Dr. William Lane Craig is an astounding debater and an extremely intelligent individual. He has many excellent arguments with regard to many things. These arguments, however, are not among them.
The question of free will is one that has been thoroughly debated for thousands of years. Some would say that free will can be defined as "the ability to do what you want". If we accept this definition, then surely everyone will agree that humans have some modicum of free will, as we all, at least on occasion, do as we want.
However, this is not the definition of free will that is really in debate. The debated concept is the following definition:
"The ability to choose, or to choose otherwise."
As the Bible teaches that God knows all things (Colossians 2:3; 1 John 3:20; John 14:6; Hebrews 4:13; Deuteronomy 18:22; 1 Samuel 2:3; Isaiah 42:9, 44:7, 46:10-11, 48:5; Acts 1:24), it seems to me that the most revealing way to look at this issue is to ask ourselves:
"Is it possible for us to do OTHER THAN that which God knows we are going to do?"
It seems to me that there is only one possible and Biblical answer to this question, and that it resolves the issue immediately. However, in our Western culture, many of us have become married to the idea of autonomous (or self-governing and independent) human freedom and will not surrender it no matter how absurd it is demonstrated to be.
Dr. Craig presents several arguments in opposition to divine determinacy. They are listed below, followed by their refutations.
1. Universal, divine, causal determinism cannot offer a coherent interpretation of Scripture. The classical Reformed divines recognized this. They acknowledge that the reconciliation of Scriptural texts affirming human freedom and contingency with Scriptural texts affirming divine sovereignty is inscrutable. D. A. Carson identifies nine streams of texts affirming human freedom: (1) People face a multitude of divine exhortations and commands, (2) people are said to obey, believe, and choose God, (3) people sin and rebel against God, (4) people's sins are judged by God, (5) people are tested by God, (6) people receive divine rewards, (7) the elect are responsible to respond to God's initiative, (8) prayers are not mere showpieces scripted by God, and (9) God literally pleads with sinners to repent and be saved (Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspectives in Tension, pp. 18-22). These passages rule out a deterministic understanding of divine providence, which would preclude human freedom. Determinists reconcile universal, divine, causal determinism with human freedom by re-interpreting freedom in compatibilist terms. Compatibilism entails determinism, so there's no mystery here. The problem is that adopting compatibilism achieves reconciliation only at the expense of denying what various Scriptural texts seem clearly to affirm: genuine indeterminacy and contingency.
1) It is stated that "the reconciliation of Scriptural texts affirming human freedom and contingency with Scriptural texts affirming divine sovereignty is inscrutable". There are plenty of texts that affirm divine sovereignty, but where are the texts that affirm autonomous human freedom? If indeed they do not exist, as we would contest, then there is no inscrutability here. Additionally, if the scriptures affirmed "indeterminacy", they would not affirm that God is all-knowing (and they do, see my introduction above), for the two are necessarily negations of each other.
1.1) People face a multitude of divine exhortations and commands. The argument seems to be that God would not command us to do things unless we had within us the ability to freely or autonomously choose to do them. Without an autonomous free will, we do not necessarily have such ability, for we can only do that which is predetermined. However, Christ says "you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). Are we able to freely choose to do this? And if so, why do we need Christ? Further, Peter condemns the Judaizers, asking "why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?" (Acts 15:10). If we are able to freely choose to follow the rules, why, according to the apostle Peter, has no one been able to do so? Finally, Leviticus 5 deals with accidental sins and the sinner's responsibility in atoning for them. If God does not command us to do anything that we cannot freely choose to do, then how is it possible to commit an accidental sin? Thus we see that God clearly issues commands that man certainly does not have the ability to obey, refuting the premise of the argument.
1.2) People are said to obey, believe, and choose God. The argument seems to be that people cannot obey, believe, or choose God without an autonomous free will. However, it is possible to obey without considering the alternative, meaning that obedience does not even require conscious choice, let alone free will. Further, it is possible to believe without considering the alternative, meaning that belief also does not even require conscious choice, let alone free will. Thus the question comes down to the issue of choice alone, and the other stated actions are merely window dressing. But choice is indeed the heart of the argument, the ground of the debate, and to suggest that choice insists upon autonomous free will is to completely ignore the debate, for what is it that we claim other than that the choices we make are predetermined? The question at hand is not "do we make choices?", because of course we do, but rather, "was it genuinely possible for us to have chosen anything other than what we chose?". In other words, Dr. Craig's argument can be rephrased as "since choices are not predetermined, choices must not be predetermined". This is obviously a circular argument and further, we reject the premise.
1.3) People sin and rebel against God. The argument seems to be that people cannot sin or be in rebellion against God without making an intentional and autonomously free decision to do so. The Bible rejects this claim in at least two different ways. First, it asserts that people can commit unintentional sins, meaning that free choice is not necessary to sin against God. Second, it explicitly asserts that at least some sins are in fact caused by God, meaning that autonomously free decisions are not necessary to be in sin against God.
Regarding accidental sins, as explained in (1.1), the Law of Moses had specifications for procedures to cleanse the guilt that comes from unintentional sins: "If a person touches any unclean thing, whether it is the carcass of an unclean beast, or the carcass of unclean livestock, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and he is unaware of it, he also shall be unclean and guilty" (Leviticus 5:2). Further, note that as Jesus hung on the cross, He said, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). According to Jesus, someone at the crucifixion needed forgiveness, which means they committed a sin, and also according to Jesus, they were doing so in complete ignorance, not aware of (let alone intending) the sinful behavior.
Regarding God causing people to sin, John states "HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM" (John 12:40 from Isaiah 6:10). In Isaiah, God commanded His prophet to blind the eyes of the Jews so they would not follow Christ. John informs us that this plan succeeded. If God blinded their eyes so that they could not recognize Christ, so that they would not accept Him, and worship Him, then, in doing so, they sinned and were in rebellion against God the Son, because God caused them to be so. This is reiterated in Romans 11:8. A second example is 1 Samuel 2:25, in which scripture informs us that the wicked sons of Eli "would not listen to the voice of their father, for the LORD desired to put them to death". Their disobedience was caused by God's desire to kill them. A third example is in Acts 4:27-28, where the disciples state "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur". Here, God predestined the murder of His Son.
We see therefore that it is possible for God to cause people to be in sin, and it is also possible for people to sin unintentionally and accidentally. It is therefore clear that scripture refutes the notion that one can only sin or be in rebellion against God if one has freely (and autonomously) chosen to do so, completely apart from any prior causation.
1.4) People's sins are judged by God. The argument seems to be that sins cannot or should not be judged by God if they were not the result of an intentional and autonomously free choice. The Bible says otherwise. See (1.3) for the refutation to this argument.
1.5) People are tested by God. The argument seems to be that there can be no testing if there is no autonomous freedom and indeterminacy. The problem with this argument is that if the concept of God's testing of people is taken to necessitate autonomous human freedom, then in the same sense it also necessitates a lack of God's omniscience -- He tests us in order to find out what we will do. In such a case, God does not know what will happen in the future as far as it is determined by autonomous human freedom. God did not know that Zacharias' son would be named John (Luke 1:13), as that was a free decision made by a free agent. He did not know that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), as the choice by Christ's parents to travel there was also a free decision made by free agents. God did not know that Mary would not be butchered by common criminals before her son was born while on the road to Bethlehem thereby nullifying all prophecies of the coming Messiah (Isaiah 9:6), He did not know that Judas would betray Christ (Psalm 41:9), He did not know that Christ would be pierced (Isaiah 53:5), He did not in fact know about virtually anything in the future that He tells us He knew about. This understanding would not just be a problem for us, but also for those who claim both autonomous human freedom and Biblical integrity, such as Dr. Craig. A better understanding of God's testing is, rather than to say that God tested someone, to say that God proved someone, such as Abraham or Job. The word in both Hebrew and Greek carries both nuanced meanings ("tested" and "proved"), and the concept makes far more sense Biblically when phrased in this manner.
1.6) People receive divine rewards. The argument seems to be that no thing should or could be rewarded if it has not autonomously and freely chosen to do well. However, rewards can simply be seen as one of the means that God has ordained to cause His elect to do His will. If our actions are caused by God, then they are not autonomously free.
1.7) The elect are responsible to respond to God's initiative. If the argument here is that nothing without an autonomous free will is capable of responding, then this is clearly false. Clay responds to the hands of the potter, engines respond to pressure on the gas pedal, and dead bodies respond to electrical stimuli. CLEAR! On the other hand, if the argument is that the elect cannot be responsible without autonomous free will, note that David was responsible for sinning by taking the census that God caused him to take by means of the devil (2 Samuel 24:1, 24:10-14; 1 Chronicles 21:1), demonstrating that an autonomous free will is not necessary to be held responsible for disobeying God's laws.
1.8) Prayers are not mere showpieces scripted by God. The argument seems to be that since prayers are not caused by God, prayers must not be caused by God. This is obviously a circular argument, and further, we deny the premise.
