The topic of the Christian Trinity and its correlation with the omni-qualities of God has been explored by numerous theologians throughout history. Advocates of the Trinity and deductive methodology commence with the claim that each member of the Trinity is entirely divine, thereby possessing all attributes of God. The anti-trinatarians on the other hand point to biblical evidence that implies the members of the Trinity lack certain omni-qualities and subsequently deduce that the Trinity is not divine. The middle ground of (...) these opposing viewpoints likely exists in accepting the divinity of the Trinity whilst rejecting the idea that the members of the Trinity necessarily possess all the omni-qualities. However, this perspective is subject to criticism from both factions in the contemporary theological landscape. In this paper, I shall explore a model of the Trinity that fits within this middle ground. In doing so, I shall explore the possibility that the Trinity has a one-to-one correspondence with the three major omni-qualities commonly ascribed to the God of Classical theism. To do so, we shall use both a deductive approach and the evidence from the scripture. The truth of the assertion that only the Father is omniscient and only the Holy Spirit is omnipresent is presented using specific Bible verses that point to the exclusivity of the quality in the respective members. The truth of the assertion that only the Son is omnipotent is obtained by a deductive approach. (shrink)
By “pantheism” I mean to pick out a model of God on which God is identical with the totality of existents constitutive of the universe. I assume that, on pantheism, God is an omnispatiotemporal mind who is identical with the universe. I assume that, given divine omnispatiotemporality, God knows everything that can be known in the universe. This includes having knowledge de se of the minds of every conscious creature. Hence, if God has knowledge de se of the minds of (...) every conscious creature, then divine omniscience implies omnisubjectivity. Assuming that eternalism is true, robust temporal passage is an illusion. But, conscious creatures, such as human persons, experience robust temporal passage. If God has the attribute of omnisubjectivity, then God experiences temporal passage. However, God also has a unified experience of the entire spatiotemporal continuum. God’s having these two perspectives creates a tension for pantheism given that God would seem to experience both temporal passage and an absence of temporal passage. I compare non-personal pantheism and personal pantheism and consider which one has better resources to answer the foregoing puzzle. I argue that personal pantheism is better equipped to address this problem than non-personal pantheism. (shrink)
Arthur Cunningham has asserted that my argument targeting the “freedom problem” for Molinism is unsuccessful. I show that while he has correctly identified two minor (and correctible) problems with the argument, Cunningham’s main criticisms are ineffective. This is mainly because he has failed to appreciate the complex dialectical situation created by the use of a reductio ad absurdum argument. The result is to underscore the difficulty for Molinism of the freedom problem.
This paper is a response to William Hasker’s “bring about” argument (1999, reiterated in 2011) against the Molinist theory of divine providence. Hasker’s argument rests on his claim that God’s middle knowledge must be regarded as part of the world’s past history; the primary Molinist response has been to resist this claim. This paper argues that even if this claim about middle knowledge is granted, the intended reductio does not go through. In particular, Hasker’s claim about middle knowledge is shown (...) to undermine his proof of the “power entailment principle.” The paper closes with a critical examination of ideas about free will and the past history of the world that might be supposed to support Hasker’s conviction that Molinism is incompatible with a libertarian view of free will. (shrink)
In the recent debate on Christian theism, the position called Open Theism (OT) tries to solve the dilemma of omniscience and human freedom. In OT, the key word of the human-divine relationship is “risk”: in his relationship with us, God is a risk-taker in that he adapts his plan to human decisions and to the situations that arise from them. “Risk” is the fundamental characteristic of any true love relationship. According to OT, God has no exhaustive knowledge of how humans (...) will use their will, and the divine plan for this world is not seen as fixed for eternity. OT distinguishes between meticulous providence and general providence and denies that the former can exist. After illustrating these positions and a particular view of OT called essential kenosis, I highlight some of their weaknesses and conclude by asking whether the concept of mystery (at least in some of its possible interpretations: I outline four “solutions”) can enable a reconciliation between classical theism and OT. By applying an approach to the notion of mystery usually connected to the Trinity, I show that the dilemma of omniscience, human freedom and providence does not compromise the plausibility of theism. (shrink)
In the essay I analyse Micheletti’s three theses concerning: (a) the notion of mystery in relation to the “evidentialistic claim”; (b) analogical metaphysics in relation to “univocist immanentism” and to the importance of developing an analogical theism; (c) the fallibilistic conception of reason in relation to natural law, universalistic ethics and the so-called “essentialism” applied to individual human nature. I will try to show how deep is the intertwining and mutual implication of mystery and analogy – in metaphysics and theology, (...) in epistemology and ontology, in anthropology and ethics – and how Micheletti’s works have been an important step in bringing these two notions back to the center of the discussion that introduces oneself in the “question of God” and in the “question of Human being”. (shrink)
This paper considers two objections which can be levelled against Leibniz’s account of divine love. The first is that he cannot allow that divine love is gracious because he is committed to the view that love is properly proportioned to the perfection perceived in the beloved; the second is that God is cruel to those who are damned and so cannot be said to love all. I argue that Leibniz has the resources to rebut—or at least blunt—each of these objections.
