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The Church Courtyard => The Sacred Sciences => Topic started by: Daniel on November 11, 2018, 08:45:42 AM

Title: Time and free will?
Post by: Daniel on November 11, 2018, 08:45:42 AM
All right, so this question is mostly directed at the Thomists and the libertarians.

I am wondering how you go about reconciling God's knowledge (providence) with libertarian free will? I know james03 has tried to explain it in other threads, but I can't seem to follow his argument. I'm thinking maybe his argument is based in some other theory of time which I'm not familiar with.

So what sort of theory of time must be adopted in order to reconcile God's foreknowledge with libertarian free will?
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Gardener on November 11, 2018, 09:08:36 AM
How do you understand it, and at what end specifically do you direct that understanding? Perhaps it would be easier to correct your (mis)understanding of a position than explain it anew.

James doesn't like the term foreknowledge since it has a flavor of time, which God exists outside of. Hence he uses the term Divine Providence.

Providence is much more than mere foreknowing, as it has an element of direction as well. One could argue it even has an element of reaction, though that doesn't easily square with the immutability of God.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Daniel on November 11, 2018, 09:25:19 AM
I'm not entirely sure, but I'd probably go with four-dimensionalism. The entire universe--past, present, and future--(including our future free actions) eternally exists, and God knows our future actions because they are eternal and He eternally sees them. But this leads to a contradiction: our free actions are the cause of God's knowledge, yet God is immutable so His knowledge has to be uncaused.
The only answer seems to be that we need to reverse the action-to-knowledge causal relationship. Our actions don't cause God's knowledge; God's knowledge causes our actions. But if God causes our actions, then our actions aren't "free" (at least not in the libertarian sense).
That, or we could say that there's no causal relationship at all, but that just seems weird. God knows our actions, and our actions are free, but neither one causes the other... as if it's all just one big coincidence.

I am familiar with the theory of presentism (a single moment (the present moment) exists, and that moment is ever-changing) and also the "growing block" theory (all past moments and the present moment exist, but the future does not yet exist). I'm not sure their implications, but my first thought is that they both seem a lot more problematic than four-dimensionalism. But I'm not sure if there are any other theories out there either...
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Michael Wilson on November 11, 2018, 10:55:04 AM
As far as I understand the issues as you stated them.
1. "Our actions are eternal"; no, our actions occur in time, and they are finite, therefore they cannot be eternal. But they are known to God in eternity.
2. I think you are right, that our actions are caused by God's knowledge; but our actions are also free, in the libertarian sense; i.e. They are not forced on us, and we could have freely chosen to do "other". How is this possible? Beats the heck out of me.
3. Our actions cannot be "un-caused" because only God is uncaused. So even though God causes or enables us to operate, yet He does it in such a way that we operate freely.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 11, 2018, 11:36:22 AM
I am pointing out a common problem in theology.  Explaining God through man's perspective.  Hence the term "pre"-destination is an absurdity.  God is entirely separate from His creation, which is in time.

So we must separate the two, man and God.

Divine Providence means that creation runs according to God's Sovereign plan, which from God's perspective I say God "is professed" reality.  That's the best I can do since I am stuck in time.

From Man's perspective, I say God predestined.

Now inside of time, I have Free Will.  Gardener gave us the quote from St. Thomas saying that the decision to cooperate or impede Grace rests with man.  This is Free Will.  We are not compelled to do either.

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One could argue it even has an element of reaction, though that doesn't easily square with the immutability of God.
This is why I reject Radical Molinism, and why I am a Congruentist.  God "is professed" a reality that includes our Free Will choices.

Why did He "is chose" this particular reality?  Unknown.  My opinion is that it is some kind of optimal.  However it could be that He has a particular preference for hair color in heaven.  While we can talk about the probability of one reason over another (and multiple alternatives), for the standpoint of Justice, it is ambivalent.  Either reason would not offend Justice.  If you do not understand that, then you will be in error due to you not understanding what Justice means.  And there is a likelihood you'll also be a leftist, but I digress.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 11, 2018, 12:01:21 PM
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I know james03 has tried to explain it in other threads, but I can't seem to follow his argument. I'm thinking maybe his argument is based in some other theory of time which I'm not familiar with.

The theory you might not be familiar with is called Congruentism.

From the human perspective (how it appears to us):  God has a Sovereign Plan, and created things to end up in a certain way.  He intervenes with Graces and miracles to achieve His secret purpose.  However God has foreknowledge of our Free Will acts, so He incorporates our choices into His plan.  While the plan plays out, we are entirely free and do not choose due to compulsion.  When we decide to sin, it is our Free Choice.

So is it Divine Providence or Free Will?  It is both, and we call this Congruentism. 

Consider two complaints and the corresponding error with each:

1.  It's not fair that Hitler sinned and went to hell.  (Denies Free Will).
2.  Why didn't God intervene and kill him right after baptism?  (Denies God's Sovereignty )
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: mikemac on November 11, 2018, 07:06:32 PM
I couldn't find Congruentism in the Catholic encyclopedia.  I did find Congruentism in an article titled 'The Doctrine Of Salvation: ELECTION: A Biblical Case For Calvinism' and in a book titled 'Anyone Can Be Saved: A Defense of "Traditional" Southern Baptist Soteriology'.  I was starting to get worried until I found this reply to a blog post.  I particularly like his last sentence.

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Since his view has not been formally condemned by the Church it is not correct to call it heresy. Benez, Molinis, Congruentism and the other systems are equal opinions a Catholic may hold. I like Fr William Most's additions to the subject. OTOH Benez views make sense only if one surrenders to Mystery.

I don't know how Free Will works or how Grace moves the Will yet keeps it free.
I don't know how sufficient grace is truly sufficient and I don't know it's real difference with efficacious grace. I only know I can by Grace freely choose Heaven yet take no credit for my free choice but I can also freely choose Hell and it is no fault but mine and I had enough Grace to have chosen otherwise.

I don't know how it works & I don't think we are meant to know.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Daniel on November 11, 2018, 08:17:48 PM
Thanks, everyone :)
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: TomD on November 25, 2018, 11:22:24 AM
All right, so this question is mostly directed at the Thomists and the libertarians.

I am wondering how you go about reconciling God's knowledge (providence) with libertarian free will? I know james03 has tried to explain it in other threads, but I can't seem to follow his argument. I'm thinking maybe his argument is based in some other theory of time which I'm not familiar with.

So what sort of theory of time must be adopted in order to reconcile God's foreknowledge with libertarian free will?

Regarding time, I think there is no way around it, a four-dimensionalist approach to time is necessary if we are to accept the doctrine of foreknowledge and libertarian freedom.

By saying that God has foreknowledge we are affirming that propositions regarding future free choices have a truth value. Now, if the future does not yet exist, these propositions have truth value prior to the choices themselves (ontologically and temporally). In that case, libertarian freedom cannot exist. On the other hand, if the future does exist, then it follows that even if there are true propositions regarding future free choices (as those who believe in foreknowledge must affirm), the truth of these propositions need not be prior to the state of affairs they report, i.e. the choices.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Xavier on November 25, 2018, 12:05:27 PM
In academic literature, the alleged incompatibility between foreknowledge and free will is now recognized to be a formal fallacy, called the modal fallacy. The truth value of a proposition is being confused with its modality by imprecise terminology.

"Ultimately the alleged incompatibility of foreknowledge and free will is shown to rest on a subtle logical error. When the error, a modal fallacy, is recognized and remedied, the problem evaporates ...

But this third premise, we have seen above, is false; it commits the modal fallacy. Without this premise, Maimonides' argument is invalid; with it, the argument becomes valid but unsound (that is, has a false and essential premise [namely the third one]). Either way, the argument is a logical botch.

Once the logical error is detected, and removed, the argument for epistemic determinism simply collapses. If some future action/choice is known prior to its occurrence, that event does not thereby become "necessary", "compelled", "forced", or what have you. Inasmuch as its description was, is, and will remain forever contingent, both it and its negation remain possible. Of course only one of the two was, is, and will remain true; while the other was, is, and will remain false. But truth and falsity, per se, do not determine a proposition's modality. Whether true or false, each of these propositions was, is, and will remain possible. Knowing – whether by God or a human being – some future event no more forces that event to occur than our learning that dinosaurs lived in (what is now) South Dakota forced those reptiles to take up residence there." https://www.iep.utm.edu/foreknow/

Here, we see theology slowly catches up with truths we already know by Faith. And a mistaken objection falls by the wayside.

We say something is actually (or contingently) true if it can be possibly false.
We say something is necessarily true if it is true in every possible world.

When God foreknows from all eternity that I will choose to do X, all that follows is that it is contingently true that I will choose X. It by no means follows that it is necessarily true that I will choose X - which is exactly what atheists claim, thus making the modal fallacy.

The fallacy comes from equivocation. "if God knows you will choose X, then you will necessarily choose X." If God knows I will choose X, then I will actually choose X, yes, but not necessarily. These two terms are completely different in modal logic and so the fallacy collapse.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 25, 2018, 02:03:19 PM
In academic literature, the alleged incompatibility between foreknowledge and free will is now recognized to be a formal fallacy, called the modal fallacy. The truth value of a proposition is being confused with its modality by imprecise terminology...

...

The fallacy comes from equivocation. "if God knows you will choose X, then you will necessarily choose X." If God knows I will choose X, then I will actually choose X, yes, but not necessarily. These two terms are completely different in modal logic and so the fallacy collapse.

The claimed incompatibility between foreknowledge and free will doesn't arise from an argument of the form: If God knows you will choose X, then, necessarily, you will choose X.  If it did, then yes this would be a modal fallacy.

But in fact it arises from this argument:  Necessarily, if God knows you will choose X, then you will choose X.  This is true because there is no possible world in which God knows you will choose X and you do not choose X.

If God's knowledge of you choosing X is ontologically prior (to be distinguished from mere temporal priority) to your choice of X, then your choice is not truly free, but predetermined.  And, the argument goes, the meaning of foreknowledge implies ontological priority.  This is different from, say, my knowledge the sun will rise tomorrow morning, which is temporally prior to the sunrise, but not ontologically prior to it - my knowledge is ontologically subsequent to the fact of the sun's rising.

An alternative is to make God's foreknowledge in fact ontologically subsequent - that goes by the name of "simple foreknowledge" - but it makes God ontologically dependent on something outside of Himself, contrary to His aseity.

