The Transfer of Nonsense Principle

A concept that’s gained some popularity among Determinists is that God’s foreknowledge is incompatible with libertarian free will. One proponent of this idea is Dr. Linda Zagzebski, who has published works arguing this concept based upon the ‘Transfer of Necessity Principle’ (TNP)

Necessarily Non-Transferrable
The basic argument can be understood from a determinist dilemma by Diodorus Cronus, which I provide {translation} for where appropriate.

Let S = the proposition that there will be a sea battle tomorrow.

(1L) Yesterday it was true that S. [assumption]
(2L) If some proposition was true in the past, it is now-necessary that it was true then. [Form of the Necessity of the Past]

{we can’t change the fact that ‘S will happen tomorrow tomorrow’ was true in the past}
(3L) That yesterday it was true that S is now-necessary. [1, 2]
{we can’t now change that S happening tomorrow was true in the past}
(4L) Necessarily, if yesterday it was true that S, then now it is true that S. [omnitemporality of truth]

{if the proposition of a sea battle happening tomorrow was true yesterday, then it’s also true today}
(5L) If p is now-necessary, and necessarily (if p then q), then q is now-necessary. [Transfer of Necessity Principle]
(6L) Therefore, that it is true that S is now-necessary. [3L, 4L, 5L]

{there’s nothing we can do about the sea battle occurring tomorrow}
(7L) If its being true that S is now-necessary, no alternative to the truth of S is now-possible. [definition of “necessary”]
{it’s not possible now to prevent the sea battle tomorrow}
(8L) So no alternative to the truth of S is now-possible [6L, 7L]
(9L) If no alternative to the truth of a proposition about the future is now-possible, then what the proposition is about will not be brought about by free human choice. [Version of Principle of Alternate Possibilities]
(10L) Hence, the sea battle tomorrow will not be brought about by free human choice. [8L, 9L]

Simplifying this argument, it basically states,

P1 We have no power to change our past now. [necessity of the past]
P2 Propositions about what will happen in the future were true in our past.
C1 Therefore we can’t now change the truth about the propositions concerning the future that were true in the past, which implies we can’t do anything to affect the future. [transferring necessity of the past to the present]

The inoperability of this sort of logic can be demonstrated with little difficulty. It’s akin to the hypothetical example a man who is speeding at 90 mph in a 35 zone. A patrol officer pulls him over to ticket him, but the man protests that he couldn’t have done differently because of his speedometer’s reading:

“Yesterday, it was true that the speedometer was going to hit 90 mph in this zone today. The speedometer functions perfectly, so its indication of the car’s speed is accurate. I obviously can’t ever change what’s in the past, so I couldn’t change what the speedometer was going to say, therefore I couldn’t help how fast the car was going to travel because of my speedometer’s reading.”

Try that one on a traffic cop some time and see how it works. This is of course an absurd statement; the question is ‘why?’

Temporal Dependence of Omnitemporal Truth

The flaw in this argument is failure to distinguish between events in the past and propositional truth values in the past. What’s the difference? One word: dependence. Events from the past are completely independent (and thus aren’t affectable) by events after that point in the past. I drove to work yesterday. This is a fact from the past, and nothing after that point in the past can affect it. What if I yesterday put forth the proposition that the stock market would fall 5 points today? Is the truthfulness of that proposition likewise completely independent of anything that happens today? Certainly not; its truthfulness rather depends on what happens today.

Propositions about events within time aren’t true in and of themselves, they’re true based upon the events they reference actually occurring within time. The problem with the syllogism arises with the premises,

(2L) If some proposition was true in the past, it is now-necessary that it was true then. [Form of the Necessity of the Past]
(3L) That yesterday it was true that S is now-necessary. [1, 2]
4L) Necessarily, if yesterday it was true that S, then now it is true that S. [omnitemporality of truth]

But if S being true depends upon the event that it references actually occurring on the prescribed date, then S being true isn’t ‘now necessary,’ it’s rather contingent upon that future event, and doesn’t really prove anything about S being necessarily true between yesterday and when that event is to occur. Thus the argument for necessity by transfer of necessity principle being applied to truth values is invalidated with the arguments:

P1 For phenomenon P to be non-affectable by anything at point in time B, it must be independent of anything at B.
P2 Events at point in time A (which is prior to B) are independent of anything at B.
C1 Past events are independent of, and therefore aren’t affectable by any events subsequent to the point of time in which they occur.

P3 Per C1, past events are independent of & not affectable by subsequent events.
P4 Let Pr be a proposition about an event at point in time C (C is subsequent points A and B). Whether Pr is true or false at point in time A is completely dependent upon events in point in time C.
C2 Therefore the future-independent events at point A not being affectable by anything subsequent to A, tells us nothing about future-dependent truth values at point A not being affectable by anything subsequent to A.

Clearly, if it can’t be shown that “event X isn’t affectable at point A,” then it can’t rightly be said, “event X is necessary at point A.”

How can we now establish or falsify the truth value of propositions in the past? If someone made a proposition in the past that I would write on philosophy at this moment in time, then that proposition’s truthfulness wasn’t completely settled by a past event, it’s unarguably settled by my choice now; it indeed had a truth value in the past, but was still entirely dependent upon this moment. Truth being omnitemporal (thus spanning all time, not merely localized) can contain true propositions about future events that have dependencies on those future events as the basis of their truth values.

Some may argue that this is ‘retro-causation,’ but retro-causation involves time-bound phenomena (making what comes after in time cause what comes before in time). The omnitemporal truth can be point-in-time dependent, but isn’t time-bound (truth isn’t an ‘event’), and therefore the sequence is logical, not chronological. The implication,

“There will be a sea battle tomorrow -> therefore the proposition made yesterday that there will be a sea battle tomorrow is true”

is then perfectly sound. Therefore, it’s quite valid to say that whether previously made propositions about future events are true or not depends upon those events – not vice-versa. The line of argumentation some Determinists propose appears to rely upon events being subject to the truth values of certain propositions (the logical effect of the events) rather than recognizing that the truthfulness of propositions that reference events in time are dependent upon those events at that point in time, and thus are not very different from the above “the speedometer made me do it” argument. With this in mind, we address Zagzebski’s dilemma of foreknowledge.

Dilemma of Foreknowledge and Modal Temporal Asymmetry

I’ll again provide {translation} where appropriate. Zagzebski writes,

…let T = the proposition that you will answer the telephone tomorrow at 9 am.

(1f) There is (and was before now) an essentially omniscient foreknower (EOF) [Assumption for dilemma]
{God knows what will happen}
(1f) and the Principle of the Necessity of the Past tells us that
(2f) Either it is now-necessary that the EOF believed T before now or it is now-necessary that the EOF believed not T before now.

{you can’t now-affect whether God has believed you’d answer the phone}
From (1f) and the definition of an EOF it follows that
(3f) Necessarily (The EOF believed before now that T -> T), and necessarily (The EOF believed before now that not T -> not T).

{the event has to happens as God believes it will}
By the Transfer of Necessity Principle (TNP), (2f) and (3f) entail
(4f) Either it is now-necessary that T or it is now-necessary that not T.
(4f) is logically equivalent to
(5f) Either it is not now-possible that T or it is not now-possible that not T.

{if you will or won’t answer the telephone, there is nothing you can do now to affect it}
From the Principle of the Contingency of the Future we get
(6f) It is now-possible that T and it is now-possible that not T.

{if you really have free will, you can now affect whether you’ll answer the phone or not}
But (6f) contradicts (5f).
{to say “you can affect it” and “you can’t affect it” is a contradiction}

Same mistake, different words. All that’s been done is replacing truth-values with God’s knowledge. I do firmly believe that God exhaustively knows the future, but it doesn’t follow that men have no power of choice. I’ve expressed my belief that God is both transcendent and immanent; His knowledge transcending time, and thus not being constrained therein (implying that He doesn’t need to ‘wait’ for the future to happen to know what will unfold). I’ve also speculated that His knowledge of individuals’ choices may be derived from integral factors of self-determination abstracted from space-time (but manifest in time as our choices), which constitutes a sort of transcendent middle-knowledge. Both have the commonality that God’s knowledge of individual human choices is to some degree dependent upon the individuals’ independent self-determination.

As such, God’s “knowledge in the past” that concerns our choices in the future, just as propositional truth values in the past concerning the future, wouldn’t be independent of what it’s derived from. Thus Zagzebski’s premises:

(1f) and the Principle of the Necessity of the Past tells us that
(2f) Either it is now-necessary that the EOF believed T before now or it is now-necessary that the EOF believed not T before now.
,

are incorrect: Assuming the omniscient God has allowed T to be decided by the agent’s self-determination, whether He has believed/not-believed T about our future isn’t now-necessary (i.e. out of the agent’s control), because it’s not independent of what the agent wills. If God infallibly knows something about the future based upon agent causation, then that event isn’t necessary, but certain due to that contingency. Zagzebski’s argument, assuming that God can know the future without causing it and substituting ‘certainty’ for ‘necessity,’ would come out as,

Assuming for sake of argument, K = that God foreknows one’s free choices based upon his independent self-determination

(1) Yesterday God infallibly knew T rather than ~T. [Supposition of infallible divine knowledge]
(2) If E was in the past, it is now-certain that E was then. [Principle of the Fixity of the Past]
(3) It is now-certain that yesterday God knew T. [1, 2]
(4) Certainly, if yesterday God knew T, then T. [Definition of “infallibility”]
(5) If p is now-certain, and certainly (p -> q), then q is now-certain.
(6) So it is now-certain that T. [3,4,5]
(7) If it is now-certain that T, then you won’t do other than answer the telephone tomorrow at 9 am. [Definition of “certain”]
(8) Since certainty doesn’t imply necessity, then certainty of T doesn’t negate the fact that T comes about by your independent self-determination. [K, Distinction of certainty from necessity]
(9) Because the truth value of T is independently decided by the agent, and the decision wasn’t necessary, the truth value of ~T was also decided upon by the agent -> ~T was an available option. [K, 8]
(10) Therefore, despite the available option to not answer the telephone, you will choose to answer the telephone tomorrow at 9 am. [6, 7, 9]
(11) If you can do otherwise (have other options available) when you act, you are acting freely. [10, Principle of Contrary Choice]
(12) Therefore, when you answer the telephone tomorrow at 9 am, despite God’s certain and infallible knowledge of T, you are doing it freely. [1, 8, 11]

Do We “Change What God Knows?” – Arguments Against Transcendent Foreknowledge

The transcendence argument has been proposed before, and Zagzebski makes a move to counter it:

I have argued (Zagzebski 1991, chap. 2) that the timelessness move does not avoid the problem of theological fatalism since an argument structurally parallel to the basic argument can be formulated for timeless knowledge. If God is not in time, the key issue would not be the necessity of the past, but the necessity of the timeless realm. So the first three steps of the argument would be reformulated as follows:

(1t) God timelessly knows T.
(2t) If E is in the timeless realm, then it is now-necessary that E.
(3t) It is now-necessary that T.

Perhaps it is inappropriate to say that timeless events such as God’s timeless knowing are now-necessary, yet we have no more reason to think we can do anything about God’s timeless knowing than about God’s past knowing.

The author of that statement misses the obvious here: what’s in the “timeless realm,” assuming God is transcendent and not merely divorced from time, necessarily encompasses what’s in the temporal. Since God’s perspective would encompass all associated with what we know as space-time (much as an exhaustive printed timeline would be to us), this would necessarily include our independent self-determination. Thus, the choices we make in what is our ‘now’ must be reflected in what God perceives as ‘all time,’ which would account for God’s knowledge of libertarian decisions. When you make a choice among possible options now, you aren’t “changing what God knows,” but your choices/self-determination are rather what constitute what He perceives (and therefore knows).

This is quite akin to the philosophical misconception about truth values discussed above. Actions and events today don’t change what was true yesterday, they establish which propositions about today are true at all times. Likewise, what we choose doesn’t change what God knows about our choices, it is what God knows about our choices.

Conclusion

The Transfer of Necessity as applied by Cronus to propositional truth values and Zagzebski to divine foreknowledge raises numerous problems and absurdities, as well failing to adequately address the resolution of epistemological certainty based upon non-temporally-limited perception.

Of course, if Determinists want to try to limit God’s knowledge by time in arguing He can’t now know the future unless He exhaustively predetermined it beforehand, the same kind of flawed logic present in the above TNP arguments they propound can be just as easily turned around:

P1 God elected some men unto salvation.
P2 The truth of the names and number of all the elect was also true prior to God electing them.
C Applying transfer of necessity of the past, the identities of the elect were then necessary at the point when God elected them -> Therefore God couldn’t have chosen who to save any differently than He did, and He didn’t freely choose who to save.

Cleaning up the mess TNP makes by applying the distinction between events and truth values of propositions (as well as certainty versus necessity), the ridiculous argument for God having no freedom in election becomes:

P1a God elected some men unto salvation.
P2a The truth of the names and number of all the elect was also true logically prior to God electing them, but was directly dependent upon His choice.
Ca Therefore God conceivably could have chosen differently than He did, and thus was free in His choosing.

So the truth of who the elect are and how many they are is dependent upon God’s free choice; His choosing isn’t subject to some higher-than-God immutable truth value that compels Him to choose specific people. And our patrol officer retorts:

“Yesterday, it was true that the speedometer was going to hit 90 mph in this zone today. The speedometer functions perfectly, so its indication of the car’s speed is accurate; and yes, you obviously can’t ever change what’s in the past. But your actions today were what made that proposition in the past a true one, so that proposition being true was irrelevant in determining your choice today, therefore the speed it registered doesn’t mean you couldn’t have done differently, therefore you’re still gettin’ your ticket wiseguy.”

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124 Responses

  1. Awesome, Josh! I’m glad to see you covering this.

  2. I am not sure you’ve struck upon anything interesting in this post of yours. Remember that the whole point of the fatalistic arguments is that we cannot have ability to do otherwise, as libertarians want to hold to it. Nothing is being argued for in terms of causal determinism, or anything of that sort—just that alternate possibilities are not open to us. Because you miss that point, all sorts of confusions follow.

    (i) In response to the fatalist argument from past propositions’ being true, you missed the point of the argument. The thing that is being driven at is this: if future contingent propositions presently have truth values, then the future is inevitable in a way that is inconsistent with libertarian freedom of the will. Whether their being true determines that the event occurs, or their truth is contingent upon the future occuring of the event, doesn’t matter—what does matter is that inevitability is hostile to libertarian freedom of the will, and that is what you have if future contingent propositions with truth values. If it is inevitable that you will A tomorrow, then it follows that tomorrow you cannot not-A.

    Now you can redefine free will as being the absence of causal constraints, as some do, so that no mention of AP is made. That’s fine, and some do that—like Zagzebski, Craig, Stump, Kretzmann, and others. But that’s one less argument you have against determinism in your disposal (namely, that it takes away AP, and those are required for free choice).

    (ii) As for your response to the foreknowledge argument, it isn’t clear exactly what your response amounts to. I think you opt for a timelessness view, because that’s what you’ve done in the past and you consider Zagzebski’s criticism, but your wording is not very clear. I think you misunderstand “now-necessary” in Zagzebski’s terminology (though you seemed to use it correctly at the beginning of the article).

    In what sense are propositions about what God’s belief any less now-necessary just because they are dependent upon what you will do at some future point in time? The whole question is not whether or not they are the cause of your will, or independent of your will, but whether or not you can will otherwise, given what God actually believes. You missed the boat.

    Propositions about God’s beliefs are still now-necessary (or accidentally necessary, in Plantinga’s terminology, or power-necessary in Fischer’s terminology), regardless of the fact that they are dependent upon what you will in the future, because you are presently powerless to change their truth value. And you will not be able to avoid willing (or agent-causing, or whatever) what it is that God previously believed you would (or timelessly believed you would) will. You can’t do otherwise. It doesn’t mean you’re causally determined to do so, doesn’t mean God makes it such that you will, just that you cannot do otherwise.

    Furthermore, consider this. Suppose God revealed to a prophet that I would X at t, 500 years ago. Can I abstain from X-ing at t? Can I refrain from X-ing? No, I can’t. But suppose God never told anyone anything about the future actions of men. He knew them, of course, but didn’t share them with anyone. Does that ease the tension at all? No, it would still seem that we would be unable to do otherwise, because he knows them. It doesn’t suddenly become a problem when he tells someone about it; it’s a problem even if he doesn’t.

  3. Good job brother. Your logic is clear.

  4. Steven,

    “The thing that is being driven at is this: if future contingent propositions presently have truth values, then the future is inevitable in a way that is inconsistent with libertarian freedom of the will.”

    I understand that’s what’s being driven at, and its quite evidently wrong when one recognizes the distinction between necessity and certainty (the latter of which doesn’t contradict libertarian freedom). ‘Inevitable’ doesn’t imply lack of freedom, it only violates the straw man version of free will that Determinists/Necessitarians love to burn. Therefore it does matter that the truth about the event is contingent upon the event, since the event is contingent upon independent agent causation (libertarian free will).

    “I think you misunderstand “now-necessary” in Zagzebski’s terminology…”

    You’re not being very clear.

    “In what sense are propositions about what God’s belief any less now-necessary just because they are dependent upon what you will do at some future point in time?”

    Because God’s knowledge is omnitemporal (which I stressed a few times), and therefore affected to some extent by created agents’ actions. If the creature’s independent will or action has any affect upon what God knows, then that is libertarian agency.

    “The whole question is not whether or not they are the cause of your will, or independent of your will, but whether or not you can will otherwise, given what God actually believes. You missed the boat.”

