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May 16, 2016

Comments


I posted this on YouTube, and will copy it here....

1. Not sure why "following our human nature" would make us culpable. Nowhere in creation is a creature culpable or responsible for their nature. The dictates of our nature are, by definition, not part of our conscious control.

2. On a different point: Would "our responsibility" make any difference if God, in his sovereignty, chose to damn us to hell? What would our "doing 100% of our part " count for if we are not of the elect?

3. On the question squaring man's free will with God's sovereignty, I think that Molinism ('middle knowledge') at least proposes a rational possible explanation. It may be the only one extant that makes sense, where we don't have to throw up our hands and say that we have no idea. The "punt to mystery" is Ok as long as we don't stop using our God-given faculties to keep looking for rational answers. God gave us a brain and has made His ways discoverable, to large degree.

4. The idea that all things pass through the hands of God and are a part of his good and perfect purpose cannot be true. You know not what you say when you state that. There are degrees of evil that, if you had a closer glimpse, would make it impossible to make that statement.

"The idea that all things pass through the hands of God and are a part of his good and perfect purpose cannot be true."

Then God is not the Creator of all things.

Not only is it the case that all things pass through the hands of God and are part of His good and perfect purpose, it could not be otherwise.

Nowhere in creation is a creature culpable or responsible for their nature.

As it relates to human beings, this doesn’t prove anything.

What WFB's concern about evil may lead us to is the idea of evil as the privation of good.

Everything contingent is created by God, and evil is not a counter-example to that...even if say that God does not create evil. This is because evil is not a thing at all. Instead, it is the absence of a thing: good.

William Francis Brown,

1. Non-Calvinist systems also don't make humans responsible for their nature (unless you are a Pelagian). All non-Calvinist systems, that aren't Pelagian, teach that man is incapable of doing any good but God gives everyone prevenient grace which makes them capable of accepting the gospel. So man isn't responsible for his post-prevenient grace state either. Thus, if not being responsible for one's nature makes man non-culpable then this is just as much a problem for non-Calvinist (who aren't Pelagian) as for Calvinists. Of course, one could always adopt Pelagianism... but going heretical hardly seems like a good solution to the divine sovereignty issue.

Also, Molinism adds some real mysteries to this issue. According to Molinism there is a brute fact about what I would do in some possible world. But how could it be the case that a non-existent person will do this or that apart from some nature? If the act isn't tied to the person's nature then it's a mystery as to how it could be reflective of the person and, thereby, form the nature. Jesus teaching in Matthew 12 suggests that you've got the picture backwards: our choices are determined by our nature... our choices don't determine our nature.

2. Your question assumes that our efforts would run contrary to God's in this instance, such that I might do 100% of my responsibility to believe in Christ for my salvation but God might do 100% of his responsibility to damn me to Hell. But, unless God is a liar, we know this is impossible because God promises to save all those who believe in Jesus. It's also the case that according to the system Greg lays out no one will want to exercise saving faith unless God does a work in their life that is sufficient to bring them to saving faith. So your scenario is also impossible at that level too.

3. Molinism raises more issues than it solves. And Molinism provides no answer to things like the foreknowledge argument, as John Martin Fischer points out in his paper "On Molinism" (which I think is in the book Oxford Readings in Philosophy of Religion). Once God instantiates a possible world that world is fixed and has no more freedom than the deterministic Calvinist world. William Lane Craig's claim that we have the power to act in such a way that, had we so acted, God would have always known that we would have acted in that way (to paraphrase from memory, it's been a while since I looked at Craig's writings here) turns out to be a completely vacuous statement once we look at it a little more closely. See John Martin Fischer's work that I refer to above... but basically it's pretty much the same as claiming that I have the power to sprout wings and fly because, were I to sprout wings and fly, God would have always known that I would have done so!

4. That sounds like a lot of hubris and not even William Lane Craig would agree with it. Craig has defended skeptical theism: the idea that we are not in a position to say what God can have morally sufficient reasons for permitting. In which case, you're certainly not in a position to say that it's *impossible* for God to have morally sufficient reasons for ordaining some evil.

WisdomLover,

While the idea of evil as a privation has some heuristic utility to it, I don't really buy into it myself. I think it's John Frame who points out that a donut maker is just as responsible for the hole in the donut as the donut itself. Likewise, if I were to sew you a pair of pants with a giant hole in the seat you would hardly accept the explanation that I was only responsible for the non-holed part of the pants. Furthermore, sin is only ever cast in relational terms in Scripture, as far as I know, and never in metaphysical terms.

MFGA2016-

The issue I was getting at was whether it is necessary to say that God creates any evil. I thought, and still think, that the comment by WFB that I criticized was based on that worry.

The privation theory is not a fully ramified solution to the problem of evil. Of course an individual may still be culpable for not creating goods that he ought to create.

