Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Predestination and Health Care

Some people see the passage of the health care bill as the end of civilization is we know it. I think the bill, while not perfect, will do more good than harm. Many of my fellow Christians disagree with me on this. Now, if you are a political conservative and an Arminian, like bossmanham, you can explain the passage of the health care bill in terms of the abuse of human free will. If you are a Calvinist, the nultimately, the bill passed because God, before the foundation of the world, chose, in his infinite wisdom, to decree that the bill should pass 219-213, with the exact wording in it that it in fact has. Who are you, o man, to answer back to God?

Well, I suppose if you're a Calvinist, you've already swallowed the Holocaust and eternal hell as predestined by God, so I suppose to object to the predestination of Obamacare would be straining at a gnat after having swallowed a camel. And yes, Calvinism does not say that God morally approves of all the actions he predestines us people perform, so that, yes, he has a good purpose for doing it, no, we don't know what it is, and no, that doesn't excuse the perpertrators of the offense.

Still, the whole thing strikes me as ironic.

87 comments:

Steven said...

An Arminian should still think that God planned such an event. Surely God knew in creating the world as he did that such an event would come to pass, and decided to make the world anyway.

Victor Reppert said...

But a world with Obamacare in it was the best world he could come up with, given the fact that all creaturely essences suffer from transworld depravity.

steve said...

"Some people see the passage of the health care bill as the end of civilization is we know it. I think the bill, while not perfect, will do more good than harm. Many of my fellow Christians disagree with me on this. Now, if you are a political conservative and an Arminian, like bossmanham, you can explain the passage of the health care bill in terms of the abuse of human free will. If you are a Calvinist, the nultimately, the bill passed because God, before the foundation of the world, chose, in his infinite wisdom, to decree that the bill should pass 219-213, with the exact wording in it that it in fact has. Who are you, o man, to answer back to God?"

Of course, God also decreed our opposition to Obamacare. Therefore, our opposition is not "answering back to God."

And if we successfully repeal Obamacare, or vote the Democrats out of office in November, then God predestined that outcome as well.

Therefore, your feeble attempt to turn predestination against us misfires.

Victor Reppert said...

I gave the Calvinist rebuttal to any attempt to give this as a refutation. You do maintain that God predestined that the bill would pass, even though you also believe that it was wrong for it to pass.

Still, take it easy on poor old Obama. On your own view, he's just doing what God, before the foundation of the world, predestined that he should do. If you guys are right, he couldn't have done otherwise. I mean, he can't do otherwise, and, I suppose, you can't do otherwise but oppose his policies root and branch. Still, as I said, the poor guy is just a pawn of predestination, just as you and I are. There but for the grace of God goes Steve Hays.

Kevin Jackson said...

As an Arminian, I freely think this law stinks to high heaven. And it could have been otherwise. :)

drwayman said...

Consider our Amish brothers. They don't participate in the political process because they believe it all to be predetermined. They also won't sue or bring legal charges against individuals whose cars collide with their buggies as that action was "God's will." Sounds fatalistic to me.

steve said...

Victor Reppert said...

"I gave the Calvinist rebuttal to any attempt to give this as a refutation. You do maintain that God predestined that the bill would pass, even though you also believe that it was wrong for it to pass."

You're confounding divine and human motives. The fact that God has a praiseworthy reason for ordaining the passage of Obamacare doesn't mean that Democrats have a praiseworthy reason.

God himself can have a praiseworthy motive for ordaining a blameworthy motive on the part of a human agent pursuant to God's overarching agenda. I

It's like a novelist who creates a villainous character to make a point for the benefit of the reader.

And something can be wrong in and of itself even though it serves a greater good.

Moreover, opposition to Obamacare can also serve a greater good. That's part of the dialectical process. Bringing good out of evil. A second-order good.

"Still, take it easy on poor old Obama."

If I'm hard on Obama, then I was predestined to be hard on Obama. So my opposition to Obama is not in conflict with predestination.

You're straining to generate a cute little dilemma for Calvinists, but it doesn't work since there is no tension between my actions and divine predestination.

"On your own view, he's just doing what God, before the foundation of the world, predestined that he should do. If you guys are right, he couldn't have done otherwise. I mean, he can't do otherwise, and, I suppose, you can't do otherwise but oppose his policies root and branch. Still, as I said, the poor guy is just a pawn of predestination, just as you and I are."

Which includes reprobate pawns and well as elect pawns. If God didn't go easy on the reprobate pawns, then why should I?

Your argument is muddle-headed. You initially attempted to present an internal critique of Calvinism. However, for reasons I've given, that fell flat.

You then smuggle in your own standard of moral valuation, which is contingent on the freedom to do otherwise. On those grounds, you say I shouldn't be so hard on Obama.

However, that's no longer an internal critique of Calvinism. So your whole exercise backfires. Instead of exposing the (alleged) inconsistencies within Calvinism, you expose the inconsistencies within your argument against Calvinism.

So thanks for unwittingly making a case for Calvinism.

Darren said...

Responding to Steve:

He shoots, he scores. Great rebuttals.

normajean said...

Steve, you're speaking about Divine Sov like a good Arminian. Are you really comfortable with divine permission talk? I thought that ran against popular Calvinist teaching.

bossmanham said...

Of course, God also decreed our opposition to Obamacare. Therefore, our opposition is not "answering back to God."

Heh, then nothing at all is answering back to God, since everything is made necessary by God.

bossmanham said...

God himself can have a praiseworthy motive for ordaining a blameworthy motive on the part of a human agent pursuant to God's overarching agenda

Yes. This is how my puppet shows often go as well.

steve said...

normajean said...

"Steve, you're speaking about Divine Sov like a good Arminian. Are you really comfortable with divine permission talk? I thought that ran against popular Calvinist teaching."

i) Quote where I used "divine permission talk" in my response to Reppert.

ii) And if you think that's contrary to Calvinism, try boning up on Helm's analysis of divine permission vis-a-vis Calvinism.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"Yes. This is how my puppet shows often go as well."

Thanks for illustrating, once more, the inability of Arminians to offer intelligent feedback.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"Heh, then nothing at all is answering back to God, since everything is made necessary by God."

I was responding to Reppert on his own terms–which doesn't mean I define "answering back to God" the way he does.

But, of course, I wouldn't expect you to register that distinction since you've never demonstrated any capacity for honest debate.

bossmanham said...

Thanks for illustrating, once more, the inability of Arminians to offer intelligent feedback.

This in no way illustrates anything of the sort, Steve. There's no rational justification for you to claim such a thing when someone simply offers a droll quip about what is said in an internet combox debate. You don't have a cumulative case at all, which would be required to even attempt to show that there are no Arminians who are able to offer intelligent feedback.

Frankly, your comment shows an unwillingness to address the specific criticism I offered and an inability to recognize facetious comments.

bossmanham said...

I was responding to Reppert on his own terms–which doesn't mean I define "answering back to God" the way he does.

I recognized that and was commenting on the logical conclusion of your statement.

drwayman said...

Steve - I need you to define yourself a bit better. When you said, "Of course, God also decreed our opposition to Obamacare. Therefore, our opposition is not "answering back to God."

What went thru my thinking was the verse that Dr. Reppert was referring to in Isaiah 29:16.

To me, you said, God decreed Obamacare then decreed that you fight Obamacare, "if we successfully repeal Obamacare."

To me that sounds like God can't make up His mind about how He feels about Obamacare. Wouldn't it have been a lot simpler for God to just not decree Obamacare or Obama in the first place?

So, to fight the God ordained Obamacare ("if we successfully repeal Obamacare") is like answering back to God is it not? Is not the pot ("we" the society) telling the potter how to make society?

I think that the Amish may be on to something as they follow Rom 13:1 and Titus 3:1...

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"This in no way illustrates anything of the sort, Steve. There's no rational justification for you to claim such a thing when someone simply offers a droll quip about what is said in an internet combox debate."

What was the issue as Reppert framed it? One of internal consistency. Is it coherent for a Calvinist to object to Obamacare given his belief in predestination. That was the issue.

You're robotic metaphor is entirely irrelevant to the issue at hand. At best, that reflects your Arminian presuppostions.

But the issue, as Reppert originally framed his objection, wasn't judging Calvinism by somebody else's theological system, but judging Calvinism on its own grounds.

"You don't have a cumulative case at all, which would be required to even attempt to show that there are no Arminians who are able to offer intelligent feedback."

Of course, we have a cumulative case for all of the equally frivolous objections you've raised at other times and venues. And, indeed, both Paul Manata and Steve Eames have argued circles around you.

You are, of course, welcome to disqualify yourself from the ranks of Arminians who are able to offer intelligent feedback, and nominate a more promising candidate. What nominee did you have in mind?

"Frankly, your comment shows an unwillingness to address the specific criticism I offered and an inability to recognize facetious comments."

Facetious comments are your stock-and-trade. And when you constantly default to the robotic metaphor, you illustrate (once again) your chronic inability to operate at something above a 3rd grade level.

steve said...

drwayman said...

"To me that sounds like God can't make up His mind about how He feels about Obamacare."

If a novelist or screenwriter creates a villain, gives him a measure of initial success, and also create a hero who, in a later scene or chapter, will defeat the villain, does this mean the novelist/screenwriter can't make up his mind about how he feels concerning his characters?

