• Adam, Eve, Original Sin, Faulty Design and God’s Moral Culpability

    I give regular counter-apologetic podcast segments to the Skepticule podcast and my last one has provoked some interesting debate online in certain forums. Here is my essential case:

    My segment this week will be a simple one on Adam and Eve and the two horned problem of using Adam as representative of humanity. If he is just like humanity and fails as a result, then God has badly designed humanity to fail. If he is not representative of humanity ie most humans wouldn’t have chosen like him / her / them), then God is unfair in condemning humanity on the choice of one human who doesn’t fairly represent them. ie God can’t win. Because he don’t exist…

    Context being that if you believe (even if you do not believe in the literal Adam/Eve) that we are born predisposed to sin, then is the creator in some way culpable for our sin? And to take it further (and to which I am still waiting for an adequate response from Helen after several days of asking:

    If God designed the universe, the laws, humanity and everything, and then created the universe; and given that God could have chosen any other possible world out of infinite choices; and given that God could step in at any moment and change things; and given that God has complete foreknowledge of future events; how is god not in some way ultimately culpable for our sin?

    For example, if I created a sentient lifeform in the lab – designed from scratch and created entirely myself – and I knew 100% that they would break out of the lab and rampage through town causing harm (rape, murder, mugging) and knew this in advance, and then still decided to create these lifeforms and they went out and did their evil thing, would I not be in some way culpable? Would I not end up in prison?

    The first sort of response was this:

     If I design a system to give choice, I’m not responsible for the choices the free agents make.

    To which I responded:

    – but it goes one step further back than just saying “free will denies God responsibility” because there is a supposition that he knows all counterfactuals before creation. Obviously, this itself can negate free will (and I deny free will anyway on philosophical AND empirical grounds). But, given free will, he designed and actualised this world of free will individuals over and above all other possible worlds of any sort of individuals, and could have had in any other way, presumably. So, if you take that on my analogy of creating evil individuals with free will and sentience in the lab: If I create them knowing full well they will cause evil, freely or otherwise, I am surely morally culpable. I would like to know, from you or Peter why I would be morally culpable in that scenario, but God isn’t.

    And he responded:

    John Pearce, you bring up a good point, but just because God knows we are capable of evil (and if in omniscience, knows that evil will happen) doesn’t make God responsible for evil. If free agents then we still bear the responsibility for the action we chose. I don’t see that God is responsible, except in allowing the choice. If I give my kids the choice to do the right thing and they choose not too, I’m not responsible for their choice. I see what you’re saying, but to me the chooser is ultimately and only culpable.

    Me:

    But you produce a false analogy. You neither designed your kids or created them from nothing; you neither know all of their future actions nor can stop them at will; you did not know whether they would be a mass murderer in advance and still create them anyway. THIS is the sort of idea that needs answering, no?

    Him:

     are you equating knowing with endorsing? Also, you seem to assume that knowing all possible futures that this isnt the best possible outcome. unless you know more than you’re letting on.

    Finally me:

    Is God not endorsing in some way by choosing to actualise such eventuality over and above any other eventuality? Endorsement by creation, even? Though that is not my central point. My point is that God has ultimate culpability in the same way that if I designed a car which I KNEW to be faulty, but designed and created in anyway and it caused pain and suffering by being an imperfect entity, then I would be (or my company by extension) held morally accountable by law. How is God different to this (and even more so to my more accurate analogy of a sentient being creator in a lab)?

    On this being the best possible world, I actually agree it must be, though for different reasons, perhaps, than you. And I think it is an argument against God’s existence (or his free will).http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2013/05/13/best-possible-world-god-free-will/

    Which I think pretty much does the job. Another commenter posted at length (Daniel):

    I’m trying to catch up on this thread. It is an interesting argument. In a sense, Adam does represent us, but he represents us in our best form, in a pre-fall condition. I don’t think it is problematic to have someone represent us as we would have been were we in his condition. So in this condition, Adam was not corrupted by sin, and had full knowledge of the consequences of his action. It was his choice to eat the fruit. But I don’t see the force of the question as to whether God could have made Adam better. The question, to me, is whether God could make a being that is ultimately responsible for its own actions. Can God make a being for whom “the buck stops here”?

