Wednesday, September 02, 2009

C. S. Lewis on why God created us with libertarian free will

He doesn't use the phrase, of course.

“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go either wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.A world of automata-of creatures that worked like machines-would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is that happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other…And for that they must be free.”
(Mere Christianity, 47-48)

45 comments:

SE said...

I guess the Christian God doesn't have free will then.

So the universe is ruled by the Great Automaton? Makes sense, when you think about it.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

1. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad.

2. God is not free to be bad (by definition).

3. Therefore, God does not have free will.

4. Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.

5. Therefore, love, goodness and joy are impossible for God (from (1)).

6. But God is love (1 John 4:8).

7. Therefore, Lewis is wrong.

Or, if Lewis wants to engage in special pleading by limiting the principle in (1) to creatures:

1. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad.

2*. In heaven, no one is free to be bad.

3*. Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.

4*. Therefore, love, goodness and joy are impossible in heaven.

5*. But heaven is all about love, goodness and joy.

6*. Therefore, Lewis is wrong.

unkle e said...

Dominic,

Your arguments sound good, but you haven't defined some of the important terms. "Free" as in "free to be good" and "free to be bad" is an interesting word. For example, it could mean not constrained externally or it could mean not constrained internally (e.g. by character, choice, etc).

I think human beings are made so that we are somewhat free in both senses. We can choose to jump off a cliff, although not free to disobey the laws of gravity if we do. We are free to choose to be selfless or selfish in a particular situation, subject to the internal constraints of our brain chemistry, our character or our health.

So what if we postulate that God is similarly free, within limits, which may be:

1. God is free of all external constraint except that which is logically impossible, and therefore silly - e.g. God cannot, by definition, make 2 + 2 =-46 in our integer number system.

2. God is theoretically free of internal constraint, except he is by choice and by character constrained to do good.

Likewise, your second argument runs into difficulties. While we on earth have characters that can easily do evil, in heaven we will have characters like "little gods" which are free, but constrained by our own choice and our new characters.

I'm sure if you want to you could find flaws in that simple response, but I'm equally sure that (1) defining your terms makes your present arguments more difficult, and (2) a full defense could be constructed along these lines.

Best wishes

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

I'm just going by Lewis' argument. If his argument is good, it plainly proves far too much. Sadly, while Lewis was a good philosopher, like many good philosophers he was just rubbish at theology.

1. God is free of all external constraint except that which is logically impossible, and therefore silly - e.g. God cannot, by definition, make 2 + 2 =-46 in our integer number system.

I don't think a Christian is at liberty to describe that as an external constraint. The very notion of an external constraint on God, under Christian lights, is incoherent.

2. God is theoretically free of internal constraint, except he is by choice and by character constrained to do good.

I don't think so. What you're saying basically seems to be that God is free of internal constraint except inasmuch as he isn't. If God is a necessarily good being, then he is internally constrained to being good.

Likewise, your second argument runs into difficulties. While we on earth have characters that can easily do evil, in heaven we will have characters like "little gods" which are free, but constrained by our own choice and our new characters.

What, like Adam's? In any case, the argument still stands. If freedom is only freedom when we can do evil, and if we cannot do evil in heaven, then in heaven we are not free.

Of course, I find that notion as absurd as you do—but then, I consider libertarian freedom to be the biggest embarrassment in the history of philosophical theology, so go figure.

Robert said...

Bnonn is operating by an assumption/premise that I don't buy. Namely, that: we **only** have free will if we can both do good and evil. This leads Bnonn to a laughable argument. Since God cannot do evil then by "Bnonn's premise" God therefore does not have free will.

Bnonn is confusing and failing to differentiate between a person having and making choices(i.e. having LFW) and that person's range of choices. I have seen many, many other necessatarian calvinists fail to make these simple but important distinctions.

So I sometimes have heard calvinists say things like "well I guess if you have free will you would be able to fly, right?" Wrong, being able to fly goes to a person's range of choices. I may not be able to fly, that may not be within my range of choices, but from that it does not follow that I never have and make choices. Similarly there are things not within God's range of choices (like creating a world where he does not exist) but that does not mean that he does not have free will, that he never has and make choices.

Once we see these simple distinctions we see where "Bnonn's premise" concocted argument completely fails. His argument stipulates that one only has free will if one can do evil. But there are things that God cannot do, that are not in his range of choices, but it does not follow that he never has a choice. God had a choice of whether or not to create the world. He chose to create the world but he also could have chosen not to create the world. God (like us) only loses his libertarian free will if his actions are necessitated.

Robert

PS - SE what do you mean? Where do you get your conclusion that "I guess the Christian God doesn't have free will then."???

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Bnonn is operating by an assumption/premise that I don't buy. Namely, that: we **only** have free will if we can both do good and evil. This leads Bnonn to a laughable argument. Since God cannot do evil then by "Bnonn's premise" God therefore does not have free will.

What's laughable is Robert's reading comprehension. Apparently, in his haste to trot out another insipid troll against Calvinism, he couldn't even be bothered to read the article.

Gordon Knight said...

There is a real question here.

I agree that God can be free and yet not be free to bad b/c of God's character. But if God can be free in this way, why did not God make us free and also give us such fine character?

What is required, in my view, is a soul making suplement to the free will defense. It is a good thing that we struggle, that we can make ourselves better through our choices.

Robert said...

Bnonn wrote:

"What's laughable is Robert's reading comprehension. Apparently, in his haste to trot out another insipid troll against Calvinism, he couldn't even be bothered to read the article."

So according to Bnonn the problem is my reading comprehension. He wants us to believe that the problem is that since according to him I don’t have much reading comprehension, I just didn’t comprehend his argument. I think I can read just fine. And yes I did read his post, and yes I did understand his argument (the one where he claims that you only have LFW if you can do evil). That is his premise not mine. And his premise is false. Bnonn creates an imaginary version of LFW and then attacks **that** believing that he has thereby refuted LFW. He is committing the fallacy of building a straw man.

Let's take a definition of free will from a friend of mine that I have discussed this issue with a few times:

“If a person is free with respect to a given action, then he is free to perform that action and free to refrain from performing it; no antecedent conditions and/or causal laws determine that he will perform the action, or that he won’t.”

Notice that my friend defines libertarian free will as being both able to do an action and to refrain from doing that action.

Is there *****ANY MENTION***** of being able to do evil anywhere in this definition?

No, it is not there.

Now my friend is, in my opinion, fairly and well representing the libertarian position with his definition, Bnonn is not.

