What might come as a surprise to many today is that Christ followers have a rich history of grappling with big questions. One question in particular has consumed the minds of Christians for centuries: “If God is in control over all things, how are humans really free and responsible for anything, and if humans are really free and responsible for some things, then how is God in control of all things?”
Over the past 500 years it seems that those within the walls of the church have been given only two answers from which to choose: Calvinism or Arminianism. Be that as it may, neither option satisfies many of those who take theology — or the entire Bible — seriously. This is the case because Calvinism, although it seems to make sense of much Scripture, cannot make sense of all Scripture. And Arminianism, although it seems to make sense of much Scripture, cannot make sense of all Scripture.
Calvinism seems to be reducible to divine determinism — a view that God exhaustively causes and determines (in one way or another) all things that happen. If “all things” really means “all things,” then this would include all the thoughts, actions, beliefs, and behaviors of all people all the time. This leads many to conclude, that if Calvinism is true, then God is ultimately the author of evil and the one who forces the majority of humanity to suffer in the eternal fires of hell for all eternity. This does not seem like the omnibenevolent God who “is love” (1 John 4:8) Jesus claimed to represent, or who desires all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), and desires no one to perish (2 Peter 3:9), or the God who so loved the world that “whosoever…” (John 3:16).
This leads many to choose the second option: Arminianism (a.k.a., the simple foreknowledge view). This view gives humans the freedom to choose our individual eternal destinies and gets God “off the hook” for the evil deeds humans freely choose to commit. That is the good news, but the bad news is that the Arminian view also seems to relieve God of His providence and sovereignty. After all, if God simply foreknows the future free actions of creatures, how is He in any legitimate control of the future free actions of creatures? Moreover, the Bible is clear that God is not only sovereign, but that He predestines not only the elect to heaven — but that God is provident over all things! If God predestines all things to happen, then how could this view of Arminianism be true?
This dilemma, however, is a false dichotomy. Contrary to popular opinion there is another option from which to choose — an option “in the middle” between Calvinism and Arminianism. It seems the answer to the original question is best answered by a sixteenth century theologian from Spain named Luis de Molina. “Molinism” (derived from his last name) grounds God’s sovereignty, not only in His omnipotence (as divine determinists solely focus), but also considers God’s omniscience. Namely, Molina pointed out that since God is all-powerful (omnipotent), then God has the ability to create many different “possible worlds,” including worlds with creatures who He does not always causally determine. That is to say, God has the power to create beings who possess libertarian free will. God also had the power to not create any world at all.
However, if God was powerful enough to create different worlds, since He is also all-knowing (omniscient), God would perfectly know all that would happen in each of these potential worlds that are within God’s power to create, if God chose to create them. This is even the case if God never brought these worlds into existence. God still knows what would have happened if He created any of these worlds within His power to bring into actual existence!
This full view of God’s omniscience includes what is referred to as “middle knowledge.” What is this kind of knowledge in the middle of? Middle knowledge is between God’s natural knowledge and His free knowledge. Most Christians have never heard of these terms before, but God’s natural knowledge simply refers to everything He knows that He could actualize (all potential situations within His power to make actual). Middle knowledge refers to the fact that God knows everything that would happen (if He were to create a certain world within His power to actualize — even if He never does). God’s free knowledge means that God knows all that will happen in the world He has chosen to create. In a nutshell, if God is “always” omniscient, then God perfectly knows all that could happen and all that will happen, and He also knows all that would have happened in different situations He could have created. That is to say, God knows all that could, would, and will happen. Middle knowledge “brings the would.”
This gets a bit technical, but it is vital to note that God’s knowledge of what could and would happen is logically before God’s decree to create the universe. God’s knowledge of what will happen (foreknowledge) in the universe is logically after (not chronologically after) His creative decree.
How does Molina’s work regarding middle knowledge solve the perplexing riddle offered in the opening paragraph? Well, if God has the power and ability to create free creatures whom He does not causally determine (as opposed to “influence”), and He perfectly knows how these free creatures would freely think, act, believe, and behave *if* He were to create them, then, if God chooses to create them knowing how they would freely think, act, believe, and behave, then God can actualize a world where these creatures will freely think, act, believe, and behave exactly as God knew they would. Thus, God is not causally determining these free creatures — because they are free — with no causal strings (or “chains”) attached! Creatures are not causally determined and seem to have a genuine ability to choose otherwise (as the Bible affirms).
The middle knowledge Molinism offers is a great “middle position” between Calvinism and Arminianism. This is because, like Calvinism, Molinism affirms the biblical truth that God predestines all that will happen and that there is nothing outside of God’s sovereignty in all of His creation. However, like Arminianism, Molinism also affirms that (and logically explains how) humans possess a genuine libertarian free will and that humans are genuinely responsible for our moral thoughts and actions.