The point is simply that those things we call necessary evils (the only evils possible given God) are actually impossible goods. Just why a good is impossible (or an evil necessary) is not settled by the privation theory.

This quote is from https://newtheist.org/

Imagine you are at a stop light and you are going to turn right. You look to your left and you see no cars [100% certainty implied]. At this moment you know with 100% certainty, “If I pull out into the street, I will *not* be struck by a car.” Did your knowing you would not be struck by a car cause the street to be empty? No, the street could have still had cars on it independent of what you know to be true. If there had been cars coming, however, then you would have instead known, “If I pull into the street then I *will* be struck by a car.” In the same way, God knows what we will do but his knowledge doesn’t cause our actions. If we were [volitionally] choose differently, then he would have known differently. (by MattB)

Had person [1] volitionally chosen to do [a] instead of [b], then Christ (God) would have known (and prophesied) [b] instead of [a].

Whatever range of motion which true (irreducible) volition grants "man" in this or that possible world, *God* "just is" in His designs (analogy here so don't panic) easily a trillion steps ahead of man's designs. When it comes to *God*, two year olds (man) just never *can* out-maneuver *God*.

Either way, either world, either choice, the "irreducibly volitional" and "true foreknowledge" stand (ontologically and relationally) intact.

The question for the Non-Theist (or etc.) is:

[1] How can he justify his assertion that God is unable to create a volitional being?

[2] How is a coin (love's necessarily relational interfaces in this case) *not* a two sided reality (on the one hand) and *not* a singular reality (on the other hand)? Clearly a coin is *both* a two sided creation *and* a singular creation. As is *both* Uncreated love *and* created love (see Aquinas in the next paragraph).

Aquinas' concept of proportionate causality (http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/first-without-second.html) amid cause/effect, from non-being to being, finds man's irreducible volition (irreducible in the same sense that man's being/existence is irreducible) in the created being metaphysically and relationally valid.

None of which means Man's irreducible volition (again irreducible in the same sense that Man's being/existence is irreducible) grants Man infinite choices in infinite worlds (God's proverbial "range" of proverbial "options") as a few million options in this or that world will do just fine.

The only choice that has any final, ultimate meaning in this context is the choice of Man amid himself and God within love's interfaces, amid love's relational "I/You", or, if the semantics of relational interfaces amid "me and you" are too hard to get one's head around, then, perhaps this: amid Self/Other, amid Mine/Thine, amid My/Thy, amid (on the one hand) the Isolated I and (on the other hand) a peculiar sort of Wedding/Marriage begetting a singular "Us". All of which just does sum to love's necessary constitutions, as in, cannot be otherwise (*given* a God who is love as our premise).

We often try to define our parameters by expunging the Imago Dei, by expunging Trinity (both of which necessitate love's volitional interfaces) and thereby run far afield. While the Isolated Self in God (in the Necessary) just is God (Christ is God, Father is God, Holy Spirit is God, God is One) should Man (a contingent being) volitionally choose such isolation, well then as a contingent being he cannot know/taste/have (therein) life or wholeness, or his true good, or his final felicity.

One can demand a one sided coin in one's attempted definitions of irreducible love, but to demand a one sided coin is to demand nonsense.

In very important ways (it would take several pages) this entire arena is yet one more example of just where, why, and how it is the case that logic, metaphysics, love, and reason compel us into something necessarily triune.


Good minus something:

On the two sided coin:

Love minus something "just is" the volitional motion into the "Isolated I" (touched on earlier) of this or that contingent being.

and yet....

even still....

...love is the highest ethic....

Faulting God for NOT creating this world:


Continuing on the content from earlier:

It is clear that we cannot fault God for begetting yet more love (creating a world in which universalism is irreducibly and logically possible even though it will not actualize) for to beget love is to beget The Good.

However:

We could ask if we can fault God had He not created such a volitional being in His own Image, had He not afforded (thereby) such a created being all of love's possible interfaces (described earlier).

By "His own Image" of course we mean the Triune God and not some other God, such that the Self (Man) amid the Other (God) can volitionally and factually choose among love's interfaces which ultimately carries him into (on one of volition's hands) eternal life, the singular "us" birthed in that peculiar Wedding, or which ultimately carries Man (on volition's other hand) into Good minus something, into love minus something, that of course being the contingent being's volitional motion into "the Isolated I, the pure Self".

Now, of course, God is free to create or not create, and there is no sound, safe, coherent path to fault God should he have created some other world instead of this one.

But the topic is raised to show what may in fact be the backwards and upside-down nature of the Non-Theist's complaint (or even our own complaint) *given* the context of the Imago Dei necessarily housing all of love's volitional / relational interfaces vis-à-vis decreeing the "Imago Dei" ("necessarily housing" as in "cannot be otherwise").

