On The Nature of Chance, revised

If you have already read the post on “chance” below, please re-read it, if you don’t mind.  This morning I realized that the initial post required some significant additional information.  I’m not sure it makes it easier to understand, but it makes my argument more cohesive and coherent.

Thanks!

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16 thoughts on “On The Nature of Chance, revised

  1. Argo, still reading. Have not had time to get past chp 13. Does it have to do with man’s volition as it relates to the effects of what is known as original sin?

  2. Hi Bridget,

    You are right. I meant the entirety of his thesis. It is very good, however, he dooms himself (as do many or most Arminians and other anti-Calvinists) by conceding that God knows the future perfectly.

    My question: how can God know the future if He did not create it?

    If I were a Calvinist I could force him to concede my contradictory theology by showing him he has no choice, if he acknowledges God knows the future.

    How can God know a future that man has not, by definition, created yet by his own free will or choice? If it is there to know, but man did not create it, then…er, who did?

    What do you think?

  3. Argo, I do not even know a non Calvinist who would say that God does not know the future perfectly. It is considered blasphemy and most would not dare say such a thing.

    I had a very interesting convo with my brother over Christmas about Calvinism. He is a semiary grad from the 70’s who decided to make money in business instead. His view is that much of the Calvin filter whether original sin, depravity, etc. is so ingrained in most of the American denominations that it would be folly to argue against it. He is a very serious non Calvinist, too. Sad thought at how Augustine defined religion for so many for so long

    But I tend to agree with you with a caveat. I lean toward God knows me and He knows what I will choose even though he does not direct my choices or create my future for me .

  4. Hi Lydia,

    Hmm…I suppose what I want to know is how can God know what choices you will make before you make them unless He has determined them? If God’s knowledge is perfect we must concede that there can be no deviation from the future which He knows. So if He pre-knows a future, and there is nothing that exists that He did not create, including the future, then again, you must therefore be determined by Gods design to make the “choices” that you have NOT YET made.

    If God knows any future (a reality that exists ahead of you), and He is the Creator of all, then the future is from Him. Your choice is an illusion. So we must concede divine determinism; and thus concede God’s unmitigated sovereignty; and by this we concede Calvinism.

    In light of this, it isn’t blasphemy to question how God knows the future, because if He does then free will is false; which crumbles Christianity.

    My opinion is that unless we gain a better understanding of how past and future relate to God then Calvinism always wins the day. Here’s a question; WHY does God NEED to know the future? In light of His eternal and omnipotent existence, of what practical and necessary advantage is a “future” to God? Is His power somehow diminished if the future is not known? Can his omnipotence be truly dependent on his awareness of the work or being of a created thing? And further, to a God who is an AM, what exactly is the “future”?

    I’m not trying to be bullish; I have great interest in hearing how you and other Christians feel about questions like this.

  5. The only metaphor I can use is obviously human. It would be like how I know my children. I can pretty much predict what they will do or choose in situations. Unlike God, though, I cannot know their thoughts, I must base my foreknowledge and predictions on past experience.

    However, your question made me think of this event in the NT:
    21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
    22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23

    Maybe the idea of God knowing the future but not directing it is just so ingrained I have not thought it through. I do believe that God created the world with certain immutable laws set in motion and the fall did not totally alter that except to bring in knowledge of good and evil including death and corruption of the earth.
    along with death which changed how things operated.

  6. “he dooms himself (as do many or most Arminians and other anti-Calvinists) by conceding that God knows the future perfectly.”

    I don’t remember him saying this, but he might well have. I don’t know of any Christian who doesn’t believe this.

    I’m thinking about your response above as to why conceding this leads to Calvinism or a determinitive god. If God has given man free will, why can’t he also know how this free will play out in a person’s life? Why MUST those two things be incompatible?

    It would be interesting to study the “all knowing” arguments and where they are based in Scripture.

  7. Hi Bridget and Lydia,

    It isn’t a matter of why He must know all of man’s choices, or IF He can, it is a matter of WHEN he can know them.

