Rocks in Socks: The Art of Asking Clever Questions

this post is originally by Tim Stratton

which you can find on freethinkingministries.org

Since publishing Human Freedom, Divine Knowledge, and Mere Molinism in October of 2020, almost every day I have dialoged with determinists. They are either theological determinists (typically Calvinists) who are seemingly committed to exhaustive divine determinism (EDD) or they are scientific determinists (typically naturalists/atheists) who believe that all things about humanity are ultimately causally determined by the laws and events of nature. These folks seem determined to destroy freedom (in a libertarian sense).

I provide logically valid deductive syllogisms, defend the premises to show the soundness of my arguments, and support my case with thoughtful thought experiments. But I have found that the art of asking good questions might be the best way (at least with some folks) to encourage one to think carefully on these matters.

“Questions Aren’t Arguments”

I recently had a conversation with a fellow Christian who claimed (apart from argument) that the FreeThinking Argument was faulty. In order to support my case and the syllogism I began to ask him a few well-crafted questions. However, instead of providing answers to my questions (which spoke quite loudly) he countered with “Questions aren’t arguments.” I agree, but as Greg Koukl has demonstrated in his book, Tactics, a good question can expose faulty thinking – and depending upon how the question is answered, it can set up further arguments.

A significant section of my book demonstrates how well-crafted questions can eventually lead a Five-Point Calvinist who previously opposed Molinism to see that he ought to affirm Mere Molinism (252-254). Moreover, another example of clever questions leading to conclusions can be found here: Assurance of Salvation. Sure, questions are not arguments, but well-crafted questions can imply arguments which can be fleshed out after one’s interlocutor provides his or her answers.

In a recent debate with an ardent EDD-Calvinist, after showing him that his commitments led to a “low view of God” as AW Tozer would say, I provided undercutting defeaters against his low view of God, and finally explained why — according to his view — he could not infer better or true beliefs over false ones and rationally affirm knowledge claims. Nevertheless, he remained steadfast and would not budge despite being confronted with logic-based arguments. I felt as if I was banging my head against a brick wall.

It finally occurred to me that perhaps I should follow Greg Koukl’s lead and drop the syllogisms in favor of carefully constructed questions. It started with one simple query:

1- Is it possible that you are wrong?

Initially this determinist was reluctant to answer the question. He was so convinced he was right that he seemed ready to affirm the logical impossibility of him being incorrect. Finally, however, he reluctantly affirmed that he was not infallible, and thus, it was at least possible that I was right and that he was wrong. This led to three statements followed with three true/false question:

2- If you are wrong, it is either because you are being causally determined to affirm a false belief or you are simply not being careful with your thoughts. True or False?

He answered in the affirmative: “True!” This provided a nice transition to my next question:

3- If you are causally determined to affirm a false belief you are not responsible in a desert sense. That is to say, you have a great excuse for affirming a false belief since something or someone else causally determined you to think and believe incorrectly. Thus, you do not deserve to be blamed. True or False?

My interlocutor agreed with me that if a “deity of deception” (like Loki) causally determined him to think and believe incorrectly, then he should not be blamed for the nonsense that is causally determined by Loki to be formed in his head and to be spewed forth from him mouth. Loki is to blame. This determinist answered in the affirmative: “True!”

This set up my last question:

4- If you are simply not being careful with your thoughts, then you are responsible in a desert sense and can be appropriately blamed (since you could have been careful but failed to take thoughts captive to obey reality). True or False?

Again, this determinist agreed with me that if he actually possessed an opportunity to take his thoughts captive to obey reality, but failed to seize this available opportunity, then he was blameworthy for missing the mark and failing to think correctly. Again, he answered in the affirmative: “True!”

Columbo, a Wager, and Rocks in Socks

I thanked him for the conversation and began to walk out the door. Then I paused and remembered what Koukl refers to as the “Columbo Tactic.” I turned around and said, “Sorry, I just have one last question.”[1]

5- Don’t ya think it would be prudent to reject exhaustive divine determinism (EDD) and affirm limited libertarian freedom? I mean, if you affirm EDD and you are wrong about EDD (which you admit is possible), then you are guilty and deserve blame. If you affirm the libertarian freedom to think, and you are wrong about libertarian freedom, then you are not blameworthy. Do you see that the wise man — if he wants to avoid blameworthiness — should reject EDD? 

These carefully crafted questions make it clear that the one who affirms libertarian freedom is either right or not to be blamed for being wrong. The exhaustive divine determinist, on the other hand, is either casually determined to think correctly – but not praiseworthy — or is guilty and blameworthy for being wrong. Although my interlocutor remained silent it was clear that I definitely “put a stone is his shoe” (as Koukl likes to say) or some “rocks in his socks” (as I like to put it when I am training MAVEN students). He will be forced to think about these agitating questions (stones/rocks) with every step he takes until we meet again. I am looking forward to our next conversation.

Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18) and take thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5) before they take you (Col 2:8),

Dr. Tim Stratton

40 thoughts on “Rocks in Socks: The Art of Asking Clever Questions

  1. Nice article!!!

    MOST CALVINIST’S PREFER TAKING THE BLUE PILL

    Taking the “BLUE PILL” involves the rejection of facing potentially unsettling or life-changing TRUTH, by choosing to remain in a self-imposed state of voluntary ignorance for the sake of the emotional comforts it provides.

    In regard to asking Calvinists “Socratic” questions:
    What I typically observe – is when the Calvinist is faced with such a question – and the answer in his mind is obvious to him – but that very answer reveals a blatant contradiction – or forces him to acknowledge something that he finds unpalatable.

    90% of the Calvinists I dialog with – when face to face with their own answer to such a question – will simply take the BLUE PILL and then seek to justify it – by claiming the BLUE PILL is Biblical.

    You take the BLUE PILL and you wake up and everything is just the way it was and everything is just fine! :-]

  2. To cite Koukl’s “Tacitcs” is curious seeing that Koukl is a Calvinist. I guess Stratton assumes that Koukl has not applied his own system to himself.

    I forgive Stratton for being confused by Calvinists who want to affirm a hard determinism and want to equate that with compatibilism. But he similarly assumes that there is a consensus, single and clear definition of libertarianism, which is simply not true.

    He needs to take his own advice and ask himself the same questions about his own system.

    2- If you are wrong, it is either because God actualized the world in which you affirm a false belief or you are simply not being careful with your thoughts. True or False?

    3- If God actualized your current false belief as opposed to the opposite belief you hold in an alternate unactulized world than you are not responsible in a desert sense. That is to say, you have a great excuse for affirming a false belief since something or someone else causally determined you to think and believe incorrectly. Thus, you do not deserve to be blamed. True or False?

    5- Don’t ya think it would be prudent to reject Molinism and affirm compatiblitsic freedom? I mean, if you affirm Molinism and you are wrong about Molinism (which you admit is possible), then you are guilty and deserve blame. If you affirm the compatiblitsic freedom to think, and you are wrong about compatiblitsic freedom, then you are not blameworthy. Do you see that the wise man — if he wants to avoid blameworthiness — should reject Molinism?

    1. Hello Mike!!!
      Good to see you :-]

      Mike
      I guess Stratton assumes that Koukl has not applied his own system to himself.

      br.d
      That wouldn’t be the case because Tim knows that Koukle has stated that Determinism mutually excludes itself from being rationally affirmed. Koukle allows for the existence of limited Libertarian freedom – for example – he believes it was granted to Adam and Eve

      Mike
      I forgive Stratton for being confused by Calvinists who want to affirm a hard determinism and want to equate that with compatibilism.

      br.d
      Mike – Tim understands that Calvinists argue that EDD is Hard Determinism – but Tim knows better.
      Tim knows there are very few – if any Hard Determinists in Calvinism – because that would entail a rejection of the Westminster confession.
      And one is hard pressed to find a Calvinist who rejects the WCF

      Mike
      But he similarly assumes that there is a consensus, single and clear definition of libertarianism, which is simply not true.

      He needs to take his own advice and ask himself the same questions about his own system.

      2- If you are wrong, it is either because God actualized the world in which you affirm a false belief or you are simply not being careful with your thoughts. True or False?

      br.d
      TRUE

      Mike
      3- If God actualized your current false belief as opposed to the opposite belief you hold in an alternate unactulized world than you are not responsible in a desert sense.

      br.d
      Are you really affirming that??
      I would not have assumed you would

      Mike
      That is to say, you have a great excuse for affirming a false belief since something or someone else causally determined you to think and believe incorrectly. Thus, you do not deserve to be blamed. True or False?

      br.d
      The subject of blame is where I personally deviate from Tim

      In Calvinism the creature is blamed for [X] simply because Calvin’s god decreed the creature be blamed for [X]
      The creature is blamed for [X] at the foundation of the world before the creature exists.
      The creature doesn’t have to do [X] in order to be blamed for [X]
      Therefore whether the creature did [X] or not is irrelevant.

      However, on human standards a creature is blamed for what the creature does
      But in Calvinism – human standards don’t apply.

