The Possibility of Middle Knowledge
I’m going to include the transcript of a discussion I had (along with several others) with a Middle Knowledge proponent that frequents AOMin’s chat channel. The reason I do so is in order to give an example of how the argument I advanced recently functions in an actual discussion.
The discussion was fairly wide-ranging, but I think demonstrates the ability of a consistent return to the nature of God as the foundation of a reply to the assertions advanced by proponents of MK and other similar philosophical systems, over against the Biblical conception of God’s nature and the modal collapse I feel this outlook necessitates.
Discussion linked below.
* Caveman has joined #prosapologian
[Resequitur] Its Cavey
[Caveman] howdy res
[Resequitur] our friendly neighborhood MK advocate
[@Micah] muddled knowledge?
[Caveman] res, indeed 😉
[Caveman] micah, you will join me soon enough haha
[Caveman] it will not seem muddled then
[@Micah] um long as Isa 46 is in Scripture, Caveman, I will not
[Caveman] Isaiah 46? I’m looking at it… but don’t see why that’s the verse you’d choose
[@Micah] ~nas isa 46:9-11
[@Gutenberg^] Isaiah 46:9 “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; [I am] God, and there is no one like Me,
[@Gutenberg^] Isaiah 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
[@Gutenberg^] Isaiah 46:11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned [it, surely] I will do it.
[@Micah] Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’
[@Micah] Did or did not God declare the end from the beginning?
[Caveman] micah, absolutely. MK doesn’t deny God’s decree
[Caveman] everything decreed will come to pass without the possibility of change
[@Micah] that’s not a mere decree, it’s wrapped in the rest of the statement:
[Caveman] nothing can thwart it
[@Micah] and what was it God decreed?
[@Micah] ~nas isa 46:11
[Caveman] God decreed that which is
[@Gutenberg^] Isaiah 46:11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned [it, surely] I will do it.
[@Micah] Even the flights of birds.
[Caveman] I agree with that though
[Caveman] nothing incompatible with MK there
[Caveman] I’m not a molinist
[Caveman] not all MK proponents are arminian 😉
[@Micah] Again, the point God is making in the passage is that, unlike other ‘gods’, everything He has planned comes to pass… and what he has planned includes even the minute details of the universe.
[Caveman] Micah, again we agree there too
[Resequitur] Define what you understand MK to be
[Caveman] res, me or micah?
[@Micah] Caveman, so… did God actually decree it, or choose the best possible world??
[Resequitur] Cavey: you
[Caveman] micah, both
[@Micah] Really, and where in Scripture does God say that?
[Caveman] micah, in those words? =)
[Caveman] res, mk is that God knows hypothetical truths so to speak
[@Micah] in Isa 46 here we have pretty exact wording as to how God has declared all that comes to pass….
[Caveman] for example, if Tyre would have repented if Christ preached to them
[@Micah] one would expect that God would clarify “in other words, i didn’t REALLY declare it, i just figured out which of the ‘worlds’ would do it for me”
[Caveman] micah, do you believe that God has the freedom to choose?
[@Micah] Given the clarity of his statement there.
[@Micah] Depends on what you mean by “freedom to choose”. God declares something to be, and it is. In this case he’s declared all of time, and all that it ecompasses. He ~declared it~ into existance, he didn’t will that it would freely make itself.
[Resequitur] He chose before the foundation of the world
[Caveman] micah, could God have chosen any creation? Or was God limited to one possible creation from all eternity past?
[Caveman] in other words, is God eternally limited to create one world, without the freedom to choose any creation He wished?
[@Micah] Caveman, why not stick to what Scripture actually says rather than posing these “couldn’t” questions?
[Caveman] Micah, Scripture discusses God’s knowledge of alternatives, so it appears to assume that truth
[Caveman] I’m taking that and asking questions related
[Resequitur] God is immutable
[@RazorsKiss] God is eternal 🙂
[Caveman] It is true I could have had a beer yesterday, though it’s not possible because I didn’t
[@RazorsKiss] God is sovereign.
[@Micah] Possibility assumes that God’s decree was not eternal in nature.
[SirBrass] Caveman: it’s not possible b/c God did not ordain it to be so, though you did have a choice
[@Micah] There was no possibiity for anything else to happen apart from what God decreed.
[SirBrass] God is NOT bound by time
[SirBrass] the things you’re saying are something that someone who is strictly time-bound in his thoughts of God might say
[@RazorsKiss] Finite conception of hypotheticals do not necessarily equate to God’s conception of hypotheticals.
[Caveman] micah, I deny the decree lacked a beginning
[@RazorsKiss] Then God is not immutable.
[Caveman] decree requires a decision to do such on God’s part
[Caveman] and time is not eternal
[@Micah] Correct, time is not eternal… so when exactly did God decree? 😉
[Caveman] in the beginning
[@RazorsKiss] Was there a time when God did not decree whatsoever comes to pass?
[@Micah] before or after he made time? 😉
[Caveman] micah lol, logically prior
[@RazorsKiss] Caveman: does God think successively?
[@Micah] Um… how does “logically prior” work in a timeless system?
[Caveman] micah, that’s how it is spoken of in atemporal frameworks
[@Micah] Ahhh… and where is that spoken in Scripture?
* @RazorsKiss thinks that’s an issue with how people think of atemporal frameworks.
[Caveman] Micah, you expect a discussion of that to be in Scripture? 😉
[@Micah] Well, certainly… you seem to suggest it, therefore I must assume it is revealed in Scripture for you to be so sure of it.
[@RazorsKiss] ~nas mal 3:6
[@Gutenberg^] Malachi 3:6 “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.
[Caveman] micah, I’m a male, being 100% sure of things that I have no business being sure of is part of my nature
[@Micah] That’s obvious.