Although Calvinism and Arminiansm can both make sense of much biblical data, neither can explain all the data. After considering God’s middle knowledge, however, Molinism seems to be able to explain biblical data from cover to cover (See Molinism is Biblical). Not only does Molinism make sense of a full view of the biblical data, it is also a logically coherent view that never violates God’s essential omni attributes (See The Relevance of Irresistible Grace). Moreover, Molinism “destroys” (as Paul proclaims in 2 Corinthians 10:5) the greatest objection raised against the knowledge of God (See Lex Luthor’s Lousy Logic), and seems to make sense of a plethora of other apologetic-based arguments for God’s existence (See The Apologetic Significance of Molinism).
That is to say, Middle Knowledge and Molinism is the best explanation of all the data!
Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18),
 Kirk R. MacGregor provides a proper definition of middle knowledge in his biography of Molina, Luis de Molina: The Life and Theology of the Founder of Middle Knowledge, Zondervan, 2015, p 11:
“Middle knowledge is God’s knowledge of all things that would happen in every possible set of circumstances, both things that are determined to occur by those circumstances and things that are not determined to occur by those circumstances.”
 Objections raised against Molinism are often brought forth by those who affirm that either God causes and determines all things — and thus humans possess no libertarian free will — or by those who think that God does not possess perfect knowledge of how free creatures would freely choose if they were in different situations. These objections are found (and dealt with) at FreeThinkingMinistires.com. Here are a few to consider:
Dangerous Grounds: the Grounding Objection vs Divine Determinism
Is God’s Knowledge Like a Box of Chocolates?
Does Molinism Entail Fatalism?
The Grounding Objection Against the Maximally Great God
Wonder Woman & Theology [“It’s Not About Deserve!”]
“Playing the Cards God’s Been Dealt”
Excusing Sinner, Blaming God, Compatibilism, & the Consequence Argument
“Who Are You O Man?” — Romans 9
Apologist in Residence
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About the Author:
Tim pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Kearney (B.A. 1997) and after working in full-time ministry for several years went on to attain his graduate degree from Biola University (M.A. 2014). Tim was recently accepted at North West University to pursue his Ph.D. in systematic theology with a focus on metaphysics.
Fallacy of Equivocation- This fallacy occurs when a conclusion depends on the fact that a word or phrase is used, either explicitly or implicitly, in two different senses in the argument.
A Tree contains bark.
My Dog barks.
Therefore, my dog is a tree.
There have been over 3,000 God’s.
Christians believes in a God.
Therefore, Christians believe in one less God then I(atheist).
Obviously, this argument would commit the fallacy of equivocation about 3,000 times.
You don’t believe in evolution?
Evolution has been proven true!
Evolution is a fact!
What these claims typically will mean will be macro-evolution, but then will be equivocated to mean micro-evolution or change over time when the evidence is provided. (ex: Darwin's finches)
If a meaning of a specific word changes in an argument, then the argument commits the fallacy of equivocation. For example, Lawrence Krauss will define nothing as a quantum vacuum, but then use the word nothing meaning “not anything”. A quantum vacuum is a fluxuation of energy in a vacuum, so it is not nothing in the classical sense at all. His argument commits the fallacy of equivocation.
This is a tricky one to catch because it not explicit in the argument. It’s very implicit and you have to search for the intended meaning that makes sense throughout the argument. One helpful trick can be this, ask theses: What do you mean by that? It will help get the meaning of the word used in both premises and conclusions. Just like Lawrence Krauss defines nothing in two different meanings, people commit equivocation with a specific word.
Use the Columbo tactic to help find this fallacy. What do you mean by …? How did you come to that conclusion? Have you ever considered? The first two questions help distinguish between the possible meaning of the word being used. The second question helps to show how they came to that specific meaning. The third question will help the person consider to stick with one meaning, so their argument will not commit this fallacy. The argument will probably rest upon the fallacy equivocation, so they may not have an argument at all.
Equivocation is committed by even the best of philosophers whether on purpose or by accident. This fallacy should be avoided as much as possible to be as logical as possible. Don’t be like Lawrence Krauss, so stick with one meaning.
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What is Apologetics?
