Sunday, May 04, 2008

Is the dish of the day free?

From CADRE comments.

21 comments:

Ilíon said...

"Is the dish of the day free?"

Exactly as "free" as any human being is if 'naturalism/materialism' is the truth about the nature of reality. Which is to say, not at all.

Paul Manata said...

Calvinists are ready to admit that they do not have the ability to instantiate an alternative to what was decreed. To bring about a state of affairs contrary to what was decreed.

So, to say we're not free *in that sense* is hardly a bother to us. We agree, actually.

Then this claim:

"As an initial matter, I am not ready to accept the notion that the man with a gun to his head has no free will."

That's a bit of a straw man. We don't say that *all* that is required for making a compatibilistly free choice is that we aren't being coerced. Compatibilists don't think crazy people are necessarily coerced into doing something against their will.

The main issue here is that the above has to do with *moral responsibility.*

People want to know how (the Calvinist) God can hold people morally responsible given their actions were decreed to happen.

And, a necessary condition for *that* is that one not be coerced. If one is forced against his will to do something, and it was, say, in his best interest to do it (it was the most rational choice at the time, say), he did it freely. But, was he morally responsible?

And at *this* point, not even all libertarians agree one needs PAPs (cf. Hunt's article in the Widerker Mckenna book, _Moral Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities: Essays on the Importance of Alternative Possibilities_).

I think the moral responsibility issue is the real issue here.

And, as far as freedom goes, I don't find libertarian answers to what has been called "the fatalist argument" successful. If one is a theist and holds to a traditional, robust view of foreknowledge (where God knows the future free choices of humans), then it seems the libertarian is stuck. I don't find appeals to timelessness successful, either.

At this point, if one wants to keep libertarian free will, it seems one needs to go on over to open theism.

Ask Alan Rhoda and William Hasker and Clark Pinnock and ____ (the guy who caused this post of yours linking to CADRE), I'm sure they'd agree. :-)

So, I find the post to confuse issues and to be unpersuasive, ignoring common problems.

Victor Reppert said...

I'm pretty sympathetic to open theism myself. It's hardly a reductio in my book.

Jason Pratt said...

Minor dating clarification: Chris Price wrote the Cadre piece in question late last June (2007), commenting on a Calvinism debate Victor was engaged in at that time vis-a-vis compatiblism.

I'll drop him a line and let him know his post is being discussed latterly over here. {g}

JRP

Paul Manata said...

Victor,

It's only a reductio if you don't want to go there.

If you do, then there's other arguments to offer.

But, without you ever committing to anything, it's hard to offer an argument against your position! :-)

Like when I hunted birds when I was little. Every time I got ready to shoot they'd fly a couple feet away. It's like, "Stand still, will ya!"

So, if you want to go on the record endorseing open theism, that would help me out. :-)

If not, then just mentioning the attractiveness of open theism doesn't mean that my arguments against traditional Arminianism don't work.


Jason, I saw the dating. My post was a little unclear. I meant that Reppert's Hasker post spawned CADRE to write the post Victor linked to. But then I threw in some other names after Hasker.

Anyway, I am aware the CADRE post was old.

Paul Manata said...

I'd also qualify the kinds of "forcings."

I'm sure all would agree that some people might be "forced" to do something, but they still do it freely. Other times, they are "forced," it's not free.

If I was stronger than someone and physically took their hand with a pencil in it and made them draw graffiti on high school property, and they fought me the whole time while I simply overpowered them, they didn't do it freely *and* they weren't morally responsible.

But, if I held a gun to someone's head and said I'd shoot if they didn't graffiti the school, and so they were "forced" to do it in this, and they went ahead and did it, they wold have done it freeling *and* they would not have been morally responsible.

Anyway, not wanting to turn this into a long debate, it just seems to me that most people worry about questions of moral responsibility.

Regarding freedom, if one *insists* that it means ability to bring about an action contrary to the decree, then we're not free.

But since none of you thik you have any knock down arguments against Calvinism. That is, it could be possible that we're right. Then when you find out (say, in heaven), will it really matter that you didn't have libertarian freedom? I don't think anyone will look back and think they were just robots. You don't think you are now. The real question will be the moral responsibility one.

Ilíon said...

P.Manata: "At this point, if one wants to keep libertarian free will, it seems one needs to go on over to open theism."

VR: "I'm pretty sympathetic to open theism myself. It's hardly a reductio in my book."

Mt Manata's assertion is false ... and *all* the "arguments" he makes asserting that "libertarian free will" does not exist *presuppose* the truth that "libertarian free will" does, in fact, really exist.

