By: Stuart|08 November, 2010|Categories: Philosophy of Religion . Theology|Tags: Alan R. Rhoda . Bivalentist Open Theism . Clark Pinnock . Generic Open Theism . Gregory Boyd . limited foreknowledge . Non-bivalentist Open Theism . omniscience . Open Theism . Openness Theology . Prescience . William Hasker . Willliam Lane Craig
On 4 December 1926, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to Max Born describing his difficulties coming to terms with Quantum mechanics. In it he said, “God does not play dice with the universe.” The quip that often follows is, “If he did, he’d win.”
That is the basic idea people have of God. C. S. Lewis says, “Everyone who believes in God at all, believes that He knows what you and I are going to do tomorrow.” Traditional Christian theism has always affirmed the scope or perfection of God’s knowledge includes the future.
In the last thirty years there have been a growing number of theologians calling themselves mainstream evangelicals, who are challenging this conception. Their claim is that God does not have exhaustive knowledge of the future contingent propositions: God’s mind is, as it were, not settled on some questions regarding what will happen, but open. Thus the name they have chosen for themselves is Open Theism or Openness Theology (OT). The specific type of future contingent propositions they have in mind are the counterfactuals of creaturely freedom (CCFs). Moreover, they think this idea is more faithful to the revelation given in scripture than the traditional view.
Outspoken scholarly proponents of Open Theism include Gregory Boyd, John Sanders, David Basinger, William Hasker and, most famously, Clark Pinnock. Historically what is new is that this view is no longer isolated to a small area of Christendom or on the periphery of Christian thought and discussion.
Before turning to a refutation, it will be worthwhile taking the advice of Alan R. Rhoda, of the University of Navada, Las Vagas. In his paper, Generic Open Theism and Some Variants Thereof, he warns of conflating commitments of specific variants of Open Theism with what he calls Generic Open Theism (GOT). For this he distinguishes five minimal commitments for Openness Theology. The first four are: (1) Theism,  (2) Future Contingency, (3) Divine Epistemic Openness, and (4) EC incompatibility.
The third is implicitly affirmed by the defining characteristics of (1), (2) and (4), yet needs to be made explicit because it has been made “the central dialectic” of the debate. For clarity we can construct a syllogism.
1) God exists.
2) There are future contingents. (i.e. The future is causally open).
4) It is impossible that the future be epistemically settled for God in any respect in which it is causally open. (i.e. If the future is causally open, it is impossible for God to know the future).
Therefore, (modus ponems, 2&4)
3) The future is epistemically open for God.
Thus the proponent of OT will accept both (2) and (4) and therefore (3), and the objector to OT will reject (3) and therefore must deny either (2) or (4). By denying (2) one sides with the determinist school of Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Edwards. By denying (4) one sides with the EC incompatabilist school of Ockham, Molina, or Arminius. Under Rhoda’s schema, GOT is placed between both schools by affirming what each school denies, namely (2) and (4).
Millard J. Erickson, could well agree with Rhoda’s warning and clarification. He would however protest positioning OT in the middle ground between Calvin and Ariminius, for GOT steps beyond the bounds of orthodoxy by denying that which unites both schools: that God’s knowledge of future contingents is exhaustive.
At least two important corollaries follow from Rhoda’s clarification. Firstly, GOT is committed to divine temporality with creation. This is because God undergoes intrinsic change as his knowledge changes. This happens either when any state of affair X at future time t* comes to pass, or becomes causally closed. Second, GOT is committed to divine passability in as far as God must undergo intrinsic change as his epistemic states change.
Thus if you have reason to think that God is either atemporal with creation or impassable in his epistemic states, you have reason to believe that Open Theism is false. Norman Geisler argues against OT with this method on Scriptural grounds with Thomistic arguments.
A fifth and important distinctive of Generic Open Theism remains, namely;
5) AC incompatibility.
This condition states that future contingent propositions cannot be alethically settled and causally open. In other words, if X is at t* causally open, then X is neither true nor false. Insofar as there are future contingents, to affirm (5) one either needs to deny the Principle of Bivalence applies to X at t*, or else affirm that X at t* is not contradictory at all, but only contrary. Alternatively, some Open Theists have rejected (5) by affirming that future contingent propositions are alethically settled and epistemically open for they cannot be known in principle.