A philosophically and historically influential section of the Critique of Judgement presents an ‘intuitive intellect’ as a mind whose representation is limited to what actually exists, and does not extend to mere possibilities. Kant’s paradigmatic instance of such an intellect is however also the divine mind. This combination threatens to rule out the reality of the mere possibilities presupposed by Kant’s theory of human freedom. Through an analysis of the relevant issues in metaphysical cosmology, modal metaphysics and philosophical theology, I (...) show that Kant in fact possesses the resources to reconcile the philosophical claims of §76 of the Critique of Judgement with his keystone commitment to the reality of human freedom. (shrink)
This article evaluates the discussion concerning the relationship between the Kalām Cosmological Argument and Divine Omniscience in recent articles in Sophia, 263–272, 2016; Erasmus Sophia, 57, 151–156, 2018a). I argue that, in his latest article, Erasmus is guilty of shifting the focus of the discussion from the KCA to the Infinity Argument. I contribute to the discussion by replying to the four difficulties Erasmus Sophia, 57, 151–156, mentions against my defence of the notion that God has an undivided intuition of (...) all reality. I show that Erasmus has failed to allay the worry that the redefinition of omniscience by Erasmus and Verhoef is unmotivated and problematic. (shrink)
God is omniscient; therefore, He knows that ‘the flower in my hand is red.’ If God knows that ‘the flower in my hand is red,’ then He knows it perceptually. God does not know anything perceptually. It is clear that the set of propositions – form an inconsistent triad. This is one of four problems with which Avicenna was engaged concerning God's knowledge of particulars, which I call the problem of perceptual knowledge. In order to solve PPK and three other (...) problems, Avicenna has developed a theory concerning God’s knowledge of particulars. Secondary literature around Avicenna’s theory of God’s knowledge of particulars has mostly directed its attention to give an account of Avicenna’s positive theory rather than the problems which that theory was designed to solve. But this paper will not do the same thing as this secondary literature. In contrast, in this paper, I will concentrate on the characterization of one of the problems, i.e., PPK, because of which Avicenna has presented his positive theory of God’s knowledge of particulars. In short, this paper aims to show why Avicenna deems explaining God’s knowledge of, say, the redness of a flower, via his accepted theory of perception as problematic. In this regard, I will extract three versions of PPK based on Avicenna's philosophy and through it will shed some light on Avicenna’s theory of God’s knowledge of particulars. (shrink)
Si l’on peut parler d’un désir de Dieu inscrit dans le coeur de l’homme, qu’en est-il du côté de Dieu ? Dieu désire-t-il entrer en communion avec chacun de nous ? Y aurait-il du désir dans la Trinité sainte ? Après avoir élaboré une nouvelle conception du désir, Jean-Baptiste Lecuit s’interroge sur le désir de l’homme pour Dieu : en quoi consiste-t-il ? Quel exaucement lui est-il offert ? Par quelles voies ? Est-il naturel à tout être humain ? En (...) un renversement de perspective, l’auteur s’interroge aussi sur la possibilité que Dieu désire l’être humain et son salut. Il met au jour un courant ininterrompu de Pères de l’Église, de mystiques et de théologiens qui, malgré l’avis contraire d’Augustin et de Thomas d’Aquin, n’a cessé de reconnaître et d’annoncer un tel désir, de façon toujours plus insistante. Ce parcours passionnant dans la Tradition de l’Église débouche sur une réflexion justifiant l’attribution à Dieu d’un désir pour l’homme et montrant sa portée théologique et spirituelle. Carme déchaux de la Province de Paris, Jean-Baptiste Lecuit est professeur de théologie de l’université catholique de Lille. Il a publié aux Éditions du Cerf, L’Anthropologie théologique à la lumière de la psychanalyse (2007) ; Quand Dieu habite en l’homme (2010). (shrink)
Hick’s soul-making theodicy defends the omnipotence, omniscience, and all-goodness of God in the face of evil. It holds that the end of the creation process is the development of human beings into children of God. In order to achieve the end, an evil-dependent soul-making process must be employed. It then concludes that, because the end is so valuable, the omnipotent and omniscient creator’s not having prevented the existence of evil is morally justified and thus not in conflict with her being (...) all-good. In particular, God’s having created a world with evils and evil-dependent values, which may be called “an Irenaean world,” is morally justified. In the Zhuangzi, Zhuangzi holds that the actual world is, in reality, a world without evils and evil-dependent values, but with