Hebrews 11, on Faith, affirms irreducible volition in Man to trust either Self or to trust God as being fully alive in the Old Man, prior to the New Creation, and that is perfectly coherent given what God's decree necessitates. "Choose you this day" is not, as Hebrews is not, as Eden is not, a Con or a Mistake.

Such irreducible volition cannot not-exist given the triune God's decree of the Imago Dei. That is why we get in trouble when we set up parameters which expunge the irreducible essence of the Imago Dei, or which expunge the irreducible processions within Trinity, or which expunge both, from *all* of our definitions.

Clarification A -- about the Coin:

The two sides of the coin, where love is the coin, are of course the (necessarily volitional options) between Self and Other.

If there will be love, there will necessarily be *one* created reality with *two* necessary faces. The phrase "Eden finds Man standing between possible worlds" is, though worded in a new way, a centuries old question (the nature of Eden) which, whatever one posits as Eden's nature, remains relevant.

Love cannot be otherwise as one sided coins cannot exist. One can change definitions, or worlds, but then one no longer has love.

In God, in Trinity, in Christ, we find that God's self-outpouring amid the other, God's self-giving sacrifice amid the other just is the end of all explanatory trails where the ontology of love is concerned.

Clarification B -- about Faulting God:

Given that love is the highest Ethic, it may just be the case that the concept of trying to fault God for begetting yet more love (creating this world) actually puts everything backwards and upside-down.

The far better question is that of God's Freedom and Goodness as such relates to the question: Can we fault Him for NOT creating this world had He not done so (*given* the terms given in the preceding comments). The answer is obviously "No" given that Privation in God just is love, for God *is* *love*.

But at least this question starts by putting things right side up and forward, rather than upside-down and backwards.

Gordon Clark solved for many the problem of Evil. This is a bare bones summary worth looking into if interested.

Clark first asks; "How can the existence of God be harmonized with the existence of evil?"

If God is all-good, He would want to destroy evil.

If God is all-powerful, He is able to destroy evil. But evil still exists.

It seems that God cannot be both all-good and all-powerful. However, Christianity teaches that He is both. This is the problem of evil."

Clark stated that, "God's causing a man to sin is not sin. There is no law, superior to God, which forbids him to decree sinful acts. Sin presupposes a law, for sin is lawlessness." Clark explained that "God is above law" because "the laws that God imposes on men do not apply to the divine nature."

The argument from foreknowledge is not that God's knowledge mysteriously causes the events to occur. It is only that God's knowledge entails their fixedness or unpreventability subsequent to his knowledge. Saying that we still have the power of contrary choice because I can act in such a way that God would have known that I would act in that way is not to offer a solution to the foreknowledge argument--it's only to beg the question that there must be some solution which we haven't specified yet.

That's the other way you can go Dave. The fixed fact is that God creates all things. That's the Biblical bedrock that can only be denied at the cost of orthodoxy.

So the question is: What about evil?

Does God create evil?

Or does evil not exist?

The privation theory takes the second alternative. It's not that God creates evil, it's that there are some goods that He does not create.

The view that God creates evil without Himself doing evil is the other.

In the end, I think both views can be defended. I'm not sure that they won't end up as inter-reducible.

I think there are a couple terminological advantages of the privation theory.

One is that you don't have to qualify the passages that say God is not the author of evil. Not a huge deal, since you could always say that those passages mean that God never does evil.

The second advantage is that solutions to the problem of evil often (always?) boil down to arguing that there are necessary evils. That's a bit jarring, since the only fundamentally necessary being is God. Of course, the claim that there are necessary evils is not the claim that some evils exist necessarily...it's the weaker claim that there are genuine moral dilemmas that unavoidably result in evils. The evils themselves are contingent.

Under the privation theory, you can make that point a lot more cleanly.

For starters, you are not trying to say why some evils exist, but why some goods that might have existed don't. The reason that some goods are absent from the universe is that some goods are logically incompatible with each other. That's the claim that replaces necessary evil language. And again, I think that, as stated, it leads to less confusion.

Perpetual Peace is incompatible with Victory. Both are goods, but you can't have both. There's a nice easy example of how goods can be logically incompatible.

The solution to the Problem of Evil, then, is to argue that all the goods that we miss in this world are absent because they were incompatible with equally valuable goods that we did receive.

If there was no sin, there would be no theological tension here. That is, we would willingly always do God's will - no tension if that's the case.

That said, Greg is on the money here: we need to worry about doing what the Bible tells us we need to do and stop worrying about God doing what he has told us he is doing. And the better we do what we have been told to do, the clearer it will become because we will be in harmony with God's will, both his decretive his preceptive will, which will also become more unified in us.

Now we can look at God's commands for us as merely behavioral: sins of commission and omission. Truly, there are also other layers of sin such as intent, nature, and relationship with God. The salvific command is to trust God. The role of theological tension in our sin is to make it necessary for us to trust God over and against our understanding of him for if we understood him, we would be tempted into the self-deceit of thinking that we didn't need to trust him. That is, there are things we know about God that give us evidence for trusting God in what we don't know. But only until we trust God can that trust be deepened by understanding him better. Without that first trust from minimal knowledge, greater knowledge would only drive us further from him.

