Tuesday, April 01, 2008

An argument against compatibilism

Here's an argument against compatibilism.

1. If compatibilism is true, then God could have created the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right.
2. If God is omnipotent and perfectly good, then, if God could have created the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right.
3. But God did not create the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right.
4. Therefore, compatiblism is false.

Oh yeah, 1 is true only if theism true. But theism is true, therefore, the argument works!

52 comments:

Ilíon said...

Premise 2) is a sentence fragment; depending on how you meant to complete it, it could have very divergent meanings. I presume the intended completion is "then God would have created the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right." That is, I presume that 1) and 2) are essentially equivalent.

I suppose one wishing to deny your refutation of compatibilism could always fall back on denying that God is either omnipotent or perfectly good. At the same time, the thought occurrs just now to me to wonder whether denying God's perfect goodness might tend to undercut the objection the compatibilist wishes to raise to the original argument.

Travis said...

I think the Christian libertarian would have to add another premise: A possible world in which everyone always chooses the right is morally superior to a possible world in which people sometimes choose to do the wrong. The Christian compatibilist could argue that a possible world containing some evil is morally superior to a world with no evil. Presumably the purpose of God's providence is to bring glory to himself, and perhaps this is best demonstrated in his conquering evil. Just like the atheist trying to press the logical problem of evil, the Christian libertarian would have to show that at least some evil in the world is gratuitous.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Victor, your argument is spurious, because it makes the same mistake about God that atheists presenting arguments from evil do. God may be perfectly good, but that is not all he is, nor is it most ultimately what he is. His goodness is a subordinate quality of his defining attribute, which is holiness; and holiness entails a great deal more than simple goodness. Therefore, to suppose that God will act only in congruence with his goodness, as if those other attributes of holiness did not exist, is absurd. God will act in congruence with his holiness, toward the ultimate aim of glorifying himself. That is fairly basic theology. However, since goodness is only one aspect of holiness, and since a world in which everyone does what is right would not glorify God as much as one in which that is not the case, your argument just doesn't make any sense.

Regards,
Bnonn

Mike Darus said...

Victor,
I think a compatibilist may rather word proposition 1 this way:
"If compatibilism is true, then God created the world in such a way that everyone is able to freely do what is right." They may also suggest that the world where everyone "freely does what is right" is yet to come, commonly known as heaven.

You may have meant your #2 to read:
"If God is omnipotent and perfectly good, then God would have created the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right." But this does not follow from my corrected version of #1.

PhilosophiaTheos said...

I agree with MD. If that's what you meant by Premise 2, then it doesn't follow from P1, and the argument fails

Also, P2 as I understand it us presumes on God's wisdom and motive.

Can you please clarify P2? Thanks Victor!

Victor Reppert said...

If God is perfectly good, the he creates the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right.

I think that if we make God's self-glorification the summum bonum, then the concept of goodness is pretty much incommensurable with the kinds of goodness we attribute to human beings in ordinary contexts.

The Calvinist move is to say there are two outcomes of a life, one is one in which God elects to mercifully give someone forgiveness of sins, which glorifies Him, or God gives someone their deserved everlasting punishment, which also glorifies Him. Apparently it is supposed to glorify God more in worlds where there are some of each, as opposed to a heaven for all or a hell for all.

But how do we define "good" in this system? What does the term mean? Glorifying to God? If that is the case, then what does it mean to say "God is good?" If it means "God glorifies himself," then does that mean that Dr. Reppert is good just in case Dr. Reppert glorifies himself? Is goodness part of the definition of God, or are we supposed to identify God without referring to God as a perfectly good being?

Victor Reppert said...

If compatibilism is true, then God creates the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right. If compatibilism is true, then God can guarantee the rightness of every creature's actions, and so God doesn't have to risk the possibility not only of Adam's fall but also of Satan's.

exapologist said...

Well, at least if you add premise 0 below, the argument is valid:

Let ‘G’ denote an omnipotent and perfectly good god.

0. G exists.
1. If compatibilism is true, then G could’ve created the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right.
2. If G exists, then if G could’ve created the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right, then G did create the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right.
3. But G did not create the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right.
4. Therefore, compatibilism is false.

Proof: Let: P= ‘G exists’; Q=‘compatibilism is true’; R= ‘G could’ve created the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right’, S= ‘G did create the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right’.

0. P Premise
1. Q>R Premise
2. P >(R>S) Premise
3. ~S Premise
-----------
4. R>S 0, 2 MP
5. ~R 3, 4 MT
6. ~Q 1, 5 MT

Q.E.D.

exapologist said...

Well, wait: that didn't come out quite right. Your version is of course valid without the added premise:

1. Q>R Premise
2. R>S Premise
3. ~S Premise
-------
4. ~R 2,3 MT
5. ~Q 1,4 MT

Q.E.D.

It's just that I like the other version with the added premise, so as to make the assumption about the truth of theism an independent premise.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Victor, I find it problematic at best that you seem to consider the common experience of goodness in human contexts to be normative for determining what constitutes a perfectly good God.

If God is perfectly good, the he creates the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right.

This assertion seems to be what we should really be discussing. Could you provide a biblical foundation for it? What basis does it have? Do you expect people to agree simply because it is "common sense"? Is it an appeal to a common intuition about God, or is it the conclusion of another argument? If so, what are that argument's premises, and where in Scripture are they found? In order for this argument of yours to make any traction with compatibilists, you will need to show from Scripture that its premises are sound.

Regards,
Bnonn

Ilíon said...

Spurious? That's a rather strong word in this situation.

Paul Manata said...

Hmmmm, so if you give this argument in heaven then compatibilism will be true? Or, will we be able to sin in heaven?

Oh yeah, one could add:

3a. But God had a morally good reason for creating the world and decreeing the way he did.

And then back 3a up with various skeptical theist arguments, viz. Alston, Bergmann, Plantinga, Rea, Welty, Wykstra, etc.

Furthermore, one could re-arrange the argument and argue that good God wouldn't have alllowed this kind of world to be instantiated. Surely he *knew* what would happen and all the evil that would result by giving creatures freedom. He could have prevented it, but didn't. So, you'd be in the same boat.

But, perhaps you'd claim that giving creatures libertarian free will was worth the risk. They pay-off was greater. A world with libertarian free creatures is a *better* world than one without such creatures. You *could* invoke that defense, but then it seems that you're invoking a greater good defense, like I did with 3a.

Sorry, not sold . . .

Ilíon said...

You know, if there is a single human being anywhere in this wide world who does not (despite what he may assert to be the case) actually believe that "libertarian free will" is the truth about our nature, he's keeping very quiet about it.

But, of course, he'd have to keep quiet: for as soon as he tries to *convince* anyone to believe that we are not factually and actually free moral agents, he is explicitly denying his beliefs and/or assertions that we are not free moral agents.