      Mike
      5- Don’t ya think it would be prudent to reject Molinism and affirm compatiblitsic freedom? I mean, if you affirm Molinism and you are wrong about Molinism (which you admit is possible), then you are guilty and deserve blame.

      br.d
      How is that logically possible??

      On Determinism/Compatibilism whatsoever comes to pass with Tim is determined at the foundation of the world.
      Not by TIM – but by Calvin’s god.
      On that system Tim cannot reject Molinism – because that option is excluded by the infallible decree

      As soon as the infallible decree RENDERED-CERTAIN Tim embrace Molinism – the exclusion of Tim doing otherwise was also automatically RENDERED-CERTAIN. And that which is excluded – is not available to Tim

      So on Determinism/Compatibilism – rejecting Molinism is not an option made available to Tim.
      But Calvin’s god can still blame Tim for that which he does permit or make available to Tim.
      As explained above

      1. “Koukle allows for the existence of limited Libertarian freedom”

        Mike – So it is okay to be a Calvinist if you believe in limited libertarian free will? Okay, sign me up! Now, explain to me what “limited” libertarian free will really is. I’d appreciate a specific, clear and agreed upon definition.

        “Tim understands that Calvinists argue that EDD is Hard Determinism – but Tim knows better.”

        Mike – Yeah, Tim may know that but he obviously doesn’t buy it. He knows better.

        “Are you really affirming that?? I would not have assumed you would.”

        Mike – I am simply playing in Tim’s court here.

        “But in Calvinism – human standards don’t apply.”

        Mike – We’ve gone over this many time before. Your logic and syllogism against determinism is correct. But logic can’t be maintained for alternate theories. Be that as it may, my point here is to just point out that Molinism in no less, and may be even more, deterministic than Calvinism.

        “How is that logically possible??”

        Mike – It’s clear because Molinism is a form of determinism. Two possible worlds. One choice in each world. One for and one against. It is God who decides which world with which choice will be actualized.

      2. br.d
        “Koukle allows for the existence of limited Libertarian freedom”

        Mike
        – So it is okay to be a Calvinist if you believe in limited libertarian free will?

        br.d
        Yes
        As a matter of fact – Reformed author – Dr. Oliver Crisp – believes he sees this within the writing of various historic Reformed authors – and he calls it “Libertarian” Calvinism.

        Mike
        Okay, sign me up! Now, explain to me what “limited” libertarian free will really is. I’d appreciate a specific, clear and agreed upon definition.

        br.d
        Is it your perception that you are granted multiple options which are OPEN from which to select?
        That perception would have to be a FALSE perception – if Libertarian choice is not granted to you.

        Is it your perception that when you are granted multiple options from which to select – that you are the determiner of that selection?
        That perception would have to be a FALSE perception – if Libertarian choice is not granted to you.

        Is it your perception that you are granted the epistemic function of determining TRUE from FALSE on any matter?
        That perception would have to be a FALSE perception – if Libertarian choice is not granted to you.

        So there are some attributes of functionality that you would use for your definition.

        THEN
        “Tim understands that Calvinists argue that EDD is Hard Determinism – but Tim knows better.”

        Mike
        – Yeah, Tim may know that but he obviously doesn’t buy it. He knows better.

        br.d
        WHAT???
        How does that compute???

        I provided a logical reason why Tim would know better.
        Can you provide one – as to why he doesn’t?

        THEN
        “But in Calvinism – human standards don’t apply.”

        Mike
        We’ve gone over this many time before. Your logic and syllogism against determinism is correct. But logic can’t be maintained for alternate theories. Be that as it may, my point here is to just point out that Molinism in no less, and may be even more, deterministic than Calvinism.

        br.d
        Yes – but you and I don’t agree on your conclusion here.
        All Molinists concur that Molinism is more deterministic than – other Non-Calvinist belief systems.
        But what Molinism rejects is EXHAUSTIVE Determinism

        THEN
        “How is that logically possible??”

        Mike – It’s clear because Molinism is a form of determinism.

        br.d
        But not EXHAUSTIVE Determinism
        So yes – it is logically possible – if you allow for a limited degree of Libertarian choice for the creature – as detailed in the 3 questions I posed to you above. But on Calvinism – those 3 attributes are excluded – therefore on Calvinism is it not logically possible.

        Mike
        Two possible worlds. One choice in each world. One for and one against.

        br.d
        And only one world is actualized – just like it would be in Calvinism.
        However the world that is actualized in Molinism – is the world in which God knew what man would freely choose given libertarian choice.

        Whereas the world which is actualized in Calvinism is a world solely and exclusively determined by a THEOS – who – as the Westminster confession states – does not make his determination based upon any condition of the creature.

        So the Calvinist world is EXHAUSTIVELY Determined.
        While the Molinist world allows for limited Libertarian choice for the creature.

        And what is ironic about this – is that even though the Calvinist claims to reject Libertarian choice for the creature – that is the very choice he assumes for himself.

  3. A form of Pascal’s wager does actually work for determinism… if you wager on believing in autonomy, you were inevitably decreed to do so under determinism, so you have no choice anyway, and nothing could have been different. If you actually did have a choice, your wager protects yourself from believing a lie that would lessen the importance of your free will choices.

    This shows it is not logic in actual fact that is the reason people believe in determinism.

    1. Hello dizerner and welcome

      dizerner
      A form of Pascal’s wager does actually work for determinism…

      br.d
      Does it really?
      Let’s examine that

      dizerner
      if you wager on believing in autonomy, you were inevitably decreed to do so under determinism , so you have no choice anyway, and nothing could have been different

      br.d
      TRUE
      In Theological Determinism multiple options are not made available to the creature – because only one single option can be RENDERED-CERTAIN.
      Which logically entails the EXCLUSION of all alternative option(s) plural – as also RENDERED-CERTAIN

      dizerner
      . If you actually did have a choice, your wager protects yourself from believing a lie

      br.d
      AH! This is where the reasoning fails.
      Whether or not Theological Determinism is TRUE or FALSE does not protect one from believing a FALSEHOODS

      If Theological Determinism is TRUE – the SOURCE/ORIGIN of the FALSE-BELIEF would be a THEOS
      If Theological Determinism is FALSE – the SOURCE/ORIGIN of the FALSE-BELIEF would be the creature

      dizerner
      This shows it is not logic in actual fact that is the reason people believe in determinism.

      br.d
      Well – Determinism itself mutually excludes the options of logic as the reason for any human PERCEPTION as well as belief.

      If Determinism (whether Theological or Natural) is TRUE – then the reason a human mind has any given PERCEPTION is because antecedent factors outside of that human mind’s control determined that human mind would have that given PERCEPTION.

      The DETERMINER (either a THEOS or Nature) determines whether that PERCEPTION is a TRUE PERCEPTION or a FALSE PERCEPTION.
      And only the DETERMINER has the epistemic ability to know whether the PERCEPTION is TRUE or FALSE

      The human mind wouldn’t have the ability to know which one it is – because on Determinism – the human mind is not granted the LIBERTY of determining TRUE from FALSE on any matter – because doing so would entail a LIBERTARIAN choice – which does not exist for the human mind on Determinism.

      So on Determinism – the human mind is granted no epistemic function of determining TRUE from FALSE on any matter.

      1. br.d
        AH! This is where the reasoning fails.
        Whether or not Theological Determinism is TRUE or FALSE does not protect one from believing a FALSEHOODS

        I think you are misinterpreting what I’m saying there.

        I am not saying this wager protects you from any and every lie—notice I said “a lie,” that is singular, the theoretical lie that determinism would be if it were in fact false. In regards to determinism it is either true or false, our options are binary. What I’m saying is, by believing in autonomy you are protecting yourself from the lie of determinism, were determinism in that scenario actually a lie. You haven’t yet shown me how that proposition is false.

        br.d
        Well – Determinism itself mutually excludes the options of logic as the reason for any human PERCEPTION as well as belief.

        I’ve never been convinced by this argument, since logic would be a secondary cause, a means to and end, and so it would still function just fine.

        The human mind wouldn’t have the ability to know which one it is – because on Determinism – the human mind is not granted the LIBERTY of determining TRUE from FALSE on any matter – because doing so would entail a LIBERTARIAN choice – which does not exist for the human mind on Determinism.

        Libertarian choice in no way helps or guarantees correct reasoning, though. There is nothing about being free to reason incorrectly that guarantees you can reason correctly, and in fact, computers fail less in logic than humans do quite often.

        I first heard this argument against reasoning because determinism from William Lance Craig, but this logic fails.

        So on Determinism – the human mind is granted no epistemic function of determining TRUE from FALSE on any matter.

        It does not follow; determinism/autonomy has no logical connection to the reasoning process.

      2. dizerner
        In regards to determinism it is either true or false, our options are binary.

        br.d
        Agreed!

        dizerner
        What I’m saying is, by believing in autonomy you are protecting yourself from the lie of determinism, were determinism in that scenario actually a lie. You haven’t yet shown me how that proposition is false.

        br.d
        Actually you haven’t made a proposition – you’ve made a claim.
        But without any logical evidence to show hat that claim is TRUE.

