Friday, June 19, 2009

Springboarding off of Hays Against Molinism


Steve Hays (Calvinist) wrote: God's freedom is sui generis. It doesn't fall into either model of human agent theory, whether libertarian or determinist.

GodIsMyJudge (Molinist) wrote: Determinate and indeterminate seem like mutually exclusive and exhaustive categories. Are you suggesting there is some third category we don't know about or perhaps this is a logical paradox?


God's Will not Like Man's Will:

GodIsMyJudge's question misses part of the reason for Steve's comment. God's will is not like man's will. There is an analogy, but it is not a correspondence. God's will (his secret will - his decree of Providence) is not something time-bound. It is not something that begins from existing circumstances and produces a choice that is responsive to the circumstances in which it finds itself. It itself determines all circumstances. The decrees of God are his eternal purposes according to the counsel of his will, whereby - for his own glory - he has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.

The will's decision itself (that is to say, the decree of God) is not something that comes to pass. It is an eternal purpose of God. There was never a time when it was not.

Sometimes, for analytical purposes, we treat it as though we viewed it as active, but it is not. There is no time before God's will chooses what it chose - it is an eternal decree.

Relation to Knowledge of God:

This issue has a bearing on the discussion of the knowledge of God. What GodIsMyJudge seems to have overlooked is that in both the Molinist and Calvinist understanding, God's decrees are eternal - they do not come to be. The order that we discuss is simply a logical order - not a temporal order.

Thus, the Calvinist logical order is as follows:

1) Natural Knowledge
2) Decree
3) Free Knowledge

Whereas the Molinist logical order is as follows:

1) Natural Knowledge
2) Partial Decree
3) Middle Knowledge
4) Rest of Decree
5) Free Knowledge

Comparison to Human Will:

But both Molinists and Calvinists agree that this is simply a logical not a temporal order.

In contrast, human wills (in both systems) operate with temporal order:

1) Nature
2) Circumstance
3) Decree

That is an order that is both logical and temporal. First, there is our nature. This is something that is a given. Next, we and our nature encounter a specific circumstance. Sometimes that circumstance is largely of our making, other times we had nothing to do with the circumstance. Finally, in the circumstance, we make a choice.

Observation about Molinism:

Oddly enough, although Molinism advocates "Libertarian" free will (as opposed to simple, Calvinistic free will), Molinism essentially makes man's decree a product of his nature and his circumstance, such that if the same nature is placed in the same circumstance man's decree will be the same.

Functionally, that sounds quite deterministic. The Molinist insists that the choices are free in a "libertarian" and "indeterminate" sense, but it really isn't apparent how that is possible or even credible. In the Molinist regime, it really looks like man's choices are essentially the product of his circumstances.


I don't want to get too sidetracked by pointing out the apparent inconsistency of Molinism. I understand (I think) the rationale behind GodIsMyJudge's question: he'd like to have Steve say that God has libertarian free will, to open the door to the idea that man could also have libertarian free will. The problem, however, is that while God and man both have wills - they operate in very different ways. In fact, even saying "operate" is a word that is only analogous when speaking of God's will.

No, God is the only uncaused cause. He is the only self-existent being, and his choices are eternal - they did not come into being indeterminately or determinately - they simply did not come into being, but always were. Therein lies the fallacy in, under, or behind the question posed by GodIsMyJudge.



Anonymous said...

A couple of comments TF.

First, this has got to be about the best and clearest flow of thoughts written on Molinism juxtaposed to Calvinist simple free will that I have read any time recently! Maybe it is because I am gaining some more understanding of Molinism? Can't be sure, nevertheless I don't retract my comment.


And as for a realtime illustration of one man ending up at the "same" intented place but arriving in different Wills, God's, not his own, although it was his simple will that got the ball rolling you might say:::>

Act 9:1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest
Act 9:2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
Act 9:3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.
Act 9:4 And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"
Act 9:5 And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Act 9:6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do."
Act 9:7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.
Act 9:8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.

Here we see the Eternal Purpose "show" up dramatically in the temporary affairs of a Called man of God hell bent on fulfilling the supposedly determinate Will of God!

This is the famous Apostle who makes the same claim as me, "I was known before the foundation of the world"! If you would have come up to me forty years ago and made that assertion to me I would have scorned you.

How can these things be?

Godismyjudge said...

Hi TF,

Steve has keep me busy lately. Did you miss me? :-)

Last we spoke you seemed undecided if God could have choose otherwise than He did. Has considering God's relationship with time changed your position on this issue?

You are correct that I think God has libertarian freedom and that this fact powerfully demonstrates that LFW is not illogical. Thus I think all LFW is illogical arguments fall to the ground. You suggest God's type of freedom couldn't survive the transplant for a logical order to a temporal order. That may be, I know God’s freedom is in unique in many material aspects. But I think it's fair to know [b]what[/b] is being transplanted before we can determine if it would survive the transplant or not. In a logical order, those logical moments preceding God's decree either rendered His decree necessary, or they did not.

Steve discussions of time travel and what sounds like B Theory time leads me to thing he has a view of time that seems to have paradoxical underpinnings. I could see why his theory might lead to the conclusion that we couldn’t have LFW (which would substantiate your argument), but I didn’t think his view was your cup of tea. Otherwise, why does our being in time matter?

God be with you,

Turretinfan said...

"Steve has keep me busy lately. Did you miss me? :-)"

The papists have been keeping me a bit busy as well, but of course the answer is "Yes."

"Has considering God's relationship with time changed your position on this issue?"

The comment that God could have done otherwise is a statement that is only valid in the logical order. My position on God's relationship with time and the eternality of the decrees has been unchanged for quite a while. So, as far as I know the answer to this question is, "No."

"You suggest God's type of freedom couldn't survive the transplant for a logical order to a temporal order."

That's not it. I'm suggesting that God's type of freedom is necessarily unique. I'm also suggesting it is misleading to call God's freedom Libertarian Free Will (LFW) because it is - at best - weakly analogous.

"In a logical order, those logical moments preceding God's decree either rendered His decree necessary, or they did not."

Or possibly the whole idea of "logical moments" rendering the decree necessary is an incoherent (or merely weakly analogous) statement. Causality is normally expressed in temporal sequence, not logical sequence and by actors not moments.

"Otherwise, why does our being in time matter?"

I assume this is intended as a serious question, but it does seem a bit odd. It is elementary that there is an important difference between a timeless "process" that is simply an analytical tool to understand God and a timebound process that comes to be.

That which comes to be has to have a cause: that which does not come to be does not have to have a cause. That's the reason.

That said, why do you feel you can gloss over the timeless/timebound distinction?