Truth is defined as “That which corresponds to reality”, which influences people’s actions depending on what corresponds to reality. In post modernity, we are taught that metaphysical truths are relative to the eye of the perceiver. Metaphysical truths would be truths as objective moral principles or religious beliefs. It’s noted that Allan Bloom knows one thing for certain: “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: “almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative (19).” Certainly, no one actually believes that two plus two does not equal four or that the label on a bottle of rat poison is wrong. Again, it’s metaphysical truths that are believed to be truly relative because it can’t be verified by the senses or something else.
Beckwith and Koukl wrote Relativism, in order to deal with the death of truth and the consequences that follow from it. They remark on page 20, that Finding God at Harvard reports “students feel safer as doubters than as believers, and as perpetual seekers rather than eventual finders.” Students are approaching college to learn about a particular major, yet they have this mindset in their learning. Truly, they do not doubt the subjects that they are learning, otherwise they are wasting college money.
Beckwith and Koukl’s main points in this book are to show the consequence of denying objective truth, the results of relativism in society, and the fact objective truth/morality. “The death or truth in our society has created a moral decay in which “ever debate ends with the barroom question ‘says who (20)?” Max Weber showed that the Protestant beliefs influenced economic structure of society based on truths that they saw as objectively true, which is glue that held their society. I agree with the authors, that objective truth and moral obligations are the glue of society that holds together.
Relativism in Morality:
“The death of morality also produces an “anything goes” mentality (22).” Page 23 gives an example of a security camera that recorded two young boys that beat a toddler to death. If moral truths are subjective, then there is nothing morally wrong with what happened to the poor, defenseless toddler. “Tastes are personal. They’re private. They’re individual. If you didn’t like butter pecan and favored chocolate instead. It would be strange to say that you were wrong (27).” Society is left with arguing over morality like people arguing over ice cream flavors, which is the point made by the book.
“Classically, moral systems have had at least three characteristics (29). These three characteristics are that “morality has been viewed as a supremely authoritative guide to action, trumping consideration of personal preference, morality includes a prescriptive code of conduct, and morality is universal”. The authors of Unleashing Opportunity give solutions to sex trafficking, loan abuse, and other social issues in American in a Judeo-Christian worldview. They operate under the assumption of an objective truth of Christianity that everyone is created in the image of God, structure is laid down by God, and the God gives us wisdom. They assume that morality comes from God (supreme authority), that there are things that are objectively wrong (prescriptive code of conduct), and that it pertains all humans (universal morality).
Objective morality can only operate under a worldview that is seen as true and is true. If metaphysical truths like Christianity are seen as relative, then objective morality becomes subjective. They show the consequences of this idea through the book and how it effects society.
Effects on Society:
Du Bois and Coates’ experience of racism in the culture and society they grew up were wrong, but on moral relativism, society determined these as moral truths. Issues like abortion or racism are subjective based on mob rule or societal rules. Anthropologists record that apparently “each society has different ethical standards when it comes to morals” (36). They call this descriptive relativism that each society has different morality and that it evolves over time. Are Anthropologists right that ethical standards develop depending on their society? This would be false since sociology is descriptive not prescriptive.
Another view is normative ethical relativism, that says “all people ought to act in keeping with their own society’s code (37). Of course, this is self-refuting since this standard implies objective morality (that people should follow society’s standards). A final view they present is individual ethical relativism that says “individual preferences offer the only guidelines to behavior” (38). This also becomes self-refuting since it gives an objective standard that people should do what they want. These three views are scary since child-sacrifice, genocide, and many other moral atrocities are seen as objectively true by the individual or the societies that enforced these principles.
