument, which argues that given the apparent [pointless] evil it is more probable that God does not exist than if God does exist. He uses the example of a fawn suffering for no apparent reason. Given that God would prevent this from happening and the fact that it does happen then God doesn’t seem to exist. Rowe seems to favor this form of the problem of evil over the logical problem.
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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 25th, 2012
The task of a Molinist perspective of middle knowledge is to remove the perceived dilemma between human freedom and divine foreknowledge. There are a minority of philosophers and theologians who hold to this Molinist doctrine. On a promising note, middle knowledge is in modern philosophical debate and works advocated by some of the most prominent philosophers such as Thomas Flint, William Lane Craig, Ken Keathley, Kirk MacGregor, and perhaps one of America’s greatest philosophers, Alvin Plantinga. These leading Molinists serve in prominent societies such as the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, the American Philosophical Association, and the American Academy of Religion, who serve as witnesses to middle knowledge amongst leading Calvinists, Openness Theologians, atheists, and philosophers of other schools of thought. Middle knowledge, when implemented into modern discussion, serves as a defense to the many forms of the problems of evil (most notably the soteriological problem of evil), a plausible solution with explanatory scope and power for issues such as predestination, the doctrine of biblical inspiration and inerrancy, and is compatible with every other orthodox doctrine.
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March 30th, 2012
It seems, by all evidences, that man is the only creature that can make evil artistic. Not only can we be merely evil but we add artistry to it. Consider this section from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.
“By the way, a Bulgarian I met lately in Moscow,” Ivan went on, seeming not to hear his brother’s words (Alyosha), “told me about the crimes committed by Turks and Circassians in all parts of Bulgaria through fear of a general rising of the Slavs. They burn villages, murder, outrage women and children, they nail their prisoners by the ears to fences, leave them so till morning, and in the morning they hang them–all sorts of things you can’t imagine. People talk sometimes of bestial cruelty, but that’s a great injustice and insult to the beasts; a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel.
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February 16th, 2012
FOCUS: Can a born-again believer lose his or her salvation while simultaneously affirming God’s sovereignty and human free will while being consistent with Scripture?
An Examination of the Perseverance of the Saints Doctrine
Apostolic warnings against apostasy pose a difficulty for the classic doctrine of perseverance of the saints because either the warnings seem superfluous or else it seems possible for the believer to fall away after all. The attempt to construe the warnings as the means by which God effects perseverance fails to distinguish the classical doctrine from a Molinist doctrine, according to which believers can fall away but in fact will not due to God’s extrinsically efficacious grace. A Molinist perspective is coherent and, unlike the classical doctrine does not render superfluous the apostolic admonitions.
The traditional doctrine of perseverance states that not only will the saints maintain grace and salvation, but literally cannot fall from grace. (It is very important to approach these and understand these texts in light of appropriate exegesis.) However, this seems to ignore numerous Scriptures, which warn the danger of apostasy of those who deliberately fall from grace:
Rom. 11:17-24; I Cor. 9:27; Gal. 5:4; Col. 1:23; I Thess. 3:5; I Tim. 1:19-20; II Tim. 2:17-18; Jas. 5:19-20; II Pet. 2:20-22; I Jn. 5:16
Perhaps the most prominent:
Therefore leaving the elementary teachings about the Christ, let us press on the maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the death and eternal judgment. 3And this we will do, if God permits. 4For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. 7For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings for the vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed and it ends up being burned. Heb. 6.1-8 (NASB)
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February 13th, 2012
For a context of where I’m coming from concerning Molinism please see my previous posts:
- Middle Knowledge in a Nutshell
- Why I’m Not an Arminian
- Why I’m Not a Calvinist
- God Controls Everything–Good and Bad
- Overpower–Is God Ultimately Responsible for Everything?
- The Pelagian Equivocation
- The Singular Redemption View of the Atonement
- Does God Ever Literally Change His Mind?–Yes
- Is a Molinist Concept of Providence Discomforting?
- Word of the Week Wednesday: Supralapsarianism
- Holds a high view of God’s sovereignty while holding to an equal and uncompromising view of human free will.
- Provides a better model for understanding how it is simultaneously true that God’s decree of election while His rejection of the unbeliever is conditional.
- Affirms the genuine desire on the part of God for all to be saved in His universal salvific will (which is problematic for the Calvinist) claiming that God loved the whole world (John 3:16) yet, Christ has a particular love for the Church (Eph. 5:25).
- God control’s all things, but does not cause all things.
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December 31st, 2011
Robert Adams raises and interesting objection to modal realism based on the problem of evil. He believes
[That] our very strong disapproval of the deliberate actualizing of evils… reflects a belief in the absolutely, and not just relatively, special status of the actual as such. Indeed, if we ask, “What is wrong with actualizing evils, since they will occur in some other possible world anyways if they don’t occur in this one?”, I doubt that the indexical theory can provide an answer which will be completely satisfying ethically.
Adams’ objection concerning the actualization of evil is irrelevant to a Thomistic version of modal realism (this version to be released in an upcoming paper in the Fall of 2012). Thomas does not seem to have any problem with the presence of evil. When discussing Boethius, a philosopher prompts the question, “If there is a God, how comes evil?” Thomas argues that the question should be reversed—“If there is evil, there is a God.” For there would be no evil, if the order of goodness were taken away, the privation of which is evil; and this order would not be, if God were not.
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September 9th, 2011
We all remember where we were. I was running the mile from P.E. class my Freshman year in high school. My mother worked at the high school and I saw her as I walked back in to the school from the track. I wasn’t able to talk to her but I saw on her face that something didn’t seem right. By the time I got to the locker room someone had said that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I’m thinking a little Piper Cub. I was wrong.
There weren’t any loiterers in the hall, everyone went straight to the next class, mine was history. We watched the news for the rest of the day. I saw the second tower fall. It was hard for me to grasp what was happening. This was something you see in movies. Buildings don’t fall down like that. The hardest part was watching people jump to their death… suicide. Consider their thought process… “It’s better for me to jump to my death than to be in this burning building.” Consider the hell. Consider the peril. Consider their subliminal existential reflection… “I’m over.”
The next day the whole school gathered in the hallways as we sat and listened to the boys chorus sing “I’m Proud to be an American.” It’s hard not to get emotional about reflecting about that now. I was sitting with my JROTC class at the time. I tried to hide it. I wept in that hallway. I didn’t even know anyone that was directly effected by this, but how can you not weep over such murder, evil, suicide, and devastation on human life?
Last year I delivered a lecture on the problem of evil. I spent the first hour trying to emphasize the importance of this discussion and how God can still be good and loving given such evil and suffering. It was difficult for me to keep my composure giving the example of September 11th. We may have forgotten the direct impact we have had but we cannot forget the value of human life and the evil that seeks perilous ends. Yes, nationalism plays a role in most Americans… It’s the nature of being American. However, the existential value and purpose of human life far exceeds any national empathy. That’s not to note that I don’t want my nation to protect me, I do. There are many evils I cannot protect myself from and I am thankful for that protection.
I stood where the towers once were a few years ago. I saw some of the damage in surrounding buildings and a firehouse where they didn’t want to replace the damaged bricks. It was haunting. Here I am ten years later… Where were you?