Many confuse apologetics with the practice of apologizing. This is not an accurate definition of what the word apologetics actually means. Apologetics is giving a defense for the truth of something. Christian apologetics has to do with giving a defense for the truth of the Christian faith. Most Christians derive this branch of theology from 1 Peter 3:15: “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”
Apologists like William Lane Craig and John Lennox will present a case for the truth of Christianity. Craig’s case for Christianity usually deals with five arguments, which include the cosmological argument, the fine tuning argument, the moral argument, the argument for the resurrection of Christ, and the argument from experience. We can call these Craig's five ways. Some atheists and agnostics have found these arguments convincing, while some challenge these five arguments. Apologetics is an essential part for a Christian to know what they believe and why they believe. Apologetics could be used for any worldview to defend why a particular worldview is objectively true. Christian apologetics is used to establish the objective truth of Christianity.
There are two types of apologetics in natural theology. These include positive and negative apologetics. Positive Christian apologetics is the “attacking position” which presents arguments for Christianity. These arguments can include the teleological argument or the ontological argument for the existence of God. They seek to prove the existence of God in objective reality. Negative Christian apologetics deals with answering criticism of Christianity. Examples of negative apologetics would be dealing with the problem of evil and answering supposed Bible contradictions. Both types of apologetics help make the case for the Christian faith. If Christians study apologetics, then Christianity will have more critical thinkers that will know what they believe and why they believe it (Craig 2010:13-26; A Brief History of Apologetics).
Why Should Christians Study Apologetics?
If someone is a Christian, then they are obligated by 1 Peter 3:15 to give an answer for the hope that is within. Early Christians were apologists or a least studied Christian apologetics. Paul was an apologist because he reasoned with the Jews in the temple to convert them to Christianity. Paul used his testimony and converted first century Jews to Christianity. Jesus Christ was an apologist himself, since he performed miracles to establish his deity. If early Christians like Paul and Peter were apologists, then Christians who believe in these men should reflect their ways. If the founder of Christianity himself was an apologist, then the people who believe in him should reflect his ways as well. Christians need to know what they believe and why they believe it. Atheists and agnostics have them beat when it comes to this question Christians need to evangelize through apologetics (Craig 2010:13-26; A Brief History of Apologetics).
Apologetics for Witnessing to Atheists and Agnostics
Many Christians fall from their beliefs because they don’t know answers to difficult questions about Christianity. Many will either become atheist or agnostic because they’re not convinced of Christianity and what it teaches. 75% of college students are non-religious due to most colleges have anti-religious thought. Only 1% of youth pastors will try to intersect faith and science to Generation Z (Teens who were born from 2001 to 2017)which will lead to belief that science and faith are compatible. Most Europeans are non-religious because of their beliefs in post-modernism which is post-religious thought. Most of these groups are sincere seekers of truth, but have failed at receiving a solid defense for the truth of Christianity. Christians seem to be living in a cloak of blind faith and suspend critical thinking. Christians need to apply philosophy to their theology if they want to reach out to critical thinkers like atheists and agnostics (Craig 2010:29-52; Mohler 2008:15-37).
The New Atheists” such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris challenge the truth of Christianity with ridicule and contempt. Apologists have countered New Atheist’s arguments and have participated in debates with all members of the New Atheist movement. Typically, atheists will know more about Christian apologetics than your average Christian. Christians need to know their theology and know why it corresponds with reality. If Christianity is just a belief system based on blind faith, then atheists have no reasons to listen to Christians. Christians should study apologetics because it helps with witnessing to other people such as atheists or agnostics. Atheists will ask questions that they want answers for, so Christians need to be able to answer those questions. Apologetics helps maintain a Christian’s own faith and possibly convert atheists and agnostics to Christianity. Many skeptics do not have good reasons to believe in Christianity, so skeptics just don’t believe. If Christians present good reasons for Christianity, then intellectually the atheist or agnostics will accept Christianity as true. If something is objective, then people can’t deny it (Mohler 2008:65-85; Zacharias & Vitale 2017:38-61). The question is rather: Is Christianity True? If so, then will Christians present a case for Christianity? Christian truth needs to be spread through Apologetics.
Craig, William Lane. On Guard. Colorado Springs: David Cook, 2010. Book
Mohler, Albert Jr. Atheism Remix. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008. Book.
Ravi Zacharias, Vince Vitale. Jesus Among Secular Gods. New York: Faith Words, 2017. Book.
“3. A Brief History of Apologetics.” Bible.org, bible.org/seriespage/3-brief-history-apologetics. “Christian apologetics.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Sept. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_apologetics.
What is Atheism?