Objective Truth and Morality:
When People end up saying there is no truth, they do not mean this. A simple question can be asked: “Is it true that there is no truth? Like mentioned before, nobody believes that the label on a bottle of rat poison is wrong. The point is that there is objective truth, what that consists of is up for debate. Relativism’s focus is on beliefs like in the supernatural and morality are relative to each person. Morality is not subjective for many reasons that the author’s give in the book. They point out that when we put someone behind bars, that we are doing so in the belief that we are following objective morality (54). Objective morality is proven through intuition, which is derived from immediate knowledge, not inferred (57). Memory is an intuitional truth that is not inferred from something else. Everyone knows immediately that torturing babies for fun is wrong, even those who perform abortions.
Those who push moral relativism are not consistent based on seven reasons that are given as fatal flaws to moral relativism. “Relativists can’t accuse others of wrongdoing, relativists can’t complain about the problem of evil, relativists can’t place blame or accept praise, relativists can’t make charges of unfairness or injustice, relativists can’t improve their morality, relativists can’t hold meaningful moral discussions, and relativists can’t promote the obligation of tolerance (61-69).” Moral relativism can’t live up to its standard because tolerance is an objective virtue in this system. Relativists can’t live consistently because of the immediate knowledge they have that evil is wrong and people are blameworthy of their actions.
Wrap Up and Thoughts:
I agree with almost all the points of this book because there truly are things that are objectively wrong and right. Intuition affirms moral facts are real and are affirmed by the Bible as well (Roman 2:1-16). I’ve learned the seven ways in which moral relativists refute themselves in how they want to live their lives that things are truly wrong.
Knowing that objective morality exists gives me an obligation to my fellow neighbor. We have to follow an objective obligation to help the communities we live in and those that are in them. If we take this objective obligation away, then community development falls into the abyss of moral relativism and its consequences that follow. Objective morality is the glue to society that allows it to function properly as Durkheim would suggest.
One very important issue debated in western society is whether life begins at conception and that mothers do have human life in them. Roe vs Wade decided that it is okay to take the life of fetus before birth and some are trying to push this up six months after birth. Most people with a working brain agree that it is wrong to harm innocent human life, that is why the pro-choice movement argues that fetuses are not human. This is an issue that can only be resolved in a framework of an objective morality that society is losing. This is a very personal issue that I find to be a core point to why moral relativism exists and is defended. Overall, Beckwith and Koukl are correct in affirming that objective morality exists, which obligates us to follow this objective truth for society’s sake.
Koukl, Francis J. Beckwith and Gregory. Relativism. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998. Book.
Relativism Book: https://www.amazon.com/Relativism-Feet-Firmly-Planted-Mid-Air/dp/0801058066
By: John Limanto
1. Forekowledge Entails Fatalism
For one to endorse this argument, it would roughly proceed the way that Nelson Pike had introduced it since 2001, which had taken roots back in 1965. The scenario Pike comes across is of a man named Jones who is about to mow the lawn on one Saturday. Supposing that God knows that Jones will do it, then how can we suppose that Jones could have acted differently? In short, the objection says that definite foreknowledge entails that no one has the ability to do otherwise because the future is logically necessary. Hence, either foreknowledge must be rejected or libertarian free will (LFW) that Molinism so insists must be rejected.
At first glance, it should strike one to note that this is not an argument against Molinism exclusively. Rather, it is an argument against all theists who hold to both LFW and exhaustive foreknowledge of God. This fact alone should already raise eyebrows for the easy victory that it claims to have. Our detractor has committed the so-called modal fallacy. To commit a modal fallacy is to deduce status of necessities and possibilities inappropriately to propositions. In order to make the argument proceed, our detractor would have to involve an equivalent of the following three premises:
1. Necessarily, God knows all true propositions.
2. X is a true proposition.
3. Therefore, necessarily, God knows X.
This fallacy can be more extensively discussed than the space permits me. The bottom line is this: our detractors want to insist that the future is logically necessary—that no logically possible condition could have changed. Our detractors want to arrive at this conclusion from the premise that God necessarily knows every and all true propositions. I’m not here to dispute the premise; I’m here to dispute the conclusion. Just because, necessarily, God knows all true propositions, the content of those propositions don’t have to be necessary likewise. Molinists may avoid this problem by saying that God may know that Jones will mow the lawn on Saturday. Yet, Jones is free to have done otherwise. In all the worlds in which he did, God would have known differently likewise!