1.9) God literally pleads with sinners to repent and be saved. The argument seems to be that since God pleads with sinners to repent, He cannot be the cause of either their sin or their repentance. However, it seems to me that such pleading is eisegeted into the scriptures, not exegeted from them. Where does God "plead" with sinners to repent? He certainly commands them to, but "plead"? Since we reject the premise, the conclusion does not follow. Indeed, it would not necessarily follow even if we accepted the premise.
So we see that argument 1 has been entirely refuted, point for point.
2. Universal causal determinism cannot be rationally affirmed. There is a sort of dizzying, self-defeating character to determinism. For if one comes to believe that determinism is true, one has to believe that the reason he has come to believe it is simply that he was determined to do so. One has not in fact been able to weigh the arguments pro and con and freely make up one's mind on that basis. The difference between the person who weighs the arguments for determinism and rejects them and the person who weighs them and accepts them is wholly that one was determined by causal factors outside himself to believe and the other not to believe. When you come to realize that your decision to believe in determinism was itself determined and that even your present realization of that fact right now is likewise determined, a sort of vertigo sets in, for everything that you think, even this very thought itself, is outside your control. Determinism could be true; but it is very hard to see how it could ever be rationally affirmed, since its affirmation undermines the rationality of its affirmation.
2) If our decisions are not determined by evidence provided by God, what are they determined by? If our conclusions are not based on thought processes intelligently designed by God, how have they come about? Another way to say this is that God ordains the means (evidence and thought processes) as well as the ends (our conclusions). Indeed, how can any conclusion be rationally affirmed if the Source of Truth did not bring it about? Note that if our conclusions and their subjects are not intentionally coordinated by God, then they are the result of uncoordinated accidents. Are your conclusions the result of uncoordinated accidents? If so, they are entirely unjustified (or without reason) and therefore irrational by definition. Indeed, apart from divine determinism, nothing can be rationally affirmed. So we see that argument 2 has been entirely refuted.
3. Universal, divine, determinism (A) makes God the author of sin and (B) precludes human responsibility. In contrast to the Molinist view, on the deterministic view even the movement of the human will is caused by God. God moves people to choose evil, and they cannot do otherwise. God determines their choices and makes them do wrong. If it is evil to make another person do wrong, then on this view God is not only the cause of sin and evil, but becomes evil Himself, which is absurd. By the same token, all human responsibility for sin has been removed. For our choices are not really up to us: God causes us to make them. We cannot be responsible for our actions, for nothing we think or do is up to us.
3.A) Determinism makes God the author of sin. The argument seems to be that if God predetermines all that will occur, He predetermines that specific human sins will occur. This is, of course, true, and entirely Biblical and therefore not problematic in the slightest. However, some elaboration is necessary. "Determinism makes God the author of sin" is not a problematic statement at all, as the Bible never suggests that He is not. "God determines their choices and makes them do wrong" is, as we have seen in (1.3) above, an accurate representation of the scriptural narrative. Other scriptures in support of this claim that one might cite without detailed elaboration or explanation would be Job 1:21-22; 1 Chronicles 21:1-8 combined with 2 Samuel 24:1; Exodus 4:21; Deuteronomy 2:30; Romans 9:17-24; Genesis 45:5-8; Judges 14:4; Luke 22:22; Revelation 17:17. It is suggested that "if it is evil to make another person do wrong, then on this view God is not only the cause of sin and evil, but becomes evil Himself, which is absurd", and we of course agree that such a conclusion is absurd, quite simply because it is not evil for God to make a human do something sinful. In rejecting the premise, as the scriptures do, we are not bound to the absurd conclusion. In elaboration, the Bible defines sin as the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). Thus, in order for God to sin, we must first believe that there is in fact some kind of law that governs Him. Since He is the source of all laws, He would have had to order Himself not to cause anyone to sin. Then, in order for Him to be a sinner, He would have had to disobey His own order for Himself. We see no such command governing God in scripture, and since we do clearly see God causing people to sin, and since we know that God, the one in absolute authority, cannot possibly sin or err in any way or else He would be opposed to Himself and therefore no longer in authority, we must necessarily come to the conclusion that God has not in fact ordered Himself not to cause people to sin. Thus, it is not a sin for Him to do so.
3.B) Determinism precludes human responsibility. The argument seems to be that humans cannot be responsible for their actions if they did not intentionally choose to do them in a free and autonomous fashion. We have already refuted this in (1.3).
4. Universal, divine, determinism nullifies human agency. Since our choices are not up to us but are caused by God, human beings cannot be said to be real agents. They are mere instruments by means of which God acts to produce some effect, much like a man using a stick to move a stone. Of course, secondary causes retain all their properties and powers as intermediate causes, as the Reformed divines remind us, just as a stick retains its properties and powers which make it suitable for the purposes of the one who uses it. Reformed thinkers need not be occasionalists like Nicholas Malebranche, who held that God is the only cause there is. But these intermediate causes are not agents themselves but mere instrumental causes, for they have no power to initiate action. Hence, it's dubious that on divine determinism there really is more than one agent in the world, namely, God. This conclusion not only flies in the face of our knowledge of ourselves as agents but makes it inexplicable why God then treats us as agents, holding us responsible for what He caused us and used us to do.
4) The primary argument, apart from those that have already been refuted, seems to be that we cannot call ourselves "agents" unless we have autonomous freedom. An agent, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, can be defined as "a means by which something is done or caused; instrument". If God uses us as we use instruments, as we claim, how then are we not agents? Further, why should it matter if we can refer to one another as "agents"? The scriptures do not in any place insist that all men are "agents", or that we must refer to each other as such. To make this term a definitive piece of Christian doctrine is simply arbitrary. However, the (perhaps sarcastic?) comparison of a human being to an instrument such as a stick is apt, as that is the exact comparison (among others) that God Himself makes in Isaiah 10:12-15.
5. Universal, divine determinism makes reality into a farce. On the deterministic view, the whole world becomes a vain and empty spectacle. There are no free agents in rebellion against God, whom God seeks to win through His love, and no one who freely responds to that love and freely gives his love and praise to God in return. The whole spectacle is a charade whose only real actor is God Himself. Far from glorifying God, the deterministic view, I'm convinced, denigrates God for engaging in a such a farcical charade. It is deeply insulting to God to think that He would create beings which are in every respect causally determined by Him and then treat them as though they were free agents, punishing them for the wrong actions He made them do or loving them as though they were freely responding agents. God would be like a child who sets up his toy soldiers and moves them about his play world, pretending that they are real persons whose every motion is not in fact of his own doing and pretending that they merit praise or blame. I'm certain that Reformed determinists, in contrast to classical Reformed divines, will bristle at such a comparison. But why it's inapt for the doctrine of universal, divine, causal determinism is a mystery to me.
5) The argument seems to be that if there is no autonomous freedom, then reality is a deception (charade, farce, pretense, etc). This argument presupposes that God has told us that we are autonomously free, and yet we are not. In refutation, God has never told us that we are autonomously free, but rather He has informed us that we can either be enslaved to sin (and free from forgiveness) or else enslaved to Christ (and freed from sin) (John 8:34; 1 Corinthians 7:22); that every moment of our existence is entirely at His pleasure (James 4:13-15; Luke 12:16-20); and that our very actions are based exclusively upon His will (Proverbs 16:1, 16:9, 21:1). Thus, there is no deception, no farce, no charade, and no pretense, thereby refuting the presupposition behind argument 5.
In summary, Dr. Craig does not make a single coherent argument for the existence of autonomous human freedom, and both scripture and logic plainly refute this notion. As I asked in my introduction, I ask again, is it possible for us to do OTHER THAN that which God knows we are going to do?
If the answer is no, and it necessarily is, then we are not "able to choose, or to choose otherwise", our definition of free will. We can only make the choices God has predetermined we will make. There is, and can be, no indeterminacy with God.
Having explained this, God calls on all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). And make no mistake, He will hold you personally responsible for all of your sin unless you call on Christ for forgiveness (John 3:18).
Keep studying and seeking the revelation of God's will and may the Holy Spirit our great comforter, lead you into all Truth; even as the Truth is in the Son of God Jesus Christ. Pray without ceasing and seek the compassion and love of God for the lost to compel you to obey our Master in His command to Preach the Gospel. Remember that Christ came into the world to save sinners and that in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Further more, Christ has been raised from the dead. We are to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins in His Name! Keep yourself in the love of God and be waiting for the appearing of our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. We are in the last days and the Spirit has expressly said that their will be seducing spirit's that decieve. Keep on guard and remember your first love as is profitable for all that belong to Him to reflect. I suggest a book for you. "The Christian in the Whole Armour of God" by William Gurnall.
It's easy to get carried away with the "we're not robots" idea, but then, as you pointed out, the Bible doesn't say that we have been given free will. It's just another man-made idea that is emotionally and vehemently defended by those who want to uphold a high view of the sovereignty of man.