Further, if it really were true that we are not free moral agents, then we could reason, we could not think, be could not believe, we could not know.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Ilion, I wonder if you could substantiate that statement with some reasoning. You seem to have no understanding of what compatibilism claims. I could just as easily say precisely the same thing about libertarian free will; and, I believe, be quite justified in so doing. An argument certainly can be forwarded that a view of the will which requires decisions to be in some way uncaused by prior conditions such as reasons would be rather damaging to the possibility of convincing anyone of anything.

An argument from intuition isn't really more than an appeal to incredulity. There are so many reasons, based on sound arguments, to disbelieve LFW; are you suggesting that the best reason we have, on the other hand, to believe it is our own interpretation of our own internal experience? If so, I would tend to agree...but that doesn't really make your position seem very convincing, does it?

Regards,
Bnonn

Robert said...

Hello Victor,

Sometimes I look at your blog and seems to me that you have problems with compatibilism. That you find it problematic and are now presenting another argument against it. I share in your sentiment as well. In particular I find calvinistic compatibilism to be a gruesome theological system with anti-Christian implications and consequences.

As you enjoy chess allow me to share a chess analogy that shows some real problems with calvinistic compatibilism. I believe a very useful concept showing the problems with this form of theological determinism is Robert Kane’s CNC concept (CNC stands for Covert Non-constrained Control). Here is an analogy that demonstrates the nature of CNC nicely.

Imagine a guy named Joe who enjoys playing chess. Also imagine a guy named Frazier who has the ability to implant a device into another person which then allows Frazier to completely control the thoughts, desires, intentions, etc. (i.e., the complete mental activities of another person in whom the device is placed). It should be noted that Frazier’s form of control is **covert** (the person under such control cannot sense it or know that it is happening to them) and **nonconstraining** (if an action is coerced a person is forced to act against their will; if a person is constrained in their action they are prevented from doing something, cf., Frankfurt cases; acting freely is taken in the libertarian sense of the ability to do otherwise in a particular situation). So if a person is under the control of Frazier and the device and CNC is operating, ***they will do exactly what they want to do***, (so their action is neither coerced nor constrained) and yet they cannot do otherwise (whatever Frazier wants them to do is what they will desire to do and will do, they cannot desire or act otherwise, they cannot do other than what Frazier wants them to do). So they are not acting freely in the libertarian sense when controlled by Frazier. They are under CNC type control.

Now say that Frazier and Joe engage in a chess game. And say that Frazier has placed the device in Joe and thus every move that Joe makes is what Frazier wants him to make. Joe believes that he is acting freely; he believes that the moves he makes on the chess board are up to him, within his control, not predetermined or controlled by another person external to himself. Joe is fully conscious and at least in his own estimation has a will and is acting freely (he certainly is not being coerced against his will nor are his actions being constrained: he does exactly what he wants to do). So they play this chess game together and at one point in the game, Joe makes this really “bad move” that immediately leads to the loss of his queen and the loss of the game quickly after that. Joe made the move that he wanted to make, that he desired to make, when he made his “bad move”. Joe thought he was acting freely and doing what he wanted to do. And yet it was Frazier who wanted that “bad move” to occur and since the device was operating, Joe’s move was a necessitated action though he did exactly what he wanted to do, and he could not have done otherwise.

Was Joe acting freely when he made the bad chess move? It depends how you conceive "acting freely" (if you mean that he did what he wanted to do/the compatibilist conception of freely he was acting freely; if you mean that he did what he wanted to do but also could have done otherwise/the libertarian conception of freely he was not acting freely).

Who is responsible for Joe’s bad chess move? Most of us, as onlookers who knew what was really going on, would conclude that since the move resulted from Frazier’s CNC control of Joe, that Frazier is directly responsible for the bad move. We would certainly find Joe’s circumstances surrounding the “bad move” to be extenuating circumstances.

Now if you want to understand calvinistic compatibilism just take the CNC control that Frazier exercised over Joe and extend it to **every action** of **every human person**. So we are all doing the actions which have been predetermined for us to do (and we can never do otherwise than we in fact do as we are experiencing CNC type control of our every action). Most Christians are repulsed by and see real problems with CNC control of all human people in their every action (e.g. this makes God the author of sin).

If you are a believer it is because that is what you were predetermined to be, and if a nonbeliever the same thing is true of you. And your every action, thought, bodily movement, desire, intention, everything is under CNC by God. The “elect” are the lucky winners of the divine lottery, while the “reprobate”/those predetermined to be unbelievers are the losers in this game. And the game is completely “fixed” in every detail by CNC. Some with moral sensitivity will be troubled by the kind of control exemplified by Joe’s bad chess move. And if this kind and level of control is extended to every evil and sin imaginable and all of it results from CNC control (the people are all doing exactly what they want to do, and what they want to do is completely predetermined in every instance) some will see some very gruesome implications about God and reality.

Take the case of a “reprobate”. God predetermined that he/she would go to hell. But before they are sent to Hell, God predetermined and controlled them via CNC to do all of their acts of sin and rebellion against Him first. And in every case they do exactly what He wants them to do and can never do otherwise. That is lots and lots of bad moves much worse than Joe’s mere bad chess move. Then after a lifetime of sin and rebellion which was completely predetermined, in which it was impossible for them to do otherwise, they then experience a final judgment in which they are condemned and sent to hell for eternal punishment for having committed the very sins that God predetermined for them to perform.

Most Christians (in fact the vast majority across the theological spectrum, including Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants) throughout church history have seen this gruesome calvinist theological determinism to contradict (1)God’s character as He reveals himself in scripture; and the deterministic system contradicts (2) clear bible statements that “for God so loved the World . . .”. That God desires for all to be saved. Etc. Etc. A being who by means of CNC control predetermined every event and intentionally damns most of humanity and brings about every form of evil and sin via CNC when it was completely unnecessary, is not a good person, or a loving person, or a merciful person or . . . . And this cosmic Frazier is certainly not the God who has revealed himself in scripture.

Incidentally Kane discusses the CNC concept and problems with this kind of control in his important work on free will titled: THE SIGNIFICANCE OF FREE WILL. If you grasp the CNC concept and see why it is problematic if we were all under CNC control, then you will have no difficulties seeing the problems with compatibilistic calvinism.

Many other Christians (and even unbelievers) alarmed by the implications of exhaustive determinism/calvinism have said that if God exercises that kind of control over us we are no different from puppets and a puppet master or robots that are preprogrammed (or to take one more example Flew says we are just like hypnotized subjects carrying out the post hypnotic suggestions of the “grand Hypnotist”). Calvinists will of course respond that their view is being improperly represented or caricatured. Just think CNC control of every person and their every action and you will see the problems with this form of compatibilism.

You wrote:

“If compatibilism is true, then God creates the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right. If compatibilism is true, then God can guarantee the rightness of every creature's actions, and so God doesn't have to risk the possibility not only of Adam's fall but also of Satan's.”

If we tweak your comments here slightly in terms of CNC control we have:

If CNC of every human person is true, then God creates the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right. If CNC is true, then God can guarantee the rightness of every creature’s actions, and so God doesn’t have to risk the possibility not only of Adam’s fall but also of Satan’s.