If you read my friend’s definition and the definitions of other libertarians the common denominators are that if we have LFW: (1) we have a choice and (2) our choice is not necessitated. Fairly simple and not necessarily involving the ability to do evil. (Note in contrast to LFW the necessatarian view holds to the opposite: that we make choices but do not have choices and our choices are necessitated by some factor, the necessitating factor differing dependent upon what necessatarian version is being promoted)

Bnonn, again like many, many calvinist necessatarians constructs a straw man version of LFW. The straw man version includes the claim that you do not have free will unless you can do evil. Now if proponents of LFW believed that, that would be an easy one to knock down. And that is why necessatarians like Bnonn falsely and intentionally attribute this view to us. My friend's definition is much more representative of what we actually believe. If Bnonn wants to attack the LFW view let’s see him go after my friend’s definition and show how that definition leads to his false premise that we only have LFW if we can choose to do evil.

Robert

Robert said...

Hello Gordon,

Gordon wrote:


“I agree that God can be free and yet not be free to bad b/c of God's character.”

So I guess you weren’t persuaded by Bnonn’s argument huh? :-)

“But if God can be free in this way, why did not God make us free and also give us such fine character?”

What immediately strikes me in what you are saying here is that you ask why God didn’t give us the same fine character that He has? Do you really think that God could create another God like himself? I mean if we are going to have the exact same character as God wouldn’t we need to be God? And if that is true, aren’t you asking why God didn’t simply create other Gods with the same character as Himself?

“What is required, in my view, is a soul making supplement to the free will defense. It is a good thing that we struggle, that we can make ourselves better through our choices.”

This seems sensible to me. What if there are multiple supplements? I tend to be an eclectic, if someone says something that is true I don’t worry who they are because I am more interested in whether or not what they are saying is true. It seems to me that the free will defense brings out some helpful notions as does the soul making concept.

Which leads me to wonder is it possible that multiple things are going on that are true which explains how different people advocating the free will defense, soul making, etc. are all making valid points and capturing various pieces of the puzzle? And additionally is it possible that some of the reasons that God is allowing things or doing things a certain way are even things we will never find out or are way beyond our comprehension (so while there is a puzzle with many pieces we will never see all of the pieces)?

Robert

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

That is his premise not mine

Roflcopters flying by night, Robert. I think you'll find this was Lewis's premise, and that I was answering him on his own terms, Robert. So if anyone was building a strawman, it was the libertarian Lewis. Now kindly sod off.

Peter Pike said...

Victor Reppert,

Seriously, do you find it sad that many of your Arminian commenters don't even read the post you quote but instead simply troll for anti-Calvinist things to say in the comments?

You quote C.S. Lewis as saying: "If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad." Yet both Uncle E and Robert attribute this to Bnonn because Bnonn quoted you quoting Lewis.

So my serious question for you: if your Arminian buddies cannot distinguish between what C.S. Lewis said and Bnonn's putting that in a syllogism, is that: A) due to the poor intellectual caliber of the average Arminian; or B) due to the poor nature of Lewis's argument in the first place?

(Yes, I am well aware I've given you a false dichotomy here, but c'mon, it's just rhetoric at this point, isn't it?) :-D

On the other hand, I do believe Robert's pretty much rejected Lewis's free will defense. And as I pointed out earlier evil exists before sinful actions are actualized, so even if we grant that free will is necessary in order for there to be "genuine" love, evil actions are not necessary because evil thoughts and desires are evil already. If it is adultery in one's mind to lust after a married woman, as Jesus said, then one needs not actually commit the act of adultery to have sinned. One can be free to BE evil without being free to act on those evil impulses.

Thus, Lewis's free will defense fails there too.

Peter Pike said...

Gordon Knight asked:
---
But if God can be free in this way, why did not God make us free and also give us such fine character?
---

Isn't that what Paul answers in Romans 9 when he discusses the vessels prepared in advance for destruction? (I.e., does not the potter have right over the clay to fashion it however he pleases?)

Variants of this question are asked many times in Scripture (Job being another obvious example of it, but also seen in some Psalms, etc.). God and His prophets/apostles have seen fit to answer it with...well, Triabloggian language--"Where were you when I created the world?" and "Who are you to talk back to God?" etc.

It seems to me that God is content to say, "That's none of your business" from time to time.

arminianperspectives said...

Thought I would interact with Dominic’s response a little as I think he makes some good points that need addressing from the Arminian perspective (for the record, I did read the post and I realize that Dominic is interacting with Lewis’ argument).

1. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad.

2. God is not free to be bad (by definition).

3. Therefore, God does not have free will.


This is a mistake. It is one thing to say that someone does not have freedom with respect to good and evil, it is another to say one does not have free will at all.

If God does not have the freedom to do evil, then He does not have freedom with regards to good and evil, but it does not follow that God has no free will at all. So #3 is not entirely accurate, it needs clarifying.

4. Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.

5. Therefore, love, goodness and joy are impossible for God (from (1)).


This is an oversimplification as well. I may be wrong, but I think Lewis is speaking from the perspective of man (which seems obvious by the way he continually speaks of "creatures").

Man’s happiness can only attain from a relationship with God. If genuine relationship entails freedom, as Lewis seems to suggest, then one cannot have a relationship with God without the freedom to trust in Him or reject Him. If man is free to trust God (the basis of said relationship), then man is also free to reject Him, which is the foundation of all sin.

So love for God issues from a relationship built on trust (Gal. 5:6). Therefore, love, joy and goodness (for the creature) all issue from a relationship with God based on trust, and with the ability to trust comes the ability to reject.

continued below...

arminianperspectives said...

...continued from above,

6. But God is love (1 John 4:8).

7. Therefore, Lewis is wrong.


God’s relationship with us is not based on trust (i.e. God doesn’t need to trust in us in order to enter into relationship with us; rather, we need to trust in Him). God’s love for us is not rooted in trust in and reliance on us as our love for Him is rooted in trust in and reliance on Him. I think it is rather clear that Lewis is speaking of the happiness of creatures considering the fact that he continually makes reference to “creatures” and not to God. This is especially clear when he writes,

“The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is that happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other…And for that they must be free.”
(Mere Christianity, 47-48)

Or, if Lewis wants to engage in special pleading by limiting the principle in (1) to creatures:

1. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad.

2*. In heaven, no one is free to be bad.

3*. Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.

4*. Therefore, love, goodness and joy are impossible in heaven.

5*. But heaven is all about love, goodness and joy.

6*. Therefore, Lewis is wrong.


First, it is not special pleading since Lewis makes it clear throughout that he is speaking of the happiness of God’s creatures, and not the happiness of God (you did read the post, didn’t you?).

