Re: Pharaoh and his hardened heart

From: Innovatia <>
Date: Mon May 24 2004 - 23:21:45 EDT

Hola David,
  I see a slip here. You assume that the God who interacts with the future has to be _in_ time, for this alone makes the eternal (non-temporal) deity not know the future. An eternal decision for the unfolding space-time creation is surely as active as one that is made on the spur of the moment. This gets tied in with the claim that, if God knows it, he causes it. But it should be obvious to all that knowing is not the same as causing. I also keep running across the silly notion that what is past is necessary. But, if an event was contingent when predicted, it remains contingent after the fact. It is true on happening, not necessary.
MacKay's argument is based on what a predictor knows, but a similar argument can be run based on full historical determinism. If God-in-eternity predestines history to be a certain way, then that does not negate the indeterminacy (actually, semi-decidability) of a free choice for someone within that history. Even God-in-history would be similarly subject to it, as was the incarnate Son.

As for the past being necessary, only in this particular (deterministic) world for which it is true, but not in all possible worlds. For God-in-eternity it is certainly not necessary for he could have created history differently. (Walter Thorson's ASA Annual Meeting keynote addresses some years ago emphasized the contingency of creation.)

Having said that, I am trying to remember the common error in many-worlds logic that Alvin Plantinga has in one of his books, and am not even sure that I have avoided it! (My library is not available for checking this; it is packed in boxes for shipment in PA.)

As it applies to MacKay's argument, the predictor is outside history and contingency is not assumed because the claim being challenged is that free will in history is negated by determinism. Even God's contingent (conditional) warnings to Israel (or Ninevah, etc.) are given within history and are subject to the logical indeterminacies of predictions-in-history. Indeed, the scriptures even say, in one instance, that God changed his mind. This is clearly describing the action of God-in-history.
  As for the deity in time, incarnate, note that it involved _kenosis_ and becoming a slave. I note that the slave is not party to the master's knowledge of plans--except as told to do something.
Good point. The Greek notion of omniscience as applied to our biblical God tends to create the same reductionistic problems in theology as the Greeks themselves had with their gods in that they were never truly transcendent; Mount Olympus flowed along in time with the mortals.

Dennis Feucht
Received on Wed May 26 15:14:48 2004

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