Monday, August 24, 2009

Does Calvinism make God the author of sin

This looks right to me. Consider.

Arminianism is true.

W1 is a world in which I do sin at 8:15 PM on Mon. Aug. 24, 2009 (henceforth known as time t).
W2 is a world in which I do not sin at time t.

Assuming I made a moral choice at time t, the difference between these worlds is traceable to my free choice. (It's a little more complicated on Molinist Arminianism, but it still holds.) The difference is my free decision.

Calvinism is true.

Same two worlds.

The difference is the result of what God, before the foundation of the world, decreed would happen. I may have wanted to do what I did, but given what God chose to have happen, I either acted on the desire to sin or acted on the desire not to sin.

12 comments:

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

The difference is my free decision.

I presume you mean the difference is a result of your free decision. But how, on an Arminian view, did your free decision instantiate W2 and not W1 (or vice versa)? More importantly, how does this trump the fact that God, under an Arminian view, instantiated either W1 or W2 (based on his perfect definite foreknowledge) long before you were born?

Anonymous said...

"Assuming I made a moral choice at time t, the difference between these worlds is traceable to my free choice."

Assumes the luck argument isn't cogent.

Assumes free will is compatible with foreknowledge.

Assumes "it still holds" on Molinism.


"Author of sin"

So the argument that God is the author of sin boils down to the proposition that God ordains whatsoever comes to pass???!!

Here Calvinists and Arminians have been arguing for years about whether God's ordaining whatsoever comes to pass makes God the author of sin, come to find out that it does because it is a tautology!!

The only problem now is that you have yet to show 'author of sin' entails anything morally problematic besides the mere labeling of it as "author of sin". What a cheap way to win a debate!

Kyle said...

"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them."

It's not as though God decrees que sera sera. he works toward particular ends, the same as anybody else who has free agency, using whatever means are at his disposal, limiting opportunities for sin at one time, and giving people free head to do whatever they want at another.

I do the same with my son, though with more limited means, and carry similar moral responsibility for his actions. I do the same with my employees, and carry similar responsibility. Yet somehow, in both of these cases, my son and my employees carry their own free agency and their own culpability.

Gordon Knight said...

"More importantly, how does this trump the fact that God, under an Arminian view, instantiated either W1 or W2 (based on his perfect definite foreknowledge) long before you were born?"

And thus we have in a nutshell a key argument for Open Theism.

steve said...

Let’s take a different and more pertinent comparison:

“I question the supreme value of incompatibilist freedom. Imagine two worlds. In one of these, actions are produced by psychological states, themselves caused by prior psychological conditions and by the pressures of the environment, those conditions and environments in turn being caused by earlier circumstances, all in accordance with the conditions philosophers introduce to allow for compatibilist freedom. In the second world, just the same actions are preformed, but in accordance with your favorite incompatibilist account. Why should we think of the second world as a great advance on the first? In what, precisely, does its superiority reside?” David Lewis, “Divine Evil,” L. Antony, ed. Philosophers Without Gods, 234.

Robert said...

Bnonn wrote:

“I presume you mean the difference is a result of your free decision. But how, on an Arminian view, did your free decision instantiate W2 and not W1 (or vice versa)?”

I don’t believe that a single decision made by us instantiates an entire world. We are in the one actual world in which we make our decisions. This actual world is made up of the outcomes produced by God, angels, human persons, animals and inanimate objects and processes. It is molinists and calvinists that speak of a predecided entire world history that makes up a particular possible world that God could create. They further claim that God then considers these entire world histories/possible worlds, and chooses the one he wants to actualize. This chosen one then becomes the actual world and because every detail of it was predecided, every event is then necessitated and must occur as had been preplanned. But that is the exhaustive determinism of calvinists and molinists not Arminianism. The molinist and the calvinist may believe that, I don’t.

“More importantly, how does this trump the fact that God, under an Arminian view, instantiated either W1 or W2 (based on his perfect definite foreknowledge) long before you were born?”

Here you are injecting your own premise (i.e. that there are a variety of complete world histories/possible worlds, W1, W2, W3, W4, etc. and God predetermines every event in each of these possible worlds and then chooses one which then becomes the actual world in which we live in, a world completely predetermined in every detail)into Arminian thinking. I reject your Calvinistic premise. You also inject another Calvinistic premise (one also held by the open theist): that if God exhaustively foreknows all events then libertarian free will cannot simultaneously be present. I reject that premise as well. It is as if I have a nice glass of water and you want to inject my water with your manure and then argue that there are problems with my glass of water because of the manure that you put in it.

Robert

Robert said...

