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July 14, 2014

Comments

I think of free will like this: You have an immaterial soul that can initiate physical causes in the world.

Let's say God caused the world, so everything is determined by God from the Big Bang up to today - except human beings also have a similar ability like God's to cause things on their own. It's not just doing things God caused you to do, but it's truly uncaused action on your part. That's what free will is, I think.

I think strict determinism is absolutely incompatible with our experience as human beings. Since naturalism or atheism leads logically to strict determinism, the "free will" question is our biggest argument against those worldviews.

I don't think Greg's explanation was all that helpful. As is all too often the case, he expressed his three categories in a question begging way.

Determinism is the claim that there are facts completely outside my control that logically entail my present behavior.

Those facts outside my control could be of various kinds:

  • They could be causal.

    Some people have argued that the laws of physics plus the past state of the physical universe prior to my birth logically entail the current state of the universe, including my present behavior.

    Determinism in this sense is a philosophical claim, and it is not necessary for science.

  • They could be physiological and psychological.

    Some people have argued that my genetic makeup (my nature), plus all the environmental inputs into my life (my nurture), entail my present behavior.

  • They could be theological.

    Some people have argued that particular mental states of God, together with the Divine Attributes, logically entail my present behavior.

    God's belief at the foundation of the world that I would eat the chocolate pie, plus the fact that He is infallible, logically entail that I will eat the pie. God's plan at the foundation of the world that I would eat the pie, plus the fact that He is sovereign, logically entail that I will eat the pie. That sort of thing.

  • They could be logical.

    Some people have argued that the past truth of a proposition about my present behavior entails my present behavior. That there is a past truth is guaranteed by the fact of the law of excluded middle. It's always been the case that exactly one of these were true: (a) I will eat the pie, or (b) I will not eat the pie. It was that way long before I was born.

  • Etc.

(Science does not require the truth of causal determinism, witnessed by the fact that our best scientific theories today are indeterministic.)

Incompatibilism is the claim that determinism is incompatible with human freedom.

Compatibilism is the denial of incompatibilism.

There are as may forms of compatibilism/incompatibilism as there are forms of determinism. One could be an incompatibilist about causal and theological determinism, but a compatibilist about logical and physio-psychological determinism.

Hard Determinism is the claim that determinism and incompatibilism are both true, and so much the worse for human freedom.

Libertarianism is the claim that incompatibilism is true, and human freedom exists, and so much the worse for determinism.

Soft Determinism is the claim that determinism is true, but because compatibilism is also true, there is no need to reject human freedom.

The Conditional Analysis of Freedom understands freedom as the dependence of my action on some motivation within me. My action is free because its immediate origin is me. I do what I choose. And I would do otherwise, if I were to choose to do so.

There are a number of variations of this view where the verb "choose" is replaced by some other verb. I doubt it ever really makes much difference, but some of the main contenders are "want", "will", "intend" and "desire". Feel free to put the verb of your choice in for "choose".

The Alternate Possibilities (or Could-Have-Done-Otherwise) Analysis of Freedom also understands freedom as the dependence of my action on some motivation within me. But my action is free because its ultimate origin is me. Yes, I do what I choose. And, yes, I would do otherwise, if I were to choose to do so. But I also could have chosen otherwise.

Notice that there is a logical relationship between these two analyses. The analysans of the alternate-possibilities analysis simply adds to the analysans of the conditional analysis. As such, if the analysans of the conditional analysis is false, it follows that the analysans of the alternate possibilities analysis is also false. And by contraposition, if the analysans of the alternate possibilities analysis is true, it follows that the analysans of the conditional analysis is also true.

And because of this relationship, one thing we can safely say is that if alternate-possibilities freedom is compatible with a form of determinism, then conditional freedom is ipso facto compatible with that form of determinism.

Likewise, if conditional-freedom is incompatible with a form of determinism, then alternate-possibilities freedom is ipso facto incompatible with that form of determinism.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To characterize alternate-possibilities freedom as libertarian (as Greg does) is to beg the question about whether freedom (so analyzed) is compatible with determinism. It would seem that because it is libertarian, and libertarianism is a form of incompatibilism, it can't be.

To characterize conditional freedom as compatibilist (as Greg does) is also to beg the question about whether freedom (so analyzed) is compatible with determinism. It would seem that because it is compatibilist, it must be.