evil-independent values, which may be called “a Zhuangzian world,” while ordinary people mistakenly take the actual world to be an Irenaean world. In an insightful story in the Chapter “The Great and Venerable Teacher” of the Zhuangzi, he amounts to claiming that a Zhuangzian world is better than an Irenaean world. Without endorsing Zhuangzi’s two positions, I argue against Hick’s soul-making theodicy in this way: It is Hick’s burden to prove either that a Zhuangzian world is metaphysically impossible, or that the actual world, as an Irenaean world, is better than any Zhuangzian world. However, there are not any resources in his soul-making theodicy that can provide any such proofs. Therefore, Hick has not justified, nor rationally established, his soul-making theodicy. (shrink)
The theistic doctrine of creation highlights the significance of the world's dependence on God. For this doctrine, a variety of justifications have been offered based on the ontological and epistemological commitments of a philosopher or theologian. In this dissertation, I defend the thesis that the theistic doctrine of creation is strongly justified when on the one hand the integrity of nature is established by affirming causal necessity while on the other hand the sovereignty of God is maintained by affirming divine (...) simplicity, eternity, and immutability. To construct my argument, in the first chapter, I examine the Aristotelian roots of causal necessity and its development by Avicenna. I also consider objections to causal necessity raised by Hume and al-Ghazālī and some contemporary objections by David Lewis. In the second chapter, I identify three competing theses to explain the integrity of nature, namely, the regularism, the extrinsic necessitarianism, and the intrinsic necessitarianism. I conclude that the intrinsic necessitarianism is the strongest among them. In the third chapter, I make a case for the sovereignty of God by exploring the limits of the concept of the theistic God and claim that sovereignty is conditional on immutability, simplicity, and eternity, which qualify the divine attributes of knowledge, power, and goodness. In the last chapter, after analyzing strengths and weaknesses of theistic accounts of creation, I propose an account of ontological dependence by extending Avicenna's account of creation, which consists in God's conferral of existence, to His sustaining activity at all times during which an object endures. (shrink)
I’m going to argue that omniscience is impossible and therefore that there is no God. The argument turns on the notion of grounding. After illustrating and clarifying that notion, I’ll start the argument in earnest. The first step will be to lay out five claims, one of which is the claim that there is an omniscient being, and the other four of which are claims about grounding. I’ll prove that these five claims are jointly inconsistent. Then I’ll argue for the (...) truth of each of them except the claim that there is an omniscient being. From these arguments it follows that there are no omniscient beings and thus that there is no God. (shrink)
In this article, I attempt to solve a problem in Wolfhart Pannenberg’s eschatology, which is best understood as a retroactive ontology. Pannenberg argues that the future exerts a retroactive causal and determinative power over the present, though he also claims that said future does not yet concretely exist. The problem can be posed thus: How does a non-concrete future hold retroactive power over the concrete present? I argue that the doctrines of middle knowledge and supercomprehension formulated by the Spanish Jesuit (...) theologian Luis de Molina, provide an adequate solution to this problem while still preserving both the retroactive power of the nonconcrete future as well as genuine human libertarian free choice. (shrink)
This paper explores the implications for classical theism of the possibility that God makes “hard choices.” A choice between two actions is hard if the chooser believes that each action is better than the other in some respects, but believes neither that one action is better overall than the other nor that the two actions are equally valuable overall. Even an omniscient God might be forced to make hard choices if, as seems plausible, “better than,” “worse than,” and “equal in (...) value to” do not exhaust the relevant value relations that one action can bear to another. This paper seeks to show that, if God does make hard choices of a certain sort, then God can be essentially perfectly rational and still have morally significant freedom. This is important because maximal praiseworthiness both requires morally significant freedom and, like perfect rationality, is required for divinity in the classical sense. (shrink)
