Upon finally finishing up my series of posts on Robert Kane's A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, I will continue on with a related subject: the theology of providence. While the previously mentioned series discusses the philosophy of whether or not man has free will, and in what sense he has it, this series will cover what sort of relationship God has with the universe and how that affects man's free will. This will be the first of four posts in which I will summarize the views of the four authors who contributed to the book Four Views on Divine Providence. I will also summarize each of the author's objections/responses to each other. It should be noted that while I did lean more toward one view than the others before reading this book (in the spirit of being forthright, it was Molinism), I will do my best to convey each author's view in the most charitable and accurate manner possible.

The first view explained in the book is called "Omnicausality," and is defended by Paul Kjoss Helseth. Helseth is Associate Professor of Christian Thought at Northwestern College in St Paul, Minnesota. The tagline of the chapter is "God Causes All Things" because Helseth defends the idea that God actually causes all things that come to pass by decreeing them. This is the view of "pre-motion" held by Thomists on the Catholic side and Calvinists on the Reformed side. Helseth begins his argument by telling a story about Lieutenant General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson of the Confederate Army in the American Civil War from the film Gods and Generals. When asked how he could be so composed and tranquil in the heat of battle "with a storm of shells and bullets raining about [his] head," Jackson replied: "my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death; I do not concern myself with that, but to be always ready, whenever it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live; then all men would be equally brave."1

Since it took so long to finish up my series of posts on Robert Kane's A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, I thought I would do a quick recap post, linking to each of the posts in the series.

In this post from November 18, 2013, I introduced the so-called Freewill Problem, and explained the classical compatibilist position attempting to solve it:

In this post from December 19, 2013, I discussed some of the more recent, more sophisticated, compatibilist solutions to the Freewill Problem:

In this post from January 2, 2014, I introduced the Libertarian position in the Freewill debate and discussed briefly the concept of Agent-Causation:

Finally, in my last post from March 13, 2014, I explained Kane's theory on how freewill, especially the libertarian sort, might be reconciled with (and aided by) modern science:

And now, enjoy the great philosopher Geddy Lee's mistaken thoughts on the subject:

This is the second part in a five part series on the reliability of the old testament, based on the book by Kenneth Kitchen.  Here are links to the introductory post and Part I.
The last post ended with Saul's rule over Israel.  We now continue studying the United Monarchy by looking at the ruling periods of David and Solomon.  This is a long post; but as it is a historical study and not a post on philosophy, it is somewhat easier to digest.

The United Monarchy (continued)


With respect to David, Kitchen first makes it clear that the nature and scale of the mini-empire of David and Solomon was not unique in the ANE at the time, "A fact that is almost totally unknown to nearly all commentators on 2 Sam. 8 to 1 Kings 11."1  However, such mini-empires only occurred in the time period around 1200-900BC, as it was a period between the mega-empires.  Kitchen describes three other mini-empires of the time that also had 1) a core "heartland", 2) lands gained through conquest, and 3) vassal-like lands that were gained either by diplomacy (for example, a smaller kingdom coming under an empire through an alliance of sorts) or threat.  Such lands could break away politically when the mini-empire weakened, in stark contrast to the the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian empires, that had other nations assimilate completely.  Both the king's court and the lands claimed by Israel expanded significantly under David.  The kingdom David built was very much like other mini-empires.

Kitchen does not discuss the likelihood of a shepherd boy becoming king, but he does show that poetry, music, and hymn-writing were not unusual for both the common man and the official artists of the the time period.  Further, kings participated in such arts.  The hymns and psalms written by David were not written in a vacuum - they have clear connections with longstanding traditions in the ANE (Ancient Near East).  "The forms and conventions of biblical poetry, so familiar in the Psalms, go back in origin two thousand years before David's time."2

While it may require an uncomfortable amount of effort due to such a long break, the reader should try to recall where this blog left off in its series on free will. In the case that the reader has failed to achieve this, let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Most recently in our epic, we have seen that the libertarian must come up with some additional factor in order for her views to be coherent, and avoid accusations of randomness or arbitrariness. We have also seen the Cartesian Dualist and Kantian Noumenalist make valiant attempts to discover such a model, only to fail splendidly. At this point, the Agent-Causalist entered the story, boasting of a model which would at long last quiet the foes of libertarian freedom forever, and loosen the shackles of determinism. Our hero began constructing his model, which holds that choices are made when an agent immanently causes an action. Such an action, then, would not have been caused by circumstances, events, or states of affairs, but directly by the agent. The Agent-Causalist insists that agent-causation is unique from event causation in the sense that it is neither determined, nor random. But this appears to set the free agent up as some sort of mysterious Unmoved Mover, like God, and this fact has not been lost on critics; they have been quick to point out that until the Agent-Causalist can explain more about the nature of agent-causation, it is no less mysterious than the models of the Body-Mind Dualists, or the Kantian Idealists.

Altogether, it seems that libertarians have not done a good job of explaining how their views of free will can be reconciled to modern science. This is one reason why determinism has become so popular-- right or wrong, we understand how mechanistic causes and effects work, so the view is not as mysterious. But all the so-called extra-factors appealed to by libertarians have not had much success doing this. In the last chapter of Robert Kane's A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will that I will be posting on, Kane attempts to reconcile libertarian free will and modern science, as I will summarize.

This is the first part in a five part series on the reliability of the old testament, based on the book by Kenneth Kitchen.  For more, check out the introductory post.

The Divided Kingdom

The divided kingdom is recorded in both Kings and Chronicles, as well as bits from some of the prophets.  To measure historicity, external historical sources (records from Assyria and Egypt for the most part), bullae (seals of various kings and royalty), and archaeology are used.  To boil things way down, 9 of the 14 kings of Israel are mentioned in external sources and bullae of others have been found; for Judah, 8 of 15 (and other evidence as well).  Each date given for a king of either kingdom in the external sources agrees with the record in the Bible.  Kings and Chronicles also mention kings of many other nations.  Of the records we have, those mentions corroborate with that nation's own records.  Events which are recorded in both the Bible and external sources corroborate well, once propaganda is taken into account.1  In short, the idea that someone in the 2nd century just made this stuff up and happened to line up the dates, names, and events perfectly with Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Edomite, and other records through 350 years of various reigns is quite frankly an embarrassing hypothesis.
Next Post Newer Posts Previous Post Older Posts Home