James White ‘Refuting’ Molinism


So I went thru White’s diatribe (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMPhtfbibb4) transcript and note the following:

1) 02:16 ‘So much of philosophy is about putting God in the categories of mankind’ – everybody does this, it’s the only way humans can attempt to comprehend what they can know about God. This is why various -isms exist, or doctrines of XYZ. This is literally what theology is.

2) 03:51 On Saul & David, White’s explanation here is not consistent with the more deterministic view he usually espouses. See 11:50 of his video where he dismisses human autonomy in decision-making – autonomy not in the sense of “Can have physical existence without God”, but in the sense of “Has sourcehood agency to make decisions”.

Under determinism, God knows what Saul will do NOT because God knows all of time (‘looking down the corridors of time’ or simple foreknowledge), NOT because God knows Saul’s personality so well (how Open Theism explains some predictive prophecy like Peter’s denials), but because God determines Saul’s actions and thereby of course knows what Saul will do (Saul and anybody else cannot act in an otherwise manner!).

I would also say that taken at face value, Saul not actually coming to Keilah was a result of David’s choice (to flee). Then again, under exhaustive/meticulous divine determinism, every minute choice we make is ultimately God’s micromanagement choices.

But the reason Molinism likes to use 1 Samuel 23 is because: What God said WILL happen, does NOT actually happen. It is by definition a counterfactual, something that ‘has not happened or is not the case’.

So this raises the question, if David had stayed in Keilah then would Saul arrive and David get handed over to him? If yes, then God perfectly knows this counterfactual. Expand this to the infinite, and that is Middle Knowledge – God perfectly knows all counterfactuals.

3) 05:30 It doesn’t matter who came up with an idea or why, if it has valid points then that’s what matters. Avoid genetic fallacy. As I am fond of saying, even Hitler thought London is the capital of England (SO YOU AGREE WITH THE NAZIS??!!).

4) 07:10 Middle Knowledge is relevant to everything, not just the free choices of creatures. Tim Stratton has proposed that the Fine Tuning Argument supports Middle Knowledge, because God seems to know exactly which set of initial parameters to use for the moment of creation – implying that God knows which of the countless other parameter values would result in a dead universe.

5) 07:48 Middle Knowledge is stronger than just “In every possible scenario including ones that never take place, God knows all the calculations involved chain-reacting and cascading from the moment of creation onwards, and so can predict the outcomes, like an omni-supercomputer that solves Chaos Theory.” I admit that this was my misconception about Middle Knowledge when I first encountered it, I even have old posts likening it to God as the solution to Chaos Theory.

It is rather that God perfectly knows the outcomes, period. To me this is how truly free agency can exist despite God knowing the future perfectly – if instead God merely knew our choices because they are the inevitable result of a cascade of chain-reactions going back to the Big Bang (like what physicalist atheists say), then we don’t have free will – we’re just meat machines with no immaterial souls that could escape the unbending laws of chemistry, physics and DNA. Hello Sam Harris!

6) 11:30 Post-decree is a red herring. The scenarios mentioned still do not actually take place. If anything, being post-decree but not actually happening means they cannot be part of God’s Free Knowledge (what God WILL do, what ACTUALLY exists). From this you might be able to see why having only Natural Knowledge (unchangeable truths) & Free Knowledge leaves a gap, one that middle knowledge fills.

7) 12:41 ‘Some source that defines what every free creature would do in any given situation, and it’s not God’ – I would say that God defined the source of what every free creature would do to be that free creature itself. See my bracketed note in the next point for related.

8.) 14:36 If Middle Knowledge exists, it does not constrain what choice God can make, at least not any more than Natural Knowledge constrains God from making a universe where 1+1=5.

God with Middle Knowledge could know that a universe made wholly out of active uranium would result in no sentient life, and still freely choose to create it that way. The only limits are those that God places on Himself – “I freely want to make a universe with living, sentient, free-agency creatures” which excludes Uraniumverse from consideration.

(Note that this idea that God willingly limits Himself also addresses a lot of the strawmen arguments on sovereignty, salvation, etc – it is not that God CANNOT do, it is that God CHOOSES not to do.)

9) 16:16 Yes, God determines all the nature, intelligence, physical aspects, spiritual aspects etc. of humans – does this mean that we aren’t able to make truly free choices like in the physicalist model? How it’s possible might be a mystery, as is how God can know the future perfectly yet we have free choices, but so are mind-breaking concepts like how God creates everything out of nothing or existed eternally, or the very Trinity.

10) 18:59 Bringing up Romans 9 at the end is a hint at “Who are you o man to talk back to God”, which honestly is waaaaay overused to attempt to end a discussion without resolving anything. It assumes the interpretation of the guy who uses it is correct, namely that the interlocutor there is someone discussing free will or unconditional election. It assumes (as John Calvin did, and as my friend does) that this view is God’s very own view, and anyone bringing up alternatives is ‘wiser than God’. (I make so many memes using this phrase, because I see it used so many times!)

11) 19:30 White says Molinism makes God a quantum supercomputer… I already addressed this inaccurate analogy!

One Response to “James White ‘Refuting’ Molinism”

  1. Ron Says:

    Yeah, it’s not James’ thing. It is mine though. https://philosophical-theology.com/tag/free-will/

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