[@Tur8inFan] Subdue your nature, and beat it into submission
* @RazorsKiss asks whether God’s thinking is successive.
[@slamafk] so you’re a non-Arminian, non-molinist who’s playing the devil’s advocate and doesn’t uphold traditional Calvinism?
[@RazorsKiss] Here’s my deal.
[@RazorsKiss] Is God immutable and eternal, or not.
[Caveman] slam…ummm let me reread that
[Caveman] slam, ah, all but the devil’s advocate
[@RazorsKiss] First: is God’s decree eternal.
[@RazorsKiss] Second: Is God’s decree immutable.
[@RazorsKiss] Third: is God’s decree sovereign.
[@Micah] what is the basis of God’s decree?
[Caveman] micah, His knowledge
[@RazorsKiss] That was my next question, Micah.
[Caveman] and His will
[Caveman] and His nature
[@Micah] So what was God’s intention in creation?
[Caveman] all possible worlds are limited by God’s nature, God couldn’t create something in violation of His nature
[Caveman] but to argue that God’s nature restricts God to one possible decree makes no sense
[@Micah] [Caveman] but to argue that God’s nature restricts God to one possible decree makes no sense [– why?
* @RazorsKiss wonders, then, why Caveman posits a mutable God.
[@RazorsKiss] That would very much “limit” God’s nature.
[@RazorsKiss] A God who doesn’t eternally purpose, eternally decree, eternally know precisely whatsoever will come to pass – not what may.
[Caveman] razors, how do you see my view as making God mutable?
[Caveman] razors, everything that God decrees comes to pass without possibility of failure or change
[@RazorsKiss] First: God’s decree is the sovereign expression of his eternal purpose.
[Caveman] razors, which is what?
[@RazorsKiss] His purpose is eternal, unchanging, and inviolate.
[@RazorsKiss] To glorify Himself perfectly.
[Caveman] and what brings God the most glory?
[Caveman] (actually I disagree that glory is God’s primary concern, but that’s another issue)
[@Micah] No, that’s really the issue.
[@RazorsKiss] Many systematic theologians call His attributes His perfections.
[Caveman] razors, perfection being what?
[Caveman] ah ok razors, attributes
[Caveman] God has infinite glory before creation, no?
[Caveman] infinitely displayed
[Caveman] infinitely given and received in the Trinity
[@RazorsKiss] But, more precisely, God’s perfection is His infinite, unchanging, eternal lack of any flaw.
[@RazorsKiss] God is utterly perfect, in every respect.
[Caveman] sir, so what is accomplished with the display of God’s attributes? There is no increase in glory.
[@RazorsKiss] To display them to His creation.
[Caveman] razors, to what end?
[Caveman] He already did that infinitely and perfectly
[@RazorsKiss] the end: to demonstrate His glory.
[Caveman] Do you deny the infinite glory of God and the perfect display of such before creation?
[@RazorsKiss] Caveman: exactly, He did. Including His Mercy, Justice, and Grace.
[Caveman] I don’t deny God is concerned with Glory
[Caveman] but it’s not the primary mover of God’s will
[@RazorsKiss] Does God display mercy with no creation to be merciful to?
[@RazorsKiss] Does God display grace with no creation to be gracious towards?
[@RazorsKiss] Does God display justice with no creation to be just towards?
[Caveman] razors, in a sense yes
[@RazorsKiss] God’s *eternal* purpose was to create precisely the creation He did.
[@RazorsKiss] In every particular.
[@RazorsKiss] As God is not bound by time, God has eternally displayed it, and will eternally display it, and is eternally displaying it.
[@RazorsKiss] That, among many reasons, is why I assert that there is no other possibility apart from God’s determination of it.
[@RazorsKiss] Which goes back to your question, Caveman – why do I think your position demands a mutable god – because it asserts that God started to do something.
[@RazorsKiss] Started to decree.
[Caveman] razors, did God start to create?
[Caveman] or is creation eternal?
[@RazorsKiss] creation started.
[@RazorsKiss] God didn’t 🙂
[Caveman] razors, so God always created creation?
[@RazorsKiss] Unless your assertion is that God changes, yes.
[@RazorsKiss] God doesn’t “start” things. Time started, because God willed it to.
[@RazorsKiss] God always knew, decreed, and carried out precisely His Eternal purpose.
[Caveman] Razors, so if God always created creation, why didn’t it always exist?
[@RazorsKiss] Because God hadn’t willed it into existence, and “started the clock”/
[@RazorsKiss] Time is not eternal.
[@RazorsKiss] It began when creation did.
[Caveman] Razors, when did God start to “will” it?
[@RazorsKiss] He never did start.
[@RazorsKiss] He eternally wills it so.
[Caveman] razors, we agree with time not being eternal at least =)
[@RazorsKiss] That is precisely what I’ve been saying. God never starts anything – willing/purposing, decreeing, acting.
[@RazorsKiss] What we SEE starts and stops.
[Caveman] razors, so if God eternally wills creation into existence, creation must then also be eternal, no?
[@RazorsKiss] Not at all.
[@RazorsKiss] Time began when creation began.
[Caveman] raz, we agree there
[@RazorsKiss] That’s how “began” starts.
[Caveman] k, we agree so far
[@RazorsKiss] think of creation like a bubble.
[@RazorsKiss] the bubble does not affect that in which it sits
[@RazorsKiss] (eternity, infinitude, etc)
[Caveman] razors, is this the cosmic vacuum type idea?
[@RazorsKiss] It began, and time, as an artifact of finitude, began accordingly.
[@RazorsKiss] No, just an analogy.
[@RazorsKiss] Infinity and eternality is like what the bubble of creation sits in
[Caveman] razors, finite inside infinite?
[@RazorsKiss] so to speak.
