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5/10/2017 11:32 am  #1


The problem of Divine Providence and Free will

Suppose that Judas did not betray Christ, and thus making the act contingent, who/what is the source of contingency of the act?

If we're going to say that the act was contingent on God, then in what sense is Judas free?

If we say that the act was contingent on him---then what role does providence have in Judas's acts?

Last edited by Dennis (5/10/2017 11:50 am)

 

6/12/2017 10:52 am  #2


Re: The problem of Divine Providence and Free will

It's a shame nobody has said anything about this question!
I'm almost finished with Aquinas, and I found a passage that tries to touch on this:

page 120 wrote:

[Aquinas'] answer is that though God does move the will, "since he moves every kind of thing according to the nature of the movable thing ... he also moves the will according to its condition, as indeterminately disposed to many things, not in a necessary way" ([Quaestiones disputatae de malo] 6). That is to say, the nature of the will is to be open to various possible intellectually apprehended acts, while something unfree . . . is naturally determined to its ends in an unthinking, necessary way. . . . [When God causes] your free choice he causes something that operates independently of what happens in the world around you.

Of course that isn't the end-all-be-all, but it's an interesting place to start.


Caution: Novice at Work!
 

6/13/2017 11:32 am  #3


Re: The problem of Divine Providence and Free will

Dennis wrote:

Suppose that Judas did not betray Christ, and thus making the act contingent, who/what is the source of contingency of the act?

If we're going to say that the act was contingent on God, then in what sense is Judas free?

If we say that the act was contingent on him---then what role does providence have in Judas's acts?

Is'nt there a third possibility that God allows Judas to betray Christ by not interfering with Judas's free will?

As you know Judas acted out of lust for money. There could also be the possibility that if Judas had overcome his lust for money and not betrayed Christ, the chief priests and the elders would have found another way to capture Jesus e.g. by having their own spies follow Jesus to the garden of Gethsemane.

Last edited by Jason (6/13/2017 11:35 am)

 

6/14/2017 2:12 am  #4


Re: The problem of Divine Providence and Free will

Suppose God allows Judas the possibility to betray Christ, this possibility would mean that there is a world where Judas doesn't betray Christ.

However, another libertarian conception would dictate that even if Judas betrays Christ at time t, nevertheless, he was free to do it, provided that there were other some such actions prior to the time, which were free (meaning that he could've really done otherwise).  It is open to libertarians to reject such a conception of free will.

It seems epistemically possible that Christ could've been crucified by means of something else other than Judas's betrayal, but does it make scripturally and metaphysically possible? Peter comments in the Book of Acts that Judas's betrayal was so that the scriptures were made true.

Acts 1:16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,

“‘May his camp become desolate,
    and let there be no one to dwell in it’;
and

“‘Let another take his office.”

So, it doesn't make sense to say that the death of Christ could've happened in any other way than Judas's betrayal. These verses seem to refer to a very specific man. Note that even Jesus predicts this in all of the 4 Gospels. 

This is a special problem of Divine providence and free will, for one, the general problem of how we can reconcile God's knowledge with human freedom can be done by saying that although God knows eternally what I'll do tomorrow, he doesn't know it now. Since eternity is simultaneous with the present, he knows in virtue of eternity and himself what I will do in the future, but then, if I would've done something other than what I'm doing right now, God's knowledge of the act would be different too, and it wouldn't follow that it determined it in the sense non-libertarians would want it. There doesn't seem to be anything incoherent in the reply, however, there is a now-ness in the infallible prediction and prophetic judgements of the future made by Christ, and that seems to be a thornier question that may require some form of Christology to answer.

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6/14/2017 11:25 am  #5


Re: The problem of Divine Providence and Free will

Since God is outside time every instance of my life past, present and future is basically a now moment for God and He can "interact" with any instance of it. There is no prior moment for God, that means any choice I make in the past would be now for God. In Judas's case, his decision to betray Christ would be a now moment for God, even though for us centuries have passed and Judas's decision would be a now moment for God even before Judas was born. So if in a possible world where Judas would have made a decision to not betray Christ that would also be a now moment for God and hence all prophesy's (including Christ's) would have been different. 

 

6/14/2017 11:43 am  #6


Re: The problem of Divine Providence and Free will

The issue with this is that there seems to be a now-ness to prophetic claims. (You've said what I said though, not sure where you think we differ.)

 

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6/14/2017 11:51 am  #7


Re: The problem of Divine Providence and Free will

I think this is where I differ

Dennis wrote:

This is a special problem of Divine providence and free will, for one, the general problem of how we can reconcile God's knowledge with human freedom can be done by saying that although God knows eternally what I'll do tomorrow, he doesn't know it now. 
 

I think that God does know what you will do tomorrow because your tomorrow is His now. Maybe I misunderstood you.

Dennis wrote:

The issue with this is that there seems to be a now-ness to prophetic claims.

It would be now-ness from Gods' perspective but not from ours.
 

 

6/14/2017 11:52 am  #8


Re: The problem of Divine Providence and Free will

When Jesus makes a prophetic claim, that claim is supposed to be true in time, in the present. It seems to be true in that present moment, not in eternum alone.


EDIT: I should've said that this is true for any prophetic claim, not just Christ's claim, so I don't think Christology is going to help a whole lot (but maybe it might).

Last edited by Dennis (6/14/2017 12:04 pm)

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6/14/2017 12:10 pm  #9


Re: The problem of Divine Providence and Free will

Dennis wrote:

When Jesus makes a prophetic claim, that claim is supposed to be true in time, in the present. It seems to be true in that present moment, not in eternum alone.

Yes from our perspective and I agree, but I am not seeing how Judas's free will be effected by this. Jesus gets his prophecy from God in time but from God's perspective Judas has already made his choice out of free will.

 

6/14/2017 12:24 pm  #10


Re: The problem of Divine Providence and Free will

Jason wrote:

Judas has already made his choice out of free will.

The problem is two-fold, what role is 'providence' playing if the act is contingent on Judas?

Jason wrote:

Jesus gets his prophecy from God in time but from God's perspective Judas has already made his choice out of free will.

This was my original reply, arguably there's some Christology needed here, but this isn't true just for prophecies that Christ made, but rather for prophecies simpliciter. Admitting the special problem of the now-ness of prophetic knowledge seems to commit us to the fact that we can say something to be true of the future in the present, but the solution regarding the general problem seems to have an integral step where we deny the now-ness of the claim and relegate it to God in virtue of himself and eternity, which is simultaneous with the now. So, if we say that the knowledge of those things is present *now*, then we're not agreeing with the solution and have to deny some other premise which builds up to the problem of providence and free will.

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