Are Christians necessarily compatibilists?

[quote="Alindawyl, post:19, topic:207473"]
You have listed set A as the actions of creatures and set B as omniscience. Omniscience means perfect knowledge, knowledge of all things, the capacity for infinite knowledge.... however you want to describe it, it means more than just knowing what actions will be chosen. Set B will have additional "members" left over after you pair up all the actions in set A with God's knowledge of them in set B. Otherwise set B isn't really omniscience but a lesser knowledge.

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I'm not sure what you're saying here. Consider

  1. Set A - "Bob combed his hair".
  2. Set B - [The knowledge that Bob combed his hair]
  3. Set B - [The knowledge that God knows that Bob combed his hair]

But actually #3 isn't admissible to Set B, because knowings are not events. So I don't think Set B will have additional members. :shrug:

[quote="R_Daneel, post:16, topic:207473"]

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We can keep it, if you want to. I think it is rejected because it assumes some entity that is external to God and external to the universe and still influences (or causes) both. [/FONT]
OK, how bout this? Might not work but I'll try anyway.

The gift of free will to sentient beings is a determination by God to be contingent temporarily and strictly for temporal purposes-for our good.

[quote="R_Daneel, post:16, topic:207473"]
Ok, lets go to the second round. Let me ask you about God's simplicity. It is a Catholic dogma that God is simple. God has no parts, God's essence is indivisible. God's essence, God's existence, God's omnimax attributes, God's love, etc... are inseparable. I don't have the passage of the Cathecism at hand, but you probably can find it easier than I could. Is this a correct description of God's simplicity? [/FONT]

[/quote]

OK, how bout this? Might not be workable but I'll try anyway.

The gift of free will to sentient beings is a determination by God to be contingent temporarily and strictly for temporal purpose-for our good.

[quote="fhansen, post:23, topic:207473"]
OK, how bout this? Might not be workable but I'll try anyway.

The gift of free will to sentient beings is a determination by God to be contingent temporarily and strictly for temporal purpose-for our good.

[/quote]

I'm amused that Daneel hadn't yet made the argument, and you're already responding to it. :)

[quote="Prodigal_Son, post:24, topic:207473"]
I'm amused that Daneel hadn't yet made the argument, and you're already responding to it. :)

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got impatient:o

[quote="JDaniel, post:18, topic:207473"]
I would choose position # 1 with an important codicil.

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I understand your point, and even if I disagree with them, I am willing take them as you presented. God's "timeless" existence has nothing to do with the point I wish to make. The correspondence between God's knowledge and our actions is the working hypothesis, and there is no assumption on my part, how that correspondence is "achieved".

The causative relationship does not imply a "temporal" precedence, it only implies a causative "before" - not a temporal one.

That being said, what do you say about God's simplicity, which is a Catholic dogma? Does it mean that God's different "attributes" (a human phrase for sure) are not distinguishable from God's essence?

[quote="Prodigal_Son, post:20, topic:207473"]
Side note: It was kind of neat. I don't really understand the teaching about God's simplicity, so I googled it, of course. What do you know? The sixth search result was this very thread! Looks like I've worked myself into a "strange loop" here, in Hofstadterian terms. :eek:

At any rate, I can't make heads or tails of the simplicity claim, at the moment. Except to say this: that God is indivisible, and that God is immaterial. I don't see how this makes all the qualities of God inseparable, however. For example, consider:

  1. God is good.
  2. The qualities of God are inseparable.
  3. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is good.
  4. Therefore, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is omnipotent.

But this is clearly false. Thus, at least one of the qualities of God -- goodness -- is separable. So I'm not sure where you're going with this, but we're going to have to find a definition of simplicity we can agree on first. I certainly won't agree that the qualities of God are inseparable, for madness lies that way. ;)

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Obviously the syllogism you presented is false, just as you said. First, God's goodness and Mary's goodness are not the same. But God's simplicity is a catholic dogma, that is the starting point. If this is a meaningless proposition then there is nothing to talk about. I presented my understanding of it. There are no "parts" for God, God's omniscience cannot be separated from God's "simple" essence. You can agree or disagree, and we can continue from there.

[quote="Alindawyl, post:19, topic:207473"]
I cannot choose between the four options which you have presented because your argument, while valid, is not sound. It's based on a premise of equivalency between two things which are not equivalent.

[/quote]

You look upon the word "equivalence" and take it too verbatim. Let's use "perfect correspondence" instead. We perform our acts, and God has knowledge of them. In other words, there is a "perfect correspondence" between our actions and God's knowledge. This does not say that God's knowledge is "exhausted" by knowing our actions, it can contain other pieces of knowledge as well.