---------------------------

It seems to me that alternate-possibilities freedom is compatible with theological determinism. So long as you and God are co-originators of all your choices, you can be free without insult to Divine Sovereignty or Divine Infallibility.

For that reason, conditional freedom is also compatible with theological determinism.

And the characterization of alternate-possibilities freedom as libertarian in the case of theological determinism is unwarranted and question-begging. As a corollary, the characterization of conditional freedom as compatibilist in the case of theological determinism is also unwarranted and question-begging. Both forms of freedom are compatibilist in this case.

And it seems to me that conditional-freedom is not compatible with causal and physio-psychological determinism. This is because, no matter what you may choose, you are not going to make the laws of physics different, or the past state of the physical universe, or your DNA, or how your parents treated you. So if any of those factors, individually or collectively entail what you do, then no matter what you may choose, you are not going to act differently.

For that reason, alternate-possibilities freedom is also incompatible with causal and physio-psychological determinism.

And the characterization of conditional freedom as compatibilist in the cases of causal and physio-psychological determinism is unwarranted and question-begging. As a corollary, the characterization of alternate-possibilities freedom as libertarian in the cases of causal and physio-psychological determinism is also unwarranted and question-begging. Both forms of freedom are libertarian in these cases.

(Things actually get more complicated here, I've glossed over an important point about whether things are different in some contrary-to-fact case, and whether I make them different.)

---------------------------

As for logical determinism, it seems to me that those statements about the past, e.g. "It was true 100 years ago that I would eat pie today" aren't strictly about the unchangeable past (if it is unchangeable), and therefore are not automatically outside my control.

Example. "It was true 100 years ago that I would eat pie today" seems like a roundabout way of saying that "The world existed 100 years ago, and I eat pie today". Maybe I'm not free to do anything about whether the world existed 100 years ago. But whether I'm free to do anything about whether I eat pie today was precisely what was at issue in incompatibilist arguments. Such arguments typically argue for the absence of freedom from the deterministic thesis. But an argument that begins with my lack of freedom regarding the pie as its deterministic thesis and concludes that I lack of freedom regarding the pie, such an argument, while logically valid (its premise does imply its conclusion), hardly need be taken seriously.

Nope:

What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written:

"There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one."
"Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit."
"The poison of vipers is on their lips."
"Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."
"Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know."
"There is no fear of God before their eyes." - Rom. 3:9-18

When I hear the CDO argument, I always ask myself, "Under what conditions?" The conditions cannot be that we could do otherwise against our will, for it is precisely our will that we follow. Therefore, the next question I am constrained to ask is, "What could change our will outside of God's created order?" Could God create something that he cannot predict or that is somehow perfectly random? If not, then God created knowing what we would do.

Molinism seems to be a possible solution to this except that even in Molinism there is something outside of God's creative nature that is determinative. Rather, there is a difference in will between Creator and creature that must be acknowledged. God's will is creative. Our will, as creatures, is reactive. That is a far healthier distinction than importing modern philosophical sensibilities driven by culturally visceral normalizations.

Some lingering questions I have:

Can God be good if he creates something that he cannot or will not control? And he knows the thing will never stand a chance of doing good, instead it will do only bad things, sending itself to Hell?

Can God really know anything at all if he creates creatures with free will, loose cannons that randomly smash into each other resulting in chaos?

Can God be omnipotent if he delegates some of his control to a creature, thereby stifling his own power? Can he Transfer some of his power to a creature that he generates and sustains the very existence of, making the effect the cause?

Is free will, as taught by the Roman Catholic Church and others, a doctrine that when believed, will place the Papacy in the “Temple of God” (the heart of the believer) where Antichrist is to reside??

When I hear the CDO argument, I always ask myself, "Under what conditions?" The conditions cannot be that we could do otherwise against our will, for it is precisely our will that we follow.
It is not that, to be free, you need to be able to do things contrary to your will, it is that, to be free, you need to be able to will differently. That is not to say that you do will differently. That's not the question. The question is can you will differently.

Q: Can God be good if he creates something that he cannot or will not control?

A: God, not only can, but of necessity does, control everything. It does not follow from this that humans are unfree.

Q: Can God really know anything at all if he creates creatures with free will, loose cannons that randomly smash into each other resulting in chaos?

