Divine Omniscience and Probabilistic Events


#1

I submitted a question to William Lane Craig (reasonablefaith.org):

Dear Dr. Craig,

I’m a trinitarian and assume Molinist divine omniscience (middle knowledge (MK) and exhaustive definite foreknowledge [EDF]). My Molinist assumption recently included that EDF in a universe (spacetime continuum plus possible hyper-dimensions for the heavenly realms and perhaps gravity) with probabilistic mechanics is possible for an omniscient deity when the deity creates the universe with static time, but EDF is not possible when the deity creates the universe with dynamic time. For example, I suppose that God could foreknow the outcome of a fair coin toss only if the fair coin toss occurred in static time. Moreover, if God doesn’t know the outcome of probabilistic events such as a fair coin toss, then God doesn’t know what circumstances his free will creatures would face unless God actually determines the outcome of most probabilistic events. Additionally, I assume that there is no middle ground between EDF and open theism. Given these assumptions, I felt surprised when I read your God, Time, and Eternity reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5387 (2002) speech and saw that you’re a Molinist who holds to a dynamic theory of time. Could you help to explain how God knows the outcome of probabilistic events in a universe with dynamic time?

I will clarify that I hope to find a better answer than saying that the Bible clearly teaches that God knows all truth about the future while philosophical evidence points to a dynamic theory of time. Perhaps somebody might argue that God knowing all truth about future events doesn’t necessitate EDF, but I would need an explanation of that. I will also clarify that until I recently reread your 2002 article, I supposed that a dynamic theory of time necessitated open theism while a static theory of time necessitated closed theism, while Molinist closed theism appears to me as the best description of divine omniscience. However, I agree that there are major problems with static time according to your critique and the critiques of others. Likewise, I will try to humbly broaden my imagination of divine omniscience and time.

I suppose that I would reject Molinism if it insisted that most apparently probabilistic events are actually determined. (Hey, I made a counter factual prediction about myself.: ) For example, Molinism implies that that God knows the truth about all future probabilistic events. Perhaps we should merely accept this mystery, but I suppose that the cat is out of the bag and the paradox needs an attempt of an explanation.

On my part, I’m contemplating a model that combines MK, EDF, and a dynamic theory of time. I also suppose that since the creation decision, God exists both transcendent to and immanent in the universe. I additionally suppose that God’s decision to create the universe included foreordination of all divine intervention during the literal endless temporal progression of the creation that endures. Furthermore, this decision occurred in an instant, while decision making of an omniscient deity in regards to a universe with a literal endless temporal progression would never take longer than an instant. For example, no amount of time and temporal experience could ever help an omniscient deity make a better decision. Given these assumptions, perhaps in some way the creation is in quasi-static time only in the perspective of God’s transcendence while the creation is in dynamic time in the perspective of God’s imminence. Granted that I need a lot of work on this, but at least I have a thesis statement. Anyway, as I asked above, Could you help to explain how God knows the outcome of probabilistic events in a universe with dynamic time?

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

James Goetz

theoperspectives.blogspot.com/2011/02/divine-omniscience-probabilistic-events.html


#2

James,

Great post, and very interesting questions. Though I think Molinism finally fails (because I think there are no true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom), I still find it a fascinating theory. As you know, I’m an open theist—so that’s where I’m coming from. You may know that Boyd and Craig have met a couple of times in public debate over OV vs MK and most recently engage each other in IVP’s upcoming Four Views book on Providence (amazon.com/Four-Views-Divine-Providence-Counterpoints/dp/0310325129/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1297019743&sr=1-1).

Christian philosopher and open theist Alan Rhoda has also published a number of excellent articles engaging Craig and Molinism, and I’m told that Craig and David Hunt have (or are) preparing a response to a Faith & Philosophy piece that Alan, Greg and I published a few years ago (and that can be found on Alan’s site here: alanrhoda.net/).