But, that doesn't change the fact that "Open Theology" *is* absurd ... "Open Theology" attempts to make God an effect of his own Creation. "Open Theology" imputes contingency to God. "Open Theology" insists that God ... the "infinite" self ... *must be* understandable in his very nature by finite selves.

Paul Manata said...

Asserting that my assertion is false doesn't make my assertion false or the asserter anything other than an expert in self-excepting falllacies.

Asserting that my arguments assume libertarian free will is also not an argument, but an assertion. ilion confuses the use of means in a compatibilist universe. I could offer arguments for ilion to change his minds and God could have decreed that those were the *means* by which he'd accept the biblical position. :-)

I also might not even intend for ilion to change his mind, but just to render his arguments impotent.

But, what I do not do, when I argue, is assume that I am trying to bring about some state of affirs that are different than what was decreed.

So, time to put his oft repeated assertion to rest.

As far as ilion's comments on open theism, I'll sit back while you libertarians hash that out, then take on the winner. I side with the logic of the open theists, though. It's just making clear what Calvinists have said for a while - Arminainism leads fairly logically to open theism and universalism.

Paul Manata said...

P.S. Though I'd add that there are some inconsistencies between open theism and universalism- at least of a Talbott kind (at leats how I see it). But if a position leads fairly logically to two logically incompatible position, so much the worse for the original position.

Ilíon said...

P.Manata: "At this point, if one wants to keep libertarian free will, it seems one needs to go on over to open theism."

Ilíon: "Mr Manata's assertion is false ... and *all* the "arguments" he makes asserting that "libertarian free will" does not exist *presuppose* the truth that "libertarian free will" does, in fact, really exist."

P.Manata: "Asserting that my assertion is false doesn't make my assertion false or the asserter anything other than an expert in self-excepting falllacies."

Of course, the truth is that I didn't merely assert that your constant assertions are false. I pointed out (asserted, if you insist) that you implicitly assume and presuppose the very thing you are denying. I pointed out that your assertions concerning the non-existence of "libertarian free will" are inherently incoherent.

Look, you ... and all you deniers of the reality of "libertarian free will," whether Calvinist or 'materialist/atheist' ... are either:
1) merely making an assertion, which happens to be contrary to the default and universal (even your own) human experience, while simultaneously presenting no actual argument to convince others to the belief that "libertarian free will" is not the truth about human beings.
or, 2) you are trying to present an actual argument to convince others to the belief that "libertarian free will" is not the truth about human beings.

If you (plural) are doing 1), then the rest of us can ignore you as mere poseurs; annoying poseurs, but mere poseus nonetheless.

If you (plural) are doing 2), then the rest of us can point out that your very efforts presuppose that your listeners are indeed free to decide whether or not to be convinced by your argument(s). Which is to say, your argument(s) are necessarily self-defeating and self-refuting. Then, if you (plural) continue to insist that "libertarian free will" is not the truth about human beings, the rest of us rightly turn to ignoring you (plural) as annoying poseurs.

Alan Rhoda said...

Ilion,

Your largely straw man dismissals of open theism are puzzling to me. I can see how you might think that OT is "absurd" if you presuppose something like a Thomistic act-potency metaphysics in which God comes out to be Pure Act.

That system of metaphysics is, I think, fundamentally flawed due to the problematic nature of the act/potency distinction itself. But that aside, it is hardly a problem that OT imputes contingency to God. That's not a bug, it's a feature. Every orthodox Christian holds that creating is a free, and therefore contingent, act on God's part. God is contingently a creator. If Aquinas's doctrine of Pure Actuality entails otherwise, then so much the worse for him.

Robert said...

Hello Ilion,

Keep up the good fight against the theological determinists. I believe that you are making good points. Recall that I suggested that you read the Antony Flew article CHOICE AND RATIONALITY in which he persuasively argues that rationality is impossible unless we have choices in the libertarian sense. Ilion you are making a similar argument with regards to attempting to persuade others (this also involves the reality of people having choices, LFW).

Ilion, I posted this at another noncalvinist web site and believe that it may be helpful for you here as well.

I believe a helpful concept for us as noncalvinists to be aware of is what the philosopher Robert Kane calls **CNC type control** (i.e. Covert Nonconstraining Control). I believe that if you understand this concept then you can better show and understand the problems with calvinism/theological compatibilism.

