Open theism (a coherent god?)

Topher
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Open theism (a coherent god?)


Me and Strafio were discussing the problems and contradictions that arise with a god. His counter was open theism.

Open theism rejects the traits of god from classical theism. So their god is not omni-anything, he only has the ‘most’ of each attribute (i.e. the most powerful, most knowledgeable, most lovable etc). They reject the omni-traits as they argue were introduced with Platonic philosophy.

They also reject ex-nihilo creation. They reject that god that created all of existence/all of nature (i.e. he ‘exists’ in some kind of ‘nature’ or ‘universe’ outside of our own) and this is the point which I think creates them problems.

Here is my augment.

1) Nature means you exist as something. If this is the case with this new ‘nature’ they would be the same ‘place’. If it isn’t the case, they wouldn’t be the same, so this ‘nature’ wouldn’t be a nature at all.

2) It begs the question of just who is responsible for this new god-nature/god-universe.

2a) If nothing created it i.e. if came about via natural means, they concede that a nature/universe can come into existence without the need for a creator. So they are refuted. Any argument for the need of a god to explain our existence, the universe, life and morals etc is invalid.

If they are willing to say nothing was responsible for this other ‘nature’, why not just say nothing is responsible for our nature and forget about god altogether! Its far more parsimonious.

2b) If some other god was responsible, then the god we speak of wouldn’t be a god at all. If they’re both gods', monotheism is refuted. All convert to Hinduism!

And if it is about worshiping the ultimate power/creator, then its special pleading to worship the mini/psudo-god and not the master-god.


This entire problem arises if and when they say god ‘exists’ in some other kind of ‘universe/spacetime/nature’, outside of our own. If they just hold that god exists outside of the universe he created, and therefore is supernatural, they don’t have to explain anything, just settle with an incomprehensible/incoherent god. This is probably the better deal.

What are peoples view on this?

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


Andyy
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I went to Bethel University

I went to Bethel University in St Paul, MN, a Baptist University.  While I was there, I took most of my theology courses from Dr Greg Boyd, a prominent evangelical author and open theist.

He dealt with the 'problem of evil' better than any other Christian I have ever heard.  To summarize, God does NOT know the future, because the future does NOT exist.  He does know EVERYTHING that there is to know, including all possibilities of how the future will turn out.  But due to genuine free will, God cannot 'know.'  As an evangelical, it was the first time I had ever heard an explanation that didn't end in "God's ways are above logic."  For more details, search google, he has a bunch of books and essays.

This view of his caused a 'witch hunt' within the Baptist General Conference, and he was nearly forced out of his position as a professor while I was there.  A couple years later he resigned.

 I personally owe Dr Boyd partial credit for my freedom from fundimentalism.  I had been a fundy for most of my life, and though he's an evangelical (and suffering delusion in my opinion), he was the first evangelical I had met who truly allowed logic to affect his faith and stray from tradition dogma, even in the face of religous persecution.  That put me on a road that eventually led to my liberation from religous dogma.


Strafio
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They do strike me as a group

They do strike me as a group who are trying to make logical sense of God belief.

Here's the bit I dispute:

Topher wrote:
2a) If nothing created it i.e. if came about via natural means, they concede that a nature/universe can come into existence without the need for a creator. So they are refuted. Any argument for the need of a god to explain our existence, the universe, life and morals etc is invalid.

This argument is only valid if they try to make use of cosmological arguments and possibly design arguments too. If their God belief depends on an explanation of existence then your argument shows an incoherence.

However, we have no reason to assume this of all open theists.

Quote:
If they are willing to say nothing was responsible for this other ‘nature’, why not just say nothing is responsible for our nature and forget about god altogether! Its far more parsimonious.

Here is the challenge you could present to them.
In rejecting Plato and naturalizing God they have possibly castrated him in the process. Go on to a theology forum and ask them what is left.


flatlanderdox
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Andyy,Good breakdown of

Andyy,

Good breakdown of OT.  Ole "Doc" would be proud...albeit sad that you think you have to give up religion completely.  He does do an excellent job with the problem of evil.  But his openness view is very biblically based as well.  It's not that he shrugs off doctrine and dogma, he is just trying to find out what it really is based on the most important Christian epistemic revelational presuppositions.

Ockham's Razor is only as sharp as you are.


Andyy
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flatlanderdox

flatlanderdox wrote:

Andyy,

Good breakdown of OT. Ole "Doc" would be proud...albeit sad that you think you have to give up religion completely. He does do an excellent job with the problem of evil. But his openness view is very biblically based as well. It's not that he shrugs off doctrine and dogma, he is just trying to find out what it really is based on the most important Christian epistemic revelational presuppositions.

Are you a Bethel grad?