A: God's knowing how a being will behave is compatible with its being free. It is also compatible with its behaving in a random way. It is unlikely that a thing's behaving in a random way is compatible with that behavior being free.

Q: Can God be omnipotent if he delegates some of his control to a creature, thereby stifling his own power?

A: Omnipotence is universal ability. It is not universal activity. An omnipotent being need not do anything at all. That said, no being can act wholly on its own if an omnipotent being exists. The lesser being must always have, at least, the concurrence of the omnipotent being. That does not make the lesser being unfree.

Q: Can he Transfer some of his power to a creature that he generates and sustains the very existence of, making the effect the cause?

A: If by "transfer" you mean "make it so that some creature has a power that God Himself does not have, but used to until He created the new creature", then no, God cannot transfer His power.

But if you are asking whether God can make it so that some creature has a power, then yes He can.

Q: Is free will, as taught by the Roman Catholic Church and others, a doctrine that when believed, will place the Papacy in the “Temple of God” (the heart of the believer) where Antichrist is to reside??

A: ????????

Q: Is God’s will always done?

A: God’s will cannot be thwarted.

Q: Can God, being omnipotent, give a human being the power to accept or reject Him, when God’s will is that that specific person accept Him?

A: See answer #1?

Q: What about sin?

A: See answer #1?

Q: So you’re saying that God’s will is that some people reject Him?

A: See answer #1?

Q: What about………..?

A: See answer #1?

Any problems?

Q: Is God’s will always done?

A: God’s will cannot be thwarted. It does not follow from this that humans are unfree, not even in the alternate-possibilities sense of "freedom".

etc.

FTFY. ;-)

WL,

Yes. Agreed.

My post was not clear at all. Yikes.

I know that I have free will. I know that God’s will is always done. Further, I know God’s will is done no matter what I have to say about the matter : )

That said, I do struggle when sharing this view with others that hold the view that we are in charge to a certain extent. Because we love the idea that we have something to offer. It's hard to tell someone they have nothing to offer.

I abandoned this view when I discovered that I could no longer wrap my head around the idea that God was all-powerful but at the same time we had control of something.

Yes, His will is done. Under no circumstances can His will be thwarted. It's logically impossible and incoherent for an all-powerful God to not have His will carried out. The world was created. People were created. His will was done.

Using imagery, I've heard it described as people swimming in an ocean of sin and death. Do we reach out halfway for God with Him reaching down halfway pulling us out, OR does he reach the full way and pull us out? Sometimes, I feel as though He pulled me out by the back of the neck. As I could swim freely on and on.

I had nothing to offer.

An analogy I use is Lazarus when Jesus raised him from the dead. Scripture depicts us as being spiritually dead, and insensitive to the things of God. Lazarus had to be alive and hearing when Jesus called him forth from out of the tomb. And so it is with us. The Gospel calls many forth from their spiritually dead state. Those whom God brings to life through the new birth hear and respond according to their new nature. Those who remain unregenerate, are left in their tombs to perish.

WisdomLover: "The question is can you will differently."

Which is why I followed up with the question, "What could change our will outside of God's created order?"

"What could change our will outside of God's created order?"

Is there something wrong with the idea that you could change your will?

Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Re 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

If God placed us in Christ as named individuals before the foundation of the world, then everything in our ancestry would have been ordained to fall out according to this. If one ancestor had been different, all ancestors from that point on would have been different, and we would not exist. Not to mention that if one sperm cell had united with a different egg, at any point along the way, we would not exist.

Think of the “free choices” and the shifts in events that were instrumental in bringing us into existence according to God’s plan.

Even if God looked down through time and agreed to energize the random choices of individuals, thereby having them occur with certainty, things would have fallen out according to his will, only that he would have written our names in the Book of Life, after the fact.

Dave-

Everything you just wrote is compatible with individuals having the ability to change their choices.

What you've said is that God ordained that things would turn out a certain way.

That says nothing at all about what could have happened instead.

And no, I'm not saying that if something else had happened instead, God's plans would be thwarted. All that I'm saying is that if something else had happened, God's plans would have been different.

WL,

Determinism is not directly about control. So, when you say that determinism is the thesis that "there are facts completely outside my control that logically entail my present behavior," I think you need to rephrase it. Perhaps that is a consequence of determinism---perhaps it will even end up being an equivalent characterization---but if so, it's not obvious. As a basic definition, determinism is just the thesis that antecedent conditions together with certain regularities of nature entail the present state of affairs. Whether those antecedent conditions and/or regularities can be controlled by us is another matter.

