Why is God’s know-how of counterfactuals important to a compatibilist doctrine of providence?


Yesterday, I was asked: “how critical is it to your theology to add the hypothetical know-how into the mix, given that, in omniscience, is not know-how of all doable factors presupposed?

That is an fantastic query, so I want to post my response right here as properly.

For me, God’s know-how of counterfactuals, that is, of what no cost creatures would  have completed in hypothetical circumstances (and therefore, in doable worlds) is exceptionally critical to compatibilism (i.e., the compatibility of human moral duty with God’s complete handle of the planet). Classic theism affirmed that God knows counterfactuals, but theologians disagreed about no matter if he knew them as aspect of his all-natural/essential know-how or as aspect of his no cost know-how. In other words, they differed as to no matter if God’s know-how of counterfactuals precedes or follows from his decree (logically). It is critical to me to affirm that God has this know-how naturally or necessarily, although Molinists regularly argue that I ought to assign it to God’s no cost know-how. I posit that God knows naturally the “principles of agent causation,” like he knows mathematical truths and other abstract objects.

So, Calvinists have usually affirmed that God knows counterfactuals of hypothetical creaturely choices, but really couple of have been prepared to grant, or at least to emphasize, as I do, that God created use of this know-how in figuring out produced history (i.e., in forming his decree). They worry that it threatens to make God dependent upon his creatures, in his know-how. But that is an unnecessary worry, mainly because what God knows about counterfactuals is not dependent on the actual choices created by moral creatures, it derives from his recognizing what specific sorts of creatures would do in all hypothetical circumstances. This is what I contact “the principles of agent causation.”

Hence, God is not dependent on his creatures in any way. But, exactly where this affirmation is hugely useful to a compatibilist theology is that this know-how enables God to decide on a specific planet history, 1 which comes about to a substantial degree by means of the choices and acts of creatures, maximizing their morally accountable freedom, devoid of inhibiting God’s handle. This assists us to recognize how God knows comprehensively all that his creatures will do voluntarily, devoid of his getting to coerce them. My construct appropriates all the added benefits that Molinism was wanting to achieve, but it does so in a way that is coherent. Molinism fatally fails mainly because of the grounding objection. If creatures have libertarian freedom, the energy of option possibilities, or the freedom to have selected differently than they did decide on, in offered circumstances, it is not possible to predict with certainty what they would do in hypothetical circumstances. But, if humans are morally accountable so lengthy as they are no cost to act voluntarily, devoid of external coercion, then God can know what they would do in any hypothetical circumstance, mainly because he knows the principles of agent causation.



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