Alan also has a blog (alanrhoda.net/blog/) with some great engagement of MK (as an open theist). And lastly (sorry to advertise, but I love these issues!), you can follow a bit of the summary about Craig and Boyd via a short piece of my own that addresses some of these questions in response to a question posed to Craig on his site by a reader (scribd.com/doc/23501343/William-Lane-Craig-Molinism-and-Open-Theism).

In a nutshell, Craig is an Ockhamist when it comes to his theory of truth and the relationship between truth and reality. He believes that counterfactuals of creaturely freedom (CCFs, or propositions stating what creatures “would” and “would not” freely do in any conceivable circumstance) are eternally true, and true prior to God’s decision to create. What makes them true? What “grounds” their truth value? Nothing, says Craig. The truth of what we all “would” and “would not” freely do in any conceivable circumstance is simply a metaphysical surd. Those truths are just there eternally, plop, and are known by God (though not determined in their truth BY God, since that, Craig admits, would make God the author of sin). Given Craig’s Ockhamism, there’s no problem created by adopting the dynamic theory of time, for on Craig’s view the truth of what we “would” freely do isn’t “grounded” in any theory of time regarding the actual world after God creates (whether static or dynamic). Counterfactuals of creaturely freedom are pre-volitionally true (true before God even determines which world to create). Dynamic or static—it matters not to the truth of CCFs.

Craig goes with the dynamic theory of time because a) he’s convinced by the science that this is the preferable view, and b) Craig’s view of human freedom is at stake in the choice between dynamic and static theories of time. Craig is (as was de Molina) a libertarian. In fact, the whole motivation to develop Middle Knowledge in the first place was to make libertarian freedom compatible with a strong view of divine providence, a providence that include God’s deciding which possible worlds get actualized, or God’s always getting the “actual” libertarian world that God wants.

This leads me to my question for you, James. If you’re a B-theorist regarding time (static view), I’d think you deny the sort of ‘temporal becoming’ that libertarian choice entails. On the static view of time, God brings the entire history of creation into existence as a single undivided entity, so to speak. The world’s history doesn’t s “temporal become” as is commonly thought. It’s not true (on the static theory) that creatures are causal agents in the sense that they contribute to determining which of several possibilities comes to pass. So my question: what sort of freedom do you suppose we have? If libertarian, then how do you square that with a static view of time? If not libertarian, then what motivates your adoption of MK, since Molinism attempts to bring libertarian freedom into relationship with divine determination of the world’s events?

One last comment. It’s not the case that a dynamic theory of time entails open theism. Many theological determinists (Calvinists) adopt the dynamic theory of time without jeopardizing divine determinism. As determinists, they deny libertarian freedom. A God who has alone determined/decreed all that happens doesn’t require a static universe to bring about what he decrees. He MAY go that route. But he can just as easily decide to bring about all that he decrees through the world’s dynamic temporal becoming. Craig, on the other hand, is a libertarian, so he NEEDS temporal becoming in order to explain how creaturely agents themselves determine their own choices. He just ALSO believes that the ‘truth’ about what creatures “would” do isn’t itself determined BY those same creaturely choices, since creatures are not eternal and retroactive causation is impossible. Neither God nor human agents “ground” the truth about what creatures “would freely” do in this or that situation. Those truths, on Craig’s view, are literally “just” out there eternally, alongside God and known by God (and used by God to inform his decision about which possible world he wants to actualize).

Blessings,
Tom


#3

Thanks, Tom. I knew you’re open theist, but didn’t know the extent of your background with it. (I also had EDF that you my friend would reply to my original post.:slight_smile:) I’ll only skim this for now because this has little to do with my current book that needs to be completed while I’ll need to get this down for what I hope will be a future book about science, history, and theology. At this point, I’ll put off critically reading your 37-page paper until I have serious time for it. Anyway, I’m glad to see that you’re an awesome resource for this.

