Concluding Argument for Divine Omniscience and Exhaustive Foreknowledge of God
The Open Theist argues that if God’s foreknowledge is exhaustive, then all human action will be necessarily actualized since God’s ‘beliefs’ about future events cannot be falsified. But this would make it impossible to hold humans responsible for their acts if they cannot but act necessarily. We must choose between God’s exhaustive foreknowledge and libertarian human freedom. However, the undeniable fact of life is contingent human action. The logical recourse is to reduce significantly, if not decisively, the scope of divine foreknowledge to preserve human freedom.
The purpose of this post is to clarify the conceptual categories and the finely balanced relationship between necessity and contingency underlying the Reformed doctrine of meticulous providence and human freedom.
I. Distinction between Natural and Free Causes
Reformed Scholaticism frames the relation between God as the Creator and the world as his creation by using ontological concepts like cause and effect. A further distinction is made between subjects with attributes of freedom (free causes) and subjects without that quality (natural causes).
A cause produces an act, and either the act or the state of affairs brought forward by the act is called the effect.
I. The purpose of this article is to show that the Open Theist’s argument against divine foreknowledge is flawed because it fails to distinguish between “the necessity of the consequent” and“the necessity of the consequence”.
We begin with some clarifications of the terms that are crucial to our discussion:
Things are contingent of which it is possible that they are or are not.
Things are necessary of which it is impossible that they are not.
A necessary proposition is a proposition that could not possibly have been false, whose negation is impossible as this would entail a contradiction in reality. For example, it is necessary that 2 + 2 = 4. Philosophers describe a necessary proposition as one that true in all possible worlds.
A contingent proposition is a proposition that is not necessarily true or necessarily false (i.e. whose negation does not entail a contradiction in reality). An example of a contingent proposition is the proposition that human beings must be born on earth. A contingent proposition is one that is true in some possible worlds and not in others.
Prologue: The next three posts are rather technical (technical rating = 6/10). For readers who may find the reading tough going, just enjoy the jokes on Calvinism vs Arminianism.
Q1: How many Calvinists does it take to change a light bulb? A: None. God has predestined when the lights will be on. Stay seated and trust him.
Q2: How many Arminians does it take to change a light bulb? A1: Only one. But first the bulb must want to be changed. A2: All. They need everyone to make sure it stays on. One can never really be sure.
Q3: How many charismatics does it take to change a light bulb? A: Three, one to cast it out and two to catch it when it falls!
Q4: How many Open Theists does it take to change a light bulb? A: No one knows the answer. Not even God!
Calvinists have their TULIP! Arminians prefer the daisy. Why? “He loves me, but he loves me not. He loves me, but he loves me not…
Now to the serious stuff:
God’s omnipotence and omniscience and are inseparable correlates of his sovereignty and providence over creation. As Creator, God knows everything. This includes their essential nature and how they interact with other things as “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:13) As the omnipotent Lord, God controls all happenings in the universe and directs them according to his eternal plan. “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” (Eph. 1:11)
The scriptural teaching of God’s predestination contradicts the Arminian view that God’s foreknowledge is “simple”, that is, God knows the future, but not that he predetermines it. Furthermore, the Arminian maintains that God’s foreknowledge is contingent on our prior choices- that God’s knowing isn’t the source of our doing. Rather, our doing is the source of God’s knowing. However, Scripture teaches that God’s knowledge is active rather than passive since he foreordains and directs all things “according to the counsel of his will.” Continue reading “Does Foreknowledge of God Negate Human Freedom? – Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom. Part 5/7”
Before proceeding further in our series of posts on divine sovereignty and human freedom, it would be good to clarify some of the contested concepts in the debate.
Let’s begin with two fundamental concepts: 1) Free will. The ability of an agent to make genuine choices that stem from the self. Libertarians argue that free will includes the power to determine the will itself, so that a person with free will can will more than one thing. Compatibilists typically view free will as the power to act in accordance with one’s own will rather than being constrained by some external cause, allowing that the will itself may ultimately be causally determined by something beyond the self. Hard determinists deny the existence of free will altogether. Most Christian theologians agree that humans possess free will in some sense but disagree about what kind of freedom is necessary. The possession of free will does not entail an ability not to sin, since human freedom is shaped and limited by human character. Thus a human person may be free to choose among possibilities in some situations but still be unable to avoid all sin. /1/ Continue reading “Debate on Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom: Fundamental Philosophical Concepts”
Precis: Shamanic healing and meditation mind-body therapy, along with other forms of Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM), are alive and doing well in Malaysia. Modern people who assume that mysticism, machinery and medicine simply cannot be mixed may be shocked to find out that some hospitals are incorporating mystical rituals like meditation mind-body therapy into their services.
What are some of the reasons for the rising popularity of Meditation and Mind-Body Therapy? Can these treatments be scientifically tested and verified? What physiological and psychological bases underlie reported mystical-meditational ‘extra-sensory’ experience? Finally, how should Christians evaluate meditation and mind-body therapy from a Biblical-theological perspective? Continue reading “Meditation and Mind-Body Therapy: Health and Higher Reality”
The moral argument for the existence of God is often given a simple deductive form:
1) If there are objective moral values, then God exists.
2) There are objective moral values.
3) Therefore, God exists.
Logicians agree the logical form of this argument is valid. However, this does not guarantee the argument is sound. An argument is sound only when its logical form is valid and when all its premises are true. The crucial step would be to demonstrate premises 1 and 2 are true. Otherwise, the argument fails.
Scientific inquiry proceeds with the presupposition that nature is an orderly structure which is intelligible to the human mind. How is this coherent interaction between the human mind and the natural order possible? What is the origin and nature of human reason? For simplicity, I shall just focus on two dominant paradigms addressing these questions:
1) Naturalism and reductive materialism: the universe of space-time and all its interlocking processes exists as a causally closed continuum and nothing else exist. This being the case, reason and mental processes are merely some aspect of physical processes or neural activity.
2) Theism –The observable space-time is a contingent order produced and sustained by a necessary being called God. Indeed, this space-time framework may not even be the only order of reality created by God. Reason is derived from some form of supernatural or divine intervention.
Precis: The precise values of the physical constants of nature and the serendipitous state (initial conditions) of the beginning of the universe all point to a cosmic designer who has fine-tuned the universe. The evidence available from contemporary science suggests that theism provides a more plausible explanation for the emergence of life in the universe than naturalism or atheism. Continue reading “A Fine-Tuned and Designer Universe”