God creates us with a plan already in mind, whether we dissent from him or praise him already known. Therefore, what we do is hardly our fault, yet we are blamed and told to repent as if it would change anything. That would be like an author blaming one of his characters for being evil even though he wrote every action that character did. And if he created us simply to praise him, why not do that? Why write that many will dissent and go to hell to suffer eternally? So that the others know how important it is to praise him? Even though he wrote (therefore knew) that they would anyway? Or better yet, why create the ones that he knew would go to hell? Had he asked me whether I would like to be created to later spend eternity in hell or just stay uncreated, I would have chosen the latter. Paraphrasing Ingersoll, "There is no suffering in perfect rest."
"Fault" in the moral sense means nothing more than disobeying the law. If God causes someone to disobey the law, they have disobeyed the law. They are thus at fault.
Authors often punish their antagonists, even though the author made the antagonist that way.
In the end, either God has intentionally caused everything that happens, or He hasn't. Only one of these views is logically coherent-- the other is inherently contradictory, like talking about square circles. We often reject the only possible option because it is difficult or makes us mad... but this does not stop it from being true.
A) cruel - Causing pain or suffering.
Based on this definition...
Isaiah 13:9, 45:7, 53:10; Genesis 3:16; Exodus 12:29; Deuteronomy 30:7; 1 Samuel 2:6, 2:25; Ezekiel 6:10, 32:15
One thing I'm struggling with, however, is the possibility of having a distinction between God foreknowing what we would do and God causing what we do. I personally don't believe that God would foreknow of our sin without also (ultimately) causing it, because after all, how can you create something, knowing what it will do yet not being the cause of what it does? (Although I have trouble explaining this to someone else.)
I've made this argument before and have been accused of questioning what God is capable of, as many people believe that God somehow created us with a true, pure, free will. I understand their case, since it seems to be the only way for God to know of our sin ahead of time and still hold us responsible for it. What are your thoughts about all of this? How would you answer Romans 9:19, besides just, "Who are you?" Etc.
What does it mean to "sin"? To "sin", it seems to me, is ultimately to disobey God's command (Malachi 3:18; Romans 4:15, 5:13; 1 John 3:4). If disobedience to God's command is sin, the reason for that disobedience is not relevant to the yes-or-no question of whether or not the person sinned. Sin is sin regardless of reason.
We always have a reason for our sin. We always do it "because" of something. When someone sins, we often ask them "why did you do that?" and we do in fact actually expect an answer. If someone says "no reason" (or "I did it without any external cause whatsoever"), we all see that as a lie and push for a real answer. We don't act as though guilty people have a will that is free of all prior causation. This means that no one acts as though they believe that a person's actions must be free of all prior causation in order for them to be responsible for it.
There's always some prior cause for our actions. We are still responsible for them.
We are responsible because we have been commanded, not because our behavior is uncaused. It is the command from our Creator that makes us responsible for obeying Him, not His supposed lack of causal power over our actions.
So, to more directly respond to your question, how do I answer this:
"You will say to me then, 'Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?'"
The argument seems to be:
P1. God causes everything that happens.
P2. God caused me to disobey His commands.
C. Therefore I should not be punished.
Simply, I don't see any coherent way to connect the conclusion to the premises.
If people who disobey God's commands deserve to be punished, and P2 insists that the person disobeyed God's commands, then, if P2 is true, the person deserves to be punished.
Although I suppose that if Divine Casual Determinism is true, then God has determined me to not believe in it so I guess arguing this doctrine is pointless because God has decreed I won't believe in it.
This must be what Dr Craig calls the logistical vertigo that sets in when one believes in determinism.
On Divine Casual Determinism the idea of "free will" isn't a man-made idea, but a GOD-made idea. Remember, man has no free will and therefore cannot invent new ideas at all. In order to make his point free will is required to invent the idea that man has free will.
"Having explained this, God calls on all men everywhere to [turn from that which they can not turn from] And make no mistake, He will hold you personally responsible for all of [those things that you have zero choice in not being] unless you call on Christ for forgiveness [which is by definition impossible for those that need it]
so you divide the world into two groups of people
-those that have have zero choice in being saved
-those that have zero choice in NOT being saved
Would God be just in condemning a person for having green eyes?
this makes sense?
The argument you make is really self refuting.
"can" is the problem in your statement, it contradicts your claim that there is no autonomous free will. To be consistent with your theology you would have to say instead:
"God has never told us that we are autonomously free, but rather He has informed us that we WILL either be enslaved to sin (and free from forgiveness) or else enslaved to Christ (and freed from sin)"
Since God is sinless, He cant be judged.
again, that argument is self refuting..
Lucas creates evil characters in a story, but it's just a story, I dont have to live with Darth Vader in reality. If our existence was actually IN the story, then of course Lucas is the author of that evil and as such condemning it would be condemning himself.
I think your conclusion is inconsistent. I think you've exempted yourself from the category of "created". You aren't "created", "invented", or "the product of someone's imagination", rather, you are "real". So you conclude no one should control you or orchestrate your behavior. No one can be morally justified in causing you to do evil, as Lucas caused the emperor to do evil, because no one created you like Lucas created the emperor.
But someone DID create you.
And He's at least as morally justified (actually moreso, since He is the justification for morality) in causing you to do evil as Lucas is in causing the emperor to do evil.
All evil actions are done by "the created" -- the causal chain never starts with us (Proverbs 16:4).
Reformed theology deeply misunderstands the purpose of the gift of free will. It is not a illusory demand for independence, it is a gift such that the creation can truly love. It isnt an attempt to avoid moral responsibility, it is the basis for righteous judgement.
The proof is this: if you do in fact believe that you and I have no choice, that every action we have, every thought, is the Gods directed action, then you are arguing with God, not with me. Would you argue with a puppet? Clearly irrational, you would argue with the puppeteer.
So, why are you arguing with God?
"the causal chain never starts with us"
God "makes evil" in the sense that He allows it to exist and even uses it for His purposes, not that He is doing evil Himself by direct action.
Throughout the bible God pleads with man to turn and live. Is He just talking to Himself? Isaiah 1:18
"Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?" Ezekiel 18:23
If God directly causes us to sin, then of course He would approve of His own actions, it would be irrational for Him to condemn something He was solely responsible for.
The answer is no, we can not do other than what God knows we are going to do, not because God directs our actions, but because God knows the end from the beginning. Isaiah 46:10
You should read up on Molinism..
1) created humans with autonomous free will
2) did not create humans with autonomous free will, rather He directs the actions of humans, and they have no choice in the matter.
Now, if your interpretation of scripture is that #2 is true, then you have an unreconcilable contradiction with the way you believe you are living your life, with the way you run this blog, with everything you say and everything you do.
Under your view, a person holds to a belief that #1 is true, because God has directed him to hold that view, he has no choice. So, when you argue against a person maintaining that #1 is true, you arent criticizing the person (who has no choice), you are criticizing God.
If you truly believed that #2 is true, everything that occurs in this world is Gods directed action, and is therefor good. Everything that God does is good (1Tim4:4, Rom 8:28, Gen1:38, 1Jn 1:5, etc)
If you truly believed #2 is true, there is no such thing as "disobediance" (a failure to obey) the sinner is doing exactly what God wants him to do, there is no disobediance at all.
If you truly believed #2 is true, there is no such thing as "repentance" (turning), there is only God forcing me to do one thing, then forcing me to do another.
That's the deep contradiction in reformed theology, you're very statements continually demonstrate how it is self refuting.
We are not independent beings (1 Corinthians 8:6). We are created (Genesis 1:27). If you are independent, then the God who demands your allegiance is an usurper.
"We can both agree that it's up to God to create man with or without free will"
No, I can't agree. If "free will" entails human decisions not caused by God in any sense whatsoever, then God cannot cause such a scenario -- He cannot cause something that isn't caused by Him. He is consistent and cannot deny Himself (Exodus 3:14; 2 Timothy 2:13). God's inability to be contradictory is an essential part of the only possible justification for rational thought:
"free will... is a gift such that the creation can truly love" and "is the basis for righteous judgement"
Human free will does not exist, so your assertion is incorrect. Please explain to me why you believe God not causing our decisions in any sense is necessary for humans to truly love, or for righteous judgment. It would be wonderful if you could do so using scripture.
"...then you are arguing with God, not with me... So, why are you arguing with God?"
I don't understand your conclusion. If a puppeteer causes one puppet to argue with another puppet, you really believe the first puppet is arguing with the puppeteer? I disagree, and I think you do too. When Vader told Luke "I am your father", was he speaking to George Lucas?
I also don't see the relevance of Ezekiel 18:23 to this discussion. My claim is that God ultimately causes everything apart from Himself, including every human decision, as He Himself asserts in scripture (Ephesians 1:11; John 1:3; Colossians 1:17; Ecclesiastes 11:5; Acts 17:24; Romans 11:36; Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 44:6, 44:24, 45:5, 46:9; James 4:15; Proverbs 21:1; Acts 4:27-28; 1 Samuel 2:25; Romans 9:17-24; Revelation 17:17). Ezekiel 18:23 says that God takes no pleasure in the death of a wicked man, but that He does take pleasure in a wicked man's repentance. How, from your perspective, is that in conflict with my assertion that He causes both?