    Suppose that Johno Pearce is right, and God could have made Adam such that he would never fail to do the good, that does not mean that God has succeeded in making an Adam that has genuine moral responsibility. In fact, the only reason we would think that God should make Adam unable to do evil is if we think that God will ultimately be responsible for whatever Adam does. In other words, the argument only motivates those who implicitly reject the idea that a God can make something that is truly autonomous. But if Adam can be genuinely responsible for what he does, then the question of whether God could have made him with a better character becomes irrelevant. For, suppose he could have had a better character, if he has genuine responsibility, there has to be some sense in which he shapes that character himself. If Adam can have no input, then he is not a moral agent in any real sense. A will that is free in any morally relevant sense cannot be constrained towards the good. To me, this dilemma has already denied the moral agency of Adam even before the horns were presented.

    To which my reply was:

     thanks. “In a sense, Adam does represent us, but he represents us in our best form, in a pre-fall condition. I don’t think it is problematic to have someone represent us as we would have been were we in his condition.”

    So you agree that Adam is accurately representative of humanity?

    “So in this condition, Adam was not corrupted by sin, and had full knowledge of the consequences of his action. It was his choice to eat the fruit. But I don’t see the force of the question as to whether God could have made Adam better. The question, to me, is whether God could make a being that is ultimately responsible for its own actions. Can God make a being for whom “the buck stops here”? “

    But it appears that God has still created a people in order to fall. That this imperfection which we are all being punished for was designed in, unless it is necessary. We appear to be contingent beings, although it also appears that people on this thread might think we are necessary – that God had to create and had to create this one best world – that there are no other possible, or feasible worlds. So everything that happens is somewhat necessary – almost Calvinistic?

    “Suppose that Johno Pearce is right, and God could have made Adam such that he would never fail to do the good, that does not mean that God has succeeded in making an Adam that has genuine moral responsibility. In fact, the only reason we would think that God should make Adam unable to do evil is if we think that God will ultimately be responsible for whatever Adam does. In other words, the argument only motivates those who implicitly reject the idea that a God can make something that is truly autonomous. “

    And here is the crux. If no being can possibly ever freely choose consistently well, since we are supposedly in the image of God, then surely that is poor creation. I can conceive of a God who could do that. This is similar again to the Ray Bradley argument. If the world is made up of X, people who freely love God, and Y, people who freely reject God, why then bother creating Y? Why not just X? It seems that evil and resulting suffering are being gratuitously created.

    If, though, this suffering serves a greater good, then God is using people instrumentally – a big deontological no-no. God is, then, a consequentialist.

    “But if Adam can be genuinely responsible for what he does, then the question of whether God could have made him with a better character becomes irrelevant. For, suppose he could have had a better character, if he has genuine responsibility, there has to be some sense in which he shapes that character himself.”

    Does there? God is perfect, and he does not shape his character. Without time prior to creation, that is logically impossible to boot. If it is good enough for God to be eternally good, then surely a people who freely choose good only in this world is not only logically possible, but feasible too? If not, why not?

    “If Adam can have no input, then he is not a moral agent in any real sense. A will that is free in any morally relevant sense cannot be constrained towards the good.”

    I am not talking about constraint. If that is the only way to get good, then God is constrained. Which is why, incidentally, God cannot have free will, also undercutting the likelihood of us having it.

    Over to Daniel:

    “But it appears that God has still created a people in order to fall. That this imperfection which we are all being punished for was designed in, unless it is necessary. We appear to be contingent beings, although it also appears that people on this thread might think we are necessary – that God had to create and had to create this one best world – that there are no other possible, or feasible worlds. So everything that happens is somewhat necessary – almost Calvinistic?”

    I think we are contingent. I think God could foresee the fall. But I don’t see why this entails that God created people so as to fall. This would be akin to the doctrine of double effect. He foresees that, in order for man to participate in the Beatific Vision, man must have the image of God, and a consequence of this is that God foresees the fall.