So, since that doesn't work either, the only answer must be that the relationship between God's knowledge and true facts is not causally determinative in either direction.

Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 25, 2018, 02:29:44 PM
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Knowing – whether by God or a human being – some future event no more forces that event to occur than our learning that dinosaurs lived in (what is now) South Dakota forced those reptiles to take up residence there.

This was a point I made on another thread.  Foreknowledge and History are EXACTLY the same with God.  We easily see that "History" is set in stone, unchangeable.  And we also see that to claim this precludes Free Will is false.  It is the same with foreknowledge.

Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 25, 2018, 02:33:45 PM
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If God's knowledge of you choosing X is ontologically prior (to be distinguished from mere temporal priority) to your choice of X, then your choice is not truly free, but predetermined.

There is a modal necessity to your choice.  There is not an ontological necessity.  That is what is meant by free will.  You are not God's puppet.  Restated, the efficient cause of your choice to cooperate or reject grace is you.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Xavier on November 26, 2018, 11:23:39 AM
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Knowing – whether by God or a human being – some future event no more forces that event to occur than our learning that dinosaurs lived in (what is now) South Dakota forced those reptiles to take up residence there.

This was a point I made on another thread.  Foreknowledge and History are EXACTLY the same with God.  We easily see that "History" is set in stone, unchangeable.  And we also see that to claim this precludes Free Will is false.  It is the same with foreknowledge.

Correct. St. Thomas compares the divine vision of Omniscience to a man on the top of a hill being able to discern by observation the trajectory of persons and things moving below: God doesn't cause the things He sees from His omniscient view of all space-time, but He has perfect knowledge of them. And we Christians above and before all others know this fact for certain, because Christ Our Lord has demonstrated by fulfilled prophesies that He knows the future with absolute certainty - e..g some of His prophesies like the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem that came to pass exactly as He said it would, in 70 A.D. and the universal spread of the Gospel and of His Church etc. The mystics and Saints say that Christ had a kind of divine light before Him in which He saw all things. The Saints are sometimes given such similar visions of the future. It is certainly possible to know the future. As you said, God knows it in the "eternal now", in the "constant present" of the view from "outside time" - that fact is important to remember.

C. S. Lewis has a decent explanation, James, which I think you would agree with: "But suppose God is outside and above the Time-line. In that case, what we call "tomorrow" is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call "today". All the days are "Now" for Him. He does not remember you doing things yesterday, He simply sees you doing them: because, though you have lost yesterday, He has not. He does not "foresee" you doing things tomorrow, He simply sees you doing them: because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him. You never supposed that your actions at this moment were any less free because God knows what you are doing. Well, He knows your tomorrow's actions in just the same way—because He is already in tomorrow and can simply watch you. In a sense, He does not know your action till you have done it: but then the moment at which you have done it is already "Now" for Him."

Quote from: Quare
The claimed incompatibility between foreknowledge and free will doesn't arise from an argument of the form: If God knows you will choose X, then, necessarily, you will choose X.  If it did, then yes this would be a modal fallacy.

Yes, it would be; and other attempts to resuscitate the fallacious argument of the atheists and skeptics also end in complete failure.

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But in fact it arises from this argument:  Necessarily, if God knows you will choose X, then you will choose X.  This is true because there is no possible world in which God knows you will choose X and you do not choose X.

This is a subtle variation on the above that attempts to sneak in the same erroneous conclusion, that is known to be contrary to the Faith.

It does not stand. God knows which one of the many possible worlds will in fact become actual by my or your choice of X. But the other worlds always remain possible worlds that just are never actualized.

And so the argument is mistaken. And has mostly been abandoned.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 26, 2018, 12:50:07 PM
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But in fact it arises from this argument:  Necessarily, if God knows you will choose X, then you will choose X.  This is true because there is no possible world in which God knows you will choose X and you do not choose X.

This is a subtle variation on the above that attempts to sneak in the same erroneous conclusion, that is known to be contrary to the Faith.

I really have no idea what you are trying to say here.  Do you deny there is a difference between:

1) If God knows you will choose X, then, necessarily, you will choose X; and
2) Necessarily, if God knows you will choose X, then you will choose X.

A modal fallacy is involved in going from the latter statement to the former.  But the latter statement is true.  Deny this, and you admit the possibility God could "know" something which is in fact false.

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It does not stand. God knows which one of the many possible worlds will in fact become actual by my or your choice of X. But the other worlds always remain possible worlds that just are never actualized.

My failure to choose X is in itself possible (there are possible worlds where I fail to do so), but it is impossible given God's knowledge that I choose X (there is no possible world where God knows I choose X and yet I fail to do so).  This is simply the meaning of 2).

Now, if God's knowledge that I choose X is ontologically prior to my choice, my choice is predetermined by something prior to it - it cannot be otherwise given God's knowledge.  If, on the other hand, God's knowledge is ontologically subsequent to my choice (e.g. He knows what I choose because I choose it), then something about God is determined by something outside of Himself, contrary to Divine aseity.

The only answer, then, is that God's knowledge is neither ontologically prior nor subsequent to my choice.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 26, 2018, 12:58:07 PM
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If God's knowledge of you choosing X is ontologically prior (to be distinguished from mere temporal priority) to your choice of X, then your choice is not truly free, but predetermined.

There is a modal necessity to your choice.  There is not an ontological necessity.  That is what is meant by free will.  You are not God's puppet.  Restated, the efficient cause of your choice to cooperate or reject grace is you.

The same fallacy keeps coming up again and again.  As though there is no such thing as a conditional ontological necessity - it is either a mere modal necessity, or an absolute ontological necessity.  That is false.  This is the old Banezian sophism in a nutshell.

There is a conditional ontological necessity if God's knowledge of me choosing X is ontologically prior to my choice.  My choice could be otherwise, but only if God knew otherwise - which is prior to my choice.  It as though I pinned you to the ground with a crushing force - but then said it was only a mere modal, but not an ontological necessity, that you be on the ground and not standing up, and then blamed you for not standing up.  No, it's a conditional ontological necessity.

Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 26, 2018, 12:59:31 PM
Correct. St. Thomas compares the divine vision of Omniscience to a man on the top of a hill being able to discern by observation the trajectory of persons and things moving below: God doesn't cause the things He sees from His omniscient view of all space-time, but He has perfect knowledge of them. And we Christians above and before all others know this fact for certain, because Christ Our Lord has demonstrated by fulfilled prophesies that He knows the future with absolute certainty - e..g some of His prophesies like the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem that came to pass exactly as He said it would, in 70 A.D. and the universal spread of the Gospel and of His Church etc. The mystics and Saints say that Christ had a kind of divine light before Him in which He saw all things. The Saints are sometimes given such similar visions of the future. It is certainly possible to know the future. As you said, God knows it in the "eternal now", in the "constant present" of the view from "outside time" - that fact is important to remember.

C. S. Lewis has a decent explanation, James, which I think you would agree with: "But suppose God is outside and above the Time-line. In that case, what we call "tomorrow" is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call "today". All the days are "Now" for Him. He does not remember you doing things yesterday, He simply sees you doing them: because, though you have lost yesterday, He has not. He does not "foresee" you doing things tomorrow, He simply sees you doing them: because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him. You never supposed that your actions at this moment were any less free because God knows what you are doing. Well, He knows your tomorrow's actions in just the same way—because He is already in tomorrow and can simply watch you. In a sense, He does not know your action till you have done it: but then the moment at which you have done it is already "Now" for Him."

These explanations are fine regarding temporal priority (God is outside of time) - but they are of no use regarding the question of ontological priority.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 26, 2018, 06:26:03 PM
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There is a conditional ontological necessity if God's knowledge of me choosing X is ontologically prior to my choice.  My choice could be otherwise, but only if God knew otherwise - which is prior to my choice.  It as though I pinned you to the ground with a crushing force - but then said it was only a mere modal, but not an ontological necessity, that you be on the ground and not standing up, and then blamed you for not standing up.  No, it's a conditional ontological necessity.

Where have you established that God has us pinned to the ground?  As of now we have a modal necessity.  I will do X because God is already there (either from the future looking in the past, or in the past looking at the future) and knows what my choice is.  So how has God "pinned us to the ground"?

Again, your argument for God "pinning us to the ground" has to work for God "looking into the future" and "God looking in the past" because both are identical situations.  If you can't comprehend the significance of this, there is no need to continue.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Michael Wilson on November 26, 2018, 07:15:46 PM
Q.
I don't understand your argument (what else is new); I know from all the past discussions that you uphold freedom of the will vs the Banezian "sufficient grace" argument. So is this also another argument for freedom of the will?
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 26, 2018, 07:59:39 PM
Where have you established that God has us pinned to the ground?  As of now we have a modal necessity.  I will do X because God is already there (either from the future looking in the past, or in the past looking at the future) and knows what my choice is.  So how has God "pinned us to the ground"?

If I will do X because God knows what my choice is, God's knowledge is the cause of my choice, which therefore cannot be otherwise than it is; God has predetermined it.  This is not a mere modal necessity; it is a conditional ontological necessity, just like you being pinned to the ground.

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Again, your argument for God "pinning us to the ground" has to work for God "looking into the future" and "God looking in the past" because both are identical situations.  If you can't comprehend the significance of this, there is no need to continue.

Sure they are, but the issue is one of ontological, and not of temporal, priority.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 26, 2018, 08:10:48 PM
Q.
I don't understand your argument (what else is new); I know from all the past discussions that you uphold freedom of the will vs the Banezian "sufficient grace" argument. So is this also another argument for freedom of the will?

Not exactly.  It's showing that if Divine foreknowledge and free will are both true, one cannot be ontologically subordinate to the other, under penalty of either foreknowledge not being Divine or will not being free.

But again, the whole problem only arises in the Western framework which pretends it knows what it means for God to "know" - something pretty much exactly like our knowledge, except with knowledge of everything - although contemporary debates in epistemology show that in reality we don't even know what it means for us to know.

So God's "knowledge" is an anthropomorphism just like God "walking" in the Garden of Eden.

Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 26, 2018, 09:17:26 PM
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If I will do X because God knows what my choice is

The only people who claim this are the Banezians.  Even St. Thomas didn't believe this.  Gardner provided the quote: It is up to man to choose to cooperate or reject Grace.