[Caveman] the only infinite I grant is God
[@RazorsKiss] But that’s not really the point.
[@RazorsKiss] The point, more precisely, is that God never began intending, never began His purpose, never began His knowledge.
[@RazorsKiss] God always intended creation precisely as it is – never purposed any other than what has occured – never began knowing what exactly would come to pass.
[Caveman] Razors, oh ok, I see what you’re saying
[Caveman] I agree with you though
[@RazorsKiss] To suggest otherwise is to call into question God’s eternality, immutability, knowledge, infinity, perfection, etc.
[Caveman] but mk says the same thing
[@RazorsKiss] No, because MK says that God *had other possibilities*.
[Caveman] Razors, mk says God could have eternally decreed anything He wished
[@RazorsKiss] I think that’s violating God’s eternity and immutability.
[Caveman] Razors, God’s freedom to choose doesn’t mean He changes
[@RazorsKiss] Choose what?
[@RazorsKiss] Imperfect possibilities?
[Caveman] between possible decrees
[@RazorsKiss] changing intentions?
[@RazorsKiss] that’s my problem.
[Caveman] Razors, you believe in two wills, correct?
[@RazorsKiss] Define what you mean by that.
[@RazorsKiss] please 🙂
[Caveman] you believe that God has a revealed will and a secret one?
[@RazorsKiss] Caveman: in what respect, in regards to His eternal decree, or to His revealed law?
[Caveman] razors, let’s take the decree that men sin
[@RazorsKiss] Okay – God decreed that there would be vessels of wrath, and vessels of mercy.
[@RazorsKiss] All are sinners – yet the two groups carry out different portions of His purpose to glorify Himself.
[@RazorsKiss] Some His Justice and Wrath, others his Mercy and Grace.
[Caveman] razors, so explain your take on why God perhaps might desire glory from things He hates
[@RazorsKiss] perhaps might? 🙂
[@RazorsKiss] First, I disagree that God perhaps or mights anything 🙂
[Caveman] razors, lol
[Caveman] um yes
[Caveman] I didn’t catch that haha
[@RazorsKiss] But second, God did decree that the vessels of wrath display His eternal wrath in His Just condemnation of their sin. He also decrees that vessels of mercy display his eternal mercy and grace in His sacrificial atonement. (As well as His justice and wrath)
[@RazorsKiss] Romans lays out God’s eternal purpose quite clearly.
[Caveman] Razors do you believe that a non-attribute of God can be the primary mover of His will?
[@RazorsKiss] Never. God’s will is eternal. Nothing moves it.
[Caveman] ok, let me rephrase, motivator of His will
[@RazorsKiss] To state otherwise violates who He is.
[@RazorsKiss] Again, God is who He is – He is self-sufficient. Nothing motivates Him but Him – and as He is eternal, eternally does so.
[Caveman] Razors, ok, so nothing motivates God but God (and by extension His attributes)
[@RazorsKiss] Notice – my entire argument is based solely in God’s nature.
[@RazorsKiss] In what He has revealed.
[@RazorsKiss] No guessing, no “probably”.
[Caveman] thus you’d agree that glory is not a primary motivator of God since it is not part of God’s nature, rather something which is given and received within the Trinity
[@RazorsKiss] God is glorious.
[Caveman] Razors, glorious yes
[Caveman] deserving of glory, yes
[Caveman] but glory (noun) is something that is a result of who God is
[@RazorsKiss] “the glory of God”
[@RazorsKiss] it is something intrinsic to Him.
[@RazorsKiss] It is recognized by men – and displayed to men.
[@RazorsKiss] Yet, it is intrinsic to God.
[Caveman] razors, hmmm, maybe we need to agree on what glory is
[Caveman] how do you define it
[Caveman] razors, so we can give God magnificence? or splendor?
[@RazorsKiss] We reflect back the recognition of His magnificence.
[@RazorsKiss] to “glorify” God is to recognize that He is glorious.
[@RazorsKiss] and therefore worthy of the praise we give Him.
[Caveman] razors, wouldn’t you agree it is better to include honor or recognition in the definition as opposed to “magnificence”
[Caveman] to illustrate the fact that we cannot give God glory if the definition of glory is simply God’s magnificence
[@RazorsKiss] No, I think we were having confusion about the reflected “glorify” and the intrinsic “glory”.
[Caveman] glory would simply describe the appropriate reaction to his attributes no?
[@RazorsKiss] God’s intent is to *display* His glory.
[@RazorsKiss] Man’s purpose is to *recognize* His glory, and act accordingly.
[@RazorsKiss] The first catechism question: What is man’s chief end – to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
[@RazorsKiss] What is God’s chief end? “I AM.”
[Caveman] razors, true, but that’s the catechism, not Scripture
[Caveman] we agree that God desires glory
[Caveman] we agree man should glorify God
[Caveman] but we disagree this is the primary concern of God
[@RazorsKiss] I said what the *primary* concern of God is. To be Himself.
[Caveman] Razors, which is love, no?
[@RazorsKiss] God is glorious, therefore being glorious is part and parcel of the intent of His existence 🙂
[@RazorsKiss] God is love, God is glorious, God is eternal…
[@RazorsKiss] So, you hold that there are attributes more important than others?
[@RazorsKiss] (God IS light…)
[Caveman] razors, not sure I’d phrase it like that, but yes
[@RazorsKiss] So, God’s love trumps His justice, so to speak?
[Caveman] if God could change, then some of his other attributes would be less impressive
[Caveman] so some attributes could theoretically be called more important
[Caveman] so to speak
[@RazorsKiss] But does it trump His “being light”? (in whom there is no darkness at all)
[@RazorsKiss] or His being existent?
[@RazorsKiss] “I AM that I AM”
[Caveman] razors, they go hand in hand
[@RazorsKiss] Precisely – they ALL go hand in hand.
