Victor Reppert said...
“What sense do you make of petitionary prayer on Calvinist assumptions? Wouldn't any petitionary prayer be an attempt to change a past state of affairs?”
1.Assuming, for the sake of argument, that it did entail changing the past, I’m not sure why Reppert rules that out. After all, there are philosophers and physicists who toy with retrocausation, time-travel, and backtracking counterfactuals.
Not that I myself subscribe to that.
2.It’s also not clear to me why he’s cast the question in terms of changing the past. If he’s alluding to predestination, then the decree is timeless. Strictly speaking, the decree doesn’t lie in the past.
Perhaps, though, he’s treating a timeless decree as functionally equivalent to an accidentally necessary past.
3.For discussion purposes, let’s assume they’re equivalent. Some philosophers of time distinguish between changing the past and affecting the past. Even if the past is unalterable, that doesn’t mean the past can’t be affected by the present.
In addition, if we apply the counterfactual theory of causation to this distinction, then there’s a perfectly coherent sense in which timebound supplicants could affect the past.
God has decreed that certain outcomes are contingent on answered prayers. And God has decreed the prayers. Therefore, answered prayers effect corresponding outcomes which wouldn’t otherwise obtain absent the predestined prayers.