February 8th, 2013
As advocated by St. Anselm, God is a maximally perfect being. If ignorance is an imperfection, all things being equal [according to Ockham’s razor], then it is greater to be knowledgeable. To prevent initial detractions from the classical definition of omniscience, omniscience should be understood as knowing all truths.
O. For any agent x, x is omniscient= def. For every statement s, if s is true, then x knows that s and does not believe that not-s.
If there are truths about future contingents, God, as an omniscient being must know these truths. Since there are truths about the future, that is to say, since statements about future contingents are either true or false, and they are not all false, God must therefore know all truths about the future, which is to say He knows future-tense facts; He knows what will happen. One may try to avoid this reasoning by contending that future-tense statements are neither true nor false, so that there are no facts about the future. Since the future does not exist, it is claimed that the respective future-tense statements cannot be true or false, simply without truth. To make this assertion is a misunderstanding behind the statement’s truth claim. For a future tense-statement to be true it is not required that what it describes exist, but that it will exist. In order for a future-tense statement to be true, all that is required is that when the moment described arrives, the present-tense version of the statement will be true at that moment. Nicholas Rescher gives an illustration for this assertion:
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June 8th, 2012
I did a review of Ken Keathley’s Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2010) in the Midwestern Journal of Theology 9 no. 2 (Fall 2010) issue. Below is the first paragraph of the review and a link to download the whole PDF version (with appropriate copyright information).
Molinism seems to be a mere drop in the bucket of theological thought with little attention in Church history. Ken Keathley’s Salvation and Sovereignty surely brings hope of resurgence to the little known school of thought. With an exemplary effort to reconcile some of the most difficult theological doctrines. Keathley demonstrates amazing consistency in his pursuit for a Biblical understanding of salvation and divine sovereignty. Just as the Calvinist has his TULIP so does the Molinist have his ROSES. The acronym may be understood as “R” for radical depravity, “O” for overcoming grace, “S” for sovereign election, “E” for eternal life, and “S” for singular redemption.
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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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April 28th, 2012
Any affirmation of counterfactuals does nothing if it is incompatible with biblical teaching. The Bible acknowledges that God uses counterfactuals to achieve His will and that He knows the truth-value to hypothetical propositions. An example of this would be in 1 Samuel 23.6-10. This passage accounts for David’s inquiry to the Lord by means of a divining device called an ephod (which gave a “yes” or “no” answer). David thus flees the city of Keilah so the predictions do not come true. What the device had predicted to David was not simple foreknowledge (“Saul/the men of Keilah will do X”), by hypothetical knowledge (“If David stays, then Saul/the men of Keilah will do X”). The answer given by the ephod were correct answers, even though the events did not come to pass, since the answers were indicative of what would happen under certain circumstances.
Another example may be found in Jeremiah’s prophecy to King Zedekiah:
Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘If you will indeed go out to the officers of the king of Babylon, then you will live, this city will not be burned with fire, and you and your household will survive. ‘But if you will not go out to the officers of the king of Babylon, then this city will be given over to the hand of the Chaldeans; and they will burn it with fire, and you yourself will not escape from their hand’” (Jer. 38.17-18).
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April 27th, 2012
For a good context for this post please see ‘The Theological Advantages of Molinism’ for a list of relevant discussions on middle knowledge and Molinism.
The second moment to God’s knowledge is His knowledge of the contingent states of affairs that would be produced by an antecedent state of affairs were it to be obtained. Counterfactuals are conditional statements in the subjunctive mood. That is to say, God knows what any free creature would do. This is not because the circumstances causally determine the creature’s choice, but simply because this is how the creature would freely choose. God thus knows that were He to actualize certain states of affairs, then certain other contingent states of affairs would obtain. Middle knowledge does not depend on any decision of divine will; God does not determine what counterfactuals of creaturely freedom are true or false. Thus, if it is true that:
If some agent S were placed in circumstances C, then he would freely perform action a,
then even God in His omnipotence cannot bring it about that S would refrain from a if he were placed in C. WL Craig expands on the subject:
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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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