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Choosing to eat steaks

December 27, 2009

What is the difference between these two statements?

(1) Probably, Joe will eat the steak.
(2) Joe probably will eat the steak.

Proposition (1) expresses a fact about the speaker, and proposition (2) expresses a fact about Joe.  This exemplifies the difference between knowing and being.  Although it makes sense to take a position expressed in (1), it actually doesn’t make much sense to maintain (2) – why?  Well, according to the Law of the Excluded Middle, Joe either will or will not eat the steak.  What other choices are there?

What is the difference between these two statements?

(3) Necessarily, if God knows Joe will eat the steak, Joe will eat the steak.
(4) If God knows Joe will eat the steak, Joe necessarily will eat the steak.

Proposition (3) expresses a fact about God’s knowledge as it relates to what Joe will do.  Specifically, God’s knowledge about what Joe will do is infallible.  Proposition (4) expresses not just a fact about God’s knowledge, but also about Joe’s inability to do anything but what in fact He will do.

Although a theist who subscribes to God’s perfect foreknowledge will maintain the truth of (3), he need not to maintain the truth of (4).

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