In my experience, not only do I find myself defending Molinism from the likes of Calvinists and Open Theists, but I am amazed to see the vigor in which atheists also oppose Molina’s doctrine of middle knowledge. After all, why should the atheist care what view a Christian holds of divine sovereignty and human responsibility? It comes down to the fact that while other views fail, Molinism destroys (as the Apostle Paul would say in 2 Corinthians 10:5) their favorite argument raised against the knowledge of God — the so-called, “problem of evil.” If the atheist’s best argument for atheism is devastated by Molinism, then the committed atheist (perhaps one who has a “greatest desire” for God not to exist and desperately wants atheism to be true) will argue against Molinism just as vehemently — if not more so — than the Calvinist and Open Theist! This is the case because Molinism no longer allows the atheist to hide behind a mask of reason if they have been hiding behind the “problem of evil.”
Mere Molinism, I have argued, entails two essential ingredients: (i) Logically prior to God’s decision to create the world, God knew everything that would happen in any possible scenario He could create (entails God’s middle knowledge). (ii) As beings created in God’s image, humans, like God, possess the categorical ability to choose between a range of options, each of which is consistent with their nature.
If the second pillar is true, then it follows that humans possess libertarian freedom (limited to some things some of the time). If the first pillar corresponds to reality, then it logically follows that God possesses middle knowledge. Molinists have provided a “three-punch combo for freedom” with arguments utilizing metaphysics, theology, and biblical data to demonstrate that humans possess libertarian freedom. Molinists have also offered several arguments demonstrating that God has middle knowledge of how humans would freely choose logically prior to His decision to actually create humans (See the Mere Molinism Argument, Kirk MacGregor’s Argument for God’s Middle Knowledge, and Maximal Greatness & Middle Knowledge.
Atheists opposing Molinism often beg the question and assume God does not exist to then irrationally conclude that God did not create humans with libertarian freedom. After all, if an omnipotent God — with the ability to do many things — does not exist, then humans were not created in God’s image with the ability to do several things (which would entail libertarian freedom). Others offer question-begging assumptions that it is simply impossible for libertarian freedom to be possessed by any creature. If this is the case, then Molinism would fail and the atheist can keep their “Problem of Evil” so they can sleep at night. Be that as it may, this “anti-freedom view” hinges on both an ability to engage in the process of rationality to infer the best explanation AND determinism being true. The Freethinking Arguments forcefully demonstrate the incompatibility of these two propositions. After all, one cannot conclude a model of reality which destroys the method used to reach their conclusion.
At this point it is common to see the one with a “greatest desire” for atheism to be true get emotional and hurl insults. This was the case in a recent debate with an atheist who desperately desires Molinism to fail. Consider my closing remarks (following an extremely long debate):
Stratton’s Final Comments:
Michael, you said, //Even if determinism undermines rationality, it could still be true.//
If determinism undermines rationality, and if determinism is true (as you assume), then how could you rationally affirm and justify such a proposition? Without justification say good bye to knowledge. All you are left with is question-begging assumptions — but those are not up to you either (if determinism happens to be true).
You said, //So that would be appeal to consequences.//
Yes, and they are absurd consequences that defeat your entire project of trying to rationally argue that your beliefs are better than mine. When absurd conclusions are reached, a rational interlocutor has reason to reject the conclusion even if they cannot spot an error in the premises. As I have written elsewhere, “You cannot conclude a model of reality that destroys the very method you used to reach that conclusion.”
With your self-refutation of rationality in mind, the rest of your claims are nothing more than a long series of logical fallacies. This is enough for a rational agent to leave a conversation with one who affirms his own lack or rationality. However, I did say that I would interact one last time. I will reluctantly continue interacting with this fallaciousness.
You said, //I’m inclined to think humans are very irrational…//
You must assume that you are determined to think this is the case (if it is true or not). Be that as it may, if humans are irrational, how can you rationally affirm that you are not the irrational one? Please don’t beg the question in response (since any argument based on a logical fallacy is no argument at all).
You offered an impotent quote from Patricia Churchland:
“If determinism is correct, it does not in the least follow that we do not reason… On the contrary, what follows is that our reasoning and our reasoned behaviour is causally produced.”
Churchland actually proves my point [I have previously written on this subject. See, The Vanishing “I”]! If one’s “reasoned behavior” is causally produced by something other than the thing you refer to as “I”, then you (the thing you refer to as “I”) are at the mercy of physics and chemistry, God, or some other deterministic factor. If this is the case, then you (the thing you refer to as “I”) stand in no position to evaluate the thoughts that are being causally produced in your head as good, bad, better, worse, true, or false. For this would entail a range of alternative options from which to choose, but on causal determinism, there is only one possibility — and something other than you is forcing the evaluative thoughts upon you (if they are good or not — there is no way for the thing you call “I” to know).
All “evaluative thoughts” would be causally produced by something other than you. The divine determinist says “God determines my thoughts and beliefs,” the atheistic naturalist who espouses determinism is left with non-thinking laws of nature (such as chemistry and physics) determining all thoughts and beliefs. This is much worse than Plantinga’s EAAN, because at least on that paradigm beliefs are aimed at survival. But deterministic physics and chemistry are not “aimed” at anything.