[quote="Prodigal_Son, post:21, topic:207473"]
I'm not sure what you're saying here. Consider

  1. Set A - "Bob combed his hair".
  2. Set B - [The knowledge that Bob combed his hair]
  3. Set B - [The knowledge that God knows that Bob combed his hair]

But actually #3 isn't admissible to Set B, because knowings are not events. So I don't think Set B will have additional members. :shrug:

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R Daneel defined set B as God's omnipotence. That means set B contains all kinds of things other than His knowledge of our actions. The number of stars in the universe, for example.

I'm just trying to show that the entire exercise is riddled with flaws. But there's probably a better way I can illustrate that....

[quote="Alindawyl, post:29, topic:207473"]
R Daneel defined set B as God's omnipotence. That means set B contains all kinds of things other than His knowledge of our actions. The number of stars in the universe, for example.

I'm just trying to show that the entire exercise is riddled with flaws. But there's probably a better way I can illustrate that....

[/quote]

First of all... not omnipotence, but omniscience.

Then going into the example:

1) One member of set "A" : Bob combed his hair.
2) One member of set "B" : God's knowledge of the fact that Bob did that.
3) There is an exact correspondence between these two members (which would be called an equivalence in mathematical terms).

No, I do not mean that the members of set "B" are exhausted by knowing all the members of set "A". I agree that set "B" also contains other pieces of knowledge, like the number of the stars in the universe. For all I care, the set "B" may even contain theoretically unknowable "things" like knowing the position and the speed of an electron at the same time.

None of these are important. The only important consideration is that God knows what we, humans do. That is all. I would think that we can dispense with the side issues, and get to the important parts.

[quote="R_Daneel, post:30, topic:207473"]
First of all... not omnipotence, but omniscience.

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Correct, I apologize for using the wrong omni :)

So let us, as you say, stick to the important parts. Phrased in a logical manner:

A. All creatures perform actions.
B. God has perfect knowledge of all actions performed by all creatures.

There is clearly a "perfect correspondence" between these two statements. You now wish to claim that there are four ways by which that can be true:

A causes B
B causes A
A and B are only related by coincidence
Some third thing causes both A and B

However, you left out at least one additional way:

A is caused by a third thing and B is caused by a fourth thing

Just to be difficult, I shall go with this fifth possibility. In the case of humans, A is caused by free will. B is caused by God possessing omniscience.

Of course the next comment will be how a perfect correspondence can exist between actions and God's knowledge of those actions if their immediate causes are not the same. Well, there's the fun part. Their immediate causes are not the same but God is the first cause. All causal chains lead back to Him eventually. So there's a connection. But it's not immediate.

Clear as mud? Good.

And that's why I join Prodigal Son in believing compatibilism is a load of bunk :D

[quote="Alindawyl, post:31, topic:207473"]
Correct, I apologize for using the wrong omni :)

[/quote]

Typos strike all of us. :)

[quote="Alindawyl, post:31, topic:207473"]
So let us, as you say, stick to the important parts. Phrased in a logical manner:

A. All creatures perform actions.
B. God has perfect knowledge of all actions performed by all creatures.

There is clearly a "perfect correspondence" between these two statements. You now wish to claim that there are four ways by which that can be true:

A causes B
B causes A
A and B are only related by coincidence
Some third thing causes both A and B

[/quote]

Yes, this is what I said.

[quote="Alindawyl, post:31, topic:207473"]
However, you left out at least one additional way:

A is caused by a third thing and B is caused by a fourth thing

Just to be difficult, I shall go with this fifth possibility. In the case of humans, A is caused by free will. B is caused by God possessing omniscience.

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But that is not a different way. I did not specify what the external causative factor might be. What you say is that our behavior is caused by "X" and God's knowledge is caused by "Y", whatever "X" and "Y" might be. First, if our actions are caused by some outside agent, then we have no free will. Second, if God's knowledge is caused by some outside agent, then there is no difference compared to the first scenario. God's knowledge is caused by something external to God, whether it is our actions, or this unspecified "Y" causative agent.

[quote="Alindawyl, post:31, topic:207473"]
Of course the next comment will be how a perfect correspondence can exist between actions and God's knowledge of those actions if their immediate causes are not the same. Well, there's the fun part. Their immediate causes are not the same but God is the first cause. All causal chains lead back to Him eventually. So there's a connection. But it's not immediate.

Clear as mud? Good.

[/quote]

Not even as mud. :) You say that our actions are caused by "us" (our free will) and God knowledge is caused by God (God's omniscience) - which is just tautological. Their correspondence is now caused by what? Coincidence is the one which remains. What you say here is the 3rd possibility, in disguise.

