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Stress-testing the
mind of Christ

Where a recovering ex-atheist rams the Bible into other worldviews to see what breaks (note: Scripture cannot be broken)


proofs
Why Molinist/Arminian intuitions about God and evil must be false

A simple parallel argument to clarify my previous posts.

A Facebook friend who has been following my posts on God and evil (#1 and #2) comments:

I don’t think you showed “the underlying M/A intuition must be false—namely, that something is morally wrong about God’s relationship with evil under Calvinism.” I think you showed that M/A has the same problems.

I think I did show it, but maybe it wasn’t as obvious as I thought. Here’s how it looks:

The argument against Calvinism runs something like this:

  1. It is evil to cause evil (asserted as a moral intuition)
  2. Under Calvinism, God causes evil
  3. Therefore, under Calvinism, God is evil

Molinists/Arminians use this as a basis for rejecting Calvinism. So what I’m effectively doing is constructing a parallel argument like this:

  1. It is evil to permit evil (asserted as a moral intuition)
  2. Under Molinism/Arminianism, God permits evil
  3. Therefore, under Molinism/Arminianism, God is evil

The point here is to show that rejecting Calvinism was the wrong move. Molinists/Arminians try to get away with it on the basis of asserting the truth of (1). But since (1) and (4) are not relevantly different, and (4) leads to the falsehood of their own theological system, it’s clear that what we should be rejecting is not the system but the intuition represented in (1) and (4).

But if you reject the intuition, you eliminate the motivation behind much of the acceptance of Molinism/Arminianism, which is to distance God from the awful fate of being the “author of sin”. You eliminate the ability to say that “Whatever the Bible says, it can’t be that”. And you also cast serious doubt on other theological assumptions asserted as intuitions—such as the critical belief that actions determined by God cannot be culpable.

Now, I agree I am not building a positive case for Calvinism here, in the sense that I’m not showing how it can be that a perfect God brings about evil. But I think I have clearly shown that the underlying intuition of Molinism/Arminianism must be false, given what God has already done.

8 comments

  1. bethyada

    You are really going to have to show equivalence between 1 and 4 here.

  2. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Why do I need to show equivalence? All I claimed was that there was no relevant distinction. The same intuitions are at work in cases where we think it is wrong to cause evil (pushing a toddler into a pool) as in cases where we think it is wrong to permit evil (watching a toddler drown).

  3. bethyada

    You state there is no relevant difference meaning that they are for moral purposes (equivalent) or similar. But this is contested. I don’t grant it. I certainly don’t think that watching a toddler drown is as bad as pushing him in. There may be considerations that make watching not morally culpable. Further than allowing evil may _sometimes_ be similar to causing evil does not mean that they are _always_ similar.

  4. Tomek K.

    “There may be considerations that make watching not morally culpable.”
    For man – yes.
    For God – ??? How?

  5. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    I certainly don’t think that watching a toddler drown is as bad as pushing him in.

    Why do you think my argument requires them to be equally evil? Unless you can show that watching a toddler drown while standing by doing nothing is morally permissible, my argument goes through—your red herrings notwithstanding.

    Further than allowing evil may _sometimes_ be similar to causing evil does not mean that they are _always_ similar.

    Then you need to deal with the actual examples I’ve given, rather than retreating into untouchable hypotheticals.

  6. Joel

    Concerning the decrees of God, Jonathan Edwards saw it this way: “Whether God has decreed all things that ever come to pass or not, all that own the being of a God, own that He knows all things beforehand. Now, it is self-evident that if He knows all things beforehand, He either doth approve of them, or doth not approve of them; that is, He either is willing they should be, or He is not willing they should be. But to will that they should be is to decree them.”

  7. Warren

    There is a key flaw with the examples given, the drowning example has zero to do with us choosing to love God, or choosing not to. To put this into an example which applies, consider this:
    – sin is just us choosing to not love God, basically us choosing to love us or the world more than God.
    – so why would there be something wrong with God letting us reject him and not love him?
    – forcing us to not love him and then punishing us for doing so (as most Calvinists either state, or imply) is ridiculous
    – but God letting us choose to love him, or reject him, while constantly calling us to Him our entire lives, is the picture painted by Scripture, and the one that makes the most sense from a loving, just, and free-will permitting God

    *I’m something between a Molinist and Arminian, by the way, I think election happens due to our God foreknowing us choosing Him

  8. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    sin is just us choosing to not love God, basically us choosing to love us or the world more than God. so why would there be something wrong with God letting us reject him and not love him?

    You’re obfuscating; trying to flatten out sin into something abstract, where only God gets “hurt.” But we only need to give a concrete example to see how facile that is. Here’s one off the top of my head: what is wrong with God letting a man rape a little girl to death?

    forcing us to not love him and then punishing us for doing so (as most Calvinists either state, or imply) is ridiculous

    Sadly, what is ridiculous is your tendentious strawman of Calvinism.

    God letting us choose to love him, or reject him, while constantly calling us to Him our entire lives, is the picture painted by Scripture

    Is it even worth responding to such a question-begging assertion unaccompanied by any argument? The picture painted by Scripture is, in fact, exactly the opposite. John 6:44 is just one of dozens of clear examples.

    *I’m something between a Molinist and Arminian

    Then you should be prepared to deal with the insurmountable incoherence of Molinism if you want to defend it here.

    I think election happens due to our God foreknowing us choosing Him

    Needless to say, that’s the opposite of the actual definition of election.

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