But there's no way God doesn't know your choice.  He's already there.  He'd have to be blind.

edit:  Banez:  BECAUSE God withholds efficacious grace, you can't do good.  BECAUSE God gives efficacious Grace, you are compelled to do good.  I reject that also.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 26, 2018, 09:34:40 PM
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If I will do X because God knows what my choice is

The only people who claim this are the Banezians. 

But that's just what you said.  Verbatim.  I'll accept that you didn't say what you meant.

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Even St. Thomas didn't believe this. 

The early St. Thomas in the SCG didn't.  The later St. Thomas in the ST did.

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Gardner provided the quote: It is up to man to choose to cooperate or reject Grace.

That only moves the problem one step backwards.  The same debate about foreknowledge and free will applies to this choice.

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But there's no way God doesn't know your choice.  He's already there.  He'd have to be blind.

But if God knows my choice because of what I choose, then He is ontologically dependent.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 26, 2018, 10:04:01 PM
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But that's just what you said.  Verbatim.  I'll accept that you didn't say what you meant.
Quote me and I'll reveal your flaw.

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But if God knows my choice because of what I choose, then He is ontologically dependent.

He is the First Cause that gives me Free Will.  He is also Truth.  If He has decreed Free Will then it is true that I have Free Will. 
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: TomD on November 26, 2018, 11:31:22 PM


But again, the whole problem only arises in the Western framework which pretends it knows what it means for God to "know" - something pretty much exactly like our knowledge, except with knowledge of everything -

I disagree with this characterization of Western Theology. Aquinas would strongly deny that for God to know is "pretty much exactly like our knowledge." All Thomists follow in his lead. And there are many contemporary philosophers who have discussed this very topic. Brian Davies would be one such prominent example.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 27, 2018, 08:35:15 AM
Quote me and I'll reveal your flaw.

Ok, you said this:

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As of now we have a modal necessity.  I will do X because God is already there (either from the future looking in the past, or in the past looking at the future) and knows what my choice is.

That is you, verbatim, saying I will do X because God knows my choice.  That is more than a mere modal necessity (Me doing X entails God knowing I do X, and vice versa).  Again, I will accept that that is not what you meant and your sentence was phrased poorly.

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But if God knows my choice because of what I choose, then He is ontologically dependent.

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He is the First Cause that gives me Free Will.  He is also Truth.  If He has decreed Free Will then it is true that I have Free Will.

That is not an answer to the argument.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 27, 2018, 09:01:38 AM


But again, the whole problem only arises in the Western framework which pretends it knows what it means for God to "know" - something pretty much exactly like our knowledge, except with knowledge of everything -

I disagree with this characterization of Western Theology. Aquinas would strongly deny that for God to know is "pretty much exactly like our knowledge." All Thomists follow in his lead. And there are many contemporary philosophers who have discussed this very topic. Brian Davies would be one such prominent example.

Well, you might disagree with the characterization, but it is accurate.  Just because many philosophers, contemporary or ancient, have "discussed" a problem does not mean they have come up with anything resembling a satisfactory solution.

Western theology does claim (at least implicitly) to know what it means for God to know - it must, in order to even begin to talk about God's knowledge and its implications.  And the only reference point we have to begin to attempt to understand God's knowledge is our own knowledge - if God's knowledge is vastly different than ours, and not "pretty much like" ours, we simply cannot even begin to understand it.

In Thomism specifically, our knowledge or concept of knowledge is analogous to God's knowledge - the correspondence of the intellect with the thing known - you can argue that analogy is not "pretty much exactly like" - OK, fine, but the problem still remains.  To get around the problem of how God can know something that doesn't as yet exist, Aquinas uses the concept of "exemplars in the Divine mind", which is contrary to Divine simplicity - the exemplars must BE the Divine mind and can't be IN the Divine mind, otherwise God is composite.  And if they ARE the Divine mind, modal collapse follows.  Of course further band-aids are used to get around that problem (no, the appeal to suppositional vs. absolute necessity doesn't solve it), like for instance calling God's knowledge a Cambridge property and not a real one, which only creates further problems in its wake - God's knowledge is then not properly His.  Etc., etc.


Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: TomD on November 27, 2018, 10:50:54 AM



Western theology does claim (at least implicitly) to know what it means for God to know - it must, in order to even begin to talk about God's knowledge and its implications.  And the only reference point we have to begin to attempt to understand God's knowledge is our own knowledge - if God's knowledge is vastly different than ours, and not "pretty much like" ours, we simply cannot even begin to understand it.

In Thomism specifically, our knowledge or concept of knowledge is analogous to God's knowledge - the correspondence of the intellect with the thing known - you can argue that analogy is not "pretty much exactly like" - OK, fine, but the problem still remains.  To get around the problem of how God can know something that doesn't as yet exist, Aquinas uses the concept of "exemplars in the Divine mind", which is contrary to Divine simplicity - the exemplars must BE the Divine mind and can't be IN the Divine mind, otherwise God is composite.  And if they ARE the Divine mind, modal collapse follows.  Of course further band-aids are used to get around that problem (no, the appeal to suppositional vs. absolute necessity doesn't solve it), like for instance calling God's knowledge a Cambridge property and not a real one, which only creates further problems in its wake - God's knowledge is then not properly His.  Etc., etc.

Different Thomists characterize the doctrine of analogy differently, some emphasizing the similarity between divine and creature knowledge and some emphasizing their difference. But if you chuck any form of the doctrine of analogy, and instead deny that God's knowledge has anything in common with ours, then what even justifies the use of the term "knowledge" in reference to God? Moreover, Scripture and religious doctrine requires that we affirm certain things about God's knowledge, for instance, that God hears our prayers; but if knowledge applies equivocally to God and creatures, we cannot affirm what Christianity requires regarding God's knowledge. (These are Aquinas's reasons for rejecting Maimonides's approach and they are applicable to the discussion here).

As for the second paragraph, you bring up exemplars in the divine mind. I think the way you have presented the issue is problematic however. First of all, exemplars exist necessarily. They include the essences of things, and if we want to put a contemporary spin on it, they include the array of possible worlds. But to say that they have the same modal status as the divine mind does not result in modal collapse. The essences of things, possible worlds, etc. exist necessarily, as does God. (N.B. the exemplars, etc. have the same modal status as God regardless of how we characterize them, e.g. as distinct but dependent on God, as parts of God's mind (contra simplicity), or as identical to God himself (as Thomists would have it, of course with qualification)).

The real problem that might result in modal collapse is God's knowledge of contingent truths, e.g. that he has created this particular world. This however is not the same question as the question regarding exemplars. And I admit that this is a tricky problem. But I think we would differ in two ways. First, the problem is not solved by disregarding Western theology. If denying the similarity between God and human knowledge does the trick, then the doctrine of analogy will do (at least a version which emphasizes the dissimilarity between God and humans). If this does not work, then unless we opt for a theology in which we can make no positive assertions about God whatsoever, the problem remains.

Second, I don't think you give the Cambridge property approach the credit it deserves. Matthews Grant's Faith and Philosophy article "Divine Simplicity, Contingent Truths, and Extrinsic Models of Divine Knowing" is well worth the read. Moreover, some have pointed out independent reasons for thinking of God's knowledge in this way. For example, Kenneth Pearce, dealing with a separate question altogether, has two articles "Counterpossible Dependence and the Efficacy of the Divine Will" and "Foundational Grounding and the Argument from Contingency" which are relevant here. I do not claim to speak for Pearce and I do not know if he would call God's knowledge a Cambridge property (it has also been a while since I have read his two papers), but the arguments contained are underappreciated and I believe lead to the same conclusion that Grant endorses in the Faith and Philosophy article. Examples of course could be multiplied, but I think these are worth the read (of course, I do not claim to represent their specific views on this issue or any other)
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 27, 2018, 12:17:48 PM
Different Thomists characterize the doctrine of analogy differently, some emphasizing the similarity between divine and creature knowledge and some emphasizing their difference. But if you chuck any form of the doctrine of analogy, and instead deny that God's knowledge has anything in common with ours, then what even justifies the use of the term "knowledge" in reference to God?

It is an anthropomorphism, like God "walking" in the Garden of Eden, or "repenting" of having made man, or "changing His mind" about destroying Nineveh, or being "angry" at sin.  Put another way, it is describing God in the sense of how He, or His action, appears to us (in a way we can understand), but is not describing Him as He is in Himself, which we simply cannot understand,

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Moreover, Scripture and religious doctrine requires that we affirm certain things about God's knowledge, for instance, that God hears our prayers; but if knowledge applies equivocally to God and creatures, we cannot affirm what Christianity requires regarding God's knowledge. (These are Aquinas's reasons for rejecting Maimonides's approach and they are applicable to the discussion here).

But God "hearing our prayers" is yet another anthropomorphism.  Taken literally, it implies a cause-and-effect relationship between man's action and God's action.  But God can't be ontologically dependent on man.  The Thomist answer that God knows and answers our prayer "from eternity" and therefore doesn't change is insufficient.  It satisfies Divine immutability, but not Divine aseity.  Yet, if you deny a cause-and-effect relationship between prayer and its answer, then talking about the "efficacy" of prayer is merely a convenient fiction.

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As for the second paragraph, you bring up exemplars in the divine mind. I think the way you have presented the issue is problematic however. First of all, exemplars exist necessarily. They include the essences of things, and if we want to put a contemporary spin on it, they include the array of possible worlds. But to say that they have the same modal status as the divine mind does not result in modal collapse. The essences of things, possible worlds, etc. exist necessarily, as does God. (N.B. the exemplars, etc. have the same modal status as God regardless of how we characterize them, e.g. as distinct but dependent on God, as parts of God's mind (contra simplicity), or as identical to God himself (as Thomists would have it, of course with qualification)).

You are conflating "exemplar" with "type".  What you said is correct regarding "type" but not regarding "exemplar".  Type refers to possible worlds; exemplars to the actual world.

Quote from: ST PP 15:3
Article 3. Whether there are ideas of all things that God knows?
Objection 1. It seems that there are not ideas in God of all things that He knows. For the idea of evil is not in God; since it would follow that evil was in Him. But evil things are known by God. Therefore there are not ideas of all things that God knows.