After reading your reply, I suppose that I’ve a naive view of Molinism and am further from Craig’s view than what I thought. For example, Craig might be motivated to his view of Molinism because his theodicy concludes that all of the damned are transworld damned. Well, my view is that assuming God’s nature is the same in all possible worlds, then every free will creature will eventually accept salvation. But regardless of that huge difference, I see some valuable points.

Anyway, I’ll summarize my position and perhaps you could tell me if I’m a Molinist or not. I believe:

  1. God has always known all possible scenarios in all possible worlds.
  2. God has always known EDF in the world(s) that he created.
  3. God freely choose what world(s) he created, but he always knew what choices he would make while it wasn’t an automatic decision.

Okay, here’s where I’m confused by your reply. I thought open theists agree with Molinists about middle knowledge but disagree about the reality of EDF. However, you’re an open theist and disagree with at least Craig’s view of middle knowledge. Now I suppose that I’ve a naive view of middle knowledge. For example, I supposed that “1” above (God has always known all possible scenarios in all possible worlds.) is middle knowledge, but now I’ve my doubts. Of course our big disagreement is on “2” while I want to make sure that I understand middle knowledge and whether I actually hold to an interpretation of middle knowledge. Could you help to explain this to me?

Here’s an important point and I cannot go all out on it for now, but I hope to later.:slight_smile: I hold that a transcendent omniscient view of time with genuine probabilistic events appears static while it dynamically unfolds in its continuum. I suppose that many open theists would argue that this is impossible. There could be no genuine probabilistic events in time that appears static to a transcendent observer.

Perhaps I’ll never have a perfect answer to the question that I ask Craig. But I suppose that modern physics indicates evidence of both a static model of time and a dynamic model of time. Perhaps both are true in some sense while there are genuine probabilistic events.

Most importantly, the truth or falsity of open theism or closed theism depends upon reality regardless of who develops the best argument. But I also have deep theological concerns. For example, if all of the biblical verses about foreknowledge and foreordination are actually about hypothetical foreknowledge and foreordination, then I would be extraordinarily surprised. Also, I find deep theological significance in the traditional belief that God created the universe with definite foreknowledge of each human. In contrast, according to open theism and the probabilities of specific human sperm-ovum possibilities, then God saw many people as unlikely originating perhaps even a week before their conception. This view of accidental origin of each human instead of deliberate origin of each human has important pastoral implications for many people.

Tom, I only can skim this for now.:slight_smile:


#4

Jim: I also had EDF that you my friend would reply to my original post.

Tom: Haha! Good one!

Jim: Anyway, I’ll summarize my position and perhaps you could tell me if I’m a Molinist or not. I believe:

  1. God has always known all possible scenarios in all possible worlds.
  2. God has always known EDF in the world(s) that he created.
  3. God freely choose what world(s) he created, but he always knew what choices he would make while it wasn’t an automatic decision.

Tom: That doesn’t look like Molinism to me. The all important category of ‘middle knowledge’, or counterfactuals of creaturely freedom (see below), isn’t there. Middle Knowledge divides God’s knowledge into three categories, or rather, three logical moments in God’s apprehension of truth about the world:

(A) God’s ‘natural knowledge’ which is his knowledge of necessary truths (like “2 + 2 = 4” and “All bachelors are unmarried) and all possibilities (or possible worlds).

© God’s ‘free knowledge’ which is his knowledge of the actual world God chose to create.

In between God’s ‘natural’ and ‘free’ knowledge is…

(B) God’s ‘middle knowledge’, knowledge of what agents ‘would’ and ‘would not’ freely do in any conceivable situation.

(A) and (B) are pre-volitionally true (true whether or not God decides to create any kind of world). God’s ‘free knowledge’ is only constituted (logically speaking) once God determines which of all the possible worlds from (A) that God decides to create. But the truths in (B) are what ‘inform’ God’s choice to create. For Molinists, (B)-type truths are what give God the providential control over the affairs of the actual world he creates.