"everything that God does is good"
Absolutely. It is impossible for God to disobey His own commands for Himself, therefore, it is impossible for Him to ever commit an immoral action. But when He causes us to disobey His commands, He is causing us to commit immoral actions. Since He has never commanded Himself not to cause this, He is not doing anything wrong. Since He has commanded us not to disobey His commands, when He causes us to disobey His commands, we are doing something wrong.
Also, George Lucas is not a murderer simply because he created an emperor who is. Do you think that Lucas is evil for creating the emperor? Is Twain evil for creating Injun Joe? Etc? Your argument seems to necessitate that every creator of an evil individual is himself evil. But I doubt you think that about any creator other than your own. Why the apparent special pleading?
"If you truly believed #2 is true, there is no such thing as "disobedience" (a failure to obey) the sinner is doing exactly what God wants him to do, there is no disobedience at all."
This is incorrect. Commands and causes are not identical. You agree that God commands us to do many things that He does not cause us to do, so you agree that the two concepts are not the same. Sinful disobedience is disobedience to God's commands. It is not sinful -- it is not possible -- to "disobey" what God causes to happen. When we merge these two concepts, we wind up inventing contradictions to explain the problems away, contradictions like claiming that God caused me to have an uncaused will.
"If you truly believed #2 is true, there is no such thing as "repentance" (turning), there is only God forcing me to do one thing, then forcing me to do another."
If God causes you to do something, and then He "turns" you from it (Proverbs 21:1; 2 Timothy 2:25), how is there no "turning"? I'm not seeing this supposed contradiction. It seems to me to be more of a tautology rather than a contradiction.
What in your mind is the uncaused first cause of our repentance, if not God (2 Timothy 2:25)?
In sum, as I said initially in this series of comments, if "free will" entails human decisions not caused by God in any sense whatsoever, then God cannot cause such a scenario -- He cannot cause something that isn't caused by Him.
==>you are claiming that God is not omnipotent? Of course God could create mankind with free will if He wanted, the question is not whether he COULD, but whether he DID.
"God takes no pleasure in the death of a wicked man, but that He does take pleasure in a wicked man's repentance. How, from your perspective, is that in conflict with my assertion that He causes both?"
==> why would God take no pleasure in something that He was 100% causally responsible for? Is not everything God does perfect? Why would He then not take pleasure in the death of a wicked man?
"You agree that God commands us to do many things that He does not cause us to do"
==>I DEFINATELY believe that to be true, you however do NOT believe that to be true.
You believe that God causes the wicked to be wicked, and the good to be good. You believe that God causes EVERYTHING, including man acting contrary to His commands.
==>there is an act of "being turned" but there is no turning in the biblical sense, where God urges man to turn.
God initiates, we can respond. Without God reaching out there can be no response.
If I program a robot to kill my neighbor, then take him out on the front lawn and power it up, saying to it "now, look robot, dont you kill my neighbor!", and off the robot goes and kills my neighbor (note: it wasnt a voice recognition robot, it didnt get its programming via voice commands, the robot merely responded to my previous computer programmed instructions).
Am I innocent of that crime?
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (KJV)
So God does that which is either does not "wish" or "will"? God wants all to come to repentance but will only select a few? He does what He doesn't want?
Want proof? For what reason did God give so many instructions to people in the Bible? For whose benefit was that? Seriously, how do you reconcile that?
He told Noah how to build the Ark, told Mary what to name her baby, told Abraham to sacrifice his son, told Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, etc etc etc. The list goes on and on. And pray tell, what was the story of Gideon for? God caused Gideon to doubt, then God caused Gideon to see seek reassurance, then God caused Gideon to doubt, then God caused Gideon to see seek reassurance, then God caused Gideon to doubt, then God caused Gideon to see seek reassurance.... Was God bored? Did He need to be amused?
Finally, are you really comfortable with God being both the creator and cause of all evil, pain and suffering? Do really worship that God?
"You have been given several very good and irrefutable examples and reasons why you are wrong"
Which ones? I must have missed them.
"He has [no honor] if you are right"
"Maybe you haven't read 2 Peter 3:9?"
I have. I would recommend reading the whole book though, and in one sitting, not just that one verse by itself, since it is so commonly taken out of context.
So how do you understand this passage? Do you take it to mean that God does not want to destroy any ungodly men, and therefore, He will destroy them later? If so, how, in your mind, does the cause (God not wanting to destroy them at all) yield the result (God destroying them later instead of now)? Do you think that God not wanting to destroy any of them at all logically leads to changing dates? Do you think that God not wanting to destroy any of them at all logically leads to Him doing so anyway?
That "understanding" of the passage seems very confusing to me.
Here's my understanding of it:
God is patient toward the group of people that He does not want to perish, namely, "us-ward" (KJV) or "you" (NASB), depending on the manuscript family. Either way, it is limited to either the intended recipients of his letter, or the intended recipients of his letter plus himself. Who are intended recipients of his letter? He tells us that he is writing to "those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:1), so every intended recipient is elect. Peter is thus stating that God is patient toward the elect (or some of the elect, but there is at least no indication from this particular passage that any of the reprobate receive God's patience), and if the elect are those to whom He is patient toward, then it is the elect that He does not want any of to perish. None of the elect will perish, so God definitely gets what He "wants" in this case.
Were God to judge the world before all of the elect had received Christ, then He would be obligated by His own decrees (John 3:18, 14:6) to condemn those elect along with the reprobate. Instead, He shows His patience to the elect who have not yet accepted Christ, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. Then He will destroy the reprobate.
In my understanding, the cause (God not wanting the elect to perish) justifies the result (God waiting to destroy those who reject Christ until the elect have all accepted Him).
That explains this particular passage for you, but it is important to remember that when we speak of God "wanting" something, or of "God's will", we need to keep in mind that we are not using precise terms. It is entirely possible for someone to "want" something in one sense that they do not "want" in a completely different sense.
For example, what God "wants" may refer to what He commands us to do, or it may refer to what He causes to be done. Yet we would both agree that these two sets of things, causes and commands, are not identical sets.
Also, it is perfectly reasonable to speak of something that is "wanted" somehow "more" than something else that is also "wanted".
For example, in your view, God "wants" everyone to go to heaven. However, He also "wants" everyone to have free will. He knows that if He gives people free will, they will not all go to heaven. Since He wants people to have free will more than He wants them to go to heaven, He opts for the one rather than the other, thereby not getting what He "wants" because instead He got what He "wants".
"For what reason did God give so many instructions to people in the Bible?"
Generally speaking, so that they would understand what it was that He has commanded them to do.
"For whose benefit was that?"
Each instance may have been for any number of individuals' benefit, but why do you think it would have to be for anyone's benefit at all?
"Seriously, how do you reconcile that?"
I'm sorry -- what is it that you want me to reconcile?
"what was the story of Gideon for?"
Ultimately, it was for God's glory. Why do you ask?
"Was God bored? Did He need to be amused?"
I'm not sure how you came up with that.
"Finally, are you really comfortable with God being both the creator and cause of all evil, pain and suffering? Do really worship that God?"
I worship the God who created me. He's revealed Himself to me, in part, through the Bible. I try to have as Biblical a view of God as I possibly can.
The Bible tells us that God caused the children of Eli to disobey him (1 Samuel 2:25). God caused David to take the census (2 Samuel 24:1) that God then punished him for taking (2 Samuel 24:15). God caused the murder of His own Son (Acts 4:27-28; Isaiah 53:10). In the book of Revelation, God causes kings to give their kingdoms to the beast (Revelation 17:17). Etc.
This is who God is according to the Bible.
The Bible never mentions free will.
Isaiah 1:18 Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow
God created humans with the ability to reason and choose, that's the definition of free will (and precisely what Isaiah 1:18 is all about). Just because God created humans with that "freedom", doesn't mean free will doesn't exist.
The natural universe operates in an orderly fashion because it was created in that manner, humans/animals are not rocks, or plants however (behaving in a purely deterministic manner), they were created with the ability to choose (free will).
here's proof: would you say to a plant "come, let us reason together"?
No one disputes that humans reason and choose. The question is whether or not God causes us to reason and choose. A free will advocate says no. I say yes. I would not usually say to a plant "come, let us reason together," because generally God does not cause plants to reason or choose.
However, a free will advocate would say that, just like plants, God also does not cause us to reason or choose.
I don't think you agree with your own conclusion. I certainly don't, and it definitely doesn't follow from the premises.
If God causes us to reason and choose, then there is nothing else other than Gods reasoning and choosing in existence!
In that view, ALL of the reasoning and choosing that occurs is God.
Therefor, in that view, God is causing you to reason and choose with God causing me to reason and choose.
Your view has God reasoning with God, which directly contradicts scripture.
