Can the Calvinistic God Sovereignly Decree This, Or Not? And if Not, Why Not?

Steve Hays has responded to what I said here:

Loftus: It's quite possible that the total evidence is against Christianity but that Hays' Calvinistic God simply makes/decrees him to believe against the evidence.

Hays: Even if we were to credit that hypothetical, it presupposes the very existence of the Calvinistic God. Hence, it assumes that Calvinism is true even if all of the apparent evidence were arrayed against it.

Really? Let’s backtrack and take a deeper look. Hays started out by claiming that all objections to his faith are stupid ones. That’s what he said. Again, he said that all objections to his faith are stupid ones, including what I'm going to argue for here. That’s stupid as in S-T-U-P-I-D. Then I argued that as far as he knows the total evidence may be against his faith but that his Calvinistic God is making/decreeing him to believe against the available evidence. In his response does he dispute this? No! Can he? I doubt very much that he can. Nonetheless, he calls such a possibility a “hypothetical.” But I’m still very interested in why such a possibility is merely a “hypothetical.” Based upon Calvinism he just does not know. There is no way for him to determine whether the “hypothetical” is true or false. In fact, such a possibility has as much plausibility as the alternative possibility that he believes.

Now back to his claim that all objections to his faith are stupid ones. If my “hypothetical” (as he calls it) is true, then the objections against his faith are not stupid ones. In fact, the objections against his faith are right on target, and surely some of them, if not most of them are intelligent, whereas his rejection of our objections is not very intelligent. And if this is the case, then who wears the dunce cap now?

Furthermore, what happens as a result of granting this “hypothetical” as he calls it? The total available evidence is against Calvinistic Christianity. That’s total as in T-O-T-A-L. The available evidence would be against believing in Calvinistic Christianity. Now let’s say he grants this possibility. What follows? Epistemologically once someone accepts this as a fact then he should cease believing. It’s that simple. To be on the side of intelligent thinking and to have integrity with oneself such a person should reject Calvinistic Christianity…EVEN IF THE CALVINISTIC GOD EXISTS! That’s right....even if the Calvinistic God exists! One cannot continue to believe unless one accepts what he believes are false beliefs, and that IS stupid!

Again, the problem here is how Hays would know his faith is correct if what I suggested is true about the total available evidence being against his faith? According to Calvinism he has no reason to suppose that the evidence supports his faith and yet he continues to have the gall to call all objections to his faith stupid objections. How does he know they are all stupid objections if God is decreeing what he believes against the total available evidence? Our objections might be intelligent objections whereas Hays' arguments might be the stupid ones. The only difference is that Hays' God decrees what he believes. But the fact remains that our objections are not stupid objections, given this possibility.

But here’s how Hays continued to respond:

Hays: In that event, as long as my belief is true, notwithstanding the evidence to the contrary, who cares? At the end of the day, I’m right and he’s wrong. It would make my arguments superfluous. I’d be right even without my supporting arguments. How is that a problem?

Not so fast Steve!

Here is where you must deal with yet another twist, and I want you to think real hard about this, okay? If the total available evidence is actually against your faith even though the Calvinistic God exists and decrees that you believe, then you also have no reason to suppose that those who believe in the Calvinistic God will be rewarded in heaven while the skeptics will be punished when facing God’s judgment. That’s right. Just like God may decree you to believe in him against the evidence, God may also have a secret will to save those skeptics whom he decrees to follow the actual available evidence where it leads! God may actually have a secret will to only save those who do not believe in him! If you think otherwise, tell me upon what basis you think this? You may argue that such a God is duplicitous all you like, but duplicity isn’t a serious criticism of the Calvinistic God, now is it? He can reveal what he wants us to do in the Bible, like "love one another," and yet he can also have a secret unrevealed will that decrees someone to murder his neighbor.

A God like that can make the available evidence against what you believe AND he can also save those who follow the available evidence, at the same time he's sovereignly decreeing all of this.

Steve, maybe you’d better take another good hard look at the available evidence. Maybe it just isn’t stupid after all. Your eternity may be at stake. And as far as you know, based upon YOUR theology, your God is using me right now to speak to you. Who knows, right? He’s brought you into contact with me to help you see the light of day. How do you actually know otherwise…that’s what I’m still waiting to hear. Until you take seriously this objection to your faith and deal with it head-on how do you know our objections are really stupid? Such an objection as this one is not stupid at all. However, your refusal to take seriously this objection of mine makes me conclude you are not thinking deeply enough.

11 comments:

Jon Curry said...

This is a good point, and it's a point that is noticed as well by Christians that are not determinists. I recall Norman Geisler arguing the point that determinism leads to complete skepticism. Not just skepticism about Christianity, but skepticism regarding just about every knowledge claim.

If determinism is true then my thoughts are fore-decreed by God. My thoughts are not a function of me evaluating evidence. They are a function of God's sovereign will. But it is obvious that some of my beliefs are false. Nobody is without some false belief. And of course those of other faiths (such as Muslims) have (what the Calvinst thinks is) false beliefs because it is in accord with God's sovereign will that they have such beliefs.

