J.C. Thibodaux has responded to an article I wrote against his view of aseity.
The first of his objections involves people ‘explaining’ God.
Van Til thinks of aseity as God being self-contained. Nothing can further explain God other than himself but on Thibodaux scheme, God being is explained by creatures. But how can a being that is a se or self-explained be further explained by created things(people and their choice)?
It isn’t really clear what he’s asking. If he’s talking about how we define God, He most certainly is, in some ways, defined by His creation.
“God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’” (Ex. 3:15a)
“But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob…” (Isa. 43:1a)
God identifies Himself by both His relationship to His people and status as Creator (which of course requires a creation).
This leaves Thibodaux in a dilemma, if God is truly independent of the world, then his attributes aren’t dependent upon the world, but under his scheme, God’s being is dependent upon the world. God’s attributes are explained by certain things of the world.
I’d look at those passages at as extrinsic relations God has given his act of creation. Nothing in creation has given him a certain attribute. So, it seems he’s forcing these passages to mean something more than they actually state.
Nobody is making the argument that free will requires us to create God’s being.
Yes they were in fact: the post was addressing a particular fallacy by a Mr. Prussic that amounted to just that. That said, if that’s not what our dear objector is arguing for, then the objection against us ‘explaining’ God is apparently as irrelevant as it is ill-defined and poorly explained.
Well, if Prussic was making that argument, then Ben Henshaw doesn’t understand your article. He sent it to me to refute what I was arguing. The problem with the second point is that it is clearly incorrect. It is relevant because it still shows that Arminians have tensions in their worldview. It also is relevant to my conversation with Ben because it was my argument. If anything, Thibodaux article is irrelevant and Ben needs to read articles before he sends them as refutations. But that may be too much to ask for Arminians.
Our objector’s piece here is a bit of a facepalm. Calvinists are no strangers to the idea of God’s transcendence over time (that is, in addition to being within time [immanent], God also exists outside of time, and is therefore not limited by time or the ‘present’ as we see it, see John Frame’s The Doctrine of God, pp. 570-71), but when it comes to arguing against free will, they temporarily fall into a state of obfuscating ignorance (à la Hays and his ilk), which makes for some hilarious noob arguments.
If their choices ground these future contingents, then how can God know prior to what they are going to do before they choose to do it?
From a perspective of prior to creation, it is hard to see how it is coherent to suppose God knows something that is either false or has no truth value.
How could non-existent things ground God’s knowledge?
Maybe because being in the stretch of all time that is clear to God is not non-existent from God’s perspective.
I should also point out the fact that John Frame is a Calvinist. I don’t accept his thoughts about God’s relation to time. But I fail to see how it solves the issue. Since God on Frame’s view exists both timelessly and at every point in time, then we can still ask at any moment, how he knows future choices from that specific moment.
The other problem is that of time. Does Thibodaux hold to an A series or a B series of events? If A theory is true, then the future is unreal. So, God would only be located in the present or only in the past and the present.
He calls my argument “noob arguments” in his moment of class and maturity but as I’ve pointed out on other occasions many philosophers throughout time have discussed these issues. They know the difficulty of dealing with future contingents.
He seems to think God in his temporal existence is located everywhere throughout time. So, God simply observes each moment and therefore knows what we are going to do. The problem with that answer is how at any moment in the past can he know what a human will choose? Knowing it after the fact is different from knowing it before the event occurs. But notice that God’s knowledge doesn’t derive from his being but from his experience. God’s knowledge is dependent upon what he sees.
It is easy to see on a Calvinist scheme that God simply thinks of agents making particular choices and that is what makes it’s true.
Per Calvinism, that would be ‘decreeing,’ not ‘thinking,’ though neither road will avoid slamming headlong into the author of sin problem.
This is just such ignorance regarding what could or probably could be said that I don’t see why I should explain the issues. Calvinism doesn’t explicate all the metaphysical doctrines a Calvinist could hold. For example, he said that it is ‘decreeing’ and not ‘thinking’ that grounds the truth values of future tensed propositions. But he doesn’t know if I’m a Calvinist idealist that maintain the world is just is contained in the divine mind. Calvinist may take that route(as many Arminians do). The point I was making is that possible worlds(including the actual world) can be grounded by the Divine mind. God thinks of events and chooses to instantiate a world he wants. I’m not an Idealist but he has a simplistic idea about what options a Calvinist is open to.
It’s a short walk to Open Theism at this point.
Indeed, if we were to adopt the “How kin God know yer tomorree choice-makins’ if dey ain’t done happund yet?” stance that he’s posited for the moment, then I suppose Open Theism would follow.
It is almost like the mocking parts of the article are more intelligent than the mocking parts.