What do you mean by "real" and "story"? If "real" means "nobody thought it up," then we aren't real, since God thought us up. Only God would be "real" by this definition. If by "story", you mean "narrative that someone made up", then the book of Mark, a narrative that God made up, can properly be called "the greatest story ever told", as it often has been.
Throwing undefined labels at things doesn't tend to provide clarity.
"If God causes us to reason and choose, then there is nothing else other than Gods reasoning and choosing in existence!"
If God causes us to exist, then we exist. That's the only way we can exist. If God causes us to reason and choose, then we reason and choose. You seem to think that if God causes us to reason and choose, then we don't reason and choose. But that is clearly a self-refuting assertion, and therefore false.
Friend, you are making unjustified assertions (like the one quoted above) that there is no reason for me to agree to. Indeed, if I agreed with you, I would be agreeing (as I have already repeatedly explained to you) that God has caused the uncaused. And if the caused is uncaused, or the uncaused caused, then "reason" itself is meaningless. No reason would exist at all if God caused to exist in us ("God gave us") uncaused preferences, inclinations, and desires ("free will").
"Your view has God reasoning with God"
My view has God causing me to reason with you. That is not the same concept as God reasoning with God, no matter how many times you say it is. However, even if it were, so what?
"...which directly contradicts scripture"
How would it contradict scripture? If, according to your version of my view, me-reasoning-with-God is exactly the same as God-reasoning-with-God, then if God says that I reason with Him, this is apparently identical to God reasoning with Himself, since you say those are the same thing in my view. I believe this means that your version of my view appears identical to the claims of scripture as far as you are concerned.
"Are all our thoughts and actions controlled by God?"
Yes, of course (Philippians 2:13; Proverbs 21:1; Romans 11:36; James 4:15; Ephesians 1:11; Isaiah 44:24; Deuteronomy 32:39; Daniel 2:30; Romans 11:32). I've said this over and over and over and over, so I don't see how saying it again clarifies anything about my position.
"Are we programmed robots?"
No. God controls us completely, which is far more control than humans have over robots.
In conclusion, I would ask you, Chad, yet again, if God is not the uncaused first cause of our choices, then what (or who) is?
Lets say that a single person (George) constructed two robots, entered both in the competition, controlled both during the competition, and had them fight each other?
What would your reaction be to George gleefully declaring victory? Kind of silly, right? Of course George is going to win, he has to since he is in complete control of both sides. He is guaranteed to win.
Of course, he is guaranteed to loose as well.
my grammar, sigh.
How absurd would robot anti-George's behavior be!
Perhaps that's why God laughs at those that He causes to take a stand against Him (Psalm 2:2-4). He is causing them to behave in quite an absurd manner -- the whole situation of those opposed to God is absolutely ludicrous!
God is definitely guaranteed to win, as was George.
But no one would say that George lost simply because he caused anti-George to lose.
The anti-george robot is just a piece of machinery doing what George tells it to do. I can tell you for a fact that if you actually observed the situation you are describing, you would NOT think to yourself "what odd behavior that robot is exhibiting", you would think that George had lost his mind.
Jeff Dunham is a famous ventriloquist, what would you think if he caused one of his puppets to "say" something racist, then when he was criticized for it he responded by saying "well, the puppet did it!". You would think he was crazy.
What would your reaction be to a person playing chess with himself and gleefully running around when "one side won". You would think he was crazy.
Quite the contrary. If robot George were insulting programmer George, I, along with most people, would find robot George's absurdity quite amusing. Take a look at this video where Jeff Dunham causes his dummy Walter to insult him.
Or here where the dummy insults the entire audience because they cheered for an athletic team that Jeff likes:
What does the audience do? Do they think Jeff is crazy? Nope. They laugh at Walter's antics, because his behavior is absurd. Walter (the dummy) is annoying. No one likes him for any reason other than to laugh at what a jerk he is. Jeff Dunham, however, is not annoying. I bet he has lots of friends.
Jeff and Walter are not identical. Disliking one is not disliking the other, and they cannot be said to share opinions.
that's just the thing though, robot George isnt "doing" anything.
George is insulting George.
There's only one free will in operation here, George. There's only one individual with a directed will. Of course George is insulting George, there's no other free will in operation.
you deftly avoided the Dunham question I posed :-)
Here it is again:
Jeff Dunham is a famous ventriloquist, what would you think if he caused one of his puppets to "say" something racist, then when he was criticized for it he responded by saying "well, the puppet did it!". You would think he was crazy.
Do I "create" something with it's own opinion merely by draping a dish towel over my hand and speaking to it (and using a funny voice and pretending it's speaking to me)?
You dont really think that Walter has a will, do you? You do realize that "Walter" is just Dunham talking with a different voice. Right?
Not at all. I understood your intent to be to prove to me that (1) the claims of every created being are actually the claims of the creator; (2) anyone who acts like the created is somehow distinct from its creator is crazy.
The Bible explicitly disagrees with both of these claims. The example of the robots demonstrates (though only by analogy) the inaccuracies of these claims. The example of the mannequins also (again by analogy) demonstrates the inaccuracies of these claims.
To answer your question about racist remarks from a dummy seemed unnecessary, since it would serve no purpose in the discussion as far as I could tell. But here is my answer: it depends. If the dummy and the ventriloquist were both insulting Caucasians continuously, I would probably find it offensive. On the other hand, if the ventriloquist had two dummies, one a white dummy who promoted black power, and the other a black dummy who promoted white power, and the ventriloquist (to no avail) attempted to convince the dummies that their perspectives were both wrong, I would probably find it hilarious.
"Do I 'create' something with it's own opinion merely by draping a dish towel over my hand and speaking to it? You don't really think that Walter has a will, do you? You do realize that 'Walter' is just Dunham talking with a different voice. Right?"
You do realize that you are just a lump of clay, animated entirely by your own Creator, right? (Isaiah 10:15; 45:9, 29:16, 64:8; Jeremiah 18:6; Romans 9:21)
Please answer this Y/N: "If I build a remote control robot and then using my remote controls steer it next door and kill my neighbor, can I claim that I am innocent because "I didn't do it, the robot did"?"
Nope. Assuming you were not provoked, you knew what you were doing, your actions were intentional, you did not represent the government under newfangled execution laws, and God Himself didn't tell you to do it (and whatever other legitimate exceptions we can come up with), you are a murderer.
I assume your point is supposed to be that God cannot get out of being a murderer if He controls our actions and we murder. However, believe it or not, the analogy you provided is far closer to proving God a murderer in your view than it is in mine because in the analogy, the dead man is neither created by nor controlled by the creator of the robot.
An analogy that would fit my view would involve one robot destroying another robot, both created and controlled by the same programmer; or a sock puppet de-threading another sock puppet, both created by the same puppeteer; or a mannequin ripping the head off of another mannequin, both owned by and under the control of the same ventriloquist; or a fictional character murdering another fictional character, both under the control of the same author.
No one condemns a creator for altering, destroying, or revamping his own personal creation. The Bible, referring (exactly as I am) to God's relationship to man, makes this point explicitly (Romans 9:21-24).
In your view, however, our choices do not belong to God's creation. They belong to the creation of another uncaused-first-cause -- a different god. In your view, there are at least two different creations (maybe more), and Yahweh, the Creator of only one of them, has declared that things He didn't create ought to obey Him anyway on penalty of eternal torture. In your view, Yahweh seems to be a brutal usurper, not unlike the murderer in your analogy, destroying those that he did not create.
You're working very hard to defend a meaningless, contradictory concept that is never mentioned in scripture but rather overtly opposed by scripture repeatedly. Step back and ask yourself a few questions:
1. If God is not the uncaused-first-cause of my choices, who, or what, is?
2. Where did I personally get the idea that God did not cause my choices? Was it from the Bible? If so, where in the Bible? Or was it from pastors, preachers, friends and philosophers?
3. If my choices are not part of God's creation, did the thing that created my choices voluntarily give Yahweh the moral authority to righteously judge them? If not, by what mechanism does Yahweh obtain moral authority (or any authority) over something He did not create? Is there a greater god that has given Yahweh this authority over something that isn't His?
4. Why, when Paul poses the hypothetical antagonistic question in Romans 9:19, does he not answer it with an appeal to free will, but instead defends the very premise being attacked, that God Himself causes our wicked deeds?
5. Why does the God of the Bible repeatedly claim to cause people to disobey Him (Revelation 17:17; 1 Samuel 2:25; 2 Samuel 24:1; Acts 4:27-28; Lamentations 2:6; Deuteronomy 2:30; Jeremiah 13:13-14; Proverbs 16:4)?
I would very strongly recommend that you seriously ponder these questions and that we continue our conversation only after you feel you have thoroughly answered all of them, and are willing to share your insights here.
Tim: "Nope.... you are a murderer."
so you're agreeing that the controlling entity is solely responsible for the actions of the entity being controlled.
- You acknowledge that your view has God responsible for the death, what you claim is that the death is not murder )"No one condemns a creator for altering, destroying, or revamping his own personal creation ")
- I don't see man as a controlled robot, so when man kills man, the man is responsible for the death, not God.
