Saturday, November 05, 2005

William Lane Craig, Molinism and the Problem of Evil

William Lane Craig espouses Molinism, and uses it as a magic get out of jail free card, when faced with the problem of evil, or Ted Drange’s argument from non-belief.

Craig’s argument goes like this.

In every conceivable set of circumstances, free agents like us will choose one particular way (without , of course, those circumstances doing anything as theologically incorrect as determining our choices.). These free choices are out of God’s control, which is why, try as he might , God cannot prevent us choosing evil, or non-belief. In that particular set of circumstances , that agent will choose that way, and that is all there is to it.

All God can do is choose the circumstances which make the best of a bad job. God can do that, but he cannot affect the free will choices made in those circumstances.

How does this possibly work? How does this help Craig?

As an example, take two different sets of circumstances that I can conceive of.

1) I am sitting down to breakfast in an hotel at 8:30 am on Wed. 2/11/2005, and a waiter is asking me ‘Tea or Coffee’, and God has infallible knowledge that I will choose tea.

2) I am sitting down to breakfast in an hotel at 8:30 am on Wed. 2/11/2005, and a waiter is asking me ‘Tea or Coffee’, and God has infallible knowledge that I will choose coffee.


Clearly, I can conceive of both sets of circumstances, and they are both
possible, and they are clearly different to each other.

We can apply Molinism to each set of circumstances, and see if Craig's claim is true that a person will freely choose one particular way in each set of logically possible circumstances that could occur in a real world.

Craig’s Molinism works perfectly here.

In the first, I will freely choose one particular way, just like Craig said I would. I will choose tea.

In the second set of circumstances, Craig is right again. I will choose one particular way. I will choose coffee.

Of course, my choices are different in the two sets of circumstances, but I’m sure Craig will agree that free agents will choose differently in different circumstances, and it cannot be denied that the 2 circumstances are different.

And Craig is right once again that not even God can determine my choice in those 2 sets of circumstances. In set 1), I drink tea, and in set 2), I drink coffee, and there is nothing God can do to change the outcome of either set of circumstances.

So how can Craig’s proposal help him when he claims that God can do nothing about non-believers freely refusing salvation in certain circumstances?

All God has to do is choose the set of circumstances where God has infallible knowledge that the non-believer will choose salvation.

Even granting all of Craig’s assumptions does not prevent there being circumstances where non-believers will choose salvation or that people will freely choose good.


Quite the opposite. Craig’s Molinism guarantees that there will be such circumstances and that nothing can stop a human being freely choosing good.

7 Comments:

Blogger Paul said...

The main point of your article seems flawed. You wrote:

"All God has to do is choose the set of circumstances where God has infallible knowledge that the non-believer will choose salvation."

However,I don't think this objection works, Steven. At least, I don't think you have warrant for believing your conclusion. Remember what Craig's molinism tries to do. His argument tries to show that it is possible that God and nonbelief can coexist. The molinist would approach nonbelief by arguing that some people are "trans-world deprived". That means that the nonbeliever would not accept Christ under any given circumstances. This seems to be the Biblical teaching. The Israelites whom God guided out of Egypt did not come into a relationship with God. The Israelites knew about God, but they did not know God. Even miracles and wonders could not make them know God. So, it may be the case that some people are trans-world deprived. As long as that is even possible, then there is no contradiction between the existence of God and the existence of nonbelief. Hence, it appears your argument has an undercutting defeater.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

There's somebody who does not even bother to read my argument, let alone try to find a flaw in it.



He simply spouts the nonsense that the Israelites could see all these miracles close up on an almost daily basis, and still not believe.

But as Paul cannot find a single thing wrong with my logic, I can assume that it is OK

8:41 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

PAUL
That means that the nonbeliever would not accept Christ under any given circumstances.

CARR
And yet Christians claim that people have free will to choose, and now claim there are not even logically possible circumstances in which some people will choose God - not in any conceivable universe.

If there is no conceivable universe in which some people freely choose salvation, then how can they be said to have any choice?

8:42 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Hello again, Steve.

"He simply spouts the nonsense that the Israelites could see all these miracles close up on an almost daily basis, and still not believe."

Are you being serious or blatantly dishonest? My example of the Israelites was not an argument, but an illustration. I used the example of the Israelites to show the difference between knowing about God and knowing God. God can certainly make all people know about himself, but whether they choose to know God is up to the individual free agent.