This brings up yet another problem with calvinism, if God exercises CNC type control over us (which would be true if things are as calvinists claim), and he has predetermined our every action, then why not have us under his CNC control always doing the right thing and all going to heaven? If he does exercise this kind of control (which the calvinist believes that God does exercise over us, they call this the “sovereignty of God”) over us then why use this CNC, this kind and level of control to bring about all the evil, and sin and rebellion against himself we find in the real world?

And then punish the unlucky reprobates eternally when they never had a chance to be saved, and God’s CNC ensured their damnation from start to finish? Most bible believing Christians repulsed by this extreme form of theological determinism have rightfully rejected this atrocious and gruesome system of theological determinism.

Robert

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Robert, I think it is fittingly ironic that if we rename Frazier to God, Joe to Pharaoh, and change "losing the queen" to "not letting the Israelites go", your analogy is easily adapted to the events of Exodus (with the notable category alteration that God is not a man). Yet you are using this analogy to argue for the opposite conclusion that Scripture does.

As I asked Victor and Ilion, so I ask you: what scriptural warrant can you bring to bear to justify your premises? I'm sure many people would agree with them; but that doesn't make them right. Intuition is not a valid foundation for premises in an argument of this kind. You will need to show me from the Bible that determinism entails a "gruesome" view of God, and that "CNC" as you call it is morally abhorrent. From what theory of Christian ethics are you working? From what passages have you exegeted your premises?

And then punish the unlucky reprobates eternally when they never had a chance to be saved, and God’s CNC ensured their damnation from start to finish? Most bible believing Christians repulsed by this extreme form of theological determinism have rightfully rejected this atrocious and gruesome system of theological determinism.

Then they are not Bible believing Christians—or they have not read and understood some significant parts of the Bible. Like Victor, you are assuming that a perfectly good God would desire perfectly good creatures. You have not engaged with Paul Manata's point above that God may instead desire wicked creatures for perfectly good reasons. For example, what if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called? Do you have some argument to show that this hypothesis is unreasonable?

Incidentally, Calvinists would be quite justified to complain that their view is being caricatured. The CNC analogy you present is specious because it commits the obvious category error of representing God as a man. Since moral responsibility is defined by a relationship to the transcendent God, who is metaphysically primary, your analogy utterly fails by trying to establish responsibility as a relationship between metaphysically co-equal, immanent creatures.

Regards,
Bnonn

steve said...

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/04/argument-against-libertarianism.html

Victor Reppert said...

My objection to theological voluntarism, which is what at least Bnonn is advocating, is semantic in nature. Words in our language have meanings in ordinary usage. Thye are used in certain ways. "Good" in the ethical sense has a meaning that can be applied to all things that we can evaluate in terms of moral goodness. If I am told that what we mean by "good" in Scripture is really "holy", and by "holy" we mean "completely different," and by "completely different" we mean that the being that is supposed to be good does whatever it is that glorifies himself the most, regardless of who suffers eternally for it, then I would have to argue that the word "good" has been mistranslated, because it does not mean what the word ordinarily means in other contexts. That just isn't what the word means. I'm sorry.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Victor, it perplexes me that you would consider it appropriate to define goodness in such a colloquial and frankly sloppy manner, when precision is critical to this argument's success. As it stands, following the elucidation which has occurred in these comments, it seems that the argument you formulated in the OP can be reduced to the following:

P1. If (i) compatiblism is true; or (ii) libertarianism is true, then God could have created the world in such a way that everyone would freely do what is right.

P2. If God is omnipotent, and has the same sensibilities about what constitutes the greatest good that libertarians do, then he would have either (i) created the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right; or (ii) created it as it is, for a greater good which is not known to libertarians.

P3. God did not create the world in such a way that everyone freely does what is right.

C. Therefore, either (i) compatiblism is false; or (ii) libertarianism is false; or (iii) God doesn't have the same sensibilities as libertarians about what constitutes the greatest good; or (iv) he created the world for a greater good which is not known to libertarians; or (v) any or all of the above, excluding C(i) and C(ii) simultaneously if we assume no other viable theories of the will exist.

Sans any other argumentation, any conclusion could be equally likely. However, with the argumentation which has been presented in this comment stream, I think it's clear that a conjunction of C(ii) and C(iii) is vastly more plausible than the other alternatives. This is demonstrated firstly by arguments which show that libertarianism is not only defeatible by this very same argument, but suffers further difficulties in its premises which compatiblism does not, leaving compatiblism as the only viable alternative (see Paul's comments about heaven); and secondly by arguments showing that libertarian sensibilities are manifestly at odds with scriptural examples of goodness (for example, Exodus and Romans 9).

Unless you can firstly adjust your argument to refute the counter-arguments presented; and secondly expand it to dispose of the enormous imprecision which permits both many alternative premises, and self-refutation when libertarianism is premised instead of compatiblism, I don't think you're going to make a lot of traction.

Regards,
Bnonn

Paul Manata said...

Victor Reppert said...

My objection to theological voluntarism, which is what at least Bnonn is advocating, is semantic in nature. Words in our language have meanings in ordinary usage. Thye are used in certain ways. "Good" in the ethical sense has a meaning that can be applied to all things that we can evaluate in terms of moral goodness. If I am told that what we mean by "good" in Scripture is really "holy", and by "holy" we mean "completely different," and by "completely different" we mean that the being that is supposed to be good does whatever it is that glorifies himself the most, regardless of who suffers eternally for it, then I would have to argue that the word "good" has been mistranslated, because it does not mean what the word ordinarily means in other contexts. That just isn't what the word means. I'm sorry.

6:21 PM


***********

First, there's respected position advocating analogical talk for God-talk. So, there's not a univocation.

Second, no one is advocating voluntarism. That is usually a useful pejorative to throw around. If I recall correctly, your friend Tom Talbott frequently lobs this charge at Calvin.

Dr. Michael Sudduth blows this idea out of the water:

http://philofreligion.homestead.com/files/Calvin_Distinction_FD.htm

Third, I guess you'd have to argue against the skeptical theists like Alston, Bergmann, Plantinga, Rea, Welty, Wykstra, etc. If you're familiar with their arguments, and I'm supposing you are, then your cognitive equipment and ignorance of God's plan render your evidentiary objections outside your ken.

I'd also add that when we say that "God has a *good* reason for the evil he plans or allows," then this *is* GOOD. So, we're not saying that God does whatever and just calls it good, but, rather, that the ends he brings about *are* good.

Now, certainly you aren't arguing, "Because I can't see the goods, then there aren't any," right? If so, what's your counter to Alston et. al.?

So, it seems to me that *even on your own terms* you shouldn't have a problem. We are saying that the ends God brings about are *good.* If you were privy to all the facts, and if your cognitive equipment was able to *grasp* those reasons, then *you would* call them *good.*

Given this post and my other post, I don't see how your argument should have any rational force on me, at all. I mean, you are free to continue to disagree with compatibilism, but not with arguments like *that*.