    Which I did address in my arguments, leading me to wonder if you actually read much of what was written. I made the point that what God actually knows is what you will freely choose to do. You’re on the wrong boat.

    “Propositions about God’s beliefs are still now-necessary…regardless of the fact that they are dependent upon what you will in the future, because you are presently powerless to change their truth value.”

    You’re appealing to the “change God’s knowledge” error addressed above. It’s pointless to argue that we can’t change God’s knowledge when in fact our free actions constitute what He knows about our actions. Thus we aren’t powerless with regards to our future.

    “And you will not be able to avoid willing (or agent-causing, or whatever) what it is that God previously believed you would (or timelessly believed you would) will.”

    Because even if I attempted to avoid it, that would be what God transcendently knew. You’re going in circles.

    “Suppose God revealed to a prophet that I would X at t, 500 years ago. Can I abstain from X-ing at t? Can I refrain from X-ing? No, I can’t.”

    Depends, but generally, yes, you can. The fact that you won’t says nothing about what was in your power to actually do (since “will” doesn’t mean “must”). It simply means that God knows which free choice you will make. It must be pointed out that knowing everything and being truthful, God wouldn’t make such a prediction if it wasn’t going to be the case.

    “If it is inevitable that you will A tomorrow, then it follows that tomorrow you cannot not-A.”

    “You can’t do otherwise. It doesn’t mean you’re causally determined to do so, doesn’t mean God makes it such that you will, just that you cannot do otherwise.”

    You’re also confusing certainty with necessity. “Will do” doesn’t imply “must do” or “can’t do other.” Perhaps my view of foreknowledge would be clearer if you could understand the distinction.

    “No, it would still seem that we would be unable to do otherwise, because he knows them.”

    Knowledge in one entity doesn’t affect range of choices for another; the two are independent. The determinist/necessitarian case really boils down to pointless pettifoggery over our not being able to ‘change what will happen,’ when in fact any ‘change’ that could be effected would itself be encompassed in ‘what will happen.’ To clarify on libertarian agency: Could what God knows about us have been different without His changing anything? The answer, I say, is ‘yes.’ If an agent within time had (substituting past tense for action within a transcendent scope) self-determined differently, God would have known differently about that agent (as well as events being different). So if God’s inerrant knowledge could have been different, then it follows that the agent had other choices, he/she simply didn’t/doesn’t/won’t choose those options.

  5. I understand that’s what’s being driven at, and its quite evidently wrong when one recognizes the distinction between necessity and certainty (the latter of which doesn’t contradict libertarian freedom). ‘Inevitable’ doesn’t imply lack of freedom, it only violates the straw man version of free will that Determinists/Necessitarians love to burn. Therefore it does matter that the truth about the event is contingent upon the event, since the event is contingent upon independent agent causation (libertarian free will).

    Well that isn’t obvious. What exactly is the straw man here? If my action, in order to be done in a libertarian free way, has to be such that my abstaining (or committing another action) is equally consistent with the total history of the world in conjunction with the laws of nature up to the time of action (or decision), then how can it possibly be that a free act is inevitable? What is it that makes it free? And further, how can my refraining be consistent with the grand conjunction of past facts about the universe and the laws of nature if there are facts prior to t about what I will do at t? You haven’t answered any questions here.

    Because God’s knowledge is omnitemporal (which I stressed a few times), and therefore affected to some extent by created agents’ actions. If the creature’s independent will or action has any affect upon what God knows, then that is libertarian agency.

    I’m not going to bother with this because this is not a very good characterization of popular theories of libertarian agency. What about ability to do otherwise? What about absence of causal constraints? You don’t touch upon any of that; a compatibilist account of agency is compatible with the creature’s independent will “having an effect on what God knows”, whatever that means.

    Which I did address in my arguments, leading me to wonder if you actually read much of what was written. I made the point that what God actually knows is what you will freely choose to do. You’re on the wrong boat.

    How the hell is that an answer to my question? You aren’t doing anything but table-pounding and asserting that you are still free in a libertarian sense, though God knows your action.

    You’re appealing to the “change God’s knowledge” error addressed above. It’s pointless to argue that we can’t change God’s knowledge when in fact our free actions constitute what He knows about our actions. Thus we aren’t powerless with regards to our future.

    Where is the argument here? I don’t see anything besides assertion. Why is it pointless to argue that?

    Let’s say you have the “ability” to do X just in case it is not physically impossible that you do X. Let’s say you have the “opportunity” to do X just in case your X-ing at t is consistent with the grand conjunction of past facts about the universe and the laws of nature.

    It may be true that you have the “ability” to refrain from X-ing, though God knew you would X at t. But libertarian free will which holds to AP requires that you furthermore have the “opportunity” to refrain from X-ing as well.

    But how is it that you have the opportunity to refrain from X-ing if that is inconsistent with what God timelessly believed? How might that be? That is the question, and you never answered it.

    Because even if I attempted to avoid it, that would be what God transcendently knew. You’re going in circles.

    Maybe I am not. You have to show how having the “opportunity” to not-X is compatible with God’s timelessly knowing/believing you would X.

    You’re also confusing certainty with necessity. “Will do” doesn’t imply “must do” or “can’t do other.” Perhaps my view of foreknowledge would be clearer if you could understand the distinction.

    This highly-lauded distinction between “certainty and necessity” is stupid and doesn’t help any, because Arminians who don’t understand the foreknowledge argument put it up and rearrange the premises in the argument without any reason to think the change in terminology is (1) significant, and (2) necessary.

    If it is certain that you will X tomorrow, we might as well ask: (1) how is it in any sense certain that you will X tomorrow, if the universe is indeterministic? (2) how does it’s being certain not hurt your libertarian free will? if it is certain now, then how is your not-Xing consistent with the past facts of the universe in conjunction with the laws of nature?

    Furthermore, if you hold that you can have certain knowledge of what an agent will do in an indeterministic universe, then you’ve got to give up the Kane-Widerker objection to Frankfurt-style counterexamples, which show, I think, that AP is not required for moral responsibility.

  6. Depends, but generally, yes, you can. The fact that you won’t says nothing about what was in your power to actually do (since “will” doesn’t mean “must”). It simply means that God knows which free choice you will make. It must be pointed out that knowing everything and being truthful, God wouldn’t make such a prediction if it wasn’t going to be the case.

    You may be “able” to do otherwise in a way that is consistent with compatibilism, but you will not have the “opportunity” to do otherwise in a way that is necessary for libertarian free will.

  7. Totally off topic, but I comment on this blog from time to time, and today when I looked at “Recent Comments” I noticed my name there as I normally write it.

    Only I didn’t write it.

    This other Steven wrote it, and it’s clear we don’t agree on the same things, but it was a funny moment for me nonetheless.

    Carry on!

  8. Steven,

    “What exactly is the straw man here?”

    That LFW somehow requires an uncertain future.

    “…then how can it possibly be that a free act is inevitable?”

    Because certainty isn’t necessity, I’ve already touched on this….

    “What is it that makes it free?”

    God.

    “And further, how can my refraining be consistent with the grand conjunction of past facts about the universe and the laws of nature if there are facts prior to t about what I will do at t?”

    Because said facts are dependent upon what you do at t.

    “You haven’t answered any questions here.”

    That’s because you just asked them. (?)

    “I’m not going to bother with this because this is not a very good characterization of popular theories of libertarian agency.”

    If you’re arguing against ‘popular theories’ that aren’t my own, why are you addressing me then?

    “What about ability to do otherwise? What about absence of causal constraints? You don’t touch upon any of that…”

    Nor need I to show the invalidity of TNP.

    “How the h*ll is that an answer to my question?”

    The part where I said, “Which I did address in my arguments…” e.g. “God’s knowledge of individual human choices is to some degree dependent upon the individuals’ independent self-determination.” Since what God knows about what will based upon what we will, His knowledge has no bearing upon our doing so.

    “Where is the argument here?”

    Look under, ‘Do We “Change What God Knows?”’

    “But how is it that you have the opportunity to refrain from X-ing if that is inconsistent with what God timelessly believed?”

    Ability (in a real-world sense) to do something necessarily implies opportunity. Neither opportunity nor ability imply actually doing. God’s knowledge of what we will certainly do would encompass the latter.

    “This highly-lauded distinction between “certainty and necessity” is stupid….”

    To the contrary, it’s the difference between “will do” and “has to do,” which is at the very crux of the matter. Your refusal to recognize the fundamental difference isn’t an argument.

    “If it is certain that you will X tomorrow, we might as well ask: (1) how is it in any sense certain that you will X tomorrow, if the universe is indeterministic?”

    Given that God transcends time, the certainty of what happens in our tomorrow is pretty trivial.

    “(2) how does it’s being certain not hurt your libertarian free will?”

    How would it? LFW isn’t incompatible with the idea that people will certainly make specific choices, simply that said choices are the only thing within their capacity.

    “…AP is not required for moral responsibility.”

    I wasn’t addressing that point.

    Further, as I’ve pointed out, applying the backwards reasoning of TNP consistently, it would have to be concluded that God wasn’t free in choosing either, which is simply absurd.

  9. (i) There are sophisticated libertarians who hold that free will requires an uncertain future, so it’s not a straw man.

    (ii) How does past facts about your actions being dependent upon your future choices help at all? Why is that a relevant difference? The point is if there are past facts about what you will do, then you don’t have the opportunity of refraining, as I have defined it.

    (iii) I can only assume that if you are a libertarian, then you’re going to hold to typical libertarian views. I think that’s an innocent assumption to make.

    (iv) ‘The part where I said, “Which I did address in my arguments…” e.g. “God’s knowledge of individual human choices is to some degree dependent upon the individuals’ independent self-determination.” Since what God knows about what will based upon what we will, His knowledge has no bearing upon our doing so.”

    No one is arguing that God’s knowledge has some kind of “causal power” or “causal effect” on what our actions are. If it doesn’t that doesn’t hurt the foreknowledge argument at all. The point is that you cannot do otherwise in a sense relevant to libertarian free action, namely, your doing otherwise is inconsistent with the past facts of the universe in conjunction with the laws of nature. How is it, again, that your not-Xing can be consistent with a complete description of the universe prior to your committing the act (or deciding to commit it)? You just said God knows what you will freely do; that’s not an answer.

    (v) “Ability (in a real-world sense) to do something necessarily implies opportunity. Neither opportunity nor ability imply actually doing. God’s knowledge of what we will certainly do would encompass the latter.”

    You’re not using my definitions, which I specifically brought up for the sake of making the discussion precise. I have “ability” to do otherwise even in a deterministic universe–it is not physically impossible given the current laws of nature that I run three miles, or I jump a certain distance in the air, or stop typing the post, etc.–even though I do not have “opportunity” to do the last thing because it is inconsistent with the past states of the universe in conjunction with the laws of nature.

    Again, how is it that on your view, you have opportunity–in my sense, which is pertinent to libertarian freedom–to not-X when God timelessly knows that you will X? Or that God revealed to a prophet you would X?

    (vi) I don’t refuse to acknowledge the distinction between certainty and necessity. I refuse to acknowledge its significance.

    (vii) I am not going to bother about indeterminism and time-transcendening and all that. I don’t know enough about the philosophy of time to talk about it.

    (viii) It doesn’t matter that you weren’t addressing Frankfurt cases; I was just pointing out a consequence of your views that you need to accept to be consistent.

    (ix) So what? I don’t think God was free in the sense you mean to choose the elect anyway.

  10. Steven,

    “There are sophisticated libertarians who hold that free will requires an uncertain future”

    Which has nothing to do with me, therefore it’s still a strawman.

    “How does past facts about your actions being dependent upon your future choices help at all?”

    Because the independence breaks the transfer of necessity from the past, since the truth values hold a future dependence/contingency that events don’t.

    “The point is if there are past facts about what you will do, then you don’t have the opportunity of refraining, as I have defined it.”

    Not necessarily, it simply means I won’t take said opportunities.

    “I can only assume that if you are a libertarian, then you’re going to hold to typical libertarian views.”

    Don’t assume. Most of your post is just stringing together claims with no backing….

    “…namely, your doing otherwise is inconsistent with the past facts of the universe in conjunction with the laws of nature.”

    No, it isn’t.

    “How is it, again, that your not-Xing can be consistent with a complete description of the universe prior to your committing the act (or deciding to commit it)? You just said God knows what you will freely do; that’s not an answer.”

    You have yet to show how it would be inconsistent without assuming determinism, so I haven’t needed to answer it.

    “You’re not using my definitions”

    I don’t equivocate, and you’re not defining clearly what you mean by ‘opportunity.’

    “it is not physically impossible … -even though I do not have “opportunity” to do the last thing because it is inconsistent with the past states of the universe in conjunction with the laws of nature.”

    Why is that?

    “Again, how is it that on your view, you have opportunity–in my sense…?

    Why wouldn’t I?

    “I don’t refuse to acknowledge the distinction between certainty and necessity. I refuse to acknowledge its significance.”

    And because you ignore the significance of a major paradigm, then your argument is defeated before you start.

    “I was just pointing out a consequence of your views that you need to accept to be consistent.”

    Given your leaps of logic so far, I highly doubt that.

    “So what? I don’t think God was free in the sense you mean to choose the elect anyway.”

    To be clear, are you saying that God couldn’t have done other than choose the specific people that He did? Do you mean He had to choose us?

  11. (i) “Which has nothing to do with me, therefore it’s still a strawman.”

    How is it a strawman of libertarianism? It may not be an accurate representation of *your* libertarianism, but that has nothing to do with your original claim, firstly, which was that I strawmanned libertarianism simpliciter, and secondly, you don’t exactly have your specific view laid out in great detailed in articles published in peer-reviewed journals, so can you blame me?

    (ii) “Because the independence breaks the transfer of necessity from the past, since the truth values hold a future dependence/contingency that events don’t.”

    I said nothing about transfer of necessity. I said consistency with the past facts of the universe in conjunction with the laws of nature.

    (iii) “Not necessarily, it simply means I won’t take said opportunities.”

    I already said how I defined opportunity. Either you’re not reading what I’m writing, or you’re being purposefully careless in your language. If there is a past fact about what you will do, then that eliminates all possible futures inconsistent with that fact. If there is a fact that “J.C. will do X at t” prior to t, then it seems obvious to me that you cannot not-X at t. That eliminates possible futures.

    If you don’t think it does, then it is incumbent upon you to explain how it is you have the opportunity—as I defined it—to not-X even if it was true before the fact that you would.

    (iv) “Don’t assume. Most of your post is just stringing together claims with no backing…”

    Maybe you can point it out?

    (v) “No, it isn’t.”

    What kind of response is this? I just said what the argument was attempting to prove.

    (vi) “You have yet to show how it would be inconsistent without assuming determinism, so I haven’t needed to answer it.”

    I don’t know what sense to make of a reply like that.

    Let’s make a conjunction. One conjunct will itself be a big conjunction, a complete description of all past states of the universe (as well as what is timelessly true), so let’s call that conjunct P. The other conjunct will be a conjunction of all the laws of nature. Let’s call that Q. What is possible for the future at any point of time is what is consistent with P·Q. You don’t have to be a determinist to agree with that—indeterminists will agree with that too, they just think that multiple propositions about the future are compossible with P·Q.

    Now if P contains something like “God believes S will X at t”, then it seems obvious to the intellect that only the proposition “S X’s at t” is consistent with that, because what God believes, he does so infallibly.

    But if the only proposition that can be true at t is “S X’s at t”, then there is no other proposition that can be true. S cannot refrain from X-ing, because it cannot be true at t that S refrains from X-ing.

    So without assuming determinism, I’ve shown ability to do otherwise to be inconsistent with foreknowlege.

    I can’t see why it is I’d have to show this, though This is the foreknowledge argument in a very straightforward way; if you require me to explain how it is inconsistent, then I don’t know what else to say besides that you don’t understand the problem. (I’ve noticed this is true of a number of Arminians on the web, so you’re not alone.)

    (vii) “I don’t equivocate, and you’re not defining clearly what you mean by ‘opportunity.’”

    I defined ‘opportunity’ about as clearly as libertarians define what they mean by “libertarian free choice”. Alfred Mele gives a nearly identical construal to my own in his book ‘Free Will and Luck’:

    “I call any free A-ings that occur at times at which the past (up to those times) and the laws of nature are consistent with the agent’s not A-ing then basically free actions” (6).

    William Vallicella also gives an indentical definition of free action (and what I am calling opportunity) here: http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2009/05/weak-and-strong-readings-of-could-have-done-otherwise.html

    That’s about as clear a definition of free action as you can get. And I simply define “opportunity” as any action that is consistent with the past in conjunction with the laws of nature. You have the opportunity to A if your A-ing is consistent with the past in conjunction with the laws of nature.

    If you still don’t think that’s clear, I don’t know what to tell you.

    (viii) “Why is that?”

    Assume the universe is deterministic, and assume further that it is false that I will stop in the middle of the sentence. Even those it is consistent with the laws of nature that I stop in the middle of the sentence—it wouldn’t be a miracle—it still the case that my stopping then was inconsistent with the laws of nature in conjunction with the past states of the universe in conjunction, because the universe is deterministic by hypothesis. So, though I had “ability” to stop, I had no “opportunity”.

    “Opportunity” as I’m defining it is what is necessary for many accounts of libertarian freedom of the will. If you never have any other opportunities for actions open to you but one, then you don’t have libertarian free will.

    (ix) “Why wouldn’t I?”

    I showed it above, but the fact that you don’t see it right away suggests a lot.

    (x) “And because you ignore the significance of a major paradigm, then your argument is defeated before you start.”

    I showed above, by my explanation of the argument, that the distinction is not significant.