Most societies believe in a higher power or in a supernatural realm. The most common type of belief is the system of monotheism. Monotheism is the belief that there is only one God. The three Abrahamic religions which include Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are monotheistic religions. Deism is a type of theism that hold the proposition that God created the universe but does not intervene. Polytheism holds to a view that there are multiple Gods controlling the universe. Pantheism is the belief that God is the universe. All of these beliefs hold to the belief in some sort of God or Gods existence. Atheism is the proposition that no God or God’s exist (Draper 1). The New Atheists tend to define atheism as a lack of belief, but that is not the standard definition that philosophers will use. Philosophers use Draper’s definition because it helps to do philosophy. Philosophy does not deal with psychological states, but rather what is objectively real by using philosophy concepts such as epistemology, ontology, metaphysics, so on (Draper).
Atheism is the opposite of theism because it holds the opposite truth value. Theism affirms that God does exist and Atheism affirms that God does not exist. One could be an atheist without evidence to convince himself psychologically, but to convince others you must present evidence for the proposition that God does not exist. When it comes to the existence of God, philosophers must be as objective as possible because it is the most important metaphysical question in Philosophy. There are only two answers to whether God exists. There are two contradictory positions so we have to distinguish which is true. Absolute certainty is not needed for a rational belief in the existence of God. If we have more evidence for God existing, then it follows that he most likely exists. If there is more evidence showing that God does not exist, then it follows that God most likely does not exist. In debates over the existence of God both sides hold propositions that should be tested objectively (Draper).
Atheism can also be defined as the rejection of the belief in God or God’s (Nielsen 2). If a person rejects something, then they tend to have reasons for what they’ve rejected. After one comes out of his or his childhood, they tend to reject that Santa Claus actually exists. You would realize that there is not elf workshop in the North Pole or no actually sightings of Santa Claus. You would even realize that the myth of Santa Clause bridges of the historical Saint Nicholas. There is overwhelming evidence against the existence of Santa Clause, so we reject the existence of Santa Claus. Professional, atheist philosophers give reasons for why they reject the concept of God or Gods (Draper). Atheism has many sub-categorical definitions, but the most common use in philosophy is a proposition that asserts God or Gods do not exist.
What is Agnosticism?
T.H Huxley an English biologist, successfully developed the combination of agnostic and agnosticism. Agnostic mainly means one who cannot obtain any knowledge concerning the existence of God. Agnosticism means that the body of knowledge concerning God cannot be known (Draper). It is the neutral zone for when it comes to the topic of God’s existence and his attributes. David Hume was an agnostic who challenged miracles and we could not actually know with any certainty if there are such things as suspension of natural laws. He challenges the historicity of miracles by suggesting that the people who wrote about alleged miracles either could have made the miracles stories up or did not understand what they actually witnessed. Hume’s view was that we could not know if miracles actually happened or not. Humanity simply cannot know which leads us to agnosticism about miracles (Flew). Agnostics withhold judgments about the existence of God and hold the propositions that nothing about God can be known.
Draper, Paul. “Atheism and Agnosticism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 2 Aug. 2017, plato.stanford.edu/entries/atheism-agnosticism/.
Flew, Antony Garrard Newton. “Agnosticism.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 12 Sept. 2017, www.britannica.com/topic/agnosticism.
Nielsen, Kai E. “Atheism.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 20 June 2017, www.britannica.com/topic/atheism.
The Fine-Tuning Argument is the argument for God existence, that argues that the universe is designed for intelligent life by an intelligent designer. Fine-Tuning is a list of parameters that allows life to exist and have been set at very specific numbers. If these Fine-Tuned numbers were changed by a very small amount, then life could not exist. Fine-Tuning doesn’t imply design, but rather the best explanation for these incomprehensible parameters for life is a designer.
Here’s the form of the argument:
Premise One: The fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life is due either to physical necessity, chance, or design.
Premise Two: It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
Premise Three: Therefore, it is due to design.
Fine-Tuning is established science and is virtually not challenged by main stream science. As Paul Davies (Physicist ASU) would say: “The entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of the natural 'constants' were off even slightly.” Where the disagreements arise, is the metaphysics and ontology of why the universe is Fined-Tuned for life. Chance and physical necessity are two of the three main options for why the universe in Fine-Tuned for life. Chance is highly improbable, if not impossible. To demonstrate this, lets discuss the fine tuning of the universe for intelligent life.
The fundamental laws of nature are Fined-Tuned for life ranging from the strong force, all the way to Earth’s tilt relationship to the sun. The weak force, strong force, gravitational force, and electromagnetic force are all Fined-Tuned to allow atoms to form and many other phenomena to happen for intelligent life to exist. These are the four fundamental laws of nature, so keep that in mind. The type of galaxy the earth is in, is Fine-Tuned along with the area of the spiral galaxy we are in.
Here are some astounding fine-tuning parameters for the universe:
If the Cosmological Constant were altered by 1 to 10^90 then we would not be here.
