Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

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Hobbes' Choice
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Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Tue Feb 16, 2016 1:20 am

Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?
Cheerful Charlie wrote:
The question is, how does one square all of this with God's supposed goodness. All is predestined by God, who will be saved, and who is to be damned. One answer is to fall back on original sin, but then the question is why God grant's some grace to overcome original sin and denies it to others. Again, Paul's theology from Romans. Original sin then is not an explanation. God's arbitrary acts here are. Why are some given a working sensus divinitus and others saddled with a broken sense due to original sin? People like WCL don't seem to notice this problem.
.

I recognised this problem when I was 13, and a budding determinist. Trapped as I was in a poor family, bad school, and eating a poor diet, whilst all around me privalege and elitism was running the country. I could not help but wonder how a fair minded god with all that power could expect people come with equamimity to 'open the door to Jesus'.

My growing sketicism of religion was guided by my personal experience and about causal factors over which I had no control. Given the sort of person that god had made me, how was I to suspend my disbelief to accept a dogma that was utterly bereft of reason and evidence. And since an all powerful god, omniscient, and omnipresent, must have known from the beginning of time how I would turn out, and with that knoweldge created me, I could only conclude that he had made me one of the damned.

This was either true and god was unfair OR God was a figment of man's poorly constructed imagination. Either way I wanted no part of God or religion and so my atheism was born.

As for sensus divinus, I had felt it very strongly when faithful, but then so had Torquemada, Ivan the Terrible, Alexander the Great, and Ghengis Khan too. And when Joshua blew his horn and killed thousands when the walls of Jericho fell on them we can only assume that the sense of the divine was running hot in his veins.

Does this feeling hold water for evidence for God? I think not. When I asked how is this different from any other sort of delusion I was at theat time reflecting on the Trance Dance of the Bushmen of the Kalahari, who in a state of emotionally charged collapse think themselves capable of healing. Whatever "IT" is, it is likley that the sensus is not 'divine' at all.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by attofishpi » Thu Feb 18, 2016 1:33 pm

No.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Thu Feb 18, 2016 1:58 pm

attofishpi wrote:No.
No what?

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by attofishpi » Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:49 am

Hobbes' Choice wrote:
attofishpi wrote:No.
No what?
In answer to the question..check the thread title.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Walker » Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:33 pm

The topic prompted a reading of Genesis up to the begats. If those two crazy kids had just followed the rules and eaten everything available to them in the garden except for that one forbidden fruit, they would have known all of man’s possibilities, which included eternal life. But they still wouldn’t have known the difference between good and evil. That was the forbidden fruit. Acquiring knowledge of good and evil before the other fruits were eaten resulted in God’s curses. Genesis says eternal life combined with knowledge of good and evil is God-being. God-being would encompass inevitability and everything else. Determinism is mans’ version of inevitability limited by the curse of a steady diet of forbidden fruit without eternal life, and limited by a dust-to-dust existence. Without the outside-of-time perspective of eternity, man comes up with questions such as, why is God so mean?

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri Feb 19, 2016 6:21 pm

This is interesting, Hobbes, so I'll venture I reply.

As you know, determinism itself entails the corollary belief that there is no actuality to the (pseudo)phenomenon of human will. People may feel like they make genuine free choices, but the feeling is simply an illusion. Everything is preconditioned to happen as it does, regardless of human volition...so the theory goes.

Under strict Materialism, it is believed that the true explanation for the phenomenon of human will is "material preconditions": scientific laws and material properties. Since no other forces in the universe are real, that has to be the answer. That's the Materialist-Atheist version of the theory.

Similarly, under Determinist Theism (Calvinism, for example), the phenomenon of human will is said to be an illusion because God is the only One whose "will" actually makes things happen, and they hold that any denial of that would constitute a blow against the "sovereignty" (their word: they mean "deterministic absoluteness) of God.

All that being said, neither Christianity nor non-Materialist Atheism are necessarily deterministic. So I suggest that the answer would be, "it depends on the conception of Atheism or Theism one is talking about."

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Fri Feb 19, 2016 6:51 pm

attofishpi wrote:
Hobbes' Choice wrote:
attofishpi wrote:No.
No what?
In answer to the question..check the thread title.
Tell that to John Calvin and his followers.

For myself I don't think Christianity is compatible with reason, let alone determinism.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Fri Feb 19, 2016 6:59 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:This is interesting, Hobbes, so I'll venture I reply.

As you know, determinism itself entails the corollary belief that there is no actuality to the (pseudo)phenomenon of human will. People may feel like they make genuine free choices, but the feeling is simply an illusion. Everything is preconditioned to happen as it does, regardless of human volition...so the theory goes.

Under strict Materialism, it is believed that the true explanation for the phenomenon of human will is "material preconditions": scientific laws and material properties. Since no other forces in the universe are real, that has to be the answer. That's the Materialist-Atheist version of the theory.

Similarly, under Determinist Theism (Calvinism, for example), the phenomenon of human will is said to be an illusion because God is the only One whose "will" actually makes things happen, and they hold that any denial of that would constitute a blow against the "sovereignty" (their word: they mean "deterministic absoluteness) of God.

All that being said, neither Christianity nor non-Materialist Atheism are necessarily deterministic. So I suggest that the answer would be, "it depends on the conception of Atheism or Theism one is talking about."
All that is very interesting. But will or no will, god cannot be at the same time omnipotent, and omniscient AND give us the free choice to believe in God, Jesus and all that stuff, since when he created me he has to have known (in his design of me as an individual) since the beginning of time how I would turn out.
And as Calvin accurately argued, God must have made his "chosen", and Calvin, not surprisingly was the most important of them - so important, in fact, the God gave him the power to lure and slay Servetus for disagreeing with him.
Even as a compatibilist among whom I count myself. My will cannot stand against that known at my creation by an being who as all the omnis-you can think of.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Immanuel Can » Sat Feb 20, 2016 12:13 am

Hobbes' Choice wrote:All that is very interesting. But will or no will, god cannot be at the same time omnipotent, and omniscient AND give us the free choice to believe in God, Jesus and all that stuff, since when he created me he has to have known (in his design of me as an individual) since the beginning of time how I would turn out.
This would be the Calvinist argument, of course. However, even the Calvinists do admit that foreknowledge would not have to entail determinism. That being said, they would argue that God has both deterministic control and foreknowledge. But it is quite cogent to say someone "foreknows" a thing they did not "cause."

The more important question to them might be "is God the only effective causal agent in the universe, or can human beings be genuine causal agents?"
And as Calvin accurately argued, God must have made his "chosen", and Calvin, not surprisingly was the most important of them - so important, in fact, the God gave him the power to lure and slay Servetus for disagreeing with him.
Even as a compatibilist among whom I count myself. My will cannot stand against that known at my creation by an being who as all the omnis-you can think of.
"As Calvin argued..." Yes indeed. He argued that. And yes, he did that. Not very nice, really. It's a good reason for not being a Calvinist, probably.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Skip » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:06 am

These guys "would argue" such-and-so; those guys "would argue" thus-and-such - and they would be both be tripping all over their tongues. I have never heard or read a god-argument, however learned and dogmatic, that wasn't self-contradictory. You simply can't have all Big Omni and Free Will at the same time.

Of course, when the free will notion (those two forbidden trees that separate the humans from the gods) was first written about, the gods in the story (the Genesis story, before revisions) were not so very much bigger or more powerful than their creations. They had something to be jealous of; reason for concern. After three or four more promotions, God had too many magical attributes. He outgrew the old stories. Nothing that's ever been written fits Big Omni, because He's a self-contradiction: an absurdity. So now his apologists are forced to fudge, duck, cherry-pick and practice creative selective amnesia.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by attofishpi » Sat Feb 20, 2016 8:27 am

Hobbes' Choice wrote:
attofishpi wrote:
Hobbes' Choice wrote:
No what?
In answer to the question..check the thread title.
Tell that to John Calvin and his followers.