    (xi) “Given your leaps of logic so far, I highly doubt that.”

    Kane and Widerker themselves admit that their objection to Frankfurt cases requires that you not be able to know with certainty what an agent would do in an indeterministic world ahead of time. If you really think you can know for certain what an agent would do in an indeterministic world before the fact, then you cannot object to Frankfurt cases on the same grounds as Kane and Widerker.

    (xii) “To be clear, are you saying that God couldn’t have done other than choose the specific people that He did? Do you mean He had to choose us?”

    “Had to” is misleading language; it suggests compulsion. I am saying that it could not have been different. God could not have chosen other people to be elect, so far as I can tell.

  12. Steven,

    “It may not be an accurate representation of *your* libertarianism”

    Nor of many libertarians. True for some doesn’t imply true for all of similar persuasion, unless of course you think we should judge all Calvinists by Fred Phelps.

    “I said nothing about transfer of necessity.”

    I said it because that’s the topic here.

    “I already said how I defined opportunity. Either you’re not reading what I’m writing, or you’re being purposefully careless in your language.”

    No, I’ve read what you’ve written, and you haven’t clearly defined what you mean in this case.

    “If there is a past fact about what you will do, then that eliminates all possible futures inconsistent with that fact.”

    The fact isn’t true in and of itself; it’s future-dependent, and thus itself doesn’t eliminate anything about the point it’s dependent upon.

    “If you don’t think it does, then it is incumbent upon you to explain how it is you have the opportunity—as I defined it—to not-X even if it was true before the fact that you would.”

    Which I already have: Since the fact itself is dependent upon my choice, then that fact itself doesn’t preclude any possible choice. It’s true, but dependent upon what I will choose to do. The fact that I won’t do differently doesn’t imply that I have no other choices.

    “Maybe you can point it out?”

    Things like, “…otherwise is inconsistent with the past facts of the universe in conjunction with the laws of nature.” Which weren’t really explained before.

    “What kind of response is this? I just said what the argument was attempting to prove.”

    Then start by presenting the argument, not just the assertion.

    “But if the only proposition that can be true at t is “S X’s at t”, then there is no other proposition that can be true. S cannot refrain from X-ing, because it cannot be true at t that S refrains from X-ing.”

    Which completely misses the point: If God believes S will do so because of S’s independent agency, then that says nothing about S not being free or being able to make other choices. Thus I’ve not only understood your ‘foreknowledge problem’ smokescreen, but dissipated it before you even started.

    “You have the opportunity to A if your A-ing is consistent with the past in conjunction with the laws of nature.”

    Okay, that’s a start. Now why wouldn’t power of contrary choice be consistent with these?

    “…because the universe is deterministic by hypothesis. So, though I had “ability” to stop, I had no “opportunity”.”

    But it doesn’t follow that intelligent, living agents are deterministic as the non-living elements in the universe.

    “I showed it above, but the fact that you don’t see it right away suggests a lot.”

    Steven, your condescending silliness is making even less sense than before. How can you reasonably expect people to understand you before you even define what you’re talking about?

    “I showed above, by my explanation of the argument, that the distinction is not significant.”

    No, you didn’t demonstrate this at all; you’re merely asserted that it’s not significant, and thus your arguments consistently fail.

    ““Had to” is misleading language; it suggests compulsion. I am saying that it could not have been different. God could not have chosen other people to be elect, so far as I can tell.”

    Ah yes, reduced to the ridiculous. It’s fairly evident then where such necessitarian nonsense leads.

  13. (i) “Nor of many libertarians. True for some doesn’t imply true for all of similar persuasion, unless of course you think we should judge all Calvinists by Fred Phelps.”

    It’s the position of prominent libertarians like Kane and Widerker. That’s sufficient for its not being a straw man.

    (ii) “No, I’ve read what you’ve written, and you haven’t clearly defined what you mean in this case.”

    Then I don’t know what to tell you.

    (iii) “The fact isn’t true in and of itself; it’s future-dependent, and thus itself doesn’t eliminate anything about the point it’s dependent upon.”

    Why this is relevant, you have yet to show. You’re just asserting things without telling me their significance.

    (iv) “Which I already have: Since the fact itself is dependent upon my choice, then that fact itself doesn’t preclude any possible choice. It’s true, but dependent upon what I will choose to do. The fact that I won’t do differently doesn’t imply that I have no other choices.”

    You’re not even reading what I’m writing, because you’ve said this a couple times now without telling me what is so significant about it.

    If the grand conjunction of past facts along with laws of nature contains “S will X at t”, then show me how it is that S can do otherwise than X, in the libertarian sense, in the sense of “opportunity” as I’ve defined it, etc. If the grand conjunction contains that fact, then “S will not X at t” is inconsistent with it, which means S cannot do otherwise.

    (v) “Then start by presenting the argument, not just the assertion.”

    Your whole post is on the foreknowledge argument, why the hell should I have to flesh it out for you? You are the one who either doesn’t understand the argument, or isn’t interested in reading what I have to say (both seem very likely), because your replies make no sense.

    (vi) “Which completely misses the point: If God believes S will do so because of S’s independent agency, then that says nothing about S not being free or being able to make other choices. Thus I’ve not only understood your ‘foreknowledge problem’ smokescreen, but dissipated it before you even started.”

    How is this an objection to what I’ve written? Can’t you be a bit more clear when you’re objecting to someone’s arguments? Which premises are false?

    Where P is the complete description of the past, and Q is the complete description of the laws of nature:

    1. What S can do at t is what is consistent with P·Q (definition of “can”)
    2. If God exists, then P contains “God timelessly believes S will A at t” (God’s essential omniscience)
    3. If (2), then “S A’s at t” is the only thing consistent with P·Q (by God’s infallibility)
    C. Therefore, A-ing at t is the only thing S can do. (1-3)

    Tell me which premises you are rejecting here, because your writing doesn’t make it obvious. What does God’s believing some fact *because* of S’s independent agency have to do with anything that I wrote? Didn’t you read earlier that I told you whether or not God’s beliefs are causative is irrelevant to the conclusion of the argument? Why do you bring that up again?

    (vii) “Okay, that’s a start. Now why wouldn’t power of contrary choice be consistent with these?”

    ‘That’s a start’? I gave that exact definition in my first or second comment—is this your concession that you weren’t reading what I was writing?”

    I showed you above why power of contrary choice isn’t consistent with it.

    (viii) “Steven, your condescending silliness is making even less sense than before. How can you reasonably expect people to understand you before you even define what you’re talking about?”

    My second comment on your post contained my definition of what I meant by “opportunity”.

    I said, Let’s say you have the “ability” to do X just in case it is not physically impossible that you do X. Let’s say you have the “opportunity” to do X just in case your X-ing at t is consistent with the grand conjunction of past facts about the universe and the laws of nature.

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/the-transfer-of-nonsense-principle/#comment-4318

    This should be proof enough that you are not reading what I’m writing.

    (ix) “No, you didn’t demonstrate this at all; you’re merely asserted that it’s not significant, and thus your arguments consistently fail.”

    Could you care to show me how the certainty/necessity distinction helps you in getting out of the foreknowledge argument as I explained above? Whether any past fact is certain or necessary, it doesn’t matter; it is still the case that if they entail the negation of all but one proposition describing your behavior, you can only do one thing. Certain or necessary, it doesn’t help you.

    (x) “Ah yes, reduced to the ridiculous. It’s fairly evident then where such necessitarian nonsense leads.”

    Assertion, not argument.

  14. Steven,

    SN: “That’s sufficient for its not being a straw man.”

    When dealing with the beliefs of libertarians who distinctly reject such a notion, hardly.

    “JCT:…it’s future-dependent, and thus itself doesn’t eliminate anything about the point it’s dependent upon.”

    SN: Why this is relevant, you have yet to show.

    Obviously, because what isn’t dependent upon some factor X isn’t constrained by that factor. E.g. free choices aren’t dependent upon facts about them, the facts are dependent upon the choices, therefore the choices aren’t constrained by the accompanying facts with choice-dependent truth values.

    SN: “If the grand conjunction of past facts along with laws of nature contains “S will X at t”, then show me how it is that S can do otherwise than X, in the libertarian sense, in the sense of “opportunity” as I’ve defined it, etc.”

    “Whether any past fact is certain or necessary, it doesn’t matter; it is still the case that if they entail the negation of all but one proposition describing your behavior, you can only do one thing.”

    Because (in the libertarian view) that fact is true only if S will X at t (fact dependent upon agency). If the fact depends upon the creature doing so and not vice-versa, then this is tantamount to arguing, “given that S will X at t, S can’t do differently,” which says nothing about free agency, since X or ~X at t was decided by the agency of S to begin with.

    SN: “…why the h*ll should I have to flesh it out for you?”

    Because the argument as I addressed it was fairly inept, so your approach would have to be different to be viable.

    SN: “Which premises are false?

    “What does God’s believing some fact *because* of S’s independent agency have to do with anything that I wrote?”

    Assuming that God has allowed determine-A to be a free choice: The reason God timelessly believes 2 is because of S’s independent agency. So this would essentially be saying, “given that S’s free agency determine-A at t, S can only do A at t [assuming S isn't constrained by some means],” which is pretty univerally agreed upon. What I’m saying is that it was within the power of S’s agency to ~determine-A, in which case God would have infallibly known in eternity that S would ~A at t. So given that S could have independently self-determined differently than that which corresponds to A, it’s fair to say that S could have done differently than A at t without God changing any other factors.

    SN: “Why do you bring that up again?”

    Because your arguments seem to be trying to use God’s knowledge as a constraint upon what His creatures can do.

    SN: “…you weren’t reading what I was writing?”

    That would be difficult since I addressed it in my second comment. Simply saying, “Let’s say you have the “opportunity” to do X just in case your X-ing at t is consistent with the grand conjunction….,” isn’t very clearly-worded or sufficient clarification as to your meaning that ‘opportunity’ consistently implies only doing things in accordance with your idea of the ‘grand conjunction’ etc., much less explain why my beliefs aren’t consistent with God’s foreknowledge.

    SN: “You’re not even reading what I’m writing, because you’ve said this a couple times now without telling me what is so significant about it.”

    That doesn’t follow. How does my not explaining it to your satisfaction constitute not reading what you say? Your accusation that I’m “not reading” appears to flow from mere conjecture rather than objective analysis.

    SN: “I showed you above why power of contrary choice isn’t consistent with it.”

    You’d have to actually get around to addressing my views more to do that.

    SN: “Assertion, not argument.”

    Trivial, since a discerning Christian can easily figure out that some philosophy teaching that the sovereign and independent God’s “gracious” choosing was really just Him making the only choices He could because He was powerless to (in reality) effect any others (subjecting God Himself to necessity), is critically flawed.

    Even where it concerns people, Ben and I have both argued that exhaustive determinism is simply incompatible with the biblical record, since it nullifies the promise of sufficient grace against temptation.

    “No temptation has overtaken you but such as common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Cor 10:13)

    Adopting determinism, we’d have to change this to, “there’s no temptation you’ve fallen to that you had any real opportunity to endure,” which is a plain defiance of scripture.

  15. Steven,

    You are welcome to comment here, but please refrain from using offensive language (e.g. “Why the hell…?, etc.). Surely you can make your points just as well without it.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  16. Ok J.C., let’s tidy up the conversation because I don’t want to go back and forth with one-liners the whole time.

    I’m going to drop all talk of fatalism and of straw men, because the foreknowledge argument is more important and more interesting issue.

    I’ll define now-necessity as following:

    x is now-necessary for S at t only if S cannot act at t to make it such that x does not obtain

    Let’s write “x is now-necessary for S at t” in the following way: N(x,S,t)

    I’ll define can as following:

    S can A iff the proposition “S does A” is consistent with the conjunction P·Q, where P is the complete description of the past states of the universe and Q is the complete description of the laws of nature

    Now. My claim is as follows. Let p = God timelessly believed S will A at t, and q = S does A at t

    N(p,S,t)
    N(p ⊃ q, S,t)
    :. N(q,S,t)

    What this is says is that at t, S cannot act in such a way as to make it that the proposition p doesn’t obtain because it is inconsistent with the conjunction of the past states of the universe and the laws of nature, P·Q.

    Furthermore, S cannot act in such a way as to make it so that the fact that God’s believing X entails X does not obtain.

    Finally, this means that S cannot act in such a way as to make it so that the proposition q doesn’t obtain—and since q is a proposition about his behavior, this means he can only do one thing. He lacks AP.

    You claim that if God’s beliefs are timeless, they do not have now-necessity. I’ve defined all the terms, so there cannot any longer be a lack of clarity. Now-necessity does not include any notion of causal constraint, or compulsion, or anything of that sort. It just says you can’t act to make it such that it won’t obtain.

    Why the banana does God’s beliefs being timeless, then, make it such you can act in such a way as to make it so that they don’t obtain?

  17. I don’t imagine you’re going to deny 1 because that is tantamount to saying that it is not a fact at t that p.

    I don’t imagine you’ll deny 2 either.

  18. Steven,

    First premise is incorrect, it’s not now-necessary (i.e out of the agent’s control altogether) that God believes S will A at t (addressed in par. 2 of Zagzebski’s dilemma). Where free choices are concerned, God’s knowing whether S will A or ~A at t is contingent upon S’s independent self-determination. Since what’s known about the agent’s actions/choices is within the agent’s power to such degree that if S self-determines to act differently, then God (from time-transcendent perspective) knows differently, and therefore it can be rightly said that S could do differently.

    Given that S actually self-determines to A at t [assuming no other constraints], on which basis God knows his action, then yes, there is no other result possible, which says absolutely nothing against libertarian agency, since doing A or ~A at t was up to S to begin with.

    If I stand in front of a mirror, whether I raise either my right or left hand, I won’t do differently than what the mirror reflects, because the mirror will reflect either choice I make. Since God knows what I will do based upon my agency, I can’t do ‘differently than God knows’ on the same principle that I can’t raise the hand that will be unraised in the mirror: because both items as they relate to my own decisions are dependent upon me. So S can determine whether some specific result obtains rather than another, but it won’t be different than what God knows because both S’s action and God’s knowledge thereof have the common source of S’s agency.

  19. J.C.

    Here is what I understand you to be saying.

    If S will A at t then God knows it and no other result is possible.

    If S will not A at t then God knows it and no other result is possible.

    The question that I have is when does it become factual or true to God?

    It would seem that the fact/truth value would not come into play until after S self-determined to A or ~A, how does that not make God dependent on S?

    Am I wrong to infer that God then learns or gains knowledge about S? That would seem like a logical result from stated position and one that can easily be seen by the example of the mirror you used. S can raise his left hand or right hand, the mirror only reflects what S does after S does it.

    The argument would look like this

    God knows that S will A at t only after t or t+1? That being true then God learns or gains knowledge about S at t+1 because until S self determines to A or ~A there is no fact or truth to know.

  20. Mitch, I’ve explained to you before as well as in the post that I believe God’s knowledge isn’t limited by time, and thus your question of “when” is entirely misplaced.

  21. I’m trying to understand the logic of it and if the simple logic above is wrong then please feel free to correct it by telling me where and how it is wrong.

    BTW I assumed you would not have a problem saying that God is dependent on S as I believe you have stated God’s dependency on S before.

    The only thing I wanted to see is if you agree with the logic above.

  22. Mitch,

    Like J.C. said, he has explained these things to you before. Discussing issues like this with you can be frustrating for that reason. We always need to cover the same ground and never seem to get anywhere. I am not sure if it is a case of you not listening carefully, or just having a very short memory, or maybe something else. If you disagree, then just disagree; if you don’t like the answer you get, that’s fine too, but please don’t just keep repeating the same sorts of questions over and over as if they have not been addressed.

    BTW I assumed you would not have a problem saying that God is dependent on S as I believe you have stated God’s dependency on S before.

    Wrong. J.C. has never said that God is dependent on our choices. What he has said is that God’s knowledge of our choices is dependent on those choices. How could it be otherwise? If God never created us, would he know anything about us? Of course not. So God’s knowledge of us is dependent on their being an “us” to know something about. But that is not the same as saying that God Himself is somehow dependent on His creatures, which seems to be what you are implying when you continue to bring this up despite the fact that we have addressed it and explained what we see to be the problem in your reasoning. If you have something new to add, then feel free, but if you continue to bring up the same issues that have been addressed here many times, then do not be surprised if your questions are ignored.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  23. Ben,

    Perhaps this too is old ground and if so please feel free to ignore it, but when you say

    God’s knowledge of us is dependent on their being an “us” to know something about

    When does the ”us” come into being?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but if the “us” are self-determining agents then the “us” would have to physically exist and make choices before there can be any knowledge of what the “us” will do.

  24. Ben,

    I’ve already told him my views on middle-knowledge via email, and touched on them as well as given a link to a more thorough treatment in this post. Not that it would do him much good, since Mitch simply assumes that I’m lying anyway….

  25. I will always let you know if I believe you to be lying, as far as I can see from this post and my comments I have not called anyone a liar.

    I’m trying to understand the logic of it, nothing more nothing less.

  26. When I referred to Mitch thinking I’m lying, I was referencing his complete meltdown in this post: http://puritanreformed.blogspot.com/2010/02/rom-5-doctrine-of-imputation-and.html

    With quotes like,

    “You have repeatedly shown yourself to be a liar and incapable of understanding even the simplest of concepts.”

    Since he’s willing to assume that I’m a liar with no basis whatsoever whenever it suits him, then I can only conclude that any attempt to answer his ‘curiosities’ is pointless.

  27. I fail to see the significance of bringing up a completely un-related post on another blog. As anyone can see the time, context and circumstances were all different than what has transpired here.

