Manual Chance, Providence, and Necessity

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Items related to Chance, Providence, and Necessity: 8 lectures, Dornach, Chance, Providence, and Necessity: 8 lectures, Dornach, Aug. Rudolf Steiner. Publisher: SteinerBooks , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title Chance, necessity, and providence are related to love, loyalty, and grace.

Language Notes : Text: English, German translation "About this title" may belong to another edition of this title. Learn more about this copy. Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Search for all books with this author and title. Customers who bought this item also bought. Evil, contingency, free will, fortune and chance are all essential features of the world of human experience; they mark the open and unpredictable character of our human world. For Thomas, these features pertain to the realm of second causes as such and are not reducible to the presence of the first cause in those second causes.

Hence, providence, as the rule of reason in all things, does not remove contingency from our world. The world of human experience with its contingency and openness remains intact. Thomas does not allow a massive presence of the first cause in the created order of the secondary causes, as consequence of which the secondary causes would be suppressed. But what is not immediately clear here is how Thomas can successfully defend the existence of contingency if it remains regulated and controlled by the infallible order of divine providence.

How can the relative lack of reason we experience in the contingent events of our world be reconciled with the fact that they are included in the universal order of providential reason? In the previous section, we saw that contingency is something which is ascribed to the operation of secondary causes.

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But this still leaves many questions unanswered. Let us use as an example an airplane accident. Airplanes belong to the class of corruptible things which are susceptible to defect and failure. Thus the operation of an airplane, being a corruptible thing, has the possibility of deficere; in this sense the accident has no necessitating reason, it occurred contingently.

But how does this contingent event fit in the order of providence? But if it is willed by God as part of his providential plan, then how could it still be contingent? For Thomas, nothing can really escape the order of divine providence. But how then can we introduce the language of providence into such a situation? This may seem surprising as it runs counter to the common conception of contingency in modern thought.

A functioning system of whatever kind would be conceived as internally necessary inasmuch as every part obeys the law of the system, while the system itself is contingent in the sense of not reducible to a higher cause or justifying reason. But this is not how Thomas conceives contingency. He illustrates his Aristotelian understanding of contingency with the following example: the fact that a plant bears fruit is contingent on the proximate cause, which is in this case the germinative power of the plant.

This internal power of the plant can fail or be impeded by some external factor. Thus even when the remote cause — the sun — remains present, the plant can still fail to bear fruit, which is to be explained in terms of the defect of the second cause. Contingency in this sense is part of the Aristotelian understanding of nature: within lower nature, things do not always happen in the same uniform way, but they may be impeded in their natural operations or fail by some internal defect.

The order of material nature allows for exceptions and irregularities; within the realm of lower nature, things do not conform completely or perfectly to the rational divine order of the universe. Another argument in defense of contingency is based on the principle that the more remote something is from God and from his likeness, the more susceptible it is to mobility and thus to contingency. This understanding of contingency as expounded in the Summa contra Gentiles seems to me problematic.

Contingency arises out of potentially defective causes, and such causes are primarily found in the lower part of the universe where the influence of divine reason becomes weaker and less effective. For instance, the plant can fail to bear fruit, not by reason of its remote cause — the sun — but because of a defect in its germinative power. The question which remains unanswered is whether the contingent effect of a secondary cause is intended and willed by the first cause; and if it is willed by God, is it then still contingent?

For instance, the sun cannot help when some plants fail to bear fruit, but how should one understand the case of a person who fails to attain eternal salvation? The problem, however, is to understand how this ontological weakness of contingency is included in the providential order. In the Summa Theologiae, we see Aquinas proposing a slightly different view on the contingency of secondary causes. According to the Summa Theologiae this is not a sufficient explanation, since it suggests that the difference between the contingent and the necessary in the world is independent of divine intention and will.

