Steve Hays (I’ve disagreed with him in the past) of Triablogue has posted twice about this comment from Ben of Arminian Perspectives:
Wrong. J.C. has never said that God is dependent on our choices. What he has said is that God’s knowledge of our choices is dependent on those choices. How could it be otherwise? If God never created us, would he know anything about us? Of course not. So God’s knowledge of us is dependent on their being an “us” to know something about.
Fascinating. And dead wrong.
The key here is the sentence “If God never created us, would he know anything about us? Of course not.” As a Reformed thinker, I don’t agree with Molinism, but there is something to Molinism’s levels of knowledge that is important here.
The first level of knowledge is God’s natural knowledge. This includes all that ever could be created, without restrictions. Without this knowledge, God would simply not be God.
The second level of knowledge is middle knowledge, that which God knows will come to pass given the right circumstances. This represents how humans will exercise their free will, but middle knowledge is not dependent on God’s action or inaction. It grows out of the act of creation itself.
The third level of knowledge is God’s free knowledge, which is God’s ability to intimately know every aspect of the world that he created. And I should mention at this point that this description of Molinism is extremely simplified; and likely inaccurate on at least a few points.
Note that us Reformed philosophers grant God both natural and free knowledge, while denying that middle knowledge is even necessary to explain divine sovereignty versus man’s free will.
God’s divine foreknowledge, even in a system like Molinism that is needlessly complicated, doesn’t depend on human movements subsequent to the act of creation. God knows what is possible before a single act of creation is undertaken (natural knowledge), and he knows what will follow from any act of creation (free knowledge) given the circumstances that a creature finds him or herself in (middle knowledge).
No one denies this–not the Molinist, not the Calvinist, not the Arminian. Except for Ben. So maybe this wasn’t facetious after all?
Posted on April 24, 2010, in Apologetics, God, Heresy, Theology and tagged Father. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.
Like Hays, you should read my comments in context. Hays likes to cherry pick comments and make huge leaps of logic reading things into other’s comments that they had no intentions of conveying. The point was that God’s knowledge being dependent on the thing He knows is not the same thing as God Himself being dependent on the thing He knows, just as God’s love for His creatures is dependent on the creatures He loves does not mean that God Himself is dependent on the creatures He loves. All that means is that God could not love His creatures if He never created any creatures to love. Likewise, God cannot foreknow anything about creatures He will never create and will never exist. That would falsify His foreknowledge. If God nevere created you, could He know anything about you? Of course not, there would never be any “you” to know anything about.
I am not a Molinist, nor are many Arminians. I hold to simple foreknowledge and middle knowledge, but not in the same sense as a full blown Molinist, like Craig. I believe that God has middle knowledge of beings that will exist (that He will create), but cannot know what beings who will never exist would do. It is nonsense to even speak of what non-existent beings would do since they never exists in any sense.
Therefore, if God were never to create us, He could not know anything about us. There would never be any us to know anything about. It is absurd to speak of God foreknowing the future actions of beings who will never exist. Is that so hard to understand? Do you maintain that God can foreknow what beings who will never exist would do in situations that will never exist? Again, it is absurd to even speak of such “beings” since they will never have any existence in any way. In other words, there are no such “beings” to even speak of.
Actually, your explanation of the situation makes things much more clear. If I’m understanding you, you don’t think that God simply has foreknowledge just to have it, per se. Unless he’s intentionally creating a person, he doesn’t have foreknowledge related to that person. No “academic” or “hypothetical” foreknowledge, in a manner of speaking. I don’t see that position as a problem.
I had that problem, too.
Which, of course, isn’t what I said at all. And, he took a dig at me, too! Nice guy.
I couldn’t read your comments in context because the only link Hays provided was to a webmail account login screen. I assume that he had the comments in context in a private e-mail, and for some reason he supplied the quote and the link to the private e-mail. It’s impossible to verify a quote that way.
In short, I’m sorry. I should have expected nothing less from Steve Hays.
I appreciate your response. Steve lifted my comments from the comment thread of this post:
My comment can be found here.
If you note the comment I was responding to (by Mitch), it will help you see what I was trying to address. Mitch wrote to J.C.:
“BTW I assumed you would not have a problem saying that God is dependent on S as I believe you have stated God’s dependency on S before.” (bold emphasis mine)
My point was simply that saying God’s knowledge is dependent on something is not the same as saying God Himself is dependent on something. This is a rhetorical ploy that Mitch had tried before, and I was addressing it again.
BTW, you might want to read this post (below) which demonstartes rather clearly the many problems with Hays’ debating style and eisegesis of other’s comments: