I was wondering though how you might respond to the view held by some in the Reformed camp such as Oliphint (I think at least, so don’t hold me to it) and Poythress that God does not think propositionally. I am not sure if they would advocate the contingency of propositions, then, but if you ever have the time, could you explain how the argument might still go through, or if the objection has no effect at all?
It depends on what exactly is meant by “thinking propositionally”. If the claim is that God’s thoughts aren’t dependent on propositions (conceived as truth-bearing abstract entities) that exist externally to God and independently of God, in some kind of self-existent Platonic realm, then I wholeheartedly agree. Welty and I have argued that propositions are divine thoughts, which would rule out that Platonist scenario.
However, if the claim is that God does not think in terms of propositions at all, then I strongly disagree. For that amounts to saying that God does not think in terms of truth and falsity. Propositions are conventionally defined as the primary truth-bearers (see, e.g., the recently revised SEP entry). Propositions are simply those entities that are non-derivatively true or false. If God has any true thoughts then it follows by the very definition of ‘proposition’ that God thinks propositionally. And, of course, God does have true thoughts. (How could God reveal truths to us without first having true thoughts?)
Moreover, the Bible presupposes that God thinks propositionally. Consider the following sampling of texts:
Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.” (Genesis 20:6)
He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” (Genesis 22:12)
Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.” (Exodus 4:14)
“For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” (Matthew 6:32)
The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. (2 Corinthians 11:31)
In each case God is said to know something and the object of his knowledge is a proposition (rendered in the English translations as a that-clause). God knows truths: true propositions. (This is not to imply, of course, that God’s knowledge is exclusively propositional, only that some of God’s knowledge must be propositional.)
What I was thinking was that even if propositions themselves were created, then there would still be necessarily existing truths, just not with propositions as the primary truth bearers. But that would still entail that there is another primary truth bearer and I figured that if it could be shown that regardless of whatever the primary truth bearer is, it would still be mental in nature and therefore the argument would flow well.
Yes, I think this is correct. If someone wants to insist that propositions were created by God, either (a) they fail to see that (at least some) propositions exist necessarily, (b) they’re advocating something incoherent (that God can freely create necessarily existent entities), or (c) they’re using a different definition of ‘proposition’ than the one we used in our argument. There must be primary truth-bearers; to deny them is to presuppose them. If you want to label them something other than ‘propositions’, so be it. But quibbles over vocabulary don’t affect the substance of our argument one iota.
I don’t know where Oliphint or Poythress make the claim that God does not think propositionally (if indeed they do make that claim). Perhaps they have in mind something other than the two options I consider above. But if so, I’m not sure what that would be.