    He cannot know them BEFORE they happen because there is nothing that does not exist to God. And future events by definition do not yet exist, except theoretically. But God cannot know the future theoretically…if He knows the future then it is REAL to Him. And if the future IS to Him but not to us then He must have created it before we see it manifest.

    God cannot know the future because that places God at the influence of time. But He creates time, so the future can never be beyond Him to know, even though it is a “not yet” to man.

    The future is a not yet to us but the future MUST be an IS to God, because God is a perpetual IS/AM. Everything that ever was or will be to us is an IS to Him…a now. How does He know our future? Because our future is a NOW to Him. He cannot know the future because the future is irrelevant to Him.

    All of our choices are NOW to God, like everything in creation. They are OUR choices, and as such He cannot know them until we make them, but the when of God knowing them is always NOW to Him; which to us, from our perspective, can be ANY time in our temporal existence because it is all NOW to God.

    I know that seems confusing, but again, if we are not determinists we cannot concede that the future is fixed.

    And consider this: If God knows the choices we WILL make instead of MIGHT make, then they are not choices at all, but predetermined resolute events, and free will is a lie.

    The answer lay in us ceasing to bind God to our notion of time which is simply a function of our ability to exist. God is NEVER a function of time, so there is no future, again, for Him to know perfectly.

    And thus, you have now met one Christian who denies that God knows man’s future. LOL!

    But my position expresses more FULLY God’s power and omnipotence. Placing God at the mercy of time, so that He can only know the future, instead of the Creator and ruler of it, is what limits Him, I submit.

  8. Also, think about is this way: the future and past are really theoretical constructs. Everything we percieve in the VISCERAL sense is NOW, the present. In order for us to exist we need space; space implies movement, both motion and existence. This creates the notions (which are verifiable TRUTHS…they are just abstract) of past and future. But our existence in the tangible sense is NOW. And that is how God relates to us I think, while at the same time acknowledging the notions of past and present, which is necessary for us to BE.

    God is His own space. So He moves within Himself! He is His own before and after, which means He is literally a NOW eternal existence. This is crucial to grasp I think if we are ever going to dismantle Calvinistic fatalistic determinism.

  9. “He is His own before and after, which means He is literally a NOW eternal existence.”

    Perhaps that is why He referred to Himself as I AM?

    I am going to have to think on this a lot. Trying to wrap my brain around it. I concede your point about knowing the future implies determining it, too. I have had problems with that myself. It means He did not intervene in horrid things and even allowed His Name to be Blasphemed by thosse who claimed they were His over the Centuries. Even allowing His children to be murdered by them!

  10. Lydia,
    I hope my recent post helps to clarify my position these things.
    Do not doubt yourself; you have great, great insight. These ideas are HARD to understand, because there is no immediately obvious frame of reference. Apprehending how God must BE (not necessarily “how” He thinks and acts, which is impossible…but grasping an idea of what it means, for example to be perpetually NOW) requires hours and hours of intensive thought, most of which is devoted to putting yourself OUTSIDE of TIME, which is really hard, and extremely energy consuming.

    John Immel said it best: Thinking is hard. And it is. I go to bed exhausted most every night from just contemplating the existential realities of God in light of His perfection.

    I hope I don’t turn you off with my ideas. But in order to dismantle Calvinism, its very philosophical roots must be annihilated, and that means disproving a LOT of secular philosophy, which means disagreeing with some of the greatest minds who ever lived. This, likely, will not be accepted until years and years after we are gone. But still, we must start somewhere.

    Go to the Torah, then pull metaphysical truth from there, and there alone. The Jews have all philosophical truth, and it bleeds into Christianity. Unlearn two thousand years of non-Jewish metaphysics…it must be done.

    But it is hard; and you’ll be excommunicated from every church in the world before it happens.

  11. “Go to the Torah, then pull metaphysical truth from there, and there alone. The Jews have all philosophical truth, and it bleeds into Christianity. Unlearn two thousand years of non-Jewish metaphysics…it must be done.”

    I totally agree with this.

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