Fellow council member Chris Harris sent me statements of Leighton Flowers. So, I decided to respond.
LEIGHTON FLOWERS said:
“Chris, haven’t you ever seen a cop show where the cops threaten one gang member by suggesting they will put them back out on the street unprotected where the opposing gangs can get to him? Are the cops causing the gangs to break the laws or are they using one evil gang to correct the another lesser evil gang member? Can you see that parallel here with the really evil “gang” called Assyria and the lesser evil gang called Israel who needs to be taught a lesson? Suggesting God is determining the evil of both nations is like suggesting the cops are determining the evil of both gangs.”
i) Let’s go with your example, the police cannot convince someone to confess and they realize it. So, they give him 1 last shot to confess where his Aryan gang friends are selling drugs. They take him in a van to a part of town where it is filled with African-American gangs. They strip him down and write racist comments all over his body and throw him in the middle of this neighborhood with his hands and feet bound with a sign saying ” I hate [derogatory racial title]”. They drive off and go around the corner and watch the other gang find him and in the most brutal of ways torture and kill him. Is it not the crooked officers faults? Were they not the cause?
ii) Under your view, these events occurred by chance and nothing caused Assyria to do that. It’s more like the rod the wields the man or the tail that wags the dog.
LEIGHTON FLOWERS was asked:
“But how do you answer the atheist that says if God knows about a child rape and can stop it then he is just as responsible? In other words, your criticism of Calvinism on this front fails to get God out of the bind you think he’s in, in the Calvinist’s system.”
“God’s choice to create free moral creatures does create the problem of what those creatures might do, but that is a tension afforded by the text. It’s the same risk parents take when choosing to have children. You know the potential and even likelihood of difficulty, sin, rebellion, etc etc, but you choose to procreate anyway. This is why most children want a real puppy over a stuffed animal. No matter how much you try and sell them on the idea that the toy would be cleaner, easier to control, won’t destroy your stuff, etc etc, they almost always want the real thing, not a toy. Go figure.
The tension that is not afforded by the scripture (in my estimation) is the idea that God decrees, causes, brings about, ordains (insert preferred verbiage here) man’s evil intentions in such a manner that they could not have willingly chosen to do otherwise.”
i) “God’s choice to create free moral creatures does create the problem of what those creatures might do, but that is a tension afforded by the text”
I believe God has created free moral creatures as well and they are free in a different sense. But Leighton means in a libertarian sense. But what text is this in reference to? What text gives Alvin Plantinga’s freewill defense? Or what text teaches we have uncaused choices?
ii) “Its the same risk parents take when choosing to have children. You know the potential and even likelihood of difficulty, sin, rebellion, etc etc, but you choose to procreate anyway.”
The problem with the analogy is the parents don’t know that their child is gonna die horribly or certain events will occur. So, the analogy doesn’t work. But here’s a better analogy. A parent leaves her young child on the pool deck knowing that child will jump in the pool and cannot swim. She leaves the child on the deck and goes inside and watches the child jump in from the window and watches the child drown with every ability to run out and help them. Here’s another example of wicked people. Say Hitler’s parents received a message from the future and learned about the fate of their child. Instead of trying to teach him love and peace as a philosophy. They teach him from a young age to hate Jews and other Nazi indoctrination. He grows up and kills more people with the short time he has before allied forces get to him. Are the parents responsible?
iii) “The tension that is not afforded by the scripture (in my estimation) is the idea that God decrees, causes, brings about, ordains (insert preferred verbiage here)”
I prefer cause. I’ve shown that direct causation isn’t necessary for responsibility, as Leighton assumes. But Leighton still has the problem that God causes all things even on libertarianism.
Steve Hays points it out:
“A libertarian theist should hardly object to a counterfactual theory of causation. After all, the freedom to do otherwise (or choosing between alternative possibilities) is itself, a counterfactual concept.Here’s a simple statement of counterfactual causation:
“If A had not occurred, C would not have occurred.”
And here’s a more nuanced statement of the same:
“Where c and e are two distinct actual events, e causally depends on c if and only if, if c were not to occur e would not occur.”
On this definition, God causes sin and evil–regardless of whether you espouse Molinism, Arminianism, or open theism.
If the divine creation of man had not occurred, then the moral evils of human history would not have occurred.”
iv) It should also be said that there is more than just agent caused evil, but also natural evil. A storm that kills families and leaves hundreds stranded. Wouldn’t it be great if a meteorologist designed a machine that could predict when a tornado would touchdown with 100% accuracy hours before it happens? He uses it and finds out in a small town 5 minutes away that a tornado will rip through it in 2 hours. He chooses to withhold the information. Is he culpable?