I'm sure he would be sad. And I'm sure his critics would use people like me to show his teachings are dangerous Smiling But I do think that any belief system that fears logic, science, or reason, is a bit scary when it manifests itself among people with economic or political power... but that's probably for another thread.

Back to the point of the thread, here's a Boyd essay explain Open Theism in christianity.

http://www.christusvictorministries.org/main/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=48&Itemid=99999999

I need to update my internet browser, I can't insert links... sorry......


flatlanderdox
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Quote: Are you a Bethel

Quote:

Are you a Bethel grad?

I'm sure he would be sad. And I'm sure his critics would use people like me to show his teachings are dangerous Smiling But I do think that any belief system that fears logic, science, or reason, is a bit scary when it manifests itself among people with economic or political power... but that's probably for another thread.

Back to the point of the thread, here's a Boyd essay explain Open Theism in christianity.

http://www.christusvictorministries.org/main/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=48&Itemid=99999999

I need to update my internet browser, I can't insert links... sorry......

 No. i'm at Truett, but I know Greg from the CV message board (way back when he used to have time to interact there...that guy amazes me with all he does).  He's great. 

Haha, yeah, for sure his opponents would use that logic.  I don't think that most Christians really fear logic per se (whether they realize it or not), it is just the way that logic can be misconstrued and lead to false conclusions.  I think that Michael Polayni did some fantastic work in regard to logic and science and its epistemic implications/limitations, etc. 

 Blessings...

Ockham's Razor is only as sharp as you are.


flatlanderdox
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Oh yeah, I am taking some

Oh yeah, I am taking some classes with Roger Olson here at Truett.  Did you know him from your time at Bethel?  He is so cool.  We like to talk about eating Indian food...hehe. 

 Later!

Ockham's Razor is only as sharp as you are.


Topher
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Andyy wrote: To summarize,

Andyy wrote:
To summarize, God does NOT know the future, because the future does NOT exist.  He does know EVERYTHING that there is to know, including all possibilities of how the future will turn out.

If god can know every possible future outcome, then he does know the future.

Andyy wrote:
But due to genuine free will, God cannot 'know.'

Even if people had free will, and god was not the creator all everything (which would negate free will), he would still know all the possible outcomes, so technically he does know all the possible ‘futures’ that there can be. 

Strafio wrote:
This argument is only valid if they try to make use of cosmological arguments and possibly design arguments too. If their God belief depends on an explanation of existence then your argument shows an incoherence.


If their god is not a creator-god, what ishe for? What is his job?

Other than pantheism, what other gods are there that are not creator-gods?

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


Strafio
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Topher wrote: If god can

Topher wrote:
If god can know every possible future outcome, then he does know the future.

To know the future is to know which 'possibility' is the actuality.
So the future would be shaped by your free will, the possibilities being the different consequences of your possible choices. If libertarianism is right then so far there are no 'facts' about the future - the future isn't something to know or not know.


flatlanderdox
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Quote:Strafio Says:To

Quote:
Strafio Says:

To know the future is to know which 'possibility' is the actuality.
So the future would be shaped by your free will, the possibilities being the different consequences of your possible choices. If libertarianism is right then so far there are no 'facts' about the future - the future isn't something to know or not know.

 Exactly.  "Possibilties" are not ontic.  Couldn't have said it better myself. 

 Basically, open theists are just resetting the ontological parameters concerning foreknowledge.  It's very intriguing stuff.  I don't follow open theism completely, but the perspective does make for an absolutely intriguing God: a God that risks, is really hurt by things, etc., and yet who is sovereignly in control of the eschaton.  Very compelling.

Ockham's Razor is only as sharp as you are.


Topher
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Firstly, I don’t really

Firstly, I don’t really have a problem as such with their ideas of foreknowledge.



My point is simply that if god has knowledge of all the possible future outcomes, then he would technically know the future, he just wouldn’t know which of the possible ‘futures’ that he has knowledge of will come to be. That is my point.


p.s. the main discussion Strafio and I were having re: open theism (as outlined in my original post) is now over for the most part. But feel free to keep up the discussion on open theism anyway.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


flatlanderdox
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Quote: Topher says: My

Quote:
Topher says:

My point is simply that if god has knowledge of all the possible future outcomes, then he would technically know the future, he just wouldn’t know which of the possible ‘futures’ that he has knowledge of will come to be. That is my point.

Ok, say I'm sitting down to play Texas Hold'em with some friends.  The possibilities I have before me are that 1) I am going to win or 2) I am going to lose.  I am aware of both of those possibilties.  According to your definition of "knowing the future," then I would "technically" know the future because I am aware of those two possibilities. 

