Wednesday, June 29, 2022

We got one!

I saw this video clip on YouTube the other day and thought it was hilarious. I laugh a little bit every time I think about it, so I figured it's worth sharing with you.

Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Jews for Jesus

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Election in Molinism is impersonal

Calvinists and Molinists both subscribe to the idea that God elects people for salvation. The major difference is that in Calvinism, God's election is personal, but in Molinism, it is impersonal. Here, I am reproducing an email I wrote to somebody back in 2015 that I just stumbled across today where I explained Molinism then expressed one of the biggest problems I have with it.

In Craig's view, possible worlds are subdivided between feasible worlds and infeasible worlds. Feasible worlds are worlds that God can actualize, and infeasible worlds are worlds that he cannot actualize. And it is because of people's freedom and the counter factuals that apply to them that God cannot actualize those worlds.

Let's say there are two possible worlds in which Jim meets Bob. Both worlds are identical in everything that happens up to that meeting. In one of those possible worlds, Jim chooses to shake Bob's hand. In the other possible world, Jim chooses to not shake Bob's hand.

In reality, Jim would have the freedom to choose either way. So it's Jim who determines which of those worlds are actual, not God. There are counter factuals about Jim that are true of Jim prior to God actualizing any world at all. One of those counter factuals might be:

If Jim meets Bob, he will freely choose to shake Bob's hand.

If that counter factual is true, then if God actualizes a world in which Jim and Bob meet, then that world will be a world in which Jim freely chooses to shake Bob's hand. So God can't just actualize any possible world. If the counter factual is true, then God cannot actualize a world in which Jim meets Bob but does not shake his hand. It is our free choices that limit which worlds are feasible for God to actualize. What God does in Molinism is to choose between all the possible worlds that are feasible for him to actualize. But as Craig says, God has to work with the hand he has been dealt.

So to answer your question, the circumstances don't determine our choices in Molinism. We are free to choose one way or another. The counter factuals merely describe which choice we will in fact make in what circumstance. God, knowing what those counter factuals are, actualizes worlds containing situations where people choose the way God wants them to choose. But again, God's choices are limited by the counter factuals.

That raises the question of what makes the counter factuals true. It isn't God that makes them true, obviously. It seems to me that it would be us who determine them by what we in fact choose. But one of the major problems most people have against Molinism is that nothing makes the counter factuals true. They're just brute facts with no explanation.

The basis of God's choice is a matter of controversy between Molinists. Does he choose the feasible world that results in the most number of people saved? Or the best ratio of saved to unsaved? Or the greatest good over all? One thing that seems to be clear is that God doesn't choose individuals according to the kind intention of his heart and the good pleasure of his will.

That's one of my main complaints about Molinism. Suppose in World 1, Jim gets saved, but most other people don't. In World 2, Jim does not get saved, but most other people do. If God was trying to save the most people, he'd actualize World 2. Even though God would like to have saved Jim, he ended up having to sacrifice Jim to save the greater number of people. So it isn't individuals that God chooses to bestow his grace on. God doesn't save you or me because he loves us personally. He saves us because we were lucky enough to be among the saved in the particular possible world God chose to actualize.

Sunday, June 26, 2022


Good morning. No, I didn't go to church this morning. That's why I'm writing now. In my defense, I have to pick my brother up from the airport this morning. I think Jesus will forgive me.

I have been really reluctant to write much about politics on this blog, although I guess I have touched on it in a few entries. I don't like politics because it seems to bring out the worst in people. It makes otherwise reasonable and intelligent people act silly, become mean, and throw fairness, reasonableness, and wisdom out the window.

It's ironic, but it seems like the older I get, the more I care about politics. It's ironic because the older you get, the shorter your time on earth remains, and the shorter your time remains, the less stake you have in the world. The less stake you have in the world, the less you should care about politics. Yet the opposite seems to happen. It isn't just me. I see it with other people, too.