I don't understand why or how you think of man's free will as "another god".
Does Jesus have free will? Does satan? Do the angels?
This is all tied to your view that God cant be sovereign unless He is directly controlling every action of every thing. Everything is just a remote controlled robot.
Only God can remedy.
If God doesnt remedy it for a particular person, rather He allows that person to continue on in estrangement, then He could be said to "cause" it, in a sense.
At the core of the disagreement is the difference between:
1) grabbing two people and smashing their heads together
2) not stopping two people when you see them running at each other, the result of which is their heads smash together.
my view is #2, by not stopping the two people, God "causes" the collision.
your view is #1, God smashes two robots together (you don't see "people", you see remote controlled robots).
2. The entire Bible says this. Why would God be mad at something he ordained? Does he like it when people spit in his face.
3. How could God judge someone's actions if he had complete control of them? That would be God judging himself,
4. It means that God chooses people for different things, not that he controls every action they take.
5. None of those passages definitively say God made people disobey him.
"Is it possible for us to do OTHER THAN that which God knows we are going to do?"
The problem in this question is that it seems to presuppose that Craig's arguments assume a "Yes" for an answer to your question, when actually it is not the case. Libertarian free will does not entail a threat against God's foreknowledge, since any decision to be made by individuals are known already by God, prior to the existence of this individuals. Divine foreknowledge does not require actual existence of circumstances or decisions, it actually entails a chronologically prior knowledge. The fact that individuals are not able to do otherwise than what God knows, doesn't mean at all that therefore divine determinism is true.
So before the foundation of the world God lined up preexistent souls in His mind, and having a number He determined, step forward.
"You are my elect and there is nothing you can do about it." I love you and your reward will be mansions in Heaven I have prepared for you.
"Now you in the back row simply because I chose not to have you step forward, you will go to everlasting punishment to prove to myself that I am sovereign. Oh, by the way, I love you, too.
Would you call this "love?" And how about a word like "justice?"
Throughout the old and new Testaments we see examples of both Godly love and justice. Perhaps they are just illusions just as my will in writing this is one.(?)
All of the Old and New Testaments presuppose free will.
Excuse me now while I go make a sock puppet I can be sovereign over.
(1)What bible are you using and of what date?
(2)Why is the version of the bible you are using the correct one?
(3)What do you mean when saying scripture is God inspired? I suppose you mean that scripture is without error, but since it is up to us humans to decide what the real meaning is,why is there so little agreement among among humans as to the meanings. OK, you you have studied your favorite version of scripture and concluded that you have the final answers, but don't those who disagree with you think the same thing?
(4)Why are there numerous flat contradictions among books of scripture as well as intra-book contradictions? Of course you will say that these are not really contradictions once you understand how it all fits together.
The same case can actually be made quite easily without appealing to the Bible in the slightest. We know that God exists because there can be no other rational explanation for rational thought about the entire universe, as I explain here:
Since this necessarily entails His creation of all things other than Himself, and His complete knowledge of all things period, it therefore follows that all that has ever happened has happened as a result, an intentional result no less, of His deliberate and willful initiation. Humans would not sin if God did not create them. God knew if He created them, they would definitely sin. So He created them. Therefore we sin. He is clearly the only uncaused First Cause of all things that occur, including human sin.
The fact that every version of the Bible I've looked into agrees wholeheartedly demonstrates the reliability of Christian scripture.
Only in the mind of a theist would that make any sense whatsoever.
Looking at your argument...
1. So god causes humans to sin
2. ergo they bear no responsibility for it...
Not only does (2) not follow from (1), it actually follows necessarily from not-(1). The only way (2) could possibly be true is if (1) is false, and then (2) is necessarily the case.
The only way humans can be responsible for sin is if they commit it. The only way they can commit it is if whatever caused them to exist in their present state caused their present state to be one of committing sin. The only way sin can be sin is if there is a God who created them in their present state who also provides transcendent moral rules that are being violated.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to reiterate the rational necessity of divine determinism.
No, the responsibility lies with the "programmer".
A different but still appropriate analogy would be a model train running on a track. If I put the train on the track and press a button to make it go so fast that it goes off the rails at a bend, would it be fair and just to hold the train "responsible" for the derailment? Would it be fair and just to "punish" the train for this?
No. The train didn't put itself on the track, nor did it make itself go faster.
Ergo it is unjust of your god to punish humans for anything they do, since they have done nothing of their own free will to deserve it.
There is no context in which trains make intentional choices or obey (or disobey) moral codes, so your analogy fails. However, even though your analogy is really not analogous, I can still use it to make my point. After all, even a train that derails and crashes because of its creator may get thrown into the dumpster -- or the furnace -- if it no longer functioned.
Or would you call that "unjust" as well? "Punishing" the train by throwing it in the dumpster because its creator made it do something bad? What an unjust creator!
A more accurate analogy would be George Lucas' creation of the Emperor. We cheer when the Emperor is held accountable for his actions by Vader, even though Lucas caused the whole thing. We recognize the Emperor as evil, even though Lucas is responsible for everything the Emperor did. The Emperor, in the context of the Star Wars narrative, actually makes choices. He has a moral code he ought to obey, and he chooses not to.
And George Lucas caused it all.
Was it evil for Lucas to punish the Emperor by means of Vader, since the Emperor was just doing what Lucas made him do? Do you think Lucas is unjust for punishing the Emperor who has no free will? Why don't you push to have evil George Lucas arrested? You seem to think that only in the crazed mind of a theist does it make sense to let psychotic George Lucas run free, or, even worse, to pay him to make more movies inflicting horrific suffering on all of his creation -- none of whom have free will!
So in your view there is no sense in which the emperor was evil or in disobedience to a moral code? There is no sense in which Vader chose to get rid of his master? Since they don't have free will?
I suspect there will be some who disagree with you. Like... everyone on earth.
But believe what you like.
At least, no one who has yet to complete kindergarten.
I really have no idea why you waste your time posting your juvenile sophistry on this website. But at least you give me ample opportunity to demonstrate that foes of Christ are fools.
God bless, Mr. Sophist. I hope the Lord renews your mind.
In the 1st argument you claim that "if the scriptures affirmed "indeterminacy", they would not affirm that God is all-knowing (and they do, see my introduction above), for the two are necessarily negations of each other." You are making a fallacious connection between Divine Omniscience and determinism. God's foreknowledge does NOT negate the ability of an agent to act freely. You can sort of grasp this when you realize that God's foreknowledge includes His future actions. God knowing how He will act in the future does not mean that He is unable to act freely. Omniscience does nothing to negate indeterminacy.
Also you shrug off the issue of what it means to be an agent or an instrument. You need to spend more time on what the meanings of these words are. Forget the dictionary. Use the words the way philosophers mean them.
If God is not the uncaused first cause of my actions, then who or what is?
If God is not the uncaused first cause of my actions, then who or what is?"
Obviously it's The Force.
God seems to have permitted us, as image bearers to cause our own actions. I affirm that in our fallen state our souls are in bondage to sin, and we need the Holy Spirit to enliven us to be able to respond to the gospel.
I doubt that causally determined automatons who cannot choose are in any way Image Bearers of God. And I doubt that the love, faith and obedience of causally determined automatons is in any way meaningful to God.
God is therefore the unmoved cause of your existence, but you are the cause of your actions. You are not an unmoved cause, but I do affirm that you have true libertarian freedom (ie not compatiblism)
If neither God nor the human is the uncaused first cause of the human's actions, then who or what is?
Peter freely denied Jesus 3 times on the night that Jesus was arrested. Peter is the cause of his own actions.
Jesus foreknew that Peter would freely deny him 3 times. God placed Peter in these circumstances and 'directed his footsteps' but Peter is responsible for his actions. He never gets to say that God made him do it. Peter seems to realize this. Jesus seems to treat Peter as being the responsible party.
I can affirm the orthodox view that God is the first cause, but rest comfortably in the fact that scripture affirms human agency.
I can see you attempting to get me to make your grounding objection for you. It is an objection I take seriously. I am thinking about it. But I sense that you think to affirm God as the first cause of everything is to affirm Divine Causal Determinism. I simply do not see why this should be the case. Why would God be unable to bring into existence creatures with libertarian freedom?
Please correct any misunderstanding I exhibit regarding your views. Let's look at a summary sentence of what you I believe are asserting.
"God gave us free will".
"Free" in this sentence seems to mean "not caused by God". If it does not mean that, then I am unsure how the assertion is relevant to our discussion at all. So I will take it as established that "free" means (at least) "not caused by God".
"Gave us" in this sentence seems to mean "caused to exist within us". This is where I expect an objection, if you offer one at all, though I cannot imagine what it could possibly be.
So it seems to me that the assertion being made is that "God caused to exist within me a will that is not caused by God," or, more succinctly, "God caused the uncaused".
This claim seems to me to be far more than something difficult to understand or difficult to reconcile. It seems to me to be a true logical contradiction and thus an utterly meaningless statement. To assert it, in my mind, is to assert nothing at all.