Nothing can happen in the world without God willing it to be so. God wills some things to be done necessarily, other things contingently, so that there may be a differentiated order of higher and lower perfection in the universe. Therefore, to some effects he attached necessary causes that cannot fail; to others, he attached potentially defective and contingent causes, from which arise contingent effects. Hence, that some effects occur contingently, is due to the fact that God willed them to be produced by proximate causes that work contingently.

For Aquinas, contingency is part of the good order of the universe. Without contingent causes the world would be less perfect, less rich in its diversity of degrees of perfection. The perfection of the universe requires, thus, the existence of a reality in which defect and failure may occur. Therefore one should not demand from God that he excludes the possibility of defect and failure because such things would be contrary to the good order of the world.

Providence does not mean — as one might expect — that God does everything himself directly and denies the secondary causes their own actions. God foresees all the effects in the world in such a way that the order of secondary causes which produces those effects is subject to his providence. That some causes produce their effects contingently is thus foreseen and willed by God, even if it entails the free decisions of the human will.

Chance Providence and Necessity By Rudolf Steiner

Nor does he conceive this open character as a sort of God-free zone, where human freedom assumes the role, so to speak, of the first cause. However, judging from the prolonged discussion of the problem of contingency in the Summa contra Gentiles, this appears to be indeed a deep problem. On the one hand, we are inclined to affirm the open and contingent character of our world, a world in which there is something for us to do, where we possess freedom and our free actions have a real effectiveness.

On the other hand, we are not willing to abandon the idea of providence that is, the notion of a world subjugated to the rule of reason. The second causes are not merely puppets moved and controlled by the first cause. They exercise their own causality in such a way that the creative presence of the first cause establishes them in their own manner of operating.

Without this aspect of difference, since second causes do not coincide with the presence in them of the first cause, the certainty of providence would inevitably lead to the necessity of all things. The dilemma between certainty and contingency is most critical when we look at the practice of prayer. In prayer one appeals to God, the first cause, in his providential role. But on the other hand, prayer will seem useless if we realize the certainty and thus immutability of providence. In discussing the dilemma of providence and contingency, Thomas continuously emphasizes the difference between the level of the first cause and the level of the secondary causes, notwithstanding the fact that all actions of the second causes are subjected to the order of providence.

Given these suppositions, our initial expectation would be that all of creation, animate and inanimate, is ordained to perfect good: that as creator God pitches his efforts, which none can resist, toward accomplishing the greatest good imaginable, and hence that the world in which we find ourselves is, as Leibniz put it, the best of all possible worlds. But alas, the evidence is otherwise. The world may contain much good, but it is also a place of suffering, destruction, and death.

Life is brief, and afflicted with sorrows of every kind—as often as not with no discernible purpose at all, much less a good one. And it ends for each of us in personal destruction—in death, which trumps all worldly hopes, and conceals impenetrably any experience that may lie beyond. Nor are these mere human hardships. Every living thing dies, all that is beautiful perishes, everything nature builds is destroyed. And that is not all. In human affairs there is the additional evil of sin: the willful wrongdoing of which we all are at times victims and at other times perpetrators.

What is described above is the problem of evil. Because evil poses the most difficult problems for traditional views of divine providence, this discussion will be organized around the theme of evil. In its classical formulation, the problem of evil is a problem of logical consistency. An omniscient God, we must assume, would have knowledge of the evil in the world.

An omnibenevolent God would desire to halt or prevent it, and an omnipotent God should be able to do so. Yet evil is rife. It must be, then, that God lacks at least one of the triad of attributes, and perhaps all of them. Perhaps as creator he is somewhat in the dark as to what evils may occur, and once they appear it is too late to forestall them. On the other hand, it may be that evil is endemic — built into the structure of any world, so that even God is powerless to prevent it. Whatever the reason, the argument runs, he is not the God of Abraham, of Jesus, and of Mohammed.

Their God simply would not permit wanton wrongdoing, nor would he allow the suffering and duress under which all creation labors. So while the presence of evil in the world does not serve to prove there is no God at all, it does show there is no God of the kind adumbrated in religious tradition. The logical problem of evil may be countered with a logical rejoinder. The fact is that the three perfections described above are not by themselves sufficient to exclude the existence of evil in creation.