Jim: I thought open theists agree with Molinists about middle knowledge but disagree about the reality of EDF.

Tom: Open theists and Molinists definitely don’t agree about the status of God’s so-called ‘middle knowledge’. Everybody uses ‘possible worlds’ lingo, so that might be confusing. But at the heart of Molinism is that all-important ‘middle knowledge’—God’s pre-volitional knowledge of counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, viz., truths describing what creatures ‘would’ and ‘would not’ freely (libertarianly) do in any conceivable circumstance. Open theists are also libertarians (like Craig and Tom Flint), but we deny there are any ‘true’ CCFs. It’s not possible to say what an agent ‘would’ or ‘would not’ do freely in this or that situation. One can say what one might/might not do, but that can’t get you the kind of providential advantage that Craig and other Molinists want to extract from CCFs.

Jim: Now I suppose that I’ve a naive view of middle knowledge. For example, I supposed that “1” above (God has always known all possible scenarios in all possible worlds.) is middle knowledge, but now I’ve my doubts.

Tom: Oh, right. Your (1) isn’t what Molinists call “middle knowledge” at all. That’s what Molinists call God’s ‘natural’ knowledge. Everybody pretty much agrees God has this type of knowledge.

Jim: Of course our big disagreement is on “2” while I want to make sure that I understand middle knowledge and whether I actually hold to an interpretation of middle knowledge. Could you help to explain this to me?

Tom: Right. Your (2) is Molinism’s © or God’s knowledge of what “will” occur in the actual world God creates. The question is how your (1) (God’s knowledge of all possible worlds) gives God knowledge of what “will” happen in the world he creates, your (2). And that’s where Molinists posit a type of knowledge “in between” God’s ‘natural’ and God’s ‘free’ knowledge. In Molinism, what God does (logically speaking) is have before him all the POSSIBLE WORLDS he’s able to create. Which one will he pick? The Molinist says God consults his ‘middle knowledge’, his knowledge of what agents ‘would’ and ‘would not’ freely do in all those possible worlds, to arrive at a world that best suits his plans, and then God decides to create THAT world. Once God decides to create THAT world based on knowing what creatures “would” and “would not” do in that possible world, God then knows what creatures “will” and “will not” do in the world he’s decided to create. Essentially God picks a possible world (a world from (A)) and makes this pick based on his middle knowledge (on (B)), and that results in ©, knowing exactly what shall transpire in the world he created.

Nothing like open theism.

Jim: I hold that a transcendent omniscient view of time with genuine probabilistic events appears static while it dynamically unfolds in its continuum. I suppose that many open theists would argue that this is impossible.

Tom: Not just open theists would argue that. Lots of philosophers and scientists would agree that the universe can’t be BOTH a dynamic world of temporal becoming AND a static block all equally actual.

Jim: There could be no genuine probabilistic events in time that appears static to a transcendent observer.

Tom: It’s difficult to imagine. My question would be, What do you mean by “appears static”? Is it dynamic but only appears static to us because of our limited perspective (while it appears dynamic to God because God knows it IS dynamic)? But to “know” this is to know that the world is not what it appears to be; i.e., it’s not static, it’s dynamic. Or is it both genuinely static (or block) and also dynamic? Dynamic or temporal ‘becoming’ seems incompatible with a static view, but if you work out how they’re compatible you’ll go down in history! Go for it!

Tom


#5

Tom, Thanks for helping to clear up my misunderstanding of middle knowledge and natural knowledge. Also, yes, my view is difficult to imagine. In fact, in the context of the immanent world, my view is impossible. We (finite creatures) can only experience dynamic time while we can only make mathematical models of static time. Only a transcendent omniscient deity could definitely know things in static time while creatures live in a world with genuine probabilistic events and experience a single unfolding of the time continuum.

