Einstein: Know your History

I finished reading The Trouble with Physics by theoretical physicist Lee Smolin. In this book Smolin tackles the current state of physics and its lack of progress in solving the five fundamental questions.albert-einstein It was an interesting read, though if you are not someone who tackles popular works of science I would recommend Brian Greene’s Elegant Universe first.

Toward the end of the book, Smolin laments the inability of the scientific community to jump start another series of great discoveries, like those of the early twentieth century, to help move science forward toward finding the grand Theory of Everything (TOE). He attributes this to an academic system that rewards master craftsman who don’t challenge the current theories, while also failing to promote an environment for seers to flourish. Continue reading

Free Will, Frankfurt, and the Force

Harry Frankfurt is a philosopher noted for defending a compatibilistic view of free will. He is widely recognized for his paper “Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsiblity” (link) in which he  argues that the principle of alternate possibilities (PAP) is not necessary to assign moral responsibility. He does this through examples that have become quite popular, even being referred to as Frankfurt stories. This approach is considered, by some, to have successfully shown how moral responsibility can be assigned in a world in which PAP does not exist. Since Reformed theology affirms determinism and a compatibilistic view of free will (link), the Frankfurt stories are sometimes used to bolster their position (see this post as an example). But do Frankfurt stories do what their proponents claim?

What is PAP?

Frankfurt offers the following definition, which aligns with the idea of a libertarian free will (LFW).

This principle states that a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise.

He follows that with the following assessment:

the principle of alternate possibilities is false. A person may well be morally responsible for what he has done even though he could not have done otherwise.

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Why could God not have made men such that they always freely choose the good?

Why is there so much evil and suffering in the world if the Judaeo-Christian God exists? This question presents us with the challenge known as the logical problem of evil. The solution to this problem, Scripturally and logically, is the high value placed on significantly free (ie libertarian free will (LFW)) people (see post).



A common challenge to the free will defense (FWD) is that God could create a world in which significantly free people never “go bad”.  The FWD, as posited by philosopher Alvin Plantinga, however, rests on the idea that creating people with LFW makes such a world impossible (quotes).

God can create free creatures, but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all. … He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so.

C.S. Lewis would agree with Plantinga, a world in which people are significantly free yet never do anything but good is not possible, even for an omnipotent God. Continue reading