To get that result we have to add a crucial premise to the argument put forth by opponents of theism: that there can be no justification for evil, no good reason why a God with the attributes in question would create a world that contained it.


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But why suppose this is so? Perhaps there is some good or goods that are possible only in a world that contains or at least permits evil, and without which creation would be vastly inferior to what it is. If that were true, then an all-good and all-loving God would not shrink from creating a world that contained the evil necessary for that good or goods to be achieved. But not yet. For the opponent may concede that the presence of evil in the world does not entail that there is no God of the kind religious tradition postulates.

Still, he may hold, it gives us good inductive reason for thinking there is no such God. The pervasiveness and profundity of the evil that occurs, the fact that it so often falls upon the innocent and helpless, and the simple fact that we can see no good coming from most of it are more than enough reason, according to this argument, for any rational person to reject the God of tradition. What good could possibly justify the Holocaust, or wholesale destruction of civilian populations in war?

Or, lest the numbers submerge the agony, consider just a single case of innocent suffering, posed by William Rowe: a fawn burned horribly in a forest fire somewhere removed from any human awareness, doomed to days of lingering suffering before inevitable death , We are unable to discern any good coming from this single instance of evil, and the same could doubtless be said for millions of others.

What more reason could a rational person demand for rejecting the God of our fathers? This so-called inductive or evidential argument from evil may be met with a response similar to the one directed against the logical argument, for the fact is that it too involves assumptions which, when brought to light, seem questionable. It assumes that for each instance of evil that occurs, we humans will be able to detect any good toward which it might be directed, and that we will be able to tell whether the good is achieved, whether it was worth the evil sustained in reaching it, and whether it could better have been achieved without the attendant evil.

Again, however, why assume any of this is so? It is not obvious, in the first place, that goods and evils are commensurable in the way this argument seems to suppose—that is, that we are able to grade goods and evils on a common scale, and then measure the value of the good against the bad Swinburne , ch. But even if we could do this, an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving God could easily have aims exceeding any we have ever imagined.

How they are achieved at all, much less the role sin and suffering may play in their achievement, could in principle escape us utterly Howard-Snyder If so, then we would still be in no position to make the kinds of determinations about the role evil plays in the world, and how dispensable it may be, that the evidential argument presupposes. Still less should we expect to be able to make such determinations in every case, which is what the argument demands. As with the logical problem of evil, then, the theist may greet the experiential problem with a stand-pat position.

Neither argument goes through unless we make assumptions we have no reason to make, and which when brought to light seem positively implausible. Still, evil is troubling, and anyone troubled by it is likely to be left unsatisfied by the stand-pat response. For one thing, the argument cuts both ways. Moreover, this response seems out of keeping with the spirit of the Western religious tradition. That tradition is at home with the concept of mystery: it speaks often of aspects of God and his relationship to the world that outreach us, in that our intellects are not finally able to grasp them.

But seldom if ever does the tradition treat mystery as totally impenetrable. Just the opposite: the whole point of the theological enterprise is to enable the believer to understand, however imperfectly, the nature of God and the plan of salvation. It is hard to see how this aim can be achieved if a phenomenon as central as evil must be held to escape all comprehension, nor is there any special reason to expect such a thing. If this is correct, then the theist should not limit his options to the negative. Such an effort is likely, of course, to end up incomplete.

In particular, the theist may be unable in many cases to point to a good to which some evil that occurs is indispensable. But he may want to be able to offer a general justification for the presence of evil, and to describe some good or goods which but for the occurrence of evil could not be achieved.


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The question is whether he can do so without compromising divine perfection. That is the aim of what is perhaps the most prominent strategy employed in recent theodicy, which is based on the concept of free will, and its importance in the plan of creation. The free will defense begins by distinguishing two kinds of evil.