For myself I don't think Christianity is compatible with reason, let alone determinism.
What is your definition of "Christianity"?

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Sat Feb 20, 2016 3:01 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
The more important question to them might be "is God the only effective causal agent in the universe, or can human beings be genuine causal agents?"
.
Not if you want to continue to believe in the delusion of an omnipotent creator.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Immanuel Can » Sat Feb 20, 2016 3:46 pm

Hobbes' Choice wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote:
The more important question to them might be "is God the only effective causal agent in the universe, or can human beings be genuine causal agents?"
.
Not if you want to continue to believe in the delusion of an omnipotent creator.
"Omnipotent" is not inconsistent with the ability to create free agents, just as foreknowledge does not automatically entail determinism. For sure, if one means by "omnipotent" the concept "all-powerful," (which is analytic in the word, of course) then there would be nothing inconsistent in attributing the ability to create free agents to such an Entity.

In fact, absent that particular ability, in what sense could one even call that Entity "omnipotent"? One would have to say "potent-but-not-potent-enough-to-create-free-agents" instead.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Sat Feb 20, 2016 4:55 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Hobbes' Choice wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote:
The more important question to them might be "is God the only effective causal agent in the universe, or can human beings be genuine causal agents?"
.
Not if you want to continue to believe in the delusion of an omnipotent creator.
"Omnipotent" is not inconsistent with the ability to create free agents, .
Wrong. Being all powerful is also the power to know. Knowing what character a person is in the act of creation, necessitates foreknowledge of their success or failure as "Christians", or whatever religion you wish to saddle them with. If god has made me the way I am then he will have know since the beginning of time that I shall die a sinner.

In any event a "free agent" is a contradiction. To be free-will is to be free of your agency, and a denial of experience, learning, volition and the ability to choose. A choice not determined by experience is pure capriciousness, and useless.

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Re: Is Christianity compatible with Determinism?

Post by Immanuel Can » Sat Feb 20, 2016 8:47 pm

Hobbes' Choice wrote:Wrong. Being all powerful is also the power to know. Knowing what character a person is in the act of creation, necessitates foreknowledge of their success or failure as "Christians", or whatever religion you wish to saddle them with. If god has made me the way I am then he will have know since the beginning of time that I shall die a sinner.
Well, I hesitate to point it out, but that's actually a non-sequitur. God might fully know what you would do. It wouldn't automatically mean He made you do it. Foreknowledge isn't determinism. That's the kind of distinction that even the Calvinists recognize. However, they think that both determinism and foreknowledge are true, even though they can see that the latter doesn't entail the former in any necessary way. They fully recognize what non-Calvinists are saying: that God foreknows which choices will be made, but does not force us to make them. They just think that's wrong.

To illustrate, I'm sure when you saw a reply from me, you already knew I would disagree. We have had sufficient prior conversations to give you foreknowledge of that. But did your knowing make me disagree? Or did the fact that you were clearly able to predict my future action constitute any cause of why I did it? Clearly not, as I'm sure you recognize.

And if I foreknew, at this precise moment, that you would be upset with this answer, and if I knew you would soon respond, would my knowing what you will do have any efficacy in making you do it? I think you'd be quick to say no.
In any event a "free agent" is a contradiction. To be free-will is to be free of your agency, and a denial of experience, learning, volition and the ability to choose. A choice not determined by experience is pure capriciousness, and useless.
It's not, actually. "Determined choice" is certainly a contradiction in terms, I'll grant you that; but "free-will" and "free agency" are essentially synonymous. One can use either term safely.

An "agent" refers simply to someone who performs an action. "Free" or "determined" are merely two contrary adjectives used to describe the cause of the action: i.e. was it the agent's own volition, or was it the material preconditions of the agent that made him do what he did? There is no bias in favour of one or the other inherent in the word "agent" itself.

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