        I think the key to your claim here hinges on the an appeal to some kind of “protection”

        The claim appear to be:
        Where [X] is TRUE and therefore [NOT X] is FALSE – a belief in [X] will “protect” the believer from believing a falsehood

        I would agree that believing in [X] excludes believing in [NOT X]
        But the concept of that providing some kind of protection is unclear.

        br.d
        Well – Determinism itself mutually excludes the option of logic as the reason for any human PERCEPTION as well as belief.

        dizerner
        I’ve never been convinced by this argument, since logic would be a secondary cause, a means to and end, and so it would still function just fine.

        br.d
        Logic applied by WHO?

        In Theological Determinism (apposed to Natural Determinism) the THEOS has Libertarian choice – by virtue of his choice not being determined by factors outside of his control – and by virtue of having multiple options (such as TRUE vs FALSE) OPEN from which to select.

        Thus since his selections are NOT determined *FOR* him – and since he has multiple options OPEN to him – then he enjoys the attributes of Libertarian choice – and his mind can choose between TRUE and FALSE using rational reasoning.

        Thus with Libertarian choice – he has the epistemic function of determining TRUE from FALSE on any proposition.
        Therefore he has the function of rational reasoning – and can apply logic to his reasoning.

        However – that logic is applicable to the THEOS only – because he does not grant multiple options (such as TRUE vs FALSE) to be OPEN for the creature to select from.

        Therefore the epistemic function of determining TRUE from FALSE – (a Libertarian Function) – is not extended to the creature.

        So yes the reasons for any conclusion within the mind of the THEOS entails the function of Logic – or rational reasoning.
        But that function of determining TRUE from FALSE functions only at the level of the THEOS and is not granted to the creature

        Therefore logic functions at the level of the THEOS’s mind – and not at the level of the creature’s mind.

        Additionally – every perception which comes to pass within the creature’s mind – is determined by factors outside of the creature’s minds’ control. And without libertarian choice the creature mind is not permitted to determine whether any perception is TRUE or FALSE.

        dizerner
        Libertarian choice in no way helps or guarantees correct reasoning, though.

        br.d
        Correct
        But without it – the function of determining TRUE from FALSE does not exist.

        dizerner
        There is nothing about being free to reason incorrectly that guarantees you can reason correctly, and in fact, computers fail less in logic than humans do quite often.

        br.d
        Computers do not have the epistemic function of determining TRUE from FALSE either.
        A computer will reach conclusion [X] simply because its program determines it to.
        It is not cognitive of whether or not that conclusion is TRUE or FALSE
        And nothing guarantees that conclusion is TRUE
        The fact that computers reach TRUE conclusions – is predicated on the program not on the computer.

        And the computer does not determine the program.
        Ditto for the Calvinist brain.
        And you should be able to connect the rest of those dots.

        dizerner
        I first heard this argument against reasoning because determinism from William Lance Craig, but this logic fails.

        br.d
        That is funny!
        People make claims like that all the time – which collapse under scrutiny! :-]

        Gregory Koukl
        -quote:
        The problem with determinism……One could never judge between a good idea and a bad one. One would only hold beliefs because he has been predetermined to do so. Although it is theoretically possible that determinism is true…..no one could ever know if it – if it were. Everyone of our thoughts dispositions and opinions would have been decided for us by factors completely out of our control. Therefore in practice, arguments for determinism are self defeating.”

        Dr. John Searle – Professor Emeritus of the Philosophy of Mind and Language – Berkeley
        -quote
        “Rationality only makes a difference where there is the possibility of irrationality.
        And all rational activity logically presupposes Libertarian Free Will.

        This becomes obvious when one realizes that rationality is possible only where one has a choice among various rational as well as irrational options.”
        (Rationality in Action)

        Therefore since the liberty to choose between multiple options is the quintessential definition of Libertarian freedom, it LOGICALLY follows – where Libertarian Freedom does not exist, neither does the function of choosing between TRUE and FALSE.

      3. A proposition can claim can be the same thing depending on how you are using those terms, and the point trying to differentiate them seems pedantic and unhelpful. I am not using them in some technical sense of jargon.

        The point is, if determinism were false, and one believed it were false, one would be protected from believing it were true.

        Your rebuttals often get very convoluted and miss the point, and you did not disprove the above statement. No offense intended by that.

        As to the point that computers can’t determine whether something is true or false, that depends on what you are talking about. A program can determine whether something is true or false under certain parameters, and indeed unless humans are omniscient they have no ultimate access to truth or falsity through reason. Libertarian choice does not give one the ability to use reason, nor to determine truth, it gives one the ability to choose how the reason is applied.

        I think both my points still stand just fine.

      4. dizerner
        The point is, if determinism were false, and one believed it were false, one would be protected from believing it were true.

        br.d
        You’ve made that claim now a number of times – and in all cases not provided how “protection” is logically entailed.

        dizerner
        Your rebuttals often get very convoluted and miss the point, and you did not disprove the above statement. No offense intended by that.

        br.d
        That’s because there is no obligation to prove a claim FALSE – which has not been logically shown to be TRUE.

        dizerner
        As to the point that computers can’t determine whether something is true or false, that depends on what you are talking about.

        br.d
        Let’s see where you are going here

        dizerner
        A program can determine whether something is true or false under certain parameters

        br.d
        Which is what I’ve already stated.
        But as I pointed out – the program is not the computer.
        The program determines what path the computer will follow – not the computer.
        Therefore the computer doesn’t determine anything – the program does.

        dizerner
        , and indeed unless humans are omniscient they have no ultimate access to truth or falsity through reason.

        br.d
        Its unclear what you mean by “ultimate” access.
        What the entity (i.e. human) who has Libertarian choice has – is
        1) multiple options OPEN from which to select
        2) The ability to be the “Determinative” determiner of which option one selects

        So lets applies to the two options TRUE and FALSE

        The Christian has a THEOS who has (1) and (2) above.
        Therefore he has Libertarian choice
        Based on that functionality – he has the ability to select TRUE from FALSE concerning any proposition.
        Since he is perfect – his choice will not be a fallacious choice.

        Where that same Libertarian function exists for the creature – the creature has the same functionality
        But the creature is not perfect – so he has the probability of making a fallacious choice.
        Never the less – he has (1) and (2) above – just as the THEOS does

        He is not guaranteed to come to TRUE conclusions in his choices
        But he does have the epistemic function of determining TRUE from FALSE on any proposition.

        However – where Libertarian functionality is not granted to humans (as in Calvinism) then humans do not have (1) and (2) above.
        They therefore are not granted the epistemic function of determining TRUE from FALSE on any proposition.

        dizerner
        Libertarian choice does not give one the ability to use reason, nor to determine truth, it gives one the ability to choose how the reason is applied.

        br.d
        The key there being the word “choose”
        It grants them the LIBERTY of choice.

        dizerner
        I think both my points still stand just fine.

        br.d
        I think Greg Koukle, William Lane Craig, and Dr. John Searle’s statements that Exhaustive Divine Determinism cannot be logically affirmed are TRUE.

        And it becomes obvious Calvinists don’t want to live without the function of choice.
        And thus while they claim to reject Libertarian choice they simultaneously assume it for themselves

        Therefore I think my points stand just fine! :-]

      5. Thanks for contributing your thoughts, br.d.

        It’s been an enjoyable conversation even if I’m not convinced by your arguments.

      6. Thanks dizerner!
        I appreciate also :-]

        And yes – I believe I understand why you are not convinced.

        There is a pattern of thinking that is common among both Theological and Natural Determinists.

        It was expressed clearly by Stephen Hawking – a staunch Determinist – during a symposium on Determinism at Lady Mitchel Hall, Cambridge University in the 1980s.

        Hawking was asked about how he dealt with the psychological burden Determinism imposes upon the believer.

        He decided after looking at the matter for many years that he still believed. But he then proceeded to tell his audience – the way he resolved its psychological burden was to live *AS-IF* determinism is FALSE.

        -Paraphrased:
        “I believe Determinism is TRUE. But since I don’t know what has been determined – I might as well live *AS-IF* Determinism is FALSE”

        John Calvin – also aware of the same burden – resolved the same solution

        John Calvin
        -quote
        “All future things being uncertain to us, we hold them in suspense, *AS-IF* they might happen either one way or another.” (Institutes)

        Here Calvin knows what he is proposing is logically FALSE on his belief system – because the infallible decree – by its very nature – excludes any alternative of what is infallibly decreed to happen. Only one RENDERED-CERTAIN future is physically possible.

        So here – for the sake of psychological need – the solution is to treat what one knows to be FALSE *AS-IF* it is TRUE.

        John Calvin
        -quote
        “Hence as to future time, because the issue of all things is hidden from us, each ought to so to apply himself to his office, *AS-IF* nothing were determined about any part.” (Concerning the eternal predestination of God)

        Here Calvin treats what the doctrine stipulates as TRUE *AS-IF* it is FALSE
        The core of proposition – and the sacred divine doctrine – is that all things without exception are determined in every part solely and exclusively by a THEOS.