Second, it may be that we are not free to be “bad” in heaven. However, that state of relationship with God would still be rooted in freely deciding to trust in Him prior to heaven (in other words, it a relationship established through freedom that is made permanent in heaven).

But even God rendering that state permanent in heaven is in accordance with the free will of the creature in that the creature freely desired to ultimately experience a state of perfect conformity with Christ. Our state in heaven is simply God giving us what we freely desired, even though it will at that time constitute a limitation of freedom.

Therefore, free will would still be the foundation for the love, joy and goodness we experience in Heaven even if we will no longer be free to be “bad”. So I think Lewis’ argument works well enough, though it needs some clarifying.

God Bless,
Ben

Peter Pike said...

Ben said:
---
If genuine relationship entails freedom, as Lewis seems to suggest, then one cannot have a relationship with God without the freedom to trust in Him or reject Him.
---

I've never understood why this would follow. Isn't it the case that a despot has a relationship with his people even though they are not free to disobey his commands? Isn't there still a relationship between a master and a slave?

Now perhaps you will amend this to saying a GOOD relationship requires freedom. But if someone is brainwashed into loving another person, isn't it still true that the brainwashed person still loves the other person? (Otherwise, he'd have had to be brainwashed into a love-like state.) And even if someone uses Love potion # 9 to cause someone to fall in love, it is still love into which the person falls, is it not?

If a person who is in love does/feels X, and a brainwashed person does/feels X, then how do you disqualify the brainwashed person from being in love?

A.M. Mallett said...

The issue of whether God is good by free will or through necessity was recently discussed in another group. I thought Arminius' comments on the matter were interesting and I tend to agree that God is good by necessity.

http://travelah.blogspot.com/2009/08/arminius-on-whether-god-is-freely-good.html

Steven Carr said...

'Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot.'

The angels that never rebelled against God?

Jesus?

Jesus very possibly could have sinned. It would not have been against his nature to have chosen sin.

We know that, because Lewis says that all creatures with free will have a nature such that they can choose sin.

The nature of all creatures with free will is such that they can choose to sin.

Lewis can't even conceive of that being false.

Steven Carr said...

'Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having'

I wonder why people think their dogs love them, and why they love their dogs when leading Christian philosophers assure us that there is no love possible , as a dog does not have free will.

I guess people just aren't good at philosophy. They love their dogs, the idiots!

Gordon Knight said...

why assume dogs don't have free will?

Steven Carr said...

Because by the logic of Lewis's arguments, if dogs had free will, we would have to hold them morally responsible for their actions.

And Jesus would have to die for their sins. I'm not sure what sort of doggie-style death would count as an atonement for dog sins.

Let's not go there, and just accept that Homo sapiens have free will and that is what distinguishes us from animals.

arminianperspectives said...

Please note that I wrote "genuine" relationship.

We can come up with all kinds of "relationships", but we are trying to be rather specific here. I have a "relationship" with my keyboard in a sense, and certainly an abusive father has a relationship with his child. "Good" would be a decent qualifier (i.e. pleasing and satisfying to both parties involved), but perhaps good and right (morally virtuous), along with genuine (i.e. not preprogrammed or caused by “love potion”) is the best way to go. Again, it comes down to the ability to trust or reject God.

I could program my computer to say “I love you” every morning. However, I would not get any satisfaction from such a declaration of love since it is simply the inevitable result of my programming it to say something. One might argue that I would have some sort of relationship with my computer, but it would be hard to say it was pleasing and satisfactory for both parties. Even if I could program my computer to feel some sort of way about me, it would not make the relationship satisfying to me and a “genuinely” satisfying relationship should involve satisfaction from both ends.

Likewise, it is hard to imagine that God (the most genuine Being in the universe) would be satisfied with the love and devotion from His creatures that He irresistibly caused them to give Him. He might even cause them to be satisfied with the relationship, but that would not make it satisfying to God, and would therefore not constitute a genuinely good relationship in the context we are discussing.

I think the strongest support for God’s desire for genuine relationship comes from basic and fundamental Biblical concepts like sacrifice and self-denial (key concepts that best describe how love should look). The Bible calls on us to give ourselves as living sacrifices to God, and to deny self for the sake of pleasing God. Such things are extremely satisfying to God as they constitute the purest acts of love that we are capable of performing.

But if God controls our will then concepts like sacrifice seem to lose all meaning. Sacrifice and self-denial presuppose control over our own wills. It is essentially submitting our will to the will of God. It is how we show that we value God above all else, even our own selves. But if we have no control over our wills then it is senseless to talk about self-denial. We cannot deny self if we have no control over self. We cannot yield our wills to God if we have no control over our wills.

So it seems self-evident that control over our wills is fundamental to loving God in a way that the Bible describes as genuine and pleasing to God. It is hard to make any sense of the virtue of self-denial and sacrifice, or even make sense of the concepts themselves, within a purely deterministic framework. I think that was what Lewis was getting at, and I think it is a solid point. There are many other factors to consider, but I think that gets to the heart of the matter.

Personally, I don’t hold to a belief in free will because it gets God off the hook for anything, or accomplishes this or that for a certain theological view point. I hold to it and value it because I believe the word of God teaches it and values it. Anything beyond that is secondary.

God Bless,
Ben

Peter Pike said...

Ben said:
---
Please note that I wrote "genuine" relationship.
---

That's just argument by adjective. A dictator still has a genuine relationship with his subjects. A slave still has a genuine relationship with his master, etc.

Ben said:
---
I have a "relationship" with my keyboard in a sense...
---

Of course I tried to meet you on your grounds by keeping it between people.

Ben said:
---
"Good" would be a decent qualifier (i.e. pleasing and satisfying to both parties involved), but perhaps good and right (morally virtuous), along with genuine (i.e. not preprogrammed or caused by “love potion”) is the best way to go.
---

You presuppose that the feeling of love would not be genuine if it was preprogrammed, yet that begs the very question. And no, programming a computer isn't a counter-argument since we're talking about people here, not inanimate objects.

Again, IF I hypnotize someone into loving me, they feel the EXACT same feelings and they do the EXACT same actions as someone who fell in love with me "naturally." By what basis can you say that their feelings are not genuine? The brainwashed person most certainly feels and believes that he or she is in love. As far as they are concerned, the feeling is genuine.

Ben said:
---
Likewise, it is hard to imagine that God (the most genuine Being in the universe) would be satisfied with the love and devotion from His creatures that He irresistibly caused them to give Him.
---

Argument from ignorance. Furthermore, you presuppose the reason why God created people in the first place, as if He needed satisfaction in being loved by His creation. What if God wished to create a world where He would die for some people and not for others? He would be fully satisfied, and that wouldn't require Him to be loved by anyone at all. (Note: I'm arguing a hypothetical as this is not my view, but I want you to see that your use of the term "satisfaction" is highly problematic here.)