[@RazorsKiss] So, on what grounds do you say that love is a greater attribute of God than, say, eternity?
[@RazorsKiss] (or whichever you say it is greater than)
[Caveman] Razors, love eternally moves the will of God, eternity doesn’t move God’s will
* @RazorsKiss notes that Caveman just assumes that God’s will “moves”.
[@RazorsKiss] How does it move, Caveman?
[Caveman] Razors, upon what do you believe God’s will is based?
[@RazorsKiss] His purpose, Caveman.
[Caveman] razors, and is that based upon something?
[@RazorsKiss] but “based” is perhaps the wrong word to use.
[Caveman] would you agree God’s attributes are the basis of His will?
[@RazorsKiss] No, as I believe His will is one of His attributes – “willing”
[@RazorsKiss] remember – attributes are descriptions of what God is like.
[Caveman] sir, we don’t disagree
[@RazorsKiss] God wills, therefore will is a description of how God is.
[Caveman] razors, what about “creator”?
[@RazorsKiss] Since God is simple – His will is also eternal.
[@RazorsKiss] God is creative, yes.
[Caveman] razors, did God eternally create? I still am not sure of your position on that
[Caveman] you seem to have said yes and no at the same time 😉
[SirBrass] His decree is eternal
[SirBrass] creation is not
[Caveman] sir, I agree
[@RazorsKiss] God didn’t “jump into” time when Creation began. He eternally wills Creation into existence. When time began, creation (which is the only valid object of “began” or “ended”) also began. God is eternally the Creator.
[@RazorsKiss] *because He exists eternally*
[Caveman] razors, give me a sec, I’m rereading that last post–want to make sure I get ya
[@RazorsKiss] *when creation began* is irrelevant, when applied to God – God *transcends* that category.
[@RazorsKiss] as it’s source and, well, Creator 🙂
[Caveman] razors, ok, to clarify, is it your position that time is a reality or an illusion? (first part of my question)
[@RazorsKiss] time is a finite category to measure finite reality, existing at the mere pleasure of God, as an artifact of His Creation.
[@RazorsKiss] Time does not measure anything but the rate of creation’s change.
[Caveman] razors, does time measure God’s interaction with His creation as well?
[@RazorsKiss] Caveman: depends on what you mean by “interaction”.
[Caveman] not sure I follow…
[@RazorsKiss] Do you mean “God’s power being displayed” – like, in the burning bush, or the pillar of fire, or what have you?
[Caveman] well, that’d certainly be an example
[Caveman] but I was thinking more of the incarnation
[@RazorsKiss] Well, Christ was the God-Man.
[Caveman] do you believe part of God was stuck in time? 😉
[Caveman] (I know that was a bad phrasing)
[Caveman] but my point is this…
[@RazorsKiss] As man, Christ took on flesh, and the nature of the flesh. (had two natures, etc)
[Caveman] I don’t think Scripture teaches that God is outside of time after creation, but rather completely in control of time because of His decree
[@RazorsKiss] Obviously He’s in control of time. He created it 🙂
[Caveman] the term would be “omnitemporal” as opposed “atemporal” before creation
[Caveman] we agree
[@RazorsKiss] but I don’t think God is “inside” time – as in, under it’s influence, or subject to it.
[Caveman] well if time is simply a measure of cause and effect…I don’t see a problem
[Caveman] because God is the first cause
[@RazorsKiss] God controls it as surely as He controls matter and space.
[@RazorsKiss] meticulously, particularly, and utterly.
[Caveman] right, through His decree
[Caveman] and his interaction
[@RazorsKiss] and the exercise of His sovereign power, etc, yeah.
[Caveman] ok, but we don’t disagree there
[@RazorsKiss] I think the biggest problem we all have is trying to think of God as *too much* like us. ie: since God interacts, he does so similarly to how we would, etc.
[Caveman] we agree God has absolute control
[@RazorsKiss] But… my problem with the MK position is that it seems to posit that there was a *time* where God began and ended a particular thought, purpose, or deed – and not simply from our finite perspective.
[@RazorsKiss] ie: *when* was God choosing between all of these various possibilities?
[Caveman] it would posit that only from a logical perspective, not a temporal one
[Caveman] it simply states there is a logical order of God’s actions
[Caveman] though not a temporal order
[@RazorsKiss] which seems to me, implies *succession* in the thought of God.
[@RazorsKiss] which requires *change*.
[@RazorsKiss] that is my primary objection to the entire *concept* of “logical order” altogether.
[@RazorsKiss] It’s nonsensical to me.
[Caveman] hmmm, hold on, one sec, brb
[@RazorsKiss] God doesn’ have one thought, then move on to the next.
[Caveman] logical priority is simply a tool to describe atemporal events in philosophy
[@RazorsKiss] my argument is that it’s an invalid tool – it implies things it shouldn’t.
[Caveman] let me see if I can find a concise summary to help illustrate what I mean
[@RazorsKiss] well, I know what it’s describing 🙂
[@RazorsKiss] I’m arguing that what it describes isn’t God – because it requires a definition of God that is mutable.
[@RazorsKiss] because God’s thoughts *change*. Did God *eternally* intend to do precisely what He did, decree what He did, or not?
[Caveman] but it seems like your definition of mutable requires God never do something unless that something is eternal
[@RazorsKiss] If God is really eternal and immutable, you’re precisely right – it *should*.
[@RazorsKiss] and what I’m pointing out is that it *doesn’t*.
[@RazorsKiss] If there was some point at which God was *still deciding* which world to actuate, God is *neither* eternal nor immutable.
[@RazorsKiss] If God is really, truly eternal and immutable, that just cannot, definitionally, EVER be so.
[@RazorsKiss] It is utterly IMpossible.