Moral evil is evil that occurs through rational action — that is, through wrongful exercises of will on the part of rational beings. Natural evil , by contrast, is owing entirely to the operation of natural causes. To see how this distinction works, we need to realize that moral evil can itself be divided into several categories. First come exercises of will that are sinful in themselves, and these are of two kinds.

They include wrongful acts of intention formation, as when one maliciously decides to kill another, and the volitional activity through which we execute wrong intentions — e. The moral wrong of these exercises of will is intrinsic to them. They are sinful in themselves, and would be so even if, through some fortuitous circumstance, the attempt to kill went awry, and the intended victim was not harmed at all.

Suppose, however, that the action succeeds, as it does in most instances of wrongful willing. If so, further evil will occur — in the present case, the death of the victim. Now if the victim had died entirely as a result of natural causes, his death would have counted as a natural evil. Harm and suffering that are caused by wrongful willing count as extrinsic moral evil, in that they are caused by acts of will that are morally evil in themselves, or intrinsically.

The significance and pervasiveness of extrinsic moral evil is easy to underestimate, because a lot of the suffering and hardship that belongs in this category tends to masquerade as merely part of the human condition, and hence as natural evil. But it is not so. Many of the hardships that befall humankind — disease, ignorance, poverty and the like — owe their existence at least in part to wrongful willing. The poverty of some is owing to the greed of others; suffering and deprivation may occur because of institutionalized racial and ethnic hatred, or because leaders use their positions to advance their own power and prosperity at the expense of their citizenry, or simply because the cost of defense against foreign enemies brings economic hardship to a nation or some of its members.

In other cases the cause is sheer laziness, or the fact that time and talent that might have been devoted to good are instead consumed by selfish ends. Who can estimate how much of suffering and disease, of poverty and ignorance, or of the threat posed by natural disasters would by now have been conquered were not so much of our energy and resources diverted either to the pursuit of wrongful goals, or to guarding ourselves against those who do pursue them, and mending as well as we can the harm they cause?

A great deal, then, of what we are likely to view as natural evil actually falls under the heading of extrinsic moral evil. That all of sin and so much of suffering counts as moral evil is advantageous to free will theodicy, for according to the free will defense moral evil is not to be blamed upon God. It is entirely our fault — that is, entirely the fault of rational beings who employ their wills to pursue evil. This is because we have free will , which is to be understood here in what is known as the libertarian sense.

We exercise libertarian freedom in forming or executing an intention only if our deciding or willing is not the product of deterministic causation — that is, provided there is no set of conditions independent of our exercise of will which, together with scientific law, make it certain that we shall decide or will as we do. Independent conditions — our motives and beliefs, for example — may incline us toward one or another intention or action. But they cannot guarantee it, because what we decide and what we strive to achieve is finally up to us.

Were it not so, we could not be held accountable for our actions. We would be no more responsible than someone who acted out of a psychological compulsion such as kleptomania, or who was a victim of addiction, hypnosis or the like. Given the nature of libertarian freedom, then, our actions are up to us, in that they are not brought about by independent events. And because this is so, according to free will theodicy, moral evil is entirely our fault. God is not to be blamed for it, because it owes its existence to our wills, not to his Plantinga , God is, of course, responsible for the risk he takes in creating a world that contains beings with free will.

But proponents of the free will defense can point to two reasons that could justify God in populating the universe with such creatures. First, they are an enhancement to creation. Creatures with free will are sources of spontaneity in the world, able to choose for themselves the principles by which their conduct will be guided. As such, they display the kind of liberty we take God himself to have, and so are made in the image of their creator Swinburne , Second, God endows us with this power because he desires creatures who will accept him freely, who will love and obey him not because they are programmed to do so, but as a matter of spontaneous choice.

That we should come to love God in this way is far more satisfactory than that we should be driven to accept him. As in strictly human affairs, forced affection is a pale substitute for love voluntarily bestowed. But, the argument goes, God cannot endow us with free will without running the risk that some of us, at least, will turn against him, and use our freedom to seek evil ends.