He does try to address the main argument in the post, but sadly falls flat.
That clearly makes some aspect of God dependant on my choices.
The dilemma either an essential attribute of God is dependant on human choices or God simply doesn’t know the future.
I address this point in the post linked to above, comparing God’s knowledge to His faithfulness: God is both omniscient and faithful regardless of whether the world exists or not, but the specifics thereof – who He knows about and who He is faithful to, depends upon our existence.
I refute that way of thinking in my article below:
It is like arguing because God is good to various people throughout time, that divine goodness is dependent on us. But isn’t God’s goodness not dependent on his creation? God acts in ways revealing to us what he is like. But his being is in no way dependent upon the world. That is just to deny aseity. Hence you’re conceding to my argument without realizing it.
That is true, God is faithful regardless of whether there is a world, just as He is omniscient. Catch is, God’s faithfulness now doesn’t just exist by itself, He is not only innately faithful, but He is now faithful to people like Abraham. God being faithful to Abraham requires that there be an Abraham. Our over-eager objector is confusing God’s immutable attributes with the relational, optional specifics encompassed by those attributes. To show what I mean by comparison:
- God is faithful (immutable attribute)
- If God did not create the world, there would be no human persons to be faithful to, but that would not detract from His faithfulness
- God did create the world and is faithful to His covenants with His creation
- Said faithfulness to His creation is an optional aspect of God’s faithfulness contingent upon Him creating
I think those points are beyond dispute here, so why is it so hard to grasp:
- God is omniscient (immutable attribute)
- If God did not create the world, there would be no human persons to know about, but that would not detract from His omniscience
- God did create the world and knows everything about His creation
- Said knowledge of His creation is an optional aspect of God’s omniscience contingent upon Him creating
What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Our objector failing to understand the comparison shows that he’s not yet grasped the issue: if God knowing our free choices would make God’s attribute of omniscience “dependent on man,” then by his logic, God being faithful to people would likewise make God’s attribute of faithfulness “dependent on man!”
I would just concede that that is an implication of Thibodaux’s worldview. I think God is unchanging and timeless. In some fashion, Thibodaux is committed to that as well. He maintains that God is also timeless and separate from the world in one regard. If God is timeless, then his nature can’t be changed at any time. Because he is timeless. So, Thibodaux is only speaking about God qua his temporality. Now, I don’t hold Frame’s view as I have said already, but I’m pointing out that in his own position that these are just events where God’s faithfulness is demonstrated and not that God because of these covenants are acquiring a new attribute. So, he is presenting a position that is unnecessary because God is just as faithful in his atemporal existence as in his temporal existence but what he saying couldn’t be true of God’s atemporal existence. God obviously acts consistent with what he is. That is why we have God being faithful to various individuals throughout time. These extrinsic relations God that has reflected his character.
When I studied the subject some years ago, it dawned on me just how nonsensical was the idea that all of God’s knowledge is innate to Him rather than some aspects of it being dependent upon things like His choice to create. It actually raises a rather awful implication:
[Me]: If God’s knowledge is innate to Him, then everything He knows is innate to Him. My existence is one of the things God knows about. If God innately knows that I was born some time in the latter part of the last century, then that fact has eternally been an innate part of God’s knowledge; God therefore had no choice but to create me, else He would falsify His knowledge. Thus God’s omniscience is now dependent upon my existence.
This could even be taken a step further: I’m a believer in Christ, part of the elect. God has innately and eternally known that I’ll be part of the elect -that fact is part of His divine essence (according to Mr. Prussic anyway). By that logic, God not only had to create me, but to make His knowledge true, had no choice but to elect me as well (and Calvinists accuse me of being “man-centered”), else falsify His knowledge. Even the Potter doesn’t have any real freedom by such backwards thinking! We could go on and on, but suffice it to say that divine simplicity interpreted in such a way as Mr. Prussic does breaks down into complete incoherence.
In an ironic twist, the [high] Calvinist view actually militates against God’s aseity: If the specifics of God’s omniscience, such as His knowledge of us, are essential parts of God’s being, then God must create us for His knowledge to hold true! The idea of God having some innate compulsion and having no choice as to whether He creates or redeems people also runs afoul of another one of His attributes: maybe after a refresher on transcendence, our objector can study up on a certain attribute known as Sovereignty. I’ve heard some Calvinists believe in that too.
This is more silliness from the author. the point is that humans future actions can’t be the grounds for which God knows what they will choose to do. God decrees events to occur at specific times. God knows himself and all his acts. This is what grounds his natural and free knowledge. Clearly, Thibodaux hasn’t studied that hard if he isn’t aware of those distinctions that Calvinist have made. Hopefully, he can prepare a better script next time.
Dr. John Frame: