Imagine with me that God, in his perfect omniscience were to write down on the 8th day of the world, a diary that stated for each day of all of time (from creation until the destruction of this world at the end of time, or whatever the end of this age is from your particular eschatalogical view), the events of the day. Presumably, if we accept the Roman Catholic tradition, the December 25, 4 B.C. entry would read: Jesus Christ was born. There would be an entry for September 11, 2001, that says that such-and-such a number of people were killed. And so on, and so forth.
The diary concept is simple. Hopefully it is intelligible. Every day has an entry, and the entry describes the events of the day in the past tense. Got it?
Now, let's suppose that God, being omnipotent and omniscient not only wrote an entry for every day, but included every event down to the last detail in this diary and completed the diary on the 8th day. Then, God took the diary and hid it somewhere we cannot find it. Still following?
Let's just, for the sake of the argument, assume that God wrote the diary based on his knowledge of what will happen. Let's not discuss HOW God had knowledge of what will happen. Hopefully that is not a tall order. It should be simple to grant that God had knowledge of what was going to happen, what is happening now (as you read this), and what will happen after you finish reading this.
For the sake of the argument, you are to suppose that God, for His own reasons, wrote down all of those events by carving diary entries into granite slabs that God specially created for this purpose.
Hopefully this scenario is clear up to this point in the post. If it is not, please feel free to explain why.
Now, imagine that there is a slab for April 10, 2010, and that slabs entry reads (in part): "Roe vs. Wade was overturned by a 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court."
Here is the challenge:
Given the hypothetical scenario described above (which is not reality - in reality God has not written a granite diary of all of time),
- Is there anything that anyone (including the nine supreme court justices) can do that will produce a different court outcome on April 10, 2010?
- Is there anything that anyone can do to prevent the outcome carved in granite from happening?
- Is there any chance whatsoever that the outcome carved in granite will NOT happen?
- Must the event described in granite occur on the corresponding day?
- Is it necessary that the event occur on the corresponding day?
I boldly assert that, if you accept the presupposition that God is omniscient, you have to answer each of the five questions as follows:
1) No. Such an outcome would conflict with the granite slab. Such a conflict would properly be considered an error. An error on the granite slab would imply an error in God's knowledge of the future on day 8, since the granite slab was carved then.
2) No, for essentially the same reasons as (1).
3) No, again, for the same reasons as (1) and (2).
4) Yes, because if it does not, then the granite slab will contain an error, and it is impossible for such a state to exist.
5) Yes, without any positive information about HOW the event will come to be, we can say that it is necessary.
The application, of course, is that the future is no less certain simply because God has not written it all down. Exactly the number of people will be saved whose names would be written in that granite diary as being saved, and not one more person, and no effort on your part can alter that number.
This does not say anything positive about HOW that number will come to Christ - just that a certain, fixed number will come, and not one more.
However, this reality conflicts with your explanation of HOW that number will come to Christ. You seem to suppose that they will come in a manner that permits ALL to be saved. However, as we have shown above, nothing can permit ALL to be saved, because the granite slabs are as good as written.
Thus, the hypothetical granite diary proves your theory of causality to be wrong, without proving any other theory of causality to be right. It is no defense of your position here to say "but your theory of causality ...." My theory of causality is not in any way compromised by the hypothetical granite diary. As to this challenge, I have an explanation of HOW that does not contradict the reality demonstrated by the hypothetical granite diary. You, brother, do not.
Thus, FreeGrace, I challenge you to reconsider your view of causality in light of the reality of the certainty of the future. The idea that the salvation of all is possible is contradiction with the reality of a single future that is known to God in which less than all are saved.
The granite diary provides an excellent test case for your Temporal Becoming argument from your paper.
You see, the granite diary phrases its descriptions of the events of each day in the past tense: 33 men were killed by a Korean Student - the Supreme Court upheld the ban on partial birth abortions, a 1944 Miss America thwarted an intruder with her revolver, a sparrow fell to the ground, Roe vs. Wade was overturned, and so on.
Viewing the statements through the lens proposed in your article, I would look at the statement Roe vs. Wade is overturned, and - using your analysis - I would say that this statement is false. That's not a normal way of speaking, because normally one would recognize that the date at the top of the slab enlightens the reader as to the sense of the proposition. Nevertheless, given your definitions, it would be correct to say that this statement is false, and will be false until April 10, 2010. Then the statement will be true for the remainder of time.
The question is this: does anyone have the power to prevent that statement from becoming true on April 10, 2010?
The answer, if you are going to accept the innerrancy of the granite slabs, is "no." It is impossible that a world could exist in which, on April 11, 2010, the granite slab entry for April 10, 2010, was false.
Furthermore, no one has (has = present tense) the ability to change what was written (was written = past tense), nor will anyone ever have (will have = future tense) the ability to change what was written (was written = past tense).
Accordingly, if the granite slab says Roe vs. Wade was overturned on April 10, 2010, then no force, power, or ability - sub-human, human, angelic, or divine - has the power (has = present tense) to arrange things otherwise.
