Friday, April 28, 2017

Deductive/Inductive Argumentation and Calvinism (unfertige Skizze)

The fundamental difference between deductive and inductive argumentation is that deductive arguments yield certain conclusions, given their premises, but the premise/premises of an inductive argument only yields probability. In other words, if the premises of a deductive argument are true, then the conclusion is true. However, note that irksome word, if. So the conclusion of a deductive argument is only irrefragable when the premises are (necessarily) true. Given p, q follows; I have p, therefore I have q.

Another way that some explain inductive argumentation is by making a contrast between reasoning from general premises to specific conclusions (as in the case of deductive arguments) versus reasoning from concrete particulars to general conclusions (i.e., inductive arguments). I will not deal with the inadequacies of characterizing matters this way, but I merely want my readers to know the difference between deductive and inductive arguments for the purpose of grasping a problem that I have with Calvinism in toto.

Calvinism--at least, some Calvinists--reasons inductively from concrete particulars to general conclusions. For instance, let us assume that event1 (E1) represents an occurrence of evil that has a good outcome (i.e., God brings something good from the evil occurrence). Calvinist seem to reason that if God brings good from E1, E2, E3--then he also brings good out of En. However, I'm not sure that the reasoning holds up; after all, inductive arguments result in probable conclusions. Maybe Calvinists object that their reasons for believing that God brings good--or is able to bring good--from evil depends on more than rational arguments that are inductive. It is possible that the Calvinist is bypassing logic/reason and basis his/her argument on Scripture.

The foregoing reasoning notwithstanding, my comments are directed at the Calvinist, who uses actual events like the Holocaust or slavery to reason that if God brought good from evil in some instances, then one can infer that God brings good from all evil occurrences. My contention is that the logical entailment likely does not follow since one can't derive certainty from arguments that only yield probability.

David Duncombe spells out a corresponding line of reasoning here: https://daveduncombe.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/gods-glory-and-the-problem-of-induction/

8 comments:

Philip Fletcher said...

As we go thru life we can see that good things continue to come about whether out of evil or not. What I have observed in some cases is that it doesn't necessary mean God is involved with it doing so whatsoever.

Edgar Foster said...

I agree with you, Philip. Jehovah is the giver of every good gift and every perfect present (James 1:17), and he can bring forth good out of evil, like he did with Joseph, Job, and Paul (Philippians 1:13-14). I just question the inference some Calvinists make, that because some good comes from one or five acts of evil (and so forth), then good must come from all acts of evil. I don't see how that is a solid inference, considering what we know about inductive reasoning and other factors, including scripture.

Philip Fletcher said...

Yes, with that thought in mind we know that good doesn't come from all acts of evil, everything in the bible like the case of Joseph was that God choose to interfere with even control what was going to occur. But as Joseph said it was for the preservation of life. Isaiah helps to see that God can choose to act or not act. But he always does for a good reason.

Edgar Foster said...

So, if what you say is correct, and I believe it is--then Calvinists cannot legitimately reason from some good resulting from certain instances of evil to God bringing forth good from every case of evil/sin. The inference doesn't seem to follow and, more importantly, that belief is unscriptural.

Philip Fletcher said...

Right it can go both ways, but God always can choose to act or not act. Furthermore he can know, and does know that Good can come from evil without his involvement as well as the opposite.

Edgar Foster said...

I agree with your comments, but the Calvinists usually believe that God meticulously controls everything, including the good that comes from evil. On the other hand, I recall one theologian pointing out that this belief is suspect logically because it's non-falsifiable.

Philip Fletcher said...

Ok thanks for letting in on how they think, and other theologians as well. So what exactly is non-falsifiable.

Edgar Foster said...

In principle, the belief that God brings good out of all evil occurrences cannot be falsified. The Calvinist can always claim that even though we don't know what particular good issues from a particular instance of evil, a good still happened, unbeknownst to us. Of course, I am strictly dealing with natural reason--not cases made directly from scripture.