Here is an illustration of CNC: imagine a guy named “Joe” who is going to play a game of chess with a brilliant neuroscientist. This neuroscientist, let’s call him Frazier has the ability to completely control the
bodily movements, thoughts, desires, values of another person, without that person knowing this control is occurring by means of a device that he implants in a person. Frazier implants this device in the unsuspecting Joe. So Frazier now completely controls Joe’s actions so that at a certain point in the chess game, Frazier controls Joe so that he makes a bad move, like needlessly losing the queen, which results in Joe losing the chess game to Frazier. Now if we were onlookers and aware of the situation and knew what Frazier was doing in regard to the chess move we would hold Frazier responsible for the “bad” chess move, more than Joe who could not have done otherwise in the circumstances. Joe’s actions were completely controlled by Frazier and up to Frazier. Nevertheless, if we asked Joe, if he believed that when playing the game of chess he was making exactly the moves that he wanted to make he would answer “Yes”. Joe truly believes that he acted freely when making his chess moves, and that he was not coerced into his actions at all.

In reality, when it came to the bad move, Joe was not coerced into making the move against his will, (because Frazier controlled and dictated Joe’s will [and everything else about Joe] to do exactly what Frazier wanted to occur). Joe in fact did exactly what he wanted to do, and yet Joe could not do otherwise than what Frazier had determined for him to do. Now if we take this example and extrapolate it to all people and all of their actions and replace Frazier with God, I believe this properly captures the exhaustive predeterminism of the calvinist system. It leads to the fact that our every action is already predetermined by God and then we simply do the actions which we were predetermined to do (we live out the story that the author already has penned).

Now in such a CNC controlled world, we may believe that we are acting freely, that we have free will in the libertarian sense (that we could do otherwise) and we may not sense that we are being coerced (i.e., being forced to do things against our will) nor constrained in our actions (i.e., being prevented from doing certain things). And the fact is that under CNC control we are not being coerced, but we can never do otherwise and so we are never really acting freely.

If Frazier was to blame for Joe’s bad chess move and yet this kind of thing is happening with every one of our actions, then God is completely responsible for every event that occurs. And every event that occurs is exactly what God wants to occur.

It must be understood that calvinism does not teach that people are coerced against their wills to do things, or constrained from doing things. And that in fact the person under CNC is doing exactly what he wants to do, doing what he desires to do. It is also true that he cannot do otherwise (he can not do anything other than what he has been predetermined to do), he does not have libertarian free will.

Now could God have created a world where every person is under CNC control, where they do everything that God wants them to do every time? We might first want to distinguish between what God could do, and what God actually did. Looking about and observing both our own experiences and scripture, it appears that we sometimes have libertarian free will (unless God is being deceitful in his revelation to us; and unless our experience is illusory). But remember that if in fact we were under CNC control then we would experience this control but would not know that it was taking place.

So the question then becomes: would God, the person with the character revealed in the bible create a world where we were all under CNC control? I would say No. I do not believe that God would do this because it would go against His character (just as God does not do irrational things he also does not go against His own character). Not if you want to create genuine persons who freely worship you and love you and have relationship with you. Not if you want genuine individual persons who do their own actions and make their own choices. It would also seem that a good and loving person would not do this kind of thing to another person. God is good and is loving, and it does not seem that he would engage in this kind of control of other persons.

Noncalvinists have sometimes said when challenging calvinism that it makes people into robots or puppets. When making this point I believe that people without knowing the CNC concept were saying that God would not control us in the same way that a puppet is controlled by a puppet master or a robot is preprogrammed and impersonal. We do not believe that it is right to control other people in this way and believe that God would not do this with us as well.

It is significant that in the bible when demons seek to possess a person, they seek to control the person and do not have any hesitation in violating human persons in this way. And yet for the believer who has the Holy Spirit, the Spirit leads us to do good, but he does not possess us or seek to control us. A voluntary submission is involved, a choice is involved and the apostles constantly appeal to people to make the right choices, to choose to obey God. Scripture also speaks of when believers do not obey the Spirit and the Spirit is grieved. It is difficult to understand how we could be completely under CNC control by God and yet then be grieving him or frustrating Him (compare how often Israel frustrated God in the Old Testament). On the other hand if God invites us to do things and then we choose to not obey, then the Spirit grieving makes perfect sense.

So I suggest that noncalvinists get a good grasp of the CNC concept. If you understand it and how it captures the calvinist notion of God’s sovereignty as being his total and direct control of everything, then you will also understand why it is wrong, and why in fact God does not exercise CNC over us.

Robert

Jason Pratt said...

{{It's just making clear what Calvinists have said for a while - Arminainism leads fairly logically to open theism and universalism.}}

I've seen Arms saying the same thing about Calvinism--that it leads fairly logically to universalism.

Wait... I WIN!! {G}

The truth is that both Calv and Arm positions have distinctive elements unique to each other, in contrast to each other, which, when combined, would lead to universalism. (Arms affirm and Calvs deny God's intention to save all sinners. Calvs affirm and Arms deny the persistence of God in saving whomever He intends to save. Kaths affirm both.)