The foreknowledge problem isn't a problem.

Had we freely chosen differently, God would have known (and prophesied) differently.

To suppose that the free will of Man can thwart the free will of God is to conjure up a *god* in place of the God of Scripture.

WL,

I agree with privation.

Question:

Your terms imply that content within both slavery and the abolition of slavery is a better set of constitutions than what we find should no slavery at all ever had been a problem in the first place.

Or maybe you don't mean "better" but simply incompatible? If the later, I agree, if the former, it's a moral statement contrary to God's nature and hence against The Good, is it not?


WL,

I mean the term "Victory" there...... better than no slavery etc....

Scbrownlhrm,

As I pointed out say things like "had we freely chosen differently, God would have known differently" are not solutions to the foreknowledge problem. When we analyze what these statements mean they turn out to be vacuous. I could just as easily assert that I had it within my power to sprout wings and fly yesterday, because had I done so God would have known that I sprouted wings and flew.

The determinist could also say the same thing: God's exhaustive determinism of all that comes to pass does not violate the power of contrary choice because had I chosen differently God would have simply determined that I had chosen differently. So apparently it's impossible to deny the power of contrary choice because we can always make statements like "well then God would have determined differently".

For a fully and more technical analysis of this see the John Martin Fischer article I referred to earlier.

SCBLHRM-

Bear in mind that the entire order of the world may be involved in finding out why one good is incompatible with another (and in deciding which is better). It's only God who can ever actually determine what goods are incompatible and which are better.

Yes, we could have had a world with no slavery ever. Other things would have to be different as well though.

There's no logically possible world identical to ours except without slavery.

There are logically possible worlds identical to ours except without slavery but with everything that an absence of slavery entails.

MFGA,

I don't see where we sprout wings, and if we say that God determined me to choose, as I stand between A and B, option B, then He made my choice for me by whatever means one wishes to posit and we're no longer talking about the irreducibly volitional within Man wherein Man, and not God, does the actual choosing of what will take place within my will at that Y in the road.

To posit something beneath the will/intention which forces the will/intention is to remove the will/intention in all contexts given what will/intention *is*.

One would have to show us why it is impossible for God to create a volitional being given that God informs us that we both have and make actual choices.

We can change our definition of "have" and "make" and "choices", but then we may just end up talking about an entirely different world.

WL,

Agree.

Possible worlds unearth interesting segues, not only in Genesis but also, of course, in metaphysics.

Scbrownlhrm,

I don't see where we sprout wings

And I don't see where we make contrary choices. Those are always conterfactual. But if Craig can say that we have the power of contrary choice just because were we to make a contrary choice then God would have always known it then I can say that I can choose to sprout wings and fly just because were I to make that choice then God would have always known it.

if we say that God determined me to choose, as I stand between A and B, option B, then He made my choice for me by whatever means one wishes to posit and we're no longer talking about the irreducibly volitional within Man wherein Man, and not God, does the actual choosing of what will take place within my will at that Y in the road.

God doesn't make your choices for you in determinism. God determines that YOU make the choice for yourself. But anyway, you're shifting the goal post by talking about sourcehood instead of the power of contrary choice. The point is that if Craig's pseudo-explanation is good enough to preserve the power of contrary choice in Molinism then it's also good enough to preserve the power of contrary choice in a full on determinist system (Molinism is a type of determinism, Craig only denies it by making the vacuous statement).

To posit something beneath the will/intention which forces the will/intention is to remove the will/intention in all contexts given what will/intention *is*.

That's exactly what libertarians posit though! They believe some choices are what libertarian Robert Kane calls "CFCs" or character forming choices that force the will/intention of the individual in all future circumstances. So apparently not even libertarianism can prop up free will?

MFGA,

I'm not a Molinist. That is, I don't buy into Molinism.

Also,

"God determines that YOU make the choice for yourself"

God insuring that I choose A and not B just does expunge the irreducibly volitional from the Imago Dei. Which is a disconnect from Scripture given that Scripture informs us that we both have and make choices.

Also, there is no need to prop up the irreducibly volitional within the Imago Dei given that it sources to God.

Given Aquinas' principle of proportionate causality....

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/first-without-second.html

....we find the Wellspring of all volition and personhood Himself as Cause ushering in from non-being to being the Effect which is the Imago Dei. Volition in the Self is irreducible in the *same* sense in which the Self's being/existence is irreducible.


MFGA,

Perhaps your concern is the range of our options?

It's not infinite, as in God.

But it obviously houses a few million vectors to volitionally motion within.

A few million will do just fine.

We're not God after all.