Objection 2. Further, God knows things that neither are, nor will be, nor have been, as has been said above (Article 9). But of such things there are no ideas, since, as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. v): "Acts of the divine will are the determining and effective types of things." Therefore there are not in God ideas of all things known by Him.

Objection 3. Further, God knows primary matter, of which there can be no idea, since it has no form. Hence the same conclusion.

Objection 4. Further, it is certain that God knows not only species, but also genera, singulars, and accidents. But there are not ideas of these, according to Plato's teaching, who first taught ideas, as Augustine says (Octog. Tri. Quaest. qu. xlvi). Therefore there are not ideas in God of all things known by Him.

On the contrary, Ideas are types existing in the divine mind, as is clear from Augustine (Octog. Tri. Quaest. qu. xlvi). But God has the proper types of all things that He knows; and therefore He has ideas of all things known by Him.

I answer that, As ideas, according to Plato, are principles of the knowledge of things and of their generation, an idea has this twofold office, as it exists in the mind of God. So far as the idea is the principle of the making of things, it may be called an "exemplar," and belongs to practical knowledge. But so far as it is a principle of knowledge, it is properly called a "type," and may belong to speculative knowledge also. As an exemplar, therefore, it has respect to everything made by God in any period of time; whereas as a principle of knowledge it has respect to all things known by God, even though they never come to be in time; and to all things that He knows according to their proper type, in so far as they are known by Him in a speculative manner.

Reply to Objection 1. Evil is known by God not through its own type, but through the type of good. Evil, therefore, has no idea in God, neither in so far as an idea is an "exemplar" nor as a "type."

Reply to Objection 2. God has no practical knowledge, except virtually, of things which neither are, nor will be, nor have been. Hence, with respect to these there is no idea in God in so far as idea signifies an "exemplar" but only in so far as it denotes a "type."

Reply to Objection 3. Plato is said by some to have considered matter as not created; and therefore he postulated not an idea of matter but a concause with matter. Since, however, we hold matter to be created by God, though not apart from form, matter has its idea in God; but not apart from the idea of the composite; for matter in itself can neither exist, nor be known.

Reply to Objection 4. Genus can have no idea apart from the idea of species, in so far as idea denotes an "exemplar"; for genus cannot exist except in some species. The same is the case with those accidents that inseparably accompany their subject; for these come into being along with their subject. But accidents which supervene to the subject, have their special idea. For an architect produces through the form of the house all the accidents that originally accompany it; whereas those that are superadded to the house when completed, such as painting, or any other such thing, are produced through some other form. Now individual things, according to Plato, have no other idea than that of species; both because particular things are individualized by matter, which, as some say, he held to be uncreated and the concause with the idea; and because the intention of nature regards the species, and produces individuals only that in them the species may be preserved. However, divine providence extends not merely to species; but to individuals as will be shown later (I:22:3.)

So the objection remains.  The exemplars in God differ across possible worlds.

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The real problem that might result in modal collapse is God's knowledge of contingent truths, e.g. that he has created this particular world. This however is not the same question as the question regarding exemplars. And I admit that this is a tricky problem. But I think we would differ in two ways. First, the problem is not solved by disregarding Western theology. If denying the similarity between God and human knowledge does the trick, then the doctrine of analogy will do (at least a version which emphasizes the dissimilarity between God and humans).

That is a non sequitur.  If God's knowledge of contingent truths and non modal collapse entail complete dissimilarity between God and human knowledge, then a doctrine of analogy will not do, whereas a complete dissimilarity will.  Granted, you will say I haven't proven the antecedent, but neither have you proven its falsity.

God has no contingent properties (simplicity/aseity), so if God's knowledge of any contingent fact is a property, it is a necessary property.  Then, any "contingent" fact is in reality a necessary fact, since God knows it in all possible worlds.  Modal collapse follows.  (Of course "contingent" is meant here in the modal sense.)

The only answer is that God's knowledge is not really a property, and that, I would argue, makes Divine knowledge completely dissimilar to human knowledge.

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If this does not work, then unless we opt for a theology in which we can make no positive assertions about God whatsoever, the problem remains.

Well there is just that type of theology, isn't there, in the East.  So the problem can actually be solved by disregarding Western theology.

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Second, I don't think you give the Cambridge property approach the credit it deserves.

Not at all.  It's the only way to save Western theology from this conundrum.  But once you make God's knowledge (at least of contingent truths) a mere external but not internal (intrinsic) property of God, then you changed the meaning of "God is omniscient" - he would intrinsically be the same God if He knew only necessary truths but no contingent ones, and therefore, He does not know all contingent truths merely by virtue of His nature.

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Matthews Grant's Faith and Philosophy article "Divine Simplicity, Contingent Truths, and Extrinsic Models of Divine Knowing" is well worth the read.

Dissected in detail here:

https://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2015/05/divine-simplicity-and-gods-contingent-knowledge-an-aporetic-tetrad.html
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: TomD on November 27, 2018, 12:54:25 PM

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It is an anthropomorphism, like God "walking" in the Garden of Eden, or "repenting" of having made man, or "changing His mind" about destroying Nineveh, or being "angry" at sin.  Put another way, it is describing God in the sense of how He, or His action, appears to us (in a way we can understand), but is not describing Him as He is in Himself, which we simply cannot understand,

There are three problems with this claim. First, those terms are metaphors which presuppose some truth. For instance, God "changing his mind" requires that God cause some effect in the world at t1 and another effect at t2. The "changing" of God's mind of course is a mere metaphor, but the reality that God brings about two different effects at two different times is still required in order for the metaphor to be true. So every metaphorical assertion presupposes some positive assertion regarding God.

Second, those terms specifically refer to effects of God as they appear to us. For instance, we say God is angry when the effect is punishment. However, I cannot see how a similar move can be made regarding divine knowledge since it is an attribute completely independent of creatures, it refers to God's life ad intra in addition to ad extra.

Third, if you are correct in saying that the word knowledge when applied to God is a mere metaphor, and not, as the Thomists claim, a literally true predication, albeit applied analogically, then why is it any more appropriate than any other adjective we might want to use to describe God? Or to push a similar problem, why would I be incorrect if I denied God had knowledge?


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Yet, if you deny a cause-and-effect relationship between prayer and its answer, then talking about the "efficacy" of prayer is merely a convenient fiction.

But Christians, East and West, hold that prayer has efficacy.


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You are conflating "exemplar" with "type".  What you said is correct regarding "type" but not regarding "exemplar".  Type refers to possible worlds; exemplars to the actual world.

I don't know. Since I think the future does exist and Aquinas does not, I think this may modify how we are using those terms. I don't know if Aquinas would use "exemplar" as applying to an actually existing, present state of affairs. But regardless, this is a semantics issue and I may just be wrong about how the tradition is using those terms.

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That is a non sequitur.  If God's knowledge of contingent truths and non modal collapse entail complete dissimilarity between God and human knowledge, then a doctrine of analogy will not do, whereas a complete dissimilarity will.  Granted, you will say I haven't proven the antecedent, but neither have you proven its falsity.

The only answer is that God's knowledge is not really a property, and that, I would argue, makes Divine knowledge completely dissimilar to human knowledge.

1. You haven't proven the antecedent, meaning you haven't shown that Western theology does not have the resources to handle the problem we are discussing. I am not arguing that Eastern theology doesn't have a separate, possibly useful or even potentially correct approach. What I am saying is that you haven't shown that Western theology fails. So I don't have to show that the antecedent is false, only that you haven't shown it to be true.

2. This could get lost in the terminology of "property." But what I am saying is that God's knowledge that contingent propositions are true is not entirely grounded intrinsic to God. Or at least it is not grounded in God in such a way that if God had known something else, i.e. in a different possible world, God would be intrinsically different.


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Well there is just that type of theology, isn't there, in the East.  So the problem can actually be solved by disregarding Western theology.

I am not as familiar with Eastern theology. But I am skeptical of your characterization that the Eastern approach is essentially the same as Maimonides and denies we can have any positive knowledge of God. To the extent that this is an accurate representation of Eastern thinking, I think it carries with it the problem of making any sense of any faith claims we Christians have to make about God.


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Not at all.  It's the only way to save Western theology from this conundrum.  But once you make God's knowledge (at least of contingent truths) a mere external but not internal (intrinsic) property of God, then you changed the meaning of "God is omniscient" - he would intrinsically be the same God if He knew only necessary truths but no contingent ones, and therefore, He does not know all contingent truths merely by virtue of His nature.


Dissected in detail here:

https://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2015/05/divine-simplicity-and-gods-contingent-knowledge-an-aporetic-tetrad.html


"He does not know all contingent truths merely by virtue of his nature." I do not know what you mean by this. If you mean that God's knowledge of contingent truths does not depend simply on God knowing himself, as Aquinas seems to think, then I agree but do not see this as problematic. On the other hand, if you are saying that God needs some sort of vehicle or lens by which to know contingent truths, then I deny this.

Regarding the blog post you link to, I agree with Vallicella that the approach is to deny (3). Matthews Grant's article I think does a good job at making this plausible. However, in order to deny (3), as Vallicella alludes to, we need not adopt belief externalism since we do not have to think of God's knowledge as a species of true belief.

In the comments, pertaining to the discussion of God and Schmod, I would point out two things briefly. First, I don't think Schmod is a possible being to begin with making the comparison hard as a thought experiment. Second, I agree with Vallicella's finally comment in the combox, it undermines the argument.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 27, 2018, 04:34:37 PM
There are three problems with this claim.

OK.

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First, those terms are metaphors which presuppose some truth. For instance, God "changing his mind" requires that God cause some effect in the world at t1 and another effect at t2. The "changing" of God's mind of course is a mere metaphor, but the reality that God brings about two different effects at two different times is still required in order for the metaphor to be true. So every metaphorical assertion presupposes some positive assertion regarding God.

You've argued from the particular to the general, which is a fallacy.  But I also even deny the particular claim; you merely assume, without argument, that "God brings about" or "God causes" something isn't a mere metaphor itself but a positive assertion, and so what is gratuitously asserted is gratuitously denied.

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Second, those terms specifically refer to effects of God as they appear to us. For instance, we say God is angry when the effect is punishment. However, I cannot see how a similar move can be made regarding divine knowledge since it is an attribute completely independent of creatures, it refers to God's life ad intra in addition to ad extra.