This of course leads to a startling conclusion. If God foreordains that some will have false beliefs about such things as fundamental as our very salvation, and those beliefs are independent of any evaluation of the evidence, but are simply a function of what God decides I will believe, then I can never know if what I believe is true or false. I could very well get to heaven and meet Allah and be punished for the rest of eternity. There is no way to know. Complete skepticism follows.

streetapologist said...

John,

You are not dealing with Steve's argument. As he said in order for your argument to be sound, you must assume the truthfulness of the proposition that God exists. Your entire objection is self-referentially incoherent. The entire post is fallacious. Unless of course you want to admit God's existence? By the way I am unconvinced that your actually an atheist. Your arguments time and again betray your half-hearted commitment to atheism.

Daniel said...

SA,

John was arguing reductio ad absurudum, that, in Steve's theology, since what one believes is willed by God, belief is independent of evidence: it is possible to believe in spite of evidence to the contrary, or to disbelieve in spite of evidence for God's existence. Belief is not contingent upon reason or evidence, in other words. [after all, according to this, unbelievers know God exists, so arguing contrariwise is a sign of irrationality]

Therefore, a Calvinist who argues that those who disbelieve are stupid [based on evidence] is incoherent. The unbeliever may or may not be evidentially justified, but the point is that God wills that the unbeliever is not granted grace, and thus does not come to have faith. Faith is not based on the evidence, then, but on God's choice and action to "regenerate" the unbeliever. Thus, Steve cannot call reprobates "stupid", just "those God has chosen not to believe".

It is possible to show someone the inconsistency of their own position without making a judgment on the truth value of any particular proposition -- simply by showing that their argument is invalid. In this case, Steve's premises about God's sovereignty and the unbeliever's stupidity cannot coexist in an argument.

At least, this is my perception of the argument and the crux.

John W. Loftus said...

Exactly Daniel. Once again streetapologist has paraded his ignorance here at DC for all to see. Anyone who thinks I'm a believer because of this post is extremely ignorant about this type of an argument.

John W. Loftus said...

Steve commented once again: I opt for truth over warrant. What’s so great about warrant if you’re wrong?

My response:

Silly silly man. You just don't get it, do you. What if I responded by saying this: "so do I. I too opt for truth over warrant."

Saying so makes no difference if we still have disagreements about the truth.

For you to respond that you have an inner witness of the Spirit doesn't help your case since that witness may be to mislead you due to God's secret will for you to believe against the total evidence (i.e. even your distinction between truth and warrent and what you've concluded about it, silly).

All I'm doing is asking you what justification you have for believing if you cannot know the secretive will of God? And the answer must be that you have none. Now do you see my point? Yes or no?

I'm asking you to go deeper into your theology than you are willing to go. And the bottom line is that you don't know that what you believe is true nor that you please the God who truly exists, nor that you will be with this God in heaven for all eternity, based upon your present theology.

What I'm asking you is why you think you believe correctly, why you think you please this God you beieve in, and why you think you will be in heaven, based upon YOUR OWN THEOLOGY, and elucidated by me in this so-called hypothetical.

Okay? Ready to try again. Because if you sidetrack the question again then it's obvious you cannot answer it at all.

streetapologist said...

John,

If anyone's ignorance is on parade it's certainly not mine. Apparently being illiterate is not part of ignorance? I said I remain unconvinced that you are in fact an atheist. Your half-hearted commitment to atheism is evident with your various posts. [Not just this one but cumulatively] Your posts are the temper tantrums of a person harbouring a grudge rather than those of a serious atheist interested in the question of God. I remain skeptical of your atheism John. You can assert my ignorance all you like, it doesn't change the fact that you are unconvincing as an atheist.

paul said...

"Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth. II Tim. 2:23-25.

I'm trying to fit Steve and his ilk into this "word of God". Why are they engaging in dialogue with us if our "objections" and "arguments" are "stupid"? How does their apologetics seasoned with a snide, superior tone fit? If these people really believe this is Gods word, where is the evidence of their belief? I see assertions of belief, but where's the evidence that they actually believe? Shouldn't they be reveling in being a "fool for Christ" instead of using "the ways of the world" or philosophical tools to defend something that is so wise? After all, "Do not deceive yourselves. If anyone of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a 'fool' so that he may become wise." ICor.3:18.

Why aren't these people willing to be simple "fools for Christ" and allow God to demonstrate that He is?

John W. Loftus said...

Exactly paul. Exactly.

And as for streetapologist, you can affirm whatever you'd like to affirm. But affirming something doesn't make it so. Where's your argument? Where's the evidence? Where's your case? You presume that I'm wrong and you're right, and based upon this assumption you go to claim what you do about me. But you have no case, or if you do, I am not impressed at all with it.

I dare say that you are still in High School or just graduated recently. This Blog is not for your lame attempts to defend something that is not defensible. First take a few college classes and come back.

John W. Loftus said...