[Caveman] do you admit a distinction between who God is and what God does?
[@RazorsKiss] In what manner?
[Caveman] well, was Jesus always incarnate?
[Caveman] it is accurate to say Jesus IS God-incarnate
[Caveman] but was that always the case?
[@RazorsKiss] No, as Christ took on human form. The God-man, since He has a dual nature, took on finitude in the human nature, but only in the human nature.
[Caveman] so you’d agree that is something God did temporally
[@RazorsKiss] God, essentially, did not cease to be trinitarianally infinite (and et al) as a result.
[Caveman] right, but I’d argue the same applies to my other examples (ie creation)
[@RazorsKiss] We aren’t talking about creation, though.
[Caveman] God’s relationship to temporal things changes even though His essence doesn’t
[Caveman] so in a sense, God changes, but in the sense of relationship, not essence
[@RazorsKiss] I think that there’s a problem right there.
[Caveman] and I think that’s an important distinction
[Caveman] what’s that?
[@RazorsKiss] The change is in the *mutable* things.
[@RazorsKiss] Not the immutable.
[@RazorsKiss] We (and all creation) change in relation to the eternally unchanging God.
[@RazorsKiss] God does not change – therefore Israel is not consumed.
[@RazorsKiss] (Micah 3:6)
[@RazorsKiss] *from our perspective*, God’s relationship to us changes – but it is *us* changing. Just as the sun, from our perspective, seems to be moving around us – but in reality, the earth is moving around the sun.
[Caveman] Well, God was not incarnate, then became incarnate
[Caveman] how would you reword that given your above statement?
[@RazorsKiss] Because He took on flesh, and dwelt among us.
[Caveman] that’s something God did, not creation
[Caveman] wouldn’t that be the reverse of your above argument?
[@RazorsKiss] Not really. Did God’s nature change to incorporate the human nature of Christ?
[@RazorsKiss] Or did the second person of the Trinity take on flesh, yet stay unchanged? The answer has to be dictated by Scripture.
[@RazorsKiss] Theology _must_ come first here.
[@RazorsKiss] God expressly says, many places in Scripture, that He *does not* change.
[@RazorsKiss] We cannot affirm that He really does, and stay true to Scripture – God’s *self* revelation.
[Caveman] Razors, I agree with you 99% here
[Caveman] but I think we need to ask what God means when He says He doesn’t change
[@RazorsKiss] “did God really say…”
[@RazorsKiss] Does God change His mind?
[@RazorsKiss] Does God change His purpose?
[@RazorsKiss] Does God change His nature in any respect?
[Caveman] but temporality falls under none of those categories
[Caveman] because it’s God’s relationship to creation
[Caveman] not his subjection to it because of a change in nature
[Caveman] or other such change
[@RazorsKiss] Caveman, I know you really like your system, here. I understand that. But God is *simple*. God doesn’t change in one respect, and not in others.
[@RazorsKiss] God’s attributes all interrelate as a whole.
[Caveman] I know, but I’m trying to make a distinction clear… between God’s actions and His essence
[@RazorsKiss] God is eternally, immutably, perfectly, infinitely powerful – put them all in any combination you like.
[Caveman] because it’s important to understanding my view
[@RazorsKiss] Yes, but what you’re telling me, seemingly, is that finitude effects changes in God – and not just perceptual ones.
[Caveman] the example I use of creation…
[Caveman] well…changes in relationship yes
[Caveman] God is creator post creation, not before
[Caveman] though He is creative pre
[Caveman] he is not yet creator
[@RazorsKiss] From the perspective of Creation, yes.
[Caveman] Well ontologically.
[Caveman] can you be a father before you give birth or adopt?
[@RazorsKiss] From God’s perspective, the past, present, and future are irrespective.
[@RazorsKiss] No, because I am bound by time.
[@RazorsKiss] God is not.
[Caveman] hmmm, I think our view of time is part of the problem, we have different takes on how that works
[Caveman] makes it hard to discuss because we presuppose diff views of time haha
[@RazorsKiss] our conceptions are analogical only.
[Caveman] are you familiar with theology of time discussions?
[Caveman] I think you’d enjoy them if not
[@RazorsKiss] I categorically deny that time has any meaning or existence outside of the creative order.
[@RazorsKiss] Yes, I am 🙂
[Caveman] ok, would you say you hold Helm’s view?
[@RazorsKiss] God provides it’s meaning.
[@RazorsKiss] I’d have to look at Helm’s definition again, probably.
[Caveman] even though I disagree with some of his stuff…you might find this helpful, hold on…
[@RazorsKiss] I hold that time only exists as a function of finitude.
[@RazorsKiss] as it is so, God transcends it, as he does anything created.
[Caveman] He and Paul Helm have the two main views of time covered
[Caveman] You’d enjoy Craig’s book on God and Eternity
[@RazorsKiss] I read that one a while back. I don’t agree with Craig, at all.
[Caveman] well I have to run unfortunately, perhaps we can continue another day. The main thing is that we share or love for Christ who saved us from our death in sin… and we are brothers in that
[@RazorsKiss] I hold that God exists atemporally. Time is merely a function of change within finitude.