The bullet could not find its mark or the poison be effective unless the relevant natural laws stayed in place. In principle, then, God could allow us free choice and yet prevent any choice that is evil from having its intended outcome. But freedom would be a sham if an evil will could never have its way, and the locus of sin lies not in the consequences of evil willing but in the willing itself. The price of freedom, then, is moral evil. God merely permits our choices and makes them efficacious.

The free will defense does not, in most formulations, attempt a complete solution to the problem of evil. It deals only with moral evil, and although we have seen that this category covers more than might at first be supposed, it certainly does not appear that all of the sorrows and failures of the world can be gathered under it. Even if the free will defense succeeds then, there will remain a residuum of natural evil to be addressed. It may, however, be questioned whether the defense succeeds even in the limited project it undertakes.

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Mackie has argued that if God is truly all-powerful, he ought to have been able to create creatures who possessed free will, but who never did wrong , If that were possible, then we would have had a universe free of moral evil, even though it contained creatures with free will. Perhaps the sinful populace that presently inhabits the world would have lost out on such a scenario: maybe God would have had to create an entirely different crowd. Still, moral evil would have been banished, and the condition of the world doubtless vastly improved. But could God have exerted such control over creation?

Proponents of the free will defense have tended to think not. In order for God to provide creatures with meaningful freedom, they argue, God must relinquish control over how that freedom is exercised. Were it not so, libertarian freedom would be destroyed: our decisions and actions would not finally be up to us, but would instead be manipulated by God Plantinga , 41—42; Flint , 84— Indeed, the argument runs, it would be logically impossible for God to create creatures possessed of libertarian freedom, and at the same time have the operations of their will fall under his creative fiat.

Now it is not usually considered a failure of omnipotence for God to be unable to do what is logically impossible. We need not, therefore, relinquish the claim that God is all-powerful. Rather, the theist concludes, Mackie is simply mistaken in thinking such a God could create free creatures with a guarantee that they would never sin. That is, his fiat as creator counts as an independent condition or event, which causes the occurrence of what he wills in just the way natural causes produce their effects.

So if, as creator, God wills that I decide to attend a concert this evening, then my decision to do so is causally determined, just as it would be had I been driven to it by an insatiable desire for Beethoven. Otherwise, we would not have a violation of the criterion for libertarian free will given earlier. Is the free will defense then successful? Again, it seems not, for the antitheist can still raise two complaints, and these amount to two challenges that any theory of providence which desires to avail itself of the free will defense must overcome.

If God were fully sovereign over the universe his rule would be complete.

Chance, Providence, and Necessity

All that occurs would be under his direct control, down to the smallest detail. According to the free will defense, however, this is not so. To be sure, God need not have created free beings, and when they engage in sinful willing he can always thwart their ends by manipulating natural causes. But he cannot stop them from sinning or, for that matter, from willing well , for both of these lie with the will itself.

So in creating free creatures God relinquishes part of his sovereignty over the universe Mackie , —10; Flint , 84— Furthermore, unless God regularly interferes with his creatures achieving their own objectives—that is, unless he deprives them of a meaningful and efficacious freedom—his own objectives in creating the universe are likely to be thwarted.

However great a good it may be to have in the universe creatures who exercise libertatian freedom, this would seem a high and unseemly price for an otherwise sovereign God to pay for their existence. Second, the antitheist may argue, the free will defense violates divine omniscience. And if that is the case then God has no way of knowing what I will decide. Like anyone, he can make a lucky guess: he may believe devoutly that I will decide to attend the concert, and that may turn out to be correct.

But lucky guesses do not count as knowledge. Rather, like any observer, God must wait to learn what my decision will be in order to be sure of it. But then throughout the time prior to my act, God is not omniscient. There is a truth about the future that he does not know. Thus, the antitheist may conclude, the free will defense is in fact a failure. Perhaps this is in part because philosophy is itself a matter of pursuing knowledge, so that philosophers are led to value omniscience more highly. Were we generals, say, or politicians, our priorities might be quite the opposite.