The recent trend among many philosophers of religion has been to interpret divine eternity as an everlasting temporality in which an omnitemporal God exists in and throughout the whole of time. This is in contrast to the classical account of divine eternity as atemporal, immutable existence. In this paper, Aquinas' use of Boethius's definition of eternity as “the whole, perfect, and simultaneous possession of endless life” is analyzed and explained in contradistinction to Aristotle's definition of time. This analysis is then (...) used to respond to Nicholas Wolterstroff's argument in "God Everlasting" that God's knowledge of temporal events infects God with temporality and mutability. The argument concludes by introducing an important distinction between absolute simultaneity and temporal simultaneity, which allows us to hold God is omniscient because he is absolutely simultaneous with all events but is not temporally simultaneous with any event. (shrink)
In response to arguments against the existence of God, and in response to perceived conflicts between divine attributes, theists often face pressure to give up some pretheoretically attractive thesis about the divine attributes. One wonders: when does this unacceptably water down our concept of God, and when is it, as van Inwagen says, ‘permissible tinkering’ with the concept of God? A natural and widely deployed answer is that it is permissible tinkering iff it is does not violate the claim that (...) God is the greatest possible being. Call this the ’perfect being defense.’ In this paper I lay out some influential uses of the perfect being defense, and then argue that this strategy for defending theism fails. (shrink)
At least since Aristotle’s famous 'sea-battle' passages in On Interpretation 9, some substantial minority of philosophers has been attracted to the doctrine of the open future--the doctrine that future contingent statements are not true. But, prima facie, such views seem inconsistent with the following intuition: if something has happened, then (looking back) it was the case that it would happen. How can it be that, looking forwards, it isn’t true that there will be a sea battle, while also being true (...) that, looking backwards, it was the case that there would be a sea battle? This tension forms, in large part, what might be called the problem of future contingents. A dominant trend in temporal logic and semantic theorizing about future contingents seeks to validate both intuitions. Theorists in this tradition--including some interpretations of Aristotle, but paradigmatically, Thomason (1970), as well as more recent developments in Belnap, et. al (2001) and MacFarlane (2003, 2014)--have argued that the apparent tension between the intuitions is in fact merely apparent. In short, such theorists seek to maintain both of the following two theses: (i) the open future: Future contingents are not true, and (ii) retro-closure: From the fact that something is true, it follows that it was the case that it would be true. It is well-known that reflection on the problem of future contingents has in many ways been inspired by importantly parallel issues regarding divine foreknowledge and indeterminism. In this paper, we take up this perspective, and ask what accepting both the open future and retro-closure predicts about omniscience. When we theorize about a perfect knower, we are theorizing about what an ideal agent ought to believe. Our contention is that there isn’t an acceptable view of ideally rational belief given the assumptions of the open future and retro-closure, and thus this casts doubt on the conjunction of those assumptions. (shrink)
The traditional doctrine of divine omniscience ascribes to God the fully exercised power to know all truths. but why is God’s excellence with respect to knowing not treated on a par with his excellence with respect to doing, where the latter requires only that God have the power to do all things? The prima facie problem with divine ”omni-knowledgeability’ -- roughly, being able to know whatever one wants to know whenever one wants to know it -- is that knowledge requires (...) an internal representation, whereas mere ”knowledgeability’ does not. I argue to the contrary that knowledge does not require an internal representation, and that even if it did, an omni-knowledgeable God would satisfy this requirement. omni-knowledgeability therefore represents a distinct understanding of God’s cognitive excellence while satisfying the traditional insistence on full omniscience. (shrink)
Old philosophical problems never die, but they can be reinterpreted. In this paper, I offer a reinterpretation of the problem of reconciling divine omniscience and human free will. Classical discussions of this problem concentrate on the nature of God and the concept of free will. The present discussion will focus attention on the concept of knowledge, drawing on developments in epistemology that resulted from the posing of a certain problem by Edmund Gettier in 1963.