No, it's a way of making a point for the benefit of the reader or moviegoer.

And what about Arminian theology? Does God approve or disapprove of the Holocaust? Assuming that he disapproves of the Holocaust, it lay within his power to prevent the Holocaust.

Does this mean the Arminian God can't make up his mind about the Holocaust? That he's conflicted about the Holocaust?

And spare me the freewill defense. For God allowed Nazis to override the freedom of Jewish victims. So it's not as if God refrains from intervening because he has to respect everybody's freedom.

"So, to fight the God ordained Obamacare ('if we successfully repeal Obamacare') is like answering back to God is it not? Is not the pot ('we' the society) telling the potter how to make society?"

Both you and Reppert fail to distinguish between decree and precept. Try again.

Victor Reppert said...

I included this in my original post, which is being overlooked.

"And yes, Calvinism does not say that God morally approves of all the actions he predestines us people perform, so that, yes, he has a good purpose for doing it, no, we don't know what it is, and no, that doesn't excuse the perpertrators of the offense."

That pretty much sums of Steve's replies.

That is the Calvinist reply, isn't it. If you really buy the whole idea that you can be fully and completely blameworthy for something that God predestined you to do, while at the same time God is blameless for predestining you to do that very thing, then you can deal with Obamacare.

Nevertheless, the whole thing strikes me as horrendously weird.

drwayman said...

Steve - Thanks for your response. Your idea of a screenwriter/author is valid if you assume an austere, detached God. However, I believe that the Bible teaches that God wants to have a personal relationship with us.

To improve on your analogy, the author would write the story and as he inserts characters, he would then receive feedback from the characters about how the story goes. If the author wants, he can override this feedback or he can incorporate this feedback into the plot.

This is much like what God does. He loves us so much that He wants a personal relationship with us and wants to know what we think/feel. If He wants, He can override our will or as you so aptly put, "gives him (us) a measure of initial success" or God can listen and give us what we want. What we want is not always a good thing as God showed the Israelites when they demanded a king which was against what God wanted.

That's my $0.02 worth. Thanks for reading.

bossmanham said...

You're robotic metaphor is entirely irrelevant to the issue at hand. At best, that reflects your Arminian presuppostions.

How is the criticism that determinism seems to be analogous to a puppet show irrelevant here? Dr. Reppert's critique was not only about the inconsistency of the Calvinist's position internally, but also what implications divine determinism has upon the motives of God. You then said, "God himself can have a praiseworthy motive for ordaining a blameworthy motive on the part of a human agent pursuant to God's overarching agenda," to which I then made my comment. So I'm actually taking your defense of your position and saying what it looks like.

You're claim that I am bringing up irrelevant issues is inaccurate. It's just hand waving.

Of course, we have a cumulative case for all of the equally frivolous objections you've raised at other times and venues. And, indeed, both Paul Manata and Steve Eames have argued circles around you.

I suppose that's up to ones own opinion and standing on the issues. I don't remember having any protracted debates with Paul lately, although he and I have had some friendly exchanges more recently. Steven and I have discussed freedom as it relates to God's foreknowledge, and I really haven't seen him trump anything I have argued.

But again, you're not presenting anything in terms of evidence to support your claim that Arminians can't respond intelligently. Even if it were true that you had a lot of stupid statements from me, that doesn't constitute a cumulative case against all Arminians. Does your fallacious reasoning know any bounds, Steve?

Facetious comments are your stock-and-trade

This is fairly ironic to anyone who has ever spent more than 5 minutes on your blog.

And when you constantly default to the robotic metaphor, you illustrate (once again) your chronic inability to operate at something above a 3rd grade level.

Well, when you present an argument that shows that even though God has made necessary all events and no creature can do other than what has been foreordained and that seems to be fairly analogous to a puppet show, somehow it's nothing like a puppet show, then maybe you'll stop getting those contentions. It's not like I'm the only one who's argued that that's what deterministic Calvinism looks like. There are guys with Ph. D's who argue the same thing. So these issues clearly can't be confined to third graders. Pretty ironic how the person insulting others here is accusing them of acting like a third grader.

bossmanham said...

Dr. W said

Your idea of a screenwriter/author is valid if you assume an austere, detached God.

That's not all, Dr. W. Steve, in using this analogy, just proves my puppet analogy to be appropriate. An author in writing a book is doing the same thing that a puppeteer does in his puppet show, just in a different medium. The author is causing his characters to act out specific roles that are written down. These characters can't be held responsible for what they do, partly because they aren't real. But if they were real, say the pages of the book literally came to life, then you would have preprogrammed entities performing tasks they were scripted to do. If this is how he thinks God acts, that is somewhat troubling.

So we should thank Steve for unwittingly making a point against Calvinism.

bossmanham said...

To quickly add to my last statement; not only are the actions of the author written down, but so are the motives! Everything about these villains in this book has been preprogrammed into them by the author. How can Steven make a distinction between divine and human motives when it is the divine who is creating the human motives?

steve said...

drwayman said...

"Steve - Thanks for your response. Your idea of a screenwriter/author is valid if you assume an austere, detached God."

To the contrary, a novelist/screenwriter is exhaustively involved with every single detail of the character's life. That's hardly detached.

"However, I believe that the Bible teaches that God wants to have a personal relationship with us."

Yes, Arminians like to tendentiously redefine what constitutions a "relationship," then co-opt that category. You need to argue for your definition, not take it for granted.

"To improve on your analogy, the author would write the story and as he inserts characters, he would then receive feedback from the characters about how the story goes."

Just like open theism.

"If the author wants, he can override this feedback or he can incorporate this feedback into the plot."

How does a divine novelist solicit feedback from the characters in order to compose the characters? Unless and until he composes them (to continue the metaphor), they don't exist to offer feedback. And if they exist, then that's because he already composed the characters–w/o their preliminary feedback.

"This is much like what God does. He loves us so much that He wants a personal relationship with us and wants to know what we think/feel."

So creation is a learning process for God. He doesn't know in advance what he is making. That can only be the result of his shot in the dark.

BTW, the Arminian God allows many tragedies to befall human beings-tragedies which frequently destroy any trust and good will which a human being had in God. Take the mother who, to her dying day, blames God for allowing a drunk driver to kill her only daughter in a traffic accident.

How does that foster a loving relationship?

William Watson Birch said...

Of course, God also decreed our opposition to Obamacare. Therefore, our opposition is not "answering back to God."

God is so confused . . . He exhaustively determines contraries.

bossmanham said...

BTW, the Arminian God allows many tragedies to befall human beings-tragedies which frequently destroy any trust and good will which a human being had in God. Take the mother who, to her dying day, blames God for allowing a drunk driver to kill her only daughter in a traffic accyident.

The key word is "allow." He doesn't "cause" it by executive decree. If God wants people to freely come to Him, then He must also allow people to freely reject Him.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

So God must allow a Nazi prison guard to shove a 7-year-old Jewish boy into the incinerator since the 7-year-old chose to be incinerated alive.

Arminianism has such an impressive theodicy.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

“That's not all, Dr. W. Steve, in using this analogy, just proves my puppet analogy to be appropriate. An author in writing a book is doing the same thing that a puppeteer does in his puppet show, just in a different medium.”

Not to mention the potter/clay analogy in Scripture.

“The author is causing his characters to act out specific roles that are written down. These characters can't be held responsible for what they do, partly because they aren't real. But if they were real, say the pages of the book literally came to life, then you would have preprogrammed entities performing tasks they were scripted to do. If this is how he thinks God acts, that is somewhat troubling.”

It’s only troubling if you beg the question in favor of libertarian freewill.

It’s also troubling to Arminians like Brennon because Brennon has no faith in God. Brennon doesn’t trust God with his life. Brennon doesn’t trust God to write the story of his life.

In Arminian theology, God can’t be trusted to write the story of the world.

“To quickly add to my last statement; not only are the actions of the author written down, but so are the motives! Everything about these villains in this book has been preprogrammed into them by the author. How can Steven make a distinction between divine and human motives when it is the divine who is creating the human motives?”

Well, that’s not very bright. According to Brennon’s logic, if C. S. Lewis wrote the character of the Unman (in Perelandra), then you can’t distinguish Lewis’s motives for composing the Unman from the Unman’s motives for tempting the Green Lady.

But, in fact, it’s easy to distinguish their motives. Lewis composed the Unman to make a statement about the nature of evil. About the nature of temptation. To expose the vacuity and culpability of evil.

By contrast, that isn’t what motivated the Unman to tempt the Green Lady.

bossmanham said...

So God must allow a Nazi prison guard to shove a 7-year-old Jewish boy into the incinerator since the 7-year-old chose to be incinerated alive.

It is an improved theodicy, because in Calvinism God has decreed that it should happen and it cannot happen otherwise than He decreed. I believe it could have happened differently and should have and God wanted it to. However, God has allowed people to be evil and will judge people accordingly.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

“Well, when you present an argument that shows that even though God has made necessary all events and no creature can do other than what has been foreordained and that seems to be fairly analogous to a puppet show, somehow it's nothing like a puppet show, then maybe you'll stop getting those contentions.”

i) A metaphor is not an argument. Therefore, your metaphor demands no counterargument from me. Your metaphor may be moonlighting as an argument, but it’s not an argument.

ii) Since it’s your metaphor, the onus lines on you to explicate the analogy.