However, it would be silly for me to claim that the logic of either position in total leads to universalism. Obviously, the logic of either position in total leads to either position; duh. {s}

I do think it's funny when one side crits the other for their position 'leading to universalism', though. {g} Okay, yeah, take out God enacting hopelessness, and either side leads to universalism pretty quick. (But neither side is going to give up including that. Thus, the two different sides.)


{{P.S. Though I'd add that there are some inconsistencies between open theism and universalism- at least of a Talbott kind (at leats how I see it).}}

Hardly speaking for Talbott here; but I'd say there were some inconsistencies between open theism and orthodoxy. And since my own universalism follows from my orthodoxy as a theo-logical corollary, I suppose in that sense there are inconsistencies between the two. But that probably wasn't what you meant. {g} (And likely wouldn't be how Tom would answer it either.)

JRP

PS: that being said, I'm just as much against the common understanding of omniscience where God foresees the future from, in effect, within our timeline; which is what open theists tend to be arguing against. It's entirely possible for either side to be talking about overarching non-temporal omniscience, though, when trying to affirm their own position. I have no problem with that, when it occurs. I'm a Boethian omnisciest (probably), if I may coin a term, just like Lewis. (Who was not a universalist.)

Robert said...

Hello Alan,

“Your largely straw man dismissals of open theism are puzzling to me. I can see how you might think that OT is "absurd" if you presuppose something like a Thomistic act-potency metaphysics in which God comes out to be Pure Act.”

I don’t presuppose some “Thomistic act-potency metaphysics”, nor do I issue a cavalier dismissal of OT as “absurd”. There are some sharp folks such as Hasker and Boyd who advocate OT. My problem is exegetical, I just believe that the bible seems to indicate that God knows all events (including future events that involve LFW actions).

“That system of metaphysics is, I think, fundamentally flawed due to the problematic nature of the act/potency distinction itself.”

Again, you appear to me to be going off a rabbit trail here. I don’t believe OT to be mistaken because I hold an “act/potency distinction”, I just think that the bible teaches that God has exhaustive foreknowledge of all events. And if it does, then OT is mistaken.

“But that aside, it is hardly a problem that OT imputes contingency to God. That's not a bug, it's a feature. Every orthodox Christian holds that creating is a free, and therefore contingent, act on God's part. God is contingently a creator. If Aquinas's doctrine of Pure Actuality entails otherwise, then so much the worse for him.”

I have no problem with there being some contingency in the creation or that God created it as a result of a freely made decision (in fact I believe the fact that God freely created the world strongly argues for the reality of LFW as He created us in His image with a similar capacity for doing our own actions through freely made and rational decisions). I believe the strength of the OT proponents is that they hold to LFW and believe there is some contingency. The OT’s also present God as more personal and relational then some other mistaken theologies, hint hint, :-). And these are very good traits. My “stumbling stone” with OT, remains the claim that God does not have exhaustive foreknowledge of all events.

Robert

Paul Manata said...

ilion,

I made an argument how I could argue with people and hope to convince them and still be consistent with determinism. Repeating your Moreland-level arguments against naturalists is boring. I really have no desire to engage in a posturing exhcange with you.


Jason,

I've seen Arms saying the same thing about Calvinism--that it leads fairly logically to universalism.

Wait... I WIN!! {G}


Except my brand of Calvinism affirms *limited* atonement *and* all men are sinners *and* no person can enter heaven without (a) being perfect or (b) having Jesus perfectness imputed to them, and their sin and punishment imputed to him.

My end isn't to debate my theology, just to point it out so that I can claim:

No logical leading from my end! :-D

Thus, it is false to say that my Calvinism has elements that would lead to universalism, unless, of course, you mean that it does without taking into account the *the rest of* my claims. But that's uninteresting. If we do that, the Bible says there is no God! It does if you don't take into account the "the fool says in his heart" part. (Rhyming unintended!)

As far as my comments:

I take it that foreknowledge of human libertarian free choices renders the agent unfree to instantiate alternative choices to the one known.

I take it that the timelessness rebuttal doesn't succeed. See here, for instance:

http://philofreligion.homestead.com/files/foreknowledgefreedom.html

I take it then that if one wants to keep libertarian free will, one needs to deny that they are foreknown by God.

I take it that this is a basic form of open theism.

From there, I take certain statements from how Arminians understand God's love and God's desire to save all and Talbott's arguments that God isn't violating libertarian free will to remove their self-deception mask, and then you have universalism.

I find some inconsistencies between the two (but I think they might be able to be ironed out) for example in statements like these:

HASKER

"If God creates persons with libertarian freedom, he will not have exhaustive knowledge of the future..." (Hasker, Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion, p.221).