    Leibniz’s answer to the question of divine freedom is interesting. He writes: “This sequence is based on the first free decree of God which was to do always that which is the most perfect and upon the decree which God made following the first one, regarding human nature, which is that men should always do, although freely, that which appears to be the best. Now every truth which is founded upon this kind of decree is contingent, although certain, for the decrees of God do not change the possibilities of things and, as I have already said, although God assuredly chooses the best, this does not prevent that which is less perfect from being possible in itself. Although it will never happen, it is not its impossibility but its imperfection which causes him to reject it. Now nothing is necessitated whose opposite is possible. One will then be in a position to satisfy these kinds of difficulties, however great they may appear (and in fact they have not been less vexing to all other thinkers who have ever treated this matter), provided that he considers well that all contingent propositions have reasons why they are thus, rather than otherwise, or indeed (what is the same thing) that they have proof a priori of their truth, which render them certain and show that the connection of the subject and predicate in these propositions has its basis in the nature of the one and of the other, but he must further remember that such contingent propositions have not the demonstrations of necessity, since their reasons are founded only on the principle of contingency or of the existence of things, that is to say, upon that which is, or which appears to be the best among several things equally possible. Necessary truths, on the other hand, are founded upon the principle of contradiction, and upon the possibility or impossibility of the essences themselves, without regard here to the free will of God or of creatures” (Discourse on Metaphysics XIII).

    In other words, there is no per se logical impossibility in some lesser world. At the same time, God is free to actualize whatever world he deems fit to actualize. And he wills this one. For a free being always does that which it determines to be the best, and it is only an imperfection, or a slavishness, that would prevent a free will from choosing what is best. So I disagree with the supposition that God is not free simply because God has a preference for the best.

    “And here is the crux. If no being can possibly ever freely choose consistently well, since we are supposedly in the image of God, then surely that is poor creation. I can conceive of a God who could do that. This is similar again to the Ray Bradley argument. If the world is made up of X, people who freely love God, and Y, people who freely reject God, why then bother creating Y? Why not just X? It seems that evil and resulting suffering are being gratuitously created.”

    Because X and Y are not static creations. They are dynamic and interact. Some may come to a loving relationship with God through the pain and suffering inflicted upon them by X. That is, X and Y are sets within this world. And suppose you then only actualize Y in another possible world, it might be that only a subset of Y would freely love God in that world. So what? You take Y’ out of Y and only actualize them? But then I might raise the same possibility again, and eventually you will have to admit that you don’t really know if it is possible to actualize any set of persons who alone freely choose to love God.

    “If, though, this suffering serves a greater good, then God is using people instrumentally – a big deontological no-no. God is, then, a consequentialist.”

    Both moral systems are failures. I suggested above how God might be applying something like the doctrine of double effect, which has consequentalist like elements, but fits well within a natural law framework. And this makes sense, for if God is the author of Natural Law, I would say he would be something like a Natural Law theorist and apply principles consistent with Natural Law. In other words, I think your argument here depends on a false dichotomy between two modern (and flawed) moral systems.

    “Does there? God is perfect, and he does not shape his character. Without time prior to creation, that is logically impossible to boot. If it is good enough for God to be eternally good, then surely a people who freely choose good only in this world is not only logically possible, but feasible too? If not, why not?”

    God is pure actuality. There would be no passive elements in God that would correspond to “character”. So God’s moral nature is manifest through his will directly. And God’s will is God’s activity, so he is the direct cause of his own moral nature. Thus, I reject the claim that God’s perfection is not of his own doing, since that would imply that he is passive with respect to some nature by which he is defined. And this is to treat God as a composite, which any classical theist would reject. This moral activity is manifested eternally in the love between the persons of the Trinity, and then temporally in the act of creation itself. So there is no reason to think that moral activity must be temporal, contra to what you say here of impossibility.

