Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A divine command and an open future

I'm piling on to the argument here.

Suppose God creates Adam and Eve, and gives them eternal life. He then commands them that:

  1. They freely pray for at least a minute on each of the infinitely many Sabbaths starting with day t7 (the day after their creation).
This seems a reasonable command. But it is unreasonable to command something that the agent cannot ever make true. And on open future views, it is impossible for (1) ever to be true. For at any time, (1) depends on future free choices. So on open future views, the command (1) is unreasonable. And that's a problem for open future views.


Heath White said...

Divine promises seem even more problematic.

"Dear God, do you promise to never leave me or forsake me?"
"No, can't promise that."
"Will you be with me always, even to the end of the age (and beyond)?"
"Sorry, can't promise that either."

Alexander R Pruss said...

Since it's metaphysically impossible for God to act contrary to his promise, though, maybe once God makes the promise, the fulfillment is no longer contingent, and so OF doesn't apply?

I know Kvanvig has argued that divine promises are a problem for open theism, because it's not always wrong to go against a promise and God can't be sure that there won't be a reason to go against the promise, but I find that unconvincing. (Seems to me that God can make sure that going against the promise is never the best choice.)

Marcus Morgan said...
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Michael Gonzalez said...

Pruss: I just finished responding about promises in the other thread. I don't think that, when God commands Adam and Eve to pray on every Sabbath, He is actually expecting them to complete an infinite number by successive additions of finites. That seems just mathematically incoherent to me. I think He is just commanding that, if at any point in the future He were to check, it would be true that no Sabbath had passed by without them praying. In other words, He is telling them to begin a process and never stop being in the process.

Alexander R Pruss said...

"if at any point in the future He were to check, it would be true that no Sabbath had passed by without them praying"

But whether this quoted phrase is true will always depend on their future choices. This quoted phrase, thus, never becomes true on your view.

Michael Gonzalez said...

"This quoted phrase, thus, never becomes true on your view."

It is true every day, so long as the person is keeping the promise (note the present participle tense, indicating constant doing but not being already done).

I just think the OF view is more about the dynamic becoming that is always going on, rather than making statements about future realities as though they already ("already" being a present-tense term) have a truth value.

Dagmara Lizlovs said...

How can you command someone to do something freely? If they are commanded to do it, then are they doing it freely? Think of it this way, a DI tells a recruit in boot camp that each Sunday he is to freely do 5 pushups. It seems like a reasonable command (In fact it seems like a very lax command given that Marine recruits are capable of doing 50). However is the recruit really doing the 5 pushups freely?

Alexander R Pruss said...

One is free to disobey. Of course, there are consequences of disobedience, but it's up to one whether to obey or take the consequences of disobedience.