Have I represented your view accurately? Do you agree that it seems contradictory to you as well? If so, I would be happy to respond to each and every one of your objections against my view. If not, I would prefer to focus on why you do not find your own view to be contradictory in light of my analysis.
You seem to equate causation with determinism. I am close to ready to affirm the statement you are making.
'God caused to exist within me a will that is not caused by God.' I agree this is an obvious contradiction. I cannot affirm it.
However I would readily affirm the statement 'God caused to exist within me a will that is not determined by God.' I believe in Divine Causation and Indeterminism. This is what Ken Keathley calls 'Divine Permission' God by his creative edict permits things other than himself to exist. God permits His image bearers freedom to make moral choices, and He holds them accountable for these choices. Our freedom is a derived freedom, that is to say we are not autonomous. There are limits to what we can do. Some of those limits are based on God's original plan, others are a result of the fall, and our bondage to sin.
It seems like our primary point of contention is equating causation with determinism.
Your use of the word "permit" confuses me. I understand the word "permit" to be entirely passive. If or when God "permits", it seems to me that something He did not cause has the active role. God does not cause the things that He permits, but neither does He stop them from happening. To "permit", in my mind, is specifically to not cause; and also to not prevent. But this would necessitate an alternate uncaused first cause -- something that God did not cause to exist and also does not stop from doing specific things.
Are you using the word "permit" in this way? If not, what do you mean when you use it?
I could see an alternate usage of "permit" that is perhaps more anthropomorphic, making God a spectator in a sense, such that God acts only as the uncaused first cause, at the beginning of every chain, and that, while He knew what would happen down the causal chain, and truly intended all the outcomes in a transcendent way, He nonetheless is not generally inside the causal chain as the more immediate cause, but merely observes things unfold.
This would be a more deistic view than I hold, but I could perhaps see the word "permit" to be usable with respect to God's view of the immediate or near-cause, since, in that framework, it would not be God that immediately causes it. God would "permit", one could perhaps say, the near-cause to produce the result... having ultimately caused it all to happen in a transcendent sense, but not immediately causing any of it, and only being a spectator watching the things He had originally set up unfold exactly as He intended without His further intervention.
Is this more what you mean by "permit"?
In this scenario, I would still apply a label of "determinism", since there is a true sense in which God has caused everything that has ever happened, intending the exact results as they have occurred, and nothing else could have occurred except that which God intended and knew would occur. His lack of immediate involvement does not seem to be relevant to the label of "determinism" in my mind.
Or did you mean something else entirely?
I'm not sure that permission has to be passive. God existed as a triune being alone prior to the creation of time and space. He exists a se, without need of anything. He could have continued in this manner eternally. However, He chose to create the material universe. He actively moved and in so doing He permitted things other than Himself to exist.
I believe He has also permitted some of these created things other than himself to make moral choices, this seems to be limited to humans and angels. This is why the Lord taught his disciples to pray that God's will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. If determinism were true, it would not in any way be meaningful to ask God to manifest His will on earth in the same manner He governs in heaven.
But I like the last 3 sections of your comment. I think that more accurately reflects what I believe is a useful way to reconcile divine sovereignty and human responsibility without doing damage to either doctrine.
God still gets control over everything that happens. But I think this step is an important one. People make real choices that have a real impact for good or evil, right or wrong. But God in His perfect foreknowledge and infinite goodness pre-engineers the moral landscape to achieve His redemptive priorities. We do not fully know what His redemptive priorities are. We know what man intends for evil, God can use for good. (Gen 50.20) I would also, again, caution against the statement 'nothing else could have occurred except that which God intended and knew would occur.' Here you have your pre-supposition that foreknowledge necessitates determinism. Contra-determinism I would say that other things could have occurred, and if alternative possibilities were actualized, then God's foreknowledge would have been different. What you are actually describing here is a form of fatalism.
"If determinism were true, it would not in any way be meaningful to ask God to manifest His will on earth in the same manner He governs in heaven."
I disagree, but again, simply due to time and space constraints, I'd like to address the coherence of your position before addressing the coherence of my own, if that's ok.
"I would also, again, caution against the statement 'nothing else could have occurred except that which God intended and knew would occur.' Here you have your pre-supposition that foreknowledge necessitates determinism. Contra-determinism I would say that other things could have occurred, and if alternative possibilities were actualized, then God's foreknowledge would have been different."
I'm afraid I don't understand your meaning. If "other things could have occurred", who or what would have been their uncaused first cause? God? If God, then my statement that you seem to disagree with stands as-written as far as I can tell, and I don't follow why you caution against it, since it is accurate. If not-God, this seems to conflict with your claim that "God is the only unmoved mover. Period."
So... what is the uncaused first cause of these "other things" that "could have occurred", things other than what God, the only uncaused first cause, intended to occur? Does God not exhaustively know the results of His own actions in your mind? If He does, and He is the only uncaused first cause, I don't see how anything else could have occurred except that which God intended and knew would occur.
On Libertarian Free Will (LFW) God is still the only unmoved mover. But He has moved creatures to be truly free. That is to say given a choice they can choose between P and Not-P without God deterministically causing them to make the choice. God is still the uncaused first cause, but He is not the only subsequent cause for all events that occur. There are other causal agents.
So yes....there is something that is 'not God' that is acting, but this does nothing to indicate that these causal agents are additional unmoved movers' No, they owe their existence and free will to the God who created them.
What you are arguing is that If God is the only uncaused first cause then He cannot create agents with Free Will.
I am asking why this is so. Why can God not bring into existence a creature who can freely choose between P and Not-P? They are still 'moved' into existence by God, but their free actions are 'moved' by the agents. No conflict really.
If God foreknows Peter will deny Jesus 3 times, then Peter will deny Jesus 3 times.
It does not mean Peter could not have acted otherwise. If he were to act otherwise, then the content of God's foreknowledge would have been different.
Foreknowledge alone does not provide us enough information to say what a person could or could not do.
It may be true that Peter could not have acted otherwise, but we cannot derive that position based on the content of Divine Foreknowledge alone.
I don't understand what this means in your mind. If God doesn't "deterministically" cause the choice, does He cause the choice? If not, what is the uncaused first cause of their choice? And if so, how is it not in fact "deterministic"?
I may be misinterpreting you, but it seems like you are loathe to use the word "deterministic" even though it seems to apply to your views perfectly, if you hold that God is "the only unmoved mover". You also seem insistent on using the word "free", particularly in opposition to the word "deterministic", yet "free" seems to have the meaning in your mind of God ultimately causing their decisions deterministically, because there is absolutely no other uncaused first cause out there.
So while you are free (no pun intended) to use those words in whatever way you like, I honestly don't understand what they mean in your mind, prohibiting successful communication between us.
Saying someone is "free" such that their choices are not "determined" by God seems to mean that God didn't intentionally cause them to make that choice. If it does not mean that, then I really don't understand what that statement means. How are these choices not "determined" by God if God intentionally caused them?
And, on the other hand, if it does mean "God didn't intentionally cause them to make that choice", then, again, what is the uncaused first cause of their choices? Or did God, in your view, accidentally cause the decisions of humans, not understanding what He was actually doing, such that our choices were not intentional on His part (ie. Genesis 6:6)? Since you seem to hold to divine foreknowledge, I can't imagine you accept this position.
Either God is the uncaused first cause of a given human decision, or something else is, right? If God, then divine determinism (intentional or accidental). If not-God, then... who or what is the uncaused first cause? Positing "free will" or "libertarian freedom" seems to ignore the question entirely, since the concept of "libertarian freedom" is left completely undefined in the relevant aspects of the discussion. To define it such that it matters for the discussion, one must explain whether, in "libertarian freedom", God is the uncaused first cause of a "free" choice, such that it can only turn out how God caused it to turn out, or whether, in "libertarian freedom", God is NOT the uncaused first cause of a "free" choice, and then, if not-God, what is that uncaused first cause? Positing "libertarian freedom" without explaining what ultimately causes human choices is, from my perspective, to posit something completely meaningless in order to "explain" something.
I should note that no matter what the uncaused first cause is, it is something other than us, making our specific choices and decisions unavoidable. The only alternatives to this are if humans are eternal and self-existent, or if humans popped into existence uncaused.
On divine foreknowledge, again, I completely disagree with you. But I would prefer to focus on your position first (due to time and space constraints) and defend my own only after we establish that yours is a true contradiction (assuming we can establish that, and I do honestly think we can).
I want to preface by saying this has been helpful to me. I appreciate your sincerity, and your ability to disagree without resorting to ad hominem. It's truly rare, but it is something Christians ought to be able to do. I think it's great that we can feel strongly that the other person may be making an illogical or incoherent claim, without impugning anyone's character or love for the Lord.
Perhaps I am misunderstanding your uncaused first cause. I took it to be analagous of God being what Aristotle referred to as the unmoved mover. That is in the chain of causes that brought everything into existence there has to be one being that is uncaused. Naturalists take this to be the material universe, whereas theists believe this to be God. While I believe that God is the first causal agent, I think that I am the cause of my choices. My reluctance to use your terminology is because I myself am not uncaused.