Hmm, how to defend that this is plausible? I wouldn’t merely say that God has an essential property that knows all truth about the future. Also, given other paradoxes in Christian faith, I doubt that anybody could unequivocally claim that God cannot definitely know the outcome of genuinely probabilistic events. Also, one thing to look at is if there are any physics models of time reversal that allow probabilistic events in the time continuum. Or perhaps the transcendent omniscient view is “quasi-static time” where the present is real while the past and future are merely definitely known.


#6

Good stuff guys.

Thanks for the broad strokes on MK, Tom. p.s. nice avatar lol

“…I also have deep theological concerns. For example, if all of the biblical verses about foreknowledge and foreordination are actually about hypothetical foreknowledge and foreordination, then I would be extraordinarily surprised. Also, I find deep theological significance in the traditional belief that God created the universe with definite foreknowledge of each human. In contrast, according to open theism and the probabilities of specific human sperm-ovum possibilities, then God saw many people as unlikely originating perhaps even a week before their conception. This view of accidental origin of each human instead of deliberate origin of each human has important pastoral implications for many people.”

Most the open theists I know (including me) are pretty conservative theologically, not that open theism gets you to that, but just stating a personal observation. We (I) have a pretty high view of scripture. It’s actually questions about biblical passages that got me thinking about open theism (even though I didn’t know what to call it at the time). I grew up a pentecostal without any Reformed influence, so I landed somewhere in the Arminian theological ubiquity, but I was really unsettled in that philosophically speaking, and there were some bible verses bothering me too. Both verses that seemed to imply that everything was a ‘pre-made world’ and other verses that seemed open to this thing or that thing (might and might not).

The philosophical question that bothered me THE MOST was, “How can I be free to do this or that, if God knows that I will definitely do THAT?” …Isn’t God’s foreknowledge ‘grounded’ in something more than just “…because He JUST has to know what will happen… that’s what omniscience means!”? That question (plus more later, led me, eventually, to open theism)

Hermeneutically, exegetically, theologically, biblically etc. I had to wrestle with the texts… all the classic stuff… Romans 9, Psalm 139, Romans 8, Ephesians 1, Exodus… uh… 50?, Isaiah 56…? etc. etc. All the stuff that gets used to characterize God’s omniscience as EDF. It’s been years now and I can’t remember all the juicy ones.

What do you mean by “hypothetical foreknowledge”? Do you mean foreknowledge of possibilities as open theism sees that?

Lastly, I think human reproduction is an extension of our volition (and biology). In Psalm 139, God’s intimate knowledge of starts inside mommy. Might say the same of Jeremiah 1. I’ve thought a little about this lately because we’re trying to get pregnant. Either way, I’m not sure it messes with open theism at all.

“This view of accidental origin of each human instead of deliberate origin of each human has important pastoral implications for many people.”

The view of a divinely ordained malformed or still born child has more, I think.


#7

Hi kkj,

Yes, hypothetical foreknowledge is my description of natural knowledge that always existed in omniscient God according to both closed theism and open theism. Likewise, considering both closed theism and open theism, God has always known his best possible response to all possible scenarios of evil. So open theism in no way improves upon the problem of evil such as stillborn children. Also, I hold to the five points of the Arminian Remonstrants while I don’t equate EDF with foreordination of everything that ever happens in time. I see foreordination as God’s foreknowledge of his own intervention. Some models of EDF could be deterministic while those models apparently imply that God foreordained all evil. However, I strongly hold to the reality of probabilistic events and human will without absolute deterministic constraints, despite the fact that God in his transcendence happens to know how every detail turns out.

In the case of our universe since the Fall, God foreknew that he would temporarily hold back a lot of possible ameliorating intervention (such as apparently unanswered prayer) until humans learn to live responsibly with their free will. This is true regardless of open theism or closed theism. Of all the open theism literature that I read, I never saw a compelling argument that open theism has a better theodicy.


