In the debate between James White and William Lane Craig, the question was asked by Craig if counterfactuals (the content of middle knowledge) should be logically prior or posterior to the decree of God, arguing that if counterfactuals are posterior to the decree of God, that makes God the Author of Sin. Unforunately, the objection was not really answered by Dr. White. I would like to take a shot at the question here.
How does Craig's argument work? If counterfactuals are posterior to God's decree, then they depend on God's decree. Therefore, if there are counterfactuals where evil is present, God must have made these counterfactuals where evil is present, therefore God has made the evil in the counterfactuals. If God made evil, then He is the Author of Evil. Therefore, since we know God is not the Author of Evil, therefore counterfactuals must be prior to God's decree so that evil in the counterfactuals are not determined by God. If counterfactuals are prior to God's decree, then they are not under God's purview.
Before I analyze the argument, we must first define our terms. "Counterfactuals" are hypotheticals that can be expressed in second conditional "if ... then" statements, using the subjunctives in the antecedent clause. Thus, the condition is hypothetical, denoting a possibility in a possible world which is not true in the present world, i.e. it is possible in a world where a real or unreal condition is fulfilled. "Author of evil" implies direct causation and thus responsibility for the emergence of evil, and therefore God cannot be the Author of Evil.
What now of Craig's argument? It definitely seems to be a valid argument. It is also certain that there are counterfactuals in the Bible. But let's follow Craig's argument. Yes, if counterfactuals are posterior to God's decree, then God made these counterfactuals where evil is present. It is therefore also true that God made the evil in the counterfactuals. However, the next step does not follow, for the simple reason that we have not asked what do we mean by the phrase "making the evil in the counterfactuals." We must remember that God is the Author of Sin only if He directly makes evil. If however, He decrees evil to be but He Himself does not do evil, then He is not the Author of Sin, and Craig's argument falls apart.
Is it possible to have God be decreeing evil yet not being the Author of Sin? Is my assertion about Author of Sin being only due to direct causation a false claim? First, it must be said that all positions will struggle with defining the phrase "Author of Sin." Even in Molinism, which holds to traditional theism, the phrase "Author of Sin" must exclude the idea that God instantiates a counterfactual that has evil in it. What Molinism does is that God is in a sense making the best out of the available counterfactuals at hand. So God cannot not instantiate a counterfactual without evil, because such a counterfactual does not exist. Therefore, in Molinism, God is not the "Author of Sin" despite the fact that he instantiates a world where evil is present, because He cannot remove evil altogether. The problem of evil is solved by God's helplessness to fully remove evil, and thus even directly "making evil" under the parameters of Molinism would not make God the Author of Sin.
As opposed to having no problems with God directly doing evil, Calvinism resolves it by asserting human free agency. The divine agency does not do evil, whereas human free agency does. God does not directly do evil, and thus the evil is done by free humans, despite the fact that it is God sovereigly making it happen. Human agency is a form of real second causes, and therefore theodicy is partly resolved by having divine and free human agencies working on two different planes of agencies.
As stated, Molinism solves theodicy by making God limited by the counterfactuals. Since the counterfactuals are prior to God's decree, then their mere presence undermines God's sovereignty, in that one class of concepts is beyond God Himself. That is the main problem with Molinism, and why while Molinism "solves" the problem of theodicy, it does so by undermining God's sovereignty. Molinism can claim to happily resolve the problem of theodicy, while it undermines God's sovereignty. Calvinism on the other hand can and does resolve the problem of theodicy, and it upholds the sovereignty of God while doing so.
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