Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Introduction

This is the second of 17 posts, which are collectively Eternity, etc.
......In this debate, “God” refers to the perfect person—or Trinity (but nothing impersonal)—who created everything else ex nihilo [i]. If such a God exists, He (they, she) created us, so such Theists naturally think of Him as the greatest conceivable being; and Open Theists are no exception [ii]. Open Theists are so-called because they believe that God keeps some of His options open, as He relates to us [iii]. Such divine openness follows from the sort of freedom (responsibility, creativity) God gave to those made in His image. Open Theists take a libertarian view of free will. And atemporalists—who think that God transcends even the possibility of change—can also take that view [iv], according to Mawson:
On the libertarian view of free will (as it is standardly construed), all that has to be true for you to be free in the future in your choice to do X is that you have the power at that time to do something other than X and on atemporalism you can have this power—have the power to make God either have the atemporal belief that you do X or the atemporal belief that you don’t do X—without having the power to make any belief He actually has false. [v]
The future being what Mawson calls “real” (“that some statements concerning what is now the future are true”) is relatively uncontroversial. Even Presentist Open Theists might think it true that, for example, the earth will still be here tomorrow. “Presentism is the view that only what exists now has any reality[vi], but what exists now—e.g. an egg falling—could determine how something will be—e.g. the egg breaking—via the laws of nature, and God’s constancy (see section IV), and so make it true now that such will be the case.
......I argue in section IV that Presentism is not implausible under Perfect Being Theism. Mawson’s primary argument—that because of future contingents (see section III), the Open God lacks some infallible knowledge of the future—therefore lacks the significance attached to it by Mawson. Under Presentism, the Open God can be infallibly omniscient (see section III). Presentism can also explain why the Open God is essentially constant, and hence why Mawson should not have thought of the Open God as having no infallible knowledge of the future. And Mawson’s main argument—that by being incompletely omniscient, the Open God is liable to make mistakes—was based on a misunderstanding of Open divine action, according to section V.
......Section VI initiates a more direct comparison of Presentist Open Theism with libertarian atemporalism. Section VII is based on Cantor’s Paradox and is an informal mathematical argument that the numbers of things within possible creations are indefinitely extensible. God’s omnipotence therefore indicates that His knowledge of whole numbers is forever increasing. And I also suggest in section VIII that under Presentism He could, even so, be necessarily omniscient.
......Notes:
......[i] Mawson, Belief in God, pp. 9–27.
......[ii] Richard Swinburne, Is There a God? (Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 3–19; Alan R. Rhoda, “The Philosophical Case for Open Theism,” Philosophia 35 (2007): 301–11; Alan R. Rhoda, “Generic open theism and some varieties thereof,” Religious Studies 44 (2008): 225–34.
......[iii] For more details, see Charles H. Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A theology of God’s openness (Baker Academic, 2001).
......[iv] Not all atemporalists do, e.g. see Paul Helm, Eternal God: A study of God without time (Clarendon Press, 1988).
......[v] Mawson, “Divine eternity,” p. 40. For more details, see Timothy O’Connor, “Dualist and Agent-Causal Theories,” in Robert Kane (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will (Oxford Univ. Press, 2002), pp. 337–55.
......[vi] Rhoda, “Generic open theism,” p. 234 n. 22. For more details, see Thomas M. Crisp, “Presentism,” in Michael J. Loux & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics (Oxford Univ. Press, 2003), pp. 211–245; Craig Bourne, A Future for Presentism (Oxford Univ. Press, 2007).

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