By: Stuart|08 November, 2010|Categories: Philosophy of Religion . Theology|Tags: Charles Hodge . Clark Pinnock . Counterfactuals . Foreknowledge . Generic Open Theism . omniscience . Open Theism . Openness Theology . Prescience . Steven C. Roy . Theological Determinism . william lane craig
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 this short essay I advance my own brief analysis as to why GOT is philosophically flawed.
Open Theism is in many respects a reaction to hard-line Calvinism and the theological determinism that it implies. OT takes libertarian freedom as axiomatic. Accordingly, because of God’s exhaustive foreknowledge and atemporality, EC incompatibility is thought to follow. Pinnock states:
“I found that I could not shake off the intuition that such a total omniscience would necessarily mean that everything we will ever choose in the future will have been already spelled out in the divine knowledge register, and consequently the belief that we have truly significant choices to make would seem to be mistaken.”
It is clear that by “truly significant” Pinnock means undetermined. But why should exhaustive foreknowledge preclude libertarian freedom as Pinnock intuits? There is a distinct lack in the literature explicating this presupposition. Indeed, no argument for theological determinism can be advanced that is not logically fallacious. Consider the following syllogism:
1) Necessarily, if God knows x (where x is a future event), x will happen.
2) God knows everything (this includes x).
Therefore, (modus ponems, 1&2)
3) Necessarily, x will happen.
In other words, if God knows a person’s future choice, that person must make that choice. We can immediately see that this argument must be false – even if we don’t know how. For just by merit of knowing something will occur, doesn’t mean that it must occur. I know that I am going to have Subway™ for lunch. That doesn’t mean I have to have Subway™ for lunch. I could have Noodles. Or skip lunch entirely.
Let us turn to an examination of the premises. Premise (1) is necessary because it is no more than a truism. It is not because it is God doing the knowing, but because x is simply “known,” for to know x requires x to be true: you cannot know x if x is false. We could replace “God” as the knower with anyone we wanted, such as “the gods,” or “the whether man,” or “Big Bird.” It could be anyone doing the knowing and (1) would still be a necessary truth.
Premise (2) is true by merit of God’s omniscience, and classical theism is committed to this proposition. It is on this ground that the OT believes (3) to flow logically from the premises, that leads her to deny (2). Since according to the classical theist both the premises are true, if he is to deny the conclusion the only option left for him is to show that (3) does not flow logically from the premises.
And indeed, what follows from the premises is not (3) but,
3`) x will happen.
Which is to say, x won’t fail to occur, but it could fail to occur. If x fails to happen, we can be assured that God did not know x. This is not to deny (O). It is to say that x was false. That is why Hodge can say:
“…as free acts are in their nature uncertain, as they may not be, they cannot be known before they occur. […] This whole difficulty arises out the assumption that contingency is essential to free agency. [But] If an act may be certain as to its occurrence, and yet free as to the mode of its occurrence, the difficulty vanishes.” [brackets and italics mine]
Thus, an essential presupposition of OT is founded upon a modally fallacious inference. Deprived of a successful proof of EC incompatibility, and with no disproof of concurrence formulations of Divine sovereignty and libertarian freedom, it follows – from a purely philosophical point of view – that GOT is not to be preferred.
Further, GOT appear to be prima facie dubious. Given the strong case for all future contingent propositions being either true or false, Bivalent and Non-Bivalent variants of OT appear unfounded. Moreover, Steven C. Roy, in his comprehensive biblical study of divine foreknowledge identifies 2,323 predictive prophecies concerning CCFs creating a powerful quantitative argument against any limitation of divine foreknowledge. The OT may still object by qualifying God’s foreknowledge is existentially quantitative. However, in the light of the number, variety and precision of the 300 representative predictive prophesies from scripture involving future free decisions detailed by Roy, the burden of proof is firmly placed on the OTs shoulders to show that God’s knowledge of CCFs is not universally quantified.
“The problem with Boyd’s procedure . . . is that the defender of divine foreknowledge need only show that God knows just one future contingent proposition or CCF, for in that case (1) there is no logical incompatibility between divine foreknowledge and future continents, (2) the Principle of Bivalence does not fail for such propositions, and (3) it becomes ad hoc to claim that other such propositions are not also true and known to God.”
The contemporary debate surrounding the perfection of God’s knowledge, specifically his prescience of contingent events, or the counterfactuals of creaturely freedom (CCFs) continues today. There are many aspect of the debate I have not covered, including the theological consequences; such as what OT offers and undermines in theodicy, and hermeneutical considerations; such as anthropopathy in narrative genres and the role of systematic theology in interpretation. I have not been concerned in this essay with the religious backlash OT has engendered. I have been concerned with the truth of OT, by exploring the arguments for and against. Though most proponents of OT prefer to argue on biblical grounds rather than philosophical grounds, there is enough reason here to think that OT is, at the level of its core commitments, false. God, it seems, still does not play dice.
 And what does and does not constitute unacceptable theological consequences.
 […] I feared if we view God as timeless and omniscient, we will land back in the camp of theological determinism where these notions naturally belong. See Clark H. Pinnock, “From Augustine to Arminius: A Pilgrimage in Theology” The Grace of God and the Will of Man, (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1989), 9.
 Undetermined choices are important for Pinnock, for the following three reasons. “It astonishes me that people can defend the “glory of God” [exhaustive foreknowledge] so vehemently when that glory includes God’s sovereign authorship of every rape and murder, his closing down the future to any meaningful creaturely contribution, and his holding people accountable for deeds he predestined them to do and they could not but do.” See Clark Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness, (Grand Rapids, Mi.; Baker Academic, 2001), 16.
 Indeed, this argument is nothing more than the argument for old-line Greek fatalism.
 Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology. Vol. 1., (Oak Harbor, WA: James Clark & Co., 1997), 401,
 Possible options here include Luis De Molina’s formulation of the doctrine of Middle Knowledge. Or James Arminius’ confessed ignorance.
 Strong reasons must be given before preferring Peircean semantics over the popular and common sense Ockhamist semantics that allows propositions like “I am going to have Subway for lunch,” to be either true or false. For further information see, See “Generic Open Theism and Some Variants Thereof,” Religious Studies 44 (2008): 233.
 Steven C. Roy, How Much Does God Foreknow? A Comprehensive Biblical Study (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006). See also “How Much Does God Foreknow? Online Supplement” at http://www.ivpress.com/title/exc/2759-lists.pdf
 William Lane Craig, “A middle-knowledge Response,” in Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views, ed. James K. Beilby and Paul R. Eddy (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2001), 57.
 See Appendix A for a brief defence against the Openness criticism of the influence of Greek thought on the conception of God.
Battle, John A. “Some Biblical Arguments used by Openness Theology” WRS Journal 12/1 (February 2005): 15-20.
Beilby, James K. and Paul R. Eddy, eds., Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
Craig, William Lane, Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom: The Coherence of theism: Omniscience, vol. 19. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1991.
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, New York: MacMillan, 1960.
Erickson, Millard J., What Does God Know and When Does He Know It? The current Controversy over Divine Foreknowledge, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.
Hasker, William. God, TIme and Knowledge, Cornell Studies in the Philosophy of Religion, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989.
Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology, vol. 1. London: James Clark & Co, 1960.
Geisler, Norman L. and H. Wayne House, The Battle For God: Responding to the Challenge of Neotheism, Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001.
Pinnock, Clark. Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness, Carlisle: Paternoster, 2001.
____________. “From Augustine to Arminius: A Pilgrimage in Theology,” The Grace of God and the Will of Man, Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1989.
Rhoda, Alan R. “Generic Open Theism and Some Variants Thereof,” Religious Studies 44 (2008): 263
Roy, Steven C. How Much Does God Foreknow? A Comprehensive Biblical Study, Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006.
Sanders, John. “Open Theism Explained.” No pages. Cited 3 October 2010. Online: http://www.opentheism.info/
Thomas, Robert L. “The Hermeneutics of ‘Open Theism’” The Master’s Seminary Journal 12/2 (Fall 2001): 179-202.
Wright , R. K. McGregor. No Place for Sovereignty: Whats Wrong with Freewill Theism, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.