I have been really tempted to post some political content lately. I've started three different posts on gun related issues, and they're still in draft. And now I've got things to say about Dobbs vs. Jackson and the politics behind abortion. I've been going back and forth over the last few weeks about whether I ought to say anything about gun related issues. I don't know if I want to go there on this blog, but at the same time, I have a lot to say.

Part of the reason I don't like politics is that I don't like conflict. I know that may seem strange given the fact that half of my internet presence involves argumentative writings, debate, and things like that. I used to enjoy a good debate as long as it happened in writing, but I've even lost my taste for that over the years. I've always disliked conflicts that happen in person.

I have some family members who it seems like never want to talk about anything but politics. And they don't seem to mind that it creates a lot of bickering, unpleasantness, and hard feelings. It makes me not want to be around them. I dread going over to somebody else's house sometimes because I just don't want to deal with it. I feel this way especially whenever there's something big in the news that's bound to lead to a political discussion.

But who knows? I haven't stuck strictly to religion and philosophy on this blog. I've even gone so far as to talk about bow building, knife making, and recipes. So why not politics? At least with politics we are dealing with the world of ideas and differing opinions. Maybe it's just because I don't want this blog to become unpleasant. I don't want it to descend into the muck of political discourse.

This blog is kind of like a refuge to me. I don't have many people in my personal life with whom I can exchange the kinds of ideas I talk about on this blog. If I didn't have this blog, I might explode from keeping my thoughts to myself. I could write about it in a journal, I suppose, and that might help. But since nobody would ever read my journal, it wouldn't be that much different than keeping it in my head.

Writing actually helps me think through things. It is hard for me to keep multiple thoughts in my head at once and to compare them and mull them over. But if I put it all in writing, I can have it all in front of me. This is hard to explain, but writing helps me think. Walking helps, too, of course. I think more clearly when I'm walking than when I'm sitting or lying down.

Writing is also a release. I can wrestle with something in my mind endlessly, but once I write it down, I feel like I can relax. I've gotten it off my chest. It makes me feel unburdened. Writing is a kind of therapy, I guess.

That might all be ruined if I started writing on subjects that just make people angry, especially if I started getting a lot of comments that just vented people's vitriol and didn't produce good brain-stimulating replies.

So I don't know. For now, I think I'll keep those political posts in draft and see how I feel in the future.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Dobbs v. Jackson

I was born in 1973, the same year as Roe v. Wade. Now I wonder if I'll die in 2022 since it has been overturned. Wouldn't that be poetic?

I don't have much to say about the decision today, but it's such an historic moment I feel like I ought to say something. So I just want to leave a short thought about it.

I understand why a lot of Pro-choice people would be very upset about the SC decision today. But I think people should be upset for the right reasons. Let's grant, for the sake of argument, that women have a right to abortion. I don't mean a legal right since that's what's being argued. I mean a natural right that ought to be enshrined in the Constitution.

Even if you grant that such a right exists, it shouldn't be the basis for your objection to Dobbs v. Jackson. The issue being decided today is not whether people ought to have the right to an abortion; rather, the issue is whether that right was implicitly in the Constitution to begin with. A lot of legal scholars, whether they were pro-choice or pro-life, have agreed that Roe v. Wade was decided wrongly.

One of the main objections that even showed up in the dissenting opinion was that it was an example of judicial legislation. The SC's job isn't to create laws. Rather, it's to judge whether a law coheres with the Constitution. But in creating a distinction between three trimesters, and giving states the right to restrict abortions to varying degrees, depending on the trimester, the SC was engaging in judicial legislation. The trimester distinction is nowhere found in the Constitution. Nor was it found in any precedent or tradition. It was created by the Supreme Court. That was the main fault of the decision.

If I were pro-choice, I might be very disappointed that a right that was once protected is no longer protected. But I don't see how I could really think Dobbs v. Jackson was wrong in overturning Roe v. Wade. If women actually do have a natural right to abortion, then the way to protect that right is either through legislation or through a Constitutional amendment. It is not through the Supreme Court making up law where none exists. That is not their job.