WisdomLover: "Is there something wrong with the idea that you could change your will?"

Short answer: Yes.
Reason: It would mean that there is something that we create that God does not and the Bible clearly tells us more than once that God creates all things in Heaven and on Earth.

We tend to think of "will" as the ability to make discreet decisions. This isn't so much inaccurate as it is incomplete. Will is more of a conglomeration of competing inclinations that entail experiential conditioning, biological factors, personal nature, sin nature, and indwelling. All of these are created by God either positively or negatively (in the case of, say, sin nature). I'm a compatabilist in the sense that we are free agents within the context of God's created order. Human will is not on par with God's.

RE:WL says;"All that I'm saying is that if something else had happened, God's plans would have been different."

"Different" = less perfect?

A couple of points to ponder:

The Immutability of God: Basically stated is that any change in God’s will, which is perfect, would be a move towards imperfection.

The Infinity of God: Any change in the mind of God would also involve time and would tend towards pantheism.

Malachi says, ‘I am God, and I change not,’ ever retaining His own state of being; because what has no origin cannot be changed.” Barnes Notes: Mal. 3:6

"Basically stated is that any change in God’s will, which is perfect, would be a move towards imperfection."

This is based on the assumption that there is a single best of all possible worlds.

It is worth considering whether there might not be many worlds that are tied for being the best. God is free to choose to create a different world than the actual one in that case without making a less perfect world.

I am not suggesting that God's will would change. I am suggesting that it might have been different for all eternity from the way it in fact is for all eternity.

WL:

Is there something wrong with the idea that you could change your will?

JP:

Short answer: Yes.

Reason: It would mean that there is something that we create that God does not and the Bible clearly tells us more than once that God creates all things in Heaven and on Earth.

Why do you think that your ability to change your will implies that you have the ability to create something that God does not?

For starters, you are assuming that changing your will involves some sort of creation on your part. That isn't entirely obvious.

But let's accept that assumption as correct. Still, couldn't it be the case that you both create the very same thing? If the two of you can create the very same thing, then it's possible for you to change your will, even though, there is nothing that is not created by God.

Jim,

WisdomLover: "Is there something wrong with the idea that you could change your will?"

Short answer: Yes. Reason: It would mean that there is something that we create that God does not and the Bible clearly tells us more than once that God creates all things in Heaven and on Earth.

Why does it follow that when human’s change their will, it means that there is something that we create that God does not? When do humans even get wills then? Or do they even?

@ WL who says: "I am not suggesting that God's will would change. I am suggesting that it might have been different for all eternity from the way it in fact is for all eternity."


>But there is a singular purpose for God creating the universe - for manifesting His glory. So from out of all possible worlds, ours must have been the perfect.

Jim,

My apologies for restating WL’s question. I think I was working on an unrefreshed screen or something.

But there is a singular purpose for God creating the universe - for manifesting His glory. So from out of all possible worlds, ours must have been the perfect.
What if there is more than one possible world that perfectly manifests God's glory?

@WL who asks: "What if there is more than one possible world that perfectly manifests God's glory?"

If there were, it would be redundant, being an exact duplicate or exact duplicates of this creation.

"If there were, it would be redundant, being an exact duplicate or exact duplicates of this creation."

Not necessarily. I'm not in a position to judge this sort of thing, and neither are you. But it seems at least conceivable that worlds with observably different characteristics might be equally good...that equally manifest God's glory, but in observably different ways.

Ben-

I just noticed your comment nestled in among the rest. Sorry for not responding sooner.

You're right of course. Determinism can be true even if the conditions that entail my present behavior are within my control. Indeed, one way of arguing for compatibilism is to argue that, in spite of the initial inclination to think otherwise, the conditions that entail my current behavior are within my control.

On the other hand, the fact that the conditions are, at least initially, thought to be outside my control is the only thing that gives the incompatibilist argument oomph. No one should be vexed by the determinism of present truth:

If you eat the pie now, then it follows of necessity that you eat the pie now.
While it is utterly true that "you eat the pie now" entails that "you eat the pie now", there's no non-question-begging way to say that you lack control over the item that entails you current pie-eating behavior.