And:


God takes risks if he makes decisions that depend for their outcomes on the responses of free creatures in which the decisions themselves are not informed by knowledge of the outcomes. For if he does this, the creatures' decisions may be contrary to God's wishes. And in this case God's intentions in making those decisions may be at least partly frustrated (ibid, 219).


And:


God is a risk-taker if he endows his creatures with libertarian freedom; otherwise not. Bu libertarian freedom is meant freedom such that the agent who makes a choice is really able, under exactly the same circumstances, to chose something different from the thing that is in fact chosen [...,] this means that there is **nothing whatever** that predetermines which choice will be made, until the creature is actually placed in the situation and makes that decision (ibid, 219, emphasis original).

AND TALBOTT

Because God is perfectly loving, it is his redemptive purposes for the world (and therefore his will) to redeem all sinners and to reconcile all of them to himself. Because God is almighty and sovereignly controls the final destiny of the created persons, it is within his power to achieve his redemptive purpose for the world. [...] God will eventually redeem all sinners and reconcile all of them to himself. (Talbott, ibid, 280)
And:


. . . it is not enough merely to insist that a free choice requires indeterminism of a certain kind and then leave it at that - as if there were no other necessary conditions for a free choice, which there clearly are. One additional necessary condition is a minimal degree of rationality; and thus condition has the effect of limiting the range of possible free choice. For, as we have just seen, an utterly inexplicable and irrational choice - one for which there is no intelligible motive and the person making it has the strongest possible motive for choosing otherwise - will simply not qualify as a genuinely free choice for which one is morally responsible" (Talbott, idid, 282)

The inconsistencies would be in the accounts of libertarian freedom.

Also, in how God could *make sure* all would go to heaven.

At any rate, if they're resolved, my argument is fine for my purposes because if I could show the logical progression from Arminianism to open theism and universalism, that would be a boon for the Calvinist. Yet I never underestimate man's desire to be free from God's control. :-)

Paul Manata said...

And these are very good traits. My “stumbling stone” with OT, remains the claim that God does not have exhaustive foreknowledge of all events.

Robert

*********

But an open theist doesn't have to deny that. He says God knows all that can be known. Just like you.

The argument is that it is *logically impossible* for the two to exist, or something along those lines.

So, just like you don't think God can know how to make a square-circle and yet you don't deny exhaustive foreknowledge, same for the open theist.

You have to show that the two are consistent.

And here is where open theists have you beat, sorry to say.

Ilíon said...

Robert: "Keep up the good fight against the theological determinists. I believe that you are making good points. Recall that I suggested that you read the Antony Flew article CHOICE AND RATIONALITY in which he persuasively argues that rationality is impossible unless we have choices in the libertarian sense. Ilion you are making a similar argument with regards to attempting to persuade others (this also involves the reality of people having choices, LFW)."

Yes, thank you; I very much enjoyed Flew's paper.

And thank you for appreciating what I'm attempting. No doubt some will roll their eyes, but I really do dislike confrontation and even argument (I prefer a more genteel "discussion"). Though, at the same time, if I care enough about something to have formed an opinion, I'm not likely to be a shrinking violet about the opinion.


Concerning "Covert Nonconstraining Control" and/or "calvinism/theological compatibilism" and/or "exhaustive determinism:"

We each can believe only what we can believe. And, we either *really* believe this or that -- that is, as Flew argued, either we freely *choose* for this or that reason (or for no reason) to believe what we believe -- or even the assertion that we believe is false, built on nothing more substantial than an illusion/delusion we cannot truly seem to escape, no matter what metaphysics we assert.

But, how could we choose to believe that something like "Covert Nonconstraining Control" is the truth about the nature of reality? Or, at any rate, is the truth about our nature? By what means could we test this potential belief so that we might choose to believe it?

Oddly enough, the question I just asked cannot even be sensibly asked IF something like "Covert Nonconstraining Control" is the truth about reality and/or us.

Really, what it boils down to is that IF something like "Covert Nonconstraining Control" is the truth about reality and/or us, THEN one *might* suffer the illusion that one believes it to be true, or one *might* suffer the illusion that one does not believe it to be true. But, in no case does one *actually* believe anything, nor have any choice in stating the proposition (in contrast to 'asserting' this or that) that one believes or does not believe.

All this talk about believing this and not believing that is so much meaningless noise -- and, moreover, meangingless noise we cannot *not* make -- unless we are, indeed, free.


Or, another way of stating this occurs: if we were not indeed free we could not -- not a single one of us could -- even grasp the point I just attempted to make. That is, the ability to see logical implications, to make logical connections, requires a foundation of "libertarian free will."