        So here – for the sake of psychological need – the solution is to treat the sacred divine doctrine *AS-IF* it is FALSE

        So we see the same exact solution – deployed by both the Theological Determinist and the Natural Determinist.

        Using John Calvin’s vernacular – I have come to describe this as Calvinism’s pattern of *AS-IF* Thinking

        The Calvinist holds [X] as TRUE – while treating [X] *AS-IF* it is FALSE
        The Calvinist holds [Y] as FALSE – while treating [Y] *AS-IF* it is TRUE

        Thus the Calvinist can hold EDD as TRUE – while treating it *AS-IF* it is FALSE
        And treat Libertarian choice as FALSE – while treating it *AS-IF* it is TRUE.

        So I understand this is as your solution as well.

        On the case of the computer – you want to treat the computer *AS-IF* it is the determiner – when in fact a programmer is the determiner – and the computer is given no other option than one single option predetermined by that programmer.

        This would be the equivalent of treating the Calvinist brain *AS-IF* it can function as the determiner of TRUE from FALSE – when in fact a programmer is the determiner and the Calvinist brain is given no other option than one single option predetermined by that programmer.

        For every human deliberation – one RENDERED-CERTAIN option – is determined at the foundation of the world.
        And the Calvinist brain has NO CHOICE in the matter of what the option will be. .

        But that is not a palatable belief system
        So the solution is to treat TRUE aspects of the belief system *AS-IF* they are FALSE – and FALSE aspects of the belief system *AS-IF* they are TRUE

        This solution allows the Determinist to convince himself he has escaped the logical consequences of his belief system

      7. -Paraphrased:
        “I believe Determinism is TRUE. But since I don’t know what has been determined – I might as well live *AS-IF* Determinism is FALSE”

        Ravi Zacharias used to quote this a lot. What I find interesting is the effect of determinism on psychological motivation—if I can’t change what happens my choices feel devalued. It is like a determinist wants to combine the security of not having to worry about one’s future with the real-world way we motivate ourselves.

        On the case of the computer – you want to treat the computer *AS-IF* it is the determiner – when in fact a programmer is the determiner – and the computer is given no other option than one single option predetermined by that programmer.

        Yes, that is true that the computer is determined, but it does not logically follow that it’s logic is incorrect by that fact. But I am not in fact treating the computer as if it is the determiner.

        What one is concerned about is continually tracing the logic back to an original verified path to justified absolute knowledge. In other words, if the computer program tells us 1 + 1 = 2, that may be a true fact, and the logic of adding 1 and 1 resulting in 2 is correct, but how do we know the principles of numbers and additions themselves are real things that work this way? The thing is: free will does not get us there. We still have that problem of “hard solipsism” as it is sometimes called, or “justified true belief.”

        If we don’t have a source to an absolute standard external to ourselves, free will is not enough to bridge the gap to absolute verified knowledge. The computer is not being illogical, and I think even you would admit that. But we know you can use logic in a valid way with incorrect premises. If I say all cats are dogs, therefore all dogs meow, that is not incorrect logic; that is incorrect information. And the computer program has no way to verify it’s information is incorrect anymore than we do, in a strictly logical sense. The only thing that can logically bring externally verified absolute knowledge is supernatural revelation from a source of perfect knowledge, not free will.

        br.d I have always appreciated your keen mind and willingness to think oustide the box. But I think you are making some errors in reasoning in your criticisms against my points.

        For every human deliberation – one RENDERED-CERTAIN option – is determined at the foundation of the world.
        And the Calvinist brain has NO CHOICE in the matter of what the option will be…

        Again we see the issue is not the incorrect use of logic (1+1 does in fact = 2), but rather the ability to verify the source knowledge used by the logic.

        This solution allows the Determinist to convince himself he has escaped the logical consequences of his belief system

        I can find no justified reason that determinism prevents a person from 1. receiving revelation or 2. using logic correctly. Determinism and autonomy have nothing logically to do with justifying source knowledge, because they don’t have the domain, they are not related to it. It is not our autonomy that is the determiner of truth and error or right and wrong, but rather the only source that could ever logically be—supernatural revelation from God.

        Blessings in Christ.

      8. dizerner
        Ravi Zacharias used to quote this a lot.

        br.d
        It is a quote from Stephen Hawking – a staunch determinist – at Lady Mitchel Hall Cambridge University – in the 1980s

        And as you can see – John Calvin resorts to the same exact mode of thinking.
        It is called *AS-IF* thinking.

        This thinking pattern allows a person to evade the logical consequences of a radical belief system without enunciating the contradiction.
        The person is not saying the doctrine is TRUE in one statement – and FALSE in the next statement.
        The person is EXPRESSLY asserting the doctrine as TRUE – while simultaneously treating it *AS-IF* it is FALSE
        This strategy facilitates a way to CHEAT
        It allows the person to “live” contradiction – without having to “acknowledge” that contradiction.

        The Solipsist believer does the same thing
        His doctrine stipulates that people around him are figments of his imagination – and not real
        But he treats people *AS-IF* they are real – in order to avoid the conflict that would otherwise occur.
        Thus – as the Calvinist does – he holds his doctrine to be TRUE – while treating it *AS-IF* it is FALSE

        Both EDD and Solipsism are radical belief systems
        This is why the believer incorporates *AS-IF* thinking as a way of living with the radical implications of the belief system.

        dizerner
        Yes, that is true that the computer is determined, but it does not logically follow that it’s logic is incorrect by that fact.

        br.d
        TRUE
        But – the computer does not have the ability to KNOW whether its result is TRUE or FALSE

        The most basic computer is a bank of 8 latching relays.
        Each relay represents a binary memory module
        It is either a 1 or a 0
        A bank of 8 relays thus can contain a number from 0 to 255
        There are thus 256 possible combinations for those 8 relays.
        Let’s say we have a bank of relays with the combination which produces the number 5
        Then we take another bank of relays and we have its combination be the number 10
        The we perform a logical AND operation om the two banks
        And we load the result into a third bank of relays.
        We end up with a combination which produces the number 15
        Thus we have used relays to add 5+10=15

        The relays simply follows a program path which was determined for them
        And that program resulted in the value of 15 – which is a TRUE value
        But the relays do not know the value they produces is TRUE.

        The programmer however has epistemic KNOWLEDGE that the result is TRUE.
        Thus the programmer (in our case Calvin’s god) has epistemic knowledge that the result he determines come to pass within the Calvinist brain is TRUE or FALSE.

        Because he has the ability to determine TRUE from FALSE
        And he has this ability because his brain is NOT determined by factors outside of his control.
        And as such – he has both TRUE and FALSE available to him from which to select.

        But the Calvinist brain does not have both TRUE and FALSE from which to select
        Because that would represent an “OPEN” future – which Exhaustive Determinism does not permit.

        Thus – in Calvnism we have a 100% determined entity – in the form of the Calvnist brain.
        Exactly the same as we have with a computer.

        In both cases we have a programmer who has Libertarian Choice – which includes
        1) The ability to select from a minimum of 2 possible options
        2) Those options being “OPEN” such that both of them are available form which to select
        3) He is the “Determinative” Determiner of which option he selects.

        All 3 of those attributes are EXCLUDED by Exhaustive Divine Determinism
        None of them are available to the creature.

        Further:
        The process of “choice” entails being faced with two or more possibilities – all of which are “OPEN” and thus available from which to select.
        No such condition exists for the creature with Exhaustive Divine Determinism – because Calvinism represents a “CLOSED” future.

        As Peter Van Inwagan states;
        -quote
        Determinism may now be defined: It is the thesis that at any instance – only one future is physically possible.

        Determinism eradicates PAP (Principle of Alternative Possibilities)

        Therefore – since “choice” is defined as the process of being faced with two or more possibilities – all of which are “OPEN”
        And since Exhaustive Divine Determinism (aka Calvinism) represents a “CLOSED” future.
        Then the condition of having two or more possibilities “OPEN” from which to select – does not exist for the Calvinist.

        And secondly – the ability to be the “Determinative” Determiner does not exist for the Calvnist.

        What does exist for the Calvinist is the function of “INCLINATION”.
        And every “INCLINATION” is RENDERED-CERTAIN at the foundation of the world.
        And all “Alternative” INCLINATIONS are EXCLUDED – at pain of falsifying the infallible decree

        Therefore on EDD the Creature is not granted the function of “Choice”.

        dizerner
        I can find no justified reason that determinism prevents a person from 1. receiving revelation or 2. using logic correctly.

        br.d
        If your brain is not granted the function of “Choice” then your brain cannot “choose” between TRUE and FALSE.
        You have perceptions coming to pass within your brain
        But your brain is not granted the function of determining whether a perception is TRUE or FALSE

        Since your brain cannot determine the difference between a TRUE perception and a FALSE perception – then you brain cannot discern the difference.

        And all human discernment is totally reliant upon perception.
        Where perception is FALSE – so is epistemic ability to know TRUE from FALSE.

        The Calvinist goes throughout his day having hundreds of FALSE perceptions – of an “OPEN” future in which PAP (Principle of Alternative Possibilities) is available to him.