In any case, most discussions of the seeming conflict between creaturely freedom and divine perfection have concentrated on the task of reconciling as far as possible the assertion that we have free will with the claim that God is all-knowing. Such was the view of Boethius, who held that God exists entirely outside of time, in a kind of eternal present to which all that occurs in time is equally accessible Consolation, Bk.

V, pr. Thus, God is able in a single act of awareness to comprehend all of history, the past and future as well as the present, just as though they were now occurring. Many philosophers have followed Boethius in this, holding that God is in no way a temporal being, but is rather the creator of time, with complete and equal access to all of its contents. Rather, the vantage point from which God knows our decisions and actions is completely external to time. He simply knows them, in a unified, timeless and unchanging act of comprehension that comprises all that ever was or will be.

There are criticisms of the idea that God is timeless Wolterstorff But even if the Boethian position is correct on this score, the usefulness of this means of reconciling divine omniscience and human freedom is highly questionable. The difficulty is that in order for God to exercise full providence over the world, he needs to know as creator how the decisions and actions of creatures with libertarian freedom will go. It is hard to see how that is possible on the Boethian view, for even if God is outside of time, his activity as creator is still ontologically prior to the activities of free creatures on this account, whereas his knowledge of those activities is posterior to them.

If this is correct, then even the Boethian God runs an immense risk in creating the world. He can only hope that we will use our freedom justly and wisely, perhaps making some allowance for the possibility that we will not, but otherwise simply trusting in the outcome. For an entry into the debate, see Hunt , Hasker , and Zimmerman It may be questioned, furthermore, whether this view of things really is consistent with the claim that God is timeless. The Boethian picture appears to call for a kind of transition, wherein God first creates free creatures in ignorance of what their actions will be and then learns about those actions by observation.

But if that is so then there appears to be change in God, in which case he would have to be a temporal being after all. Now perhaps there is some way around this problem: maybe as creator God somehow operates in isolation from certain parts of his knowledge, while having access to all of it in his role as knower — and yet remains timeless in both capacities. Still, it is not satisfying that God should be limited in this way.

His activity as creator ought to be completely unhampered. As creator, on this account, God really does not know what kind of world he is creating: how evil it will be, whence the evil will arise, and how to anticipate it in detail in the plan of creation. One may be tempted at this point simply to throw in the towel, to give up the endeavor to reconcile libertarian freedom with divine sovereignty and omniscience.

If so, we may still insist on libertarian freedom for creatures. But if we are convinced this is incompatible with holding that God is omniscient, and that everything that takes place in the created world falls under his complete governance, then these claims will go by the board. And much that occurs, most especially sinful decisions and willings, will not be of his choosing. Not that he is completely in the dark: God can still have probabilistic knowledge of how his creatures will act, and he can contrive to place them in circumstances designed to elicit if possible whatever behavior will achieve the most good.

And of course he still has the power to motivate and punish, so creatures may be guided toward right paths. Accordingly, God is still able to exercise a sort of general providence over the world, guiding it in the direction of his objectives as creator, or at least something approximating them Rhoda a.

Inevitably, creaturely free will makes for a setting of uncertainty, and only within that setting can God attempt to bring creation to a happy outcome. Yet he proceeds, and his doing so is a measure of his love for us. See Hasker and Pinnock et. Such a position may appeal to philosophers who find the God of perfect being theology too remote and mysterious to equate with the God of scripture. But this viewpoint faces serious problems. Some are relatively specific. For example, it is hard to see how, if even God does not know what they will be, the actions of free creatures could be the subject of prophecy.

Yet they often are, in scripture Flint , — Also, there will no doubt be many cases where multiple free actions impinge on some outcome God desires. There is always the chance, therefore, that his plans as creator will be utterly dashed, that his overtures to us will be rejected — even to the point, one supposes, of our all being lost — that we will use our freedom and advancing knowledge to wreak ever greater horror, and that creation will turn out to be a disaster. Willingness to take chances may be laudable in some cases, but surely this level of risk is irresponsible. Moreover, it is completely out of keeping with both scripture and tradition, both of which portray God as above the fray of the world, unperturbed by its mishaps, and governing its course with complete power and assurance.

