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/.