Furthermore, as above, even if the mechanism that starts love is determined, that doesn't change the fact that it is genuine love that the person who's been altered by God feels and responds with.

Ben said:
---
Sacrifice and self-denial presuppose control over our own wills.
---

Control in what sense?

I'm Edwardian when it comes to the will, so I believe our wills are controlled by our natures. Thus, if our nature is such that we will be sacrificial, we will then will to be sacrificial when the opportunity arises.

But if we wish the will to be Libertarian, then I fail to see how there is any control of the will at all. It ends up being an arbitrary act that someone just happens to do, rather than an indication of the kind of nature a person has.

In short, if choosing to sacrifice oneself is claimed to be an indication of the character of a person, then that assumes the choice flows from the nature of the person rather than from a libertarian perspective where the will is free to do anything.

Ben said:
---
It is how we show that we value God above all else, even our own selves.
---

So why couldn't God change us so that we value Him above ourselves? Where's the logical problem here?

I look forward to your response. (I mean that literally, as your responses are better than just about any other Arminian's response.)

arminianperspectives said...

I look forward to your response. (I mean that literally, as your responses are better than just about any other Arminian's response.)

Thanks Peter, nice to know you don't look down at me quite as much as other Arminians.

I do intend to reply, but probably won't get to it today and I do not have access to the internet on weekends, so I may not get to this till some time next week.

God Bless,
Ben

Robert said...

[Response to Pike part 1]

Peter Pike a Triabloger is making some of the same intentional mistakes about the issue of libertarian free will that he has made before. Apparently he did not changed his views when repeatedly corrected previously by others, so let’s point out some of these errors again for readers of this blog.

“You presuppose that the feeling of love would not be genuine if it was preprogrammed, yet that begs the very question. And no, programming a computer isn't a counter-argument since we're talking about people here, not inanimate objects.”

Note Pike is contrasting the feeling of love/outcome that results from being preprogrammed versus the feeling of love/outcome that results from NOT BEING PREPROGRAMMED. So are we to also conclude that “preprogrammed” refers to compatibilism and not preprogrammed refers to LFW?


“Again, IF I hypnotize someone into loving me, they feel the EXACT same feelings and they do the EXACT same actions as someone who fell in love with me "naturally." By what basis can you say that their feelings are not genuine? The brainwashed person most certainly feels and believes that he or she is in love. As far as they are concerned, the feeling is genuine.”

Pike misses the point here. We are not talking about **merely the outcome** (having X feelings as a result of being hypnotized/preprogrammed/radio controlled/puppeted/completely directly and continuously controlled, versus having X feelings as a result of doing so “naturally”/or freely choosing to do so). We are talking about **how you get to** the outcome.

If a predator uses a date rape drug and achieves the outcome of intimacy and two spouses freely and mutually achieve the outcome of intimacy, according to Pike it doesn’t seem to matter if one involved the date rape drug and the other was freely and lovingly chosen as long as the same outcome was achieved. Hey if the outcome is the same, then how you get there doesn’t matter, right? And that is the problem: I don’t’ believe the God who reveals Himself in the bible when it comes to our relationships with Him and with each other desires loving relationships that are forced and not freely chosen. He wants us to freely choose to love Him and love others. He doesn’t want loving actions to be forced. Pike seems to have no problem with how you get to the outcome (intimacy) regardless of if it is freely chosen or by means of a date rape drug. And Pike is arguing this way because he wants to defend his belief in exhaustive determinism.

I believe the fact that the bible explicitly states that we were created in His image shows that God does not want puppets he wants genuine human persons capable of their own thoughts and actions and who sometimes have and make their own choices (contrary to any puppet).

I also hope everyone notices here that Pike contrasted hypnotized/preprogrammed with “naturally”. “Naturally” refers to when we do intentional actions freely, when we have LFW. Hypnotized/preprogrammed refers to when we are not acting with LFW. Also note his analogies for determinism are hypnotism and preprogramming. And yet if the non-Calvinist points out that if Pike’s exhaustive determinism were true then we would all be just puppets under the total and direct and continuous control of the divine puppet master (or we would be the radio controlled actors on a stage acting out the already prewritten play), he will then object and argue “it’s not like that at all.”

Robert

Robert said...

[Response to Pike part 2]

“Furthermore, you presuppose the reason why God created people in the first place, as if He needed satisfaction in being loved by His creation.”

No that is false and Pike knows that non-Calvinists do not believe that God has needs. God is a trinity and the three persons of the trinity love each other and are completely fulfilled needing nothing, needing no other persons to experience love. God has no needs, He created us and graciously did so creating us with the capacity to love and obey Him. He did not have to do it he freely chose to do it. And as he is free he created us to be free as well.

What if God wished to create a world where He would die for some people and not for others?

Pike’s “what if” here, is directly **contradicted** by what the bible says (Jn. 3:16, 1 Jn. 2:2 etc. etc.) which were stated by biblical writers in the actual world that we now inhabit. I will take actual bible verses over Pike’s hypothetical musings any time.

He would be fully satisfied, and that wouldn't require Him to be loved by anyone at all.

Again we don’t believe that God has needs so your argument here falls flat. God did not create in order to be “fully satisfied.” And even if he created a world with no sentient beings he would still be “fully satisfied.” God does not need us. God graciously and under no compulsion created genuine human persons capable of freely choosing to love, obey and worship Him. Contrary to Pike, I believe God doesn’t want completely controlled puppets, he does not want people who are preprogrammed or hypnotized, he wants humans made in his image who are able to freely love and worship Him.

Furthermore, as above, even if the mechanism that starts love is determined, that doesn't change the fact that it is genuine love that the person who's been altered by God feels and responds with.

That’s like saying there is no difference between intimacy between spouses and a predator using a date rape drug to engage in intimacy (I mean either way the physical act is the same right?). When it comes to actions involving morality it is not just the outcome that is important, but also how you got there. Pike is arguing that if the outcome is the same (i.e. in this case “loving” actions”) then it doesn’t matter if God treats us like puppets or radio controlled planes or if he treats us as genuine humans created in his image. And this language about God “altering us” is vague but just a euphemism for “completely and directly and continuously controlling us”. The God of the necessatarian does not just sometimes alter human persons, he totally and directly and continuously controls and determines our every action.

Robert

Robert said...

[Response to Pike part 3]

“I'm Edwardian when it comes to the will, so I believe our wills are controlled by our natures. Thus, if our nature is such that we will be sacrificial, we will then will to be sacrificial when the opportunity arises.”