    As for whether it is logical that God creates a set of people only freely choose the good, I would grant that. As I understand it, feasibility has to do with what is logically possible given other constraints or ends that may supervene on the kinds of worlds God is willing to actualize. So it might be the case that all the possible worlds were people only choose the good are populated only by a handful of individuals (Craig raises this point in response to Bradley). So even if it were logically possible, you have no epistemic access or warrant to claim that it is feasible. If God’s ultimate end is to bring as many into a loving relationship as he can without also bringing a disproportionate amount of evil into the world, then those worlds might not be the best worlds to actualize. Again, this would not make God a consequentialist, given that double effect is not an intrinsically set within the frame of consequentialism.

    “I am not talking about constraint. If that is the only way to get good, then God is constrained. Which is why, incidentally, God cannot have free will, also undercutting the likelihood of us having it.”

    See Leibniz above. Also, as Thomas reasons (see Summa contra gentiles I.87-88), nothing but God can be the cause of the divine will. Otherwise pure actuality would not be pure actuality, which is a contradiction. But if God alone determines His will, then God is free.

    Sorry for the length of this response.

    My rather lengthy reply followed:

    “I think we are contingent. I think God could foresee the fall. But I don’t see why this entails that God created people so as to fall. This would be akin to the doctrine of double effect. He foresees that, in order for man to participate in the Beatific Vision, man must have the image of God, and a consequence of this is that God foresees the fall. “

    I think we genuinely get into issues of complete divine foreknowledge since there seems to be little reason for a God to create at all if he knows EVERYTHING about that creation, and assuming God represents an ontologically perfect state of affairs anyway. God has no desires or needs .We get back to Justin Schieber’s argument on the creation of non-God objects, and incoherence of intention in timeless reality. A rather large rabbit-hole!

    Point being, creating humanity to suffer in order to get to a further goal is using humanity and humanity’s pain and suffering instrumentally.

    Leibniz’s answer to the question of divine freedom is interesting. He writes: “This sequence is based on the first free decree of God which was to do always that which is the most perfect and upon the decree which God made following the first one, regarding human nature, which is that men should always do, although freely, that which appears to be the best. Now every truth which is founded upon this kind of decree is contingent, although certain, for the decrees of God do not change the possibilities of things and, as I have already said, although God assuredly chooses the best, this does not prevent that which is less perfect from being possible in itself. Although it will never happen, it is not its impossibility but its imperfection which causes him to reject it. Now nothing is necessitated whose opposite is possible. One will then be in a position to satisfy these kinds of difficulties, however great they may appear (and in fact they have not been less vexing to all other thinkers who have ever treated this matter), provided that he considers well that all contingent propositions have reasons why they are thus, rather than otherwise, or indeed (what is the same thing) that they have proof a priori of their truth, which render them certain and show that the connection of the subject and predicate in these propositions has its basis in the nature of the one and of the other, but he must further remember that such contingent propositions have not the demonstrations of necessity, since their reasons are founded only on the principle of contingency or of the existence of things, that is to say, upon that which is, or which appears to be the best among several things equally possible. Necessary truths, on the other hand, are founded upon the principle of contradiction, and upon the possibility or impossibility of the essences themselves, without regard here to the free will of God or of creatures” (Discourse on Metaphysics XIII).

    So it follows then, I think, that this world is contingent and not necessary, and there are other possible worlds, by definition, no? But God created this one for some reason (the best reason). So we are back to the beginning, no? Please correct me if I read this incorrectly!

    Then again it seems to play with the idea of necessary. Would God create in every possible world? Is there a world in which God could NOT create? If not, because it would violate his necessary nature, then surely in some way this created universe is necessary? Leibniz seems to think it ‘possible’ that other worlds could exist, but then says God would always choose the best. So it isn’t possible, since God, as necessary, has necessary characteristics which necessarily cause outcomes!
    “In other words, there is no per se logical impossibility in some lesser world. At the same time, God is free to actualize whatever world he deems fit to actualize. “

    But this is the issue. He isn’t free, because apparently he will always choose the best possible world. He is utterly constrained by his own necessary charater.

    “And he wills this one. For a free being always does that which it determines to be the best, and it is only an imperfection, or a slavishness, that would prevent a free will from choosing what is best. So I disagree with the supposition that God is not free simply because God has a preference for the best.”