2. Libertarianism is Luck!
I shall not be the last to say that this objection would require volumes of treatments. Be that as it may, the trump card of the Calvinists is the objection that a free will known as libertarianism that Molinism insists on is unintelligible because it would entail freedom being random in libertarian free agents. To begin with, we shall define LFW simpliciter. In bare-boned terms, libertarianism is simply the conjunction of the following three propositions:
1) Free will is incompatible with determinism
2) Free will exists
3) Determinism is false
The bottom line is that the type of freedom stipulated by Molinists is the kind where freedom is not compatible with determinism.
Peter van Inwagen famously quips that this argument should be called the ‘Mind’ argument for how often it appeared in the philosophical journal article, ‘Mind,’ of the 1980s. This, in itself, should already be a proof of how prevalent this argument against LFW even in the sophisticated philosophical literature. As van Inwagen pointed out himself, the major folly of this argument is in its equivocating between randomness and indeterminacy. It is true—as per the determinists—that libertarian free actions would have to be undetermined to be free from causal determinism. However, to jump to the conclusion that this is luck or randomness seems to be a stretch. If God were to have the choice to choose between a range of options which are all consistent with his nature, then it is obvious that he would possess an undetermined will. Does this mean that God’s action would be random? Well no! Quite the contrary, it would be motivated by the reasons albeit not causally determined by them.
3. Molinism is not in the Bible
This is a remarkable objection. By far, it is the most celebrated bastard ‘brainchild’ of the Reformed camp. White often quips that all these talks of possible worlds and feasibilities in the Molinist scheme cannot be found in the Bible and hence, we must not adopt it on the basis of a principle akin to the Reformation’s beloved sola Scriptura.
A positive case for Molinism supported by the Bible is that the Bible often talks about the choices to do otherwise. To cite two examples, Deuteronomy 30:11 would be a prime verse which contains God’s advice to the Israelites: “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.” The famous pastoral message of 1 Corinthians 10:13 hits this point as well: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” Molinists take these verses at face value to mean that men have genuine ability to have done otherwise through a series of options available to him in his fallen state—even if all of the options are sinful choices. A strong affirmation of the Bible is also exhaustive divine providence. Indeed, Ephesians 1:11 talks about God’s total control over everything to bring his purposes.
The tension between these two verses are evident: how may we reconcile them? Molinism, indeed, is not a concept explicitly expounded in the Bible, but neither does a lot of doctrines posited by theologians: different models of Trinitarianisms, hypostatic union, closed canon, etc. The point is not to undercut the genuine sense in which these doctrines may be supported by Scripture. Rather, the point is to show the importance of reconciling Biblical concepts into one coherent system. We take this reconciliation, in itself, an evidence for a doctrine from the Bible.
4. What Grounding is there for Molinism?
This idea is the hardest to chew on because of its technicality and the overwhelming support that the so-called ‘grounding objection’ has had from popular academics. To simplify the matter, the grounding objection says that middle knowledge cannot be true because there is nothing to ‘make’ these knowledge true. How one may interpret the word ‘make’ is up to the grounding objector. Jennifer Jensen has helpfully categorized between two senses of the word ‘make’: the ‘in-virtue-of’ or the ‘causal’ sense. In the former, a proposition is true ‘in-virtue-of’ when there is an exemplification of that proposition as a concrete object. Thus, the proposition <Cars exist> is made true in virtue of the existence of cars. In the case of middle knowledge, the objection says that there is nothing in virtue of the knowledge in middle knowledge to make the knowledge true for they are true prior to the agents’ existence. The causal sense of ‘make’ likewise has had its technical formulations with the advent of its most ardent defenders: William Hasker and Robert M. Adams.
In any case, the grounding objection needs to be scrutinized in terms of the plausibility of the principle it posits. The knowledge posited by the ‘in-virtue-of’ grounding objections can be answered by bringing exceptions to the principle. Propositions such as the following have always been suspect to this controversial principle:
(1) Ravens are black
(2) Unicorns do not exist.
Both of these propositions have been known to circumvent the principle while no one would deny their truths.
The grounding objection, numbered as the principal objection to Molinism by the Molinist Thomas P. Flint, remains a hotly debated objection. However, it seems that the following retort by Craig sums its best:
What is ironic about this situation is not merely the fact that the many Molinist responses to the grounding objection remain largely ignored or unrefuted in the literature, nor yet again the fact that Molinist solutions to the objection tend to be far more sophisticated philosophically than the almost casual statements of the objection itself; rather the irony is that this allegedly powerful objection has virtually never been articulated or defended in any depth by its advocates.
 Pike, Nelson. 2001. God and Timelessness. Wipf & Stock.
 Kane, Robert. 2005. A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will. New York: Oxford University Press. 32-33
 Determinism here is defined as the thesis that all events or creaturely actions of a world is sufficiently caused by either prior states of affairs or divine determination.
 Jensen, Jennifer Lynn. 2008. The Grounding Objection to Molinism. PhD Thesis, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame.
 I have personally written an academic exploration of this topic in a paper called: “Exploring the Grounding Objection: From Garrigou-Lagrange to Hasker.” https://www.academia.edu/37060747/Exploring_the_Grounding_Objection_to_Molinism_From_Garrigou-Lagrange_to_Hasker
 Craig, William Lane. 2001. "Middle Knowledge, Truth–Makers, and the "Grounding Objection."FaithandPhilosophy18(3):337-352. https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/scholarly-writings/divine-omniscience/middle-knowledge-truth-makers-and-the-grounding-objection/.
This question is often posed by many as a “Gotcha!” question to try to trip up Christians as they explain God. It often becomes troublesome to many Christians and almost impossible to answer at first. First, let’s see what this question’s implications are, and then we will see its presumptions.
It implies that if God cannot create this rock then He is not all-powerful; and if He can create this rock and hence cannot lift it, then He again is not all-powerful.
It lies almost wholly on the presumption that God is all-powerful, and that definition is that God can do everything and anything. That is an incorrect assessment of all-powerful.
The definition of power ranges from strength, to force, to ability. It all centers around the energy or force of something acting upon another. Obviously, God as infinite power, force, and strength to use as God. The incorrect definition then lies with equating all-powerful, to being able to do anything.
There are several places in the Bible where God is described as not able to do something because of who God is:
“So that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.” – Hebrews 6:18
“Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” – 1 Samuel 15:29
“if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:13
“The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet” – Nahum 1:3
“When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” – James 1:13
So, the Bible clearly says God will not lie, will not change His mind, will not leave the guilty unpunished, and will not be tempted or tempt anyone with evil. These are so because God is just, unchanging, and of logic.
To return to all-powerful, this would simply imply having all force and strength that is possible (logical) available to that something. The suggestion that God can do absolutely anything is illogical and contradictory since that implies God can do good and evil or allow sin to be passed over without justice done, of which He cannot. God is of order and logic and cannot create something illogical such as a two-sided triangle or a married bachelor since such are illogical and lies.
Now let’s look at what the question is asking for. A rock that is also all-powerful since God is all powerful. A rock is a material object, and material objects cannot be material and be infinite in any way, that’s contradictory. We know God cannot lie and is logical, and a contradiction is illogical and a falsehood. So, the question is demolished.
A second way to approach this question is to grant that somehow God can create this illogicality for sake of argument. You can then point out that since the rock and God has infinite power, that the rock can never be more powerful than something that already has infinite power even if it also has infinite power. Thus, their outrageous ask for a rock more powerful than infinite power is ridiculously illogical and does not bring us to the conclusion that God is not all-powerful, but that the question is flawed and misunderstands the definition of “all-powerful”.