Ockham's Razor is only as sharp as you are.


jmm
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flatlanderdox

flatlanderdox wrote:

Quote:
Topher says:

My point is simply that if god has knowledge of all the possible future outcomes, then he would technically know the future, he just wouldn’t know which of the possible ‘futures’ that he has knowledge of will come to be. That is my point.

Ok, say I'm sitting down to play Texas Hold'em with some friends. The possibilities I have before me are that 1) I am going to win or 2) I am going to lose. I am aware of both of those possibilties. According to your definition of "knowing the future," then I would "technically" know the future because I am aware of those two possibilities.

not that i necessarily agree with the original point being made, but i think it's safe to say that all of the possible future outcomes of the totality of life are a bit more complex than "i'll either win the card came, or i'll lose it."  so that was kind of a bad analogy.   


flatlanderdox
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Quote: jmm says: not that

Quote:
jmm says:

not that i necessarily agree with the original point being made, but i think it's safe to say that all of the possible future outcomes of the totality of life are a bit more complex than "i'll either win the card came, or i'll lose it."  so that was kind of a bad analogy.

Sure thing, it's much more complex.  But I don't see how that makes the analogy a bad one.  Possibilities are still only possibilities no matter how complex they are, no?  Making possibilties more complex or important doesn't make them any more "actual." 

I think the thing that distinguishes possibilties in God's mind vis a vis a human mind is that God has a complete knowledge of present (and past) actuality.  The more data of reality before you, and the more you know the hearts and minds of people making decisions, the more accurate your predictions are going to be.  In this way, according to the Open view, God's predictions would have a much greater percentage of accuracy than that of a finite human, but it would not be any more "actual."

Ockham's Razor is only as sharp as you are.


Andyy
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flatlanderdox wrote: Oh

flatlanderdox wrote:

Oh yeah, I am taking some classes with Roger Olson here at Truett. Did you know him from your time at Bethel? He is so cool. We like to talk about eating Indian food...hehe.

I didn't ever have Roger Olson for any classes.  But I heard him a few times in chapel services and all my friends in the theology program spoke highly of him. 


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Andyy wrote: God does NOT

Andyy wrote:
God does NOT know the future, because the future does NOT exist.

It's my understanding that the future not existing would conflict with current scientific understanding, i.e. the universe is a 4 dimensional (space & time) manifold. How would an open theist handle this?


flatlanderdox
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Quote: mrrage says: It's my

Quote:
mrrage says:

It's my understanding that the future not existing would conflict with current scientific understanding, i.e. the universe is a 4 dimensional (space & time) manifold. How would an open theist handle this?

Precisely.  I don't know if a settled future is necessarily demanded by physics.  John Polkinghorne--a physicist who is also an Open Theist--says that Open Theism is not contrary to relativity physics, and I imagine he wouldn't hold to a view that contradicted physics otherwise.  However, your point is basically why I do not fully embrace open theism myself.  I think that all the "pros" of open theism can also be had with a kenosis or "self-limitation" theory (see especially Moltmann's book The Crucified God). 

Ockham's Razor is only as sharp as you are.


Topher
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flatlanderdox wrote:

flatlanderdox wrote:
Ok, say I'm sitting down to play Texas Hold'em with some friends. The possibilities I have before me are that 1) I am going to win or 2) I am going to lose. I am aware of both of those possibilties. According to your definition of "knowing the future," then I would "technically" know the future because I am aware of those two possibilities.

Do don’t think this analogy is valid.

Andyy wrote: To summarize, God does NOT know the future, because the future does NOT exist. He does know EVERYTHING that there is to know, including all possibilities of how the future will turn out.

This states he know all possibilities of how the future will turn out. This means there are billions of possibilities for every single person.

For example, what would I be doing on 9th May 2037? There are probably untold possibilities. God would know all of them, including the one that will come to be. This is not just know an outcome via the law of excluded middle (i.e. either this or that). That wouldn't be having knowledge of the future, that would know understanding how the law of excluded middle works.

What I’m not saying is that he knows precisely what will happen in the future, but rather that he simply has knowledge of the possible future outcomes. This mean he holds knowledge of the future outcome i.e. the future.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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The whole point of knowing

The whole point of knowing the future is knowing what will happen rather than what can happen. If I was to flip a coin and predict that the possibilities were heads or tails, you'd hardly say I predicted the future.

It would be if I picked out which possibility was the actuality which would be interesting.


Topher
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Strafio wrote: The whole

Strafio wrote:
The whole point of knowing the future is knowing what will happen rather than what can happen. If I was to flip a coin and predict that the possibilities were heads or tails, you'd hardly say I predicted the future. It would be if I picked out which possibility was the actuality which would be interesting.

Did you see my above post? I specifically stated it would not be comparable to the law of excluded middle.