    Does he will it? What is the sense of will if it is the only world he feasibly could construct. He wants what is best, but that want is wrapped up with a necessary impulse to do what is ‘best’. I think God’s free will is really open to critique here.

    On subsets of compossibles:

    “Because X and Y are not static creations. They are dynamic and interact. Some may come to a loving relationship with God through the pain and suffering inflicted upon them by X. That is, X and Y are sets within this world. And suppose you then only actualize Y in another possible world, it might be that only a subset of Y would freely love God in that world. So what? You take Y’ out of Y and only actualize them? But then I might raise the same possibility again, and eventually you will have to admit that you don’t really know if it is possible to actualize any set of persons who alone freely choose to love God. “

    You are using Craig’s own defence of this. It is a pity that in tat debate he was pressed by Bradley and wasted time so the timer ran out and he did not have to bottom that out! Grrrr…..

    The problem is that this is entirely ad hoc. There is absolutely NO EVIDENCE of this. There is nothing to say that it is unfeasible, especially for an omnipotent God. Apparently heaven is full of freely loving creatures. So this seems to violate your logic.

    Simply put, there is no good reason to suppose that God can’t do this. The only reason you would say this is to get you out of this very bind. It is counter-intuitive and not logically impossible at all. If it is logically conceivable, why can it not be realisable using the same logic as the ontological argument? This would be a great making property – the ability to do this. Ergo, God should be able to do this.

    Part 2: “Both moral systems are failures. I suggested above how God might be applying something like the doctrine of double effect, which has consequentalist like elements, but fits well within a natural law framework.”

    Do you adhere to Natural Law? I didn’t think anyone still did?! You don’t even particularly need God for that morality!

    “And this makes sense, for if God is the author of Natural Law, I would say he would be something like a Natural Law theorist and apply principles consistent with Natural Law. In other words, I think your argument here depends on a false dichotomy between two modern (and flawed) moral systems.”

    Not at all – is God using humanity instrumentally (yes, clearly). Is moral value evaluated with the consequences? (Yes, clearly). Take the flood (though it never happened). If God killed all of humanity bar 8, and all of the animal and plant world bar n, this is clearly not good intrinsically, or even using natural law. The only way we can see this as being good is if the outcome of the whole scenario has deemed a greater good. Ergo, consequentialism.

    It is irrelevant whether you think consequentialism is flawed .Who cares, it may be. BUT on evidence of the Bible, that is clearly the moral value system utilised.

    “God is pure actuality. There would be no passive elements in God that would correspond to “character”. So God’s moral nature is manifest through his will directly. And God’s will is God’s activity, so he is the direct cause of his own moral nature. Thus, I reject the claim that God’s perfection is not of his own doing, since that would imply that he is passive with respect to some nature by which he is defined.”

    Can God change his nature? If it is necessary, then God has no control over it. Is God immutable?

    “And this is to treat God as a composite, which any classical theist would reject. This moral activity is manifested eternally in the love between the persons of the Trinity, and then temporally in the act of creation itself. So there is no reason to think that moral activity must be temporal, contra to what you say here of impossibility. “

    Don’t get me started on the Trinity… sheesh.

    “As for whether it is logical that God creates a set of people only freely choose the good, I would grant that. As I understand it, feasibility has to do with what is logically possible given other constraints or ends that may supervene on the kinds of worlds God is willing to actualize. So it might be the case that all the possible worlds were people only choose the good are populated only by a handful of individuals (Craig raises this point in response to Bradley). So even if it were logically possible, you have no epistemic access or warrant to claim that it is feasible. If God’s ultimate end is to bring as many into a loving relationship as he can without also bringing a disproportionate amount of evil into the world, then those worlds might not be the best worlds to actualize.”

    As pointed out above.

    “See Leibniz above. Also, as Thomas reasons (see Summa contra gentiles I.87-88), nothing but God can be the cause of the divine will.”

    But you seem to admit that the actuality of God is necessary, so God cannot control his nature which in turn controls his will. Thus God cannot control his will.

    “Otherwise pure actuality would not be pure actuality, which is a contradiction. But if God alone determines His will, then God is free. “

    Quite. God is one massive set of different contradictions!