“Nature” is just an abstraction posited by some necessatarians like Pike (parroting Edwards) who want to find some factor that necessitates our actions. Our “natures” don’t ***do*** anything, we do. At the final judgment God is not going to be judging our “natures” and the actions necessitated by our “natures”, he is going to be judging the actions we as responsible personal agents chose to do. “Nature” is just a term we use to refer to our consistent characteristics or properties. Our “natures” like “chance” are not entities operating in the world causing outcomes. There is no such entity as a “nature” causing or bringing about anything.


“But if we wish the will to be Libertarian, then I fail to see how there is any control of the will at all. It ends up being an arbitrary act that someone just happens to do, rather than an indication of the kind of nature a person has.”

This is a really lame false dilemma (let’s call it “PIKE’S DILEMMA” since he likes to engage in it so often and so I can immediately bring it up if it comes up again): either (1) our “nature” necessitates our actions (Pike’s assumption, merely assumed never proved or shown) OR (2) “It ends up being an arbitrary act that someone just happens to do” (i.e., chance or random event). A third possibility (which happens to be Plantinga’s view and many other libertarians’ view, as well as my own) intentionally left out of “Pike’s dilemma” is this: we act as personal agents and do our actions for reasons. An agent-causal-reasons explanation does not involve our action being (1) necessitated by our “nature” nor is it (2) a chance/random event.

If I raise my hand in class to alert the professor that I have a question that I want answered, my arm did not raise by chance nor was it necessitated by my “nature”. No, I the person, the agent, made a decision in my mind to ask the question and so then I brought about the raising of my arm through my body. Now random hand raising would be random if I had no intention of raising my hand in the class and at times it just popped up for no rhyme or reason. And Pike ought to very acquainted with agent causation and doing things for reasons because he himself (like every one of us) experiences this daily. But note carefully he presents “Pike’s dilemma” as his argument that our “natures” necessitate our actions. I guess we’re supposed to see these two options and think: “well our intentional actions are not random or chance events, so we have to rule out (2) so it must be (1) that our “natures” necessitate our intentional actions.” That would be an easy victory if we, like Scarecrow, didn’t have a brain. If only I had a dollar for every time that Pike argues that intentional actions must result from our “natures” or they would be random, chance events! :-)

Robert

Robert said...

[Response to Pike part 4]

‘In short, if choosing to sacrifice oneself is claimed to be an indication of the character of a person, then that assumes the choice flows from the nature of the person rather than from a libertarian perspective where the will is free to do anything.”

Here Pike presents one of his favorite intentional and false representations of LFW: “rather than from a libertarian perspective where the will is free to do anything.” “FREE TO DO ANYTHING”??? My will is not free to do anything. Pike is confusing LFW with unqualified omnipotence (i.e., I have LFW only if I can do whatever I want any time that I want to do so with no restrictions or limitations at all). If you misrepresent LFW as being the same as being omnipotent, then of course it looks foolish. But that is not the LFW view. God has LFW and he doesn’t even have the freedom “to do anything”.

I don’t think that Pike is a good person to discuss LFW with because for quite a while now he has repeatedly and intentionally misrepresented LFW. Now if no one had ever attempted to correct his misrepresentations in the past, and this was his first time discussing these things, that would be one thing. But when you tell someone over and over that that is not what we believe and they still **keep** falsely representing what you believe (i.e., keep presenting “Pike’s dilemma” and equating LFW with unqualified omnipotence) that is disingenuous.

“So why couldn't God change us so that we value Him above ourselves? Where's the logical problem here?”

There are some more loaded words again. Before it was if God just “altered us”. Now it is if he just “changes us”. Change us like a person redirecting the flight path of a radio controlled plane you mean? If we are completely predetermined as Pike wishes to believe then we are no different than radio controlled planes (we have a will, mind and thoughts but so what they are radio controlled as well). So the plane is going in one direction and then is merely redirected to go the other direction. Pike the determinist has no problems with God directly and completely and continuously controlling us in this way. Recall this is the guy who says it doesn’t matter how you get to the outcome whether you were preprogrammed or hypnotized or by means of a date rape drug, doesn’t matter, as long as you get to the outcome that the “controller” wants. So he reads his notion of exhaustive determinism/total control into things and asks: why not? Well if God wants us to be truly free to have and make our own choices as He does, then he can’t be continuously controlling us. God creating humans persons and necessitating their every action while at the same time creating them to have LFW is a contradiction (just as plausible and possible as God creating a world where He does not exist).

Robert

Robert said...

Steven Carr wrote:

“Because by the logic of Lewis's arguments, if dogs had free will, we would have to hold them morally responsible for their actions.”

Only if you define free will as having the ability to do good or evil (good and evil make sense only in light of some standard, dogs do not live according to some standards, people do, hence dogs are not held to ethical standards, though their owners may be for the actions of the dog). I’ve said before that LFW is simply the capacity to have and make your own choices with these choices not being necessitated. It is not necessary that a being must be capable of sinning or doing evil in order to have free will. A dog and cat and other higher animals certainly at times have and make choices, so to an extent they have free will.

“Let's not go there, and just accept that Homo sapiens have free will and that is what distinguishes us from animals.”

That is not accurate. What makes us different from animals is not just having a mind, and having the capacity to have and make our own choices. What makes us different from the animals is our capacity for and use of language, our morality, and our capacity for worship of the true God. We are unique in our language use, higher ethics and capacity to worship God. All of these are indicative that we are created in the image of God.

Robert

William said...

-- quoting Mallett --
The issue of whether God is good by free will or through necessity was recently discussed in another group. I thought Arminius' comments on the matter were interesting and I tend to agree that God is good by necessity.
-- end quote --

The problem with determinism as it applies to God (and maybe to humans) is that most people do not allow a range of choices that are neither good nor bad. I suspect that many of our daily actions are in themselves neither good nor evil. And I suspect that there are a potentially unlimited number of choices and actions on God's part that are morally undecidable from a human viewpoint, making them effectively neither good or bad as far as we can determine this.

Lest you think I am saying God is amoral locally for us, let me explain that I would for example say that a decision on whether a gas giant planet in a far away galaxy has 16 or 17 moons might be an example of a choice in God's making of the universe which might have no humanly decidable moral qualities.

So even if God is always good, he would still have effectively infinite choices, I think.

Peter Pike said...

Robert,

TLDR.

And for the record you can save yourself some carpel tunnel syndrome. I don't read anything you write, for reasons that you're fully aware of, Henry.

arminianperspectives said...

And for the record you can save yourself some carpel tunnel syndrome. I don't read anything you write, for reasons that you're fully aware of, Henry.