        His doctrine of EDD rules out the existence of PAP
        Therefore – he must conclude – his god has infallibly decreed him to have hundreds of FALSE perceptions on a daily basis.

        Additionally – on the doctrine – he has no way of knowing if he is elect or not.
        If it is his perception that he is elect – and Calvin’s god knows that is FALSE – then he experiences thousands of FALSE perceptions of election/salvation throughout his life.

        Bottom line – on EDD – the Calvnist brain has no way of Determiningn TRUE from FALSE on any matter

      9. I would absolutely agree with you that the Calvinist God is a dishonest God that cannot be trusted, since his secret decrees can contradict his revealed decrees. And this point is important, for one never has a justification for an absolute trust.

      10. Yes!
        Very insightful!

        In Calvinism – the SECRET will is CAUSAL
        It is what CAUSALLY Determines “Whatsoever” comes to pass

        The ENUNCIATED will (or revealed will) is NON CAUSAL

        And as you point out – the ENUNCIATED will can be the direct opposite of the SECRET will

        And when the ENUNCIATED will is the direct opposite of the SECRET will….
        It functions as a FALSE REPRESENTATION of the SECRET will.

        And yes I agree – in such case we have divine deception as a REALITY for every Calvinist.

        This is a serious psychological problem for the Calvinist.

        All of the promises in scripture for the ELECT – are meant for the ELECT alone.
        And the Calvinist has no way of knowing (in this lifetime) if he is ELECT.

        This is the doctrine of the invisible church.
        The ELECT are invisible to the church.

        John Calvin
        -quote
        We are *NOT* bidden to distinguish between reprobate and elect – that is for God alone, not for us, to do . . .
        (Institutes)

        Therefore the Calvinist has no way of knowing if any of the promises in scripture apply to himself or not.
        He could have been designed/created for eternal torment in the lake of fire – for Calvin’s god’s good pleasure.

        However, there is no Calvinist who bear to live with this aspect of the doctrine.

        So – following Calvin’s *AS-IF* thinking pattern – the Calvinist goes about his office *AS-IF* he is elect.
        And he goes about his office *AS-IF* the doctrine permits him to KNOW his election status.

        Thus – we have another example – of the Calvinist’s *AS-IF* thinking pattern

        Now that you understand Calvinism’s pattern of *AS-IF* thinking
        I would ask you to start to specifically look for it within Calvinist statements.

        I suggest once you start to recognize it – you are going to be shocked at how ubiquitous it is within Calvinist statements.

  4. It’s clear to someone outside the deterministic system that it is an untenable worldview. They regularly deny or move out of deterministic reasoning when discussing their beliefs. They like the moniker, but quickly utilize some form of Libertarianism in discussion (Compatibilism is one attempt at cognitive compromise.)

    1. That is very well thought out JB!

      Consider the possibility that the Determinist never really moves into 100% Deterministic thinking.
      Because – what we humans perceive on an ongoing basis – includes having the function of choice – along with the perception of multiple options which are OPEN to us from which to select. And also the perception of being the determiner of what we select.
      But that would logically entail an OPEN future – which doesn’t exist in Determinism.

      On Determinism – all three of those perceptions would logically equate to FALSE perceptions.

      The Atheist (Natural Determinist) would typically classify them is illusions of Libertarian functionality because for him Nature is the “Determinative” Determiner – and nature is non-sentient.

      The Theological Determinist would (if he were logically consistent with determinism) classify them as FALSE perceptions which were infallibly decreed as part of “Whatsoever comes to pass” within the Calvinist’s mind.

      The Calvinist – as a Theological Determinist – does not typically acknowledge that he is not granted the function of choice – because he sees choice at least inferred within scripture. So if it is inferred within scripture – then somehow it must be granted to him.

      He will also not acknowledge that he is not granted the epistemic function of determining TRUE from FALSE on any matter – because he also sees that human function at least inferred within scripture.

      What the Calvinist does then – is take the attributes of Libertarian choice – and apply those attributes under the LABEL of Compatibilism.

      So we find Calvinists have their own non-normative conception of Compatibilist freedom
      The LABEL glued to the bottle from which he is sipping says Compatibilist Freedom
      The ingredients within the bottle from which he is sipping however is Libertarian freedom.

      This is why Dr. William James and Emanuel Kant write the following:

      Dr. William James
      -quote
      Compatibilism is a quagmire of evasion. The Compatibilists strategy relies upon stealing the name of freedom to mask their underlying determinism. They make a pretense of restoring the caged bird to LIBERTY with one hand, while with the other they anxiously tie a string to its leg to make sure it can’t get beyond determinism’s grasp.

      Emanuel Kant
      -quote
      Compatibilism is a wretched subterfuge with which some persons still let themselves be put off, and so think they have solved lives problems with petty word- jugglery.

      Both James and Kant understand Determinist have a psychological struggle being coherent with the belief system.
      And this is why Non-Calvinist authors historically concur that Calvinist language is a DOUBLE-SPEAK language

      Its a DOUBLE-SPEAK language – because the Calvinist is in a constant tap-dance between Determinism and IN-Determinism
      He cannot give up human functions that are Libertarian in nature.
      And yet his doctrine requires he claim the LABEL Libertarian does not exist.

      I can’t tell you have many times a Calvinist has asserted “Man has choice in Calvinism”
      And when I ask him – is that “Libertarian” choice?
      99% of the time – he will simply evade the question because he doesn’t want to look at what he knows is there.

      If I had a dollar for every time I’ve had that conversation – I could take myself out to a very fancy restaurant! :-]

      So even though the Calvinist claims to embrace Determinism – and to reject Libertarian function – he actually doesn’t

      1. br.d – Reformed author – Dr. Oliver Crisp… calls it “Libertarian” Calvinism.

        Mike – Yeah—I read his book—so does Richard Muller. I like both of these guys and I agree with much their research but they don’t really deal with the philosophical issues of libertarian free will.

        br.d – So there are some attributes of functionality that you would use for your definition.

        Mike – I understand you want to approach this logically from the negative. If determinism is false then “whatever” is true. But I’m looking for a positive and specific definition. A definition that takes into account causality, cause-and-effect, Frankfurt Cases, Event-, Agent-, and Non-Causal libertarianism. I could mention that the Kalam Argument is inconsistent with libertarian free will, but I would still need a positive definition to justify this.

        br.d – I provided a logical reason why Tim would know better. Can you provide one – as to why he doesn’t?

        Mike – I did. Molinism is a form of determinism.

        br.d – But not EXHAUSTIVE Determinism.

        Mike – What’s the difference between “exhaustive” determinism and determinism? If we use your logic then I can’t see a difference. And I’m sorry but I don’t see how Molinism escapes EXHAUSTIVE. Also, I’m not arguing for Calvinism this time around.

        br.d – And what is ironic about this…

        Mike – The real irony is that just because Molinists profess libertarian free will they get a pass. If you would hold them to the same logic you use for Calvinists then you would see this is just gaslighting.

        Even though I don’t know what libertarian free will is, nor do I understand its logic, if I “call” myself a Libertarian Calvinist then will I be accepted into the society of free will Libertarians along with Greg Koukl, Oliver Crisp, Richard Muller, and Open Theists? I was going to include Catholics but many of them adhere to Thomism which transcends the modern free will labels. Hey, I’m into Thomism myself—I consider myself a Classical Theist. Maybe I’ll just call myself a Free Will Calvinist.

      2. br.d – So there are some attributes of functionality that you would use for your definition.

        Mike – I understand you want to approach this logically from the negative. If determinism is false then “whatever” is true.

        br.d
        Yes – the logical consequences of Determinism.
        And the fact that Calvinists actually want and assume the attributes of Libertarian choice – serves as an indicator also.

        Mike
        But I’m looking for a positive and specific definition. A definition that takes into account causality, cause-and-effect, Frankfurt Cases, Event-, Agent-, and Non-Causal libertarianism. I could mention that the Kalam Argument is inconsistent with libertarian free will, but I would still need a positive definition to justify this.

        br.d
        I’m not sure this is available anywhere.
        If I understand what you are looking for – I would guess that Alvin Plantinga’s “Free will defense” is the closest thing to it.

        Mike – What’s the difference between “exhaustive” determinism and determinism?

        br.d
        Firstly:
        Tim Stratton would tell you – that he recognizes there are things in this world which follow laws of determinism.
        That is why he appeals to “limited” Libertarian Freedom.
        It may in fact be the case that 99% of what comes to pass is in fact pre-determined.

        It would seem logical to classify Tim’s position as a form of Semi-Determinism.

        Secondly:
        As Christians – we believe in a THEOS who enjoys “Sourcehood”
        He has multiple options which are OPEN to himself from which to select.
        And his selections are not determined *FOR* him by antecedent factors outside of his control

        All of those attributes are classically understood as Libertarian in nature.
        Therefore as Christians – we can’t totally reject Libertarian functionality without claiming our THEOS doesn’t have it.

        If he has Libertarian choice – then to me – the next question would be – why does he not grant that as part of his image to mankind?