Steve Hays writes quoting David Lewis:

“I question the supreme value of incompatibilist freedom. Imagine two worlds. In one of these, actions are produced by psychological states, themselves caused by prior psychological conditions and by the pressures of the environment, those conditions and environments in turn being caused by earlier circumstances, all in accordance with the conditions philosophers introduce to allow for compatibilist freedom. In the second world, just the same actions are preformed, but in accordance with your favorite incompatibilist account. Why should we think of the second world as a great advance on the first? In what, precisely, does its superiority reside?” David Lewis, “Divine Evil,” L. Antony, ed. Philosophers Without Gods, 234.

Let’s see the person being quoted is David Lewis, now deceased and former atheist, speaking in an essay in a book written by atheist philosophers, is that right?

And we have Steve Hays a professing Christian using the former atheists’ words as an attack on libertarian free will, is that right?

And then what is the vaunted attack that Lewis launches which apparently Hays approves? He argues a hypothetical, what if a completely determined world (the former world) and in a world where libertarian free will existed (the latter world) end up having the exact same set of outcomes, in what way would the second world the world where LFW was present be superior to the completely determined world? Drum roll please . . .

As a theist and someone convinced that the available evidence both from our own daily experience as well as what the bible presents, shows LFW to be present in this *actual* world. It seems to me that if God created this world and his “design plan” for humans was for us to experience LFW, then any talk of why a world where LFW is present is “superior” to a world where it is not, comes down to why God wanted LFW to be present in this actual world.

And the theist is supposed to provide the atheist (who does not believe that God exists) an answer that will satisfy the atheist while appealing to why God (whom the atheist does not believe exists) would consider it superior?

Speaking as a parent, if I had the choice between a world where my child’s every action was predetermined, where they had to do/were forced to do, what the predetermining and necessitating factor determined for them to do, and another world where my child freely chose to produce a handmade Father’s day card (though the card would be identical in both worlds), I would much prefer the world where my child freely chose to produce the card. In that world my child would be a genuine person created in the image of God. In the other world the “child” would be no different than a preprogrammed robot, or a puppet. If given the choice between my child giving me a store bought Father’s Day card produced by a machine or one hand produced by the child, again I would prefer the one not produced by a machine. Do we want a world of “Stepford Wives” or real flesh and blood human wives? I much prefer real persons made in the image of God to machines, robots and puppets, and I believe that God shares my view as well.

Robert

Kyle said...

I think some people are confusing Calvinist predestination/election/providence with Islamic fatalism.

Robert said...

Klyle wrote:

“I think some people are confusing Calvinist predestination/election/providence with Islamic fatalism.”

I don’t think so Kyle.

Allow me to present the way I distinguish things so that we are crystal clear about this. First there is fatalism. This is the claim that a future outcome will occur no matter what one does. So say the future outcome is you getting a job. The fatalist would believe that you will get that job if it is fated regardless of whether or not you interview for the job or not. It is just gonna happen no matter what events come before the outcome. You could interview for the job and you will get the job, or you will not interview and you will get the job. The means to the end do not matter the outcome will occur regardless. This view is in my opinion illogical. Very few people actually believe in fatalism in this sense.

Another sense of fatalism is more common word usage than logical thinking. Many people will say that “it is fatalistic” meaning that it is going to happen and it cannot be avoided or prevented. When people are thinking in this way they will often refer to both calvinism and Islam as “fatalistic” meaning that in those systems every event is unavoidable, it is going to happen, it is going to happen of necessity.

Now while I would not call calvinism or Islam “fatalistic” I would say that some versions of Islam and all versions of calvinism that claim that God decides how every thing will go beforehand in eternity and then brings about all of these predecided events in time by directly controlling every event, are cases of all events being necessitated (or you could call it exhaustive determinism). In exhaustive determinism people do not have free will as ordinarily understood (i.e. sometimes having choices, where you could do this or do that) and every event has to happen, must happen, is necessitated by God’s direct and complete control of everything. If this is the case then we not only do not have free will, everything we do is necessitated (we have to do this or do that, whatever was predecided by God, is absolutely going to occur and it is impossible that it not occur). And since it involves exhaustive determinism, that means everything is necessitated (how you interview, the words you say at the interview, you getting the job, every detail is necessitated). I prefer to call it necessatarian as the belief leads to the conclusion that every event is necessary.

I do not believe anyone here has claimed calvinism to be “fatalistic”. I have however made it clear that it **is** necessatarian. And this it has in common with certain forms of Islam that are also necessatarian. Non-calvinists who reject the belief that all events are necessitated will often use analogies to refer to what this view would mean for us (i.e. that we become like machines or robots or puppets). The reason these metaphors are used is to convey the idea that we have no choices and we have to do what an external agent directly controls and causes us to do. This is not fatalism but it does mean that all events are necessitated, must occur and we are forced to do whatever we do by some necessitating factor (for some it is our brain, our genes, our environment, our conditioning, the laws of nature in combination with past events, or God’s total plan and his direct and complete control of all things).