And I don’t have any desire to “stop those contentions.” It’s fine with me if Arminian epologists can do no better than resorting to picture-language about robots and puppets. When that’s the intellectual level at which they operate, that’s hardly a threat to Calvinism.

It’s fine to use metaphors to illustrate an argument, but not to take the place of an argument. And even then, the metaphor needs to be an apt metaphor.

“It's not like I'm the only one who's argued that that's what deterministic Calvinism looks like. There are guys with Ph. D's who argue the same thing. So these issues clearly can't be confined to third graders. Pretty ironic how the person insulting others here is accusing them of acting like a third grader.”

i) You haven’t given an argument. You’ve merely asserted an analogy, minus the argument.

ii) BTW, did Jerry Walls, in lieu of writing a doctoral thesis, put on a performance with glove puppets?

bossmanham said...

Not to mention the potter/clay analogy in Scripture.

As misinterpreted by Calvinists maybe. Are you saying the potter/clay analogy proves divine meticulous determinism?

It’s only troubling if you beg the question in favor of libertarian freewill.

No, it troubling for anyone who would think God is good. I will admit that one of my big presuppositions is God doesn't contradict Himself in causing what He forbids. Sorry for that.

It’s also troubling to Arminians like Brennon because Brennon has no faith in God. Brennon doesn’t trust God with his life. Brennon doesn’t trust God to write the story of his life.

Oi, Steve. You've degenerated into accusing me of not being a Christian? Everything you've accused me of there is called a straw-man fallacy that employs equivocation.

Steve Hays thinks Jesus causes men to sin. See, I can do it too. Ooh!

In Arminian theology, God can’t be trusted to write the story of the world.

And Steve simply shows his debilitating lack of understanding as to what Arminians actually think. Either that or he knows he's wrong, but is lying anyway. But it's okay since God foreordained his lie. My goodness, Steve's rather extreme version of Calvinism certainly is handy if I ever want to sin against one of my brothers.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"It is an improved theodicy, because in Calvinism God has decreed that it should happen and it cannot happen otherwise than He decreed. I believe it could have happened differently and should have and God wanted it to. However, God has allowed people to be evil and will judge people accordingly."

And why does the Arminian God side with the bully? Why does the Arminian God side with the murderer?

Why doesn't he side with the 7-year-old Jewish boy?

After all, both the Nazi and the 7-year-old have freewill, right? Yet the 7-year-old didn't will to be incinerated alive. That wasn't his choice. Rather, the Nazi prison guard violated his freedom to do otherwise.

So, Brennon, why does your God take the side of the perpetrator rather than the victim?

You can't say he's respecting the freedom of the individual, for there is more than one party to this transaction, and the freedom of the stronger is exercised at the expense of the freedom of the weaker.

So why does your God respect the freedom of the Nazi killer rather than the freedom of the child victim?

How is that fair, Brennon? How is that loving, Brennon?

How is hiding behind "God allowed it" any excuse?

bossmanham said...

Well, that’s not very bright. According to Brennon’s logic, if C. S. Lewis wrote the character of the Unman (in Perelandra), then you can’t distinguish Lewis’s motives for composing the Unman from the Unman’s motives for tempting the Green Lady.

The difference is, Steve, that Lewis assumes he's writing to volitional creatures who would come to the conclusion about the moral to the story. If divine determinism is true then God would be decreeing the motive, the action, and then the learning that would take place due to the story of life, which makes your analogy even more absurd.

i) A metaphor is not an argument. Therefore, your metaphor demands no counterargument from me. Your metaphor may be moonlighting as an argument, but it’s not an argumen

Metaphors can be used to clarify arguments. But I never claimed my metaphor was an argument.

Since it’s your metaphor, the onus lines on you to explicate the analogy.

God decreeing all events means we are not really rational. All of our thoughts are made necessary for us by the determiner. Therefore no matter what one thinks they are accomplishing by thinking things out, they are really just following the determined path set out for them. Therefore they are not responsible for anything they do, but only the determiner is. As Aristotle pointed out the stone moved by the staff moved by the arm moved by the man.

It’s fine with me if Arminian epologists can do no better than resorting to picture-language about robots and puppets.

You're the only person I've ever run across who thinks it's inappropriate to use analogies and metaphors to clarify ones position. But since you've done the exact same thing in this thread to explain your own position, I know you don't actually believe that. I'll just take this as a hypocritical rhetorical maneuver done to try and make my arguments look silly or something. Kinda dishonest of you, Mr. Hays.

It’s fine to use metaphors to illustrate an argument, but not to take the place of an argument.

Huh, that's funny. Nobody has done that here. More lying, Steve? Do you explain that away with your deterministic philosophy as well?

BTW, did Jerry Walls, in lieu of writing a doctoral thesis, put on a performance with glove puppets?

You'd have to ask him.

bossmanham said...

And why does the Arminian God side with the bully? Why does the Arminian God side with the murderer?

Uhm....He doesn't?

1) It's God's prerogative whether to save said 7 year old boy or not. Since our life is a gift anyway, it is not incumbent on God to guarantee an extension.

2) The 7 year old will be avenged.

3) The murderer will be judged.

You can't say he's respecting the freedom of the individual, for there is more than one party to this transaction, and the freedom of the stronger is exercised at the expense of the freedom of the weaker.

I can say He's allowing free actions done by volitional creatures...not sure where you think this is an issue, emotionally laden language aside.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"As misinterpreted by Calvinists maybe. Are you saying the potter/clay analogy proves divine meticulous determinism?"

No, I'm saying the potter/clay metaphor is analogous to the puppet/puppeteer metaphor.

"No, it troubling for anyone who would think God is good."

So Arminians are the only folks who think God is good. Gotcha!

"I will admit that one of my big presuppositions is God doesn't contradict Himself in causing what He forbids. Sorry for that."

How convenient that God doesn't contradict himself by permitting what he forbids, even thought he could prevent it.

Moreover, the Arminian God does, indeed, cause what he forbids by creating a world in which the forbidden deed occurs. Sorry for that.

"Oi, Steve. You've degenerated into accusing me of not being a Christian?"

Let's see. You just said Calvinism is "troubling for anyone who would think God is good."

So you've degenerated into accusing Calvinists of not being Christian–since, according to you, they don't think God is good.

"Everything you've accused me of there is called a straw-man fallacy that employs equivocation."

For which you offer no argument. Are you issuing IOUs?

"And Steve simply shows his debilitating lack of understanding as to what Arminians actually think."

That accusation presumes that Arminians actually think. Thus far the evidence presented by Brennon is less than sanguine.

bossmanham said...

In fact, it's one of the weaker arguments against my position. Really it just boils down to the problem of evil used by atheists, which is pretty easy do diffuse.

Steven said...

God decreeing all events means we are not really rational. All of our thoughts are made necessary for us by the determiner. Therefore no matter what one thinks they are accomplishing by thinking things out, they are really just following the determined path set out for them. Therefore they are not responsible for anything they do, but only the determiner is. As Aristotle pointed out the stone moved by the staff moved by the arm moved by the man.

I don't understand this kind of argumentation, and I never did. How does determinism entail that no one is rational, that no one is accomplishing things by thinking them out, etc.?

I think that someone's accomplishing something by thinking things out just involves his going through a process of reasoning where he considers alternatives, makes inferences, and comes to a conclusion.

How is that not consistent with determinism?

And it is question-begging against the Calvinist to assert that the origin of the causal chain is the only person responsible for anything that happens.

Besides that, you believe God is the origin of everything that exists, in some sense, don't you? You believe God knew what the world would end up like if he made it, and he could've abstained from making it? Sounds like he's the "end of the chain" to me--so he must be the only one responsible for anything.

bossmanham said...

No, I'm saying the potter/clay metaphor is analogous to the puppet/puppeteer metaphor.

Ah, except it's not, since Paul didn't envision a God who meticulously controls all things as you do.

So Arminians are the only folks who think God is good. Gotcha!

Notice I never claimed that, Steve, but they're the only consistent ones on the subject. If God is causing that which He forbids, that has implications on the goodness of God.

Really, Steve, you are one of the most intellectually dishonest people I have ever talked with. And I've spoken with a lot of internet infidel types.

How convenient that God doesn't contradict himself by permitting what he forbids, even thought he could prevent it

If His purpose is to allow freedom, then it isn't inconsistent at all, especially if He has morally sufficient reasons for allowing independent creatures freedom.

Moreover, the Arminian God does, indeed, cause what he forbids by creating a world in which the forbidden deed occurs

No, He's only causing the conditions to exist that would allow independent creatures to sin. He doesn't cause those individual sins. Read up on necessary and sufficient conditions.

Let's see. You just said Calvinism is "troubling for anyone who would think God is good."

Oh yeah, that's the exact same thing as accusing me to be a God hater. Nice logic there, Hays.

For which you offer no argument. Are you issuing IOUs?

No, I just know when it isn't the time to throw pearls before swine (yes I said that). I also know you know good and well the Arminian position on God's providence. You conveniently and dishonestly ignore what Arminian theologians say.

However, if you actually are ignorant of the subject, then you should familiarize yourself with it before you dishonestly criticize it.

That accusation presumes that Arminians actually think. Thus far the evidence presented by Brennon is less than sanguine.

Haha. Steve, I truly pity you. I do.

bossmanham said...