    If anything this goes to show that you are harboring some hurt feelings and wish to drag them into this post and comments. There is such a thing as letting go and moving on.

    I challenge you or anyone here that can point to where I called you a liar in this thread dealing with this topic.

    My comments here have been on point and courteous. I’ve asked where the logic is wrong and how it would work out. Instead of addressing the simple logic we get innuendo and poisoning of the well.

    Not wanting to cause anymore strife I will just drop it. If someone would be kind enough to show the error in my logic please email me at email address under my profile.

  28. (i) “First premise is incorrect, it’s not now-necessary (i.e out of the agent’s control altogether) that God believes S will A at t (addressed in par. 2 of Zagzebski’s dilemma). Where free choices are concerned, God’s knowing whether S will A or ~A at t is contingent upon S’s independent self-determination. Since what’s known about the agent’s actions/choices is within the agent’s power to such degree that if S self-determines to act differently, then God (from time-transcendent perspective) knows differently, and therefore it can be rightly said that S could do differently.”

    It’s not obvious to me how p is not now-necessary for S at t given what you’ve written. Presumably, it was true at the creation of the universe that God timelessly believes S will A at t; the timeless truths have priority over the temporal truths, and so are included in P·Q (conjunction of the history of the universe plus laws of nature). But if they are in P·Q, then S cannot act in such a way as to keep them from obtaining, by the definition of “can”.

    What you’ve written doesn’t really explain to me how S could do differently, apart from maybe suggesting that it is not presently a fact that God timelessly believes what anyone will do in the future. That would do it, but it is just plain false that there is no fact *now* about what God believes agents will do in the future.

    (ii) “Given that S actually self-determines to A at t [assuming no other constraints], on which basis God knows his action, then yes, there is no other result possible, which says absolutely nothing against libertarian agency, since doing A or ~A at t was up to S to begin with.”

    This is question-begging because you haven’t shown how to A or not-A was up to S; if “God timelessly believes S will A at t” is true prior to t, which it seems obvious that it is, then it is contained in P·Q and it is not obvious that doing A or ~A was up to S to begin with.

  29. Steven,

    “…the timeless truths have priority over the temporal truths…What you’ve written doesn’t really explain to me how S could do differently, apart from maybe suggesting that it is not presently a fact that God timelessly believes….”

    My speculation, as I allude to in the post and provide a link explaining further, is that God knows from outside time what we will/do within time based upon His ability to perceive our self-determination abstracted from the context of space-time, which would form the basis of His middle-knowledge logically prior to His instantiating this world.

    Given that such agency is independent to some degree, but roughly equivalent to “already finished self-determining” in God’s transcendent perspective, it can then be said in the same sense that it (one’s self-determination within God’s perspective) “could have been different” apart from God changing any other factors. This would translate to libertarian free will within time, since it would mean some choices weren’t externally necessitated, but dependent upon creature free agency.

    “This is question-begging because you haven’t shown how to A or not-A was up to S”

    Since the discussion centers on possible problems/resolutions with libertarian agency and foreknowledge, that’s naturally assumed for sake of argument. Though I already did cite the example of above of the believer’s sufficiency of grace to overcome temptation, meaning that in the context of God’s grace and provision, resisting temptation is within the range of our agency (i.e. we’re not tempted beyond what we’re able), though we obviously don’t always go with that option.

  30. (i) “My speculation, as I allude to in the post and provide a link explaining further, is that God knows from outside time what we will/do within time based upon His ability to perceive our self-determination abstracted from the context of space-time, which would form the basis of His middle-knowledge logically prior to His instantiating this world.

    Given that such agency is independent to some degree, but roughly equivalent to “already finished self-determining” in God’s transcendent perspective, it can then be said in the same sense that it (one’s self-determination within God’s perspective) “could have been different” apart from God changing any other factors. This would translate to libertarian free will within time, since it would mean some choices weren’t externally necessitated, but dependent upon creature free agency.”

    It is less clear to me now how premise one is false than it was before. Even if “some choices weren’t externally necessitated, but dependent upon [the creature's] free agency”, it doesn’t follow that they could have done otherwise, if by “externally necessitated” you mean something like causally determined or necessitated. Absence of causal determinism isn’t sufficient for ability to do otherwise. Peter van Inwagen, for instance, doesn’t believe that many of our choices are “externally necessitated” while still thinking that for many of them, we couldn’t have done otherwise. Furthermore, I’m suggesting God’s timelessly knowing what an agent will do at time is sufficient for his lacking ability to do otherwise.

    I’ve given a typical libertarian understanding of ability to do otherwise: an agent can do otherwise, the history of the world in up to that point conjunction with the laws of nature remaining the same. Maybe you don’t buy that typical understanding, and you don’t mean the same thing when you say something like the agent could have done otherwise. Can you tell me what you mean when you say an agent could have done otherwise?

    (ii) “Since the discussion centers on possible problems/resolutions with libertarian agency and foreknowledge, that’s naturally assumed for sake of argument. Though I already did cite the example of above of the believer’s sufficiency of grace to overcome temptation, meaning that in the context of God’s grace and provision, resisting temptation is within the range of our agency (i.e. we’re not tempted beyond what we’re able), though we obviously don’t always go with that option.”

    Obviously if my objection is sound, then your understanding of the text is wrong. You can’t appeal to the text when I’m arguing against your view, because the argument affects your understanding of the text (which isn’t obvious, btw) as well. And of course you can’t just assume libertarian agency is compatible with foreknowledge when I’m suggesting it isn’t.

  31. Is there a time when the agent’s acting so that the proposition “God timelessly believes S will A at t” is consistent with the conjunction of the history of the universe up to that point and the laws of nature? That’s the first question; what you mean by “S could have done otherwise at t” is the second question.

  32. Steven,

    “Even if “some choices weren’t externally necessitated, but dependent upon [the creature's] free agency”, it doesn’t follow that they could have done otherwise…”

    I’ve already qualified it with, “it can then be said in the same sense that it (one’s self-determination within God’s perspective) “could have been different” apart from God changing any other factors.” If self-determination were different, our actions/choices would then be different (they would do otherwise).

    “Furthermore, I’m suggesting God’s timelessly knowing what an agent will do at time is sufficient for his lacking ability to do otherwise.”

    Which is moot if what God knows about what the agent will do is dependent upon its free agency, as I stated above: “…this would essentially be saying, “given that S’s free agency determine-A at t, S can only do A at t …What I’m saying is that it was within the power of S’s agency to ~determine-A….”

    “You can’t appeal to the text when I’m arguing against your view, because the argument affects your understanding of the text….”

    But I can, since the scriptures are the basis of my beliefs, and the inference from the text can’t be reasonably denied. So the passage is valid and substantial evidence against the idea that “we can’t help but sin sometimes.”

    “you can’t just assume libertarian agency is compatible with foreknowledge when I’m suggesting it isn’t.”

    Which is why the notion is backed by argument….

    Your first question needs clarification, can you explain it a bit? The second is answered in the first paragraph above.

  33. This is becoming tiresome.

    You say that “an agent could have done otherwise” means “If self-determination were different, our actions/choices would then be different (they would do otherwise)”, but you also say that our self-determination “could have been different apart from God changing any other factors,” and by “factors” I assume you mean something like all those things which would contribute to our being able to make the choice, namely, the complete history of the universe up to that point in time in conjunction with the laws of nature.

    So I’m assuming you are going to take this to be what you mean by “could have done otherwise”:

    An agent S could have done otherwise than A at t iff he could have self-determined to not-A at t, the history of the universe and laws of nature up to t remaining the same.

    And I’ll once more define “can” as:

    S can do A at t iff his A-ing is consistent with the complete history of the universe up to t in conjunction with the laws of nature.

    In other words, S can A at t iff the proposition “S does A at t” is consistent with the conjunction of the history of the world up to t and the laws of nature. There is a corollary of this for “could” talk, namely, S could have A’d at t iff the proposition “S does A at t” is consistent with the conjunction of the history of the world up to t and the laws of nature.

    Remember my definition of now-necessary. X is now-necessary for S at t iff at t, S cannot act to keep X from obtaining. If S can act at t to keep x from obtaining, then X has not presently obtained, and it is up to S to either allow it to obtain or not. This is because, to say that S can act at t as as to keep X from obtaining, is to say that the conjunction of the history of the universe up to the point of action and the laws of nature (1) does not entail X, and that (2) it does not entail the negation of the proposition “S does A at t”, where A would be any act such that S’s committing it is sufficient for preventing X from obtaining. If S can so act—that is, if S can keep X from obtaining by committing A—then the proposition “S does A”, or “S acts at t so that x does not obtain” is consistent with the complete history of the universe up to t and the laws of nature.

    If a proposition of the form “S does A at t” is now-necessary for S at t, then S does not act freely, by definition. This is because no other proposition besides “S does A at t” can be true at t.

    My suggestion was that, contained in the conjunction of the history of the universe and the laws of nature, which I have been calling P·Q, is the proposition “God timelessly believes that S will A at t”. The complete history of the universe, if you were to write it out, would contain the sentence “God timelessly believes S will A at t”. It is already a fact that God timelessly believes S will A at t, in other words. This means that the proposition “S does not A at t” is inconsistent with that set, and since the set is true—that is, since it is a conjunction that contains all true conjuncts—that first proposition, “S does not A at t,” cannot be true given the way the world is; in other words, S cannot not-A at t. If “God timelessly believes that S will A at t” cannot be prevented from obtaining by S at t, then it is now-necessary for S at t. In fact, any proposition contained in P·Q will be now-necessary for S at t just by definition.

    I don’t know how to be much clearer than this. Either you get it and we can advance the discussion, or we call it quits, cuz this isn’t going anywhere. Once more I’ll formulate my argument, a bit more explicitly than last time.

    Where P = the complete history of the world up to t, Q = the laws of nature, G = God timelessly believes S will A at t, N(x,S,t) = x is now-necessary for S at t, A = S does not A at t, Fxt = x acts freely at t, s = some agent

    1.[(P·Q) ⊃ G] ⊃ ~[(P·Q)·A] (premise)
    2.(P·Q) ⊃ G (premise)
    3.~[(P·Q)·A] (1,2 MP)
    4.~[(P·Q)·A] ⊃ N(~A,s,t) (definition of “now-necessary”)
    5.N(~A,s,t) (3,4 MP)
    6.N(~A,s,t) ⊃ ~F(s,t) (definition of “free act”)
    7.~F(s,t) (5,6 MP)

    Now my argument is explicit. Choose which premise you deny.

    You can’t deny 1 because that one is just plain obvious. You can deny 2 by claiming that “God timelessly believes S will A at t” is not a part of the history of the universe. You can’t deny anything else without denying 2. So I’m going to say you are going to try to deny 2. How you’ll do it, I don’t know. Or maybe you’ll deny some of my definitions; I don’t see why you would, though.

    I would appreciate it if you be as clear as possible as to which move you are going to make.

  34. I can’t tell from a lot of what you’ve been writing what exactly it is you’re arguing. Sometimes you say that because God’s beliefs are explanatorily posterior to our choosings, then somehow free will is preserved. But it isn’t clear what premise you’re denying there–so choose one and argue.

  35. Oh…you’re just re-hashing to the same lame argument that I refuted to begin with.

    Premises 1, 3, & 4 seem to be incorrectly written, since by de Morgan’s law, the inverse of a conjunction is a disjunction of the inverse of both operands. Which would make 4. mean that…“if there were no history OR no laws of the universe” OR “S doesn’t A at t” then “S failing to not A at t is now necessary” (??)

    But even if you had written it correctly, it would still prove nothing about free agency, since 3. is already assuming ~A which (in the libertarian view) would have been decided by S, and is thus effectively conceding my point. To further the problem, S’s causation isn’t factored in at all in the beginning premises, which seems to frame it as God knowing S will A at t apart from S’s agency entirely.

    “An agent S could have done otherwise than A at t iff he could have self-determined to not-A at t….”

    Adopting the past tense, “…iff he had self-determined to not-A…”

    “This is because, to say that S can act at t as as to keep X from obtaining, is to say that the conjunction of the history of the universe up to the point of action and the laws of nature (1) does not entail X, and that (2) it does not entail the negation of the proposition “S does A at t””

    If you factor in what God knows transcendently, then this ‘conjunction’ would necessarily encapsulate S’s free agency which is the basis of God’s knowledge about S’s choices. I never claimed, nor is it necessary to LFW that S could will differently than it self-determines.

    So if, self_determine(S, A, t) -> G, and self_determine(S, A, t) -> A (order of logical precedence self_determine(S…), G, A), then this doesn’t preclude the idea that it could have been self_determine(S, ~A, t), just that whatever S self-determines is what it’s going to do (and what God knows S will do).

  36. I don’t think I am going to continue this with you JC. You are saying a whole lot without telling me which premise is false, you’re wrong about the de Morgans (or at least your writing is misleading, because a denial of a conjunction won’t give you a conditional statement, not one like the conditional you wrote), you’re not defining some of your terms (like “self-determine”), you’re not telling me if any of my definitions are incorrect or misleading (your correction to my definition of “could have done otherwise” is strange and I don’t understand it, and you seem to be suggesting my definition of “now-necessary” is not right, but without correcting it), and this is not going anywhere. I had a reply typed up but it isn’t going to accomplish much anyway. It was not fun while it lasted. Don’t even try to take this as a concession of defeat, because it is not–I am tired of going back and forth with someone about as clear as fog and won’t tell me which premises of my argument are false.

  37. Steven,

    I’m quite right about de Morgan’s law, since inverting a conjunction provably does yield the disjunction of the inverse operands. My framing the statement as conditional isn’t problematic, since if-then statements are logically equivalent to material implication.

    I already pointed out that premise 3 assumes ~A, which given that we’re discussing ramifications of free agency, must assume that ~A because of S’s free agency, and therefore sabotages the whole argument for necessity.

    If it’s granted for sake of argument that event(S, X, t) and knows(God, event(S, X, t)) because self-determine(S, X, t); to say that knows(God, event(S, A, t)), therefore ~event(S, ~A, t) simply tells us that S acts according to how S self-determines (which I agree with). It wouldn’t imply anything about S somehow being not free in so determining because of God’s knowledge that’s based thereon.

    If it’s not granted for sake of argument that event(S, X, t) and knows(God, event(S, X, t)) because self-determine(S, X, t), then all one can hope to prove from such an argument is that libertarian agency is problematic if determinism is assumed.

  38. Steven,

    It’s me, your alter-ego again. Not really, but anyway.

    I think the discussion isn’t going anywhere because you are very difficult to understand. Perhaps not for the Philosophy PhD’s of the world, but I don’t think there’s a room full of them here.

    Maybe you don’t want to explain things to the lay-man, but even Jesus boiled his truths down to there common elements.

    I am interested in the discussion, because I am interested in truth. You have not been convincing to me so far simply because I don’t think you have addressed J.C.’s caveat or objection or whatever you want to call it. Here is the issue as it stands to me.

    God knows exactly what I will do. It is certain. There is no changing it if he knows it.

    I have free will to make whatever choices I want.

    God knows exactly what I will do because he knows the choices I will make. They appear as choices to me, they ARE choices to me, but God knew ahead of time what they would be.

    How are those concepts incompatible? What about God knowing ahead of time limits our ability to choose?

    I sincerely want to know, and appreciate your time in responding.

    -steven

  39. Hello Steven (the good one with common sense), :-)

    I appreciated your post as you presented real common sense statements.

    “I think the discussion isn’t going anywhere because you are very difficult to understand. Perhaps not for the Philosophy PhD’s of the world, but I don’t think there’s a room full of them here.
    Maybe you don’t want to explain things to the lay-man, but even Jesus boiled his truths down to there common elements.”

    The problem is that when one person tries to set the agenda, set up the rules of the game (example = unless you deal with X the way that I want you to deal with X, [which is a set up and contrived], then you are not **really** dealing with my argument), and the other person refuses to play by their rules, you really cannot have a good game. :-)

    “I am interested in the discussion, because I am interested in truth. You have not been convincing to me so far simply because I don’t think you have addressed J.C.’s caveat or objection or whatever you want to call it.”

    Part of the evasion again goes back to: unless you play by my rules . . . Josh isn’t giving in to the demands, so the discussion is log jammed.

    “Here is the issue as it stands to me.
    God knows exactly what I will do. It is certain. There is no changing it if he knows it. “

    Correct, God knows everything including your future actions.

    Since God knows they will in fact occur, they will occur with certainty.

    There is no changing it, not because it has to occur that way (i.e. necessity), but because it will in fact occur (i.e. certainty) that way. No matter what you end up doing, you will do something and God knows what you will end up doing.

    “I have free will to make whatever choices I want.”

    Sometimes.

    Sometimes you have and make your own choices. Sometimes due to various circumstances and factors you may not be able to do what you want to do. But even then you have choices as to how you adjust and how you respond to what blocks you from doing what you want to do. So some options get eliminated, but there are always options. And since there are always options you always have choices.

    “God knows exactly what I will do because he knows the choices I will make.”

    Right, he knows how you will freely choose. And he knows it because he knows everything.

    “They appear as choices to me, they ARE choices to me, but God knew ahead of time what they would be.”

    If your action did involve free will then yes the choice is up to you. And again since God knows everything including our freely made choices, he knows with certainty what you will freely choose to do.

    “How are those concepts incompatible?”

    They are not.

    I wrote a short paper on this that you may want to check out here:

    http://evangelicalarminians.org/outcomes-foreknowledge-freewill

    “What about God knowing ahead of time limits our ability to choose?”