You are merely arguing by assertion that Divine knowledge is an attribute independent of creatures, without proving it so.  A similar move can be made similar to anger; for instance we say God knows our sins and is angry about them when the effect is punishment.  We say God knows our prayers and hears them when what we ask for happens.  If you don't make the move, however, you have the modal collapse issue.  If God's knowledge of X refers to His life ad intra, which cannot be otherwise than it is (because His life ad intra is identical to His essence), then X is modally necessary.

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Third, if you are correct in saying that the word knowledge when applied to God is a mere metaphor, and not, as the Thomists claim, a literally true predication, albeit applied analogically, then why is it any more appropriate than any other adjective we might want to use to describe God? Or to push a similar problem, why would I be incorrect if I denied God had knowledge?

Why should it be more appropriate?  Would you be incorrect if you denied God walked in the Garden of Eden?  If you did (and were correct in so doing), Scripture would not be inerrant.  It would be no more or less appropriate than that.  Metaphors express some truth.

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But Christians, East and West, hold that prayer has efficacy.

Yes, but the West must hold, contradictorily, that God is a se and yet that He wills something on account of the prayer.

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I don't know. Since I think the future does exist and Aquinas does not, I think this may modify how we are using those terms. I don't know if Aquinas would use "exemplar" as applying to an actually existing, present state of affairs. But regardless, this is a semantics issue and I may just be wrong about how the tradition is using those terms.

Use whatever terminology you like.  The point is that what actually exists pre-existed in the mind of God (in addition to what only possibly exists).  That is the Thomist explanation for God's knowledge of contingent facts as actually, and not only possibly, true.  Otherwise you have God "knowing" something (a contingent fact) prior to it being true.

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1. You haven't proven the antecedent, meaning you haven't shown that Western theology does not have the resources to handle the problem we are discussing. I am not arguing that Eastern theology doesn't have a separate, possibly useful or even potentially correct approach. What I am saying is that you haven't shown that Western theology fails. So I don't have to show that the antecedent is false, only that you haven't shown it to be true.

Yes you do, to make the argument you wanted to make.  You were arguing a success of the Eastern approach (complete dissimilarity) would entail a success of the Western (doctrine of analogy) and that, therefore, the problem couldn't be solved by ditching Western theology.  This I denied; it is possible that a complete dissimilarity (Eastern) succeeds while the doctrine of analogy (Western) fails. 


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2. This could get lost in the terminology of "property." But what I am saying is that God's knowledge that contingent propositions are true is not entirely grounded intrinsic to God. Or at least it is not grounded in God in such a way that if God had known something else, i.e. in a different possible world, God would be intrinsically different.

So is God's knowledge of X intrinsic to God, yes or no?  If yes, X is necessary (God can't be intrinsically otherwise than He is.)  If no, God's knowledge of X is not due to His nature, but is either due to X itself (which would violate aseity) or else an unexplained brute fact.


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I am not as familiar with Eastern theology. But I am skeptical of your characterization that the Eastern approach is essentially the same as Maimonides and denies we can have any positive knowledge of God. To the extent that this is an accurate representation of Eastern thinking, I think it carries with it the problem of making any sense of any faith claims we Christians have to make about God.

The Eastern approach has a rich tradition in Christianity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophatic_theology

I'm not sure why there would be a difficulty regarding faith claims; while it's true we can't understand what it means in itself for God to reveal something, we can nevertheless understand the effects of such revelation, which is that there are teachings that can be known as true.


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Regarding the blog post you link to, I agree with Vallicella that the approach is to deny (3). Matthews Grant's article I think does a good job at making this plausible. However, in order to deny (3), as Vallicella alludes to, we need not adopt belief externalism since we do not have to think of God's knowledge as a species of true belief.

In the comments, pertaining to the discussion of God and Schmod, I would point out two things briefly. First, I don't think Schmod is a possible being to begin with making the comparison hard as a thought experiment. Second, I agree with Vallicella's finally comment in the combox, it undermines the argument.

I agree that Schmod is not an ontologically possible being, but he is being posited with "for the sake of argument" a priori epistemic possibility, and the point is to deny Schmod is deny the crux of the argument, as these two contradict:

1) There can't be an intrinsic difference between a God Who knows contingent fact X (in a possible world where X is true) and God Who knows X is false (in a world where X is false).  Otherwise, if God knows X, He necessarily knows X (He cannot be intrinsically different than He is), and X is necessary.

2) There must be an intrinsic difference between a God Who knows all contingent facts and Schmod who does not.  Otherwise, Schmod is possible, since God is not by nature omniscient. 

2) asserts that there is something intrinsic to God whereby God knows what He knows in terms of contingent facts.  Otherwise there won't be an intrinsic difference between God and Schmod.  1) denies that there is such a difference.


Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 27, 2018, 06:50:57 PM
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It as though I pinned you to the ground with a crushing force - but then said it was only a mere modal, but not an ontological necessity, that you be on the ground and not standing up, and then blamed you for not standing up.  No, it's a conditional ontological necessity.

Q., you have never backed this up.  You are begging the question.  Where have you established that God is pinning you to the ground and then blaming you for not standing up?

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That is you, verbatim, saying I will do X because God knows my choice.
  As a modal necessity, and almost like a tautology.  I will do X because I did X in the future.  Also I can't find that on this thread, maybe I am blind.  Did you pull that from some other thread?

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But if God knows my choice because of what I choose, then He is ontologically dependent.
  Understood that I did not explain that well.  I try to keep from writing a book length post.  I'll use an example:

1.  Given: God's secret and sovereign purpose.  Arguendo, we'll say He is achieving some optimum.
2.  Given: Greek Realism.  Cartesian dualism rejected.

Now a trigger warning for the logic challenged.  I'm going to use myself as an example.  If it makes you feel better, you can assume I'm a stand-in for BILLIONs of people.

It is/was God's purpose to create me.  In order to do that, then it is ontologically necessary (see "2" above) that Hitler existed and did everything he did.  In that sense and inside of time, God is ontologically dependent on all of the choices Hitler made.  The constraint on God is Truth.

Outside of time, the constraint upon God is Goodness.  However He is free to include miracles, Graces, and even the order of creation  ( e.g. the fact that we have 9 planets -- bring back Pluto! -- vs. 12 planets has an effect on Earth) to achieve His purpose, which is the optimal Good in this example.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 27, 2018, 07:25:07 PM
Q., you have never backed this up.  You are begging the question.  Where have you established that God is pinning you to the ground and then blaming you for not standing up?

I haven't established it, because I'm not claiming it.  I'm establishing there is such a thing as a conditional ontological necessity, which is different from a mere modal necessity as well as an absolute ontological necessity.  Me pinning you to the ground was used as an example of such.  What I did say was if God creates a conditional ontological necessity for me to act in a certain way, then it is as though I were pinned to the ground; I cannot act otherwise, given the condition.

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  As a modal necessity, and almost like a tautology.  I will do X because I did X in the future.  Also I can't find that on this thread, maybe I am blind.  Did you pull that from some other thread?

No, it's on this one.  "I will do X because I did X in the future" is different from "I will do X because God knows what my choice is."  If the former is what you mean, fine.

Where have you established that God has us pinned to the ground?  As of now we have a modal necessity.  I will do X because God is already there (either from the future looking in the past, or in the past looking at the future) and knows what my choice is.  So how has God "pinned us to the ground"?

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Understood that I did not explain that well.  I try to keep from writing a book length post.  I'll use an example:

1.  Given: God's secret and sovereign purpose.  Arguendo, we'll say He is achieving some optimum.
2.  Given: Greek Realism.  Cartesian dualism rejected.

Now a trigger warning for the logic challenged.  I'm going to use myself as an example.  If it makes you feel better, you can assume I'm a stand-in for BILLIONs of people.

It is/was God's purpose to create me.  In order to do that, then it is ontologically necessary (see "2" above) that Hitler existed and did everything he did.  In that sense and inside of time, God is ontologically dependent on all of the choices Hitler made.  The constraint on God is Truth.

Outside of time, the constraint upon God is Goodness.  However He is free to include miracles, Graces, and even the order of creation  ( e.g. the fact that we have 9 planets -- bring back Pluto! -- vs. 12 planets has an effect on Earth) to achieve His purpose, which is the optimal Good in this example.

So, you have a conditional ontological necessity for Hitler to do what he did.  It is metaphysically necessary that, given God's willing some optimum, it is necessary that Hitler do what he did; it is impossible for him to have acted otherwise.  God's willing that optimum is ontologically prior to Hitler's actions or even his existence.


Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 27, 2018, 07:55:08 PM
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So, you have a conditional ontological necessity for Hitler to do what he did.  It is metaphysically necessary that, given God's willing some optimum, it is necessary that Hitler do what he did; it is impossible for him to have acted otherwise.  God's willing that optimum is ontologically prior to Hitler's actions or even his existence.

I've never seen the term "conditional ontological necessity".  St. Thomas would probably call this a necessity from supposition, which I call a modal necessity or logical necessity.  There is also an absolute necessity, which I call an ontological necessity. 

Here is the problem statement:

"it is impossible for him to have acted otherwise".  By logic, this is correct.  God's view of the past (History) is infallible, or if you prefer, God's view of the future is infallible.

  By coercion, incorrect.  Hitler freely chose his actions.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: TomD on November 27, 2018, 07:58:49 PM


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You've argued from the particular to the general, which is a fallacy.  But I also even deny the particular claim; you merely assume, without argument, that "God brings about" or "God causes" something isn't a mere metaphor itself but a positive assertion, and so what is gratuitously asserted is gratuitously denied.

It is not itself fallacious to argue from particular cases to a general. Given the context we are discussing, I see no fallacy. Moreover, I was not making a deductive proof, which would be a fallacy if I proceeded from particular to universal, but merely pointing out a common theme among adjectives found in Scripture that are metaphors.

When something is simply a metaphor for God, I take it that literally speaking, the claim is false. So if I say God is a lion, I am speaking falsely. On this understanding, if God causes the universe is only metaphorical, then it is literally speaking, false. But if it is false, (in the same way that it is false to say that God is a lion) we cannot make sense of Christianity. This is my reasoning for "gratuitously" asserting that God causes the universe. If you dispute this reasoning, I am curious as to how?