How does determinism entail that no one is rational, that no one is accomplishing things by thinking them out, etc.?

Because if our thought processes are determined, then the only rational creature is the determiner and He is able to direct thoughts any which way He chooses. That means that He would even direct people who end up reasoning fallaciously to think that they are reasoning properly.

bossmanham said...

You believe God knew what the world would end up like if he made it, and he could've abstained from making it?

Sure I do. I also think His purpose was to allow human freedom so as to allow the great good that would come from that (people freely choosing to enter into a relationship with Him, thereby displaying His goodness and glory). But the only way to have that is to allow human freedom, since He can't make people freely choose Him.

Steven said...

Because if our thought processes are determined, then the only rational creature is the determiner and He is able to direct thoughts any which way He chooses. That means that He would even direct people who end up reasoning fallaciously to think that they are reasoning properly.

I don't understand what you're saying. I gave a brief account of what being rational and "getting things done" is, and it seemed perfectly compatible with determinism, and you reply with this. I don't even know what to make of it, besides the fact that I see no reason to believe it until you give me a plausible account of what it is to be rational and to "get things done" incompatible with determinism.

Sure I do. I also think His purpose was to allow human freedom so as to allow the great good that would come from that (people freely choosing to enter into a relationship with Him, thereby displaying His goodness and glory). But the only way to have that is to allow human freedom, since He can't make people freely choose Him.

You ignored the rest of what I said: that it seems as if God, then, would be the "end of the causal chain", the only one ultimately responsible for anything, on your account.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"Uhm....He doesn't?"

Sure he does. The Arminian God sides with the Nazi prison guard by standing by as the Nazi tosses the 7-year-old kid kicking and screaming into the furnace.

The Nazi is bigger than the 7-year-old, but God is bigger than the Nazi. Just as the Nazi can overpower the boy, the God can overpower the Nazi. But your God doesn't do that, Brennon. So who's side is he on?

"The 7 year old will be avenged."

i) How is punishment better than prevention, Brennon?

Your God lets the prison guard incinerate the little boy, then punishes the guard after the fact. How is that morally preferable to protecting the little boy in the first place?

ii) BTW, your God could both prevent the evil deed and still punish the prison guard. He could punish the guard for his murderous intent.

"I can say He's allowing free actions done by volitional creatures...not sure where you think this is an issue..."

I already explained the issue. Weren't you paying attention?

This isn't an even playing field where every volitional creature is allowed to freely act. Rather, bullies violate the freedom of other free agents. The stronger oppress the weaker.

Both the Nazi prison guard and the 7-year-old victim were volitional agents. But the 7-year-old was no match for the Nazi. One had all the power while the other was powerless.

So how does your God's laissez-faire policy respect the freedom of all parties concerned?

Rather, your Arminian theodicy is like an orphanage in which the big kids beat up the little kids while the adults respect the freedom of the big kids and, at most, punish them after the little kids are beaten to a pulp.

How do you think that's an adequate theodicy, Brennon?

Are you even attempting to present a serious theodicy? Or is your position that anything is better than Calvinism, so as long as your own theodicy isn't "deterministic," you don't have to address the hard questions.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

“Ah, except it's not, since Paul didn't envision a God who meticulously controls all things as you do.”

So a sloppy God is better than a meticulous God. Like an automechanic who fixes one brake, but bungles the other brake job.

“Notice I never claimed that, Steve, but they're the only consistent ones on the subject.”

So Arminians are the only folks who consistent think that God is good, whereas other Christians think God is good on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but bad on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. (What about Sundays?)

“Really, Steve, you are one of the most intellectually dishonest people I have ever talked with.”

What a coincidence! That’s been my experience with Arminian epologists. It’s a small world.

“If His purpose is to allow freedom, then it isn't inconsistent at all, especially if He has morally sufficient reasons for allowing independent creatures freedom.”

Freedom for whom? For the 7-year-old whom the Nazi tossed into the furnace? Did the 7-year-old freely choose to be burned alive?

“No, He's only causing the conditions to exist that would allow independent creatures to sin.”

So the Arminian God causes what he forbids by causing the conditions to exist which eventuate in the forbidden deeds. That’s a very impressive distinction, Brennon.

Likewise, if I give a loaded revolver to a child, and he shoots himself, I’m blameless since I didn’t pull the trigger. I only caused the precipitating conditions. Arminianism has such a swell theodicy.

“Oh yeah, that's the exact same thing as accusing me to be a God hater. Nice logic there, Hays.”

Explain the difference.

“I also know you know good and well the Arminian position on God's providence.”

Which goes well beyond God merely “allowing” bad things to happen (even if, ad arguendo, bare permission were exculpatory). So that makes your position harder to defend, not less so.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"The difference is, Steve, that Lewis assumes he's writing to volitional creatures who would come to the conclusion about the moral to the story."

i) That's irrelevant to the distinction between the reason a novelist has for inventing a villainous character, and the reason which the villainous character has for doing what he does.

ii) You're also committing a level confusion between the novelist, the reader, and the characters.

iii) However, if you wish to incorporate the reader into the story, then it's quite possible for one character to learn from the experience of another character. Indeed, that's commonplace in literature.

bossmanham said...

Sure he does. The Arminian God sides with the Nazi prison guard by standing by as the Nazi tosses the 7-year-old kid kicking and screaming into the furnace.

Inaction does not equal approval. Simple logical fallacy there, Steve.

The Nazi is bigger than the 7-year-old, but God is bigger than the Nazi. Just as the Nazi can overpower the boy, the God can overpower the Nazi. But your God doesn't do that, Brennon. So who's side is he on?

It's not about whose side He's on, it's about what God's purpose is in allowing human freedom to exist, even to the extent that people abuse it.

If this is the way you reason, Steve, you sound more like an emotional little kid than a serious thinker. I hope the teacher you're a TA for is aware of your intellectual dishonest streak.

How is punishment better than prevention, Brennon?

When it includes God's purpose of allowing freedom.

Your God lets the prison guard incinerate the little boy, then punishes the guard after the fact. How is that morally preferable to protecting the little boy in the first place?

Yet it's a separate act to allow something than to cause it. God allows evil acts, but He doesn't decree that they happen and couldn't not happen. Sorry, but your attempts to paint God as a bad guy if He allows freedom look silly compared to a God that meticulously causes the evil He forbids.

your God could both prevent the evil deed and still punish the prison guard. He could punish the guard for his murderous intent.

God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil. Perhaps two others saw the evil deed and it caused them to cling closer to God as they faced their tortures? Perhaps they saw the young boy act in a courageous way which inspired them to do the same when faced with their death? Or perhaps that 7 year old boy would have grown to commit even worse atrocities if allowed to live? You, Mr. Fallible Steve Hays, are not in the position to judge what future events certain present ones will influence. You're just giving me practice in answering issues about the POE, which is why I'm engaging you.

Yet all of the issues of the POE seem somewhat shallow compared to a God who is difficult to distinguish from the devil (note that I am only saying this about your apparent view of God, not all Calvinists, since I know many who do not fall back to the theodicy you are).

Rather, your Arminian theodicy is like an orphanage in which the big kids beat up the little kids while the adults respect the freedom of the big kids and, at most, punish them after the little kids are beaten to a pulp.

Little different, since God's relation to His creation is not perfectly analogous to our relations to others. Also, God has morally sufficient reasons to allow human freedom. For instance, in this orphanage say there is a child who is picked on and the adults do nothing to stop it. When this child matures he commits to ending this kind of behavior in orphanages and enacts a group that monitors the treatment of children in orphanages, thereby making life much better for future orphans.

Or is your position that anything is better than Calvinism, so as long as your own theodicy isn't "deterministic," you don't have to address the hard questions.

Again, it is better because God is not enacting evil. He is not the direct cause of human depravity. Humans are their own direct cause of their own depravity. Are you willing to take responsibility for your own depravity, Hays, or do you enjoy pawning it off on God saying you can do it because God ordained it?

steve said...

William Watson Birch said...

"God is so confused . . . He exhaustively determines contraries."

According to Birch, God is so confused. First he makes Saul king, then he deposes him.

To paraphrase drwayman, Wouldn't it have been a lot simpler for God to just not to make Saul king in the first place?

bossmanham said...

So a sloppy God is better than a meticulous God. Like an automechanic who fixes one brake, but bungles the other brake job.

Who said God was sloppy? That's your assertion. God knows extensively what He will and will not allow to happen, and He providentially guides all creation to a glorious end. Saying that His administration and sustaining of a world of free creatures is sloppy is like saying Google is sloppy for allowing their employees to pursue their own projects freely and without meticulous oversight.

So Arminians are the only folks who consistent think that God is good, whereas other Christians think God is good on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but bad on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. (What about Sundays?)

You paint an inconsistent picture of a God you say is good, yet decrees what He forbids. If God causes the actions He says are sinful, then God is sinning. Sinners are not good, by God's own standard.

Freedom for whom? For the 7-year-old whom the Nazi tossed into the furnace? Did the 7-year-old freely choose to be burned alive?

No one stripped the volitional freedom from anyone in this situation. Physical strength cannot negate LFW, as the martyrs so bravely have shown.

So the Arminian God causes what he forbids by causing the conditions to exist which eventuate in the forbidden deeds. That’s a very impressive distinction, Brennon.