Or, one last attempt: Let us suppose that "exhaustive determinism," or whatever one wishes to call it, is the truth about reality and about our nature. And, just for laughs, let us suppose that I deny that this is the truth. Now what?

Actually, so what? If I may coin a phrase: "This I deny; I can do no other!" Until, of course, "the universe" (for the 'atheist') or God (for the Calvinist) *causes* me to do other. But, in no case does my "belief" originate in an act of *my* will, for I have no will and I can initiate nothing.

Ilíon said...

Mr Manata,
Please, allow me to intentionally try to insult you (not really, but I wish to make a point):

You are stupid! And a liar! And, you mother dresses you funny!

Now, either:
1) I did choose to make those quite silly assertions; or,
2) I did not choose to make them.

I say I did choose -- freely -- to make them. You, on the other hand -- even had I made them seriously and not as a means to dramatically drive home a point -- do not even have the "right" to take offense ... for, after all, I had no choice in the matter! It was "decreed" from the foundation of the world that I would type exactly what I typed.

But, of course, and as we all know, you probably *will* take offense. You probably *will* behave as though I did honestly have a choice in the matter. And, it is a certainty that had I not explicitly stated that I am trying for a dramatic effect, you would behave as though I had a choice in the matter.


Determinism -- whether Calvinistic or atheistic -- is such a *stupid* belief/philosophy!



P.Manata: "I also might not even intend for ilion to change his mind, but just to render his arguments impotent."

Do you *really* imagine I didn't have you pegged from your first non-interaction with me?

How are *you* going to render logic impotent? My arguments are all about the *illogic* of your assertions (because, naturally, it is logically impossible that you are, or even can, present arguments).

Silly boy, you're not up against little ol' me ... you're up against logic itself! The task you've set yourself ... or, the task "decreed" for you from the foundation of the world ... is to logically refute logic itself.

Given the "decree" you labor under, I'm so glad I am free to pick and choose my battles, even if I don't always choose wisely.


P.Manata: "But, what I do not do, when I argue, is assume that I am trying to bring about some state of affirs that are different than what was decreed."

I cannot see where you (you personally, I'm not saying anything about Calvinists in general) are really much different from the typical internet 'atheist' in your vain attempt to have it both ways at all times.

A slightly interesting point which one notices is that your overall *behavior* (as with similar behavior of 'atheists') is just the sort of behavior one might expect were you, in fact, trying to change someone's mind (not mine! on *this* point there is no possibility of changing it).


One really must make it a point to look up the bakery you folk patronize!


P.Manata: "So, time to put his oft repeated assertion to rest."

How in the world are *you* going "to put [my] oft repeated assertion[s] to rest?" After all, it was "decreed" from the foundation of the world that I would assert exactly what I assert until I no longer assert it. And then I'll assert something else. As was "decreed."


Really! Determinism -- whether Calvinistic or atheistic -- is such a *stupid* belief/philosophy!

Paul Manata said...

Hi ilíon,

1. Jesus' death was decreed from the foundation of the world, God took offense to it.

2. If, by "no choice," you mean, "you couldn't do otherwise than the decree," okay. But I don't equate "ability to do otherwise than the decree" with "moral responsibility."

Not all things decreed are good. This is what Calvinists have stated time and time again. The *whole plan* is good, that doesn't mean the *parts* are.

So, I have no clue why I wouldn't have a "right" to be offended.

I never saw that *logical connection* that "the saying of rude things were decreed" therefore, "you have no right to be offended by the saying of rude things."

In fact, someone in a movie may well play the role that was printed for him. Just following the script. He may blaspheme God. I may be offended.

I don't see your *argument* at all. I simply see, again, some *assertions*.

3. I will behave as if you've violated some norm for moral discourse. You desired to do it. You wanted to do it. You weren't forced to do it. And, presumably you had reasons for doing it. You are otherwise normal, e.g., you don't have Tourette's.

I *won't* act as if you could have instantiated an alternative to the decree. So, you're wrong about the *reason* I get upset *and* my psychology of taking offense.

4. I don't care if you think biblical determinism (even though the Bible doesn't use that term, but we have to give things labels) is "*stupid*".

5. Your comments about me being no different than an atheist simply undermine your approach before those watching. They prove nothing either way.

6. I've already provided an argument for how making arguments to change minds fit perfectly well within compatibilism. repeating points isn't an *argument*.

7. Apropos 6, *I* could put it to bed in the sense that God *decreed* that my arguments would be *means* which put your argument to rest. Your putting it to rest would thus be likewise decreed, and my argument was the means to that end. Thus in this sense my *arguments* were the means that changed your mind.