MFGA,

Example:

I can will to be a mile tall, but, of course, that vector is not available to me to (all on my own, freely) motion within. Now, if God wants to intervene or whatever.....but then that's His Freedom and not my freedom.

Nothing in my freedom is a threat to His Freedom.

We're not God after all.

At Tom Gilson's Thinking Christian https://www.thinkingchristian.net/blog/ an interesting challenge in one of the threads:

Challenge somewhat paraphrased:

“If God told you today you were going to die tomorrow in a plane crash in the middle of the Pacific, would you get on a plane? Of course not! Not if you had any free will, you wouldn’t anyway. It is fine for God to know your fate, as long as He keeps it to himself. If He lets slip to you, then we enter a paradox. Either He controls your actions or the situation to ensure you get on the plane, or He is wrong about the future” …… and…… “IF the disciples heard Christ / God tell of His death (prophecy) were they free to kidnap Him, take Him away until things settled down, and avoid His death, or even hold him under water so that He could die with less pain, and therefore alter world events….”(by J.)

Great questions.

Now, the context here was *not* about events in the world *but* rather about the will of the man, the irreducible volition within the Imago Dei.

A few replies are copied here, *but* these first *three* replies are a bit different than the thought experiment (God tells YOU that you WILL die on a plane on Friday), which we get to in the last three replies, but, first, in the first three replies, the context of

[1] irreducible volition in man and
[2] prophecy and
[3] causation

needs to be clear as we navigate these questions. Foreknowing is not Causation (described in earlier comments). It’s also important to remember that in possible world terms, we, as Christians, cannot expunge the fact that Scripture informs us that we both have and make actual choices, which means God does not “set it up” to force A over B within the volition at the seat of the soul, the rock-bottom of the created Self/Agent. We cannot expunge the fact that the Imago Dei houses irreducible volition within the Self – with “irreducible” there meaning in the *same* sense that the Self’s being/existence is irreducible.

Reply [A]

You seem to be saying that the Pharisees and Pilot heard Christ speak of his death, or heard about Christ speaking of his death, or heard a prophecy (etc.), and that “new information” removed, once they heard it, their irreducible volition, their nature, such that they were forced to kill Christ.

Is that what you are saying? Is that the sense (*certainty*) in which new information changes our very nature, expunges our irreducible volition, forces us to act? It seems that that is not the case at all. Rather, new information seems to grant us even more options / opportunity / challenges which we navigate via our volition and reason.

New information widens our options (and often our problems), rather than narrows them.

And since we are talking about Scripture — can you please show us a place where new information only logically possibly narrowed options such that it was logically impossible to widen an array of possibilities?

Reply [B]

If God told Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. that the only way to help spread Christ’s Truth was to do what he did in pointing the world to Scripture and to Essentialism and that doing it would one day cost him his life, was Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. free to do otherwise, to stop being a Pastor (etc.)? Of course he was. Part of Pastor MLK’s greatness is found therein. That you miss that, that you insult and belittle those irreducible contours of our very humanity, and his, is a completely misguided contour within your metaphysic.

Reply [C]

Yes, they could have tried to stop the crucifixion.

You’re still equating new information (foreknowledge) as causative.

Had they chosen to try, they would have failed, and that is simply given that had they chosen A or B or C or D or E, of which God knows all possible outcomes regardless of what free choice they make, then all such combinations and permutations are already embedded in the prophecy. In fact God knows that they will freely choose D and not A. Hence any prophecy about “X will happen” *includes* all such information.

Your view of God is very small. He has far more Gigs for such information (Worlds) than you seem to think possible. In fact, your *god* cannot even be the Christian God. Your *god* seems to be in constant threat of being out-maneuvered by frail and mutable agents, even by mere circumstance (non-agents).

Tell us, how many created beings with (true) volition at the seat of their being does it take for God to get nervous? Can he make a world with a trillion or so of such beings and “stay a trillion steps ahead of them?” (analogy here so don’t panic).

The plane crash case, the MLK case, the case of Pilot, and your case with the disciples all involve a wide array of possible free choices and an even wider array of outcomes each free choice can yield. God’s foreknowing all of it just fails to cause any of it assuming we do not expunge the irreducible Self. Given Aquinas' principle of proportionate causality.... http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/first-without-second.html ....we find the Wellspring of all volition and personhood Himself as the Cause ushering in from non-being to being the Effect which is the Imago Dei. Volition in the Self is irreducible in the *same* sense in which the Self's being/existence is irreducible.

Any divergence from Scripture’s content which forces upon us the fact that Man both has and makes actual choices can and is rationally rejected, both for Scriptural reasons and for metaphysical reasons. And for reasons having to do with what the word “God” actually means. His Knowing and His Creating and His Prophecy are all One-Act outside of Time. To think that He needs to control Man or else Man will control Him recruits such Non-God necessities that we soundly reject them.