    It doesn’t and I demonstrate this in the paper. Just because God knows Steve is going to a specific sin in the future, does not mean that God made Steve sin, or necessitated Steven’s sin, if Steven freely chooses to sin. If he freely chose to do that particular sin then he also and should have freely chosen not to do that particular sin. If he chooses to do that particular sin then God would have foreknown that. If he chooses not to do that particular sin then God would have foreknown that. No matter what he chooses to do, God foreknows it before he does it and yet he does so freely and his action is not necessitated (if the action involved free will).

    “I sincerely want to know, and appreciate your time in responding.”

    Steven read that paper, and tell me what you think of it. I wrote it intentionally in a simple way so that anyone could understand it.

    Robert

  40. Robert,

    You seem like a reasonable man and I would like to ask you some simple questions.

    If S does A then God knows.

    If S does B then God knows.

    Whether S does A or B, God will know before S does it because God knows everything. I think that you would agree with what I wrote, but if not please correct where I went off of the path.

    In order for one to have knowledge there must be some knowledge to know, correct?

    Since S is a self-determining being then before S does either A/B there is no knowledge about what S will do. What am I missing here???

    If I am the creator of my choice then until I create there is nothing to know. This is a far out example, but say that you were there before God created the Earth, God could decide to create or not create, you would not know until God created. Because God was the self-determining being that chose to create. Does that make sense?

    I’m not trying to be a troll, or divisive, or condescending, or anything else, I just really want to know how anyone would have knowledge of something that is not knowable/created yet by another self-determining being.

    Is the answer a mystery that we cannot grasp?

  41. Steven (the one who denies LFW),

    Your stance against LFW and your strong language in attacking it seems very strange to me in lieu of the fact that just last November you said that you had come to embrace LFW since determinism couldn’t make sense of moral accountability:

    http://steven-n.blogspot.com/2009/11/on-free-will.html

  42. It is difficult for me to respond to “Mitch” as I have seen him in action in the past. I also noticed that at a Calvinistic blog today he wrote:

    “They should’ve just sticked to bashing Calvinism, they were good at burning those straw men and getting a pat on the back from all their friends, instead they have put forward their view of Arminianism LFW and the world sees that it is nothing more than Open Theism with lipstick.”

    So we are good at burning straw men and our view of libertarian free will is something the “world sees as nothing more than Open Theism with lipstick”?

    He says that and then he comes in here and writes:

    “I’m not trying to be a troll, or divisive, or condescending, or anything else,”

    It is hard for me to believe that as in the past (and even today judging by that comment cited above) he has been/is a Calvinist troll, divisive, condescending, etc.

    When a Calvinist troll comes in and posts we need to be on alert looking for the set up they are trying to accomplish.

    Mitch says he has some innocent questions to ask.

    Unbelievably Mitch also thinks just like an open theist which again makes you wonder if this is some sort of set up.

    Quick summary = open theists deny that God knows the future, especially if those future events involve libertarian free will choices. They have developed various arguments to suggest that God cannot know the future. One of them goes like this: God knows everything that can be known so whatever now exists or has existed God knows. But if something does not yet exist then there is nothing to know even for God. Since future choices have not yet occurred and do not yet exist, even God cannot know what they will be. The bible presents that God knows everything and the open theist is operating from questionable and false assumptions.

    Here is their argument again: Unless X exists now, it cannot be known now. Our future choices do not exist now, so even God cannot know them now. Therefore God does not foreknow future events involving libertarian free will.

    Now with these things in mind consider Mitch’s words.

    “I would like to ask you some simple questions.
    If S does A then God knows.
    If S does B then God knows.
    Whether S does A or B, God will know before S does it because God knows everything. I think that you would agree with what I wrote, but if not please correct where I went off of the path.”

    So far Mitch is presenting standard non-Calvinist thinking on God’s foreknowledge and our free will choices.

    But then inexplicably he starts talking just like an open theist:

    “In order for one to have knowledge there must be some knowledge to know, correct?”

    God had not yet created the world and He knew what the creation would be like as well as what every person would choose to do (though the creation and these persons did not yet exist). According to Mitch/the open theist’s question here, unless there was something to know, unless it already existed, there would be nothing for God to know.

    This states an open theist presupposition: you can only know what exists, if it does not now exist then you cannot know it. Do I believe that? No, but open theists do and Mitch sounds just like an open theist.

    Mitch continues with:

    “Since S is a self-determining being then before S does either A/B there is no knowledge about what S will do. What am I missing here???”

    Stated very well for an open theist or someone trying to create a set up.

    “If I am the creator of my choice then until I create there is nothing to know.”

    Wow according to this open theist logic being displayed so well by Mitch, until Mitch makes his choice there is nothing to know (so I guess then God couldn’t know it either since no one can know something unless there is something to know, hmm?).

    “This is a far out example, but say that you were there before God created the Earth, God could decide to create or not create, you would not know until God created. Because God was the self-determining being that chose to create. Does that make sense?”

    No it doesn’t make sense because again you are thinking like an open theist. By this identical reasoning, before Mitch decides whether or not to have a beer on Saturday, God would not know it and could not know it, until Mitch made his choice!

    “I’m not trying to be a troll, or divisive, or condescending, or anything else, I just really want to know how anyone would have knowledge of something that is not knowable/created yet by another self-determining being.”

    Not trying to be a troll or divisive? Mitch presumably is not an open theist so why does he come in here arguing JUST LIKE AN OPEN THEIST and claiming he is just asking “innocent little questions.” ???

    That sure fits the very things that Mitch said were not true of him: ““I’m not trying to be a troll, or divisive, or condescending, or anything else”.

    Robert

  43. Haha, the irony. He accuses us of straw men and then calls our view “open theism with lipstick”. LOL

  44. Robert,

    Perhaps the Open Theist argues that way because like me he is trying to understand how it makes logical sense. You wrote

    The premise that you and most Arminians argue for is that we are self-determining agents; we are creators of our actions. This is not a set-up question this is a how does it work question. If you take offence at the Open Theism with lipstick then so be it. I’ve seen you comment on many blogs and you have said much worse than that.

    Also, just because I ask questions that an Open Theist would ask does not make me an Open Theist, but something tells me that you already know that:)

    You wrote This states an open theist presupposition: you can only know what exists, if it does not now exist then you cannot know it. Do I believe that? No, but open theists do and Mitch sounds just like an open theist.

    Remember the presupposition you bring to the table is that we are self-determining beings and what exactly exists prior to a self-determining being creating something?

    You bring up the example of me having a beer on Saturday and that no one could know about it until I made the choice, but how is that wrong if I’m truly a self-determining being that could still go either way?

    What I find really funny though is that if I ask a question I get accused of being an Open Theist, troll, divisive, etc. How could I ask the question that I honestly have without being accused of anything? If all you want is to write and comment about how wonderful the post was and how the logic is second to none and how all the Calvinist turn God into worse than Satan, than may I suggest that you just take the blog private and give the password to all of your friends. This way you do not have to worry about someone asking uncomfortable questions that you are not going to answer anyway.

    I figured I would ask you Robert because this seems to be right in your wheel house. After all, I never see you comment here when they talk against perseverance. Yet free will is your shtick and I thought that if anyone here would try to answer it would be you.

    For any Arminian that will not be offended by this question and would like to enlighten this evil trollish Calvinist please help.

    I can have a beer on Saturday or not have a beer on Saturday, I’m a self-determining being. Since I’ve not yet created the outcome is it knowable? If it is when did it become knowable? If it is not then how is this not Open Theism?

  45. Scratch the You wrote in the second line.

  46. Steven (not me): I’ve explained myself about as clearly as you’ll find these concepts explained in the philosophical literature. In fact, I’ve taken time to explain these at a level perhaps beyond what you’ll find in some of the literature in terms of clarity and simplicity. I can’t help it if you can’t understand; you just have to familiarize yourself with the literature.

    Maybe reading Zagzebski’s article on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online will help (here), and a book or two on the topic would be a good start.

    Robert suggests it’s all just a word game. I don’t like JC not using what I consider improper language, JC doesn’t like me using what he thinks is improper language. Maybe it is, but I am the one using the language as libertarians themselves use it in the literature; and I don’t know of anything like the “responses” Robert and JC give in the literature on the topic. My guess is that’s because they don’t bother to deny any premises of the argument and bring up irrelevant points.

    Furthermore, I wouldn’t recommend looking to Robert’s article for clarity on the issue because he doesn’t bring up any of the critical issues at stake in the foreknowledge argument, namely fixity of the past and such, and he doesn’t accomplish much with it. I think anyone with more knowledge of the literature on the topic will agree with me, too (e.g., Paul Manata, Steve Hays, etc.). (And it’d be immature of you to say they agree only because they are Calvinists, etc.; you might as well say JC and Robert only agree because they are Arminians.)

    He says that indeterminism obtains just before the “outcome”, and God knows the “outcome” before hand, so whence the problem? But that is so obviously question begging and immature it’s not worth dealing with. The whole question is whether or not the process leading up to the church is not fatalistic and inevitable; he just asserts it isn’t.

    He’ll claim I’m casually dismissing his work, and that this is improper, etc., but of course he’d think that.

    Ben: Yeah I had a brief stint with libertarianism. Things change; more specifically, the foreknowledge argument and the luck objection as well as Galen Strawson’s Basic Argument changed my mind. As for compatibility of moral responsibility and determinism, I found John Martin Fischer’s work helpful; and I’ve always found Frankfurt cases persuasive, so I never held to PAP with much fervor. If you don’t hold to PAP, you might as well not hold to libertarianism, either.

  47. Alter-Steven,

    Thanks for your reply. I appreciate that you have watered your philosophy down to its bare essentials, and I will not ask you to explain any further. Perhaps in time I will be more familiar with philosophical jargon.

    Rather than using philosophy as the basis for my beliefs, I am convinced for a Christian that the Bible is the standard for truth as only God can reveal it.

    This whole conversation has reminded me of the passage in Matthew 22:23-32

    The Sadducees said the following:

    P1: It’s possible for a woman to marry multiple people in this life
    P2: Everyone will die and be reunited on the other side
    P3: That would be awkward, trying to decide who would be with the woman
    C: There can’t be a resurrection

    Philosophy always makes sense from our perspective. The problem for people is that our perspective is limited and often flawed. Notice Jesus’ response:

    You don’t know scripture
    You underestimate God’s power

    This is what my world view is based upon. A belief in what’s revealed in the Word of God, and a belief in His awesome power to do things that may not make sense to me.

    Galen Strawson may not feel I am accountable for my actions. God says I am. Who will you go with?

    The Scripture is full of examples where men are given choices by God, and consequences follow those choices.

    Deuteronomy 30:15-16

    “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.

    If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.”

    Either God is being dishonest, or men have a choice. A choice with consequences – a choice they are held eternally accountable for.

    So I implore you, let the Bible teach you, and understand the world from His viewpoint.

  48. Well, you shouldn’t word the matter as if I don’t let the Bible teach me; after all, I didn’t become a Calvinist studying philosophy, but the Bible.

    But there’s an interesting point to make here: if Calvinism were true, we might expect its truth to be in concord with the truths of philosophy. And I happen to think Strawson’s argument, the foreknowledge argument, and the luck objection against libertarian free will all agree pretty well with a Calvinist view on things.

    (About Strawson: the point is not that you are not responsible for your choices; it’s that you are not *ultimately responsible* for them.)

    And it’s misleading to frame the topic in such a way that God is being dishonest if men don’t have libertarian free will. I don’t think men have libertarian free will, but I still think they make choices. So God doesn’t have to be dishonest in telling us to make choices, even if we don’t have libertarian free will.

  49. SN: “My guess is that’s because they don’t bother to deny any premises of the argument and bring up irrelevant points.”

    As I’ve pointed out Steven, premise 3 has problems because it can only be used to argue for determinism if determinism is assumed. If ~A comes about by free will, then the whole thing comes apart, and the argument is useless for demonstrating problems between free will and foreknowledge.

  50. Robert,

    Our troll must have missed where I alluded to God’s perceiving our self-determination abstracted from time (as the basis of His middle knowledge) both in my article, link, and where I re-stated it to Steven. If he’d even bothered to read the article or thread carefully, he’d be a bit less clueless on the matter.

    But of course, comments such as his ignorant ‘Open Theism with lipstick’ nonsense make clear, he’s not really looking for answers to his questions, he’s looking for means to accuse, just like some members of a certain Jewish sect were when questioning Christ. And so he ends up making wildly condemning judgments before he’s even gotten the information he’s asking about.

    “He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.” (Prov. 18:13)

  51. Steven,

    You said,

    “But there’s an interesting point to make here: if Calvinism were true, we might expect its truth to be in concord with the truths of philosophy…”

    The “truths of philosophy” are dangerous ground for anyone to base their spiritual views on. As Paul warns in Colossians 2:6-8

    Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

    When you spend time deciding which philosophers you agree with, rather than what God is saying, you are clearly not following good principles of growth in Christ. As someone who is studying philosophy for a profession, you probably don’t like hearing that, but Paul addressed it. We can be taken captive by philosophy in its seemingly irrefutable conclusions and outcomes, yet as I posted earlier, we could be dead wrong. We have a very small insight into the spiritual realm, and when we rely on the current “truths” of philosophy to determine our spiritual views, you are standing only until someone comes up with a more compelling counter-argument.

    You also said.

    “And it’s misleading to frame the topic in such a way that God is being dishonest if men don’t have libertarian free will.”

    I say it because if that is what the scriptures teach – something you have yet to address – then God is conveying a lie based on the current “truths of philosophy”. If philosophy is your benchmark, you’ve come the wrong board for discussion.

    So I ask again, did God give Israel a choice between life or death? OR was God being dishonest through Moses in Deuteronomy 8?

    Or 1st Corinthians 10 as J.C. pointed out? Is there an optional way of escape during temptation, or is God pulling our leg?

  52. What we have here is what is typical of Arminian sites. Some Arminian will write what they think is logical and then all of his friends will come and say how super, duper the post was and how they appreciate that he took the time to write it. It turns into a big love fest, probably reminiscent of Woodstock.

    Then a dark cloud passes over Arminian land and a non-Arminian asks a question. Gasp!!! The non-Arminian will use the logic of the Arminian and the definitions of the Arminian, but this is just an outrages abuse to the Arminian. Then all of the sudden the logic that was so clear before gets thrown out the window. The non-Arminian will hear that he is trying to dictate how the Arminian should answer and that he is wanting the Arminian to play by his rules of logic (which is really the rules that the Arminian used) and that he is wanting the Arminian to use his definitions (which is really the definitions that the Arminian used). He will get accused of being a troll, divisive and all kinds of other names.

    What happens then is that the Arminian will put two fingers in his ears and shout “Lala, lala, lala, lala…” until the non-Arminian moves on. Then all of his Arminian friends come out again saying “Wow, you really showed (insert rude name here)” and the love fest continues.

    The Arminian always retreats to some form of God being timeless, “abstracted from time”, or some other such gobblydegook. Yet while God is not bound by time the creature is and here is the fatal flaw of the Arminian. Because not only is the creature bound by time, but the Arminian gives said creature self-determination. The Arminian is lost in his fog of irrationality and just cannot grasp that.

    So the next time you run across an Arminian trying to use logic to explain his views be prepared to see these things play out.

  53. Some quotes using Arminian logic

    Knowing all reaction from all possible scenarios, God is then able to create a continuum in which He obtains a specific result

    This is so plainly obvious that I struggle whether to point it out, but since Arminian operate under a fog of irrationality I will point out the obvious. It is God who creates the outcome of His creation. So the next time the Arminian says that Calvinist makes God the author of evil and that the man who raped the 7-year old girl did it because God determined that he would- just point them to the above Arminian gem and politely say “So does your god.”

    Be prepared for the Arminian to get red faced and begin hurling accusations at you, just take a deep breath and point them to this Arminian gem that further confirms the above quote

    His full understanding of the IFSDs and control over the circumstances in which they are placed very neatly reconciles the concepts of libertarian free will and predestination. This would also imply that self-determination doesn’t denote resultant actions that we completely determine, since God controls the context the IFSDs operate in. An IFSD only consists of what you would do given a context, and is by itself essentially nothing without the context

    Politely point out the obvious again, remember the Arminian is functioning under a fog of irrationality, that it is God that determines what actually transpires and that it is God that is pulling the strings by placing you in a context that will bring about His desired result.

    Please be prepared to face even more animosity and hatred by the Arminian as he will starts foaming at the mouth and going into convulsions.

  54. John 13:35

    “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    I find it difficult to understand how people in a Christian discussion can say things that are obviously unloving, mean-spirited, and prideful.

    Mitch, if I can’t trust you to adopt and display this most basic tenant of Christianity, why should I trust you to teach me on things much more complex?

  55. Mitch,

    Your comments are over the top and out of line. This is exactly why J.C. and I did not want to interact with you. Your above rant illustrates why your previous comments about just wanting to “understand the logic” behind something, or your just wanting to ask questions for the sake of gaining understanding were hard to take seriously. In the end you always seem to melt down to the point of an angry rant towards the opinions you hear that you disagree with.

    It seems very obvious from your last two comments that you have your mind made up and you are not looking for answers. You are looking for opportunities to ridicule those you disagree with, or arguments you don’t understand. Please do not comment any further at this blog under the guise of seeking understanding. That ruse will no longer be tolerated here. It is interesting to me that you paint the interaction in our combox as you do considering all the time you spend at Triablogue. How often have you taken them to task for their angry rants and personal attacks against Arminians who question their logic?

    Any further comments of the same nature as the two above will be deleted.