If libertarianism is true, then there is a sense in which agents have it within their power to bring it about that some world is actual. Against recent arguments for the incompatibility of divine foreknowledge and human freedom, I offer an account of power over the past which takes this implication of libertarianism into consideration. I argue that the resulting account is available to Ockhamists and that it is immune to recent criticisms of the notion of counterfactual power over the (...) past. But I contend that it is not an option for Molinists and that this fact leaves that position vulnerable to incompatibilist arguments. (shrink)
The traditional Christian view that God foreknows the future exclusively in terms of what will and will not come to pass is partially rooted in two ancient Hellenistic philosophical assumptions. Hellenistic philosophers universally assumed that propositions asserting ‘ x will occur’ contradict propositions asserting ‘ x will not occur’ and generally assumed that the gods lose significant providential advantage if they know the future partly as a domain of possibilities rather than exclusively in terms of what will and will not (...) occur. Both assumptions continue to influence people in the direction of the traditional understanding of God's knowledge of the future. In this essay I argue that the first assumption is unnecessary and the second largely misguided. (shrink)
Adhering to the traditional concept of omniscience lands Gale in the incoherence Grim’s Cantorian arguments reveal in talk of “all propositions.” By constructing variants and extensions of Grim’s arguments, I explain why various ways out of the incoherence are unacceptable, why theists would do better to adopt a certain revisionary concept of omniscience, and why the Cantorian troubles are so deep as to be troubles as well for Gale’s Weak PSR. I conclude with some brief reflections on method, suggesting that (...) we pursue the full implications of Gale’s own revisionary remarks and replace his method of analytic argumentation with non-analytic revisionary theory-construction. (shrink)
The doctrine of inerrant divine “middle knowledge” of future contingent events, first developed by the sixteenth century Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina, has resurfaced as a prominent position within contemporary debates over divine foreknowledge, creaturely freedom, and the ontological status of possibilities. As yet, the only substantive response to the new Molinism from a process perspective has come in a brief section on “Hartshorne and the Challenge of Molinism,” in an essay on Hartshorne’s view of “The Logic of Future Contingents” (...) by George W. Shields and Donald W. Viney, in Shields’ edited anthology Process and Analysis.Shields and Viney offer an insightful critique of Molinism. However, their use of Hartshorne’s understanding of possibility presents problems for those, like me, who prefer Whitehead’s more robustly realist notion of eternal objects. Here, I defend Whitehead’s Platonism from the main lines of criticism leveled against itby Hartshorne, while demonstrating that a “thick” conception of the objective content of the possible within the context of the divine understanding need not crossover into a deterministic conception of God’s foreknowledge, à la Molina. (shrink)
This collection of thirteen previously unpublished essays arose from a conference in 1982 entitled “Divine Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Future Contingents in Medieval Islamic, Jewish, and Christian Thought.” The book is divided into four sections: two essays provide an introduction to the subject; four give an account of various Islamic views; a further four concern Jewish writers; and the last three focus on Christian thought.
In a pair of recent articles, William Hasker has attempted to defend Robert Adams’s new anti-Molinist argument. But I argue that the sense of explanatory priority operative in the argument is either equivocal or, if a univocal sense can be given to it, it is either so generic that we should have to deny its transitivity or so weak that it would not be incompatible with human freedom.