[quote="Alindawyl, post:31, topic:207473"]
And that's why I join Prodigal Son in believing compatibilism is a load of bunk :D

[/quote]

And I agree with you and him.

[quote="R_Daneel, post:27, topic:207473"]
Obviously the syllogism you presented is false, just as you said. First, God's goodness and Mary's goodness are not the same. But God's simplicity is a catholic dogma, that is the starting point. If this is a meaningless proposition then there is nothing to talk about. I presented my understanding of it. There are no "parts" for God, God's omniscience cannot be separated from God's "simple" essence. You can agree or disagree, and we can continue from there.

[/quote]

I agree that God has no parts.

Let me paraphrase the other part, as such:

A1: God is essentially omniscient.

I will not agree to A1. If this means that I do not believe that God is simple, so be it. If A1 is true, then it is utterly impossible for God to "suspend" His omniscience, and create beings with free will -- for as soon as He suspended His omniscience, He would not be God. A1 commits the Christian to a compatibilist explanation of freedom, which we all here think is bunk.

One might similarly take ...

A2: God is essentially not physical.

... and make an argument that Jesus is not God.

The lesson is that the Western understanding of God was not developed taking all logical concerns into consideration. That means the view needs refinement, as just about every philosophical view does.

So far as I know, the Church has not formally defined omniscience, nor its relation to omnipotence. Augustine believed that omnipotence reduced to a tautology, so far as I can tell: "God does what He does". This is perfectly uninformative, I know. But try to give the necessary and sufficient conditions for ANYTHING, much less omnipotence. Such a process involves you in quandries and/or paradoxes, most of the time. Wittgenstein and the conditions for "game".

Is my response ad hoc? Yes, I admit it. But so is every philosophical inquiry, that truly seeks at the truth. Logical considerations reveal to us situations we were not aware of. Some things remain mysterious.

For example, it seems to me that, if God created beings with free will, there must be a time T1, in which God was not aware of those beings' actions, and a time T2, in which God was aware of those beings' actions. But God is, ex hypothesi, outside of time. So what gives?

I don't know. But I'm hardly about to scrap faith because I lack understanding of a single detail! :)

[quote="R_Daneel, post:26, topic:207473"]
I understand your point, and even if I disagree with them, I am willing take them as you presented. God's "timeless" existence has nothing to do with the point I wish to make. The correspondence between God's knowledge and our actions is the working hypothesis, and there is no assumption on my part, how that correspondence is "achieved".

The causative relationship does not imply a "temporal" precedence, it only implies a causative "before" - not a temporal one.

[/quote]

I guess my point is this. Since God can build all of this, with its myriad of diversities, complexities and occurrences, and He can and did build in such things as chance into what otherwise might be an emergent continuum of determined causes and effects, why can He not build in the possibility that what appears heretofore to be set in stone can change? Perhaps some can change and some can't, but, in either case, ultimately at least some, if not most, of the decisions belong to us. Chance can change the final outcome of an occurrence. A supreme act of will power can change a final occurrence. Perhaps it's not the fact of the final occurrence that matters most, perhaps it is the states of mind, or, better yet the changes in our states of mind that matter for the sake of blame.

That being said, what do you say about God's simplicity, which is a Catholic dogma? Does it mean that God's different "attributes" (a human phrase for sure) are not distinguishable from God's essence?

Let me think about this for a bit. I'll be back to you shortly.

God bless,
jd

[quote="R_Daneel, post:26, topic:207473"]
That being said, what do you say about God's simplicity, which is a Catholic dogma? Does it mean that God's different "attributes" (a human phrase for sure) are not distinguishable from God's essence?

[/quote]

RDaneel:

My understanding of God's simplicity is that it has to do with the factical that whatever is infinite cannot consist of parts. By parts, I believe the Church is speaking of parts of His being. His attributes reside in His overall Being just as our personalities reside in these mundane beings we call humans.

But, the attributes of God are the pinnacles of each of the respective predicates of God. They initiate each category, and since the pinnacles of these categories cannot be found to reside in lesser beings, we believe they can only reside in a Supreme Being, which we call God. Hence St. Thomas's proof # 4.

God bless,
jd

[quote="R_Daneel, post:32, topic:207473"]
Typos strike all of us. :)

[/quote]

Ah, if only I could claim typo. Typos are simple mistakes. Using the wrong word completely means I'm not really paying attention.