[@RazorsKiss] Amen 🙂
[Caveman] and I hope that the Spirit will clarify these other issues for us as we seek to be submissive to the Word
[@RazorsKiss] yessir 🙂
[Caveman] have a wonderful evenin and I’ll see ya on here another night! =)
[@RazorsKiss] you too 🙂
I think your rejection of the notion of logical priority is devastating:
(1) God created the Universe
(2) The Universe marks the creation of time
(3) Therefore, God created time (from 1, 2)
(4) God is atemporal
(5) God could not have willed the beginning of the universe temporally (from 4)
(6) God must have willed the beginning of the universe atemporally (from 5)
(7) God’s will to create the universe is not temporally prior to the actualization of the universe (from 4, 5, 6)
(8) God’s willing of the universe is logically prior to the actualization of the universe
(9) Logical priority is incoherent (your premise)
(10) God’s willing of the universe is not temporally or logically prior to the actualization of the universe (from 4, 5, 6, 7, 9)
(11) God did not will the actualization of the universe (from 10)
(12) God did not create the Universe
(11) fails by assuming your own categories for (10) as the only possible ones, ironically. The status of nature of God is not about *logically prior from a finite point of view*. It is about *what is God like in His transcendent existence*. Like most, you seem to be missing the thrust of my point – insisting on placing our own timebound categories upon God is exactly what I’m arguing against. “God must be bound by the categories implicit in that which He created, or God doesn’t exist” is precisely the concept I’m arguing is impossible. What I find is that practically every objection I have had to this concept thus far have assumed that very thing. As this is so, I am more than happy with the argument – because who God is makes up the argument’s entirety.
As it states in the post above: God never started willing, but *eternally wills* all that He wills. God never *started thinking about* that which He knows from Eternity. Change your paradigms.
I am not arguing that God began to will or anything of that sort, it is you who make that implication by denying logical priority.
You said: “insisting on placing our own timebound categories upon God is exactly what I’m arguing against…”
But surely by now you understand that logical priority is *NOT* a timebound category.
If you deny both God’s logically prior willing, and a temporally prior willing it doesn’t seem to me that you are left with any coherent category. What *other* alternative is there? You say that I’m asserting a type of: “God must be bound by the categories implicit in that which He created, or God doesn’t exist.” I don’t think this is true, I’m only expecting that explanation of God be a coherent explanation. Why should one accept your claim that God is neither temporally nor logically prior to the universe and still accept that he is the creator? You might think that the revealed nature of your God demands you take certain positions, but when these certain positions become unintelligible (or flat out wrong) I think you should abandon these positions.
Further, what does this notion of “eternal willing” entail? What is an “eternal willing” like? Does God “eternally will” that the universe be created, even once his will obtains? Does his will never obtain? I understand the words you’ve put together, but what work have you done to show that it is a coherent idea?
First: What does the finite conception of logic entail? Successive thoughts. What does succession entail? Mutability and time. It’s non-sensical when applied to God, I posit.
Next, it fails to acount for God’s trancendence. When I get home I’ll get into that more fully – I’m at work on my phone posting this 🙂 But essentially, my objection rests in theology proper. More later.
Logical priority does not entail temporally successive thoughts. It is traditionally though that by virtue of God’s omnipotence God knows all things “at once.” There is no contradiction here when speaking of logical priority I think you are thinking of it too closely to temporal priority, which no philosopher of religion advocates for God. Most, if not all philosophers of religion agree that God’s willing of the universe, or any action atemporally but be dealt with in terms of logical priority.
I think the fact remains though, if you are not offering some alternative coherent formulation in place of logical priority, or showing that there is indeed no need for it, there is simply no reason to reject it regardless of what you think the theology implies.
I think it does indeed entail it, given that logic is successive in nature. Our conception of logical thought is successive thought, definitionally. We reason deductively or inductively, drawing conclusions from definitional or axiomatic statements. Such a process is clearly successive. If God truly knows all things, purposes all things, and determines all things – there is no room for “reasoning to” anything whatsoever. Therefore, positing some sort of “reasoning process” – such as takes place in Middle Knowledge – is incoherent.
As far as the laws of logic go, obviously, there is not a similar means by which the thoughts of God are bound. God, as you said, knows all things from eternity – and as such, cannot be said to be under logical law. That being said, God does *determine* logical laws, as part and parcel of His creative order. He Himself, however, cannot be said to be bound by the selfsame laws He Himself created.
So, on to what I was talking about earlier – when we try to keep God’s “thinking logically” bound within the same conceptual framework under which we examine finite thoughts, we will run into a problem, in short order. If God truly is transcendent, does He really obey the same logical laws we do? Second, how can we speak of “order”, without succession? What coherence does an atemporal “pre” and “post”, even logically, have, in a God who *never changes*, and is *eternal*? How can a change *not* be implied in *logically* successive thoughts? You can try to define immutability away, such as Caveman did above – but there is *no warrant to do so*. You can try to define eternity away (most do, as you pointed out) by saying it’s only *logically* successive – but, there is still *change* involved, since there is a *succession* from one logical state to another. The perfection, immutability, and eternity of God militate, quite strongly, against this idea, don’t you think?
Since this is so, let me suggest to you that the proper way of thinking, concerning God’s thoughts, is that God does not think successively – temporally, or logically. God has *always* known everything He knows about Himself, does not learn a thing, or forget it. He does not *begin* to think, and reason out a course of action, choosing between various possibilities. This is where you might recognize the points of a recent post of mine. He does not *begin to plan* an action, or to *will* an action, or to *determine* an action. God does not actuate *a* possible, He most definitely determines, wills, and knows that which He Sovereign, eternally, immutably, infinitely, powerfully, and transcendently brings about – His perfect ends.
That is what I mean, when I say we tend to think about these things wrongly. Not only does God not have a “priority” in His logic – or a succession in His logic from prior to the next – but He does not have a change, or *any* finitude to it, whatsoever. To say that there is any sort of succession – logical or otherwise, is to introduce finitude into the equation – which you simply cannot do with a perfect, transcendent God.
