Monday, May 12, 2014

Craig's Dilemma - Escape for Aseity, but Hello Grounding Objection

William Lane Craig says he doesn't think aseity is threatened by middle knowledge, because he is an anti-realist with respect to abstract objects including possible worlds.  In other words, he views possible worlds as non-existent.  Thus, God's middle knowledge is not dependent on something outside himself.

While that's an understandable response, it runs smack into the grounding objection (discussed in more detail here).  By definition, middle knowledge is neither based on God's nature (or else it would be natural knowledge) nor based on God's volition (or else it would be free knowledge).

So, either what is called middle knowledge is based on something in God himself (in which case it is really free or natural knowledge, and there is no middle knowledge as such) or middle knowledge is based on something outside God (in which case we have the aseity problem).  It does not seem possible that grounds could be something that is outside God but that doesn't exist, since - by definition - nothing meets that definition.



Dan said...

Hi Turretinfan,
"So, either what is called middle knowledge is based on something in God himself...or middle knowledge is based on something outside God..."

This inference seems too quick. Isn't there a third option, namely that middle knowledge (by which I take you to mean its objects, the things known) is (are) not based on anything? This is one of the responses to the grounding objection.

Ron Van Brenk said...

Hi TFan,

You seem to have paraphrased Turretin quite accurately. Fancy that!

Turretin restates the Molinist position (third topic, thirteenth question-

The question is not whether the knowledge of conditional future things is in God antecedently... rather the question is whether a certain futurition of this or that thing precedes so that God may see that thing antecedently... This we deny.

Turretin concludes the question with-

The futurition of things depends upon nothing but the decree of God, and therefore can be foreknown only from the decree.

As regards the asceity issue Turretin comments (eighteenth question)-

It is absurd to say that God depends on something outside of himself, but not [to say] that he depends upon himself

Was that too nasty for our sensitivities?

Turretinfan said...


That's the white flag response. It's not just an admission that "we don't know why they are true," but a further admission that "there is no reason why they are true."

Such a view is not just counter-intuitive, it places the position at odds with most views of truth itself.


Dan said...

It's no less plausible than the first option you do mention, namely that the objects of *middle* knowledge are based *in God*. However implausible it may be that they are simply true without being grounded in anything, this is one of the standard responses to the grounding objection. Craig defends it in the article you discuss. I'm not endorsing the response (I'm not a Molinist); I just think your stated "dilemma" for Craig was missing a horn.

neurosciencelinguisticsandhebrew said...


That might be a response, but, as Dr. White said the other day, it sounds like such a response would be to say that these counterfactuals are brute facts. "It's just that way" might be what we would hear from a person saying that the truth of counterfactuals don't need to be grounded. Well, how would Molinists like it if we conducted the debate that way? "Calvinism is true because its just that way!" we could say in response. As Greg Bahnsen said, to posit a brute fact is to be irrational, because anyone can make anything a brute fact.

Dan said...

Hi neurosciencelinguisticsandhebrew,
What do you mean by "brute fact"?

mlculwell said...

You Calvinists and Armenians crack me up. You argue over un-biblical word games that you invented. That you then have to look in a dictionary to figure out what the garbage means. Yes Garbage Calvinism is utter philosophical Garbage and Armenianism is not far behind. I harken back to the two other evil inventions you forced upon God and his Holy Word and argue over. trinity not found there but on the same level and sin as Maryology and Popery the Same exact non-sesne. I heard White getting upset saying somebody named Zachary could not argue his way out of a wet paper Bag. ROTFL! There is not a single one of the five points that are true and nobody can help God do anything that you Calvinists lie and make claim. I am going to make a claim now...You all are working for your salvation because you are yet in your sins and do not have regeneration. Like Paul said in (Acts 19:2 ) Have you received the Holy Ghost when or since you believed? Letting us know that No you do not otherwise he would have asked simply have you believed and the matter would have been settled. Here is another tidbit. The gift of faith is not saving faith in 1st.Cor.12:9 it is faith over and above saving faith and you must first be saved to have this gift of faith. "Molinist" ROTFL! Where do I find molonist in the scriptures you Calvinist are nothing more than man centered philosophers who claim you are sola scriptura and are far from it. More like sola tradition of man's invention and philosophy. would you like me to tell you how I really feel TF?

mlculwell said...

I did not say all this for hatred of you because I actually like you and I also Like Rich Pierce. But I would be remiss not tell you I believe you are dead wrong in your Reformed views and i do not believe it is going to be pretty when you Finally meet the One God ie. The Lord Jesus Christ. Te same thing you feel about what I teach is wrong is the same way I feel about your doctrines.

neurosciencelinguisticsandhebrew said...


A "brute fact" is a fact that has no explanation or grounding. "It is just that way" is how it is usually understood.

Dan said...

Hi neurocscience,
I realise it's been a while (I've been out of town for a week), but in case you see this:

You said: "Well, how would Molinists like it if we conducted the debate that way? "Calvinism is true because its just that way!" we could say in response."

This is not how the Molinist / Craig conducts the debate. Craig argues for the view that the relevant conditionals can be brutally true (brute facts). He doesn't just assert it, and he doesn't just assert that Molinism is true (which is what *would* be like saying 'Calvinism is true because its just that way').

You said: "As Greg Bahnsen said, to posit a brute fact is to be irrational, because anyone can make anything a brute fact."

Maybe you can elaborate, because this sounds very implausible. Suppose I think that God could have created another kind of world that would be just as good as this one in overall value, and that it is a brute fact that He chose this one instead of that one. How does positing this brute fact mean that "anyone can make anything a brute fact"?