It's an important distinction, Hays. You cannot charge God with the sins of individual free creatures. They are the ones acting themselves. All you could charge God with is creating the conditions needed for human freedom, but there doesn't seem to be anything sinful about that. But then you want to charge Him with negligence for not intervening on every act of human evil, but then that would negate His purposes and the greater good that comes from allowing human freedom, which God knows and therefore has morally sufficient reasons to allow.

Likewise, if I give a loaded revolver to a child, and he shoots himself, I’m blameless since I didn’t pull the trigger.

Nope. Another poor attempt at rational thought, Hays.

i) The child shooting of himself is a different act than your negligence. Two different actions from two independent beings.

ii) You would be guilty of negligence because you have no morally sufficient reason to give the child a gun and stand by as he shoots himself.

“Oh yeah, that's the exact same thing as accusing me to be a God hater. Nice logic there, Hays.”

Explain the difference.


I never claimed you were a God hater. Can you really no see that, or are you that dishonest? Really, I'm curious.

Which goes well beyond God merely “allowing” bad things to happen

No Arminian thinks God causes human evil. Yes, my own position goes beyond that, but we're talking about this specifically.

bossmanham said...

According to Birch, God is so confused. First he makes Saul king, then he deposes him.

I love how Steve seems to be arguing against himself today. God deposes Saul because of sins Saul commits. Saul disobeys God.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

"I love how Steve seems to be arguing against himself today. God deposes Saul because of sins Saul commits. Saul disobeys God."

bossmanham said...

According to Birch, God is so confused. First he makes Saul king, then he deposes him.

I love how Brennon seems to be arguing against himself today. God foreknew that Saul would sin. Therefore, why make him king just to depose him?

Why is God "contradicting" himself (as Billy would put it) by doing one thing only to undo it later.

bossmanham said...

I love how Brennon seems to be arguing against himself today. God foreknew that Saul would sin.

Because if he hadn't been made king, he would not have sinned to foreknow that he would freely sin. God foreknows all things that will be freely done and His reactions to all things which are freely done. If He stopped them all, then He would know they wouldn't happen, and therefore He would be acting against His own purposes.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

“How is the criticism that determinism seems to be analogous to a puppet show irrelevant here? Dr. Reppert's critique was not only about the inconsistency of the Calvinist's position internally, but also what implications divine determinism has upon the motives of God.”

It started out as an internal critique. When that fell apart he had to shore up the ruins of his original argument by introducing his own libertarian assumptions regarding responsibility.

“So I'm actually taking your defense of your position and saying what it looks like.”

What it “looks like” to you is an asserted appearance, not an argument.

“Steven and I have discussed freedom as it relates to God's foreknowledge, and I really haven't seen him trump anything I have argued.”

Naturally, since you want to be both the pitcher and the umpire.

“But again, you're not presenting anything in terms of evidence to support your claim that Arminians can't respond intelligently. Even if it were true that you had a lot of stupid statements from me, that doesn't constitute a cumulative case against all Arminians.”

Oh, I have plenty of cumulative evidence from exchanges with other Arminians.

steve said...

bossmanham said...

“Inaction does not equal approval. Simple logical fallacy there, Steve.”

I didn’t use the word “approval.” But inaction can often equal complicity. Simple logic, Brennon.

“It's not about whose side He's on, it's about what God's purpose is in allowing human freedom to exist, even to the extent that people abuse it.”

They aren’t abusing “freedom.” They’re abusing people.

Say you’re built like Brock Lesnar. You see the guard about to toss the boy into the furnace. What do you do, Brennon?

Do you refrain from intervening because you must allow the guard to abuse his freedom?

If you do that, you side with the bully. He wins. He wins because you let him win.

“When it includes God's purpose of allowing freedom.”

So it’s better for you to let the 7-year-old burn to death, then punish the Nazi prison guard after the fact.

Who’s that better for, Brennon? Is that better for the murder victim?

“Yet it's a separate act to allow something than to cause it. God allows evil acts, but He doesn't decree that they happen and couldn't not happen. Sorry, but your attempts to paint God as a bad guy if He allows freedom look silly compared to a God that meticulously causes the evil He forbids.”

All you’ve done is to posit a morally significant difference. Where’s the argument?

And the question at issue is the Arminian God. Arminian theism.

Your God meticulously foresees the future. And the future eventuates because he made a world with just that foreseeable future.

Your God is like a man who has advanced knowledge about 9/11, but doesn’t tip off the authorities to prevent the Twin Towers from going down in flames. How is that an adequate theodicy, Brennon?

“God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil. Perhaps two others saw the evil deed and it caused them to cling closer to God as they faced their tortures? Perhaps they saw the young boy act in a courageous way which inspired them to do the same when faced with their death? Or perhaps that 7-year-old boy would have grown to commit even worse atrocities if allowed to live? You, Mr. Fallible Steve Hays, are not in the position to judge what future events certain present ones will influence.”

Sure. You can repair to mystery. The inscrutability of providence. Noseeum arguments.

But I notice that you don’t extend that courtesy to Calvinism.

“Yet all of the issues of the POE seem somewhat shallow compared to a God who is difficult to distinguish from the devil (note that I am only saying this about your apparent view of God, not all Calvinists, since I know many who do not fall back to the theodicy you are).”

As you wave your witness list in front of the jury, inscribed in invisible ink. The nameless “many.”

steve said...

Cont. “Little different, since God's relation to His creation is not perfectly analogous to our relations to others.”

Sure. You can say God has different obligations to man than man has to his fellow man. But I notice that you don’t extent that courtesy to Calvinism.

“Also, God has morally sufficient reasons to allow human freedom. For instance, in this orphanage say there is a child who is picked on and the adults do nothing to stop it. When this child matures he commits to ending this kind of behavior in orphanages and enacts a group that monitors the treatment of children in orphanages, thereby making life much better for future orphans.”

What about making life much better for past orphans?

“Again, it is better because God is not enacting evil. He is not the direct cause of human depravity.”

It’s better if I hand a loaded revolver to a child rather than if I shoot him myself. That’s ever so much better, you see.

“Are you willing to take responsibility for your own depravity, Hays, or do you enjoy pawning it off on God saying you can do it because God ordained it?”

Quote 5 or 6 Reformed theologians of note who disown personal responsibility and shift the blame to God.

“Who said God was sloppy? That's your assertion.”

No, it’s my antonym. You labeled as “meticulous” the position you reject. Therefore, I applied an antonym to the opposing position you accept.

“You paint an inconsistent picture of a God you say is good, yet decrees what He forbids.”

You paint an inconsistent picture of a God you say is good, yet permits preventable forbidden deeds.

“If God causes the actions He says are sinful, then God is sinning.”

In Arminian theology, God causes sinful actions.

E causally depends on c if and only if, if c were not to occur e would not occur.

Hence: Sin causally depends on God if and only if, if creation were not to occur sin would not occur.

“No one stripped the volitional freedom from anyone in this situation.”

The 7-year-old didn’t volunteer to be murdered.

steve said...

Cont. “It's an important distinction, Hays. You cannot charge God with the sins of individual free creatures.”

Now you’re changing the subject. I didn’t say whether or not I charge the Arminian God with the sins of men. Rather, I was answering you on your own terms, regarding divine causality. Using your own phraseology, the Arminian God causes what he forbids by causing the conditions to exist which eventuate in the forbidden deeds.

So you’re the one who’s implicitly charging your own God with the sins of men.

“All you could charge God with is creating the conditions needed for human freedom, but there doesn't seem to be anything sinful about that.”

You’re act as if human beings are discrete units who only wrong themselves.

But creating conditions which lead to foreseeable and avoidable atrocities can certainly be culpable in social ethics. So that’s hardly an adequate theodicy.

“But then you want to charge Him with negligence for not intervening on every act of human evil, but then that would negate His purposes and the greater good that comes from allowing human freedom.”

Well, Brennon, that’s very utilitarian of you. Sacrifice the few for the good of the many.

Good for whom? Good for the Jewish child who perished in the flames, while the Nazi made his escape to the sandy shores of South America?

And how is that consonant with the universal love of God, which Arminian theism so loudly proclaims?

“The child shooting of himself is a different act than your negligence.”

Evil takes many different forms. But you’re the one who makes a big deal about direct action. That’s the point of the illustration.

“You would be guilty of negligence because you have no morally sufficient reason to give the child a gun and stand by as he shoots himself.”

Isn’t freedom a value in itself?

“I never claimed you were a God hater. Can you really no see that, or are you that dishonest?”

“God-hater” was your expression, not mine.

Moreover, you simply take umbrage at my statement. Yet you offer no counterargument. Do you or don’t you trust God to write the story of your life?

Furthermore, you’re the one who just said the God of Calvinism is diabolical. So that makes Reformed believers devil-worshipers. But, hey, you’re the epitome of ecumenical beneficence.

“No Arminian thinks God causes human evil.”

They don’t admit to themselves the logical consequences of their own position.

“Because if he hadn't been made king, he would not have sinned to foreknow that he would freely sin. God foreknows all things that will be freely done and His reactions to all things which are freely done. If He stopped them all, then He would know they wouldn't happen, and therefore He would be acting against His own purposes.”

The question at issue, is whether it’s self-contradictory for the Arminian God to do one thing, then undo what he did.

If you say that’s not inconsistent, then you can’t charge predestination with self-contradiction.

drwayman said...

