Divine sustenance and theological compatibilism

Abstract

This thesis presents a case for theological compatibilism, the view that divine foreknowledge and human freedom are compatible. My attempt to support theological compatibilism is based chiefly upon two arguments, which appear in the second and third chapters of this thesis. While these arguments differ, they are united in one respect: each argument relies heavily upon the doctrine of divine sustenance, which is the doctrine that God is causally responsible for the continual existence of the universe. In chapter II, I employ the doctrine of divine sustenance as an assumption that, when conjoined with a modified characterization of the necessity of the past, forces a common argument against theological compatibilism to generate an absurd conclusion. This approach constitutes a negative argument for theological compatibilism: if the modifications to accidental necessity and the assumptions regarding sustenance are appropriate, then some principle underlying a traditional argument against theological compatibilism must be rejected in order to avoid absurdity. In chapter III, I use the notion of divine sustenance in a positive argument for the compatibility of divine foreknowledge and human freedom. In that chapter, I contend that theological models that deny foreknowledge or divine sustenance lack the resources to explain the existence of human persons making free decisions. However, I argue that at least one theological model that includes foreknowledge, when conjoined with the doctrine of divine sustenance, provides adequate explanatory grounds for the existence of persons in their free decision-making. This implies that if human persons are free, their freedom is compatible with divine foreknowledge and divine sustenance, which also supports the theological compatibilist's position. Although my discussion results in some unresolved difficulties regarding divine freedom, which I discuss in the final chapter, the arguments in the second and third chapters nevertheless yield the conclusion that proper consideration of divine sustenance corroborates theological compatibilism. The theological compatibilist, then, may cogently employ the doctrine of divine sustenance to defend the coherency of his or her own position and to criticize the plausibility of opposing views

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