The Cosmological Constant is the driving force of the expansion of the Universe, so if it were altered the universe would expand to fast, or collapse back in on itself, or not expand at all.
If gravity of the strong force strength for stars varied, then stars would burn up, implode, of lose mass:
If stronger by 1 in 10^34, stars burn out too fast for life.
If stronger by 1 in 10^36, stars implode.
If weaker by 1 in 10^36, stars lose mass to radiative pressure.
The ratio of electrons to protons must be Fine-Tuned.
If altered by 1 in 10^37, then galaxies, stars, and planets would not have formed.
As we know, without galaxies, stars, and planets, no life can exist.
The ratio of electromagnetic force to gravity must be Fine-Tuned as well.
If altered by 1 in 10^40, then the mass of stars would change altering the course of the universe to have no life in it. The change in mass of star would affect elements that are essential to intelligent life to exist.
The initial expansion rate of the universe of the early universe must be Fine-Tuned for intelligent life to exist.
If altered by 1 in 10^55, then the universe would either expand to rapidly or would collapse back in on itself. Some may try and explain this away with inflation, but Paul Steinhardt documents would have suggested that even inflation would need to be Fined-Tuned.
This sounds like the cosmological constant, but it is not. The cosmological constant also needs to be Fine-Tuned for the expansion rate to even happen. With both of these mind, the probability of our existence becomes even more unlikely.
These are just five examples of fine-tuning parameters that need to happen for intelligent life to even have a chance at existence. There are even more of these parameters set at 10^37 or higher for matter, chemistry, galaxies, stars, or planets to exist. After we have these, then it’s even possible for life to form naturally. All these parameters are set in the universe all at the same time to have a functioning universe. Galaxies and planets have to be Fine-Tuned for intelligent life to exist as well.
The three types of galaxies are elliptical, irregular, and spiral galaxies. Both elliptical and irregular galaxies cannot support life as we know. Elliptical galaxies lack heavy elements that are needed for life to exist. Irregular galaxies contain to many supernovas (Stars blowing up) for life to exist in them. Spiral galaxies are the only galaxies that can support life, but even then we have to exist in the right spot in the milky way to exist. Mainly due to black holes and radiation in spiral galaxies. Our solar system just happens to exist in the right spiral galaxy at the right time.
Earth is even Fined-Tuned for life in relation to its solar system. If Jupitar wasn’t in the right place, then Earth would be bombarded with meteors. The tilt of the Earth’s axis is just right to the position of the Sun. Earth’s moon is just the right size for gravitation force of our planet. Earth’s atmosphere is just right as well concerning the ratio of nitrogen to oxygen. There are many more constants that allow for the Earth to exist as well that are Fine-Tuned.
Chance is the most irrational view one could take to try and explain the fine tuning of the universe for intelligent life to exist. To infer chance would be like the scene from Dumb and Dumber, when Lloyd Christmas asks Mary whether he has a chance with her. Mary responds by saying that there’s a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of them getting together, Lloyd response’s: so your telling me there’s a chance!
Imagine a 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 over 30 times. Some of the constants are set way above 10^37. One analogy to show this improbability goes like: if you shot a bullet across the universe and hit a target dead center, then this just shows the improbability of 1^37. As we know, there was no chance between Lloyd and Mary. The fine tuning of the universe is not due to chance, so what about physical necessity?
Physical necessity says that it’s impossible for the constants to be different. As we know, this is not true. It’s more reasonable than chance, but doesn’t has much explanatory power. Leibniz’s contingency argument shows that the universe could have failed to exist and could have existed in a different fashion. Plus, the fine tuning is independent of the laws of nature. Also, the laws of nature are Fined-Tuned as well. The amount of atoms could have been different, altering the amount of stars, galaxies, and planets that would actually exist. Simulations show that the universe could have been different and is not restricted to this type of universe. The universe could only be physically necessarily by a designer anyway. Mainly due to the fact the design best account for the fine-tuning parameters of the universe. The type of universe could only exist by an intelligent designer based on all the Fined-Tuned constants of the universe. The universe is contingent because is began to exist and the elementary particles could have been different leaving physical necessity not a viable option for the fine tuning of the universe.
Therefore, the fine tuning of life is due to design. The designer would be described as immaterial, timeless, space less, and powerful based on the Kalam Cosmological argument. With the Fine-Tuning Argument, we have a personal and intelligent designer because it designed the universe for intelligent life to exist. Objections to this argument will be dwelt with in my future article, “Dealing with the Top Ten Objections to the Fine Tuning Argument.” As of now, it’s reasonable to infer an intelligent designer is behind the fine tuning of the universe.
•God’s Crime Scene
•The Creator and the Cosmos