My beef above is with Middle Knowledge – which posits that God, *only foreseeing* what the actions of free creatures *would* bring about, *if* He did this, that, or the other – chooses the *best* plan to *most* perfectly accomplish what He intends. The problem with that view is that God cannot then say that “I will accomplish all My good pleasure”, as Isaiah 46:10 states. Not perfectly. Yet, God IS perfect – so, knowing God as He reveals Himself to be mitigates against this view, and every other view where God does not “accomplish all My good pleasure”
God only does His best. In the same way, any view that improperly regards God as having to “pick and choose” the best plan out of all these imperfect plans, is sub-Biblical, in my estimation. Any objection that fails to account for the whole of who God is, as revealed in Scripture, also fails in it’s aims – for it is aiming at a different target.
Hello RK, thank you for your thoughtful exposition of your position.
I would agree that the act of viewing syllogisms and determining inferences is successive for human beings but it does not follow that (a) logical priority is has a notion of successitivity nor (b) God must determine inferences successively. Human minds are finite minds and therein lies the successive nature of our inquiry, but it is absurd to say that God knows in the same manner.
Let us assume a basic definition of omniscience, it is indeed true that God knows all things that can be known. It is also true that he knows these things wholly and completely (perhaps even in one divine thought). Logical priority does not suggest any sort of reasoning process, nor does Middle Knowledge purport that God somehow reasons his way, thinking different things and then acting on these thoughts. Frankly, I am in agreement with you that this is an absurd notion to apply to God. However, logical priority does not entail any type of succession (only temporal priority would).
For example, under Molinism the logical ordering of necessary conditions for the creation event would be (a) God’s knowledge of necessary truths, and (b) God’s middle knowledge, with God’s free knowledge obtaining logically posterior to the creation event.
Now, does this mean that God somehow says to himself, “Knowledge of Necessary Truths, check!”, “Middle Knowledge, check!”… etc? No, I think this is absurd and would only be true if we were speaking about temporal priority. To say that (a) is logically prior to (b) simply denotes where on a logical ordering it would fall. God does not know (b) after (a) but rather, given his omniscience simply knows the entire set of logically ordered truths, always. Nowhere does God traverse the set member by member (as a finite mind would), but rather God comprehends the set in its entirety. But any set is ordered nonetheless (otherwise there is chaos).
I am not sure if you’re imply in your second paragraph that God creates the principles of logic. If you asserting this I would say that it is an incoherent notion and there are mounds of literature on the topic. Briefly put I am unable to reconcile the contingency of logical principles, if created by God with their requires necessity as principles of reasoning. Descartes held the view I think you’re espousing, and I haven’t heard much of it since him.
If God is transcendent, I’d argue that he still obeys the same logical principles we do. That is, God cannot make himself both God and not God. God also cannot create square circles, etc…
You said: “What coherence does an atemporal “pre” and “post”, even logically, have, in a God who *never changes*, and is *eternal*? ”
Simply put, logical priority might be best understood as pertaining to members of a set, where temporal priority refers to events in time.
You said: “How can a change *not* be implied in *logically* successive thoughts?”
I do not think that God thinks successively, nor does the notion of logical priority imply or necessitate that he does.
“…there is still *change* involved, since there is a *succession* from one logical state to another.”
I’m not sure what logical “states” mean and I think it confuses the definition of logical priority.
You said: “God has *always* known everything He knows about Himself, does not learn a thing, or forget it. He does not *begin* to think, and reason out a course of action, choosing between various possibilities.”
We should further differentiate between Middle Knowledge and Molinism, as they are not the same thing.
You said: “My beef above is with Middle Knowledge – which posits that God, *only foreseeing* what the actions of free creatures *would* bring about, *if* He did this, that, or the other – chooses the *best* plan to *most* perfectly accomplish what He intends. The problem with that view is that God cannot then say that “I will accomplish all My good pleasure”, as Isaiah 46:10 states.”
God’s middle knowledge is a knowledge of counterfactuals, put rather bluntly. He knows all the possible “if/then’s” that are possible to know.
You said: “God only does His best. In the same way, any view that improperly regards God as having to “pick and choose” the best plan out of all these imperfect plans, is sub-Biblical, in my estimation.”
God has the freedom to actualize any world which is possible and feasible for God to actualize. Under this view, in light of my explanation of logical priority, even under Molinism God does nothing other than declare the end from the beginning for it could be no other way given God’s sovereignty.
On a related note, objection to Molinism certainly do not come from a rejection of logical priority, they come from the grounding of counterfactuals, but that’s a different discussion altogether.
I understand what the definitions are, there. I disagree that the point they start from, or the implications they draw from there are Biblically founded. What it seems you’re seeing as a definition is an explication of the implications of their definition.
I didn’t think the definition needed to be given. As you know my position on “if/then”, I don’t think we need that, either 🙂
The charge I’m laying is that this idea of how God is has serious, serious implications. But thank you 🙂
Forgive me if I find your response a bit lacking, I do not know if you’ve accepted my explanation of logical priority. I think it is clear now that it does not imply the succession of thoughts, and that it does not violate any of God’s attributes. Do you find trouble with my explanations?
You said you disagree with the point they start from and I’m unsure as to what you mean by this. Based on the argument I outlined in my first comment and the fact that your previous comment did not outline any specific points of contention with my explanation of logical priority, it seems to me that if you cannot show either the truth of (9) or that (10) commits a bifurcation fallacy then you are forced to accept the conclusion.
I don’t think your explanation solves the problem. It just assumes that the problem isn’t there. I explained why I think it is – and your response didn’t really address why I thought so, I don’t think. It just explains why you don’t think it’s a problem. I don’t know why it matters to you, frankly, but if that’s what you think, so be it 🙂
I disagree with why you think it’s not a problem, and explained why above. Not really a big deal for me whether you agree that a theological tenet you don’t believe to begin with is consistent or not.
I’m aware that you think it’s nto a problem, and I know the argument you’re using. Obviously, I don’t agree with it, and I think I answered it sufficiently. No need to go around the block a few more times to ascertain that 🙂 If you don’t think I’m right, so be it.