On the Open view, divine governance is a hit or miss affair, in which we can only wait to see whether a somewhat poorly informed God will manage to bootstrap his way to his objectives. Surely, opponents argue, this gives away too much of the traditional notion of providence. One tactic for preserving omniscience even while accepting the basic open theist view just described is to hold that God cannot be faulted for not knowing in advance how we will exercise our freedom, since until we do there is simply nothing to know.

According to views of this kind, not all propositions about the future have a truth value. Similarly, a proposition concerning the future may have a truth value when its truth is causally determined. Consider, for example, the proposition that the sun will rise tomorrow. Most likely, it is true. But now consider the claim that I will decide an hour from now to attend a concert this evening. If I have free will, there are no conditions presently in place that determine whether I will so decide. This being the case, according to the present view, the proposition that I will decide in an hour to attend the concert is neither true nor false.

It has no truth value at all, nor does any other proposition that describes a future free decision or action. But then, the argument runs, it is not a mark against his omniscience that in creating us, God does not know how we will exercise our freedom. It is logically impossible to know of a proposition that it is true or that it is false if it is neither. A distinct but related view is that all future contingents are in fact false, because there is nothing in the future to make them true, and so the fact that God does not know ahead of time which of them becomes true is not an epistemic failure on his part see Todd If correct, this view would indeed reconcile divine omniscience and creaturely freedom, leaving only the problem of sovereignty to be addressed.

But there are telling arguments against it. Propositions that venture to predict future free decisions and actions do appear to have truth values, and some of them appear to be true. One indication of this is that we believe and disbelieve such propositions, and what is it to believe a proposition but to believe it is true, or to disbelieve it but to believe it is false? Nor does it seem possible to worm our way out of this. Let p be the proposition that I will decide to attend a concert this evening. It might be protested that for someone to believe I will so decide is only to believe p will become true at the appointed time — i.

Similarly, it will not do to claim that to believe p is not to believe it is true but only that it is likely or probable. For to hold these beliefs is just to hold, respectively, that it is likely that p is true, or probable that it is true. In short, there seems no avoiding the fact that to believe p is to be committed to its truth, pure and simple. Moreover, anyone thus committed would, if I later decide to attend the concert, be justified in saying they had been right about what I would decide, that their earlier belief had been correct.

And again, what is it for a belief to be right or correct except for it to be true? For a related argument, see Pruss , to which Rhoda b replies. In any case, the concern remains that open theism leaves the traditional strong view of divine providence in tatters in favor of a risk-taking God. A better solution would be preferable, if one can be had.

A possible way to reconcile libertarian views of freedom with a strong view of divine providence was posed by the sixteenth-century Spanish Jesuit, Luis de Molina That is, God knows, for any creature he might create, how that creature will behave in whatever circumstances he might be placed.

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God is able to know this, moreover, even though the creatures in question will, if created, enjoy libertarian freedom. This kind of knowledge, which Molina called middle knowledge , [ 4 ] is comprised in what we may call subjunctives of freedom.

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Consider, for example, the situation in which I will find myself later today, when I deliberate about whether to attend the concert tonight. It is possible to formulate two subjunctive conditional propositions about that situation. The first states that if ever I were placed in the circumstances call them C that will then obtain, I would decide freely to attend the concert; the second states that in those circumstances, I would not so decide.

Finally, God is armed with true subjunctives of freedom for every other set of circumstances in which I might ever have been placed, and the same for every other free individual he has the option of creating, whether he actually chooses to create the creature or not. In effect, then, middle knowledge gives God advance notice of every free decision or action that would ever occur, on the part of any creature he might create Flint , 37— Once armed with information about how such a creature would decide and act in the various circumstances in which he might be placed, God has the option of not creating the creature, or of creating him in whatever circumstances are called for by the subjunctives of freedom God wishes to be realized in the actual world.