Steve - I go offline for a while and see that there has been quite a discussion going on!

Your responses indicates to me that the word relationship is difficult for you as this is not the first time that you have asked me to define that term.

Do you have fulfilling relationships with people? I suspect that you do. I can't imagine that you are just some internet presence. You are a real person that is loved by God.

I suspect that what makes these relationships fulfilling is that there is an interchange, a sharing of each other, between you and your friends.

Maybe that helps define what I mean by a personal relationship with God. God wants to have an interchange with you, He wants to share Himself with you and wants you to do the same with Him. He wants you to tell Him about your thoughts and feelings and He wants to share with you about he feels and what He thinks.

God wants to have a "heart-to-heart" shared life with you. Hopefully, this gives you a clearer understanding of what I mean when I say relationship.

Thanks for reading.

bossmanham said...

Steve, you think God causes all sin. You're not going to win any sympathy points by bringing up the POE. It's like an abortionist complaining about the abuses in the financial sector.

You're pretty vague on most of what you say here. I'll only deal with what jumps out at me as especially ridiculous.

But inaction can often equal complicity

But not always. Plus, God isn't human and has the right to allow His creatures to suffer the consequences of their sins.

They aren’t abusing “freedom.” They’re abusing people.

Yes they are. God isn't.

Say you’re built like Brock Lesnar. You see the guard about to toss the boy into the furnace. What do you do, Brennon?

Do you refrain from intervening because you must allow the guard to abuse his freedom?


If I had a morally sufficient reason to do so.

If you do that, you side with the bully. He wins. He wins because you let him win.

No if I foreknow that the scenario would lead to him actually losing.

So it’s better for you to let the 7-year-old burn to death, then punish the Nazi prison guard after the fact.

I'm not God.

All you’ve done is to posit a morally significant difference. Where’s the argument?

God doesn't cause evil.

Your God meticulously foresees the future. And the future eventuates because he made a world with just that foreseeable future.

A future in which He knows a great good comes from the temporary suffering in incurred upon itself.

Your God is like a man who has advanced knowledge about 9/11, but doesn’t tip off the authorities to prevent the Twin Towers from going down in flames. How is that an adequate theodicy, Brennon?

Because that man has no morally sufficient reason to allow the attack to take place unchallenged. God does.

Sure. You can repair to mystery. The inscrutability of providence. Noseeum arguments.

But I notice that you don’t extend that courtesy to Calvinism.


Just your extreme brand of Calvinism, because it makes God a breaker of His own laws. Mystery can't alleviate that, and you've given no reason to think otherwise. In fact, your attitude only serves to support my contentions.

Sure. You can say God has different obligations to man than man has to his fellow man. But I notice that you don’t extent that courtesy to Calvinism.

Because your Calvinism has God actually perpetuating the act through agents He is causing to act that way. He's the man in between the stick and the rock. He's the car that causes the chain reaction.

It’s better if I hand a loaded revolver to a child rather than if I shoot him myself. That’s ever so much better, you see.

No one said that, I just acknowledged the distinction between the two acts. I gave you a reason why you wouldn't be off the hook, but I see you conveniently left that important context out. I guess I keep forgetting how God is ordaining you to lie and stuff. My bad.

“Who said God was sloppy? That's your assertion.”

No, it’s my antonym.


That's your assertion vis a vis my position.

bossmanham said...

E causally depends on c if and only if, if c were not to occur e would not occur.

That's true for a lot of things. If no one invented the airplane, then 9/11 wouldn't have occurred. Hence: 9/11 causally depends on the invention of the airplane. Therefore Wilbur and Orville Wright caused 9/11.

The creation of free creatures is only an necessary condition for evil, Steve, not a sufficient condition.

Now you’re changing the subject. I didn’t say whether or not I charge the Arminian God with the sins of men. Rather, I was answering you on your own terms, regarding divine causality.

No subject changing occurred. Another lie added to the stack tonight.

You weren't answering me on my own terms. Consider again Aristotle's analogy. The rock is moved by the stick which is moved by the arm which is moved by the man. On your view the man would be God. On my view this progression doesn't exist when it comes to the human will.

Creating necessary conditions is not enough to be responsible for an action. Creating sufficient conditions, as your view of causality does, would make God responsible.

You’re act as if human beings are discrete units who only wrong themselves.

But creating conditions which lead to foreseeable and avoidable atrocities can certainly be culpable in social ethics. So that’s hardly an adequate theodicy.


I'm sure the inventor of the automobile foresaw the potential tragedies that could come about from smashing a couple tons of steel into someone, but he thought that the greater good that would come about was worth it. If we follow your logic, we should all just stay in bed.

Well, Brennon, that’s very utilitarian of you. Sacrifice the few for the good of the many.

Another seemingly intentional straw man. The greater good argument in regards to God isn't really even close to the utilitarian formulation of ethics. God enacts the greatest good for His people only. All deserve hell, Steve. You forget that tonight?

And how is that consonant with the universal love of God, which Arminian theism so loudly proclaims?

God still loves those He punishes. He died for them.

Evil takes many different forms. But you’re the one who makes a big deal about direct action. That’s the point of the illustration.

The negligence in this case is evil, but it's not analogous to God's action with the world.

Isn’t freedom a value in itself?

I never said that. It only seems to be valuable in making it possible to cultivate a genuine relationship with God.

“God-hater” was your expression, not mine.

"Brennon has no faith in God. Brennon doesn’t trust God with his life. Brennon doesn’t trust God to write the story of his life." Let the reader decide.

They don’t admit to themselves the logical consequences of their own position.

Cause it doesn't exist. Again, familiarize yourself with necessary and sufficient conditions.

The question at issue, is whether it’s self-contradictory for the Arminian God to do one thing, then undo what he did.

Given human freedom, no. Otherwise it seems silly and gratuitous.

bossmanham said...

Forgive the various typos. I didn't edit well before posting. Hopefully you can get around them.

steve said...

drwayman said...

“Your responses indicates to me that the word relationship is difficult for you as this is not the first time that you have asked me to define that term.”

For someone who’s so relational, you have problem relating to someone else who doesn’t share your presuppositions.

The question at issue is your idiosyncratic definition of what constitutes a “relationship.”

You also act as if only Arminians have a prayer-life, not Calvinists.

drwayman said...

Steve - Thanks for responding. I believe you misunderstand me. I don't believe that just Arminians have a prayer life. I have Calvinist friends with whom I worship and we share prayer time together quite frequently. I gain a lot of strength and support from my relationships with my Calvinist friends.

My apologies if I made it appear that Calvinists are in any way inferior to Arminians. I believe that Calvinists and Arminians are brothers in Christ and neither is superior to the other. We're on the same team.

I was simply trying to give you my definition of relationship since you asked. To me, my understanding of relationship appears sound. Could you explain to me where you perceive my definition to be idiosyncratic?

steve said...

bossmanham said...

“Steve, you think God causes all sin.”

If that’s true of Calvinism, then that’s also true of Arminianism–as I’ve argued.

However, “cause” is your chosen word. I’d say that God has a plan for the world, and everything happens according to plan.

“You're not going to win any sympathy points by bringing up the POE.”

You’re bringing up POE in relation to Calvinism. But you don’t like it when I return the favor.

“It's like an abortionist complaining about the abuses in the financial sector.”

I’ll file that for future reference the next time you and other Arminian epologists complain about how uncharitable Calvinists are.

“Plus, God isn't human and has the right to allow His creatures to suffer the consequences of their sins.”

As if a Calvinist couldn’t say the same thing.

“No if I foreknow that the scenario would lead to him actually losing.”

The little Jewish boy is the loser in this transaction, not the prison guard.

“I'm not God.”

Which doesn’t salvage your theodicy. The Arminian God could do far more than Brennon to prevent evil.

“God doesn't cause evil.”

As you yourself admitted, the Arminian God causes the conditions to exist which eventuate in preventable evils.

“A future in which He knows a great good comes from the temporary suffering in incurred upon itself.”

Calvinism also deploys the greater good defense.

“Because that man has no morally sufficient reason to allow the attack to take place unchallenged. God does.”

You merely assert that the Arminian God has a morally sufficient reason. That’s not a theodicy, Brennon. That’s a promissory note with no collateral. Where’s the argument, Brennon?

“Just your extreme brand of Calvinism, because it makes God a breaker of His own laws.”

You haven’t shown that my brand of Calvinism is “extreme.” That’s just another one of your tendentious assertions. You’re presenting a string of question-begging assertions in lieu of supporting arguments.

And if Calvinism makes God a “breaker of his own laws,” then so does Arminianism–for reasons I’ve given.

“Because your Calvinism has God actually perpetuating the act through agents He is causing to act that way. He's the man in between the stick and the rock. He's the car that causes the chain reaction.”

In Arminian theology, God, as the creator and sustainer of the world, triggers the chain-reaction. God is the first cause, and God concurrently sustains the actions of the wicked.

“No one said that, I just acknowledged the distinction between the two acts. I gave you a reason why you wouldn't be off the hook, but I see you conveniently left that important context out.”

You retreat into a distinction between direct and indirect causation as if indirect causation is automatically exculpatory.

“That's true for a lot of things. If no one invented the airplane, then 9/11 wouldn't have occurred. Hence: 9/11 causally depends on the invention of the airplane. Therefore Wilbur and Orville Wright caused 9/11.”