That it may have been decreed that you would not give in to the biblical (or philosophical) reasoning and exegesis, is beyond my ken. Thus I don't find that I should proceed upon the expectation that it has been decreed that you would reject the biblical (or philosophical) arguments.

This all fits perfectly fine within my system - name calling aside.

8. Again, I think we're done "discussing." It's obvious you're getting upset. So, I'll let you go on your way showing everyone how "mean" the Calvinists are and how "loving" the Arminians are.

Jason Pratt said...

Paul,

{{Except my brand of Calvinism affirms *limited* atonement *and* all men are sinners *and*...}}

...and I almost instantly indicated that I was being satirical: “However, it would be silly for me to claim [as I had just pretended to do with the “I win” quip] that the logic of either position in total leads to universalism. Obviously, the logic of either position in total leads to either position; duh. {s}”

The fact that portions of Calv and Arm positions, uniquely distinct and antithetical to each other, would in combination be a universalistic position, is no argument that the logic of either one or the other position in total leads to universalism. It does however help explain why Calvs sometimes get an impression that Arm theology would lead to universalism and vice versa. I assure you, Arminians as such are quite as much dedicated to the non-persistence of God in salvation as 5-point Calvinists are dedicated to the non-intention of God to save everyone.

{{Thus, it is false to say that my Calvinism has elements that would lead to universalism, unless, of course, you mean that it does without taking into account the *the rest of* my claims.}}

Which of course is exactly what I said. I just extended the point to include Arm claims, too, on the same principle. (Really, Paul, I hadn’t even written a long comment that time. Obviously you stopped with the “I win” and didn’t continue on for context. {wry g} Given the... mmm... fireworks elsewhere, though, I won’t blame you for that, I suppose.)

{{From there, I take certain statements from how Arminians understand God's love and God's desire to save all...}}

Which you ought to know perfectly well are not the total position of specifically Arminian doctrine. Thus the satire of my quip--the same thing can be done by taking a partial tally of Calv doctrine, too, which I’ve seen Arms doing occasionally: if we take (part of) Calv doctrine, logically it leads to universalism!! Well, duh... yeah, if either side leaves out the hopelessness doctrines, either side leads quite instantly to universalism. But the Arms are as committed to hopelessness as you are--just in a different fashion. (Their hopes are quite different, too: they hope for everyone but not persistantly. You hope persistantly but not for everyone. I hope for everyone persistantly. Not surprisingly, the difference between Calv and Arm hope lies precisely in the respective hopelessness qualifiers.)


While I can comment extensively on my own hook about foreknowledge and libertarian free choices etc., I’ve been trying to avoid adding redundant verbiage to the discussion pot (which looks to be pretty full already). I’ll try to point out how I would agree with you, though.

{{I take it that foreknowledge of human libertarian free choices renders the agent unfree to instantiate alternative choices to the one known.}}

I don’t have a problem with this, so long as by “foreknowledge” you actually mean something more like “topknowledge” (metaphorically speaking either way)--knowledge from above the timeline, not knowledge from a point within the timeline (whether that’s possible ought to be a moot question when dealing with orthodox theism instead of, say, a prevelant kind of Mormonism)--and so long as by “unfree” you’re actually trying to talk about the impossibility of choosing syncrhonously exclusive options. (I can’t choose to turn left and turn right at the same time, though I could choose to turn left three times and head off ‘right’ like one of those old remote control cars. {g})

i.e. if I choose to turn left then the reality is that I didn’t choose to turn right; and God in His overarching omniscience will, eternally, know my choice--thus He can act in various ways (in virtue of His overarching omnipotence) corresponsive with that choice, even ‘before’ my action on the timeline.

If that’s what you mean, and it very well may be, then I have no problem with it. It isn’t open theism, and it isn’t what open theists are typically shooting against (and rightly so, as far as that goes).


Comments like this make me suspicious that this isn’t what you mean, though: {{I take it that the timelessness rebuttal doesn't succeed.}}

Whether a timelessness “rebuttal” (which can only be a rebuttal to a proposal of God being constrained in His own nature by our natural time) succeeds or not, is somewhat beside the point. If we’re talking about a God Who intrinsically exists within our natural time, then we aren’t talking about an orthodox Christian theism God. (Which is one reason why those prevalent Mormons are explicitly counter-orthodox!)