    And I think I will leave it at that. Thoughts?

    Category: ApologeticsGod's CharacteristicsPhilosophy of Religion

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    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce

    • Andy_Schueler

      Good job Jonathan. But this is so frustrating… Resorting to the free-will defense is like a conditioned reflex. Apparently, Christians just can´t help resorting to this defense even if this defense was already anticipated and dismantled (as you did with the analogy of yourself being the creator of sentient life capable of making free choices, while knowing fully well that the lifeform you create will choose to go on a murderous rampage).
      It is simply baffling that someone can read your original post, completely ignore the fact that the free-will defense has been addressed, and just say “If I design a system to give choice, I’m not responsible for the choices the free agents make”.
      Also, it is very telling that no one was willing to answer the question if you would have been morally responsible as the creator in your thought experiment – this fact alone suggests that those commenters know that they apply a double standard where God gets a free pass while everyone else would be morally responsible for the same actions.

    • Really great exchange to read.

      There are two bits I’d like to add/ask here, first on the “subsets of compossibles”

      Here they try to use Craig’s defense where the reprobate is necessary to interact with the elect so that they (the elect) may be saved. The idea here is that without the actions of the reprobate, the elect wouldn’t be saved.

      First that seems to entail a form of determinism, but I’ll avoid that for now. The bigger issue is that the theist must admit that to get the full set of X, we must have Y solely for their interactions with X.

      Even with us granting that, who says Y must be free creatures, or creatures that have a soul? In talking with Justin Schieber about this problem he pointed out that the reprobate (group Y) could just be a sort of “cosmic zombies”. All that X needs is a set of actors to play out specific actions so that they will freely choose to love god. This doesn’t entail that the actors be “real” so to speak, or to say have souls and thus face eternal torture in hell. God could make say, soulless creatures that were just like humans to achieve this.

      Or we could go with a matrix style approach where idealism works out so what the elect think is the “real world” isn’t truly real, it’s all just sensory input into their minds to make them think it so, where as the things they interact with are merely programs or simulations of other people.

      This preserves what the theist would call free will of the elect, but it doesn’t make it so that the reprobate would necessarily have to be tortured as a result. The burden then shifts, I think, to the theist to show that this is somehow impossible.

      My second question is only tangentially related, but it’s on the topic of necessity.

      Yahweh is supposed to be the necessary ground of all being. He is metaphysically necessary, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, and unchanging. Indeed, if I understand metaphysical necessity correctly, it doesn’t entail just existing in all possible worlds but to exist in the same way in all possible worlds.

      The idea being that god doesn’t have any contingent properties in himself, I think.

      Doesn’t all that go out the fucking window when we introduce the incarnation of Jesus into the picture?

      If we are to take the Christian seriously that Jesus is supposed to be fully man and fully god, then how does this not constitute a change in god’s necessary nature? Does this entail that some form of humanity is also metaphysically necessary? Otherwise the second part of the godhead would not always have the same nature in terms of the incarnation.

      It’s just one of the rabbit holes that opens up when we try to combine the neat theological idea of god as “the necessary ground of all being” with the baggage that comes with the Christian religion as it was formed over time by prophets and fishermen.

      • Both fascinating points that I have not considered before. Could / would a Christian not not invoke John’s logos to say that Jesus existed necessarily from the start?

        That said, does necessity not mean God is immutable?

        • Well I’d assume ‘god exists necessarily’ would mean that ‘the trinity’ (whatever it means) exists necessarily.

          The issue is about the nature of Jesus, if there’s a divine nature there, it has to be changed or inhibited in some way during the incarnation period due to the verses implying his limitations of knowledge, etc. The issue is if the incarnation was fully god + fully man, doesn’t the “man” part of that equation mean that it’s contingent? Is that not part of god?

          As far as necessity implying immutability, I’m not exactly sure, but I think many Christians hold that. Or at least they would hold that god has some properties necessarily (omnipotence, omniscience, love, goodness, etc).

          • Do you know what, there is nothing about the Trinity that makes even the remotest of sense to me, especially if you look at existence properties.

