A. vI's model of divine action: God creates and sustains in existence a multitude of elementary particles (or fields or whatever), supplying each at each moment with its causal powers and liabilities (how it will act on and react to other particles).
B. This can easily be extended to providing emergent causal powers to organisms: souls, free will, etc.
C. Miracles and natural law. Natural laws consist in the general constancy of causal powers of particles over time. Each particle belongs to one of a limited number of natural kinds, and the causal powers of particles belonging to the same kind are very similar and stable. A miracle involves investing material things with extraordinary powers, powers that are not typical of their natural kinds.
D. Divine action can be represented by a set of decrees: "let it be that such-and-such a particle exist (with such-and-such causal powers)".
A. An event is due to chance when it is not part of anyone's plan.
B. God's (eternal) plan = the sum total of what God has unconditionally decreed. We might define God's present plan as the sum total of God's eternal plan, plus those conditional (or reactive) decrees of God's whose conditions have so far actually come to pass.
C. Three possible sources of chance: (1) the free will of rational creatures, (2) natural indeterminism (quantum events, atomic decay), (3) the initial state of the created universe (parameters of the Big Bang).
D. vI is a libertarian (believes in free will) and an incompatibilist (believes free will and determinism are incompatible). When God determines what someone shall do, the resulting action is not free (on the part of the creature). E.g., hardening Pharaoh's heart.
A. VI considers it possible that the existence of human beings, and even of the Milky Way galaxy, are not part of God's eternal plan.
B. Distinguish between: the existence of creatures in the image of God, and the existence of homo sapiens on earth.
A. vI's answer: God can issue disjunctive (open-ended) decrees: "Let X or Y be," without specifying whether it is to be X or Y. "Let Adam choose freely whether to eat of the fruit or not." Result: Adam chooses, but the content of his choice was not determined by God.
B. Consequently, the very existence of evil may be the result of chance, not decreed by God.
C. Death by misadventure: Alice's death may be due to chance, not decreed by God. There may be an explanation for why God created a world in which death by misadventure happens, but no explanation (in terms of God's purposes) of why Alice had to die as she did.
D. Can Fate be unfair? If everyone receives the same chances, it would seem to be fair, even if actual harms and benefits are very unevenly distributed without reference to desert.
A. Can God play dice with the world? Unless we are strict necessitarians (everything happens for a sufficient reason), we must admit an element of chance in the arrangement of things. The only question is: should we locate the chance within God (divine arbitrariness, caprice) or between God and the world (van Inwagen's open-ended decrees)?
B. Conflict with Divine Simplicity. If Aquinas is correct in thinking that God (as a necessary first cause) must be absolutely simple, then God's will and His knowledge are identical. Consequently, for any contingent fact P, if God knows that P, then God must actively will that P. Since God is omniscient, He must know either P or not-P, and so must will one or the other. Open-ended decrees of the kind described by vI are rendered impossible.
A. Farrer argues that when we assert that "God wills/intends that P", we are attributing will and intention to God in a way analogous to our attributions to human beings. The causal joint between creator and creature is incomprehensible to us. "We cannot conceive the causal joint between omnipotent activity and free creaturehood." (p. 110) [NB: Farrer does distinguish between analogy and metaphor: p. 124.]
B. Variety of God's willings