And, as noted above, it is sufficient that the granite slab could, hypothetically have been written. It is not necessary that God actually write the slab, because the relation between the slab being written and the certainty of the future event is not causal relationship. In other words, there is no need for the slab to exist in order for the future to be certain and fixed.
You may (and probably would) claim that there is a reverse causal link (that the future must occur in order for the slab to be written). This violates the first rule of causality (that the effect follows the cause). Nevertheless, let us leave this important flaw aside for the moment.
There is a second related flaw: by what mechanism does the event cause the carving? The response is that God is the link. The event acts on God's knowledge, and then God carves the event. This makes God a second cause, not a first cause. This violates the divinity of God as being the uncaused cause.
The third, and most important flaw, however, is that it does not address the reality of the matter. The reality of the matter is that no matter whether God is a second cause or whether the future can cause the past, the future is fixed, certain, and unalterable.
The day of Roe v. Wade's overturn is written in granite, and that date will not be changed. If the granite says April 10, 2010, then that is absolutely 100% certain to be true.
There is (present tense) no way to prevent that.
And that is not consistent with typical LFW explanations of freedom of the will.
My challenge to you, Godismyjudge: set aside your view of LFW in favor of the simple, Scriptural Calvinistic view of man's will. Then, your view of man's will be consistent with the hypothetical granite diary.
Godismyjudge has curiously responded:
The answers are almost all curious, because they defy common sense. Common sense says that if that the future is written in stone, the future cannot be otherwise. Yet, Godismyjudge repeatedly insists that it can be otherwise.
The only curiously inconsistent answer is the "No" to number 3. Here, Godismyjudge seems to acknowledge that the future will occur exactly as written, without any discrepency.
But this conflicts with many of Godismyjudge's other answers, particularly 4 and 5. For if it can be otherwise, and if otherwise means that an outcome written can not-happen, than God's omniscience can (in whatever sense Godismyjudge means "can") be violated.
Likewise, although most people would think that God's omniscience must not be violated, and that, therefore, the carved events must happen as carved, Godismyjudge claims that it can be otherwise.
Furthermore, Godismyjudge apparently overlooks the test of his time-passage argument. Accordingly, I invite him to revisit that point.
Finally, Godismyjudge's admission that the following statement does not limit free will is one reason that I say that Godismyjudge has yet to recognize that he is a Calvinist: "The third, and most important flaw, however, is that it does not address the reality of the matter. The reality of the matter is that no matter whether God is a second cause or whether the future can cause the past, the future is fixed, certain, and unalterable."
The idea that the future is fixed, certain, and unalterable and that man is free in the relevant sense is Calvinism contrasted with Arminianism.
Godismyjudge has responded, and a discussion of his response follows.
TF had written: But this conflicts with many of Godismyjudge's other answers, particularly 4 and 5. For if it can be otherwise, and if otherwise means that an outcome written can not-happen, than God's omniscience can (in whatever sense Godismyjudge means "can") be violated.
GIMJ replies: That conclusion does not follow. As I said, the events written will happen. This alone is sufficient to preserve God’s omniscience.
I respond: GIMJ seems to have missed the force of the argument. The thrust is not that "the events will happen" conflicts with God's omniscience, but that "the events can happen otherwise" (i.e. contrary to what God has seen before) conflicts with God's omniscience. In fact, of course, to insist dogmatically that they will happen as written and to simultaneously assert that they can happen otherwise is itself self-contradictory, and that is the point. If it will happen only way, and that way is so certain and fixed that it could as well be written in stone, then to say that the future "can" be otherwise is simply to speak in some hypothetical sense - it is not to speak of the reality of the matter.
TF had written: Furthermore, Godismyjudge apparently overlooks the test of his time-passage argument.
GIMJ replied: I am not sure what argument I overlooked. I suspect there are semantic differences on this point. But to check let me ask this. Do you agree that if I were to write “today is the day I die” on a piece of paper and seal it in a safe, it will be false every day but one (assuming the Lord does not return during my life)? If so, is suspect our differences are semantic.
I respond: The argument was asking you to apply the test you just mention about the paper, to the April 10, 2010, entry of the granite diary. As to your question, under your definitions the answer is as you say, but your definitions are contrary to the normal use of language.
TF had written: The idea that the future is fixed, certain, and unalterable and that man is free in the relevant sense is Calvinism contrasted with Arminianism.
GIMJ replied: The difference may be in what sense the future “is”. But clearly, Arminian divines affirm that God infallibly knows the future, and yet they were not accepted by Calvinists.
I respond: I don't think the real difference is a difference of words, but of logical consistency. If the future is so certain from God's pov, that it could have been writtten down in stone on day 8, then it cannot be otherwise, unless you simply mean to suggest that hypothetically it could be otherwise, if we suppose things that are contrary to fact.
Allow me to suggest that we continue this discussion by turning our attention to Necessity, in the post provided here (link to post).