Prologue: The next three posts are rather technical (technical rating = 6/10). For readers who may find the reading tough going, just enjoy the jokes on Calvinism vs Arminianism.
Q1: How many Calvinists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. God has predestined when the lights will be on. Stay seated and trust him.
Q2: How many Arminians does it take to change a light bulb?
A1: Only one. But first the bulb must want to be changed.
A2: All. They need everyone to make sure it stays on. One can never really be sure.
Q3: How many charismatics does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three, one to cast it out and two to catch it when it falls!
Q4: How many Open Theists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: No one knows the answer. Not even God!
Calvinists have their TULIP! Arminians prefer the daisy. Why? “He loves me, but he loves me not. He loves me, but he loves me not…
Now to the serious stuff:
God’s omnipotence and omniscience and are inseparable correlates of his sovereignty and providence over creation. As Creator, God knows everything. This includes their essential nature and how they interact with other things as “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:13) As the omnipotent Lord, God controls all happenings in the universe and directs them according to his eternal plan. “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” (Eph. 1:11)
The scriptural teaching of God’s predestination contradicts the Arminian view that God’s foreknowledge is “simple”, that is, God knows the future, but not that he predetermines it. Furthermore, the Arminian maintains that God’s foreknowledge is contingent on our prior choices- that God’s knowing isn’t the source of our doing. Rather, our doing is the source of God’s knowing. However, Scripture teaches that God’s knowledge is active rather than passive since he foreordains and directs all things “according to the counsel of his will.” Continue reading “Does Foreknowledge of God Negate Human Freedom? – Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom. Part 5/7”
Before proceeding further in our series of posts on divine sovereignty and human freedom, it would be good to clarify some of the contested concepts in the debate.
Let’s begin with two fundamental concepts:
1) Free will. The ability of an agent to make genuine choices that stem from the self. Libertarians argue that free will includes the power to determine the will itself, so that a person with free will can will more than one thing. Compatibilists typically view free will as the power to act in accordance with one’s own will rather than being constrained by some external cause, allowing that the will itself may ultimately be causally determined by something beyond the self. Hard determinists deny the existence of free will altogether. Most Christian theologians agree that humans possess free will in some sense but disagree about what kind of freedom is necessary. The possession of free will does not entail an ability not to sin, since human freedom is shaped and limited by human character. Thus a human person may be free to choose among possibilities in some situations but still be unable to avoid all sin. /1/ Continue reading “Debate on Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom: Fundamental Philosophical Concepts”
Precis: Shamanic healing and meditation mind-body therapy, along with other forms of Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM), are alive and doing well in Malaysia. Modern people who assume that mysticism, machinery and medicine simply cannot be mixed may be shocked to find out that some hospitals are incorporating mystical rituals like meditation mind-body therapy into their services.
What are some of the reasons for the rising popularity of Meditation and Mind-Body Therapy? Can these treatments be scientifically tested and verified? What physiological and psychological bases underlie reported mystical-meditational ‘extra-sensory’ experience? Finally, how should Christians evaluate meditation and mind-body therapy from a Biblical-theological perspective? Continue reading “Meditation and Mind-Body Therapy: Health and Higher Reality”
The moral argument for the existence of God is often given a simple deductive form:
1) If there are objective moral values, then God exists.
2) There are objective moral values.
3) Therefore, God exists.
Logicians agree the logical form of this argument is valid. However, this does not guarantee the argument is sound. An argument is sound only when its logical form is valid and when all its premises are true. The crucial step would be to demonstrate premises 1 and 2 are true. Otherwise, the argument fails.
C.S. Lewis therefore does not simply rely on a deductive argument that moves from universal/general to particular. He begins from concrete particulars related to premise 2. Continue reading “The Moral Argument for the Existence of God – Reasonable Christianity”
Scientific inquiry proceeds with the presupposition that nature is an orderly structure which is intelligible to the human mind. How is this coherent interaction between the human mind and the natural order possible? What is the origin and nature of human reason? For simplicity, I shall just focus on two dominant paradigms addressing these questions:
1) Naturalism and reductive materialism: the universe of space-time and all its interlocking processes exists as a causally closed continuum and nothing else exist. This being the case, reason and mental processes are merely some aspect of physical processes or neural activity.
2) Theism –The observable space-time is a contingent order produced and sustained by a necessary being called God. Indeed, this space-time framework may not even be the only order of reality created by God. Reason is derived from some form of supernatural or divine intervention.
C.S. Lewis’ Argument from Reason sets out to out to demonstrate why naturalism fails to account for the origin and reliability of reason. On the other hand, reason is better accounted for within a theistic framework. Continue reading “The Argument from Reason for the Existence of God – Reasonable Christianity”
Precis: The precise values of the physical constants of nature and the serendipitous state (initial conditions) of the beginning of the universe all point to a cosmic designer who has fine-tuned the universe. The evidence available from contemporary science suggests that theism provides a more plausible explanation for the emergence of life in the universe than naturalism or atheism. Continue reading “A Fine-Tuned and Designer Universe”
The Claim of Contradiction
According to John Mackie (The Miracle of Theism. OUP 1982) the theist accepts a group or set of three propositions; this set is inconsistent. The propositions are
(1) God is omnipotent
(2) God is wholly good
(3) Evil exists.
Call this set A; the claim is that A is an inconsistent set. But what is it for a set to be inconsistent or contradictory? Continue reading “A Solution to the Logical Problem (Alleged Contradiction) of Evil”
The Problem of Evil and the Best of All Possible Worlds in Leibniz’s Theodicy
The problem of evil is arguably the most intractable problem facing the theist. The first challenge for the theist is the logical problem of evil which says that the set of propositions comprising the following – (1) An omnipotent God creates this world, (2) God is perfectly good, (3) This world is not perfectly good, i.e. evil exists – is an inconsistent set. Holding to any two of these propositions requires dropping the third to avoid the problem of contradiction. For example, that evil exists demands either God is good but not omnipotent (since he fails to prevent evil) or that God is omnipotent but not truly good (since he allows evil despite having the power to prevent it). Continue reading “The Problem of Evil and the Best of All Possible Worlds in Leibniz’s Theodicy”
I. Kalam Cosmological Argument
Without doubt the most well known argument for the existence for God today is the Kalam cosmological argument which features prominently in many debates between William Craig and atheistic thinkers. The Kalam cosmological argument in its simplest form goes as follows:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe begins to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
This is a strong argument precisely because it is logically tight (an unassailable modus ponens). Continue reading “Kalam Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God, Contingency and Principle of Sufficient Reason. Preliminary Thoughts.”
Speech Act Revelation: Bible and Quran
Thesis – By definition, an agreement involves at least two parties. It would be a very odd covenant in which one party knows what the other party desires, but does not know who the other party really is. Just imagine entering a covenant with someone via faxed messages or the Internet…Put in religious language, divine revelation is deficient if it is only given as a textual message. Continue reading “Speech Act Revelation: Bible and Quran”