"But as Paul cannot find a single thing wrong with my logic, I can assume that it is OK."

How do you come to this conclusion? You haven't responded to any of my arguments yet. You simply wrote them off and attacked a straw man. My argument was that some people may be transworld deprived and thus never choose God under any circumstance. This is because it is impossible to make some freely do something. And because this scenario is possible, it follows that God and nonbelief are possibly not contradictory. And it follows from that that God is not contradictory with nonbelief.

Finally you decide to take on my arguments.

"And yet Christians claim that people have free will to choose, and now claim there are not even logically possible circumstances in which some people will choose God - not in any conceivable universe."

I will concede that I used the term "logically possible" too loosely. Although it is logically possible that all free agents choose to know God, it may not be feasible for God to actualize such a world. To illustrate this, imagine that in order for person X to be saved they must be placed in circumstance Y. However, suppose that persons A,B,C,D,E,F,G were to all be placed in circumstance Y, then they all would be saved. So, which world does God choose to actualize? Obviously the world where more people come to know God. Now, it is logically possible for free agents to always choose God, but whether they chose to actualize the logical possibility is their choice. So, it may be the case that God cannot actualize a world where all free agents choose to know him because some always choose to reject him. God cannot force people to freely come into a relationship with him. Now, you might think that this is absurd. You may think that it is ridiculous. However, it is possible. And as long as God and nonbelief are possibly not contradictory, then they are not contradictory.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

It is Paul who ignored every argument in my post.

My arguments were totally sound which is why he could not take them on.

Instead he quoted a book of fiction about some imaginary people who saw some imaginary miracles.

While I responded to his claim that there are no logically possible circumstances in which I will choose his imaginary god.

How can that be when even his Craig claims that all non-believers would indeed choose god , if the circumstances were different to what this imaginary god has chosen to actualise?

12:16 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Again, you appear to diverge from arguments and resort to silly name calling. I believe I quoted your main argument. In case you have missed that twice now, I asserted your main argument was:

"All God has to do is choose the set of circumstances where God has infallible knowledge that the non-believer will choose salvation."

Is this your main argument? If so, I have already responded to it at length. In case you've missed it twice now, I will copy and paste it again. I said:

"Although it is logically possible that all free agents choose to know God, it may not be feasible for God to actualize such a world...Now, it is logically possible for free agents to always choose God, but whether they chose to actualize the logical possibility is their choice. So, it may be the case that God cannot actualize a world where all free agents choose to know him because some always choose to reject him. God cannot force people to freely come into a relationship with him. Now, you might think that this is absurd. You may think that it is ridiculous. However, it is possible. And as long as God and nonbelief are possibly not contradictory, then they are not contradictory."

I will expand on this further later on in my message.

You continue to display your closed-mindedness and inability to grasp my arguments when you said, "Instead he quoted a book of fiction about some imaginary people who saw some imaginary miracles." Again, I only told you the story of the Israelites to differentiate "knowing God" and "knowing about God." The former is a choice of the individual, the latter is what God could do. Interestingly enough, my example wasn't an argument, it was used to define terms.

You said, "My arguments were totally sound which is why he could not take them on." Au contraire, I responded to them. It was you who misconstrued my arguments and attacked straw men. It will be helpful if you actually respond to it in your next letter.

You said, "...when even his Craig claims that all non-believers would indeed choose god , if the circumstances were different to what this imaginary god has chosen to actualise?"

Craig never said that! In fact, he has said on many occasions quite the opposite. He argues that there are no feasible world that God can actualize where all free people freely chose to know God. It appears that you don't understand Craig's position.

You said, "there are no logically possible circumstances in which I will choose his imaginary god."

I'm not responding this to criticize you, but I want to make a clear distinction between "possible" and "feasible" worlds. There is no contradiction in saying that you freely chose to know God. However, God cannot make you freely chose him. If he actualized such a world, then it would not be your choice. Hence, actualizing a world where you freely chose God is not feasible world for God to actualize. And this is how Craig and I respond to the argument from nonbelief. Although it may be logically possible for God to actualize a world where all people come to know God, it may not be feasible to actualize such a world. So long as this is even possible, then God and nonbelief are not inconsistent.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Galactor said...

What, instead of choosing tea or coffee, I chose ... champagne?

That would really bugger up god's infallible knowledge.

9:26 AM  

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