#8

Open theists (the published ones) haven’t argued (I don’t think) that open theism introduces a new theodicy. It was never meant to be sold as that, since it just assumes the Free Will theodicy, although we think we argue a more consistent version of this theodicy.

Tom


#9

I agree that there are no claims that go as far as a “new theodicy,” but any discussion of evil that suggests a “more consistent” “theodicy” in some way suggest a “better theodicy.”


#10

Tom, I also see God as no more free with open theism than with closed theism. For example, God with natural knowledge always knew his best possible action in any given circumstance. So the mere fact that God foreknows how he’ll act in any given circumstance in no way infringes of his free will. Likewise, the assumption that God foreknows how he’ll act in all definitely known circumstances in no way infringes of his free will. Of course, this in itself doesn’t tell us if God transcendence see EDF.


#11

Molinism sounds a bit lending itself to determinism to me. If God knows all possible worlds and outcomes and actualizes a particular world, then is the world free to do otherwise than what God has known and actualized?

I’m not looking to drail the train so a short answer will do.

Aug


#12

Jim: Tom, I also see God as no more free with open theism than with closed theism. For example, God with natural knowledge always knew his best possible action in any given circumstance. So the mere fact that God foreknows how he’ll act in any given circumstance in no way infringes of his free will.

Tom: But I don’t think God is libertarianly free with respect to love in any imaginable world, so of course what perfect love would do in some imaginable situation would be foreknown by God. That’s not problematic because God is, I think, compatibilistically free when it comes to love and goodness. He cannot fail to instantiate the perfect love and goodness that he is.

Jim: Likewise, the assumption that God foreknows how he’ll act in all definitely known circumstances in no way infringes of his free will. Of course, this in itself doesn’t tell us if God transcendence see EDF.

Tom: But again, for open theists, the problem is with foreknowledge of ‘libertarian’ choices, not ‘compatibilistically’ free choices. For example, God can (and, I’d argue, ought to) know that if Y is the most loving thing to do in possible world X that God ‘would’ do Y in X. God’s not free (in my view) to do other than the most benevolent thing in any conceivable world, so there’s no problem with God knowing that he “would” do the most benevolent thing in such situations.

What makes God’s knowledge of his own future actions contingent is that whether he does the most loving thing in X depends upon X’s coming to pass, and THAT may depend upon libertarian choices. So God may know that IF X THEN God does Y but also know what X might/might not occur (from an open view perspective of course), and thus, God might/might not do X in Y.

Tom


#13

Hey Aug and Tom,

Aug brings up a great question. And my answer will also elaborate of Tom’s previous question about what I mean by an “appearance” of static time, also the appearance of the b-theory of time.

I’ll begin by summarizing my favorite physics theory of time found in A. Aguirre and S. Gratton, “Inflation without a Beginning: A Null Boundary Proposal,” Physical Review D 67, 083515, (2003) arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0301042. For example, the abstract says, “The model admits an interesting arrow of time that is well-defined and consistent for all physical observers that can communicate, even while the statistical description of the entire universe admits a symmetry that includes time-reversal.” This is later explained in the article that all observers inside the spacetime continuum see the same arrow of time (AOT) while an imaginary observer outside the spacetime continuum may view time going both forward and backwards. Also, is some regions outside a particular spacetime continuum, the AOT could be undefined, or in other words, no arrow of time. Likewise, inside the continuum is a single AOT (a dynamic A-theory model of time) while outside the continuum could be a view of a static perspective of time, while an outside omniscient observer could see everything in the continuum in an instant (a transcendent observation of a static B-theory model of time). Perhaps I should call this the “AB-theory of time.”

Now back to Aug’s question, “If God knows all possible worlds and outcomes and actualizes a particular world, then is the world free to do otherwise than what God has known and actualized?” In short, if my AB-theory of time is accurate, then God’s transcendent EDF in no way interferes with genuinely probabilistic events and genuinely free will decisions within the immanent universe.