One strategy in recent discussions of theological fatalism is to draw on Harry Frankfurt’s famous counterexamples to the principle of alternate possibilities (PAP) to defend human freedom from divine foreknowledge. For those who endorse this line, “Frankfurt counterexamples” are supposed to show that PAP is false, and this conclusion is then extended to the foreknowledge case. This makes it critical to determine whether Frankfurt counterexamples perform as advertised, an issue recently debated in this journal via a pair of articles by (...) David Widerker and John Martin Fischer. I suggest that this debate can be avoided: divine foreknowledge is itself aparadigmatic counterexample to PAP, requiring no support from suspect Frankfurt counterexamples. (shrink)
The ‘middle knowledge’ doctrine salvages free will and divine omniscience by contending that God knows what agents will freely choose under any possible circumstances. I argue, however, that the Leibnizian problem of divine knowledge of human evil is best resolved by applying a Theodicy II distinction between determined, foreseen, and resolved action. This move eliminates deference to middle knowledge. Contingent action is indeed free, but not all action is contingent, and so not all action is free. For Leibniz, then, God’s (...) knowledge extends to the sum pattern of determinates for an act, rather than to contingent events. (shrink)
Patrick Grim and Einar Duenger Bohn have recently argued that there can be no perfectly knowing Being. In particular, they urge that the object of omniscience is logically absurd (Grim) or requires an impossible maximal point of all knowledge (Bohn). I argue that, given a more classical notion of omniscience found in Aquinas and Augustine, we can shift the focus of perfect knowledge from what that being must know to the mode of that being’s understanding. Since Grim and Bohn focus (...) on the object rather than mode of God’s knowledge, this classical approach to omniscience undermines their objections. (shrink)
A theoretically rigorous approach to the key problems of Molinism leads to a clear distinction between semantic and metaphysical problems. Answers to semantic problems do not provide answers to metaphysical problems that arise from the theory of middle knowledge. The so-called ‘grounding objection’ to Molinism raises a metaphysical problem. The most promising solution to it is a revised form of the traditional ‘essence solution’. Inspired by Leibniz’s idea of a ‘notio completa’ (complete concept), we propose a mathematical model of ‘possibilistic’ (...) (Molinist) complete concepts. They ground middle knowledge within the very being of the agents themselves. Molinist Complete Concepts can thus serve to reject consequence-style arguments against Molinism. They also allow the Molinist to safeguard a robustly libertarian notion of the ability to do otherwise. (shrink)
Aptamimamsa by Ācārya Samantabhadra (2nd century CE) starts with a discussion, in a philosophical-cum-logical manner, on the Jaina concept of omniscience and the attributes of the Omniscient. The Ācārya questions the validity of the attributes that are traditionally associated with a praiseworthy deity and goes on to establish the logic of accepting the Omniscient as the most trustworthy and praiseworthy Supreme Being. Employing the doctrine of conditional predications (syādvāda) – the logical expression of reality in light of the foundational principle (...) of non-absolutism (anekāntavāda) – he faults certain conceptions based on absolutism. He finally elucidates correct perspectives on issues including fate and human-effort, and bondage of meritorious (punya) or demeritorious (pāpa) karmas. (shrink)
In den Abschnitten X und XI der Dialoge über Natürliche Religion legt Hume seine Ansichten zum traditionellen theologischen Problem des Übels dar. Humes Anmerkungen zu diesem Thema scheinen mir eine reichhaltige Mischung aus Einsichten und Irrtümern zu enthalten. Mein Ziel in diesem Aufsatz besteht darin, diese entgegengesetzten Elemente seiner Diskussion zu entwirren.
One major aim of the book is to articulate a view of the mechanics of infallible divine foreknowledge that avoids commitment to causal determinism, explains how infallible foreknowledge is compatible with human freedom, and explains how God’s divine providence is compatible with human freedom and indeterministic events. The modest epistemic goal is to articulate a view that enjoys a not very low epistemic status. But even with such modest goals, I think the view cannot credibly be said to offer or (...) . In fact, at critical moments when and are in question, we find very little detailed discussion.There is another epistemological goal in the book. It is to show that we are not in an epistemic position to know that causal determinism provides the basis for explaining how God knows the future and so we are not in a position to know that God’s infallible foreknowledge is incompatible with human freedom . But if infallible foreknow .. (shrink)