        MIke
        If we use your logic then I can’t see a difference. And I’m sorry but I don’t see how Molinism escapes EXHAUSTIVE. Also, I’m not arguing for Calvinism this time around.

        br.d
        Well – if you can prove that Libertarian choice for the creature is logically incoherent – then you could make that case to a lot of Molinists and perhaps update the current consensus .

        Mike – The real irony is that just because Molinists profess libertarian free will they get a pass. If you would hold them to the same logic you use for Calvinists then you would see this is just gaslighting.

        br.d
        It seems to me – in order for that to be the case – you must first show that the Molinist claim of Libertarian freedom is logically incoherent.

        William Lane Craig says this about proving Molinism false:
        -quote
        The Molinist theory of providence must be judged as a whole in terms of its philosophical coherence, explanatory power, theological fecundity, and so forth. It is a non-starter for its detractors to point out that Molinists have not proven the postulates of the theory to be true. Thus, even though there are in this case very good reasons to think that its key postulate is true, the Molinist bears no initial burden to prove this postulate in order to commend his theory as the best account of divine providence available.

        So if someone can show how the Molinist position logically fails – we could have grounds for looking at gaslighting.

        MIke
        Even though I don’t know what libertarian free will is

        br.d
        I think you actually do! :-]

        Mike
        , nor do I understand its logic, if I “call” myself a Libertarian Calvinist then will I be accepted into the society of free will Libertarians along with Greg Koukl, Oliver Crisp, Richard Muller, and Open Theists?

        br.d
        You are right – we are social creatures
        It is part of our make up isn’t it?
        I’ve always appreciated and respected your self imposed honesty and sincerity
        It speaks well of who you are!

        Mike
        I was going to include Catholics but many of them adhere to Thomism which transcends the modern free will labels. Hey, I’m into Thomism myself—I consider myself a Classical Theist. Maybe I’ll just call myself a Free Will Calvinist.

        br.d
        Why not – there is certainly a lot of room in the house of Christianity! :-]

  5. Agreed it is untenable & personally I like a “what if your wrong question”.. (what if isn’t possible in determinism)

    Br.d as always i appreciate your insightful comments..
    Br.d “If Theological Determinism is TRUE – the SOURCE/ORIGIN of the FALSE-BELIEF would be a THEOS
    If Theological Determinism is FALSE – the SOURCE/ORIGIN of the FALSE-BELIEF would be the creature”

    Hmm how can John Piper a professing calvinist quote this below in the gospel coalition link?? sounds like he’s living as if indeterminism is true yet believes every dust molecule is predetermined.. in the desiringgod link😳 what how can we (Piper quote) “realign our lives” if we weren’t determined too🥴 so dizzying and wave churning!!! personally I’m not a fan of thinking what confusion this causes others.

    https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/has-god-predetermined-every-tiny-detail-in-the-universe-including-sin

    John Piper writes, “The coronavirus is God’s thunderclap call for all of us to repent and realign our lives with the infinite worth of Christ.”

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/podcasts/gospelbound/john-piper-coronavirus-and-christ/

    1. Nice Post Reggie!

      Yes – this is very typical Calvinist thinking
      The Calvinist holds to the proposition that everything is determined in every part
      And that proposition is the doctrine’s most divine sacred TRUTH

      But in order align himself with scripture – the Calvinist must treat the doctrine’s divine sacred proposition *AS-IF* it is FALSE

      That is why Calvinist language is a language of DOUBLE-SPEAK

  6. br.d – I’m not sure this is available anywhere.

    Mike – So, what you are saying is you definitely know what determinism is. And you are very clear on the definition of determinism. And philosophers are in agreement with the meaning of determinism, so much so that William James and Emanuel Kant understand Compatibilism to be word-play, but you can’t give me a consistent definition of Libertarian free will?!

    The Free Will Defense is not a definition. You can find a definition of Libertarian free will at Theopedia.com. It is the only nonpartisan clear definition I could find on the net. But it isn’t the definition that is used by Tim Stratton or William Lane Craig and I don’t think those two even use the same definition.

    br.d – All of those attributes are classically understood as Libertarian in nature.

    Mike – To label those attribute as “classically” libertarian is somewhat misleading as all those could just as easily be labeled “classically” compatibilist. There are both Sourcehood Libertarians and Sourcehood Compatibisits.

    br.d – Well – if you can prove that Libertarian choice for the creature is logically incoherent – then you could make that case to a lot of Molinists and perhaps update the current consensus .

    Mike – I believe that I have made the case but you don’t to see it. And I think you refuse to use the same logic on Molinism that you use on Calvinism.

    br.d – So if someone can show how the Molinist position logically fails – we could have grounds for looking at gaslighting.

    Mike – This is just a case of shifting the burden of proof. But I believe I have given a clear and logical explanation of why Molinism is determinism and you have not attempted to refute it. Craig does the same—because this is not just an argument that I made up, it is coming from other philosophers who have critiqued Molinism.

    Perhaps this will help. I’m not very good at creating syllogisms so maybe you cut me some slack or help me out with a better structure. Anyway here goes:
    1. Molinism posits possible worlds where a creature X will choose A and Not-A.
    2. In possible world A1 the creature X chooses A.
    3. In possible world A2 the creature X chooses Not-A.
    4. The possible world that is actualized is chosen by the theos.
    Who chooses to actualize the world and by extension the choice of A or Not-A? The creature or the theos?

    1. Mike – But you can’t give me a consistent definition of Libertarian free will?

      br.d
      I’m not sure what you mean by “consistent” definition.

      We’ve been discussing certain attributes which are classically understood as Libertarian in nature
      And how those attributes are excluded by Determinism
      And the understanding that those are attributes the Calvinist is going to have a hard time claiming don’t exist – at pain of taking them away from his THEOS – and also how they are attributes the Calvinist himself does not want to live without
      In my mind those things serve as evidence that is substantive enough all by themselves.

      Mike
      The Free Will Defense is not a definition. You can find a definition of Libertarian free will at Theopedia.com. It is the only nonpartisan clear definition I could find on the net. But it isn’t the definition that is used by Tim Stratton or William Lane Craig and I don’t think those two even use the same definition.

      br.d
      Well that is totally understandable – because Theopedia is a Calvinist web-site.
      And personally I can’t see how it is logically possible to claim Libertarian freedom entails one is -quote “free from the constraints of human nature”

      Personally I distinguish between “determined” by one’s nature – vs “free from its constraints”
      And I personally – can’t see how it is logically possible to make claim humans are “free from .its constraints”
      So where they get that as part of their definition is a mystery to me.

      And I can understand how in their definition – they don’t go into the details of how Libertarian choice logically entails multiple options to select from – which are excluded by Determinism. Because they see inferences of multiple options available to the creature in the language of scripture. Never the less multiple options are in fact excluded by Determinism – because multiple options entail an OPEN future which doesn’t exist in Determinism.

      Mike – To label those attribute as “classically” libertarian is somewhat misleading as all those could just as easily be labeled “classically” compatibilist.

      br.d
      Stanford Encyclopedia – Compatibilism:
      -quote
      Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism.

      Therefore Compatibilist freedom is freedom that must be “compatible” with what is determined.
      Making Determinism the CORE of the all that must be considered.
      If we remove Determinism – we don’t have anything to be compatible with
      Thus we look at the logical consequences of Determinism.

      With Theological Determinism – we have a CLOSED future – where everything is FIXED in the past.
      We have the exclusion of PAP (Principle of Alternative Possibilities)
      Only one physical future is possible.

      [A] can be RENDERED-CERTAIN
      But just as soon as it is – the exclusion of [NOT A] is also RENDERED-CERTAIN

      [NOT A] can be RENDERED-CERTAIN
      But just as soon as it is – the exclusion of [A] is also RENDERED-CERTAIN

      And that which is excluded is not available to the creature.

      Which means when your mind is presented with a question about whether a proposition is TRUE or FALSE – your selection has already be RENDERED-CERTAIN. And the exclusion of the alternative selection is also RENDERED-CERTAIN.

      Which means that selecting the alternative is not available to you.

      So on with that we have two possibilities:
      1) The infallible decree RENDERED-CERTAIN your brain would select TRUE
      In such case – your brain selecting FALSE is excluded and therefore not available to you.

      2) The infallible decree RENDERED-CERTAIN you brain would select FALSE
      In such case – your brain selecting TRUE is excluded and therefore not available to you.

      In other words – it is logically impossible for both TRUE and FALSE to be OPEN to you for you to select.
      Because that would represent an OPEN future
      And Theological Determinism represents a CLOSED future

      So you don’t have multiple options from which to select from – available to you in Determinism
      You have only one single RENDERED-CERTAIN option.

      Now where does compatibilism come into play?

      You have “Free” that is compatible with selecting that one single RENDERED-CERTAIN option that is made available to you.
      But you are NOT free to select the other option – because that freedom is NOT Compatible with what is determined.

      So the based on that explanation – we should be able to see – the attributes I’ve described are entailed with compatibilism.

      THEN
      br.d – Well – if you can prove that Libertarian choice for the creature is logically incoherent – then you could make that case to a lot of Molinists and perhaps update the current consensus .