Lastly, *why* does God, on your view, allow the evil he does? What about Bambi suffering from the forrest fire? Can't invoke libertarian freedom there. And, if you do (say, with Adam), why did God let this world come about if he knew what would result from libertarian free will? Seems to me you'd have to invoke the greater good defense. Seems to me one could say, "But I don't see how this is a greater good, so it can't be." Seems you'd have to deny this. Seems you'd be granting all the premises I need to show your argument is not good.

Am I off? Surely there's better arguments for libertarianism than the one you're offering here.

Victor Reppert said...

God could want there to be wicked creatures for his own good purpose???

Which purpose? So that others might be saved. We can imagine the following scenario: Smith and Jones are members of the Crips, Jones dies is a drive-by shooting and Smith has a vision of Jones in hell. Smith repents of his sin, accepts Jesus as his Lord and Savior, becomes an inner-city minister who brings thousands of kids otherwise headed for a life of gang violence to Jesus.

Except for one one thing. Smith, and every one of those gang kids could have been saved by God's sovereign decree if he had chosen to give it. Jones' eternal damnation could have been avoided without any further loss of souls.

It is easier to make these "hidden good" arguments where the hidden good might become evident once if we knew what free choices other people might have made, or where we don't know the final outcome of everything. Hurricane Katrina, for all its horror, could end up resulting in more people going to heaven than would otherwise have gone to heaven. But for every soul which suffers eternal punishment. we know that that sould could have been saved, and that that person's being saved would not have resulted in any other person's being lost. The final result is known, to suggest that some other final result would not have been better would be to violate every moral intuition I have.

But shouldn't I nevertheless accept it because it is taught in God's word? God, by definition, is a being who is omnipotent, omniscient and perfectly good. A being who predestines people for everlasting punishment doesn't meet the third requirement, and therefore isn't God. So if the Bible teaches predestination and reprobation, it is not God's word, but only the Word of an omnipotent Fred.

Who are you O man, to answer back to Fred? Not such a show-stopper, is it?

Paul Manata said...

"God could want there to be wicked creatures for his own good purpose???"

Why did God want their to be wicked creatures, Victor?

He obviously knew there would be.

He created knowing this.

You have to answer this too, Victor.

And, I've already met your challenge with reference to some pretty big time philosophers. Without a response to this, you're just repeating yourself.

And, I notice you used the ole "what can the purpose be??" line.

Exactly the "noseeum" argument Bergmann et al addresses.

Are you arguing that "Because Victor Reppert doesn't understand the reason, therefore there isn't one."?

Hmmm, I guess this is apropos, then:

"Who are you, oh man, to talk back to Victor."

Sorry, still not sold. I understand you don't *like* compatibilism, but that doesn't make for good *arguments.*

Paul Manata said...

Oh, btw, Steve responded to your "Fred" argument. You've been answered, now it's time to *defend* your original premises rather than *re-assert* them.

Paul Manata said...

"A being who predestines people for everlasting punishment doesn't meet the third requirement, and therefore isn't God."

I was always taught that this is what's called an *assertion.*

I, for one, would like to see an *argument* for this assertion.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Agreed. Victor, as I asked in the first place, either validate your premises from Scripture, or admit that your argument is based on nothing more than your personal intuition and opinion (so we can all go home).

Regards,
Bnonn

Victor Reppert said...

It's what the word "good" means in ordinary usage. If you aren't going to use the word "good" the way the linguistic community uses it, then your Bible translators need to find another word that means what you are using the word to mean.

Scripture says that God is good, and therefore praiseworthy. It therefore assumes that I know what the word "good" means. That is my biblical argument against sovereign reprobation. In virtue of what is God praiseworthy, if God doesn't match some conception of goodness that I possess? Why is my standard significant here? Let's put it as a dilemma.

1)Either I know how to use the word "good" in a moral context or I don't.

2) If I do know how to use the word "good, then I have to say that someone who decrees someone for hell who could have decreed them for heaven is not good.

3) If I don't know how to use the word "good," then the word doesn't really mean anything, and I am incapable of understanding a critical part of Christian doctrine. Therefore I cannot truly embrace Christianity, and hence I cannot become a Calvinist.

Victor Reppert said...

By what moral theory can it possibly turn out that a world in which some people are damned by decree is better than a world in which no one is damned by decree. Utilitarianism? Hell no. Kantianism? You as a rational being could want to universalize "I will damn whomever I damn well please?" Give me a break. Aristotelian virtue theory maybe?

There's just a disconnect between the concept of good as I use on a daily basis and how it is applied to, well, Fred, if Fred is the being described by Calvinist theology. As for Scripture passages, those passages admit of other interpretations than those which the Calvinists put forward, and which do not lead to moral incoherence.

Where did Steve answer my Fred argument? I read Steve's post and I found nothing of the kind.

What Scripture has taught me makes the case of the Calvinist worse instead of better. It teaches me to love my neighbor, and even to love my enemies. If I love someone, a life outcome for the one that I love in which they are saved is infinitely better than one in which they die in their sins and get everlasting punishment. My loving them means that if it's up to me I will automatically will their salvation. When I really care about someone I can't stand the thought of their being eternally lost. So God teaches me to earnestly desire the salvation of everyone while at the same time decreeing the exact opposite before the foundation of the world? The idea makes no sense.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Victor, the fact that you have a general understanding of goodness before you come to Scripture (Rom 2:15) does not imply that that understanding is not subject to the correction of Scripture. It is simply nonsense to say that, since you already understand the concept of goodness before you read Scripture, that Scripture cannot redefine goodness in accordance with God's understanding. You appear to be placing your subjective intuitions about goodness above the objective intuitions of God, which is simply anti-Christian. May I remind you that, being sinful by nature, we tend to skew all forms of normativity away from God and toward man. This is aptly demonstrated in your incredulous appeal to God's decree about loving others. Of course we should love others. But do you think we should love them more than God? Do we not in fact love them because we love God? And do you think God loves them more than himself? Do you think he considers them more valuable than himself? Is God so deluded, in your view, that he is incapable of correctly assessing the relative values of himself, and the creatures he created?

Again, you have produced a lot of assertions, but no scriptural basis for them. You keep appealing to your personal intuition about goodness as if it is of such epistemic superiority that God's word is irrelevant to your knowledge of right and wrong. That is not the attitude a Christian takes. A Christian recognizes his sinfulness and seeks to conform his fallen understanding of moral norms to God's perfect revelation.

Regards,
Bnonn

Paul Manata said...

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/04/answering-back-to-reppert-or-is-it-god.html

I should also note the irony! Victor hates arguments from ignorance as it relates to his AFR.

But here is uses them with style!

"I don't know how it could be good, therefore it isn't."

Hmmmm,

"I don't know how the brain could reason through a chain of premises, but it just does. The braindidit!"

:-)

Paul Manata said...

Loftus once argued that:

God was all-good and all-powerfull and all-knowledgeable.

If God was all omni he would have given men wings so they wouldn't fall to their death.