 

"This states he know all possibilities of how the future will turn out. This means there are billions of possibilities for every single person.

For example, what would I be doing on 9th May 2037? There are probably untold possibilities. God would know all of them, including the one that will come to be. This is not just know an outcome via the law of excluded middle (i.e. either this or that). That wouldn't be having knowledge of the future, that would know understanding how the law of excluded middle works."

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


Strafio
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The only difference is the

The only difference is the excluded middle is for when there is only 2 possibilities. So God would have to be a lot better to have grasped all the possibilities.

But that still misses the point.
It doesn't matter if you know the possibilities, it's know which possibility is the actuality is how you know the future. Being able to know all the possibilities is merely being able to describe everything describable in language, perhaps constrained by various laws and stuff.
Knowing the future is knowing which possibility is actuality.

An example that doesn't use law of excluded middle:
"If this race is finished properly, then it'll be one of the 10 racers that win it, the possibilities being racer 1 wins, racer 2 wins etc."
Laying out all the possibilities doesn't tell what the future will be as we are looking for which possibility is the one that actually happens.


Topher
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Strafio wrote: It doesn't

Strafio wrote:
It doesn't matter if you know the possibilities, it's know which possibility is the actuality is how you know the future.

I agree. I wasn’t trying to imply he did know the future, I was saying that he would in a sense, by having information of all possible outcomes about everything relating to everyone. We cannot have such knowledge capacity so from our perspective it would be a kind of foreknowledge. But I agree, he wouldn’t KNOW the future; I didn’t mean to imply knowledge in that sense.

Smiling

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


Jacob Cordingley
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These are people who are

These are people who are trying to save an unsavable concept. They may as well just give up! Wow it's storming outside! Lot's of lightening!


todangst
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Andyy wrote:

Andyy wrote:

I went to Bethel University in St Paul, MN, a Baptist University. While I was there, I took most of my theology courses from Dr Greg Boyd, a prominent evangelical author and open theist.

He dealt with the 'problem of evil' better than any other Christian I have ever heard. To summarize, God does NOT know the future, because the future does NOT exist. He does know EVERYTHING that there is to know, including all possibilities of how the future will turn out. But due to genuine free will, God cannot 'know.'

The problem is that this argument, like most theist arguments, commits the Panglossian error - it assumes that our present world is a given AND that there is an omnipotent creator. This is a contradiction. Therefore, he  forgets that 'god' would be the one responsible for the fact that 'god' cannot know the future, seeing as this god created the universe knowing that the universe he was creating would lead to this very problem.

In addition, one could argue, as has been already done here, that being responsible for every paramater of existence, including free will and all the elements that influence it, that one would necessarily know the future because one is already responsible for every element that would influence this future. We would revive the philosophy of Laplace with such a deity.

There simply is NO way to absolve an omnipotent creator from perfect responsibility for his own creation. Every theist attempt to run around this reality is an exercise in futility.

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'


Topher
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todangst wrote: Andyy

todangst wrote:
Andyy wrote:

I went to Bethel University in St Paul, MN, a Baptist University. While I was there, I took most of my theology courses from Dr Greg Boyd, a prominent evangelical author and open theist.

He dealt with the 'problem of evil' better than any other Christian I have ever heard. To summarize, God does NOT know the future, because the future does NOT exist. He does know EVERYTHING that there is to know, including all possibilities of how the future will turn out. But due to genuine free will, God cannot 'know.'

The problem is that this argument, like most theist arguments, commits the Panglossian error - it assumes that our present world is a given AND that there is an omnipotent creator. This is a contradiction. Therefore, he forgets that 'god' would be the one responsible for the fact that 'god' cannot know the future, seeing as this god created the universe knowing that the universe he was creating would lead to this very problem.

In addition, one could argue, as has been already done here, that being responsible for every paramater of existence, including free will and all the elements that influence it, that one would necessarily know the future because one is already responsible for every element that would influence this future. We would revive the philosophy of Laplace with such a deity.

There simply is NO way to absolve an omnipotent creator from perfect responsibility for his own creation. Every theist attempt to run around this reality is an exercise in futility.

 

I agree. Although Open Theists reject (albeit rather conveniently) omni traits on the grounds they are not biblical but rather Platonic. This can clearly be refuted by reading the bible!


Additionally, they believe in ex-nihilo creation, but how can anything but an omnipotent god create ex-nihilo!

They clearly see the problem will omni traits and attempt to do away with them, but then they fail to see or ignore the ramifications of doing so.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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Topher wrote: But I agree,

Topher wrote:

But I agree, he wouldn’t KNOW the future; I didn’t mean to imply knowledge in that sense.

Smiling

Fair enough. Smiling