What, God only has so many Gigs in which to store new / possible information such that His prophecy may be missing some information about A or B or C?

Please show us *HOW* hearing or getting prophecy expunges our volition.

Reply [D]

You asked if the disciples could have kidnapped Jesus, or if the man could freely choice to avoid the plane (or whatever).

Of course they could have freely chosen to do so.

So what?

What, God can’t freely choose too? Remember the chains on Peter/Paul (was it them?) breaking?

Who did that? Which free Agent did that? God sent an Angel. God can do it Himself too. Do you really think free will in man can thwart God’s free will?

That’s choice A for the disciples: Kidnap Jesus and use chains and…. and… and… They have about 100 other choices they could freely make.

So what?

God is a free agent too. Just like Man. Because, well, Imago Dei and all that.

Notice God need not expunge free will from the disciples in order to get from point A to point B while He acts and does. The jailors who jailed Paul and Peter did so volitionally. And God volitionally untied their knots, frustrated their plans, for His Own X. If God intends, decrees, "X", then X exists. That is why the volitional seat of the person is found in man (God decreed it). Well that's one of the reasons why.

You've still not shown us how free will is expunged by prophecy. Does God go into the Man and change his nature, expunge his will, or “freeze” the man so that the Man, moving forward, can no longer both have and make choices?

Or what?

Reply [E]

You ask if God states that X will die on a Plane, can X choose not to ride the plane.

The answer is yes.

Because the issue is the irreducible will of the man.

The problem is that you seem to think that the man freely choosing to avoid the plane must mean he will avoid the plane.

There are several reasons that premises is false:

[1] Foreknowing is cot causing

[2] God may thwart the man's free will with His Own Free Will (two free agents)

[3] Circumstances (non-agents) and other free will agents (other men, etc.) may thwart the man's free choice to avoid the plane

God’s knowing the content of [1], [2], and [3] causes the man to do nothing whatsoever, does not expunge the volition of the man at all. We saw the same state of affairs with your question about the disciples freely choosing to stop Christ from getting crucified. Neither 1 or 2 or 3 do anything to the free choice of the man – he still freely chooses.

I meant (earlier) that you need to show us where prophecy expunges free will given that such was your premise, or that you seem to take the line that prophecy locks in the Self's volition such that it can only choose A.

Your premises are equating my choice/will/intention to go forward, and the bicycle hitting me and forcing me to go backward, as "forcing me to choose to go backward" which is absurd. Sheer conflation.

Also, when it comes to Christ,

The Son chooses outside of time:

It's a bit odd that the Son says, "Prepare for Me a Body" outside of time and yet you *seem* to count Christ as forced by his own decision to decide what his decision decided inside of time. A kind of “I'm forced by my own decision to decide what my decision decided...." Hmm.... there's something out of place in all of that. It’s a mess. It's not quite right. Perhaps using semantics which presuppose choice in order to argue against choice is leading to such problems.

Reply [F]

God’s foreknowing all of it just fails to cause any of it assuming we do not expunge the irreducible Self. Given Aquinas' principle of proportionate causality.... http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/first-without-second.html ....we find the Wellspring of all volition and personhood Himself as the Cause ushering in from non-being to being the Effect which is the Imago Dei. Volition in the Self is irreducible in the *same* sense in which the Self's being/existence is irreducible.

Any divergence from Scripture’s content which forces upon us (Scripture forces upon us) the fact that Man both has and makes actual choices can and is rationally rejected, both for Scriptural reasons and for metaphysical reasons. And for reasons having to do with what the word “God” actually means. His Knowing and His Creating and His Prophecy are all One-Act outside of Time. To think that He needs to control Man’s volition or else Man will control both the show and God recruits such Non-God necessities and expunges so many core definitions of Scripture’s metanarrative that we soundly reject such thinking (such definitions).

Moral ontology does not find us responsible for events outside of our control, whether such events are the waves of non-agent circumstances, or the waves induced by the footprints of God, or the ripples caused by created agents and their waves, but, rather, moral ontology takes us into our own volitional motions, into the irreducible Imago Dei.

Whatever circumstances there may be, our responsibility is to remain in a posture of trust and love in all directions. The bicycle forcing me to go backward is not held against me. My volition was, all along, freely motioning forward. Our Will, the seat of our Self, is where the explanatory trail of moral ontology does its work, not over in that tree which just fell down in our neighbor’s yard.

Another set of facts which dissolves tensions and provides context:

It turns out that God's Sovereignty and God's Goodness emerge intact and, therefore, comfort us in a world such as ours.

It's a bit tedious to pick through, but, here's one of the ways that happens as we unpack evil amid goodness, man amid privation, and man's true volition amid God's Sovereignty and Goodness:


It is no small matter that the current state of affairs (outside of Eden, outside of Eden's two paths, one into eternal life on the one hand and one into this world on the other hand) is what it is, and, need not have been, and, won't always be. The fact that we are in a storm does not remove us from the fact of the immutable God and (therefore) does not remove us from the fact of an immutable love.