God didn't.

Therefore, God is not all omni.

Seems to me, Victor, you don't have much by way of reply to Loftus bat-boy argument.

Seems about the same as yours.

I take it that if one's argument is at the level of bat-boy argument, then one should drop their argument.

Paul Manata said...

"What Scripture has taught me makes the case of the Calvinist worse instead of better. It teaches me to love my neighbor, and even to love my enemies."

Is "love" opposed to any violence?

Proverbs 13:24
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

And, does Victor advocate spanking children?

Or, perhaps this verse isn';t inspired?

Well then, perhaps his favorite verses aren't!

Thus he can't appeal to them for argumentative force.

Is love opposed to hate:

Romans 12:9
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

And, what does Victor mean by "love your enemies?" How many books on the Sermon on the Mount has he read? Is he a theologian? Where's his exegesis?

Should we put them in jail if they rape women? Are we being unloving?

If so, then Reppert should lobby against this practice.

If not, then why is it unloving for God to put wicked, violent, unrepentant criminals in his universe, in hell?

I dunno Victor, seems you're more arguing from your heart than from your mind. That's just one man's opinion, though. You are top-notch in some areas. When you turn to theology, though, you seem to go down hill in a hurry.

Dmitry Chernikov said...

Victor, I am certainly not a Calvinist, but do you think you can describe a world in which no one does the wrong thing? What kind of people must we be and what kind of environment must we live in in order for us to live perfect lives? I don't see why the claim that God has created the best possible world is unavailable to a compatibilist.

Robert said...

Hello Victor,

“It's what the word "good" means in ordinary usage. If you aren't going to use the word "good" the way the linguistic community uses it, then your Bible translators need to find another word that means what you are using the word to mean.”

Victor if you have not yet noticed, for the calvinist **everything** must be reinterpreted to line up with exhaustive determinism its guiding and controlling presupposition.

“Good” then becomes whatever God predetermines to occur (regardless of if it offends the sensitivities and moral intuitions of most bible believing Christians/the vast majority who are not theological determinists).

“Free will” or “acting freely” must be carefully defined as doing what you want to do (but being unable to do otherwise since of course everything is predetermined and so we can never do otherwise). The “love of God” must be restricted to the preselected lucky ones who win the divine lottery (in complete contradiction of what the bible says, most notably in John 3:16 “for God so loved the WORLD . . .”). If you understand that every puzzle piece must be forced to fit exhaustive determinism, you will understand the system just fine.

“Scripture says that God is good, and therefore praiseworthy. It therefore assumes that I know what the word "good" means. That is my biblical argument against sovereign reprobation. In virtue of what is God praiseworthy, if God doesn't match some conception of goodness that I possess?"

The bible presents choices as well and so “It therefore assumes that I know what the word “choice” means” (i.e. that a person can do one thing or the other, that that same person must make the decision, that that person can do otherwise). If exhaustive determinism is true, then we never have choices. We may make choices, committing ourselves to a course of action, but we never have choices (being able to actualize various possibilities in a given situation).

“By what moral theory can it possibly turn out that a world in which some people are damned by decree is better than a world in which no one is damned by decree. Utilitarianism? Hell no. Kantianism? You as a rational being could want to universalize "I will damn whomever I damn well please?" Give me a break. Aristotelian virtue theory maybe?”

You left one out: according to calvinism’s **moral** theory a world where most people are damned by decree and predetermined to be nonbelievers is a “good” thing!

“There's just a disconnect between the concept of good as I use on a daily basis and how it is applied to, well, Fred, if Fred is the being described by Calvinist theology.”

That is just the problem, the concept of good that most of us operate from is not held by calvinists. Most of us consider a person who predetermines everything (like Frazier leading Joe to “freely” make his bad chess move) to not be a good person. The God of the bible, the God who reveals himself in the bible is a good person and does not engage in CNC type control of human persons. Only the theological determinists believe that and want to believe that. Scripture teaches otherwise.

“As for Scripture passages, those passages admit of other interpretations than those which the Calvinists put forward, and which do not lead to moral incoherence.”

Good point, the “interpretations” by calvinists of scripture do in fact lead to moral incoherence. It is sad that the vast majority of Christians across the theological spectrum have no problem realizing the implications of calvinism (i.e. that we are then treated as puppets, or robots by God, or we are controlled by means of CNC just like poor ole Joe). We all clearly see the logical entailments of theological determinism, but the determinists just ignore our concerns and engage in self-denial not seeing the problems with their own system.

“What Scripture has taught me makes the case of the Calvinist worse instead of better. It teaches me to love my neighbor, and even to love my enemies. If I love someone, a life outcome for the one that I love in which they are saved is infinitely better than one in which they die in their sins and get everlasting punishment. My loving them means that if it's up to me I will automatically will their salvation. When I really care about someone I can't stand the thought of their being eternally lost. So God teaches me to earnestly desire the salvation of everyone while at the same time decreeing the exact opposite before the foundation of the world? The idea makes no sense.”

Sadly the love for the lost that you express here is more loving than the God of calvinism who does not desire for all to be saved or love all people wanting them to be saved. This is another example of incoherence: the bible believing Christian who desires to see all people saved is more loving than the God of calvinism. Another closely related disconnect is that God tells us to love our enemies, to evangelize the world, to present the gospel to all people (which would lead us to believe that He wants to see everyone saved) and yet if calvinism is true then these bible statements are not true (He tells us to love our enemies and yet He himself hates people from eternity and predetermines their sins and eternal punishment; He tells us to evangelize the world but He only wants to save a preselected few; He wants us to present the gospel to all people though it is not meant to save them all because God has no intentions of saving most of them). If exhaustive determinism is true, then God does not really desire for all men to be saved, He does not really love the world. And on top of this, if calvinism were true, then God’s secret sovereign will which really determines everything that comes to pass brings it about that most people are damned to eternal punishment never having had any chance or opportunity to be saved (a good and loving person would not do that to others). Another incoherence is that God says one thing in scripture (such as that He loves the world and gives Christ to die for the sins of the world) and his “secret sovereign will” is very different and in fact contradictory to his expressed statements in scripture.

Thankfully the true God, the God who has revealed himself in scripture is exactly what He says He is, desires what He says that He desires (including the salvation of all men). And there is no contradiction between what God explicitly states to be His will in scripture, and what He expects from us and does in fact desire.

Robert

Mike Darus said...

1) The best possible world is what we conceive as "heaven."
2) This world that we live in is not heaven.A Chrisitan's job is to approximate the values of heaven in this world.
3) We do not live in the best possible world.

1) Double predestination hyper-calvinism is not the only version of compatibilism.
2) Victor is refuting double predestination hyper-calvinism.
3) Victor has not refuted all versions of compatibilism.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Robert, if I may ask, what was the purpose of that lengthy missive?

Regards,
Bnonn

Mike Darus said...

Also, I don't think we should insist on A reason why God permits X. It is likely that there are a multitude of reasons why the world works the way it does. Any one of the reasons would appear to be inadequate, but the sum of all the reasons are compelling.