            • Granted it’s a problem in and of itself, but we don’t even have to get into that issue with this objection I think.

              Ultimately, I think Christians have to accept one of three bits in a trilemma:

              1.) God can have contingent parts/properties (very problematic for many arguments for gods existence)

              2.) Human beings exist necessarily, so Jesus can have his body in every possible world.

              3.) The body of Jesus doesn’t constitute a part of god.

      • This is what Daniel replied to you on the fb thread:

        Yes, very interesting response. I’d have to give that some thought, but if I were to shoot from the hip, here is what I would say:

        The philosophical zombies, or matrix like beings, would presumably be determined or programmed by God. But that would directly impugn God’s moral perfection, since he is using puppets to harm us rather than permitting genuine moral agents to do as they will. The issue is going to come down to whether a created being can have genuine moral responsibility, that buck-stopper I referred to earlier. It seems to me that these puppets don’t have a buck-stopping morality.

        As for the second question, that is a bit of a pickle. But strictly speaking, a being could exist across all possible worlds (so to speak) and exhibit different accidental properties. The problem is that a divinely simple being does not have accidental properties. Craig adopts the position that God does have accidental properties, and consequently must reject divine simplicity(http://www.reasonablefaith.org/divine-simplicity).

        Aquinas explicitly rejects the position that God has accidental properties, but even he admits that he doesn’t know whether it was “necessary” for the Second Person of the Holy Trinity to become incarnate (seehttp://www.newadvent.org/summa/4001.htm#article3).

        I think it’s really going to come down to whether free will is compatible with determinism. Craig rejects compatiblism, so he is stuck rejecting the orthodox view that God has no accidents. He basically does this, because he thinks that God could have brought about different worlds, and so would have different relational properties accidental to his own being. I’d have to look into Aquinas to really figure out what he would say, but I think the issue here is not one of metaphysical necessity but of whether God can have accidental properties.

        • I’m not sure there is a difference between god programming the zombie/matrix simulator and the molinist view of god with his middle knowledge actualizing a world where he knows beings of group X and Y will always freely do those actions given the set of counterfactuals he actualizes.

          Plus is the matrix scenario any different than creating a person in a world where there is natural evil or at least an environment that harms us.

          If the theist accepts evolution, even theistic evolution, and the idea of creation of the universe in the Big Bang – well then this view doesn’t really hold up.

          Even if they try to get out of the problem of how there was a “fall” if there was no “historical Adam” (given what we know of genetics saying we came from a population of 10k, not 2 people) – that doesn’t change the fact that even these humans when they evolved to be humans, were born into a world with plate tectonics, hurricanes, blizzards, earthquakes, tsunami’s, disease, and all the rest.

          All of that was designed by god, and would as such be “programmed to harm us” in some way. However, in light of the problem of evil and the Christian response to it, we are told that god permits evil in order to achieve a greater good. How would the Matrix world be any different?

          I think the Christian can get out of this bind by adopting annihilationism, so that the reprobate aren’t kept in hell but are just destroyed.

          Further, there is one objection – what says that it is logically necessary that a free moral agent must also have an immortal soul?

        • Jon, I have to ask this too since I think it’s a problem with their view but it turns into a serious charge that I’m not sure is valid since so many people seem to take molinism seriously. This is the bit about the entire idea implying a form of determinism.

          How does saying that a being would always freely perform an action given a set of counterfactuals make any sense?

          It seems to beg the question to insist that the being is “freely” doing the action despite the fact that there’s a set of counterfactuals that if different would change what the person would “freely” do.

          To bring this back into the two groups, X and Y, to say that X would not freely love god if Y didn’t exist, would mean that Y would have to have some causal power into the influence of X. But if that’s the case then it’s not free will, at least not in the libertarian sense.

          • it doesn’t make sense! I would check out the ‘grounding objection’ to middle knowledge (google it). I think, even after point counter point, that the issue remains.

    • carmel Ka

      Hi Jonathan.
      Where is this full debate posted?

      • Hi there

        It was on a facebook post on the Unbelievable forum goodness knows when. The forum gets dozens fo posts a day so the chances are I would have to trawl through several thousand posts.