I think we need to be clear as to whether or not the problem you espoused was a problem to being with. It’s my position that you’ve misunderstood the notion of logical priority. You don’t have to take my word that my explanation is the correct one, of course, but given my explanation do you feel that the problems you previously outlined are absolved? I agree with you that what you’ve outlined as being logical priority does have problems, I’m attempting to show that you’ve mislabeled whatever it is you’re thinking about.
It matters to me because as a studying philosopher of religion it’s something that is directly within my field. The reason I’m reluctant to chalk this one up to disagreement is because that isn’t the issue here. There is a clear definition of what “logical priority” is and I think you have outlined it in a misrepresentation. Either you’re not convinced that your position is an inaccurate representation of logical priority, you don’t realize that it is inaccurate, or you don’t care that it is inaccurate. Again, what you are outlining does seem absurd when applied to the concept of God but what you’re outlining is not the proper understanding of “logical priority.”
If you do not wish to continue discussing the topic with me, that’s fine but to make this out to be a matter of mere “disagreement” seems disingenuous.
… second to last word in the first sentence should be “begin” -_-
Consider it disingenuous if you want – I was trying to be gracious by using the word “disagree.” Let me be more specific – I think that any position which uses “logical priority” as it is used here is erroneous, full stop.
1) Because it quite obviously violates what we know to be true of God in Scripture 2) I am convinced that holding to logical priority is explaining away eternity by compromising immutability. Most arguments, you’ll notice, DO NOT ADDRESS God’s immutability. The classic arguments tend to use three attributes as if they are the only three God has. 3) Because I’m not convinced by the arguments of those who hold to the position you espouse – a position I was aware of previously, believe it or not.
Every conversation we have contains an exchange where you assume I do not understand what you are saying, or ignorant of some fact, which if you only explain it to me, would correct my ignorance. I understand what you are saying. I do not agree with what you are saying, and think it is wrong. I am aware that my position is not a common position, as well. I don’t need you to tell me 🙂
Further, while I’m sure you’re interested in the subject, I’m not really interested with speaking with you, at length, upon every solitary subject I post on. While I’m sure you’re a very earnest, very serious student of what they teach you – I’m not interested in having a dialogue with you about everything I apparently don’t know, on everything I post.
I’m very sincerely trying to be earnest with you – I’ve been around the internet a long time now. When someone *has* to comment on everything you write, it tends to get tiresome – especially when you end up having multiple versions of the exact same conversation. Feel free to answer my post however you wish. I do like constructive criticism very much. See my interaction with the other commenters on my previous post re: possibility. What gets tiring is having someone act as if they are stalking you. It wouldn’t be the first time, and won’t be the last – but I get right about zero enjoyment with interacting with you. Not because I have some self-esteem issue, but because it’s about as interesting as watching grass grow.
If you want to get the last word, that’s great. I really don’t care at this point. But I’d like to point something out to you. Don’t learn how to interact with people on the internet from Dawson. I completely ignored his response to our debate for a reason. Once he starts typing, he never stops. He never leaves an issue alone until he beats the horse so dead that all that is left is a smear. I understand your objection perfectly well. You don’t need to keep telling me I don’t 🙂
Hello there RazorsKiss,
You state, “What does succession entail? Mutability and time.”
Is it the case that “succession ” should only be understood as entailing, “mutability and time?”
It’s a shame this hard to turn into something personal rather than something which stuck to the topic at hand. You presented your case, and I presented mine. Now you state that:
“1) Because it quite obviously violates what we know to be true of God in Scripture 2) I am convinced that holding to logical priority is explaining away eternity by compromising immutability… 3) Because I’m not convinced by the arguments of those who hold the position you espouse…”
without ever directly responding to my initial response to you. That strikes me very strongly as you having made up your mind and decided that you will remain correct regardless of any objections. You reference my “position” on logical priority but this seems no better than referencing my position on the word “desk.” There *is* a definition of logical priority but you seem to have erected a strawman in its place. I have even agreed with you, what you outline to be logical priority is not cogent, but alas it is NOT logical priority which you are outlining! Given this, I must assume either you have objections to, you’re unaware of, or you misunderstand the definition. You’ve said that you’re aware of my ‘position’, disagree with it, but offer no direct criticism (every comment since my longest has been very vague and dismissive). What am I to conclude?
All I’ve been doing is asking for the ‘why’ with regard to your disagreement, but you have not given it. That’s fine, you’re under no obligation to do so but I don’t think given the circumstances you can fault my conclusions.
Further, I don’t *have* to comment on everything you write. I simply comment on things I think are worth discussing. If you are not in search of discussion then perhaps you should disable comments. If it is only my discussion for which you do not care, as you seem to have indicated then simply ignore my comments. You’re under no obligation to respond, obviously.
To claim that I’m stalking you seems completely paranoid. Given my constant interaction with Chris Bolt on this blog it is a given that I will see any new articles posted, perhaps even ones about which I have comments to make.
I am also not attempting to “beat” the issue it just really feels as if you’re attempting to circumvent the heart of the matter. I’ll let other readers make up their mind on this.
I’ll just assume that you’ll ignore any further responses I make on anything you write. Unless you disable comments if it is something I think is worth commenting on, then I’ll do so. Not for your benefit, obviously, but so that there is at least some exchange of ideas even if not reciprocated.
With that said, I only hope that Chris doesn’t share your disdain for my conversation. I am just grateful that, to my knowledge, discussions between him and I have never descended so far away from the issues that we begin to argue against each other rather than each others ideas.
5th word should be “had”… kindly overlook any other spelling errors.
It’s not personal, dude, it really isn’t. It just seems like a waste of time to me. It’s not disdain by any means. I thought twice about responding to you earlier, and I probably shouldn’t have.
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