The soul is the immaterial substance that uses the body through consciousness, intentionality, free will, reasoning which our all faculties of the soul. Each person has their own unique soul that has the capacity of for each person’s unique body. The body would be the physical aspect of our humanity which help makes up our complete being. One analogy to represent the relationship between the soul and body would be that the soul is like the musician that plays his instrument which would be the function of the body. Our soul is essentially our mind, will, and emotions which our things that cannot be physically demonstrated to exist as their own things. If these things were physical, then they would not actually exist but rather be illusory. Free will is impossible on physicalism because all our physical acts would be determined by prior physical acts independent from us. Emotions would be activated not by mental states, but rather states of our physical brain which could occur independent of experience. Our mental states (which is part of our mind) would be activated by brain states, so would not be their own thing or substance.
The law of identity states that something is what it is not. This means that something is its own thing and not something else. Something will have its own substance and properties which are only identical to itself. An apple is a fruit that is red and has its own type of flavor. Obviously, a lemon is not the same thing as an apple because it is yellow and has a high acidic level which makes it more sour. Based on this law, the body would be a different thing and the soul would be its own thing. The soul by definition would be immaterial and would be conscious and the body by definition is physical and not conscious. The soul has its own properties and its own substance. The body has its own properties and its own substance. The soul is distinct from the body and the body is distinct from the soul (Lorenz:1; Moreland:35-38).
There are two types of soul/body dualism's and the one you choose to believe will affect your worldview. The first is property dualism which holds the proposition that a human being is one material substance that has both physical and mental properties, with the mental properties arising from the brain (Moreland 37). This is a type of dualism that tries to explain mental states by prior physical brain states, but it fails to account for mental states being their own thing. This type of dualism starts to beg the question when it tries to explain mental states by physical properties. It’s an inconsistent view that in all reality implicitly states that our mental states are really illusory because they are just physical states that our brain is in.
The type of dualism that I hold to and is the type of dualism that I am proposing that the Bible holds to, is substance dualism. Substance Dualism is the proposition that a human person has both a brain that is a physical thing with physical properties and a mind or soul that is a mental substance and has mental properties (Moreland 37). This holds to a more consistent definition of dualism holding to that the body and soul are distinct entities that come up together to make the complete nature of human beings. This is the view that will hopefully be shown to be the most biblical interpretation concerning the soul/body dilemma (Lorenz:1; Moreland:35-38).
Like I stated earlier, the view of the soul will determine many theological views and implications concerning scripture. First, it effects theology concerning life after death and the second coming. If we have a soul, then some hold to the view that that part of our being goes to be with God in an intermediate state before the second coming of Christ. If we our essentially just our body, then we are dead until the second coming (which contradicts Scripture). The Bible affirms that we our in some sort of intermediate state before the second coming. In Luke 23: 39-43, one of the men being crucified with him says to remember him when he goes to his kingdom (implying that Jesus would go to Heaven), then Jesus replies “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” This is just one quick verse to give justification that there is some sort of state before the second coming. Jesus was implying that the man believed in him and would join him in Heaven when he died on his cross (Lorenz:1; Moreland:12-18).
Another theological implication of the soul, affects the being of man and the being of God. If we are just physical, then what is the breath of life from God? The dust in which God made man was specifically used to make man’s being. If we are just physical, then God could have just transform the dust in a person. We have to remember that God is an immaterial consciousness, just like our soul. If we do not have a soul, then what does that mean for God? Would this mean that God is a physical being? I think not, the Bible clearly indicates that God is an immaterial being (John 4:24). If God is an immaterial being, then surely he could create human beings that have an immaterial part to their being. If the Bible actually affirms that we are just physical being, then I will state that it makes a contradiction. At least, that those who hold to this view have an inconsistent point in their views. Of course, the case will be made that the Bible holds that we do have an immaterial soul and God made us this way (Lorenz:1; Moreland:12-18).
Lorenz, Hendrik. "Ancient Theories of Soul." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2009): 1. Article.
Moreland, James P. The Soul: How we know it's real and why it matters . Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2014. Book.
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.