Ep43-The Operations of Grace & Free Will (Pt 2)- The Problems of Theism & The Love of God Ch 11


Topics Discussed:
• The Incompatibility of Free Will and Creatio Ex Nihilo
• The First Argument: The Incompatibility of Divine Sustenance and Free Will
• The Second Argument: The Impossibility of God’s Actualizing Agents with Free Will

Further Reading:

THE DOCTRINE OF CREATION EX NIHILO WAS CREATED OUT OF NOTHING: A RESPONSE TO COPAN AND CRAIG
PART 1: THE SCRIPTURAL ARGUMENT:
https://www.fairmormon.org/archive/publications/reviews_of_the_new-mormon-challenge/a-response-to-copan-and-craig-part-1-the-scriptural-argument

THE DOCTRINE OF CREATIO EX NIHILO IS A BIG FUSS OVER NOTHING:
PART II: THE INDUCTIVE ARGUMENT:
https://www.fairmormon.org/archive/publications/reviews_of_the_new-mormon-challenge/a-response-to-copan-and-craig-part-2-the-inductive-argument

DO KALAM INFINITY ARGUMENTS APPLY TO THE INFINITE PAST?
https://www.fairmormon.org/archive/publications/reviews_of_the_new-mormon-challenge/do-kalam-infinity-arguments-apply-to-the-infinite-past





Show Notes:

The Incompatibility of Free Will and Creatio Ex Nihilo

“It may appear that open theism emerges as the only viable alternative for a theology that seeks to maintain that: (1) we are free to choose whether to return God’s love with our own love; and (2) God is not directly culpable for evil events and choices. ”

“However, such a conclusion is hasty. There remains a problem: conventional open theists affirm creation ex nihilo. Genuine human agency conflicts with the type of divine control entailed in the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. That is, it seems to me that those who adopt divine conservation and/or concurrence overlook a central fact about the implications of the doctrine of creation out of nothing: every human act of willing occurs only because God creates the form that the will has in each moment of choice"

“Consider that: (1) If a person is created from nothing, then he is never the ultimate source or first cause of her choices. If we assume that (2) all persons are created from nothing, then it follows from (1) and (2) that (3) no person is the ultimate cause or source of anything. This argument does not require any particular concept that God acts in relation to humans or brings about their acts through cooperative grace. All it requires is the notion of creatio ex nihilo.”

“If the libertarian demand that we must be the ultimate source of our choices to be morally responsible for them is sound, then God cannot create morally responsible persons ex nihilo. In some sense, persons must be co-creators, first causes, unmoved movers of their own wills, and the source of their own choices.”

The First Argument: The Incompatibility of Divine Sustenance and Free Will

“For Scholastics, causation is a relation that obtains between substances which have powers to act (agents) and powers when acted upon (patients) to bring about states of affairs (effects). More particularly, the agent’s action on the patient is simultaneously (1) an exercise of an active causal power by the agent, and (2) the actualization within the patient of a particular result for which the patient has a passive power or potentiality to actualize when acted upon given its intrinsic nature.”

“What is essential to grasp is that a created agent’s transuent action (or action having effects outside itself) exists in the patient and therefore has the patient, rather than the agent, as its ultimate ontological basis. Such a view is broadly termed “agent causation.”

“The key question is whether, given creation ex nihilo, the form of my will can be up to me as a created substance or whether it must be created just as it is in each moment.”

What is substance ontology?

“I want to cut to the key issue and that is whether a created substance can be caused to continue to exist by an agent acting on that existing substance to bring about its continued existence. The answer is that acting on a substance as a patient cannot be how it is caused to continue to exist because acting on a substance can only actuate the passive causal powers that exist within the substance itself to bring about as a patient an effect when it is acted on by an agent.”

“conservation is the dependency of already existing things on God for their continued actuality in each moment of existence. It is not a dependency on the natural properties of the created substance as Craig assumes.”

Use dream/writing fiction example

The Second Argument: The Impossibility of God’s Actualizing Agents with Free Will

“A morally significant action is simply an action that is good or evil for an agent to perform or refrain from performing. Thus, a person Steel has morally significant freedom if he steals a Mars bar from a 7-Eleven at T and the universe prior to T does not entail either that Steel steals or does not steal a Mars bar at T.”

“If Steel ought to refrain from stealing the Mars bar, then he has it within his power to refrain from stealing the Mars bar. Steel cannot be morally obligated to do what he does not have it within his power to do.”

“conventional libertarian theists hold that God creates all things ex nihilo and also has it within his power to create agents with morally significant freedom.” How so?

“Now we are in a position to give the complete argument:
(1) S has significant freedom in doing A at T iff: (a) A is morally significant for S at T and (b) it is not necessary that (God strongly actualizes Q* entails that S does A at T) and it is not necessary that (God strongly actualizes Q* entails that S does not do A at T). (From SF2)

(2) S has significant freedom in doing A at T iff: (a) A is morally significant for S at T and (b) it is not necessary that (C obtains and entails that S does A at T) and it is not necessary that (C obtains and entails that S does not do A at T). (From SF1)

(3) S is significantly free to do A (or not do A) at T in some possible worlds that God can actualize. (Assumption of conventional theistic libertarian free will implicit in SF2)

(4) S freely does A at T in every possible world that can God actualize containing S except w1 in which S does not-A at T. (Assumption consistent with SF2)

“(5) Because S has significant freedom to not-A at T in w1, it is true that Q* and that it is not possible for S to freely do A in every other possible world containing S that God can actualize. (From 1, 3 and 4 and also from R*)

(6) It is true at w1 that S freely does A at T in every possible world containing Q* and S except w1 and Q* obtains and therefore S freely does not-A at T in w1. (From 4)

(7) It is true in all possible worlds containing S and Q* that necessarily S does A at T except in w1 and in w1 Q* obtains and necessarily S does not-A at T. (From 5)

(8) It is true in every possible world that God can actualize containing Q* and S that S does not have significant freedom to not do A at T. (From 2, 6 and 7)

(9) It is true in every possible world that God can actualize that S has significant freedom to not-A and also S does not have significant freedom to not-A at T. (From 2 and 6)

“(10) Therefore, 1 and 2 cannot both be true. (From 9 and the law of noncontradiction”

Conclusion

“It seems to me that any sound theological position must provide a basis for at least two truths: (1) God leaves us free to so say “no” to his loving persuasion to enter into a relationship with him, and (2) God is not indictable for our own morally evil choices.”

“In the end, such deterministic theologies provide a God who is a controlling divine despot who is directly responsible for acts that any morally sensitive human recognizes as reprehensibly evil.”

“If God’s creation of the will in the state of choice that it exists in for each moment does not constitute external coercion, whatever could qualify?”

“It seems that for God to accomplish the purpose of creation, the only possibility is that God does not create ex nihilo. Rather, God persuades beings like ourselves who have an essential property of self-sustenance and an independent power to forever say “no” or to freely choose to respond to his love with our own reciprocal love.”

“God is not satisfied with pawns; he wants peers. He is not satisfied with creatures; he wants co-creators to share his glory. As it is, only Joseph Smith’s vision of the peer relationship between God and humans is worthy of a loving God.”

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