Remember what the task of the Calvinst is: take the Scriptural statements about God's sovereignty and man's responsibilty and answer some tough questions that Scripture never directly asks or answers. The compatibilist insists that both human freedom and divine sovereignty can be simultaneously true. One easy way is to approach the issue is to dismiss the sovereignty of God in favor of human choice. This is not compatibilism. Double predestination hyper calvinism is not compatibilism. The other way is to dismiss human freedom in favor of divine sovereignty. This is also not compatibilism.

Robert said...

Hi Mike,

“Also, I don't think we should insist on A reason why God permits X. It is likely that there are a multitude of reasons why the world works the way it does. Any one of the reasons would appear to be inadequate, but the sum of all the reasons are compelling.”

Good point.

“Remember what the task of the Calvinist is: take the Scriptural statements about God's sovereignty and man's responsibility and answer some tough questions that Scripture never directly asks or answers.”

They cannot do so, the implications of their exhaustive determinism contradicts God’s character as revealed in scripture as well as God’s express declarations regarding whom he wants to be saved.

“The compatibilist insists that both human freedom and divine sovereignty can be simultaneously true.”

If you define “compatibilism” that way, then I am a compatibilist as I believe that both libertarian free will, free will as ordinarily understood, and divine sovereignty **are** simultaneously true.

There is also a philosophical notion of free will designated as “compatibilism” which is not the same thing as what you are talking about here. I believe that Victor is taking aim at the philosophical notion of compatibilism with regards to the free will issue.

“One easy way is to approach the issue is to dismiss the sovereignty of God in favor of human choice.”

Open theists tend to do that.

“This is not compatibilism.”

Open theists do not believe that libertarian free will and exhaustive foreknowledge can be true simultaneously.

“Double predestination hyper calvinism is not compatibilism.”

Actually if you mean that both free will and God’s sovereignty are simultaneously true, the “hyper calvinist” as well as the other calvinists would see themselves as “compatibilists” (according to your first definition).

“The other way is to dismiss human freedom in favor of divine sovereignty. This is also not compatibilism.”

The calvinists dismiss libertarian freedom and claim that **compatibilist** “freedom” is sufficient.

Mike I would be careful to distinguish which form of compatibilism you are referring to: (1) the compatibility of free will and God’s sovereignty (your first definition), versus (2) compatibilism with regard to free will (a philosophical notion held by calvinists both “hyper” and non-hyper).

Robert

GeneMBridges said...

Victor if you have not yet noticed, for the calvinist **everything** must be reinterpreted to line up with exhaustive determinism its guiding and controlling presupposition.

You mean like the way *everything* must be lined up with LFW by you?

That's cute, but which of our theologians do this?

When people make this comment, they are repeating 19th century popularized historiography that said that Lutherans' controlling presupposition is "Sola Fide," and Calvinism's is "predestination." Really? Which of our theologians did that? If you're going to continue to trot this out, Robert, it's time you actually demonstrate this assertion.

By way of contrast, we need not look far to find Arminians flatly admitting they do this with LFW and "the love of God." Miley did it. Walls and Dongell have as well.

And we know your argumentation as well. Robert is mirror-reading his own theological methodology. He has looked into the well of theological methodology and found himself looking back.


They cannot do so, the implications of their exhaustive determinism contradicts God’s character as revealed in scripture as well as God’s express declarations regarding whom he wants to be saved.


1.More question begging assertions from Robert. Where's the exegesis?

2. That's an ethical, not an exegetical objection.

3. LFW is a philosophical objection.

4. Thank you, Dr. Miley.

The calvinists dismiss libertarian freedom and claim that **compatibilist** “freedom” is sufficient.

No, we dismiss LFW on exegetical grounds first and foremost. The Bible teaches that our desires are sufficient causes lying behind our actions. That alone is enough to defeat LFW.

You, by way of contrast, have never made good on your promise to demonstrate LFW is taught by Scripture. You said you can, but where's the argument? Simply having the choice between 2 options is not enough to establish LFW. That begs the question.

You also continue to define "determinism" as an action theory in unidirectional terms. "Determinism" refers to TWO agents, not one. With respect to men, it means that our desires are sufficient causes to our actions. With respect to God, it refers to His decrees, but His decrees are only make outcomes certain. They are worked out by providence, including divine permission. You've been told this so many times we've lost count, yet you continue to trade in this basic error.

Arminians have long ago given their order of decrees. It too includes the concept of "permission." The only difference is that their version of it is "bare" whereas ours is not. Arminians and Calvinists don't differ over the fact of decrees or the fact of permission. They differ over the nature of permission.

Robert, your articulation of what Libertarians /Arminians affirm and what Calvinists affirm continues to range from the dishonest to the intellectually confused.

Ilíon said...

Ilíon: "You know, if there is a single human being anywhere in this wide world who does not (despite what he may assert to be the case) actually believe that "libertarian free will" is the truth about our nature, he's keeping very quiet about it.

But, of course, he'd have to keep quiet: for as soon as he tries to *convince* anyone to believe that we are not factually and actually free moral agents, he is explicitly denying his beliefs and/or assertions that we are not free moral agents.

Further, if it really were true that we are not free moral agents, then we could [not] reason, we could not think, be could not believe, we could not know.
"

Dominic Bnonn Tennant: "Ilion, I wonder if you could substantiate that statement with some reasoning."

But you're doing so well substantiating for me! Empirically. That is, your assertions (and what small bit of reasoning employed) substantiate what I said.

Here you are asserting that I have the obligation to present (to you) an argument that will convince you that "libertarian free will" is the truth about the human person. And, you're implicitly asserting that you are free to assent to the truth of such an argument -- based on the content of the argument and your understanding of its presentation, rather than due to the existence of some (pre-existing ?) "compatibilist desire" such that always that which you *must do* in any event is ever co-extensive with what you "want" to do.


Dominic Bnonn Tennant: "You seem to have no understanding of what compatibilism claims."

That's certainly a logical possibility.

Here's another logical possibility: you have no understanding of a certain basic "law" of logical reasoning, which we might phrase as, "'Not-A' does not equal 'A'" even if lots and lots of people really, really assert that it does.


Dominic Bnonn Tennant: "An argument certainly can be forwarded that a view of the will which requires decisions to be in some way uncaused by prior conditions such as reasons ..."

Reasons are not conditions, though reasonings may contain conditions (in the sense of "conditional"). Nor are decisions *caused* by reasons; nor are decisions *caused* by "conditions."

"Conditions" may certainly present or determine or limit the available options which may be chosen, but the decision is always a choice. To assert anything else is to deny the actual existance of human moral freedom -- no matter how much "compatibilist" equivocation is employed.


Dominic Bnonn Tennant: "An argument from intuition isn't really more than an appeal to incredulity."

I suspect that something like the reverse is the actual case. But, let us presume that you have the right of it: apparently you believe, or at least implicitly assert, that credulity is the proper intellectual stance. Or, perhaps you haven't thought-through this?