This last alternative is labeled limited foreknowledge, and entails a redefining of omniscience. Instead of God knowing all and only true propositions (O), God only knows all propositions that it is logically possible to know (O“). William Hasker has defended this variant of OT. William Lane Craig explains how this is an unacceptable “cooking of the books.” First, he states that any adequate definition must accord with the intuitive understanding of the concept. Second, he points out that omniscience is a categorical and not a modal notion. It is not merely the capability of knowing all truths, but actually knowing all truths. Third, he states that the only sufficient condition for a proposition to be known is that it is true, thus (O“) collapses back into (O). One therefore should be honest and simply deny that God has maximal knowledge, thus entailing a denial of (1).
In addition, a principled limitation of God’s foreknowledge (without a denial that future contingent propositions have a truth-value or are uniformly false) requires a denial that “Truth supervenes of Being.” Since this entails a denial of the correspondence theory of truth, most OTs reject limited foreknowledge, for the consequence is far too heavy to bear.
The second and third variety of OT are labeled Non-bivalentist and Bivalentist. Each view accepts that God’s foreknowledge is exhaustive. It can do this by denying “X at t*” and “¬X at t*” is either true or false. The Non-bivalentist OT accomplishes this by denying Bivalence and contending that the ‘future’ is a set of multitudes of unsettled branches of possibilities rather than a specific sequence of events. For further support different appeals have been made to the A-theory of time, Presentism and Quantum Indeterminacy. The Bivalentist OT accepts the standard logic but maintains “X at t*” and “¬X at t*” are both false. Instead, “either X or ¬X might obtain at t*” is true. Consequently, Gregory A. Boyd argues that the contemporary debate has more to do with the doctrine of creation than it does the doctrine of God. Specifically, about what constitutes the content of creation rather than the content of God’s foreknowledge.
A thorough refutation of OT will have to engage at least three different areas. These will be, (1) Hermeneutics and the scriptural data, (2) Theological consequences, and (3) Philosophical objections. In the next installment I will advance my own brief analysis as to why GOT is philosophically flawed.
 This quotation is actually a paraphrased version of the following excerpt. “Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the ‘old one’. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice.” The Born-Einstein Letters (translated by Irene Born) (Walker and Company, New York, 1971).
 C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: MacMillan, 1960), 148.
 CCF = def. What any creature Y would freely do if placed in any circumstance S.
 By which he means classical monotheism, “God exists necessarily and possesses a maximal set of compossible great-making properties, including maximal power, knowledge, and goodness. He created the world ex nihilo and can unilaterally intervene in it as he pleases.” Alan R. Rhoda, “Generic Open Theism and Some Variants Thereof,” Religious Studies 44 (2008): 227
 Ibid., 229
 Rhoda explains, “the future is causally open at time t with respect to state of affairs X and future time t* if and only if, given all that exists as of time t, it is really possible both that X obtains at t* and that X does not obtain at t*. (In other words, whether X obtains at t* or not is, as of t, a future contingent.)” See “Generic Open Theism and Some Variants Thereof,” Religious Studies 44 (2008): 228.
 Millard J. Erickson, What Does God Know and When Does He Know It? The current Controversy over Divine Foreknowledge (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 13.
 Whether God can change with respect to his will, his feelings, or his nature is optional, it not being a distinctive of GOT. Rhoda notes that GOT is not committed to impassibility in God’s nature, for it is committed to Theism. This however, this doesn’t seem to me to follow. He must therefore mean by “Theism,” a monotheism conjoined with a specific element of the doctrine of impassibility.
 See Norman Geisler, Creating God in the Image of Man? (Rockville, MD: Bethany House, 1997). See also, Norman L. Geisler and H. Wayne House, The Battle For God: Responding to the Challenge of Neotheism (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001).
 William Hasker God, Time, and Knowledge (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 1989), 187; idem ‘The foreknowledge conundrum’, International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion 50 (2001), 97-114, esp. 110-111.
 James K. Beilby and Paul R. Eddy, eds., Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 138.
 Alan R. Rhoda, “Generic Open Theism and Some Variants Thereof,” Religious Studies 44 (2008): 263
 Gregory A. Boyd, “An Open-Theism Response,” in Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views, ed. James K. Beilby and Paul R. Eddy (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2001), 111.
 Gregory A. Boyd, “The Open-Theism View,” in Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views, 13-14.
 And what does and does not constitute unacceptable theological consequences.