My wife would probably say not paying attention is my normal state of being :blush:

[quote="R_Daneel, post:32, topic:207473"]
But that is not a different way. I did not specify what the external causative factor might be. What you say is that our behavior is caused by "X" and God's knowledge is caused by "Y", whatever "X" and "Y" might be. First, if our actions are caused by some outside agent, then we have no free will. Second, if God's knowledge is caused by some outside agent, then there is no difference compared to the first scenario. God's knowledge is caused by something external to God, whether it is our actions, or this unspecified "Y" causative agent.

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I'm completely lost.

Our actions are caused by our free will. Our free will is not an unknown outside agent but a part of what we as humans are.

God's knowledge of anything finite is "caused", if you will, by the fact that God is omniscient. It's also not an unknown outside agent but a part of what God is.

[quote="R_Daneel, post:32, topic:207473"]
Not even as mud. :) You say that our actions are caused by "us" (our free will) and God knowledge is caused by God (God's omniscience) - which is just tautological. Their correspondence is now caused by what? Coincidence is the one which remains. What you say here is the 3rd possibility, in disguise.

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Our free will is not all that we are any more than our lungs are all that we are. God's omniscience is not all that God is any more than God's omnipotence is all that God is.

The part is not the whole.

[quote="Prodigal_Son, post:33, topic:207473"]
I agree that God has no parts.

Let me paraphrase the other part, as such:

A1: God is essentially omniscient.

I will not agree to A1. If this means that I do not believe that God is simple, so be it. If A1 is true, then it is utterly impossible for God to "suspend" His omniscience, and create beings with free will -- for as soon as He suspended His omniscience, He would not be God. A1 commits the Christian to a compatibilist explanation of freedom, which we all here think is bunk.

[/quote]

I think it is necessary that God somewhat "suspend" his omniscience to create autonomous being with souls, if only in the sense that it requires humility on God's part to create beings that can choose to deny their Creator. God knows everything that will happen, and everything that happens is His will, but "whoa unto him by whom it comes about".

Compatibilism is bunk because it assumes a foreknowledge of events that is similar to human knowledge of events. Divine knowledge simply supersedes the assumptions that compatibilism is based on, because compatibitism wants to reduce the universe to something perfectly understandable if given enough "human-style" knowledge, such as knowledge gained from scientific or philosophic inquiry.

Yet the the universe is fundamentally mysterious, with some knowledge only possible by divine revelation. Only God has the answer as to how our souls determine our own fate. Only God has the answer as to why He loved our souls so perfectly, that the Lord creator of the Universe would be so humble as to willingly die that these souls may continue.

In short, the primary failing of the compatiblist philosophy is that it assumes that all of creation is observable and predictable from our human perspective. It is flawed to call Divine foreknowledge of our free choices "compatibilist" because God's perspective is totally unlike our own.

[quote="runningdude, post:37, topic:207473"]
I think it is necessary that God somewhat "suspend" his omniscience to create autonomous being with souls, if only in the sense that it requires humility on God's part to create beings that can choose to deny their Creator. God knows everything that will happen, and everything that happens is His will, but "whoa unto him by whom it comes about".

Compatibilism is bunk because it assumes a foreknowledge of events that is similar to human knowledge of events. Divine knowledge simply supersedes the assumptions that compatibilism is based on, because compatibitism wants to reduce the universe to something perfectly understandable if given enough "human-style" knowledge, such as knowledge gained from scientific or philosophic inquiry.

Yet the the universe is fundamentally mysterious, with some knowledge only possible by divine revelation. Only God has the answer as to how our souls determine our own fate. Only God has the answer as to why He loved our souls so perfectly, that the Lord creator of the Universe would be so humble as to willingly die that these souls may continue.

In short, the primary failing of the compatiblist philosophy is that it assumes that all of creation is observable and predictable from our human perspective. It is flawed to call Divine foreknowledge of our free choices "compatibilist" because God's perspective is totally unlike our own.

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This is one of the most helpful responses to the thread so far. Thanks for contributing.

[quote="Prodigal_Son, post:38, topic:207473"]
This is one of the most helpful responses to the thread so far. Thanks for contributing.

[/quote]

Your welcome :) Thanks!

[quote="Alindawyl, post:36, topic:207473"]
Our actions are caused by our free will. Our free will is not an unknown outside agent but a part of what we as humans are.

God's knowledge of anything finite is "caused", if you will, by the fact that God is omniscient. It's also not an unknown outside agent but a part of what God is.

[/quote]

So how come that God's knowledge happens to reflect our actions? This is where we started...

[quote="Alindawyl, post:36, topic:207473"]
Our free will is not all that we are any more than our lungs are all that we are. God's omniscience is not all that God is any more than God's omnipotence is all that God is.

The part is not the whole.

[/quote]

But God's simplicity says that God has no "parts".

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