Dominic Bnonn Tennant: "... are you suggesting that ..."

Personally, it is my intention to avoid "suggesting" anything. I despise that academese locution and the (sometimes) passive-aggressive, and at minimum namby-pamby, implications of its use; it is always my intention to state, to assert, to claim, to argue.


Dominic Bnonn Tennant: "... are you suggesting that the best reason we have, on the other hand, to believe it [that "libertarian free will" is the truth about the human person] is our own interpretation of our own internal experience? If so, I would tend to agree...but that doesn't really make your position seem very convincing, does it?"

Did I really? How interesting! Well, regardless; to quote a statement attributed to Schopenhauer "...materialism is the philosophy of the subject who forgets to take account of himself."

While we may not seem to be talking about 'materialism,' this sort of objection is straight out of materialism (and probably materialism's handmaiden: logical positivism). This sort of objection implicitly asserts (i.e. contains the generally hidden assumption) that there exists such a thing as "objective" knowledge, that is, knowledge that can exist absent a subject who knows the knowledge.

It's really too bad that 'objective' and 'subjective' have taken on the meanings and certain senses they have (i.e. that 'subjective' equates to bias); for *all* knowledge is subjective: "Proceeding from or taking place in a person's mind rather than the external world."


Dominic Bnonn Tennant: "Regards,"

Really? 'Cause I gotta tell ya, I'm just not seeing it.

Anonymous said...

Hello Ilion,

Having read your posts in this thread as well as in other threads, it appears to me that you firmly believe in free will (as ordinarily understood). And that you also believe that unless this free will exists then reasoning becomes impossible. If so, Antony Flew wrote a great article called CHOICE AND RATIONALITY (available easily by doing a Google search under: CHOICE AND RATIONALITY Antony Flew Reason Papers, then go to Reason Papers, then click Archives, then scroll down to Issue no. 10 Spring 1985) which you really should check out. I believe that you would love it and enjoy it immensely. Take a look at it and get back to me and tell me what you think of it.

Robert

Robert said...

I clicked too soon. I never post "anonymously". I should also add that anyone interested in seeing how the reality of free will (as ordinarily understood) is necessary for reasoning ought to check out the Flew article.

Robert

Ilíon said...

Robert: "... it appears to me that you firmly believe in free will (as ordinarily understood). And that you also believe that unless this free will exists then reasoning becomes impossible."

Yes, I do believe that (*); on both counts (**) (***); not only impossible to explain the human capacity to reason, but logically impossible for it even to exist. Thank you for the mention of Flew's paper. I haven't yet read it, but I certainly will.

To help others interested in reading it, here is a link to Flew's (.PDF, 11 pages) in the archives of 'Reason Papers' at Mises.org.


Robert: "If so, Antony Flew wrote a great article ... "

That's something I find interesting about him. Now, what little I know about him I learned mostly from his recent book ('There Is a God') ... but I cannot help but wonder: what took him so long to see the logical implications of the reality of human reason and free will?

That we *do* reason, that we *are* free agents (morally, intellectually, and in other prosaic ways) falsifies the denial that God exists; that is, *proves* that there is a God. Now, and of course, falsifying atheism does not establish the truth of Christianity ... but establishing the fact that there *is* a God, and that we can and do know this fact, ain't exactly chopped liver, either



(*) I don't doubt that I believe all sorts of things that infuriate many professional philosophers ... including that most (not all, by any means) professional philosophers are poseurs whose arguments and reasoning (if we can misuse those words for a moment) make a mockery of the very concept of philosophy. That is, I think philosophy is one of the most important of human activities, while simultaneously believing that many professional philosophers (or even most; or at any rate, of the ones with "status" and/or "star power") are clowns. Or worse.


(**) For instance, *everyone's* (obviously, "everyone" refers to normally intelligent, sane persons) normal, everyday experience of being a rational being tells him that free will, as normally understood, exists; for it *appears* to be a quality he himself possesses.

Now, it is true that any reasonably intelligent and experienced person understands that any of us can misunderstand even our own experiences. And we understand that any of us can (and do, with alarming frequency) misreason. But *this* experience and knowledge ("free will"), as with the experience and knowledge that we *do* reason, is foundational.

Importantly: it is not the responsibility of he who affirms free will to prove (and persuade of) its reality to he who denies it ... any more than it is the responsibility of he who affirms that he himself exists to prove this to he who denies it. In both these cases -- because the experience and belief is so universla and so foundational -- it is the responsibility of the denier to prove the denial.

But that gives us the paradox that the denier cannot prove the denial without first affirming what he wishes to deny. This, of course, means that the denial cannot hold up logically.

Usually, when people discuss free will, they will say things like "People *have* free wills." I also say things like that, though I think it's better and more accurate to say something like "Humans *are* free wills" or "Humans *are* free agents."

Further, even those who deny the reality of human free will behave as though it is reality. Always. Only among those the rest of us call "insane" can one find persons who actually behave in ways consistent with the denial that humans are free agents.


(***) There are certain positions with which I simply refuse to waste any my time; for the positions are irrational. This refusal (and my bluntness in pointing out the irrationality and dismissing it on those grounds) offends some people, both those who wish to advance the irrationality and those who may disagree with the position(s), but value "civility" over truth and/or reason. I really don't concern myself that others take offense irrationally.

Robert said...

Hello Ilion,

After you get a chance to read the Flew article, please let me know what you think of it. I appreciate many of his points and he makes some of the same distinctions that I make (e.g., events that involve physical necessity, such as a chemical reaction; events that involve agents where the person could do otherwise, events that are not necessitated but chosen by the agent). Ilion you are correct that universal and common experience suggests that we have free will and unfortunately some based on their personal agendas will argue against both common sense and their own daily experience of free will. And as you note, it is particularly sad when a highly intelligent and philosophically trained professional philosopher ends up arguing against common sense and universal human experience.

Robert

Ilíon said...

Oops!

To help others interested in reading it, here is a link to Flew's Choice and Rationality (.PDF, 11 pages) in the archives of 'Reason Papers' at Mises.org.

Ilíon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ilíon said...

Robert,
Concerning Anthony Flew's Choice and Rationality (.PDF, 11 pages) in the archives of 'Reason Papers' at Mises.org:

Hmmmm. Some people (*) assert that my writing cannot be understood, or at least not without a merry chase running it to ground -- and at which point they typically "refute" what I'd written by dismissing it on the grounds of its alleged obtuseness and obscurity. Flew's paper certainly requires that one (this particular one, at any rate) concentrate on what he'd written!

(*) Typically, but not always, 'atheists' -- the motivation, if I may indulge in a spot of 'Bulverism,' seems to be a desire to *avoid* understanding what I'd written ... as though understanding must equate to agreement.


Overall -- and assuming that I didn't miss some key point(s) due to not applying the concentration necessary to get what he is saying -- I agree with it. This again makes me wonder: what took him so long to reject atheism? (Though, sadly he does not yet claim Christ.)