I don't think Robert was writing any of that for your benefit. It is a shame that you won't bother to read it though, as he makes several solid points (a few that are essentially the same points that I would have made). Anyway, I still do intend to respond but will probably not get to it till tomorrow or later (though much of my response will likely be similar to what Robert has already written).

God Bless,
Ben

Robert said...

Hello Ben,

You wrote:

“I don't think Robert was writing any of that for your benefit. It is a shame that you won't bother to read it though, as he makes several solid points (a few that are essentially the same points that I would have made).”

You are correct. Actually I wasn’t writing for Pike’s benefit but for the sake of others so that they can see his clear errors and intentional misrepresentations of libertarian free will. It is similar to when you are witnessing and you sometimes engage a skeptic not really believing that you will persuade the skeptic, but because others are listening to the conversation. So while you are addressing the skeptics’ points you are really addressing others through the conversation.

I repeat what I said earlier about Peter Pike:

“I don’t think that Pike is a good person to discuss LFW with because for quite a while now he has repeatedly and intentionally misrepresented LFW. Now if no one had ever attempted to correct his misrepresentations in the past, and this was his first time discussing these things, that would be one thing. But when you tell someone over and over that that is not what we believe and they still **keep** falsely representing what you believe (i.e., keep presenting “Pike’s dilemma” and equating LFW with unqualified omnipotence) that is disingenuous.”

Ben you also wrote:

“Anyway, I still do intend to respond but will probably not get to it till tomorrow or later (though much of my response will likely be similar to what Robert has already written).”

I will look forward to your future posting Ben. And if you want to quote me to make your points fine, some people need to hear it from different people.

Robert

Peter Pike said...

Ben said:
---
I don't think Robert was writing any of that for your benefit.
---

I know. He was writing it for HIS benefit. That's why he constantly rambles on and on, responding with six paragraphs with what could be said in one sentence, etc. You don't see very many other people who have to preface their responses with "Part 1" and you sure don't see anyone other than Robert hit "part 5."

I doubt very many people read through all of Robert's posts anyway. Maybe they make it through his first series, but when you realize he just repeats ad nauseum the very points that have already been refuted as if they've never been refuted, it quickly becomes obvious there's no reason to read Robert, even if he miraculously contains some nugget of wisdom hidden somewhere in there.

Be that as it may, that is not the ultimate reason that I refuse to read Robert/Henry's posts. He is a dishonest man, a gossip, and a hypocrite. None of these traits have endeared him to me in the past, and therefore I have nothing to do with the man.

Ben said:
---
It is a shame that you won't bother to read it though, as he makes several solid points
---

Any point he could possibly make would be better made by you anyway. And if there's any shame here, it's only a shame that Robert/Henry has behaved the way he has.

Ben said:
---
Anyway, I still do intend to respond...
---

When you do, I'll look forward to reading it.

arminianperspectives said...

Peter,

I hate to keep putting this off, and I had hoped to get a response up today, but it looks like I won't be able to get a response up till Tues. (I have Mon. off).

Thanks for being patient, and please don't assume that because it is taking me so long to reply that it necessarily means my response will be that much better, though of course I hope it will be decent enough.

God Bless,
Ben

arminianperspectives said...

Peter,

I wanted to give a detailed response and nearly got carpel tunnel syndrome writing it. I will understand if it is too much for you to read, and if you respond I may not respond further as it has the potential to get very cumbersome after this. However, I might just offer what I feel to be necessary clarifications if you do decide to respond. Also, I want to remind you that though I do think that we have good reasons for viewing freedom as necessary grounds for what we would tend to consider “genuine” relationships of love and trust, this is not a defense of free will itself.

Before addressing your specific concerns, I wanted to lay some ground work by making a few points concerning the intuitional aspects of this debate, rather than trying to explain them and reinforce them throughout my response. Now we could argue over what is intuitive and how much value we should place on intuition, but I think that the idea of freedom being a pre-requisite for genuine love is as basic and universal an intuition as one can find. I think that the vast majority of people (and that may be an understatement) would know and accept this basic point. I believe the Bible assumes this and is written with this basic presupposition in mind (since Biblical interpretation seems to be far less problematic when such freedom is assumed than when it is denied). This is not to say that intuitions cannot be wrong, but when intuitions are so basic and universal as the idea that a measure of freedom is inherent in the concept of genuine love, then we need to take that rather seriously, and if we say that the reality is, in fact, perfectly contrary to such basic human intuition, then that needs to be rigorously proven and leads to problematic implications concerning God’s integrity as well (more on that below).

It is important to remember that many Calvinist arguments are grounded in similar intuitions. Edwards appealed to intuition frequently in defending his necessitarian dogmas (which you admit to hold to), grounding arguments on what is agreeable to common sense and “common people”, etc. (see e.g., Freedom of the Will, pg. 216f.). In fact, a basic tenet of compatibilism is grounded on intuition; the idea that we always choose according to our greatest desire or strongest motive. Well, how do we know this? It would be hard to gain any traction here without an appeal to intuition of some sort. In fact, most Calvinists don’t bother to argue about this at all when discussing compatibilism; they just assume it is true and assume that anyone reading would just naturally agree. But it would be hard to mount an objective argument proving that we always choose according to our greatest desire (at least without reducing it to mere tautology). And this is just one of many such appeals to intuition common in Calvinist argumentation.

Continued below…

arminianperspectives said...

Continued from above,

I think that our basic human intuition concerning love being rooted in freedom is stronger than any Calvinist intuition to the contrary. So if it comes down to two opposing intuitions concerning the nature of love, the Arminian position would agree with and match what just about everybody naturally thinks and feels (and, not surprisingly, what the Bible seems to plainly presuppose). This seems to be what Lewis took for granted in his argument, and I think he had good reason to do so. However, I do think there are objective points to be made and illustrations that can help us see that this intuition is valid, especially when compared to the Calvinist position.

Ben said:
---
I have a "relationship" with my keyboard in a sense...
---

Of course I tried to meet you on your grounds by keeping it between people.


I appreciate that, but “between people” presupposes a distinction in the persons with regards to the basics of that relationship. If people are just preprogrammed as Calvinism suggests, then there is not really any significant difference between “people” and “computers” with regards to relationship. The problem with relationships between people (or persons) in Calvinism is that the lines of what constitutes a “person” and meaningful interactions between “persons” gets terribly blurred. This gets us to a fundamental issue. In the Calvinist scheme, God irresistibly controlling individuals to love Him is essentially God loving Himself through them. Their every thought and feeling is irresistibly caused by God and is, to that extent, just God expressing Himself to Himself. It is like God telling Himself that He loves Himself. It really boils down to a single person in the “relationship” since the other “person” cannot freely love God, but is rather irresistibly caused to feel and express “love” for God by God Himself.