So what I meant and should have said is that Determinism is the claim that there are facts thought to be completely outside my control that logically entail my present behavior.

@WL: Are you suggesting that Christ's crucifixion wasn't necessary? That God could have manifested His glory in equally different ways?

KWM: No problem. I'll answer yours and WisdomLover's questions together since you are asking the same thing. You asked:

"Why does it follow that when human’s change their will, it means that there is something that we create that God does not?"

There's really two things to address here. First, what does it mean to "change" one's will? That's not in regard to choosing one decision over another since decisions are generally between two competing desires and in the end only one decision is made.

Now it's a little more complex than even that, isn't it? Over time we follow competing desires to make a series of decisions. But over time, we may waffle around as considerations at any given moment may weigh some factors differently than at other times.

So the second is, assuming some change in will occurs, on what basis does that change occur. I mentioned "considerations" and "factors". Considerations are our ability to reason according to our nature and conditioning, both of which were created by God. Factors are external data or stimuli, either present or remembered, that inform our considerations. Those are also created by God. In order for us to "change" our will, according to the libertarian definition of will, we need some consideration or factor outside of anything that God has created.

"When do humans even get wills then? Or do they even?"

That's not really a coherent question, but I'll read into it and assume that you mean that libertarian will is the only definition of will that is available. The only answer is that you have the wrong idea about will, which is why I addressed the difference between God's will and human will in my first statement.

WL:

"Why do you think that your ability to change your will implies that you have the ability to create something that God does not?

For starters, you are assuming that changing your will involves some sort of creation on your part. That isn't entirely obvious."

It's not obvious because we are steeped in our culture and popular philosophy demands a libertarian definition of will.

"But let's accept that assumption as correct. Still, couldn't it be the case that you both create the very same thing? If the two of you can create the very same thing, then it's possible for you to change your will, even though, there is nothing that is not created by God."

That's evidence of what I'm saying. You're going way outside the Bible to make room for a point that is outside the Bible. God creates ex nihilo. No other being does.

"Are you suggesting that Christ's crucifixion wasn't necessary? That God could have manifested His glory in equally different ways?"

Don't know about that. I think the typical view is that the alien work of God, like the redemption, is free. God was free to leave us in our sin as far as I know.

But even if we determine that's impossible, what if Jesus had been crucified with brass nails instead of iron? Or what if the nails had gone in at a slightly different angle? Or to a different depth? Or with one more or one fewer hammer blow?

Did God have no freedom there?

WL: For starters, you are assuming that changing your will involves some sort of creation on your part. That isn't entirely obvious.

JP: It's not obvious because we are steeped in our culture and popular philosophy demands a libertarian definition of will.

No. It's not obvious because "I can change what I choose" does not logically entail "I can create something."
WL: But let's accept that assumption as correct. Still, couldn't it be the case that you both create the very same thing? If the two of you can create the very same thing, then it's possible for you to change your will, even though, there is nothing that is not created by God.

JP: That's evidence of what I'm saying. You're going way outside the Bible to make room for a point that is outside the Bible. God creates ex nihilo. No other being does.

Well, I never said that any being other than God creates anything ex nihilo. What if you were to create something, but not ex nihilo, and thereby change your choice, and what if, at the same time, God were also to create that very same thing ex nihilo. Now you've changed your will, and God has created everything ex nihilo, and no one else has created anything ex nihilo.

In truth though, I think the main reason that people want to say that beings other than God cannot create ex nihilo is that they assume that if someone other than God were to create a thing ex nihilo, then God couldn't. But that's not logically required either. Nothing logically precludes the possibility that two distinct beings create one and the same thing ex nihilo.

Notice also, that I am not committing to any of this. You, Jim, are the one that seems to think that changing you choice requires creation.

But it is worth noticing that freedom that requires creation ex nihilo is still compatible with theological determinism of every kind, including the claim that God directly causes everything to happen via ex nihilo creation. How much more would any weaker variety of freedom be compatible any weaker form of theological determinism.

Jim,

That's not really a coherent question, but I'll read into it and assume that you mean that libertarian will is the only definition of will that is available.

Well it’s coherent to me! : ) I assume it’s not coherent to you because you’re operating off of some variation of the standard definition of human will. I’m not sure what that definition is, but I have a good idea.

I’m not sure how you distinguish human will from God’s will then except by the human limitation to only carry out a portion of God’s will.