Yes, on a standard philosophical definition of causation, that’s true.

But unlike the Wright brothers, the Arminian God could foresee the outcome if he invented the airplane. For that matter the Arminian God could tip off the authorities a day or two before the planes were slated to hit the Twin Towers.

steve said...

Cont. “The creation of free creatures is only an necessary condition for evil, Steve, not a sufficient condition.”

i) Calvinism also distinguishes between necessary and sufficient conditionality. Are you too ignorant to know that?

ii) You also act as though mere necessary conditionality is ipso facto exculpatory. Where’s your argument, Brennon?

I hand the child a loaded revolver. He shoots himself. My involvement is limited to necessary conditionality. Does that let me off the hook?

“Consider again Aristotle's analogy. The rock is moved by the stick which is moved by the arm which is moved by the man.”

In Arminian theology, God voluntarily creates a world with foreseen evils. These evils are avoidable. No one forces God to make that world. The chain reaction (your metaphor) goes staight back to God’s precipitating fiat.

“Creating necessary conditions is not enough to be responsible for an action.”

If the outcome is both foreseeable and preventable, why not?

“I'm sure the inventor of the automobile foresaw the potential tragedies that could come about from smashing a couple tons of steel into someone, but he thought that the greater good that would come about was worth it.”

i) You keep appealing to the greater good without any supporting argument. That’s not a theodicy, Brennon.

ii) Do you think the Arminian God is unable to prevent traffic accidents? What if the stoplight malfunctions? Does the Arminian God refrain from intervening because he mustn’t infringe on the libertarian freewill of the streetlight?

“God enacts the greatest good for His people only.”

That’s very Calvinistic of you. So much for the universal love of God, touted by Arminianism.

“All deserve hell, Steve. You forget that tonight?”

All deserve reprobation, Brennon. You forget that tonight?

“God still loves those He punishes. He died for them.”

He died for them to what end? If he foreknew that many would reject him, then in what sense did he die to save them?

“The negligence in this case is evil, but it's not analogous to God's action with the world.”

You keep begging the question, Brennon.

“I never said that. It only seems to be valuable in making it possible to cultivate a genuine relationship with God.”

So the Arminian Go can’t have a genuine relationship with people unless he’s at liberty to choose evil.

“’Brennon has no faith in God. Brennon doesn’t trust God with his life. Brennon doesn’t trust God to write the story of his life." Let the reader decide.”

“No, it troubling for anyone who would think God is good…Yet all of the issues of the POE seem somewhat shallow compared to a God who is difficult to distinguish from the devil.” Let the reader decide.

“Again, familiarize yourself with necessary and sufficient conditions.”

Since I’ve repeatedly drawn that very distinction at Triablogue, it would behoove you not to display your ignorance of my familiarity with the difference.

“Given human freedom, no.”

Saul’s freedom hardly compels the Arminian God to make him king, only to depose him at a later date. You’re not being logical, Brennon.

steve said...

drwayman said...

"Could you explain to me where you perceive my definition to be idiosyncratic?"

You need to explain why you think Reformed theism isn't "relational."

steve said...

drwayman said...

"I have Calvinist friends with whom I worship and we share prayer time together quite frequently. I gain a lot of strength and support from my relationships with my Calvinist friends. My apologies if I made it appear that Calvinists are in any way inferior to Arminians. I believe that Calvinists and Arminians are brothers in Christ and neither is superior to the other. We're on the same team."

Well, that's surprising in light of the fact that you defended Robert's comparison between Calvinists and Nazis, Klansmen, &c. Doesn't seem like much common ground for Christian fellowship.

Do your Calvinist friends know what you really think of them, or is that a private, in-house understanding which you only share with your Arminian teammates?

steve said...

Since Brennon likes to retreat into divine permission, it's worth keep in mind what the Arminian doctrine of providence amounts to:



1. With respect to the [Commencement] of sin, I attribute the following acts to the Providence of God:

First. Permission, and that not idle, but which has united in it four positive acts: (1) The Preservation of the creature according to essence, life, and capability. (2) Care lest a greater or an equal power be placed in opposition. (3) The Offering of an object against which sin will be committed. (4) The destined Concession of its Concurrence, which, on account of the dependence of a Second on the First Cause is a necessary Concurrence.

Secondly. The Administration of arguments and occasions, soliciting to the perpetration of sin.

Thirdly. The Determination of place, time, manner, and of similar circumstances.

Fourthly. The immediate Concurrence itself of God with the act of sin.

http://classicalarminianism.blogspot.com/search/label/Providence

drwayman said...

Steve - Thanks for responding. You wrote, "You need to explain why you think Reformed theism isn't "relational.""

I'm missing you on this one. You'll have to show me where I mention anything about Reformed theism not being relational.

You asked me to define relationship and I did so. Then you said my definition is idiosyncratic. Yet, you haven't told me how it is idiosyncratic.

Thanks for reading...

drwayman said...

Steve - you wrote, "Do your Calvinist friends know what you really think of them, or is that a private, in-house understanding which you only share with your Arminian teammates?"

Yes, my Calvinist friends know what I really think of them. They know that I love them and they reciprocate with love for me. I am grateful for these friends.

They have told me what they think the logical conclusions are for Arminianism and I have reciprocated regarding what I believe to be the logical conclusions for Calvinism.

What we have found is that disagreement does not cause disunity. Lack of forgiveness causes disunity. We put aside our differences to spend time in worship and prayer and evangelism. We forgive each other for our shortcomings, realizing that none of us are perfect.

Thanks for reading.

bossmanham said...

However, “cause” is your chosen word. I’d say that God has a plan for the world, and everything happens according to plan.

A plan He meticulously causes. I think God has a plan as well and He guides creation to it, but He does not cause sinful events within it.

The little Jewish boy is the loser in this transaction, not the prison guard.

If God knew a greater moral good would come about from allowing this evil, then He would be morally wrong for stopping it. That's a distinction that needs to be addressed in your criticism, otherwise you're burning a straw man.

Which doesn’t salvage your theodicy. The Arminian God could do far more than Brennon to prevent evil.

It does because it highlights the inadequacy in our moral judgments about what God allows.

As you yourself admitted, the Arminian God causes the conditions to exist which eventuate in preventable evils.

As did Wilbur and Orville Wright and their relation to 9/11. What a silly objection.

Calvinism also deploys the greater good defense.

But it has God causing every sin and then condemning those who can't do otherwise, which makes God not good by His own standards.

You merely assert that the Arminian God has a morally sufficient reason.

If He does then your criticisms are invalid. Waving your hand at the issue is childish. I trust God's promises in scripture to properly argue for God's greater purpose.

In Arminian theology, God, as the creator and sustainer of the world, triggers the chain-reaction. God is the first cause, and God concurrently sustains the actions of the wicked.

Steve, hanging on to this tepid and useless objection shows the weakness of your complaint. Your logic would condemn the inventors of Tylenol for those who overdose on it. Surely you can see the distinction. If not, then I'm not sure you merit any more correction. You've clearly lost this point.

You retreat into a distinction between direct and indirect causation as if indirect causation is automatically exculpatory.

And you've given no good reason to think otherwise, while I have given good reasons and examples to support mine.

But unlike the Wright brothers, the Arminian God could foresee the outcome if he invented the airplane.

I bet the Wright brothers knew that if you fell a long way out of the sky that you would die, yet they went on ahead.

bossmanham said...

Calvinism also distinguishes between necessary and sufficient conditionality. Are you too ignorant to know that?

In Calvinism, God's decree is the sufficient condition.

You also act as though mere necessary conditionality is ipso facto exculpatory. Where’s your argument, Brennon?

It is for independent actions. If God is not the direct cause of an action it is inappropriate to impute responsibility to Him for that action, regardless of what He knows. The only thing that God could be accused of is negligence, which becomes null if He has morally sufficient reasons to allow sin. Deal with the distinction or bow out, Steve. To argue otherwise is special pleading.

I hand the child a loaded revolver. He shoots himself. My involvement is limited to necessary conditionality. Does that let me off the hook?

I already addressed this. You are guilty of one act, assuming there is no morally sufficient reason for you to give the gun to the child. If you had given the gun to the child to protect himself and he instead shoots himself, then is the culpability the same? No.

The individual child is guilty of another separate act. It is logically inappropriate to merge the separate acts into one ever.

These evils are avoidable. No one forces God to make that world

But the good that would emerge from allowing those evils is contingent on allowing the evils. You would have to show it is better for God to have not created.

The chain reaction (your metaphor) goes staight back to God’s precipitating fiat.

You are a dishonest debater, Steve. You refuse to see the distinction between necessary and sufficient conditions. If I were your boss, I would never trust your research.

If the outcome is both foreseeable and preventable, why not?

Because there is more than just one outcome, and it would have to be shown that not allowing it would be better than allowing it. You are not in the position to make that call.

Since I’ve repeatedly drawn that very distinction at Triablogue, it would behoove you not to display your ignorance of my familiarity with the difference.

You're certainly not employing that knowledge here. Why not? Is it because you're an intellectually dishonest person, Steve?

Since Brennon likes to retreat into divine permission, it's worth keep in mind what the Arminian doctrine of providence amounts to...