And a second and related thought: back, long ago in the pre-Dawkins days, when Flew was essentially the "Pope of Atheism," did his admirers, whether atheistic or not, never actually *read* his books and papers? If the argument he makes here (which is, after all, offered in defense/explication of a specific argument of a specific Christian philosopher) is typical of his oeuvre, how is it that he didn't single-handedly destroy atheism's pretense to intellectual and logical soundness?

Perhaps this quandry is explained by the following:

The major objection that sticks in my mind is this:
"Now the relevant moral of all this ... is that Geach's naturalist opponent refutes himself if, but only if, he presents his naturalistic explanations as necessarily precluding any alternative or additional explanation or justification in terms of evidencing or warranting reasons. Geach's naturalist refutes himself, that is, if, but only if, he states or suggests that his own specialist knowledge reveals or entails that there is no room at all for anything which in the ordinary and traditional understanding could be rated as knowledge. I myself would argue - and do - that naturalists do not have thus disastrously to refute themselves. Nevertheless, there is no escaping the fact that a great many of them have done, and still do - most notably nowadays the militants of the discipline persistently and significantly misdescribed as the sociology of knowledge."

and again:
"This whole paper has tried to explain, and defend the Geach motto from which we began. We must not stop without reiterating that it has at best provided a refutation only of those imprudently aggressive forms of naturalism that promise to banish "reasoning or language or choice." But such claims in truth are not essential to naturalism. ..."

One frequently encounters 'atheists,' and sometimes non-atheists, asserting this. But the assertion is false, no matter the authority of the one asserting it.

The important consideration is not which individual specific truth-claims anyone asserts, but whether they cohere. And the fact is that 'reason' and 'choice' do not cohere with 'naturalism,' they cannot be fit into that box.

Robert said...

Ilion I am glad that you got a chance to read the Flew paper. You wrote:

“Flew's paper certainly requires that one (this particular one, at any rate) concentrate on what he'd written!”

Yeh, he has a very dense writing style, not something you read quickly but yet well worth the effort.

“Overall -- and assuming that I didn't miss some key point(s) due to not applying the concentration necessary to get what he is saying -- I agree with it.”

I knew you would appreciate it and agree with it, he makes some of your same arguments, it’s just that he is more famous! :-)

“This again makes me wonder: what took him so long to reject atheism? (Though, sadly he does not yet claim Christ.)”

Sometimes the nonbeliever does not recognize the logical implications of what they themselves are saying. If Flew saw then that rationality requires libertarian free will, he should also have seen that what grounds libertarian free will is theism (a point that Victor has argued in terms of the mind also applies to rationality and choice and language which do not fit Physicalism).

Ilion if you want another great example check out John Searle (who is a materialist) in his book RATIONALITY IN ACTION arguing for the existence of an immaterial self that performs actions that are not necessitated but based upon reasons (Searle argues very strongly and well that libertarian free will exists and that we have an immaterial self that does its own actions; can’t he see that he is talking about the human SOUL?? :-)).

Glad you liked the article by Flew and thanks for making it available for everyone else to check out for themselves.

Robert

Ilíon said...

Robert: "Ilion if you want another great example check out John Searle (who is a materialist) in his book RATIONALITY IN ACTION arguing for the existence of an immaterial self ..."

I've heard of John Searle, especially in relation to his "Chinese Room" thought experiment argument which counters the silly claims of the "strong" AI people.

(Personal note: I'm a computer programmer; and I'm just constantly amazed that other programmers [especially those with the education, talent and experience to be active in AI] imagine and assert that a computer program will ever be a 'mind.')

This page contains "the unedited penultimate draft of" Searle's 1980 article 'Minds, Brains, and Programs' in which he first presents (or so I understand) the "Chinese Room" argument.

Here is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on The Chinese Room argument

Here is the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on The Chinese Room argument


Robert: "Ilion if you want another great example check out John Searle (who is a materialist) in his book RATIONALITY IN ACTION arguing for the existence of an immaterial self that performs actions that are not necessitated but based upon reasons (Searle argues very strongly and well that libertarian free will exists and that we have an immaterial self that does its own actions; can’t he see that he is talking about the human SOUL?? :-))."

I vaguely recall reading that Searle is considered a materialist. I would have to say that his materialism is name-deep.


Robert: "Sometimes the nonbeliever does not recognize the logical implications of what they themselves are saying. If Flew saw then that rationality requires libertarian free will, he should also have seen that what grounds libertarian free will is theism (a point that Victor has argued in terms of the mind also applies to rationality and choice and language which do not fit Physicalism)."

When people don't see the logical implications of what they themselves are saying, there is a good chance it's because they don't want to see it (though, there may be other valid reasons why). But, when they don't see the logical implications even after they are pointed out, it becomes exceeding difficult to credit any other explanations.

Still, unless they're obnoxious about the whole thing (as those I call "Evangelical Atheists" generally are), I tend to find myself more disappointed at the inability to see what they themselves are saying. On the other hand, with "Evangelical Atheists," I find myself disgusted at the refusal to see what they themselves are saying.

Tom said...

1. If the Scripture says to avoid "strifes over words", we should obey.
2. This discussion is a strife over words
3. Therefore we should leave off such discussion.

I recently read a lot in "Martyr's Mirror". The unselfish, simple faith of the Anabaptists, who avoided such arguments, shines so brightly against the strifes generated by those whom history has proclaimed "great" because they could write volumes...i.e., Augustine, Calvin, etc, etc.

It is of very interesting note that, if you read "Candide", by Voltaire, who viciously lampooned everyone and everything in that book, that there is only one character portrayed as simple in goodness. Guess who? Anabaptist. I know Greek. Fair amount of Church History. These kinds of discussions are such a waste.

What would happen if we all spent as much time as we do either on these kinds of arguments, or feeding our stomachs, or campaigning against political trends that "threaten" the Church (hah! our Leader is mighty! we die, we win! we suffer, we gain!)--what if we spent as much or more time...praying. Giving to the poor. Telling others the simple truth of the Gospel.

I'll be honest. I'm a cowardly person in need of consecration and empowering by God's Spirit to be a bold witness. So are we all. Next time you feel the urge to jump into stuff like this, I suggest you drop to your knees and cry out to God for Him to pour His power out upon us!

Love in Christ,

Tom Huntford

Dr. Tom Snyder said...

I don't believe that God's ultimate aim is to glorify Himself. In John 17:1-5, for instance, the goal is not just for self-glorification but the goal is to highlight the message of salvation, deliverance from sin, that the Father sent the Son to present to all of mankind.

Ilíon said...

"I don't believe that God's ultimate aim is to glorify Himself."

What would it even *mean* for God's ultimate aim to be to glorify himself?

There is a contradiction in this idea -- or, at any rate, within the thinking of most of the people (Reformed/Calvinists) who give that as the only correct answer – FOR: a person may “glorify himself” only with respect to theoretical equals, those who are either actual equals or potential equals.

Tom said...

Strifes over words.