Steve Hays, one more time. If you cannot know the secretive will of God, and the revealed will of God is undercut by the secretive will of God, such that the Calvinistic God is known to be duplicitous, revealing one thing and secretively decreeing opposites, then how do you know your God is pleased with you and that you will go to heaven and that I won't when we both die? That's the question, and you have failed to answer it. Go ahead answer this problem for your Clavinistic theology once and for all. Don't throw out any more red herrings; don't sidetrack the issue. Deal with it head on.

How do you know that what you believe will gain you access into heaven based upon the evidence which God decrees you to believe that conclusion? It could be the exact reverse of what you think.

You cannot quote to me from the Bible to support what you believe here, nor to any particular evidences, since the Bible is merely the revealed will of God, and the evidences you believe are accepted by you because of God's secretive will. How do you know God is pleased with you and you'll be in heaven when you die?

The answer: You don't. Admit it for all to see. You D-O-N-'-T! It could all be reversed. And if this is the case you could have faith against the evidence...you could think your reasons are intelligent when it is exactly the reverse...you think my objections are stupid whereas it is your objections that could be stupid, because God is secretively decreeing you to accept absudities and stupidities as the truth.

So tell me, when Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell everything and follow him, did Jesus really want him to do this or not?

And as far as the atheist dilemna goes, I've already written about it here, and you've never answered what I said there either.

John W. Loftus said...

Steve further responded:
When God forbids adultery, he is not claiming that he will prevent adultery, even though he secret intends to permit adultery.

The prohibition is not a prediction or promise of what God intends to do.


My response: Wait just a minute. If anyone asks you what God wants us to refrain from doing, you will quote the Bible which purportedly tells us what God wants us to do, like not commiting adultery. "Thou Shalt Not..." you'll say.

Does God want us to refrain from adultery or not? Let's say he does, but then he doesn't. Let's say he doesn't, but then he does.

Why don't you preach your true theology? Why not just say that you don't know whether or not God wants someone to refrain from adultery, because that's the truth.

So, does God want me to refrain from adultery? Why? Why not?

You could say you believe God wants you to tell me that I should refrain from adultery, but that whether or not he does want me to refrain is something you just don't know. So just say, "I don't know."

The next time a man comes to you for counseling who is considering an affair, tell him the truth: "I don't know what God wants you to do." You see, there is no ethical guidance in such a theology if you tell people the whole story. So you are a co-participant in the deception, along with God. Be honest. Be truthful. Spell out all of your Calvinistic distinctions and end by saying that you just don't know what God wants such a person to do. Why not? That's the whole truth.

But at a deeper level you could say that God has decreed your answers to his question about adultery, and that's all you can say in response to his question. But such an admission doesn't answer whether or not God wants him to commit adultery. It only says that God decreed your answer to his question about it. You still have no confidence that such a decree has any bearing on what he should do. So the answer you give him about adultery from the Bible may not be the truth, since God decrees what you will tell him. As far as the truth goes, God could've revealed that he wants all married people to commit adultery, because whatever he reveals has no bearing on what he wants us to do. This goes for all of the Bible verses too, including those that describe who God is, that he is loving, truthful, and will reward those who believe he is loving and truthful.

In fact, there is nothing in the Bible that describes what God wants us to do, according to your theology--nothing! In fact, if God decrees all of human history then he does not need a revealed word at all! It is superfluous, unnecessary, and completely irrelevant to what he wants us to believe and to do.

Why not just admit this? It's true. And the next time someone asks you what God wants him to do just be honest and say "I don't know." And when he asks you what God wants him to believe, just say "I don't know."

For that is the truth.

Dave said...

I think the duplicitous of the Calvinistic God has been dealt with elsewhere in why he allows evil appart from his revealed word to occur. It is just ignorance that you even brought this was brought up.

First, This is important in considering if God does deal two handedly.
-He allows everything by decree or by letting it come pass. So, it can be shown to be a christian problem as a whole. God knows of any sin beforehand so he must ordain it or allow it to pass. It is part of omniscence.

-Within this framework, once can also show that sinful desires from within a person cause sin. We are fallen, it is not God's command but it is in God's plan after Adam. His secretive will knows of the sins but he is not the author since the source of sinful desire is from fallen man.

-As for what God wants, it can be shown that there are conflicting ethics involved in His decisions. Two good things may be mutually set apart by virtue. It is clear that he namely wants his glory as is right for Him. It moved him to create. It means that He must endure suffering in His once perfect creation in order to redeem it for glory.

This does not negate that Ge will also balance this in his secretive will with working all things for good. Who can take council with God. Who can fault his infinite wisdom.

Welcome to the deep end of the Theological pool. No atheist would dare tread here. The only reason you haven't been rebutted of your silly arguement against the Calvinistic God is you are fighting with lightweights.

There are plenty of defendable strongholds in logic for the Christian Faith. Yet, I will say that even if you believe the source of faith is irrational. You must at least grant faith as being self-rational and coherent. It is in this that the wisdom of the wise is brought to foolishness.