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You are merely arguing by assertion that Divine knowledge is an attribute independent of creatures, without proving it so.

Well at the very least I think we would agree that in a possible world in which God does not create, God still has knowledge. If we do not agree on this, do you think it is false? Indeterminate? Unknowable?

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Why should it be more appropriate?  Would you be incorrect if you denied God walked in the Garden of Eden?  If you did (and were correct in so doing), Scripture would not be inerrant.  It would be no more or less appropriate than that.  Metaphors express some truth.

Well we presumably agree that "knowledge" is a term appropriately used to describe God. I am asking why you think this to be the case. In the case of metaphors, there is some reason why the metaphor is appropriate. I agree that metaphors express some truth. I am asking what truth the "knowledge" metaphor may express. My point in bringing this up is not to show you are incorrect to think knowledge in God is a mere metaphor, but to point out that if it is a mere metaphor, it must be a metaphor for something.

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Yes, but the West must hold, contradictorily, that God is a se and yet that He wills something on account of the prayer.

Not unless we identify God's contingent will pertaining to creatures with God himself. But of course, this is what the whole Cambridge property business denies.

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Use whatever terminology you like.  The point is that what actually exists pre-existed in the mind of God (in addition to what only possibly exists).  That is the Thomist explanation for God's knowledge of contingent facts as actually, and not only possibly, true.  Otherwise you have God "knowing" something (a contingent fact) prior to it being true.

What actually exists pre exists in the mind of God as possibilia. It exists as possibilia in the mind of God ontologically prior to creation and therefore across all possible worlds. God's knowlege that a particular world exists (and thus that certain contingent propositions are true) is the only issue pertaining to God's knowledge which seems to generate modal collapse, and it is the one we are discussing below.

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Yes you do, to make the argument you wanted to make.  You were arguing a success of the Eastern approach (complete dissimilarity) would entail a success of the Western (doctrine of analogy) and that, therefore, the problem couldn't be solved by ditching Western theology.  This I denied; it is possible that a complete dissimilarity (Eastern) succeeds while the doctrine of analogy (Western) fails. 

I first pointed out that I thought you misrepresented Western theology by stating Westerns maintain that knowledge means in God "pretty much exactly" what it means in humans.

 Later I argued that: "If denying the similarity between God and human knowledge does the trick, then the doctrine of analogy will do (at least a version which emphasizes the dissimilarity between God and humans). If this does not work, then unless we opt for a theology in which we can make no positive assertions about God whatsoever, the problem remains." In other words, if denying the similarity between God and human knowledge solves the problem, Western theology has the apparatus to do this. If it does not do the work, then only a completely negative theology will work. In my second post, and throughout, I have given reasons why I do not think this kind of theology will be useful in a Christian context (and I am skeptical that it is representative of Eastern Christianity).

But this is not logically equivalent to claiming that the success of the Eastern approach entails the success of the Western approach unless "denying the similarity between God and human knowledge" is identical to the Eastern approach since the point of my original comment, and my argument throughout is that there is a Western approach that does just this, viz. the doctrine of analogy. Of course we dispute whether the doctrine has sufficient dissimilarity to solve the problem at hand, but it is not up for debate that Thomists deny there is completely similarity between God and human knowledge.


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So is God's knowledge of X intrinsic to God, yes or no?  If yes, X is necessary (God can't be intrinsically otherwise than He is.)  If no, God's knowledge of X is not due to His nature, but is either due to X itself (which would violate aseity) or else an unexplained brute fact.

God’s knowledge of X is intrinsic to God insofar as he is intrinsically, necessarily omniscient. Insofar as God knows X where X is some contingent truth, then it is extrinsic to God. The fact that God knows X is a result of his nature, i.e. he is intrinsically omniscient. The truth of X is irrelevant here as it is explained by the same factors regardless of how God’s knowledge works. I do not see how this account leads to a violation of aseity or the positing of a brute fact.


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I agree that Schmod is not an ontologically possible being, but he is being posited with "for the sake of argument" a priori epistemic possibility, and the point is to deny Schmod is deny the crux of the argument, as these two contradict:

1) There can't be an intrinsic difference between a God Who knows contingent fact X (in a possible world where X is true) and God Who knows X is false (in a world where X is false).  Otherwise, if God knows X, He necessarily knows X (He cannot be intrinsically different than He is), and X is necessary.

2) There must be an intrinsic difference between a God Who knows all contingent facts and Schmod who does not.  Otherwise, Schmod is possible, since God is not by nature omniscient. 

2) asserts that there is something intrinsic to God whereby God knows what He knows in terms of contingent facts.  Otherwise there won't be an intrinsic difference between God and Schmod.  1) denies that there is such a difference.

But if Schmod is not ontologically possible, we have to be wary about reasoning from premises which posit the existence of Schmod since arguments can be constructed in such a way as to yield any conclusion whatsoever. I grant that perhaps impossible beings can be used to illustrate certain points, but not as deductive proofs. And even this use is risky.

I believe (1) to be true as it is basically a summary of the whole “Cambridge property” approach, the one which I have been defending. Of course this leads me to deny (2).

I do not see how the denial of (2) is problematic, but I am somewhat confused by the way you worded this. Why does denying (2) entail that Schmod is possible?
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 27, 2018, 08:34:26 PM
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So, you have a conditional ontological necessity for Hitler to do what he did.  It is metaphysically necessary that, given God's willing some optimum, it is necessary that Hitler do what he did; it is impossible for him to have acted otherwise.  God's willing that optimum is ontologically prior to Hitler's actions or even his existence.

I've never seen the term "conditional ontological necessity".  St. Thomas would probably call this a necessity from supposition, which I call a modal necessity or logical necessity.  There is also an absolute necessity, which I call an ontological necessity. 

Which is why Thomism and the Thomists get an "F" grade.  If I pin you to the ground, it is not a mere modal necessity nor a mere necessity from supposition that you are on the ground, despite not being an absolute necessity that you are on the ground.  Unlike, say, it being a modal necessity that you are not in the air if you are on the ground.  Because in the one case something (pinning) is ontologically prior to the other (being on the ground); while in the other the something (not being in the air) is not ontologically prior.

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Here is the problem statement:

"it is impossible for him to have acted otherwise".  By logic, this is correct.  God's view of the past (History) is infallible, or if you prefer, God's view of the future is infallible.

By coercion, incorrect.  Hitler freely chose his actions.

It was metaphysically impossible for him to do otherwise, given God's willing some optimum which logically entailed he act as he did, and which willing was ontologically prior to him acting.

Now, you can try to say Hitler "freely" chose what was metaphysically necessary for him to choose, but that is not a definition I will accept for "free" will.


Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 27, 2018, 08:59:22 PM
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Which is why Thomism and the Thomists get an "F" grade.

No St. Thomas gets an "A" since your logic is fatally flawed.

Case A:   God foresees that Hitler will freely choose evil and incorporates it into His Plan.

Case B:  God is evil and sends an "evil grace" that forces Hitler to do evil to accomplish His Plan.

Your system can not distinguish metaphysically between Case A and Case B.  St. Thomas's system does.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 27, 2018, 09:11:21 PM
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It was metaphysically impossible for him to do otherwise, given God's willing some optimum which logically entailed depended upon that he act as he did, and which willing was ontologically prior to him acting.
  Better with the correction.

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Now, you can try to say Hitler "freely" chose what was metaphysically necessary for him to choose, but that is not a definition I will accept for "free" will.
  No one cares if you choose an unorthodox definition of free will.  You seem to ignore the term "necessity" in "necessity by supposition" or "modal necessity".  I freely admit that free will is in the realm of Divine Providence and Predestination.  Free will has historically meant absence of coercion, nothing more.

We can use this reasoning from the other angle.  If I am saved, and I freely choose to cooperate with Grace, it is still a modal necessity that I be saved according to Divine Providence.  Heck my mere existence is contingent upon God's Sovereign Plan.  Sungenis terms this "gracious merit".
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 27, 2018, 09:23:09 PM
For those who would like to read more about this, especially the difference between Luther and St. Thomas, this link is a pretty good write up:

https://books.google.com/books?id=KaRAAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA150&lpg=PA151
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Michael on November 28, 2018, 12:11:22 AM
There is no modal fallacy in arguing that foreknowledge is incompatible with libertarian free will. If God foreknows I will do A, then doing B would invalidate God's knowledge, which is absurd. One would only be committing a modal fallacy if they said that doing A is necessary in the sense that it happens in all possible worlds. But that's not the argument. In all possible worlds where God foreknows A, you must do A. Obviously the necessity of doing A doesn't hold in worlds where he foreknows B. (In those worlds, doing B would be necessary, and so you still wouldn't have libertarian freedom.)

On compatibilist free will, all your choices are determined. They are "free" in the sense of not being subject to external coercion. This would entail that God is the ultimate cause of (and desires) the rape of children, the Holocaust, Satan's fall, and all other evils. God could have simply determined for everyone to be good.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Michael on November 28, 2018, 12:14:30 AM
Quote from: james03
Free will has historically meant absence of coercion, nothing more.
Even in Catholicism? Citation needed.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Xavier on November 28, 2018, 06:23:47 AM
God knows X(GKX) implies nothing else or more than that X is actually true (i.e. GKX=>X; GKX is true if X is true. And if X is true, GKX is true. Hence GKX is actually true if and only if X is actually true. And no more). Trying to turn an actual truth into a modal necessity is the modal fallacy.

1. Now, before we come back to the atheological sophistries against the demonstrable and demonstrated fact of Divine Omniscience, consider the following invalid syllogism that progresses as the atheists do.

Two football teams are going to play a game tomorrow. Then either "A will win the game tomorrow" (statement X, say) or "A will lose/B will win the game tomorrow" (statement Y; negation of X) is true. (Draws and other scenarios excluded for illustration. I.e. Either X or Y is true.

Now, the fatalistic atheistic reasoning is as follows.

If X is true, it is useless to prepare, because it is true that A will win.
If Y is true, it is useless to prepare(UP), because it is true that B will win.
Therefore, in either case, UP. Therefore, fatalism - nothing can be changed.

The fallacies in this mode of reasoning - which exactly parallels the atheistic error concerning divine foreknowledge - are numerous. It should be evident that the truth of either X or Y coming true is contingent precisely upon sufficient preparation for the game; it is neither caused nor affected by either statement being actually true.