So, much of the Arminian argument for the need for freedom in a relationship comes from a fundamental conviction of what it means to be a person (or at least the fullest expression of what it means to be a personal being). Relationship has to do with interaction between persons and interaction between persons presupposes that those persons are capable of independent actions (what we might call their own proper acts). If God is the only true actor in the universe and all of His creatures are essentially passive conduits through which God expresses Himself in various ways (by meticulously and irresistibly determining and controlling their every thought, desire, and action; however He may go about doing that), then it would seem to follow that God is the only real person in the universe as well. So it is strange that you want to focus on “people” rather than machines, when it seems that you need to presuppose my position in order for that distinction to be really meaningful (and it is meaningful, precisely because without freedom there is only one true person in the “relationship” between God and His creature, which makes the notion of “relationship” extremely strained, if not plainly absurd).

Continued below…

arminianperspectives said...

Continued from above,
Ben said:
---
"Good" would be a decent qualifier (i.e. pleasing and satisfying to both parties involved), but perhaps good and right (morally virtuous), along with genuine (i.e. not preprogrammed or caused by “love potion”) is the best way to go.
---

You presuppose that the feeling of love would not be genuine if it was preprogrammed, yet that begs the very question. And no, programming a computer isn't a counter-argument since we're talking about people here, not inanimate objects.


But it doesn’t really matter if we are talking about “people” and not inanimate objects, if, with regards to relationships, there is no significant difference in how they operate (see above). If love presupposes freedom, then there will always be a difference between a genuine feeling of love and one that has been preprogrammed. And if we truly sense that the basis of love is freedom (as I think we all intuitively do), and yet that love is not based on freedom, then our intuitions, also irresistibly caused by God (according to determinism), are deceiving us to value freedom in love (and even define love by that freedom) when God himself does not value freedom in love, nor define love by freedom, simultaneously causing us to most naturally view and value love in the context of a freedom that does not exist.

Furthermore, we generally recognize that genuine love is more than a feeling, but a determinative act of will involving some level of self-sacrifice (1 Cor. 13:5, “[love] does not seek its own”). Our love for one another is not always accompanied by feeling, but is often driven by our own self-resolving act of commitment to someone (a truly independent personal being other than ourselves), regardless of how we may feel. So again, intuitively we all seem to recognize that freedom serves as a basis of love and sacrifice (a profound expression of love). But if determinism is true then all such intuition is simply God deceiving us to define and value love on the basis of a freedom that does not exist.

Continued below…

arminianperspectives said...

Continued from above,

Again, IF I hypnotize someone into loving me, they feel the EXACT same feelings and they do the EXACT same actions as someone who fell in love with me "naturally." By what basis can you say that their feelings are not genuine? The brainwashed person most certainly feels and believes that he or she is in love. As far as they are concerned, the feeling is genuine.

This may be true, but again, we recognize that love is more than feelings. However, you make a distinction here between something being genuine and just “feeling” genuine, and that is an important distinction. Something may feel genuine and yet not be genuine. So if we are talking about objective reality, then we are more concerned with how things truly are, rather than how things may feel or appear to be (and I think God, who is Truth, is rather concerned about objective reality, hence the “thou shalt not lie…bear false witness” types of commands).

One could hypnotize someone into believing that she is a chicken and even act like a chicken (maybe even feel a little like a chicken), but in reality she is not a chicken. In reality, she is a person made to believe something and act like something, or even feel like something that is contrary to reality. We wouldn’t say someone is genuinely a chicken because he or she has been made to act, think, and feel like a chicken.

So if the reality of the situation is that love is based on freedom (as is widely held and intuitively obvious), and derives value from that freedom, then any feeling of love or acts that might flow from that feeling that are not, in fact, rooted in freedom, cannot be said to be “genuine” (regardless of how they might “feel”, etc.). Rather, they are deceptive and counterfeit. One wouldn’t consider someone a chicken (even if that person thought of herself as a chicken) because we know the fundamental and inherent difference between chickens and people. Likewise, we shouldn’t consider manufactured love, however genuine it may “seem” or “feel”, genuine love, because we know the fundamental and inherent difference between false love (that based on irresistible causation) and genuine love (that based on freedom). [If we don’t like the example of a chicken above since chickens are not persons, we could just substitute someone being made to believe that he is a chicken with someone being made to believe that he is Elvis, etc.]

Continued below…

arminianperspectives said...

Continued from above,

Ben said:
---
Likewise, it is hard to imagine that God (the most genuine Being in the universe) would be satisfied with the love and devotion from His creatures that He irresistibly caused them to give Him.
---

Argument from ignorance. Furthermore, you presuppose the reason why God created people in the first place, as if He needed satisfaction in being loved by His creation. What if God wished to create a world where He would die for some people and not for others? He would be fully satisfied, and that wouldn't require Him to be loved by anyone at all. (Note: I'm arguing a hypothetical as this is not my view, but I want you to see that your use of the term "satisfaction" is highly problematic here.)


Satisfaction is subjective and so I agree that it is not definitive. However, if we agree that God is a God of truth, then we can assume that only things which are based on truth are pleasing to Him. So it is not that God needs to be loved by His creatures in order to be satisfied, or needs to create creatures that will freely love Him in order to feel satisfaction, but that having created creatures in His image, He would not be satisfied with anything less than genuine responses from those creatures. Otherwise, He would take pleasure in falsehood and be less than a God of truth.

In fact, we can say that truth is fundamental to love, since love “rejoices with truth”, and likewise God, who “is love”, rejoices with truth and therefore could not be satisfied with creating feelings of love which were not in fact (i.e., in reality) genuine.

Continued below…

arminianperspectives said...

Continued from above,

Furthermore, as above, even if the mechanism that starts love is determined, that doesn't change the fact that it is genuine love that the person who's been altered by God feels and responds with.

It does according to the points I made above. A good analogy that I have used in the past and Robert used in his recent responses is a hypothetical situation regarding a date rape drug. Suppose someone slipped a date rape drug into the drink of a girl he wanted to be intimate with, who would otherwise never give him the time of day. After the drug takes effect, the girls’ inhibitions are destroyed and she, upon some mild coaxing, “desires” to have sex with the person who gave her the drug and “willingly” has sex with him as a result. We would not normally consider the desire and “willing” act of sex that irresistibly results from the drug an act of genuine love, nor would we even hold the girl accountable for her actions at any point after the drug was administered. So I think your argument breaks down rather badly at this point.

Ben said:
---
Sacrifice and self-denial presuppose control over our own wills.
---

Control in what sense?