When you began talking about a chain of causes I was more in sync.
"I don't understand what this means in your mind. If God doesn't "deterministically" cause the choice, does He cause the choice? If not, what is the uncaused first cause of their choice? And if so, how is it not in fact "deterministic"?"
Here is what I am asserting. God does not cause you to do P or Not-P. You cause yourself to do either P or Not-P. But God still causes you to exist, so I would not posit you as an 'uncaused agent' You owe your existence to God, and by means of His creative act, and with foreknowledge of how you would use your freedom to act with regard to proposition P, He is still part of the causal chain. But you are morally responsible for your choice. My reluctance to call anything other than God the uncaused first cause is because I do not think the term can apply to anything created. I am unsure why the term is of such importance to you.
Let's make choice P a morally significant choice.
Billy breaks his sister's toy. His mom asks him if he broke it. Billy can either do (P) tell the truth, or (Not-P) not tell the truth. Billy has complete freedom to do either P or Not-P. God permits Billy to choose, but will impose justice based on Billy's choice. Let's say he chooses Not-P. God knew Billy would choose Not-P, and yet God chose to create the world in which Billy would be placed in this circumstance, and would make a morally wrong choice. In this sense, yes God caused these events to come about, but He causes them in a weak sense. Billy is the responsible party because he could have chosen P. He was not coerced into his decision by God. God knowingly created the circumstances that would lead to Billy's sin, but God did not cause Billy to sin. This is helpful because God is not the author of sin, and is not the cause of evil and suffering that exists in the world today
I have very much appreciated your half of the conversation as well, for much the same reasons. It may be that we are actually expressing the same ideas, but with different terminology and focusing on different aspects of the concept.
"I am unsure why the term is of such importance to you."
Particularly in the context of this article dealing with William Lane Craig (whom I totally respect BTW, and am very thankful for), it has huge relevance in my mind. Dr. Craig is well known for his use of the cosmological argument, which deals intimately with the concept of uncaused first causes. Since the universe began to exist, it has a cause. Our choices begin to exist as well. What is their cause? Whatever it is, if not God, it also began to exist. What was its cause? And its cause? And its cause? At the end of the causal chain is God, the cause of it all.
The alternatives are an infinite regress of causes, which Dr. Craig explicitly rejects; or things popping into existence uncaused, which Dr. Craig also explicitly rejects. But then he also rejects the idea that God has caused our choices. So the question is appropriate particularly for those of Dr. Craig's following. But I believe it is also a great question for anyone else considering the subject -- the irony of Dr. Craig's disagreement with determinism despite his usage of the cosmological argument is just not as thick in the minds of those not as familiar with Dr. Craig.
"God knowingly created the circumstances that would lead to Billy's sin, but God did not cause Billy to sin."
I don't see a relevant difference between the affirmation and the denial you propose. Considering the following two propositions...
1. God created Billy, created his circumstances, created his disposition, created his inclinations and preferences and desires and genetics, created the environment and the other people and created the options that Billy was given, knowing that Billy, given his environment and upbringing and genetics and stuff which God created, would unquestionably choose Not-P, because that was how God created everything to turn out.
2. God caused Billy to choose Not-P.
I consider (2) to be a brief summary of (1). It seems you do not, but it is not clear to me why. To me, (1) is not unlike me throwing a rock at a window, believing without doubt that the rock would break the window. In such a scenario, to say that I caused the window to break seems accurate. I did so by means of the rock. God caused Not-P to be chosen, and He did so by means of Billy's will. Of course, God created Billy's will, and I did not create the rock. But to push the analogy too far in that direction such that the analogy breaks down actually makes my point more solid. I caused the window to break and I didn't even cause the rock that broke it to exist! Nor did I myself give the window its breakable properties. How much more then did God cause Not-P when He actually DID cause all the elements involved to exist and gave them their properties!
"He was not coerced into his decision by God."
I agree completely. Billy did not unwillingly lie -- God caused Billy to willingly lie.
I think it makes sense in my mind now to defend my own position against any challenges you have. I'll start with the most recent one.
"God is not the author of sin, and is not the cause of evil and suffering that exists in the world today."
The second half of that assertion I disagree with (obviously), and I only agree with the first half given a certain particular definition of "author". If God being the "author" of sin means that God is the first sinner, then I completely agree that He is NOT the author of sin. That would be Satan, or perhaps Adam, or even Eve, depending on how you figure it.
But if God being the "author" of sin means that He is the intentional uncaused first cause of sin, then in my mind He is certainly the "author" of sin.
To me, the difference between "causing someone to sin" and "sinning" is significant. I charge God with the former, but not the latter. I understand "sin" to be "the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4). Thus, for God to sin, there must be a law that governs Him that He disobeys. I find no scripture that seems to say that it is against some kind of law for God to cause people to sin. However, I see many passages that seem to say that God caused sin X or sin Y, or that God has caused "all things" generally. Therefore, since He causes sin, yet is not a sinner, there must not exist a law that prohibits Him from causing people to sin. Otherwise, He would either not cause sin and follow the law, in which case sin would never happen (and it does); or else He would not follow the law and thus be a sinner, and He isn't.
Consider this analogy. Any author of fiction causes the characters in his book to sin. This alone does not make the author a sinner.
You have also essentially asked how we can be morally responsible if God causes us to sin.
"Sin" is "the transgression of the law". We sin when we disobey the law, which I would describe as any command of God. Cause is irrelevant. Intent is irrelevant. Knowledge is irrelevant. If we do not do what God commands us to do, we are in sin. When God causes us to not do what God commands us to do, we are in sin. The only way we could disobey God's commands -- the only way we could conceivably sin -- is if God causes us to, since He is the only uncaused first cause.
Whenever we have a command from God, we are morally responsible. Anyone or anything with a command from God is morally responsible. That's what it means, I believe, to be morally responsible.
"If determinism were true, it would not in any way be meaningful to ask God to manifest His will on earth in the same manner He governs in heaven."
If I understand your point, I disagree with you. There is a difference between cause and command. Yet both can be described as what He "wills" or what He "wants" or what He "desires". What God causes, happens. What God commands, may or may not happen (depending on whether He causes it to or not). In heaven, what God commands, God also causes. On earth, this is not the case. We ask that it would be the case. And one day, I believe it will be.
I am reasonably sure you actually agree with me that there is a difference between what God causes and what He commands. If there were not, every command He gives would come to pass, and they certainly do not.
Have I addressed your concerns with my view acceptably?
What is your view on how the first sin happened? Methinks God influenced Lucifer (or whoever the first angel was) to sin, since all created beings were very good and without sin. No sin nature=No possibility of having any morally evil temptations that would persuade one to sin. To say the first morally responsible beings had free will means nothing. Just because one can sin does not necessitate that one ever would, and since every morally responsible being was very good it follows that every sin would very much go against their natures (it would not be feasible for them to carry out).
Which brings me to my next point. Suppose someone was 100% heterosexual. This entails that they could not experience any sexual inclination to have sex with someone of the same sex.
It's the same with Lucifer. He was 100% as sinless and good as the LORD. This means he would actually have no inclination to do what is sinful. Just as someone who has desires (whether they give into them or not)to have sex with someone of the similar sex cannot be called 100% straight, someone who has any inclination to sin cannot be called 100% good aside from Jesus's example which was a special case, and was after the Fall.
All this proves my point. God is the unmistakable author of evil by primary causality.
So I can agree that (2) is a brief summary of (1)
'Billy did not unwillingly lie -- God caused Billy to willingly lie'
To me you are affirming a position that is contrary to determinism. Determinism is a causal theory that has no place for willing or unwilling behavior. On determinism Billy cannot willingly lie. He would really be an instrument and not an agent.
If your point is simply that God crafts the will, and the will itself is under God's sovereignty, then we are in agreement. This is where Molinism is very unsatisfying to Open Theists because they realize that the choices we make, for good or bad are still steered by God's hand in a way that is very close to determinism. But I think it would be an error to claim they are not real choices, or that they are choices wherein the outcome is forced.
In what world is this a maximal great being?
No no no, either you can show us some other good arguemnts against arminianism or you better adapt soon and silently.
Thanks for your thoughts.
First, I was not defending Calvinism. I was defending Divine Determinism. A person could even hold to an Arminian ordo salutis and still be a Divine Determinist. I am personally not wholly convinced of the Calvinist ordo salutis, nor of TULIP. It is not a devotion to Calvinist brainwashing that produced this article.
Second, if God says He causes people to sin, why do you challenge that proposition or call it heretical? Take a look at these scripture references and please, do your best to explain them honestly to yourself in such a way that the authors of these scripture passages truly believe that God absolutely does not cause any sin ever, and yet still wrote these things.
Lastly, ask yourself, if God is not the uncaused-first-cause of human sin, then who or what is? There simply are no other possible candidates in Christianity: God is the ONLY uncaused-first-cause.