      Mike – I believe that I have made the case but you don’t to see it. And I think you refuse to use the same logic on Molinism that you use on Calvinism.

      br.d
      What was your argument to show Libertarian choice is logically incoherent for the creature?

      Mike
      Perhaps this will help. I’m not very good at creating syllogisms so maybe you cut me some slack or help me out with a better structure. Anyway here goes:
      1. Molinism posits possible worlds where a creature X will choose A and Not-A.
      2. In possible world A1 the creature X chooses A.
      3. In possible world A2 the creature X chooses Not-A.
      4. The possible world that is actualized is chosen by the theos.
      Who chooses to actualize the world and by extension the choice of A or Not-A? The creature or the theos?

      br.d
      On number 1 – this is TRUE – except that you left out – the creature will be granted the Liberty of being the “Determinative” Determiner of that choice. The THEOS does not make that choice *FOR* the creature.

      So on your question – yes – the THEOS is the one who determines what world he will put the creature in.
      The creature – using divinely granted Libertarian choice – chooses A in one world
      The creature – using divinely granted Libertarian choice – chooses Not-A in the other world
      The THEOS determines which world will obtain.

      But what makes Molinism NOT Exhaustive is the fact that the THEOS does not determine *FOR* the creature – what the creature’s choice will be. So in my mind Molinism can be classified as Semi-Determinism.

      1. I made a typo!

        So the based on that explanation – we should be able to see – the attributes I’ve described are NOT entailed with compatibilism.

        1) Multiple options from which to select from are not available
        2) The creature as the “Determinative” determiner of that selection is not available.

      2. br.d – Theopedia is a Calvinist web-site.

        Mike – How do you know this is a Calvinist website? And if it is then point me to a nonpartisan website that gives a clear and simple definition. Why is this so difficult if libertarian free will is so well understood as you seem to think?

        br.d – So where they get that as part of their definition is a mystery to me.

        Mike – You’ve stated that this website is biased so there’s no point in arguing the case. Stratton and Craig’s definitions are also not nonpartisan. So give me a non-biased definition!

        br.d – Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism.

        Mike – We are not going to be able to argue this because we approach “compatible” in different ways. Now compatible in some instances can mean that the two come together to form one but the two parts become a different thing from the two individual parts. Or the compatible pairings can coexist equally without one dominating the other. But you seem to think that a dominate one must subsume the other. So if I use my compatible Mac hardware with my PC then my PC becomes a Mac. If free will and determinism are compatible then this is determinism regardless if some philosophers want to call it something different.

        But we’ve gone over this so many times before and I’ve heard all the arguments against determinism. But I’m still waiting to be convinced with a positive case for libertarianism. When I hear political candidates bash and slander their opponents and basically say. “vote for me because the other guy sucks” I’m not impressed or persuaded!

        br.d – On number 1 – this is TRUE – except that you left out – the creature will be granted the Liberty of being the “Determinative” Determiner of that choice.

        Mike – This is where you misunderstand the point and where Molinism’s possible worlds scenario is simple determinism with some libertarian sleight of hand. The creature makes both choices. A in A1 and Not-A in A2. The failure to recognize this is Molinism’s fatal flaw and what makes it simple determinism!

      3. Mike – How do you know this is a Calvinist website?

        br.d
        The authors of the site list “Calvinist doctrines of grace” as part of their statement of faith.

        BTW:
        Another conversation for another time is “doctrines of grace” which is a HALF-TRUTH
        They are actually “doctrines of good-evil”

        Mike
        And if it is then point me to a nonpartisan website that gives a clear and simple definition.

        br.d
        For me – the answer is ultra simple for a Christian

        Firstly:
        Libertarian function is function that is not Exhaustively Determined by antecedent factors outside of one’s control
        So any explanation of Libertarian functionality – in order to be comprehensive – would want to be coherent with that.
        And the two attributes of Libertarian function which I outlined serve that purpose.

        Secondly:
        Libertarian Function is the function that is enjoyed by the God of Christianity.
        Unless we want to argue that his impulses are determined by factors outside of his control
        And I don’t know any professing Christian who would assert that.

        So the Christian simply looks at the “freedom” that his God has – and the Christian has Libertarian “freedom”

        Mike – You’ve stated that this website is biased so there’s no point in arguing the case. Stratton and Craig’s definitions are also not nonpartisan. So give me a non-biased definition!

        br.d
        What’s wrong with my reasoning above?

        THEN
        br.d – Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism.

        Mike – We are not going to be able to argue this because we approach “compatible” in different ways.

        br.d
        And I suggest the reason the Calvinist does that – is because he finds what determinism logically excludes unpalatable
        He needs to go about his office *AS-IF* some things are not determined in every part by a THEOS
        He needs to go about his office *AS-IF* he has the function of choice
        Which means he needs certain freedoms that are NOT compatible with Determinism.

        So he takes a metaphorical bottle and puts the label “Compatiblism” on it
        And then he fills it with a Libertarian freedom
        And he sips on Libertarian freedom – which he has LABELED “Compatibilist freedom.

        Mike
        Now compatible in some instances can mean that the two come together to form one but the two parts become a different thing from the two individual parts.

        br.d
        You mean TRUE comes together with FALSE and when they are combined they become FALSE-TRUTH? :-]

        Mike
        But you seem to think…….if free will and determinism are compatible then this is determinism regardless if some philosophers want to call it something different.

        br.d
        Yes you are correct
        Trying to escape Determinism by calling it something other than it is – doesn’t work for me.

        Mike
        But we’ve gone over this so many times before and I’ve heard all the arguments against determinism. But I’m still waiting to be convinced with a positive case for libertarianism. When I hear political candidates bash and slander their opponents and basically say. “vote for me because the other guy sucks” I’m not impressed or persuaded!

        br.d
        And you already know – I don’t reduce logical thinking to that.

        THEN
        br.d – On number 1 – this is TRUE – except that you left out – the creature will be granted the Liberty of being the “Determinative” Determiner of that choice.

        Mike – This is where you misunderstand the point and where Molinism’s possible worlds scenario is simple determinism with some libertarian sleight of hand. The creature makes both choices. A in A1 and Not-A in A2. The failure to recognize this is Molinism’s fatal flaw and what makes it simple determinism!

        br.d
        What we are calling a fatal flaw here – is simply the fact that the THEOS does not determine the creature’s choice *FOR* the creature – which is a condition excluded by Exhaustive Determinism (aka Calvinism).

        And the irony is – that is the very condition you actually want for yourself and can’t live without.

        And for me – calling that condition a fatal flaw – while trying to make compatiblism SIMULATE that very condition – is very telling.

    2. Mike I noticed you said: But I’m still waiting to be convinced with a positive case for libertarianism.

      I attempt this here, both from logic and from Scripture:

      https://forums.carm.org/threads/god-draws-everyone-not-just-a-select-some-to-himself-all-the-time-john-12-32.5483/#post-369683

      In regards to compatibilism, one problem I have with it is it has no functional benefit.

      Since one would believe autonomy and determinism both exist, one should functionally focus on the autonomy and ignore the determinism, because the determinism plays no useful role in motivating choices. One could also argue that it necessarily flattens out to determinism, but this is not even necessary to do, since the determinism would be unnecessary to know.

      1. br.d – Firstly…Secondly…

        Mike – All these things you point out are all well and good but it is still curious to me that there is no unbiased nonpartisan simple consensus definition of libertarian free will. How is this possible if it is so ultra simple and intuitive?

        br.d – So the Christian simply looks at the “freedom” that his God has – and the Christian has Libertarian “freedom”

        Mike – Come on, you know that doesn’t work. God’s freedom is not equivalent to human freedom. God is autonomous. God is the unmoved mover. God has no antecedent influences or causes. God can’t sin.

        br.d – What’s wrong with my reasoning above?

        Mike – Nothing’s wrong with your reasoning accept that it’s yours. Just as my reasoning is mine. But we are not in agreement—we’re at an impasse. So we look to experts in the field to help. But the experts are at an impasse as well because there are as many experts that agree with you as agree with me. That’s why I’m looking for an unbiased definition. But perhaps there just isn’t one. I think that may be the case. That’s unfortunate because then debaters are just talking passed each other. I see this a lot. This is why I wanted to focus on Molinism because the literature is much more defined.

        br.d – Which means he needs certain freedoms that are NOT compatible with Determinism.

        Mike – I understand you feel this way. I could say something similar about libertarians. The reason they focus so intently on debunking Calvinism is because they fear that if they look too closely at there own system they will find inconstancies that they can’t explain.

        br.d – Trying to escape Determinism by calling it something other than it is – doesn’t work for me.

        Mike – And the fact that the majority of philosophers hold to some form of compatibilism doesn’t give you pause? Calling free will Libertarian without a consistent definition doesn’t work for me.

        br.d – And you already know – I don’t reduce logical thinking to that.

        Mike – So give me a positive definition of libertarian free will instead of saying libertarian free will is correct because determinism is false.

        br.d – And for me – calling that condition a fatal flaw – while trying to make compatiblism SIMULATE that very condition – is very telling.