2. Now, apply the same to a more important syllogism.

Atheists claim, if God foreknows X (which, as shown above, means nothing more or less than that X is actually true, or simply X), then X becomes modally necessary. To quote Michael, "In all possible worlds where God foreknows A, you must do A. Obviously the necessity of doing A doesn't hold in worlds where he foreknows B".

False: the true proposition is, when God foreknows A, A will happen in the actual world. The many possible worlds for B will not actually happen. And no more. And so the atheistic claim is a non sequitur.

Quote from: Quare
Necessarily, if God knows you will choose X, then you will choose X.

3. And this changes the modality precisely how, Quare? You are still going from a contingently true proposition to a modally necessary one. Let's break it down.

Do you agree, "God knows you will choose X" implies no more or less than that X is contingently true, as shown above. If you take issue with that, let us know and explain why. If not, your statemet can be simplified.

Necessarily, if X is contingently true, it is true that you will actually choose X. Which in no way proves " X is chosen in every possible world."

God's foreknowledge doesn't mean there is only one possible world. It means that there are many possible world which are never actualized.

God's knowledge is neither determinative nor causal. Predestination is something distinct from foreknowledge as discussed elsewhere.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Michael Wilson on November 28, 2018, 08:20:11 AM
Quote from: james03
Free will has historically meant absence of coercion, nothing more.
Even in Catholicism? Citation needed.
I think this is incorrect; free will means "libertarian" free will, the ability to choose one course of action over another.
Here is the Catholic Encyclopedia you can read the whole article here:http://newadvent.org/cathen/06259a.htm#cat

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Will is rational appetite. Man necessarily desires beatitude, but he can freely choose between different forms of it. Free will is simply this elective power. Infinite Good is not visible to the intellect in this life. There are always some drawbacks and deficiencies in every good presented to us. None of them exhausts our intellectual capacity of conceiving the good. Consequently, in deliberate volition, not one of them completely satiates or irresistibly entices the will. In this capability of the intellect for conceiving the universal lies the root of our freedom. But God possesses an infallible knowledge of man's future actions. How is this prevision possible, if man's future acts are not necessary? God does not exist in time. The future and the past are alike ever present to the eternal mind as a man gazing down from a lofty mountain takes in at one momentary glance all the objects which can be apprehended only through a lengthy series of successive experiences by travellers along the winding road beneath, in somewhat similar fashion the intuitive vision of God apprehends simultaneously what is future to us with all it contains.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Daniel on November 28, 2018, 08:32:58 AM
Necessarily, if X is contingently true, it is true that you will actually choose X. Which in no way proves " X is chosen in every possible world."

God's foreknowledge doesn't mean there is only one possible world. It means that there are many possible world which are never actualized.

God's knowledge is neither determinative nor causal. Predestination is something distinct from foreknowledge as discussed elsewhere.
I would say that modal worlds are irrelevant. There is only one actual world, and in that one world all things which will have happened will have happened and nothing more. Anything that will not have happened in the actual world cannot possibly happen in that world, so there is only one "possible" world.

If in the actual world you will choose X, then you necessarily will choose X. You cannot possibly choose not-X, because you will choose X. Still, this doesn't mean that your choice isn't "free". (Maybe the reason that you'll choose X is because you freely will to choose X.)

(Though this still doesn't seem to solve the problem with God's knowledge: X is in God's intellect, and all things in God's intellect are uncaused, yet X is caused by your will.)
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 28, 2018, 01:02:58 PM
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Which is why Thomism and the Thomists get an "F" grade.

No St. Thomas gets an "A" since your logic is fatally flawed.

Can I ask that you try to use more precise language?  This is the second time that you appear to have meant something completely different from what you said the first time.  My logic is absolutely correct.

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Case A:   God foresees that Hitler will freely choose evil and incorporates it into His Plan.

But that's making God's ultimate plan subsequent to Hitler's choice, whereas what you said the first time was God's plan being prior to Hitler's choice.  Now the latter must be true if God's plan is going to be the global optimum; the former only gets the optimum given Hitler's choice.  Also, with the former, God is not a se but dependent on something else (Hitler's choice).

Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 28, 2018, 01:25:32 PM
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It was metaphysically impossible for him to do otherwise, given God's willing some optimum which logically entailed depended upon that he act as he did, and which willing was ontologically prior to him acting.
  Better with the correction.

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Now, you can try to say Hitler "freely" chose what was metaphysically necessary for him to choose, but that is not a definition I will accept for "free" will.
  No one cares if you choose an unorthodox definition of free will.  You seem to ignore the term "necessity" in "necessity by supposition" or "modal necessity".  I freely admit that free will is in the realm of Divine Providence and Predestination.  Free will has historically meant absence of coercion, nothing more.

 :banghead:

If God willing the optimum is ontologically prior to and entails Hitler's action, then Hitler's action is metaphysically predetermined.  Which means, it is metaphysically impossible for him to otherwise than he does, given God's willing the optimum, which exists prior to his action.  Which means that, given the actual, concrete circumstances he finds himself in, it is metaphysically impossible for him to do other than he does.

Anyone who says that nevertheless he acts "freely" due to "absence of coercion" and that therefore it is "just" for God to punish him is an intellectually dishonest charlatan and a moral cretin.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on November 28, 2018, 02:06:05 PM
Xavier, you need to get the modalities right before you can begin to formulate the argument.

God knows X(GKX) implies nothing else or more than that X is actually true (i.e. GKX=>X; GKX is true if X is true. And if X is true, GKX is true. Hence GKX is actually true if and only if X is actually true. And no more). Trying to turn an actual truth into a modal necessity is the modal fallacy.

Yes, but there is no modal fallacy here.  GKX->X and X->GKX are not contingent facts.  They are necessary facts.  In every possible world where God knows X, X; and vice versa.  Not only in this one.  It not only happens to be actually the case that God knows I exist; it is impossible that He not know that I exist, given that I do.

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Now, the fatalistic atheistic reasoning is as follows.

If X is true, it is useless to prepare, because it is true that A will win.
If Y is true, it is useless to prepare(UP), because it is true that B will win.
Therefore, in either case, UP. Therefore, fatalism - nothing can be changed.

The fallacies in this mode of reasoning - which exactly parallels the atheistic error concerning divine foreknowledge - are numerous. It should be evident that the truth of either X or Y coming true is contingent precisely upon sufficient preparation for the game; it is neither caused nor affected by either statement being actually true.

I will note that you didn't actually expose the fallacies in this mode of reasoning - you merely stated the conclusion must be wrong, without argument, and your conclusion (contingency upon preparation) is precisely what the fatalist denies.  So wait a minute, the logical fatalist will respond.  X or Y doesn't come true in the future.  One of the two is true right now.  You've merely made an argument by assertion.  If one of the two is true right now, then nothing can be done to change it.

The proper answer is to say that, it is also true "right now" the team will or will not prepare for the game, and that such preparation will impact performance during the game, which will impact the final outcome, and while victory is perhaps possible with insufficient preparation, it is much less likely, given our knowledge of sporting events.

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Atheists claim, if God foreknows X (which, as shown above, means nothing more or less than that X is actually true, or simply X), then X becomes modally necessary. To quote Michael, "In all possible worlds where God foreknows A, you must do A. Obviously the necessity of doing A doesn't hold in worlds where he foreknows B".

False: the true proposition is, when God foreknows A, A will happen in the actual world. The many possible worlds for B will not actually happen. And no more. And so the atheistic claim is a non sequitur.

Michael is right and you are wrong.  It is impossible that if God foreknows A, ~A.  It is not something that merely happens to be the case in the actual world that God foreknows A -> A.  It is necessarily the case.  God is not contingently omniscient, but necessarily so.

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Quote from: Quare
Necessarily, if God knows you will choose X, then you will choose X.

3. And this changes the modality precisely how, Quare? You are still going from a contingently true proposition to a modally necessary one. Let's break it down.

Do you agree, "God knows you will choose X" implies no more or less than that X is contingently true, as shown above. If you take issue with that, let us know and explain why. If not, your statemet can be simplified.

Yes, it is impossible that God be mistaken.  Therefore, in every possible world where God knows I will choose X, I choose X.

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Necessarily, if X is contingently true, it is true that you will actually choose X. Which in no way proves " X is chosen in every possible world."

No, but in every possible world where X is true, I will actually choose X.  Understand an expression of the sort,

Necessarily, X -> Y means that every possible world that contains an X also contains a Y.  It doesn't mean X (or Y) is present in every possible world.

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God's knowledge is neither determinative nor causal. Predestination is something distinct from foreknowledge as discussed elsewhere.

That depends on exactly what the "fore" in "fore"knowledge means.  If the "fore" means ontologically prior, then it certainly is determinative.

Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 28, 2018, 06:40:42 PM
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My logic is absolutely correct.

Then let me know the metaphysical difference between my case A and Case B using your system.  From what I can tell, you can't distinguish between the two.

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But that's making God's ultimate plan subsequent to Hitler's choice, whereas what you said the first time was God's plan being prior to Hitler's choice
. This is always the cause of dispute.  Mixing human perspective with God's perspective.  There is no subsequent, prior, etc... with God.  He is THERE and EVERYWHERE and EVERY TIME.  That is why his foreknowledge is infallible, though we could also say His view of history is infallible.  Both are equivalent.

edit:  I'm guilty of this also.  It is easy to fall into.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 28, 2018, 06:51:30 PM
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If God willing the optimum is ontologically prior to and entails Hitler's action, then Hitler's action is metaphysically predetermined.  Which means, it is metaphysically impossible for him to otherwise than he does, given God's willing the optimum, which exists prior to his action.  Which means that, given the actual, concrete circumstances he finds himself in, it is metaphysically impossible for him to do other than he does.
  In other words, when St. Thomas says "necessity by supposition" he really means necessity.  I don't deny that.  I believe in predestination and Divine Providence.

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Anyone who says that nevertheless he acts "freely" due to "absence of coercion" and that therefore it is "just" for God to punish him is an intellectually dishonest charlatan and a moral cretin.
  God sees the evil in every  man's heart.  He can punish all of us, even for actual sins.  What is the fate of Hitler?  I have no idea.  I insist on only one thing: In hell there is perfect Justice.  How does that translate into existence?  I have no idea, never seen it.