So when you write:

Human will is not on par with God's.

It seems you’re describing precisely the opposite.

@WL; So, the hairs of our heads really aren't all that numbered, just some of them, if needs be? Or there are possibly some sparrows that actually do fall to the ground apart from God? And God doesn't really work all things after the council of His own will, just some things? Or He doesn't, from the same lump, make one vessel to honor and another to dishonor?

WisdomLover:

"You, Jim, are the one that seems to think that changing you choice requires creation."

It's more than "seems" because I've stated as much. It is indeed my position.

"What if you were to create something, but not ex nihilo, and thereby change your choice,"

With regard to will, then it would be a will of a different kind, which is my point. If we don't create ex nihlo, then we can only create from what and by what has already been created by God. Said another way: our will is reactive. Only God's will is truly creative. Think of the greatest thing we can create. No part of that was created by anything that was not already created by God, who also knew what creating it would result in.

But God does more than just set up dominoes and let them fall on their own. He also sustains at every point, changing conditions discretely as he wills. It is presumptuous of me to assume that I don't need God for my decisions. In fact, the key factor in spiritual maturity is submission of my will intentionally to God's will. The creature-Creator distinction is important in this in particular. There is first the recognition that I will not submit to God initially on my own. But once done, there is second the recognition that I must use my new freedom in Christ to submit my will to his. That is be far the most fruitful doctrine of human will that we should teach.

Jim,

After reading your response to WL, I’m clear on your position.

Thanks

With regard to will, then it would be a will of a different kind, which is my point.
Well, it seemed that your point was that the ability to change our choices had to involve creation. It seemed that you were saying that it had to involve creation ex nihilo.

But, my point is two-fold:

  1. Alternate-possibilities freedom, does not require that the ability to change your choice involve the ability to create anything (ex nihilo or otherwise).
  2. Even if alternate-possibilities freedom did require that the ability to change your choice involve the ability to create something ex nihilo...even assuming that that were true, alternate-possibilities freedom would still be compatible with theological determinism, even assuming that theological determinism is the direct creation ex nihilo of all events, all human behaviors, everything. This is because it is possible for two beings to create ex nihilo exactly the same thing, so human choices could be overdetermined by both divine and human impetus.

So, the hairs of our heads really aren't all that numbered, just some of them, if needs be? Or there are possibly some sparrows that actually do fall to the ground apart from God?...Or He doesn't, from the same lump, make one vessel to honor and another to dishonor?
I'm not sure why you think anything I've said implies this. God knows all these things because He freely chose to create just the world He created, and that world includes all those things...hairs, sparrows, clay, all of it.
And God doesn't really work all things after the council of His own will, just some things?
No, Dave, that's your view. Or actually, your view is that God doesn't really work all things after the council of His own will, as a matter of fact, He doesn't work anything at all after the council of His own will. Because, according to you, there's only one possibility. That means that God works everything out of necessity, not after His will at all.

WisdomLover

"It is not that, to be free, you need to be able to do things contrary to your will, it is that, to be free, you need to be able to will differently. That is not to say that you do will differently. That's not the question. The question is can you will differently."

Isn't that a catch-22? As soon as you can will differently than you want to will, is it not at that point that you no longer have freedom? (It almost seems like you are enslaved by a contradiction)I'm detecting some kind of internal contradiction here.

I think there is a connection between will and desire and any attempt at breaking that link results in a loss of freedom. Doing it intentionally sounds like self enslavement to me.

@WL; who says to dave; "according to you, there's only one possibility. That means that God works everything out of necessity, not after His will at all."

So according to WL, God can go back on His word and all of His people might not end up being saved after all? Just because He might will it? Is He not constrained by His word, or His righteousness and wisdom?

Dave, do I understand correctly that from your point of view neither God nor people do have any free will at all in sense of "freedom of choosing from different alternatives", because God can only choose the one option, which is the best, and our decisions are "entailed" in His will?

I am sorry for the crude thinking but altough I am really trying to stretch my mental capacity it didn't do me much good in this discussion.