Eternal life was available in Eden, as was this world/universe. And we take Scripture seriously. Meaning we don't expunge those terms from our definitions, just as we do not expunge the irreducible seat of the soul's volition within the Imago Dei.

Whatever the "nature" of Eden was, and thus whatever the nature of Man in Eden was, it was neither the nature of eternal life (Man had to volitionally move first) nor was it the nature of our current world/universe (Man had to volitionally move first).

We could posit that pills or things that grow on bushes can go into a digestive tract and give a particular animal eternal life, but to thereby expunge Christ from our theology is to tragically error, just as, when Scripture and metaphysics and science affirm other, more coherent definitions (and avoid that business of expunging Christ from our theology) there's just no need to settle for less than what has been revealed in God's Word.

That we find ourselves within the current set of counterfactuals, sins, pressures, evils, and so on, is, simply, a world. It's not the only world. It's not our permanent condition either. Nor did it have to actualize. The creation of Eden is *necessarily* the creation of love's two options, and that is (was) a singular creation, not many creations side by side.

Why is Eden's nature found the way it is in Scripture? Because God decrees the Imago Dei. From there we cannot avoid the fact that love's two possibilities of "self" vs. "other" are one reality, as we find via the Trinity as it relates to the ontology of love. It is (love is) *one* coin with *two* faces. The volitional man (in Eden) actually motions freely between those same two possible natures: A world defined by Eternal Life (union with God/Other) or else a world defined by privation (the Self isolated from God). Obviously, by necessity, neither Eden nor Man in Eden possessed either of those two natures. Just as obvious is the fact that both Eden and Man in Eden were of the same nature.

If love is going to be the Image, then the singular creation called Eden, whatever the "nature" of Eden was, becomes necessary. Consequentialism does not define Christian ethics, but rather the immutable nature of love, of God, defines all ethics.

That is what exists necessarily and therefore defines all lines.

Not Privation (the isolated contingent self). Nor Eternal Life (the union of the contingent self and God).

But, rather, love's volitional processions within Trinity, which just is God, defines all terms and lines, and, therefore, love's volitional motions within Man as Man is found amid possible natures (worlds) defines all terms. That universalism is possible but did not materialize (and that all can choose self over God but such did not materialize) (.... see the comments of prophecy and causation earlier...) are both defined by something larger, something which out-distances those two facts, which is simply the Face of God there in Christ, which cannot be avoided by any of the possible natures which we find streaming from Eden. It is God (and not consequentialism) amid "the Adamic's perception and nature" which defines.

God does not "set it up" to force some contour within the seat of the will's irreducible volition to choose this world/nature over eternal life, and not because He can't (He could), but, because He decreed X and for Him to then do that "set up" would be to undo His own decree.

God does not tip the scale to force a choice simply because He does not have to, because in all worlds which Man can find, His decree of the Imago Dei is instantiated. Why? Because it is all *one* creation within which Man volitionally motions. Why? Because love's motions amid "me vs. you", amid Self/Other, is necessarily one reality. That's just what love *is*.

Therefore:

The creation (singular) which love demands *is* the singular relational interface between God and Man, which just *is* a singularity, and that singularity just *is* Eden and *all* which streams out of her.

To demand love is to demand love's singularity, that proverbial coin, and (therefore) love's two faces, as in love's two relational realities amid self/other. One could posit and/or demand a one-sided coin, but then no God of love begetting (or creating) yet more love.

Not actually.

The question in all of morality just is the question in all of love: will it be me or you, will it be Self or Other. Wholeness sums to unity, or unicity, or the singularity of "Us" amid egalitarian self-giving (Trinity), while privation sums to the Whole minus something, which just is the (contingent) Self in isolation. All definitions of evil emerge there, and there alone.

That is why we can say this based on Scripture's terms:

*IF* love is to be the Image of the Creation, *THEN* we must have a world such as Eden, that is to say, we must have Eden's doors into other natures, into the "pure self" (lovelessness), into the darkness of the isolated I, which just is privation (on the one hand) and, also, (on the other hand) into the light of unicity, the wholeness (contra privation) of the amalgamated us/we of God in Man and of Man in God as such relates to the out-pouring of God and His All Sufficiency, and, therefore, to the infilling of insufficiency's lack, need, want. Eternal Life was available in Eden. And we take that seriously in our definitions..... meaning we do not expunge it, just as we do not expunge the irreducible seat of the soul's volition within the Imago Dei.

So however uncomfortable we are in this state of affairs, the fact that we must endure a posture of trust and love in all directions while waves outside of our control storm the seas is not the whole story, nor the whole of possibilities, nor is it our permanent condition.