Robert

Kyle said...

Robert - I appreciate the distinction you're making, and I apologize for using the wrong word. My philosophy background isn't as strong as my theology, so I'd never heard of such as word as "necessatarian". Nevertheless, the concepts behind it are clearly anti-christian and don't accurately describe Calvinist theology. They do accurately describe Islamic thought, as best I can tell. If you told Calvin, Luther, or Augustine that they ascribed to a necessatarian philosophy, you would probably have been laughed at.

Robert said...

Kyle wrote:

“Robert - I appreciate the distinction you're making, and I apologize for using the wrong word. My philosophy background isn't as strong as my theology, so I'd never heard of such as word as "necessatarian".”

Non-Calvinists have sometimes referred to calvinists as necessatarians to make the simple point that the calvinist in claiming that all things are predetermined hence believes all things are necessitated. In a world where everything has to happen exactly as it happens and it is impossible that it be otherwise, then everything that happens is happening by necessity (hence “necessatarian”).

“Nevertheless, the concepts behind it are clearly anti-christian”

You are correct that the claim that everything is necessitated by some necessitating factor **is** “anti-Christian”. That is one of the reasons why I oppose calvinism and its necessatarian beliefs.

“and don't accurately describe Calvinist theology.”

Actually they do **accurately**describe calvinist theology. If God has a total plan made up in eternity (i.e. the decrees regarding “whatsoever comes to pass”) and then he brings about this plan in time and does so by **directly and completely controlling everything** (the calvinist conception of sovereignty) so that EVERYTHING HAPPENS BY NECESSITY and it is impossible that things go differently than “the plan”: this is as NECESSATARIAN as you can get.
“They do accurately describe Islamic thought, as best I can tell.”

The Calvinism that is necessatarian is just as necessatarian as the versions of Islam that hold to necessatarian beliefs.

“If you told Calvin, Luther, or Augustine that they ascribed to a necessatarian philosophy, you would probably have been laughed at.”

I really don’t care about what their response would be, what I am more concerned about is whether or not (and they are particularly with Calvin and Luther) they held to necessatarian beliefs. And they clearly do, if you examine their writings. Kyle have you read their writings? There is no doubt that with them God has the total plan in place before he creates the world and that God ensures that everything goes according to that plan. If that is what they believe, then they **are** necessitarian in their beliefs.

Robert

Football Broker said...

This is a nice discussion you guys have going here. Personally, I lean towards Calvinism, but I would not describe myself as a strict 5 point Calvinist. In reality, the truth most likely lies somewhere in between the 2 viewpoints. I stumble over a few verses of scripture when I defend Calvinism, such as I Tim. 2:3-4 that says God desires all to be saved. However, I definitely feel that that the Arminian side has even greater flaws. I personally feel it is very humanist to feel that we as people have the power to decide our own fate with God. The bible is quite clear on the notion of what a Calvinist would call "Total Depravity." Humans are in a state of "death" or being "dead." A dead corpse cannot ever revive himself or even begin to revive himself without supernatural intervention. People are naturally "God-haters."

It is also incorrect to say that here is no free-will at all in Calvinism. It is clear that people surely do make choices. However, all Calvinism is saying is that people, since they are separated from God due to original sin, could not and would not be able to connect to God. That says nothing about everyday decisions that people make.

Also, the Calvinist doctrine of Irresistible Grace holds for me as well, with a catch. I do believe that a saved person cannot resist the Holy Spirit. However, it is important to define the word "resist" in this case. Personally I believe that a saved Christian cannot resist the Holy Spirit, but due to the person's allowing of the Spirit to use him, may not listen to the Spirit. However, the Spirit always convicts that person's conscience if they are a believer. Therefore, you are not resisting, you are just not listening to the Spirit, per se.

I also do not believe in loss of salvation, which is the ultimate stumbling block for me in Arminianism. If a person is truly saved, they will not ever commit apostasy, because the Spirit in their life has convicted them of God's ultimate truth. If someone does commit apostasy, my argument is that person was never saved in the first place. However, the major point that should be emphasized here is that if a person has a faith in Christ alone for salvation and that faith is true, no matter which side you sit on, that person will be saved.

However it may be, I definitely lean Calvinist. But I do acknowledge holes in both doctrines that can be scripturally supported and refuted.

Anyways, great discussion guys. Hope to see some responses soon. I definitely don't have the philosophical knowledge and background of some of you other posters, so I am sure parts of this will get torn up, but that's OK. It's fun to discuss, and debate.

God Bless

Andrew