  56. Angry rants??? Please point to the “melt down” in my last comments so that I can change my ways.

    I do want to understand the logic and I do have my mind made up, but don’t you have your mind made up as well and don’t you want to understand the logic? If the logic could be presented in a convincing manner it may make me change my understanding and my views.

    When it comes to the last comment I used direct quotes from the article referenced which make it plain that God is the one who decides what choice is actualized and that God is the one who places us in the contexts that will bring about His desired specific result.

    If you define LFW as-

    God knows what we will do in any possible scenario and that God determines the scenario that He will place us in so that He obtains the specific result that is in accordance with His will and that no other option is available, then sign me up.

    I can agree with that.

  57. Parentingjournal,

    I am sorry that you saw unloving, mean-spirited, and pride in my comments here. Tell me is it just my comments that you see the above in? Because I see those things from others here on this thread that fit better those things and I have yet to see anyone here try to address them.

    Perhaps you want to hold me to another standard that you hold others here too, but nonetheless I will try to work on my comments in the future.

  58. Angry rants??? Please point to the “melt down” in my last comments so that I can change my ways.

    Basically all of it. Here are just a few:

    What happens then is that the Arminian will put two fingers in his ears and shout “Lala, lala, lala, lala…” until the non-Arminian moves on. Then all of his Arminian friends come out again saying “Wow, you really showed (insert rude name here)” and the love fest continues.

    The Arminian always retreats to some form of God being timeless, “abstracted from time”, or some other such gobblydegook…The Arminian is lost in his fog of irrationality and just cannot grasp that.

    This is so plainly obvious that I struggle whether to point it out, but since Arminian operate under a fog of irrationality I will point out the obvious.

    Politely point out the obvious again, remember the Arminian is functioning under a fog of irrationality, that it is God that determines what actually transpires and that it is God that is pulling the strings by placing you in a context that will bring about His desired result.

    Please be prepared to face even more animosity and hatred by the Arminian as he will starts foaming at the mouth and going into convulsions.

    Now maybe you were not angry, and maybe this is not what you would consider a meltdown, but I can’t imagine anyone reading this and not sensing at least a small degree of condescension, arrogance, and anger in the above rhetoric.

  59. To all who read it that way i apologize. I’m truly sorry for the confusion and ask for forgiveness. In the future I will not use emotive language and will stick to just the facts.

    UnlI will stick to my last comment where i wrote

    I do want to understand the logic and I do have my mind made up, but don’t you have your mind made up as well and don’t you want to understand the logic? If the logic could be presented in a convincing manner it may make me change my understanding and my views.

    When it comes to the last comment I used direct quotes from the article referenced which make it plain that God is the one who decides what choice is actualized and that God is the one who places us in the contexts that will bring about His desired specific result.

    If you define LFW as-

    God knows what we will do in any possible scenario and that God determines the scenario that He will place us in so that He obtains the specific result that is in accordance with His will and that no other option is available, then sign me up.

    I can agree with that.

    Unless this too can be shown to be a “melt down” and angry, unloving, prideful rant.

  60. Ben,

    Yeah, they get pretty irritable when it comes to the free will being coherently defended. Having no real way to disprove the possible reconciliation of God’s perspective of human agency being unbound by time, all they can really respond with is simply asserting incoherence (tantamount to saying God isn’t capable of such a feat) or trying to prove that foreknown choices/middle-knowledge are as bad as their own views.

    This is a nonsense desperation tactic of course: Since God doesn’t irresistibly dictate one’s libertarian agency, the agent is free (i.e. not necessitated by God) with regards to what it can do. If our wills are free in that sense, then regardless of God’s knowing the outcome, His creating a situation/context in which an agent acts doesn’t make Him the ‘author’ of what the agent independently does therein, because the foreknown outcome is still contingent upon the agent himself. Such certain but non-necessitated outcomes stand in stark contrast to the necessitarian scheme, which has God predetermining every single factor effecting the outcome (including the agent’s will in its entirety, leaving no contingency in the agent’s hands at all), and thus authoring everything the agent does, including sin.

    Such an argument is so weak as to be comical, which is how it’s best dealt with.

  61. We have God putting someone in a “situation/context” that will only lead to one outcome. The agent did not put themselves in the “situation/outcome” God did and He did it to bring about His specific plan.

    The problem is that you seem to be conflating two different definitions/views of LFW. When the situation calls for it you use the textbook definition and claim that you hold to it, but the minute that gets challenged you go to your “modified” definition of LFW that you derived on your own. It is this “modified” view of LFW that I believe is the problem.

    The problem I have with the “modified” LFW is that it’s not really LFW at all. What you have stated is that that God knows what someone will do in all possible scenarios, this I argue eliminates PAP, because the reason God puts someone in that “situation/context” is to bring about a “specific result” that is in accordance with His will and plan. If God wanted a different “specific result” He would place you in a different “situation/context”.

    When I say that God plans the “situation/context” to bring about a “specific result” you claim I make man a mere puppet. Yet when you claim the exact same thing you call it LFW. It is my belief that this “modified” LFW is nothing more than compatibilism. In that man freely does what he wants in a given scenario and that he cannot do otherwise.

    God is not the ‘author’ of the choice, but He is the ‘author’ of the “situation/context” that will bring about that *specific choice*. Under this “modified” LFW we still have God being the one that decides what “situation/context” comes to fruition.

    Again if this is all you mean by LFW then sign me up, I repent of all the times I questioned you and I heartily embrace it.

  62. …God predetermining every single factor effecting the outcome

    I would say that it is God that determines every single factor which will effect the outcome by placing man in a specific situation/context that will bring about a specific result that God uses to bring about His plan. God does not control the agents will, but the agent cannot do otherwise in that specific situation/context and does not want to because he does what he wants.

  63. One outcome is certainty, contingency on the creature’s independent agency is lack of necessity -and a denial of exhaustively deterministic concepts like compatibilism. To argue flatly that the creature “couldn’t have done otherwise” in that its agency was utterly incapable of differing so as to produce a different outcome for any situation is to deny its independence altogether (therefore begging the question of necessitation). To argue that the creature never does other than it independently self-determines in conjunction with the context it’s in isn’t a problem for free agency, since,

    a. Certainty of reaction, per above, doesn’t constitute a necessitated reaction, and,

    b. Such an argument implicitly acknowledges free agency in being stated [alternate possibilities for the agent wouldn't be eliminated in such a case, since the creature's agency -and therefore its decisional outcomes- could have been different without any change in variables by God].

    And of course, to argue that God can’t allow for independent agency that He knows the outcomes of without seeing it actually play out is to assign arbitrary limits to God’s omnipotence.

  64. I just want to show how normal understanding would lead one to believe that this “modified” LFW is not really LFW. I will use the words of the article referenced to make my case that this view eliminates PAP.

    Knowing all reactions from all possible scenarios, God is then able to create a continuum in which He obtains a specific result…

    It is my belief that the above quote eliminates PAP and that the average person would agree with me. What it boils down to is that God knows all reactions that someone will do when placed in a “situation/context”, He uses that knowledge to bring about a “specific outcome” that is in accordance with His will and plan. Now the reason that God would place one in that particular “situation/context” is because He wanted that *specific result* to happen to advance His plan. There was no chance that a different result would occur or God’s plan would be thwarted.

  65. I would also say that the specific result is necessary because the specific result cannot be changed. Yet if one holds to the standard textbook view of LFW the agent in that “situation/context” must have “live” options available, but the argument put forth is that no other option is available in that “situation/context” and that only that specific result can be actualized. The specific result also becomes necessary because the moment God places one in that “situation/context” the specific result becomes logically unavoidable.

  66. Mitch,

    I continue to have a hard time avoiding bible discussion when we are clearly talking about things relating to God. I don’t care what anyone’s definition is of free will, I don’t care for statements of faith by Arminians, Calvinists, etc. Those are not inspired of God, and are not worth time defending.

    What I am interested in defending is the bible examples of God’s providence working through man’s free will. Help me understand how 1st Corinthians 10:13 does not demonstrate that man has a choice in whether or not to sin, but that God has done everything short of forcing him, to ensure we are able to bear temptation. Defenders of Divine Determinism have skirted the issue, in this thread and others.

    If God determined that I would sin via temptation, then the only “way of escape” from that temptation would be to escape from the clutches of determinism and into free will, where a choice could be made.

    The whole of 1st Corinthians 10 becomes pointless form a deterministic point of view: learning from the mistakes of others becomes irrelevant (verse 11), thinking I stand doesn’t matter, because God either makes me stand or fall (12), and temptation is a misnomer because it implies an enticement towards a result, not a foregone conclusion (13).

    So we can banter about the definition of free will all day, or we can learn the truth from God, whatever that truth is.

  67. The distinction between certainty and necessity has long been recognized. Certain/specific results based upon some known contingency doesn’t eliminate alternate possibilities, since the outcome is still contingent upon the creature’s independent (non-externally-necessitated) agency, and could thus be correspondingly different in the scenario. So for instance, we agree with the scriptures (1 Cor 10:13, cited above) that for a believer who sinned, he was not tempted beyond what he was able to endure in that the outcome could have been different contingent upon a factor within the power of his agency (making use of God’s provision).

    Your assertion requires assuming that all decisions are due to irresistible influence to the degree that the outcome isn’t at all contingent upon the agent and/or the agent has no independence in its agency. This isn’t my view at all. And besides begging the question of necessitation, it directly contradicts scripture in concluding that any believer who sinned was tempted beyond what he was able to endure.

    So then appealing to certainty in claiming “S does what he wants in situation X” betrays a marked confusion between certainty and necessity, since the statement says nothing with regards to his choices being necessitated if what S wants is independently determined by him.

    As an aside, it’s ironic, yet fittingly reflective of your uninformedly arbitrary judgments and logically inconsistent rhetoric that you assert that we teach some form of open theism one moment, then flip-flop to claiming I teach compatibilism the next.

  68. Steven,

    I see 1 Cor. 10:13 differently from you. For some unknown reason you believe that choice = LFW, but you have not proven this nor dare I say can you prove it. Again can you point to what I said about free will that would lead you to believe that I do not believe that we have and make choices?

    When it comes to God determining the outcome, again please tell me who determines what comes to pass? Even under the ad hoc definition of LFW put forward here it is God that decides what ”specific result” comes to fruition by manipulating the “situation/context”.

    Perhaps a better way to discuss this is what do you believe God does control in this world? I hear all the time about how Arminians believe in God’s sovereignty, but how far does that sovereignty go? By that I mean it is clear that there is a distinction between general and specific sovereignty, so under the general view what does God control and do?

    J.C.

    Well I have stated many times that your view is all over the place. It is hard to discuss because you bring up one thing and when that gets discussed you conveniently morph into another thing. What I find telling is that your view of LFW is ad hoc and not in line with mainstream academic views. In that regard it is almost impossible to discuss this with you because you are the only one that holds to this ad hoc view that you have come up with on your own.

    When someone points to the literature available you shift to your “unique” view and make it hard to understand what you are saying. As Steven showed, he used the textbook definitions that libertarians formulated and the logic that libertarians use, but because you morph from one view of LFW to another it is hard to discuss.

    I would venture to guess that the issue is that this is your “unique” definition of LFW that only you know. So even when someone tries to discuss the view you put forward you seem to always have an out that only you know about. This is why most people that email me tell me that it is impossible to discuss this with you.

    The only thing I wonder is where is parentingjournal to police you at?

  69. My view isn’t very dissimilar to other views that suggest God’s transcendence as a means by which He knows the contingencies/outcomes of human choice; not that this makes any difference with regards to how correct it is. Your attempts to show it problematic proving inept and self-defeating, all you’re left with is complaining about irrelevancies such as my not sounding (or thinking) exactly like other libertarians and asserting inconsistency without evidence, when in fact your own assessments of my views have already been shown to be logically inconsistent in that you assert both that I teach open theism and compatibilism.

    The scriptural promise of sufficient grace for the believer against temptation is an issue at which necessitarianism is plainly and irreparably broken. God tells us through His word that He won’t let us be tempted beyond what we’re able to endure, necessitarians tell us that every believer who sins was tempted beyond what he could endure. Who I’m to believe is no contest.

    But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

  70. Mitch,

    Again, I am not trying to prove the definition of LFW, choice, or anything of the sort. I am trying to prove that your view of specific, unalterable results of all events are not in accordance with the biblical pattern.

    As to your statement,

    “Perhaps a better way to discuss this is what do you believe God does control in this world?”

    Let me address that using the text under consideration. It seems that God controls the means and measures Satan can use against us, similar to Job chapters 1 and 2. God filters everything that happens to mankind, not allowing us to be overwhelmed by our adversary the Devil. He is Faithful as the text said, and operates daily in the lives of each individual person. He does not force the outcome, but allows us sufficient grace to enable us to avoid sinful choices.

    Now, if you will, address how your deterministic view aligns with what 1st Corinthians 10:11-13 teaches.

  71. J.C.

    You have stated yourself that you have derived the view you hold independently. When I pointed out that it is not irrelevant, this is just another example of arrogance on your part. When you try to sound like you hold to the textbook LFW you are open to the charge of Open Theism and when you try to explain this “unique” view you hold you sound like a compatibilist. The funny thing is that you do not see this and attribute this to me being “logically inconsistent” when in truth it is you that is logically inconsistent. It is extremely difficult to argue when someone’s position is ever shifting as your position is.

    Steven,

    The way I take the verse in question is that when God brings these trials, notice I said God brings not Satan, that He will also provide the way out and that until that appointed way out comes that He will provide the strength to endure it. Since you believe this is about sin and either/or situation,sin or not sin, why would God give you the ability to endure the sin? It’s a wonderful promise of God’s faithfulness to believers.

    Of course we are not even addressing the point that this verse is for believers. When it comes to the rest of your comment I find that you read a great deal into the text and lest I be accused of not providing evidence

    No mention of Satan in the text
    No mention of our adversary the Devil
    No mention of God operating daily in the lives of each individual person
    No mention of avoiding sinful choices

    I also noticed that you skipped me asking who determines what comes to pass. Surely you see that even under the “unique” view of LFW that some hold to here that it is still God that decides what specific result comes to pass by manipulating the situation/context.

  72. “When I pointed out that it is not irrelevant, this is just another example of arrogance on your part.”

    Wait, so you claiming that my deriving something independently is somehow relevant to the issue constitutes ‘arrogance’ on my part? That makes even less sense than your flip-flopping in claiming I believe open-theism/compatibilism.

    As for your other nonsensical assertions, the distinction between certainty and necessity quite easily resolves the apparent paradox of free agency and divine foreknowledge, as I’ve shown quite clearly. Your claims of inconsistency so far haven’t been backed by anything more substantial than vague elephant-hurling (no, you being unable to recognize the distinction or follow the argument doesn’t count as evidence).

    “…He will also provide the way out and that until that appointed way out comes that He will provide the strength to endure it.”

    Doesn’t fit the wording. The way of escape is how we’re able to endure, it’s not something we’re waiting for while “enduring” temptation and simultaneously falling to it.

    “…God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

  73. J.C.

    You obviously cannot read and have no interest in trying to have a fruitful discussion. I addressed the certainty and necessity issue already and have shown that your ad hoc view does great violence to LFW. By pointing that out you charge me with “inconsistency”, “flip flopping” and all other kinds of things, when in actuality I am merely addressing your ever changing position when it comes to how you discuss LFW. So when you address LFW that is consistent with the literature you open yourself up to the Open Theism objection and when you shift to this “ad hoc or unique” view of LFW you open yourself to the Compatibilism objection. Yet for some strange reason you claim that I’m the one that is “flip flopping”?????

    When it comes to endure/bear I believe that I stand on solid ground.

    On a personal note, it has become abundantly clear that when it comes to discussion that you and I are like fire and ice. Nothing fruitful ever comes from it and rather than get accused of having “melt downs”, “angry rants”, of being a “troll” and many more names it may be best for us to just agree to not interact. I fear that we may do more harm than good when it comes to the body of Christ.

    So let me say this last time that I have many, many disagreements with you when it comes to theology and how it works, but as a professing believer in Christ I love you and will pray for nothing but the best for you. If you ever come to town please come by and have some tea or coffee and depending on the time of day dinner. I truly believe that in person we would be able to have worthwhile discussions and if nothing else we would entertain my black lab.

    God bless

  74. “I addressed the certainty and necessity issue….”

    From what I can tell, all you did there was insist that specific results are necessary, which doesn’t follow since the specific results are contingent upon non-necessitated factors, and therefore themselves aren’t necessary. Given that a creature has free/non-necessitated agency, then an outcome based upon his agency could have been different depending upon him (see above).

    “…when you shift to this “ad hoc or unique” view of LFW you open yourself to the Compatibilism objection.”

    Incorrect, since free agency that outcomes are dependent upon is mutually exclusive with compatibilism. Flip-flopping between your own strawmen is still flip-flopping.

    Nothing fruitful ever comes from it and rather than get accused of having “melt downs”, “angry rants”, of being a “troll”

    That’s probably because of your falsely hurling accusations of lying with no basis, making absurd claims with ridiculous invective (e.g. “he will starts foaming at the mouth and going into convulsions”), and now apparently accusing me of arrogance based upon something that you said. If that’s how you define ‘fruitful discussion,’ then you’re right, I’m not interested.

  75. Sigh

  76. Mitch,

    To imply that God is the one bringing temptations into the life of the believer – which is what determinism implies – is completely against this passage, and clear teachings all throughout the bible.

    James 1:13 – “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”

    These are not mere trials or down-points in life being discussed in 1st Corinthians 10:13, these are temptations to sin.