Scbrown,

God insuring that I choose A and not B just does expunge the irreducibly volitional from the Imago Dei. Which is a disconnect from Scripture given that Scripture informs us that we both have and make choices.

The first sentence is one that must be philosophically argued for. You then use the philosophical (and controversial) assumption that God cannot ordain that I choose something to conclude that Scripture must implicitly be teaching God's foreordination of all things is false when it talks about us making choices.

But obviously the argument from Scripture is convincing only if you've already boughten into the philosophical commitment. In fact I would say that in many places Scripture indicates that God exercises his will over the will and choices of creatures, while at the same time preserving the culpability of the creature's will and choice (e.g., Psa. 105:25).

MFGA,

See, "Posted by: scbrownlhrm | May 18, 2016 at 03:04 AM".

You seem to be trying to choose between God's free agency and Man's free agency in that you seem to infer that God must force the man to choose A and not B there in the seat of his volition in order for God to be God in the company of contingent beings. That's "how" God retains sovereignty.

He cannot do it otherwise.

Man in fact does not have and make actual choices.

But neither God's free agency nor Man's free agency needs to be expunged in order for both to be in full swing.

I agree with Psalms in that there are consequences to actions. If God states "If you love X, then I'll send Y" He means it (reference "Posted by: scbrownlhrm | May 18, 2016 at 03:04 AM"). It leaves man's volition intact.

BTW: No one is stopping you from defining free moral agency in Man as Man choosing what God forces him to choose there in the seat of his volition. Probably by "setting the stage just right" given that such terms cannot afford to have the irreducible volition/person there in the *decree* of the *Imago Dei*. If you're content with that definition, you're free to wield it.

It's peculiar that we often chastise Non-Theists for trying to level the same treatment to reasoning -- expunging the irreducible and inherent intentionality without which all terms become self-negating and *actual* reasoning evaporates.

There's no need, though, for us as Christians to fear such irreducible immaterial substrates.

It's not like we're materialists and not dualists.


MFGA,

Of course, the Non-Theist also treats free will in the same way.

Because he has to. The rock-bottom substrates are all the same in both arenas.

But we don't have to. For many obvious reasons that are *not* touched on in "Posted by: scbrownlhrm | May 18, 2016 at 03:04 AM", though a few are touched on there........

Scbrown,

It's not the Calvinist position that has to choose between God's free agency or man's free agency... that's actually the libertarian non-Calvinist position. The Calvinist Michael Horton has described divine sovereignty and free will as *not* being a zero some game where God exercising his sovereignty and will diminishes man's freedom.

It's the non-Calvinists who think that God has to restrain his exercise of sovereignty or his will in order to preserve man's freedom. This is what William Lane Craig does, for instance, when he talks about God being forced to play a hand he has been dealt.

The non-theist has problems with free will because ultimately man is determined by impersonal, non-rational processes and because non-theism can't even make sense of consciousness.

It's not clear one is forced to play a hand one has been dealt if foreknowledge is real. Also, frail and mutable contingencies "straining" the tender back of *God* is also problematic ;-)

God sustains all at all times -- Being Itself -- and therein *is* our freedom. Of course God restrains. And gives. And decrees.

One point on this is on #4 from William Francis Brown’s thread opener:

The idea that all things pass through the hands of God and are a part of his good and perfect purpose cannot be true. You know not what you say when you state that. There are degrees of evil that, if you had a closer glimpse (emphasis mine), would make it impossible to make that statement.

But how does William have this “closer glimpse”? Where does he get this certainty. Where does he get this insight?

The fact is, he doesn’t have it. Nor do I.

When discussing this with the Christian, you can both agree that God not only has the “closest glimpse” but that He has power over absolutely everything.

We are told how to interpret evil in this world – as evil. We are convicted of our own evil. And yet, we are told that God is all powerful and perfectly good.

WL correctly stated earlier that God is the only one who can ever determine what goods are incompatible and which are better.

We embrace this as Christians.

WFB assumes God can create a one-sided coin.

Which is nonsense.

God can create one sided things. A coin, however, is necessarily (on the one hand) a two sided thing, and (on the other hand) a single creation, or a single thing.

God cannot create a one-sided thing if God means to decree the image of, the actuality of, love's interfaces. Because God cannot do nonsense, like create a "round square".

To demand from God all of love's interfaces (and thus love itself) is to demand from God a singular thing such as the thing we term a coin.

If love is the highest ethic, we cannot fault God for creating the singular reality which sums to Eden and Eden's possible worlds.

The far better question, and more intellectually sound, is, could we have faulted God had He not created the singular reality which we find summing to Eden and all which streams out of Eden (privation / eternal life)?

The backwards and upside down thinking of the Non-Theist is, quite often, unwilling to include the nature of love in his equations.

Clarification as to the coin:

See this thred's "Posted by: scbrownlhrm | May 17, 2016 at 07:11 AM".

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