In the sense that it does not make control into what we do of irresistible necessity in accordance with an unchangeable eternal decree. Or, control in the sense that one can either make the sacrifice or not (see e.g. 1 Cor 7:36-38 on control over the will and my comments above regarding sacrifice being a profound expression of love as described in 1 Cor. 13:5). It strains basic language to consider an act of sacrifice as something that we must do and cannot possibly avoid doing.

Continued below…

arminianperspectives said...

Continued from above,

I'm Edwardian when it comes to the will, so I believe our wills are controlled by our natures. Thus, if our nature is such that we will be sacrificial, we will then will to be sacrificial when the opportunity arises.

But this renders incoherent the concept of sacrifice. If we cannot help but to be sacrificial then it ceases to be sacrificial. Freedom is just as inherent in sacrifice as it is in love, and this is just as universally intuitive. Self-denial, by definition, assumes the power to deny self, to willingly overcome that which is our most basic desire, or most basic to our nature, .g. self gratification or self-preservation, etc. (and BTW, I would say that free will is basic to our constitution, so it is in that sense part of our nature).

But if we wish the will to be Libertarian, then I fail to see how there is any control of the will at all. It ends up being an arbitrary act that someone just happens to do, rather than an indication of the kind of nature a person has.

I fail to see why an act controlled by the person is necessarily arbitrary. That seems like an assertion that needs to be proved rather than assumed. I would describe libertarian free will decisions as decisions that are made based on reasons or causes that the agent considers, but not reasons or causes that are necessitating or irresistible in that all power of alternative volition is effectively denied. A Will that possesses alternative power has all that is necessary for the deliberate and reasonable choosing of one way just as well as the other. BTW, did God elect you for salvation of necessity (i.e. he had to choose you for salvation, couldn’t possibly have chosen to pass you over instead)? If not, then did God “just happen” to elect you?

Continued below…

arminianperspectives said...

Continued from above,

In short, if choosing to sacrifice oneself is claimed to be an indication of the character of a person, then that assumes the choice flows from the nature of the person rather than from a libertarian perspective where the will is free to do anything.

First, I wouldn’t say the will is free to do anything (there is often a great deal of limitations involved in what the will is free to do). That’s not the Arminian position (and it would be nice if Calvinists would stop pretending it is). Second, I don’t necessarily object that sacrifice might flow from someone’s character (if that is what you mean by nature), but that would be character which is formed largely on the basis of free choice, and even that character would not irresistibly control the act (even though it could be said that the act flows from said character). Third, sacrifice implies the power to overcome a basic desire, which in turn presupposes the ability to freely value one thing over another thing that would normally be considered more valuable or desirable. This is the same basic point regarding love above. Freedom seems to so obviously underlie sacrifice, that it would take far more effort to try to invalidate those basic intuitions.

It gets back to the idea of God’s integrity as well. If God irresistibly causes us to sacrifice something to Him, then God is really causing us to value Him above that thing needing to be sacrificed. So we are not really valuing God above anything, but God is just valuing Himself through us. It really robs us and God of that sacrifice that God would be most pleased with, the surrendering of our will to the will of God (which underlies sacrifice and self-denial). Yet, if we do not have control over our will, we cannot freely surrender it to God. God could cause us to surrender our will, but that would involve us in difficulties regarding the distinctions in persons again (the will being a primary aspect of what it means to be the fullest expression of an independent personal being). Here is a helpful illustration I found that puts this in perspective (and is applicable to both love and sacrifice).

Continued below…

arminianperspectives said...

Continued from above,

You earlier mentioned that a relationship between a master and a slave is still genuine, but imagine a king having a little gadget that enabled him to plant and control every thought the slave had. The king would type into the gadget the thoughts and feelings he wanted the slave to have, and in this way control every thought, desire and action of the slave. We could imagine such an interaction as follows:

King: Hello Percy, how are you today.

Then, the king inputs these words into the slave's brain and will:

Slave: Good sir. How are you today? I must say you look rather magnificent.

King: Well thank you Percy. You are a very discerning slave. What do you think is most magnificent about me?

Then the king types in these words that the slave automatically thinks and respond with as a result.

Slave: Well sir, that's hard to say. There's so much. But if I have to pick one thing, oh I guess I would say it's your amazing intellect. I mean, I could go on and on about your incredible wisdom.

King: That's enough Percy. My fingers are getting tired from typing. Perhaps later I will implant in you pleasure at recounting that which I consider my own great wisdom when I am feeling up to thinking it all up and typing it all out for processing into your brain and emotions. Go clean the castle now.

Then the king types in these words:

Slave: Yes, sir. It will be my pleasure sir. I will love cleaning the castle and I will love recounting your great wisdom whenever you bring it to pass. You're great!

Now, I think that most people would immediately say that such a “relationship” was not genuine. I think that most people would realize that there is really only one person acting in such a scenario and one personality being expressed, due to the fact that Percy has no control over his thoughts, desires, will, and interactions with the king, along with the fact that his every word of praise, or act of sacrifice, or feelings of appreciation and love were irresistibly given to him and caused by the king. We can also see how hard it would be to consider such a king a person of great integrity, or someone who highly values truth, or is worthy of praise.

Continued below…

arminianperspectives said...

Continued from above,

Ben said:
---
It is how we show that we value God above all else, even our own selves.
---

So why couldn't God change us so that we value Him above ourselves? Where's the logical problem here?


He could, but the problems are numerous as explained above.

Sarah Fremont said...

Dominic Bnonn Tennant--
You might be interested in The Great Divorce, also by C.S. Lewis. In it he discusses the effect of linear time or its absence on free will.
Your argument hinges on linear time. Since God does not inhabit linear time the way we do, his nature can be constant without eliminating the idea of God's free will to choose such a nature.
Also, if acceptance of salvation is a choice requiring free will (Lewis obviously believes it is), and heaven is outside of linear time, it could be filled with beings who have already chosen the love and goodness and joy worth having (exercising their free will), and are now exercising their own constant, eternal nature. Beings who chose good, having been given a choice between good and evil, would have essentially chosen who they would be in eternity. So, their choice to accept salvation for eternity would have determined their eternal nature when removed from time. An action outside of that chosen nature would be impossible, and if choosing salvation over the alternative is a prerequisite for being in heaven, all the beings there would have chosen a constant goodness inconsistent with sin. In essence, instead of choosing individual actions (as free will requires us to within the context of time), they would choose themselves. All actions would stem from that eternal choice.
I'm not a philosopher and I'm just brainstorming, so you might be able to find holes in that. Please, let me know if you do. But your post made me think. So, thank you.