    You claim that there is no mention of our adversary the Devil in this verse. Yet if Satan is not the author of the temptation, then who is?

    Ephesians 6:11-12 “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

    For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

    Determinism makes our struggle through temptation not one against Satan – but one against God Himself who put me in the situation. When I sin it is because it is the specific result He wanted, as you claimed.

    If you are simply going to let your view of determinism color every single passage that may teach otherwise, you are no longer a student of the bible. You are a student of Calvinism, and that is a dangerous place for any person to be. If I can’t be open to passages that may change my beliefs, then pride is keeping us from growing.

    I am not saying you are at that point, but your assessment of the text has little scholarship or believability.

  77. Steven,

    With all due respect, my assessment of the text does have scholarship and is extremely believable. I could of course tell you the same thing about letting your view of LFW color every single passage that may teach otherwise, but then we just get into the “Nu-uh, you are not the student of the bible” kind of response.

    For the record I agree that God “tempts” no man, but God does send “trials” to refine and strengthen our faith. You asked who else would be the author of temptation, I take it that you mean temptation here to sin, but I would answer you with

    But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:14-15 KJV

  78. Steven,

    I’ve tried to show here that the LFW that is being advocated is not really LFW, now I may have not done a great job of making that case and perhaps I have failed miserably. Yet the reason that I do not believe in LFW as it is commonly defined is because the bible speaks against such a view.

    Allow me to briefly state the basic case. The bible tells me that no one is good and that no one can do anything good when it comes to their relationship with God. In fact we are told that without faith it is impossible to please God. What some people want to say is that LFW means that you have the power to do otherwise in a given situation. What that means is that you have the power to sin or not sin and yet we are told that all that natural man can do is sin. He does not have the ability to not sin because all he does is not done in faith.

    Now if the only thing that one can do is sin, then he does not have the power to do otherwise. The only thing that one could do is choose between sins, now one may be more heinous to us than another, but to a Holy God sin is sin.

    As far as I can tell the belief that God being the one that decides what specific result comes to pass by manipulating the situation/context has not been challenged.

    By admitting that God knows what one will do in any given situation/context you essentially abandon LFW. Of course one is always free to come up with ‘novel’ ways to try and cling to LFW, but then you are letting your view color every example that teaches otherwise.

  79. Steven,

    Mitch is of course presenting a typically fallacious Calvinist caricature of free will (or some non-Christian view of it) that Christians in general do not accept.

    To God deciding outcomes through His foreknowledge, as I’ve consistently stated, the result is also dependent upon one’s free agency; so then it’s not been shown why this would really be a problem for free will.

    “By admitting that God knows what one will do in any given situation/context you essentially abandon LFW.”

    In stating as much, Mitch makes his question-begging all the more apparent and exposes the flaws in his reasoning, as there’s no rational reason for assuming that the knowledge of one entity somehow restricts the freedom of volition for another.

  80. J.C.

    There is probably no point in doing this but here it goes

    the knowledge of one entity somehow restricts the freedom of volition for another

    The issue is not that God’s knowledge somehow restricts the freedom, the point is that the person could not do otherwise in that situation because remember God put them in that situation to get the specific result that He wanted. If the person could do otherwise in that situation then God would not know if the specific result would occur.

    Also, if I came across as saying that LFW means you could do anything than please forgive for that is not what I meant to convey. The point that I made or tried to make is that natural man can only sin, he can do nothing else. Perhaps I should’ve said that he can either chose some particularly heinous sin or just a little white sin, but sin is sin to a Holy God.

  81. “…the point is that the person could not do otherwise in that situation…”

    In the sense of their agency upon which the outcome depends, yes they could, since their agency wasn’t compelled to be one way or another. If you mean they can’t do otherwise given their independent agency, such an point is irrelevant to the discussion since it already concedes the point of free agency (as I’ve already covered).

    “If the person could do otherwise in that situation then God would not know if the specific result would occur.”

    No, God knowing would only require that the person not actually do otherwise, not that it’s outside that person’s grasp. You again miss the certainty/necessity distinction.

  82. I take it that when I wrote

    What that means is that you have the power to sin or not sin</i.

    that I somehow created a strawman/caricature of LFW.

    One of the standard beliefs of LFW is the power of contrary choice. I believe you agree with that, yet what does this mean to a natural man.

    He has the power to sin and this power of contrary choice… to sin. So he can either sin or sin? Some power of contrary choice he has there. I find it hard to see how power of contrary choice does not lose all sense of meaning under such a view.

    We will disagree on the certainty/necessity distinction.

  83. Mitch,

    Thanks for the reply. No animosity here or anything of the sort. Hope it comes through in the dialogue! :)

    If we apply your statement from earlier to 1st Corinthians 10:13, this is what we get.

    Regarding your view of free will vs. determinism:

    “The specific result also becomes necessary because the moment God places one in that “situation/context” the specific result becomes logically unavoidable.”

    Add a dash of the text:

    “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

    Here is your deterministic re-write:

    “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is the Author, who may allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, and with the temptation you may not find escape, because it may not be God’s will that you endure it.”

    If it was written that way, I could agree with your assessment that God controls both the outcome and the specific events along the way, including lust, sin, and death.

    Yet God does not desire that ANY should perish, and yet they do. It is not His design. Yet according to your view both the outcome and the sins leading up to them are the necessitated design of God. He is both the Sovereign Author of temptation, and the Sovereign gatekeeper of sin, allowing some to pass through temptation while He wills others to fail. In this verse He pretends that a way of escape exists when in certain circumstances when a believer sins, there is not, nor has there ever been possible any other outcome THAN their sin.

    It does not fit the text of a faithful God, providentially providing a means of avoiding the snares of the Devil for His children.

  84. Steven,

    I do not read the text the way you claim that I have to read it. The quote you provided of me was me addressing the certainty/necessity distinction, not 1 Cor. 10:13.

    The reason I said

    The specific result also becomes necessary because the moment God places one in that “situation/context” the specific result becomes logically unavoidable.

    was to show that the distinction is not valid when holding to the view of free will put forward here, one of the views:) If J.C. had stopped at the person being able to do otherwise in any given situation/context then the distinction would be valid, but the minute he added the part about God knowing what one will do if placed in that particular situation/context the certainty/necessity distinction was taken off of the table in my opinion.

    The reason I say that is because God places one in that particular situation/context for a reason, luckily we do not have to guess what that reason is because J.C. told us. The reason that God wants that “specific result” to happen is to bring about His overall plan. Since God places one in that situation/context for a purpose, that specific result, it cannot be changed and the outcome becomes logically unavoidable. So since the result cannot be changed and it is logically unavoidable it meets the standard definition of becoming necessary. That is why the so called distinction between certainty/necessity does not apply here.

    When it comes to the text of 1 Cor. 10:13 you keep wanting to read temptation to sin here, but I do not read it that way. I read it more as trial/testing, kind of like when God tested Abraham. Also, surely you agree that this great promise is only for believers correct?

  85. Verse 14, tying into verse 13, says

    “Wherefore beloved brethren, flee from idolatry.”

    If you honestly think he stuck a promise to be with them through nebulous “trials” that will never result in sin right in the middle of talking about the warning not to repeat the sins of Israel, I don’t know what to tell you. If you admit that point, then you really have to admit that God causes the outcome (sin) as well as the source (temptation). And yet this verse teaches we always have a way to avoid sin.

    If this is talking about “trials” without sin, what is the end result of a failed “test”? Losing your home? A bad mood? A check by your name?

    Since Christians do sin according to 1st John, surely you feel God is responsible for that as well, which would contradict the teaching of this verse. I’m not going to just cede that you “interpret it differently”, when the context is pretty clear we are talking about temptations to repeat sinful actions that caused Israel to fall, specifically idolatry.

  86. Also, 1st Corinthians 10:13 says that the promise of God – regardless of who it is spoken towards – is something that will always happen. So if there is ALWAYS a way of a escape by God, and God controls whether it is taken or not, then when Christians fall under various trials or temptations, the promise of this verse is broken!

    Deterministic logic makes this verse mean nothing. If there is always an escape, then the person in question would always have to take it because God made it.

  87. “…what does this mean to a natural man.”

    I cover that in the link above and here.

    “…the minute he added the part about God knowing what one will do if placed in that particular situation/context the certainty/necessity distinction was taken off of the table in my opinion.”

    And so you again contradict your own statement, “The issue is not that God’s knowledge somehow restricts the freedom,” since now God’s knowing makes it necessary.

    “…result cannot be changed and it is logically unavoidable it meets the standard definition of becoming necessary.”

    I’ve already dismantled this fallacy of yours. It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat it, you only further show your failure to follow the argument, because you don’t account for the result’s contingency upon independent agency.

    That you’re merely confusing the issue can be easily demonstrated; so explain your logic: if some outcome was contingent upon the creature’s agency, and the creature’s agency was self-determined independently (not necessitated), then how exactly was the outcome necessary? In other words, how was a necessary outcome contingent upon a non-necessary factor?

  88. Steven,

    I have no idea where you think I said that God is responsible for anyone sinning. Who sent those trials to Israel? I assume you would say Satan, but I would encourage you to go back and see that the answer is God.

    As I’ve stated sometimes the way of escape is not immediately present to us, but God is faithful that while we are in the trial that we can bear it or endure it. Here are some verses that speak to the bear/endure

    …what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. II Tim. 3:11 KJV

    For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. I Peter 2:19 KJV

    One more that may help you to see what I’m saying about the temptation not being to sin, but a trial

    Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 1:12 KJV

    Please know that I’m not asking you to cede or trying to “win” here. I believe that this is a promise for believers only I assume by your comment that you think that this is for all. That is why I pointed out that this power of contrary choice loses all sense of meaning for the unbeliever. I believe we all agree that the unbeliever can only sin and that this supposed power of contrary choice only gives him the ability to sin.

    So if this verse is open to all as you say and the unbeliever uses this power of contrary choice, I assume that is the point why this verse is used by the LFW advocates to show that people have the power to sin or not sin, all that the unbeliever can do is sin.

    Now I said that above and got accused of stating a caricature of LFW that no libertarian holds too, but that is pretty much what is implied if this verse is used to prove LFW.

    Anyways I have to go for today, please enjoy the rest of your day and God bless.

  89. J.C.

    I would if I thought it would be fruitful, but we both know that it won’t.

    God bless.

  90. “…I believe that this is a promise for believers only…”

    So do I, but that’s beside the point.

    “…I said that above and got accused of stating a caricature of LFW that no libertarian holds too, but that is pretty much what is implied if this verse is used to prove LFW.”

    No, it wouldn’t imply that at all, as it need not apply to unbelievers to prove free agency. To prove LFW is real, only one case need be shown; for it to be unreal, then that denial must hold for all cases without exception. Therefore if the promise of a way of escape from each temptation is true for even one believer (much more so if it applies to all), then free agency has been proven.

  91. J.C.

    The supposed caricature in reference was me saying that if LFW were true that the unbeliever would be able to sin or not sin and that the bible clearly states otherwise. Again, you are either not reading what I write or you are imputing meaning that is not there. Now I will take the blame for that because I’m not the best writer in the world and do struggle with written communication.

    It is still my opinion that your ad hoc view of LFW is questionable at best. To me statements like man self determines independently and God’s knowledge being contingent are at odds with claims like God knows what someone will do in any and all situations. If God’s knowledge is contingent on something else, then on what grounds can He know? To me this is a blatant contradiction, but you apparently have no problem with it. You jettison so many traditional beliefs about God that it is hard to keep track, one obvious one is God’s simplicity, in that by making God’s knowledge contingent simplicity goes out the window.

    Oh never mind, I keep getting sucked in and there is no point.

    So rather than go down more rabbit trails let’s just skip to the end where I will get accused of having “melt downs” and “wild angry rants” and accused of “hurling wild accusations and elephants” and perhaps even pink rhinoceroses, where my intelligence will be questioned and it will be implied that I’m incompetent, stupid and a downright fool and that the best thing that can be said is that I’m a “troll”.

    See how much easier that is for all involved.

    God bless

  92. “…man self determines independently and God’s knowledge being contingent are at odds with claims like God knows what someone will do in any and all situations.”

    If you’re arguing against the idea of God knowing what someone will do in any situation because He fully understands their independent agency, then such a statement is notably lacking in explanation.

    “…on what grounds can He know?”

    His perfect knowledge of that which it’s contingent upon (free agency in this case), unless of course you assume that God simply can’t understand the operation of that which He creates.

    “…one obvious one is God’s simplicity, in that by making God’s knowledge contingent simplicity goes out the window.”

    No, it doesn’t, as it has nothing to do with God being divisible.

  93. J.C.

    notably lakcing in explanation, lol.

    That you do not realize that you jettison God’s simplicity is really not surprising to me.

    Please note I’ve already jumped to the end of this conversation

    So rather than go down more rabbit trails let’s just skip to the end where I will get accused of having “melt downs” and “wild angry rants” and accused of “hurling wild accusations and elephants” and perhaps even pink rhinoceroses, where my intelligence will be questioned and it will be implied that I’m incompetent, stupid and a downright fool and that the best thing that can be said is that I’m a “troll”.

    Knowing where this ends up, we can bypass all the useless back and forth.

    God bless

  94. Mitch,

    Thanks for your good attitude in your responses. It’s much easier to communicate openly when we all keep it calm :)

    For the sake of the discussion, let’s take all of your assumptions as true. There is no sin involved, only a “trial”; there are no unbelievers under consideration, only for those in a relationship with God. This promise of God states that He IS Faithful and will ALWAYS provide the benefit of a way past the trial to those people under the agreed upon conditions.

    Why then, did Israel fall in the wilderness?

    Deuteronomy 8:2-4 says:

    “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

    “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.”

    How did God’s test fail to produce the desired result on His part? If this is the only outcome that could have occurred, how did He provide a legitimate way of escape? I mean this in reference to God’s overall dealings with Israel from Egypt to Canaan.

    If the deterministic viewpoint holds, then Israel was right to ask,

    “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?”

    Good question.

  95. “That you do not realize that you jettison God’s simplicity is really not surprising to me.”

    Considering your apparently magical-thinking-based claims which I previously cited, such re-assertions of tangents that you can’t even coherently explain are hardly consequential.

  96. Steven,

    I agree that it is easy to communicate when calmness is present. I also appreciate that you take the time to read what I say and when you have questions about something I wrote you ask without all that other stuff.

    Now to the question at hand, you ask

    How did God’s test fail to produce the desired result on His part?

    How do you know that God’s desired result failed?

    …For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel Romans 9:6 KJV

    If you grant that this promise would not apply to non-believers than I do not see a problem. Also, I know that the view of endure was dismissed by hand waving, but as I stated there is good biblical support that confirms that God gives believers the strength to endure trials until the appointed way of escape.

  97. “…there is good biblical support that confirms that God gives believers the strength to endure trials until the appointed way of escape.”

    This fails to deal with my observation that the way of escape is how one endures (“will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”), not what one endures in anticipation of.

    That it’s talking about temptation to sin is easily confirmed by the immediate context:

    “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God [is] faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” (1 Cor 10:12-14)

  98. Since it is my belief that this temptation comes from God I would of course say that this is not temptation to sin. So your “observation” is noted, but I do not find it compelling.

    Since I do not understand what that the way of escape is how one endures means I will just have to leave it alone.

  99. Mitch,

    Thanks for explaining. I think I understand your position better now.

    To address your comment that all of them must have been reprobate unbelievers, consider the first few verses of the chapter under discussion:

    “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;

    and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

    and all ate the same spiritual food;

    and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.”

    Israel was “chosen” by God, they were given the sign of their relationship which was circumcision. They were “baptized” under the cloud, they were partakers of Christ. They were “passed over” by the destroyer. In what sense then were they not in a relationship with God initially?

    How could God have worded that text any different to show they were His people?

  100. “Since it is my belief that this temptation comes from God I would of course say that this is not temptation to sin.”

    Why assume that it comes from God? Since the context makes it apparent that it is talking about temptation to sin, then this would seem to preclude the idea.

  101. Well the context to me makes it apparent that God brings the temptation, that being the case then this clearly cannot be temptation to sin.

    Steven I would point to Romans 9:6 again. I assume you believe that one can lose salvation, I do not, so of course we would look at it differently.

  102. Mitch,

    You stand alone among your colleagues that think that passage is limited to non-sinful actions. John Gill simply says that though Christians may fall, they will never fully fall so as to be lost, and their willful sin will never lead to Christ forsaking them.

    So any and all exegesis of a passage ends up back at Romans 9, the fountainhead from which all Calvinist thought flows.

    So in conclusion, this text has absolutely no meaning in the eyes of determinism:

    - Learning from the mistakes of others is pointless since you can do nothing other than what you will do

    - Fleeing from idolatry is laughable since who can run from where God puts them, either in idolatry or not

    - Taking heed to our “standing” means nothing since whether we stand or fall isn’t based on our anything within our control

    - A way of escape is a misnomer because we can’t escape if God didn’t want us to, or we can’t help but take it if He makes us

    The shackles of Calvinism does not allow the Bible to speak, teach, or instruct. The epistles are pointless letters to people who can’t do anything other than what they will do. That’s how Corinthians should have started and finished.

  103. Well the context to me makes it apparent that God brings the temptation, that being the case then this clearly cannot be temptation to sin.

    This is not necessitated by the grammar or context as I pointed out to you a long time ago in another thread starting here:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/a-contextual-examination-of-1-cor-1013/#comment-2560

    My final comments on your suggestion that God causes the temptation can be found here:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/a-contextual-examination-of-1-cor-1013/#comment-2573

    For what it’s worth.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  104. Just fixed the second link which was accidentally posted as the same as the first.