Tom, after a little break, I’ll get back to your last post in this thread.:slight_smile:


#14

I don’t really understand your AB-theory of time or EDF so it’s makes it hard to imagine that the world could do anything except what God actualized. If the world does one thing other than what God actualized then how could it exist at all since God did not actualize it? Determinism seems creeping at the door.


#15

Auggy: Molinism sounds a bit lending itself to determinism to me.

Tom: It’s as deterministic as you can get given ‘libertarianism’. Louis de Molina (and Molinists since him, with a very few exceptions) believed we had LFW. But he was equally committed to a strong version of divine providence. He wanted to say God ultimately decides what the actual world is like moment by moment. How do you do that and also hold on to LFW? Molina’s answer was ‘middle knowledge’.

Basically, God is free to choose to create any one of the infinite number of possible worlds he wants. But what limits God (if “limit” is the right word) are all the counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. These counterfactuals are all those truths that state what any agent would freely (with LFW) do in any conceivable world. God doesn’t decide what’s true in this category of truths. They’re true independent of the divine will. But they make up all the possible worlds God considers when he creates. So in a sense, God has to take these truths (truths about what free agents would do in this or that situation) into account when deciding which possible world he’ll create.

So God gets to freely decide WHICH possible world becomes the actual world, but God doesn’t determine what agents would freely do in each possible world. The agents decide that. God only decides WHICH possible world best suits his purposes and the creates THAT world.

In addition, counterfactuals converge and conflict with each other. There may be a possible world in which John Kennedy is not assassinated but not in which the US puts a man on the moon. Given the truths of those CCFs that delimit the possible worlds God can create, there may be no possible world in which Kennedy gets the US to the moon AND also doesn’t get assassinated. God has to pick a world configuration that comes the closest to fulfilling his perfect will for creation. Once God picks, THEN he knows exactly how the events of that world will unfold based on all the truths that describe what agents “would freely” do if their circumstances were actual. God just actualizes those circumstances and—poof—we all do exactly as those eternal counterfactual truths describe.

It’s a valiant effort. Gotta hand it to Molina. But in the end I don’t think it works at all.

Tom


#16

Tom, What I don’t understand is why you reject that God in his transcendence cannot definitely foresee the outcome of future contingencies such as libertarian choices and probabilistic events? I suppose that everybody knows that this is impossible for finite creatures, but why is this impossible for God?


#17

Jim,

Your question really gets to the heart of it. I’ll try to boil down my answer to a few short comments, hopefully sooner than later!

Tom


#18

But that does not seem to answer the question: If God actualizes a world which he foreknows the details then how in the world could they be free to do other than what he would know they would do? They will ONLY do what he knows already and they cannot (at the specific time) do otherwise. If you say they can do otherwise then Open Theism is creeping at the door.


#19

Hey Aug,

I’ll try to break this down a bit. And I want to put aside technical terms such as Molinism.

According to traditional Christian teaching, God initiated the creation of the universe while he definitely foresaw every detail about the future of creation. I suppose that this could happen two ways.

First, God sovereignly intervenes in every detail while there are no genuine contingencies in the universe; I unequivocally reject that type of determinism. Second, God definitely foresaw the outcome of all genuine contingencies such as libertarian choices and chance events in the universe, despite that no creature could ever do that.

Something along one of these two lines would be the case if God definitely foreknew us since the creation of the universe. Philosophers call this theological fatalism. An alternative to theological fatalism is open theism. God indefinitely foreknew about every possibility in the universe, but in his transcendence, he didn’t definitely know the outcome of all future contingencies. When God initiated the creation of the universe, there was only a miniscule chance that any particular human would be born.


#20

It would be God in his transcendence timelessly seeing all temporal events but not intervening to determine the outcome of all possible contingencies. If that’s impossible for God, then (A) God causally determines every detail while there is nothing close to free will or (B) God doesn’t timelessly see all temporal events.