Also, it is not intellectually dishonest to say Hitler acted freely and without coercion.  Unless you presuppose a metaphysical system that can't distinguish between Case A and Case B.  In which case your system is incoherent.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Michael on November 28, 2018, 10:57:25 PM
If indeterminism is true, there are three truth values: true, false, and not-yet-determined (i.e. open). To have free will, both "X will win" and "Y will win" have to be open. If it's already true that X will win before the game even happens, then X is fated to win. Otherwise, losing would falsify the truth value of the proposition, which is absurd.

To have free will, it is not enough that in different possible worlds, you do different things. You need to have access to those alternate worlds at the time of your choice. On classical theism, once God actualizes a world (or from eternity), the alternate possibilities are closed off, and it is no longer possible for you to do B if God foreknows A, for doing B would falsify God's foreknowledge.

No one is arguing that foreknowledge means causation, so throw that red herring in the trash.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 28, 2018, 11:04:11 PM
Maybe I'm wrong, but I think Q. has accomplished the following:

Starting with a Congruentist definition of Free Will, he has shown that Congruentism must arrive at a belief in Divine Providence.

Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on November 29, 2018, 01:51:11 PM
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No one is arguing that foreknowledge means causation, so throw that red herring in the trash.
  Not a red herring.  Just seeking confirmation of understanding.

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and it is no longer possible for you to do B
Correct.  For clarity, let's say it is "impossible to do B".

Here then is the dispute.  What is meant by "impossible"?

Impossible due to logical NECESSITY?  True.  And I'm freely stipulating that A will definitely happen, and it happens by NECESSITY.  This is called Divine Providence and that is the Catholic position.

Impossible due to absolute ontological necessity?  False.  There is no coercion.  The efficient cause for a free will choice is man.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Quaremerepulisti on December 01, 2018, 04:08:13 PM
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But that's making God's ultimate plan subsequent to Hitler's choice, whereas what you said the first time was God's plan being prior to Hitler's choice
. This is always the cause of dispute.  Mixing human perspective with God's perspective.  There is no subsequent, prior, etc... with God.  He is THERE and EVERYWHERE and EVERY TIME.  That is why his foreknowledge is infallible, though we could also say His view of history is infallible.  Both are equivalent.

Again, "subsequent" and "prior" here refer to ontology, not time.  God is outside of time, granted, so there is no temporal subsequent or prior with God.  However, God is not outside of ontology, not in the West anyway, so your argument doesn't work.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on December 01, 2018, 07:02:44 PM
For clarity:

Divine Providence is ontologically prior to Hitler's choice.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Kreuzritter on March 11, 2019, 06:36:53 PM
If indeterminism is true, there are three truth values: true, false, and not-yet-determined (i.e. open).

There's no such thing as a "third truth value".

From a perspective within time, the problem with your "X will win" being taken as a proposition lies in the inevitable explanation of the conditions under which one would assing a value of "true" or "false" to it; usually, that's in the form of "check it after it has happened", then "X will win" is just a proxy for "X won", and, if "X won" is true, "X will win" was "always" true because it was "predetermined". That seems to be the determinist's view. And your "third value" becomes just a way of trying to force deterministic concepts upon a view that doesn't accept them or maybe even find them to be meaningful. For the one who, rejecting determinism, rejects that sense, it's not clear to me that he even accepts or has to accept "X will win" as a form of a propositional statement that accepts truth values; taking "X will win" to state "'X won' will be true" doesn't get us closer, while "X won" is literal nonsense in relation to a future event.

On the other hand, if we take a transcendental perspective, the use of "not yet" and the word "predetermined" entails a frame of reference within time before the event, but there is no temporal "before" within this frame of reference; all temporal events are "determined" in some sense here, whether by free or compulsive cause or no cause at all, but obviously they are, and this perspective exists as a mathematical concept whether we are theists or not and whether we like it or not; what this perspective does not entail is an implication that it makes free will an impossibility and everything "predetermined", including the acts of agents by external compulsion.

To reiterate, free will is just a reference to the freedom of the spiritual act of a transcendental subject, that is, to conceptualise part of what that means, such a subject acts out of himself in such a way that, taken as a causal node, he is not merely some set of rules that transforms information coming in to the information that comes out, and becomes a genuine first cause feeding into a causal chain. And no, another transcendental subject in the form of God having a view to the causal net that is thus established, or determinign what information is fed in form some other points, does not logically conflict with this idea.

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To have free will, both "X will win" and "Y will win" have to be open.

In your definition of "open", no, that doesn't follow form your argument.

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If it's already true that X will win before the game even happens, then X is fated to win. Otherwise, losing would falsify the truth value of the proposition, which is absurd.

"Fated" is not defined here, which makes your "otherwise" questionable, but either way it tells us nothing about the cause of the state of affairs that makes "X will win" to be "true", which is what the proponent of free will is interested in. The determinist is maintaining, in one way or another, that all information about future events is already contained in past events and some set of rules, but the proponent of free will, rejecting that, is not claiming that all information about all events is not available from a point in a higher dimension. But if you've already excluded the possibility of free will by a definition of "X will win" that makes it sensible to assign to it truth-values, then you are, I'm afraid, just begging the question, which is what I suspect you are in fact doing.

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To have free will, it is not enough that in different possible worlds, you do different things. You need to have access to those alternate worlds at the time of your choice.


I do have access to them, as I make them, but my spiritual acts aren't in time; they are acts upon time. However, your claim doesn't follow anyway; even if there is only one possible way to act due to material limitation, I may nevertheless act upon the available matter out of myself as a transcendent subject  rather than under the compulsion of an external power, which points to a problem of equivocation on concepts of something being "predetermined".

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On classical theism, once God actualizes a world (or from eternity), the alternate possibilities are closed off, and it is no longer possible for you to do B if God foreknows A, for doing B would falsify God's foreknowledge.

One giant fail of a non-sequitur with a categorical error. God's knowledge isn't temporal foreknowledge, the language in which you formulated your argument; it is transcendental knowledge. God knows because I do, and he knows scientia media beyond even what I actually do because he knows the nature of my heart out of which I act. The "alternate possibilities" are closed off by myself and my free choices, not by God's creative and sustaining act which allows me to be and them to occur.
 
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No one is arguing that foreknowledge means causation, so throw that red herring in the trash.

No, you're arguing that foreknowledge depends upon a causal act that itself fully determines everything, and that is what I choose to throw into the trash.

There's really no point in talking with people who neither believe nor see, because they are incapable of understanding the meaning of the mystic's words and have no desire to learn to. Or perhaps they can't. There are those who have speculated about solipsim-lite, of biological AI, automata in human form, bodies without souls and "organic portals", and the more I think about my interactions with some "people" and the bizarre language of "scientific materialists" & co. in talking about the self, free will, consciousness, and the phenomena of experience, the more I'm inclined to believe there may be something to it. We already know from the cognitive psychological literature that there are apparent human subjects who do not understand what visualisation is and those who dream imageless dreams, and I'd be willing to bet we're only scratching the surface of such aberrations.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: Michael on March 12, 2019, 08:02:37 PM
There's no such thing as a "third truth value".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-valued_logic

Contrary to what you said, I think if one insists that there are truths about what will happen, that entails logical fatalism. If "I will do A in two minutes" is true, then I can't do otherwise without falsifying the truth of that proposition. If I did otherwise, then the proposition would not have been true, contrary to hypothesis.

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[A]ll temporal events are "determined" in some sense here, whether by free or compulsive cause or no cause at all,

It sounds like you're proposing a B-theory of time where all times exist at once. I think this is a problem for free will as well. It implies the universe is a static, frozen cube. Free will requires a genuine locus of indeterminacy that is then settled by an agent. Freezing (open) to frozen (closed). But on B-theory, the whole thing is eternally settled, forever in stone. It is one overall state, rather than a freezing state followed by a frozen one.

So all my "future" choices exist already, so they can't change.

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...becomes a genuine first cause feeding into a causal chain.

Did something cause the agent to cause himself to choose A over B, or is it arbitrary randomness? Why did Lucifer choose B over A, given that with everything being the same, he could've chose A?

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In your definition of "open", no, that doesn't follow form your argument.

If you insist on classical logic, "X will win" and "Y will win" are both false, and the tenseless "X wins" and "Y wins" are both variably false, since nothing grounds their being true. When one of them wins, either "X wins" or "Y wins" becomes invariably true, and the other one becomes invariably false.

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"Fated" is not defined here

There is a 100% chance that it will happen.

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[M]y spiritual acts aren't in time; they are acts upon time.

Nonsense. If I choose to drink chocolate milk at 6:03, that's an act of will taking place in time.

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God's knowledge isn't temporal foreknowledge, the language in which you formulated your argument; it is transcendental knowledge.

See my comment above about the tenseless theory of time. Even God knows your future from a timeless vantage point, that means your future choices are already set in stone and you can't change them.

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God knows because I do
But before I do something, I'm obviously not doing it. It hasn't transpired yet.

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...and he knows scientia media beyond even what I actually do because he knows the nature of my heart out of which I act.

So your choices are determined by the nature of your heart? That's compatibilism. You didn't choose the nature of your heart which determines your choices. Even if you chose your nature, that choice itself would be based upon your prior nature, which was unchosen or based on an even prior nature, which you didn't choose.

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[Y]ou're arguing that foreknowledge depends upon a causal act that itself fully determines everything

I'm arguing that libertarian free will and foreknowledge cannot co-exist. If I am free, I can do A or B, so there is nothing there to be foreknown. If God foreknows, I can't do otherwise without invalidating God's foreknowledge. It's impossible to break God's knowledge.
Title: Re: Time and free will?
Post by: james03 on March 14, 2019, 06:54:18 AM
Quick aside, from God's perspective, "B Theory" is correct.

Getting back to the OP, let's look at the classic complaint:

Statement A: "Since God has foreknowledge that I will do X, I can't truly have Free Will and furthermore I am not responsible for my sin."

Now consider this statement:
Statement B: "Because I can look back in history and see that Trump decided to run for office, it is not possible that Trump freely chose to run for office BECAUSE I'm looking back in history and I see he did it."

If you agree with Statement B, then your reasoning for Statement A is at least coherent.  If you believe Statement B is absurd, then believing Statement A is incoherent, because Foreknowledge and History are absolutely identical from God's perspective.