        Mike – Well, I think all has been said and there’s no point going forward. I think you give Molinism a pass because they “say” they are libertarian. You can’t seem to see the logic of A in A1 and Not-A in A2.

        I suggest you watch the YouTube video from The Freed Thinker – A Simple Taxonomy of Freewill and Determinism. And then start listening to The Free Will Show podcast. Thanks for another interesting discussion.

      2. Mike – All these things you point out are all well and good but it is still curious to me that there is no unbiased nonpartisan simple consensus definition of libertarian free will. How is this possible if it is so ultra simple and intuitive?

        br.d
        Does your God have multiple options which are OPEN to him from which to select?
        If the answer is YES – then that eliminates Determinism – and you have an attribute of Libertarian nature

        Doe your God have the ability to select one option over the other – where that selection is not determined by factors outside of his control?
        If the answer is YES – then that eliminates Determinism – and you have an attribute of Libertarian nature

        Why would we want to discount those facts – simply because we don’t have a consensus among all people for the definition of Libertarian freedom?

        THEN
        br.d – So the Christian simply looks at the “freedom” that his God has – and the Christian has Libertarian “freedom”

        Mike – Come on, you know that doesn’t work. God’s freedom is not equivalent to human freedom. God is autonomous. God is the unmoved mover. God has no antecedent influences or causes. God can’t sin.

        br.d
        I see two primary differences

        One difference has to do with infallibility – not the nature of freedom.

        The other difference has to do with the fact that God has created a world in which SOME things are determined *FOR* us and not by us.
        SOME things are NOT UP TO US.

        But I fail to see how God is constrained or not omnipotent enough to grant limited Libertarian choice to humans.

        Can you provide an argument that shows why God is unable to do that?

        THEN
        br.d – Which means he needs certain freedoms that are NOT compatible with Determinism.

        Mike – I understand you feel this way. I could say something similar about libertarians. The reason they focus so intently on debunking Calvinism is because they fear that if they look too closely at there own system they will find inconstancies that they can’t explain.

        br.d
        Can you explain them using logical reasoning?

        Mike – And the fact that the majority of philosophers hold to some form of compatibilism doesn’t give you pause?

        br.d
        This depends on the philosophers we are looking at.
        Yes – that is TRUE for the preponderance of Atheist philosophers because they do not have a THEOS
        This makes it easy to be consistent with Determinism

        The Christian does have a THEOS
        And the impulses of the Christian THEOS are not determined by factors outside of his control.
        This makes it more difficult to be consistent with Determinism.

        Mike
        Calling free will Libertarian without a consistent definition doesn’t work for me.

        br.d
        And outlining attributes of Libertarian functionality – using logical reasoning doesn’t either?

        Mike – So give me a positive definition of libertarian free will instead of saying libertarian free will is correct because determinism is false.

        br.d
        Mike – I’ve never said determinism is false.
        What I’ve stated are logical consequences of Exhaustive Determinism.
        At one point I stated – it may be the case that 99% of whatsoever comes to pass is in fact determined by factors outside of our control.

        Mike – Well, I think all has been said and there’s no point going forward. I think you give Molinism a pass because they “say” they are libertarian.

        br.d
        And I agree with Dr. Craig – that it provides a logically viable account of divine providence – which does not entail logical consequences Exhaustive Divine Determinism introduces.

        For example – as Greg Koukle, and Dr. Craig point out – if Determinism is TRUE – then we wouldn’t know it one way or the other.
        Determinism cannot be rationally affirmed.

        Mike
        You can’t seem to see the logic of A in A1 and Not-A in A2.

        br.d
        I don’t see how that is a problem for me at all?
        And so far – you’ve not been able to explain how it is.

        In Calvinism – a THEOS determines what the creature will choose in both worlds.
        In Molinism – a THEOS does not determine what the creature will choose in either world.

        In one case you have Exhaustive Determinism
        In the other case you don’t

        Mike
        I suggest you watch the YouTube video from The Freed Thinker – A Simple Taxonomy of Freewill and Determinism. And then start listening to The Free Will Show podcast. Thanks for another interesting discussion.

        br.d
        I’m not familiar with that – but I’ll take a look.
        Thanks for pointing it out! :-]

      3. Mike I’m listening to the youtube video you suggested – and I think he starts off with a faulty presupposition concerning freedom.

        He claims freedom has to be understood as having to do with moral responsibility.

        A computer is a 100% determined entity.
        It has freedom to be/do what its designer determined it to be and do.
        In other words – it has freedom that is COMPATIBLE with what it is determined to do
        Thus it has “compatibilistic” freedom

        And yet – that freedom does not logically equate to moral responsibility.

        When you determine your car to make a left turn – your car has freedom sufficient to make that left turn
        It has freedom that is COMPATIBLE with what is determined to do
        And yet – that freedom does not logically equate to moral responsibility.

        So right off the bat we start off with an inaccurate trajectory.
        And when we start by aiming our arrow off the bulls-eye – our arrow is simply going to stray further off course as it travels.

      4. We have more of a full-table discussion of Tyler’s version of Libertarian Freedom with a Youtube video by Dr. Flowers

        Tyler is asked the very question we are discussing about whether or not the Calvinist’s god has Libertarian freedom.

        Tyler gives his answer – which very much aligns with Gullium Bignon’s position – and Braxton gives his view in response.

        The Youtube video is titled: Calvinism vs Provisionism

        Skip ahead up to minute 59:50
        And listen through to minute 1:12:49

        I already know you won’t agree with Braxton’s response.
        But at least we have both views – Tyler’s and Braxton’s

        Personally – I think the reasons Tyler gives as to why God’s freedom cannot be Libertarian are appeals to things that are logically impossible. And things that are logically impossible – even for a divine being – will be the same whether freedom is compatible or libertarian.

        For example – we have the question:
        Can god create a rock that is too large for himself to lift

        The answer is no.
        But that answer is going to be no – whether or not God has compatibilistic freedom or libertarian freedom – because it is simply a logical impossibility.

        Similarly – God cannot not love Jesus because it is logically impossible for him not to.

        So I would say Tyler’s reasons for why he thinks divine freedom is not libertarian in nature – don’t really apply to either compatibilist freedom or libertarian freedom.

        And I agree with Braxton – that Tyler whether he knows it or not – is in fact describing “Source Libertarianism”

        I notice also that Tyler qualifies his statement saying it is not “full blown” Libertarian freedom
        Which means – somewhere in Tyler’s thinking he does see ATTRIBUTES of freedom that God has – which he understands as Libertarian in nature.

  7. Br. D,
    This is off topic, but do you have a contact for Eric Kemp or Drew Mcleod? I tried reaching out to them on their gmail account and have not heard back. (I don’t use social media like FB or Twitter)
    Thanks,
    Jared

  8. On a slightly different note, here’s another question that’s a good one to ask Calvinists: “When you say ‘anyone can believe/be saved,’ do you mean that everyone has the ability/opportunity to believe/be saved?”

    Because while they make it sound like that’s what they mean (and they want you to think that’s what they mean), it’s not. Based on the comments I’ve seen from Calvinists, all they mean is that anyone can believe/be saved IF God wants them to believe/be saved, IF God elected them and causes them to believe/be saved. And/or they mean that people from any/every kind of people-group will be among the elect ones (“any kind of person can believe/be saved”).

    It’s so deceptive, because they know that almost all people (except Calvinists) will think they are saying that all people have the ability/opportunity to believe. And they will not voluntarily correct that incorrect assumption unless pushed to, unless called out on their deceptive wording and pressed to reveal what they really mean.

    I’ve heard it said that when it comes to Calvinists, you have to be super careful and very specific with your questions (and never take their first answer at face value), because they will take advantage of any loopholes, assumptions, misunderstandings, double meanings, etc., and they won’t voluntarily reveal their true beliefs and what they really mean unless cornered and pushed. Because in order to spread their theology, they need to let you think they are saying something they aren’t. I think we all here at Sot 101 have seen this time and time again.

    1. Heather
      Because while they make it sound like that’s what they mean (and they want you to think that’s what they mean), it’s not.

      br.d
      BINGO!!!!

      Calvinist language is not a TRUTH-TELLING language

      Calvinist language is a COSMETIC language

      It is language designed to make the face of Calvinism APPEAR to be something it is not.

  9. Br.d.: “It is language designed to make the face of Calvinism APPEAR to be something it is not.”

    Exactly! And it says a lot about their theological beliefs that they have to disguise what they really mean, instead of proudly and honestly admitting it. Unlike the Bible which isn’t ashamed/embarrassed by the truth of the gospel.

    1. Boy did you say it Heather!

      Internally I think they perceive the subtle and equivocal nature of their language as one of their strong suits.
      However it also serves as a RED-FLAG that they secretly recognize aspects of the system they must hide.

      There are things the system logically eradicates – which they cannot possibly live without.
      And there are consequences of the belief system – which they cannot possibly live with.

      I’d feel sorry for them – if it wasn’t for the fact that the deceptiveness of it – is what is used to lure unsuspecting others into it.

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