If God has already purposed and decreed to allow free creatures to carry out their freedom, Mr. Hays, then it would be inconsistent, illogical, and dishonest to refrain from allowing those creatures the sustaining power and ability to perform those actions. I know it takes some thinking to wrap one's head around Arminius' doctrine of divine concurrence, but it's quite a bit like the reformed doctrine, only God doesn't cause the desire and will to sin. That is left to the will of the sinner.

But I know you already know that, you're simply retreating into your intellectual dishonesty, again.

steve said...

drwayman said...

"I'm missing you on this one. You'll have to show me where I mention anything about Reformed theism not being relational."

You're confusing Steve Hays with Steven Eames. While I'm happy to take that as a compliment, I'm not so sure my nimble namesake would feel the same way.

steve said...

drwayman said...

"You asked me to define relationship and I did so. Then you said my definition is idiosyncratic. Yet, you haven't told me how it is idiosyncratic."

You're treating human social interaction as your implicit template, then extrapolating from that mundane template to God. That fails to make allowance for the significant differences in the way a being who is the timeless, spaceless, omniscient Creator relates to timebound creatures.

In other words, you're implicitly defining a divine/human relationship quite anthropomorphically, as if the God of the Bible were akin to Zeus.

drwayman said...

Steve - Thanks for telling me why you think my definition of relationship is idiosyncratic.

So you don't agree with the concept that God wants to share Himself with you and wants you to do the same with Him?

God's Word tells us, "The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth." Do you believe that helps to support my definition?

Steven said...

Who the hell is Steven Eames? And what did I say about Reformed theism's being relational?

:|

steve said...

bossmanham said...

“A plan He meticulously causes. I think God has a plan as well and He guides creation to it, but He does not cause sinful events within it.”

i) So you think God’s plan has gaps in the plan. He has a plan for good things, but evil events are unplanned events.

ii) You’re also confusing what causes a plan with what, if anything, a plan causes. A pretty elementary blunder on your part.

“If God knew a greater moral good would come about from allowing this evil, then He would be morally wrong for stopping it.”

Back to your utilitarian calculus. Sacrifice the Jewish boy for the common good. So much for the Arminian God’s universal love.

“It does because it highlights the inadequacy in our moral judgments about what God allows.”

Of course, Calvinism has a parallel argument.

“As did Wilbur and Orville Wright and their relation to 9/11. What a silly objection.”

What is silly is your intellectual frivolity. This is how it works, Brennon. You keep using the word “cause.”

So I supplied a stock, philosophical definition of causation. See the Stanford Encyclopedia entry on “Counterfactual Theories of Causation.”

I then plugged Arminian theism into the definition. Which ends up making the Arminian God the cause of evil.

If you have a problem when I beat you at your own game by playing by your own rules, you have no one to kick but yourself.

“But it has God causing every sin…”

Same with Arminianism.

“And then condemning those who can't do otherwise, which makes God not good by His own standards.”

That would only make God “not good” in case God’s own standard is the freedom to do otherwise. As usual, you assert rather than argue.

“If He does then your criticisms are invalid. Waving your hand at the issue is childish. I trust God's promises in scripture to properly argue for God's greater purpose.”

The question at issue is not God’s promises, but your Arminian theodicy–which is just a human construct. And since you chronically assume what you need to prove, you’re the one, not me, who’s guilty of hand waiving.

“Steve, hanging on to this tepid and useless objection shows the weakness of your complaint. Your logic would condemn the inventors of Tylenol for those who overdose on it.”

i) You’re the one who used the “chain reaction” metaphor. When I simply apply your own metaphor to Arminian theism, you throw another temper tantrum.

ii) And if the manufacturers of Tylenol could foresee that a particular batch was poisonous, but failed to alert the public, then they would be criminally negligent.

steve said...

Cont. “Surely you can see the distinction. If not, then I'm not sure you merit any more correction. You've clearly lost this point.”

You’re just too indolent to follow through with the consequences of your own examples.

“And you've given no good reason to think otherwise, while I have given good reasons and examples to support mine.”

What you’ve done is to retreat into vague generalities which could either inculpate or exculpate depending on the specific case.

“I bet the Wright brothers knew that if you fell a long way out of the sky that you would die, yet they went on ahead.”

And what if they knew that their plane suffered from a design defect? Or knew that the pilot was a suicidal, but did nothing to alert passengers prior to boarding?

“In Calvinism, God's decree is the sufficient condition.”

Thanks for illustrating your ignorance of Calvinism. The decree doesn’t do anything. Creation, miracle, and providence are what implement the decree.

“It is for independent actions. If God is not the direct cause of an action it is inappropriate to impute responsibility to Him for that action, regardless of what He knows.”

Once again, Brennon, you’re begging the question. Do you even know what a theodicy is, Brennon? You confuse apologetics with preaching. Thus far you’re merely preaching your Arminian postulates.

There are many cases in which a remote agent is both responsible and culpable for the outcome. He may or may not shoulder all the blame, but he can certainly share the blame.

Therefore, an Arminian theodicy needs to show why your God is exempt from ordinary conditions of praise and blame.

“The only thing that God could be accused of is negligence, which becomes null if He has morally sufficient reasons to allow sin.”

Once again, you’re waving a promissory note, minus the collateral.

“Deal with the distinction or bow out, Steve. To argue otherwise is special pleading.”

Special pleading is when Brennon constantly begs the question.

“I already addressed this. You are guilty of one act…”

Which is sufficient to inculpate the Arminian God unless you can start presenting a few real arguments.

“The individual child is guilty of another separate act.”

A five-year-old is guilty of shooting himself. Gotcha.

“But the good that would emerge from allowing those evils is contingent on allowing the evils. You would have to show it is better for God to have not created.”

No, I don’t have to show that. An Arminian theodicy needs to furnish positive reasons to render it plausible or probable–to squeeze out the competition.

steve said...

Cont. “You are a dishonest debater, Steve. You refuse to see the distinction between necessary and sufficient conditions.”

i) Calvinism can draw the same distinctions.

ii) A general distinction between necessary and sufficient conditions is wholly inadequate to settle any specific case. For that will work in some cases, but not others.

“If I were your boss, I would never trust your research.”

Yes, Brennon is the moral arbiter of the universe. We all quake in his Olympian presence.

“Because there is more than just one outcome, and it would have to be shown that not allowing it would be better than allowing it.

More than one hypothetical outcome, or more than one actual outcome? If the former, that is also true of Calvinism. If the latter, that is nonsense.

“You are not in the position to make that call.”

You’re in no position to claim that indeterminate outcomes are better than determinate outcomes.

“You're certainly not employing that knowledge here.”

It’s not incumbent on me to reinvent the wheel for your sake.

“If God has already purposed and decreed to allow free creatures to carry out their freedom, Mr. Hays, then it would be inconsistent, illogical, and dishonest to refrain from allowing those creatures the sustaining power and ability to perform those actions.”

God didn’t merely allow Saul to become king. God made him king. God didn’t merely allow Saul to fall from power. God deposed him. So why, on Arminian grounds, does God do on thing to later undo it?

steve said...

drwayman said...

"So you don't agree with the concept that God wants to share Himself with you and wants you to do the same with Him?"

In Calvinism, God "shares" himself with the elect. And they participate in his beatitude. So Calvinism is also "relational."

steve said...

Steven said...

"Who the hell is Steven Eames?"

He's the counterpart to Steven Nemes in a parallel universe.

Steven said...

That's just me in a different possible world. Transworld identity!

bossmanham said...

I think what's been said is sufficient to display which side has the stronger arguments. I answered your contentions point by point and you continue to make belittling comments while inserting dishonest claims about my position. Your logic is bankrupt and your contentions have been answered. I certainly hope people who put so much stock in your blog become aware of this intellectually dishonest streak you exhibit most of the time. It's pretty sad, and I do feel sorry for you.

drwayman said...

Steve - You wrote, "In Calvinism, God "shares" himself with the elect. And they participate in his beatitude. So Calvinism is ALSO "relational (caps are mine).""

I'm glad that we agree that Arminianism and Calvinism share the Biblical concept of a relational God, although defined and expressed differently. You had me worried for a bit there...

I hope to talk with you more in the future. You know if I lived in your 'hood, we would probably have some interesting conversations and some good times in worship of God together.

tap said...

I certainly hope people who put so much stock in your blog become aware of this intellectually dishonest streak you exhibit most of the time. It's pretty sad

That his MO basically, you should have ended the conversation at Inaction does not equal approval. when simple logic escapes him, he jumps to dishonest misrepresentations.

I was a betting man, i would say there is high attrition rate for "people who put much stock in his blog." it doesn't take long for people realize who/what they are deal with.

steve said...

tap said...

"I was a betting man, i would say there is high attrition rate for "people who put much stock in his blog." it doesn't take long for people realize who/what they are deal with."

If you were a betting man, you'd lose. The site meter doesn't reveal a high attrition rate. Rather, it reveals high steady traffic.

bossmanham said...

Which is scary, IMO, but not out of the ordinary considering the Calvinist resurgence among young American males.

tap said...

except the high attrition rate refers to "people who put much stock in your blog." not your traffic stats.

Victor Reppert said...

BMH: “Steven and I have discussed freedom as it relates to God's foreknowledge, and I really haven't seen him trump anything I have argued.”

S: Naturally, since you want to be both the pitcher and the umpire.

VR: I think all these declarations of victory on both sides suggest that we want to be the pitcher and the umpire.