@Faire;

This quote from B.B. Warfield (Old Princeton Theological Seminary) best presents this position. It is as follows;

The very essence of consistent theism is that God would have an exact plan for the world, would foreknow the actions of all the creatures He proposed to create, and through His all-inclusive providence would control the whole system. If He fore-ordained only certain isolated events, confusion both in the natural-world and in human affairs would be introduced into the system and He would need to be constantly developing new plans to accomplish what be desired. His government of the world then would be a capricious patch work of new expedients He would at best govern only in a general way, and would be ignorant of much of the future. But no one with proper ideas of God believes that He has to change His mind every few days to make room for unexpected happenings which were not included in His original plan. If the perfection of the divine plan be denied, no consistent stopping place will be found short of atheism.

If you are interested, I can furnish ample scriptural support for this position. Thanks for asking about this.

Jim,

1. God's will is always done
2. “Human will is not on par with God’s”
3. Humans cannot change their will
4. Humans carry out God’s will
5. God’s will is perfect
6. Human will is not perfect

If you do not disagree with any of the above, one has to ask:

Can humans carry out human will?

I think your only answer is no. So in your view, human’s possess a will that cannot be carried in any respect, so it seems, from your view, it would it also follow that:

All human will = sin

(Or) I'm also lead to think, from your view, that God's will is all there is and that human will doesn't exist at all.

Jim,

Of course my inference from above is:

If humans can’t carry out human will

And

All human will = sin

It would seem to follow:

Humans can’t sin (of course we know that’s not right)

Look forward to hearing where you feel this is off

Louis asks:

As soon as you can will differently than you want to will, is it not at that point that you no longer have freedom?
You're just pushing the question back. Suppose that what you will is always caonnected to what you want. So
  1. You act as you will.
  2. Had you willed differently, you would have acted differently.
  3. You will as you want.
  4. Had you wanted differently, you would have acted differently.
But the question remains could you have wanted differently? If the answer is no, then you do not have alternate-possibilities freedom.

(Which, btw, I have not endorsed anywhere in this thread...I've just been at pains to say that alternate possibilities freedom is compatible with theological determinism.)

So according to WL, God can go back on His word and all of His people might not end up being saved after all? Just because He might will it? Is He not constrained by His word, or His righteousness and wisdom?
None of which I said.

All I said is that:

  1. God has free will.
  2. Free will can't exist if there is only one possibility.
It is you, Dave, who insists that there is only one possibility.

As for B.B. Warfield, nothing he said conflicts with a single word that I've written.

  1. The very essence of consistent theism is that God would have an exact plan for the world.

    Check. God chose to, and did, create this world with all its details (from a set of possible choices that He might have created instead)

  2. [God] would foreknow the actions of all the creatures He proposed to create.

    Check, if He created this world with all its details, He obviously knows what the details are...including the details of human behavior.

  3. [God,] through His all-inclusive providence would control the whole system.

    Check, God created it all, no one else was around when He made the world. He is in control.

  4. If He fore-ordained only certain isolated events, confusion both in the natural-world and in human affairs would be introduced into the system and He would need to be constantly developing new plans to accomplish what be desired.

    Check, God created this world with all of its details, past, present and future. No need to adjust anything.

  5. His government of the world then would be a capricious patch work of new expedients He would at best govern only in a general way, and would be ignorant of much of the future.

    Check. Those are just a few of the problems with denying the view that all things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made.

  6. But no one with proper ideas of God believes that He has to change His mind every few days to make room for unexpected happenings which were not included in His original plan.

    Check. I certainly don't, and I think that anyone who did have such views about God would ipso facto have improper ideas of god.

  7. If the perfection of the divine plan be denied, no consistent stopping place will be found short of atheism.

    Check. Except atheism isn't consistent either.

Forgot to close my OL-tag.

Fixing

Re: WL, who says "It is you, Dave, who insists that there is only one possibility."

I might ask then, if God could have launched another perfect plan that would alleviate sin and not make Christ's suffering necessary, can God really be good?

If the universe reflects God's glorious nature, wouldn't a different universe require a different god?


WL, it appears that you view God and creation as a man with a factory that can crank out any number of products perfectly. He would then gain a reputation for being a quality builder and receive glory thereby. I on the other hand, believe that God has a nature and that the created order reveals His very person, perfectly. Not just as an artificer, but His core being, or what we call attributes. He and His decrees are eternal (without beginning or end) and are thereby unchangeable. If He changed His plan, that would be the end of something, wouldn't it? If His decrees are perfect, any change would result in imperfection…wouldn't it?

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