  105. Steven wrote:

    So I ask again, did God give Israel a choice between life or death? OR was God being dishonest through Moses in Deuteronomy 8?

    Deut. 30 is even more devastating for any deterministic interpretation of Scripture that makes LFW impossible. I have detailed the reasons why here

  106. Well for what it’s worth I believe that the context makes it clear that God brings the temptation/test, just as He did in the early verses of chapter 10.

    I believe that Steven has already quoted from the OT where we are told that God brought those trials to Israel in the wilderness. On top of that you have the text saying “with”, now in Greek that is the sun instead of meta. One is more intimate whereas the other speaks to nearness. I also provided the other two texts that use the word bear/endure in the NT that seems to confirm my view.

    If you want to bring Gill into it then by all means, he goes on to say

    that ye may be able to bear it; for God does not always think fit to remove at once an affliction or temptation, though at the earnest request of his people, as in the case of Paul, 2Co 12:7 yet he gives them grace sufficient to endure and stand up under it, yea, to get the victory of it, to be more that conquerors, and triumph over it.

    That seems to be right in line with how I understand the verse. Also in Vincent’s NT Word Studies he writes this

    To bear Not the same as escape. Temptation which cannot be fed must be endured. Often the only escape is through endurance. See James 1:12.

    This is pretty much what I advocated above, but with a simple hand wave it was dismissed. And while I bring up Vincent’s NT Word Studies here is what is said about temptation

    It is a mistake to define this word as only solicitation to evil. It means trial of any kind without reference to its moral quality.

    Again, this appears to agree with what I’ve said above.

    If you ask me reading LFW in to it shows that you are letting your presuppositions color the text. There is a reason that no one throughout church history has used this verse to prove LFW, it doesn’t.

  107. Chapter 10 doesn’t indicate that the Israelites’ temptations to sin were brought on by God. God did test the children of Israel in the wilderness in letting them wander 40 years, but the temptations to sin that they fell to (as vs 6-10 warn us against) weren’t God’s doing. That vs 13 speaks of this sort of temptation is clear in its preceding exhortation to beware lest we fall and its conclusion to flee from idolatry. ‘Syn’ implies association or addition, not necessarily common action applied (cf Luke 23:35).

    How exactly would James 1:12 etc confirm your view? The context is,

    “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” (James 1:11-13)

    Which indicates God isn’t trying us in the sense that James speaks of enduring. The word ‘endure’ implies to bear patiently, which is in opposition to giving in to temptation. And as vs 13 indicates, God’s giving us a way of escape is how we can endure temptation. It’s not the, “way of escape after we endure temptation,” but the “way of escape so that we can endure temptation.”

  108. It would help if you just ignore my comments because it is obvious that you do not read them.

    Besides I’ve already jumped to the end of the discussion per above.

    God bless

  109. For anyone that cares about the meta/sun distinction this may be of some help.

    In Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics by Daniel B. Wallace on page 377 and 378 we read

    Though not all would agree with Harris that “in Hel. Greek they are virtually synonymous,” even he would concede that
    It is significant that Paul regularly ends his letters with the prayer that grace be
    with (meta, never syn) his addresses, whereas he depicts the Christian life as one
    of identification with Christ and the Christian’s destiny as “being with Christ”
    (syn, not meta, in both cases). This would suggest that, of the two preps., syn was
    more suited to express intimate personal union (e.g., Col. 3:4), and meta the more
    suited to denote close association or attendant circumstances (e.g., 1 Thess. 3:13).

    So while looking how other authors use a word can be helpful, we must let the author’s typical usage of the word have some precedence when studying the meaning and implication of his words. Also if I’m not mistaken the Net bible translates temptation as trial in this verse.

  110. But the cited syn/meta distinction doesn’t really establish anything about God being the author of the temptation in this text, since it isn’t saying anything about personal union; it’s also often just a generic form of ‘with.’ The fact that it’s speaking of temptation to commit sin is quite apparent when one looks at vs 13b-14,

    “But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.”

    The conjunction “therefore” (dioper) connects the two thoughts, with the previous supporting the next. If he weren’t speaking of temptation to sin that can actually be escaped from, then it makes very little contextual sense for him to use his words in verse 13 as the basis to support the idea (“therefore”) of escaping the sin of idolatry in vs 14. Or as Ben noted in his post,

    Notice the “therefore” of verse 14, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” The practical implications are obvious. The call to flee from idolatry is tied directly to God’s faithfulness in not allowing us to be tempted beyond endurance and His gracious provision of a way of escape.

  111. J.C.

    I will be out today, but I believe that Paul’s typical usage of syn implies that the escape and temptation are intimately related.

    “Therefore” I believe is used to tie the whole thing together that Paul started back in chapter 8. It summarizes the whole. If I remember correctly Steve Hays argued that this was referencing idolatry and got roundly panned by you guys when he was discussing this here.

    If I am reading you correctly, which would be hard to believe, what you are saying is that the temptation to sin discussed in 13 is idolatry. Now I find that hard to believe seeing as that was the major contention between you guys and Hays.

    Now I’m thankful that you have caused me to delve deeper into the text and appreciate the challenging of my views (especially when done in a graceful way). I believe that I have solid ground when it comes to my view and have provided some additional resources that confirm what I’m saying. I try to look at the whole context and I believe that this all starts back in chapter 8. I tried to stay true and faithful to the text; I know that I bring preconceived ideas, but who doesn’t.

    Just as a disclaimer, I’m not saying that you or anyone else here does not look at the whole context when looking at the text. I think part of the problem is that when it comes to written communication I downright stink, I will continue to try to improve.

    God bless

  112. Mitch,

    The debate was between Hays and me. J.C. was not really involved. If you read through that exchange you will see that I never claimed that idolatry was not in view, only that idolatry was not the only sin in view. Hays even went beyond saying that idolatry was the only sin in view. He said that idolatrous apostasy (finally denying the faith) was the only sin in view.

  113. If you ask me reading LFW in to it shows that you are letting your presuppositions color the text. There is a reason that no one throughout church history has used this verse to prove LFW, it doesn’t.

    That is a rather bold claim. LFW was the view of the earliest church writers and they very rarely needed to defend it with specific Scriptures as they believed that it was so obviously presupposed throughout the Biblical revelation (and this in a historical context that was plagued with fatalist and determinist philosophy). The only time they defended it was against the Gnostic sects which held to determinism. Do you really know that none of them ever appealed to 1 Cor. 10:13 to make their case?

    I provided several commentators’ opinions both old and new in one of my posts that demonstrated that even Calvinist interpreters have taken the same basic approach to the passage as us. They may not have taken the next step and made mention of the implications of LFW (though it seems to me that some of them did), but that does not mean that those implications are not present. I recently read a paper by a Calvinist scholar (can’t remember who) that tried to explain 1 Cor. 10:13 in a compatibilist sense. The paper was all about 1 Cor. 10:13 and the implications of LFW that he hoped to avoid by appealing to compatibilism. I don’t think his arguments were very compelling but it illustrates again that the implications are fairly obvious, even to Calvinists.

    For many quotes from commentators that recognize both the contextual indicators that the temptations described are at least primarily a reference to temptations to sin, and in many cases the implications of genuine power of contrary choice implied in the text, see the end of my post here:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/a-contextual-examination-of-1-cor-1013/

  114. Verses 5-12 kill any objections to the idea that 1 Cor. 10:13 is not speaking of temptation to sin, in my opinion. Verse 6 is especially interesting as Paul says that we should learn from their examples not to “crave” (i.e. desire) evil things. But in Calvinistic compatibilism, we have no control over our cravings, wants and desires. Rather, our desires control us and God controls us through our desires that we have no control over. This verse also makes nonsense of Calvinistic compatibilism.

    And as I noted before, Deut. 30 is even more devastating to Calvinistic determinism in my opinion, and many other similar passages could easily be produced.

  115. Sorry for the delay, but we have been dealing with what the local news calls the flood of the century. Seeing as Ben is on hiatus I will just leave a couple of points about the verse in question.

    The funny thing is that the very verses you think seal the deal for your interpretation also confirm my view. We are told in the OT and NT that the wilderness generation was being tested by God. I showed that temptation does not necessarily mean to sin, I showed by a quote from Vincent’s NT Studies that ”to bear it” is not the same as ”to escape” and to my knowledge Vincent is not Calvinistic. I quoted Wallace to show that typically Paul uses “syn/sun” to express a more intimate connection and my view is in harmony with the text and the rest of scripture.

    To me the verse is a wonderful promise that as we inevitably experience trials in life that God will not give us more than we can handle. That there is a way of escape and sometimes that way is to endure, but that this is also provided by God.

    Now as for my claim that this verse has not been used to argue LFW, no I’ve not read every source in existence, but if this were such an open and shut case as you would want people to believe then we would see this referenced more in the standard literature that deals with the will.

    Enjoy your time away from the computer and God bless.

  116. The syn/meta distinction doesn’t really establish anything concrete about God also creating the temptation; God testing the Israelites was covered here.

    The word for ‘temptation’ by itself doesn’t necessarily mean ‘temptation to sin,’ but as we’ve also pointed out, the context (“therefore flee from idolatry” in verse 14, as the various sins we’re warned against immediately prior) plainly establishes that the temptation spoken of in vs 13 is temptation to sin.

    ”to bear it” is not the same as ”to escape”

    In this context, the two are inseparable.

  117. J.C.

    I seriously question whether you even bother to read what I write.

    If I were basing my whole argument on one point then your comment would have some merit, but as I’ve shown above and in the last comment I am basing it on the whole.

    Not only that, but I have provided sources that substantiate what I’ve said here, now of course you are free to wave them off but the reasoning and sources are sound.

    On a side but related note, this is just another example of why conversing with you is difficult. The replies usually go something like

    “I’ve already judged that you are wrong no matter what kind of or how many sources you provide. No matter if the sources are Arminian, Calvinistic, Eastern Orthodox, etc..
    You are wrong because I say so.”

    Then you point the person to where you say that they are wrong as if you’ve proven it.

    At least I try to substantiate why I view it that way, when asked to explain or show I try to accommodate. An example would be when someone asked about why I say trial instead of temptation; I explained why and pointed to a modern translation that uses trial.

    In my opinion you come across more as a bully than someone trying to understand where someone else is coming from. Perhaps that’s just a difference in style, but it makes dialoguing with you unfruitful.

    Since we disagree it is probably best to stop beating this horse. All that will happen is that I will continue to state my case and show sources that corroborate my understanding and you will continue to claim that I am wrong. I know I have better ways to use my time and I assume you do as well, so thanks for the open exchange and good luck

    God bless

  118. “In my opinion you come across more as a bully than someone trying to understand where someone else is coming from.”

    Let’s get this straight: you,
    * Falsely accuse me of lying for things like bringing up Gentiles in a conversation about Paul (which charge I can’t even make sense of).
    * Incoherently insist that something you said somehow makes me arrogant.
    * Make far-fetched claims about my beliefs, yet refuse to explain them.

    Now you suddenly want to turn around and pretend you’re the victim to imply that I’m being a ‘bully?’ That’s just sad….

    “Then you point the person to where you say that they are wrong as if you’ve proven it.”

    It can be plainly seen that I clearly do address the relevant points and substantiate my reasons. This “you must not be reading” canard isn’t fooling anyone who actually does read. My main points in summary:

    * While God did test the children of Israel in a general sense by letting them wander the desert (Deut 8), it doesn’t follow that the temptations at which they fell into sin were God’s doing (which would contradict James 1:13, “…nor does He Himself tempt anyone.”).

    * There’s no firm rule for ‘syn’ being employed in vs 13 that would lead us to believe that God also created the temptation it speaks of, since the term can easily imply just a generic ‘with’ (as seen in Luke 23:35). That, and the fact that the context here has nothing to do with personal union.

    * The escape from temptation vs 13 speaks of is integral to being able to endure it. The word states that God, “will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it,” [i.e. we can endure it because of the way of escape] not, “you’ll be able to bear it until a way of escape is made.”

    * While ‘temptation’ can imply something not related to sin, the immediate context of vs 13 is speaking of avoidance of what’s evil: “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did” (vs 6), don’t be idolaters (vs 7), don’t commit sexual immorality (vs 8), don’t test God (vs 9), don’t complain against God (vs 10), the fall in the desert was recorded as a warning to us (vs 11), be careful that you don’t fall (vs 12), God will make a way for you to escape temptation (vs 13), therefore flee idolatry (vs 14). To insist then that verse 13 must suddenly be switching gears to addressing some form of testing that doesn’t involve sin is to divorce it from and ignore its context.

  119. Let’s get this straight: you,
    * Falsely accuse me of lying for things like bringing up Gentiles in a conversation about Paul (which charge I can’t even make sense of).
    * Incoherently insist that something you said somehow makes me arrogant.
    * Make far-fetched claims about my beliefs, yet refuse to explain them.

    *Still stand by what I said in that thread
    *Shows again the inability to read what I wrote
    *I have explained it sufficiently

    As to the other points

    *Glad that you agree that God tested the children of Israel
    temptations at which they fell into sin were God’s doing I never said nor implied that they were God’s doing, but the point stands that God brought the test, that they fell into sin only showed that they were not true Israel

    *Never said there was a “firm rule”, only that if we let Paul’s typical usage come into view we clearly see that the test and escape both come from God.

    *You just repeat yourself here; at least I point to Vincent’s NT Word Studies to substantiate my claim.

    *I’ve sufficiently shown that the context does not call for one to see it as a temptation to sin.

    As for me trying to be the victim, sorry but no go. Whether you are a bully or not is still open to debate, but you will not nor can you bully me to accept your “far-fetched claims”:) I merely pointed out that you come across as a bully for your benefit in the hopes that you will do some soul searching and change some of your standard tactics.

  120. “I never said nor implied that they were God’s doing”

    I was responding to a statement in this comment.

    “You just repeat yourself here…”

    …in my substantiation of my claims directly from the passage rather than what someone else thought about it. Please note that it was a summary.

    “…only that if we let Paul’s typical usage come into view we clearly see that the test and escape both come from God.”

    What does typical usage of a term as it relates to personal union have to do with its use in subjects not related to such a union?

    “As for me trying to be the victim, sorry but no go.”

    Can’t blame you there -your act is pretty unconvincing.

    “I merely pointed out that you come across as a bully for your benefit in the hopes that you will do some soul searching….”

    ‘Soul-searching’?? Given the above cited ignorant claims and unchristlike smears you level at me, such statements from you lack much in terms of substance or conviction.

    “I’ve sufficiently shown that the context does not call for one to see it as a temptation to sin.”

    Your arguments concerning context are hardly sufficient evidence when they don’t deal with the context itself (see last point above), which overwhelmingly rules out alternative construals of the terminology.

  121. ‘Soul-searching’?? Given the above cited ignorant claims and unchristlike smears you level at me, such statements from you lack much in terms of substance or conviction.

    Your arguments concerning context are hardly sufficient evidence when they don’t deal with the context itself (see last point above), which overwhelmingly rules out alternative construals of the terminology.

    And here is where the arrogance comes into plain view again. No dealing with sources, no dealing with context, no dealing with the whole argument, just you saying “I’m right and you are wrong.”

    If you really wanted to deal with the context you would go back to chapter 8, then maybe you could see why Therefore is used in verse 14. You are not trying to find truth; you are tying to win arguments. And you will use any tactic that you think will lead to that end. This includes shifting positions, making up words, calling others names, ridiculing others in the hopes that no one will notice that you fail to actually engage the other side.

    Earlier I had been charged with having a “melt down” and an “angry rant”, in the future all one needs to do is look at your last comment to see what a true “melt down” and an “angry rant” is.

  122. Ignoring the deceptive-claims-laden tantrum, 1 Corinthians 8 does address the issue of idolatry, but in ch 9, Paul shifts context to talking about his apostleship and the work it entails, his witness to various people. It’s not till 9:24 that the discussion turns to perseverance (‘running the race’) which then leads into ch 10′s description of those who fell to temptation, and its warnings and encouragement for our avoiding it, which firmly establishes the context for vs 13. Additionally, the ‘therefore’ in 10:14 connects its thought to the statement prior, therefore even a broader context relating to avoiding idolatry doesn’t change anything about 10:13 pertaining to the command to flee idolatry in 10:14.

  123. J.C.

    While in prayer and thought today I kept coming back to our dealings and came to a realization that it is impossible to dialogue with you.

    The reason being that what you “know” is all in your head. You have come up with your way and only you know what that is, so every time someone tries to answer what you put forward you always come up with something new and different. Since you are the only one that knows it you can add or subtract whenever the mood hits you. That is very Gnostic of you.

    So if someone points to Church history, you say “so what”. When someone points to different commentators from all different views all agreeing and in the process disagreeing with you, you simply shrug it off and say it’s not important. And when someone points to exegetical grounds you simply say “no that is wrong and am I right, it is so obvious that you are just plain ignorant.” Now granted that is a nice shtick you got going, but you shouldn’t get mad when someone points out that you are all just smoke and mirrors.

    If you really believe that chapter 8 plays no role in chapter 10 then you not only miss the tree but the forest. I wish you the best.

  124. “If you really believe that chapter 8 plays no role in chapter 10…”

    I never said anything about it playing no role, but even if it were within the scope of the broader context, it wouldn’t really change the meaning conveyed in 10. The ‘therefore’ in vs 14 contextually links it to the verse prior (as such conjunctions do); to assume it’s relating to something spoken of around 40 verses prior, but to the exclusion of the concept immediately preceding it simply isn’t a valid inference.

    Lacking actual evidence, your continued deceitful prattle won’t be humored.

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