{{I take it then that if one wants to keep libertarian free will, one needs to deny that they are foreknown by God.}}

Only where ‘foreknown’ means the counter-orthodox characteristic mentioned above. If you’re insistent on God intrinsically existing within our natural space-time system (though I doubt that you are--at least when it’s put that straightforwardly), then we have far more preliminary theological matters to be discussing than soteriology. {s}


For what it’s worth, Aquinas’ key problem is that he isn’t really, after all, a proponent of God as ‘actus purus’. Aquinas, like most Christian philosophers, was a privative aseitist: he claimed God merely self-existed, not actively self-existed. I’m not sure Aquinas understood (or would even have agreed with) God’s self-sacrificial action in creation, either. In creating (distinct from self-begetting), God creates a system for Himself to willingly respond to; an action of willing response that is far from foreign to the interaction between the Father and the Son Themselves in the eternal self-existence of God. Whereas the willing abdication for the sake of existence of something, is also far from foreign to the eternal and eternally coherent action of the 2nd Person. In the case of creation, the abdication of the Son (in willing cooperation with the Father) is for the sake of something else than the existence of the Godhead, which is only another way of saying that if God acts in any fashion other than self-existence, it must be to create that which is not-God.

All the properties are thus in place, in binitarian theism (and trinitarian, too, by extension), for God to have timeless (or more properly, extratemporal) knowledge of time-event t. Timeless, in fact, is a poor choice of terminology, when discusing the entity upon Whom time itself is dependent for existence; it leads the thinker into divorcing God from connection with time altogether, which is just as much an error as putting God’s own intrinsic existence within natural time.


For what it’s worth, I disagree with Tom in the quote you gave from p282, in the following way: I wouldn’t try to conflate “irrational” and “choice” together in the first place. I restrict my use of the term “irrational” to mean merely reactive behaviors from an entity otherwise capable of active behaviors. An irrational behavior is not, in principle (and often not in fact, from a human perspective), “inexplicable”, anymore than a rational behavior would be. But it would be a behavior like a sneeze, or like instinctively leaping at the sound of a loud horn nearby. The act-er had no motive per se, and made no choice per se. Consequently, neither is the act-er morally responsible for the behavior or its results (though he would be morally responsible if new situations from those results called for morality on his part which he then refused to do. But that would not be irrational behavior in the technical fashion I restrict to.) The same principle is routinely appealed to in courts (as everyone knows, including Tom) as a defense against criminal culpability.

This is probably what he’s trying to say--he’s probably talking about non-choice behaviors, not really about choice. But whether or not that’s true, I certainly and clearly distinguish in principle between them; whereas it must be admitted that Tom is conflating choice and non-choice (perhaps rather conveniently) in that passage. {s}

{{Also, in how God could *make sure* all would go to heaven.}}

I’m more careful about this than most universalists are--precisely because I’m rather more technical than most universalists are. My position is, and always has been, that we can trust God to persist in acting to save all sinners from sin. Between God and a derivative sinner I’m obviously going to bet on God; but at the same time I affirm that God cannot simply make a person not be an intentional sinner. He can fix and heal our natures, where applicable--which I understand the resurrection to be aimed at doing--but He can’t simply make us not willingly sin, with any guarantee short of removing our actual personhood. After which we won’t be real children of His, but only puppets.

Consequently, I affirm that in theory any sinner might never repent, and so would be continually punished by God--but still with an intention, on God’s part, to be saving the person from sin. I take it that this is why usually scriptural testimony stresses the indefiniteness of punishment in Gehenna, even when various authors and prophets (such as St. Paul, or so I find) do also not only insist on the hope of salvation but even prophetically promise that God will achieve it. If they have inspiration from God on that, by virtue of God’s overarching knowledge of the whole situation, then great. If things turn out differently and God knows that some persons will never repent, that doesn’t affect my position in the slightest: I was never betting on, much less hoping in, people; I was hoping in God, and God will still be fulfilling that hope by continuing to act toward that goal. Though I also agree with MacDonald that if a derivative creature really could succeed in creating a hopeless situation, then God would annihilate the creature so as not to keep a live sin hopelessly in existence. That being said, MacD and I (though not Lewis) both don’t think it is very tenable to even suspect that a derivative creature can ‘outlast’ an eternal attempt at saving that creature from sin. If there is a “make sure” button (and I do find St. Paul to be sure in a few places), it must be precisely in virtue of this: that God will be persisting, always, and the creature cannot possibly outlast that effort--even if the creature refuses for eons of the eons to repent and begin to co-operate with God. It isn’t so much an appeal to omnipotence simpliciter, but to omnicompetence. {s}

The creature, having free will, is (by God’s grace) free to resist the love of God. But the creature is not free to be free from the love of God, any more than the creature is free to be somewhere God is not. That lack of freedom, however, is not a question of the will, but of ontology. It is Satan, not I, who insists that he can actually win and be like the Most High--pyhrric victory though that may be.


JRP

Ilíon said...

Someone has fireworks?