An argument against classical Arminianism
I have for a while been worried that the classical view of God's foreknowledge of the future is problematic. A recent attempt at an argument on Reuben's blogg brought my objection from an unconscious to a conscious level, so here it is:
Firstly it involves two essential ideas which I call "logical dependence" and "finalisation".
Logical dependence also could be called "causal dependence" I suppose and basically if A causes B then B is logically dependent on A. It is important to separate logical dependence from TIME: Say I decide I want to be a good runner in the distant future, and because of that decision I decide to go running tommorrow (starting my training), then my going running tommorrow is logically dependent on my desire being a good runner in the future, but it actually happens first in time: I actually go running prior to becoming a good runner.
Finalisation is the logical point at which actions or decisions are finalised. At some point I decide to go running tommorow and prior to that point I had not decided this: That was the point of finalisation. Note that I am not referring to a temporal point of finalisation, but a logical point. It may very well be that all actions were finalised temporally prior to the creation of the universe. That is irrelevant. At some metaphysical logical moment, our decisions and actions have been or will be finalised (ie decided upon for certain). Of course if there is no free will and the entire metaphysical universe merely follows logical necessity, then the moment of finalisation was at the logical begining of the metaphysical universe.
Now that all sounds horribly complicated, but it's not actually very difficult (just hard to explain) and my argument should clarify it:
1) God's actions affect the future of the temporal world.
God can intervene and do stuff in human history. In doing stuff he changes what is currently happening, and thus what will happen in the future.
2) Thus the future is not finalised until God's actions are finalised.
I take if for granted that if the future is dependent upon God's actions, the future's not certain until God's actions are certain. (In general if A logically affects B, then B cannot be finalised logically prior to A being finalised.)
Now the classical, run of the mill, standard Christian view of the future holds that:
3) God has knowledge of the actual future (and only the actual future) due to his timelessness.
This seems to me to imply (I'll come back to this one later):
4) God's knowledge of the future is logically dependent upon the actual (ie final) future.
But then, by fairly simple logic, we get the following:
5) God cannot have such knowledge until logically after the future is finalised.
And thus, the rather worrying:
6) God cannot use his knowledge of the future when acting in the world, because he doesn't gain such knowledge until after he has ceased acting. (!!!)
This conclusion is super nasty. The only way I can see of escaping it is to deny (4) and rewrite (3) somewhat and thus deny that God's knowledge of the future is causally connected to the actual future. To the casual observer this looks utterly absurd: If God's knowledge of the future isn't connected to the future, then how can he possibly have accurate knowledge?
If God's knowledge is accurate but not causally connected to the truth it must be coincidentally connected to the truth. Thus consider all the possible universes God could create (there are infinitely many), and let God's beliefs in each of those universes vary as well completely independently of the contents of the world. Then in a very few (but still an infinite number) of those possible-universes all God's beliefs happen to, coincidently, be true. God's beliefs about the future, happen to, through shear luck, correspond precisely with the actual future in that possible-world. Therefore, if God in creating the universe, had a choice of possible worlds before him and was able to ensure he created one of those worlds, He would know that His beliefs about the future were coincidentally correct.
However, as I've just realised when writing this, if God is choosing from a set of all possible worlds then that is just Molinism plain and simple... thus classical foreknowledge fails anyway. The only way the classical thinker could escape Molinism would be to assert that God cannot choose among the possible worlds, but CAN ensure that the world that does get created obeys the God-accurately-believes-the-future rule. That seems unlikely in the extreme, and quite an absurd scenario anyway.