Recently I had the honor of being patronized by a physicist who is also a devout five-point Calvinist and an utter determinist. He has yet to respond to any of my questions, choosing rather to level a specious and banal critique of my theology, punctuated with “typical Arminianism”…which makes sense of course, because for the determinist Calvinist, there can be no relevance to any discussion of any kind, so engaging in the arena of ideas (as John Immel describes the place the fights happen), is an exercise in futility. Everything is already “determined” you see; everything is God’s will. So, it’s easier to just declare the non-Calvinist a blind fool, attempting to wield truth with about as much skill as a three year old wields a flaming sword…the opinion being that sooner or later they’ll cut their arm off, and burn for eternity to boot. Of course, the Calvinists never see the irony in thinking that they–self-described totally depraved sinners who’s every work and thought is shot through with sin–can claim any TRUTH of any kind, ever, because TRUTH is the perpetual White Whale of the spiritually insane. But, whatever. Consistency of functional premises, among other things, has never been a Calvinist priority.
So I thought for a moment about how someone reportedly so intelligent could behold himself to a philosophy that is so metaphysically redundant as to almost be incoherent when you look behind the phylacteries of their cohesive heresy. I remembered hearing something about scientific determinism a few weeks ago; and also having read about it recently in a Stephen Hawking book.
Anyway, Scientific Determinism, in a nutshell, is the idea that every particle in the universe must obey a natural law, which makes its future almost totally predictable. The logical extension of this philosophy is that if you are God, you designed the laws, and implicit in that fact is the idea that you must then know and have predestined everything to act in a specifically determined way that you are categorically and perpetually aware of. Thus, the natural laws which declare every particle’s future known before it happens is the scientific proof that God must have created existence already predestined to do what it will do.
Now, there are about one million metaphysical inconsistencies and irrationalities in that understanding. I will explain them all fully in a more complete post on this issue (because, this issue begs for an in-depth rebuttal and a razing; if for no other reason than those who profess it think that it is nothing short of an invincible argument for either a. determinism (read Calvinism), or b. atheism). But here are some of the highlights of my refutation, in numbered fashion. This forms a logical progression of roughly half of my overall argument against Scientific Determinism. As I said, I will post a longer essay on the subject later.
1.Natural law precludes divine control, direct or otherwise, of Creation. Meaning, if God has at His disposal the power of creating (the power to make something out of nothing, for any reason He chooses) by which He can directly control His Creation, then natural laws are, by definition, redundant and thus impossible.
2.The divine determining of Creation through natural laws is functionally the same thing as directly controlling Creation; so if we declare that God uses natural law to control Creation, we are contradicting ourselves, and creating a metaphysical redundancy. Therefore, the only metaphysically rational conclusion is that God cannot directly control Creation because the fact of the existence of natural laws preclude this. If God directly controlled, there would be no natural laws guiding Creation, because they would be pointless, as I said, thus, impossible for God to effect.
3. The only reasonable conclusion then that we can thus derive from the reality of natural laws is that they mean Creation must have been purposefully designed to act on its own, and do what it does, by its own power, apart from God’s divine determinism.
4. If God then does not determine via natural laws or direct control, how then can it be relevant that God know the future of Creation before it happens? By their own admission, Scientific Determinists state that the argument for God’s divine preordaining is that natural laws mean that the future can be perfectly predicted by God, who knows what all particles in the universe are doing at any given moment; this perfect prediction, to them, is proof that the universe and all in it are predestined along a determined path by GOD…again, God is using natural laws to exercise His control of the universe so that it does precisely what He wants it to do. As I said, this constitutes a huge logical inconsistency. God does not need natural laws to control Creation (which “natural laws” did He use to part the Red Sea, or stop the sun in the sky, or turn the water into wine?), so natural laws for this purpose are redundant and impossible, thus the reality of natural law cannot mean direct control; cannot mean determinism. Scientific Determinists (or Calvinists who use Scientific Determinism to defend their interpretation of predestination/election) have yet to explain this contradiction. This is because the real answer is not one consistent with their ideas. The real answer is that, by definition, the One who possesses the power to create has no relevant need to know the future. Furthermore, if God’s intention for Creation is to act on its own, as is proven by the existence of natural law, then God’s active knowledge of the future (or, more specifically, knowledge of the future as the proof of His determinism, which must equal control) is even more irrelevant; and likely, impossible.
5. However, we need to acknowledge of course that God is omnipresent, and thus, can never be unaware of anything in Himself or in Creation, because with God, there is, by definition, no such thing as before or after in any sense that we can comprehend with our frame of reference, because God does not exist according to our physics of time, but exists solely in Himself, outside of time, and is perpetual, without beginning or end.
6. This being the case, it is a legitimate question, in light of metaphysical reason and natural laws which guide our existence as creations of God, to ask ourselves just when, then, can God know what will happen? And also, why should we assume that He must know BEFORE it happens if the concept of before is impossible as a means to describe God’s existence? Why can we not assume that, in light of God being outside of time, He can create something or someone, knowing what they will do, because they already did it, freely of themselves? In other words, the determinists say that He MUST know BEFORE something happens. But why can’t it be said that, on the contrary, He MUST ONLY know AFTER it happens? To an omnipresent and omnipotent God, what is the difference? The only meaningful difference is to be found in understanding how it is metaphysically reasonable and thus possible for Creation to exist, without being redundant as either a. a thing which God is actively possessing, or b. a thing which God is actively controlling; neither of which, possessing or controlling, require Creation. God has a perfect objective and perfect control utterly within Himself. In other words, He does not need Creation as a means to either Himself, or to control Himself. Thus, the only metaphysically rational explanation for Creation is that it was made to exist on its own, apart from
God, and to do what it does via itself. I submit that the existence of natural law is PROOF of this. This is fundamentally different from how determinists see it.
7. In light of all of the aforementioned (proof of natural law, the acts of Creation being of itself, freedom of Creation to exist apart from God, the necessary absence of a time reference in relation to God’s existence), the answer to the question “When can God know?” can certainly, reasonably, be claimed as: God can only foreknow and predestine Creation because it has already acted on its own, as it was created to do; man has already chosen…on his own, apart from God, as his creation as a rational being culpable for his deeds and thoughts demands. (This forms a functional premise of how I reconcile the free will versus election debate, incidentally.)
This is the only logical and reasonable explanation we can have if we claim that God is just, and God is perfect, and God is the Creator. If determinism is real, then metaphysically, Christianity cannot be TRUTH. From this, we can clearly see that Scientific Determinism as a defense of Calvinist predestination theology must be a lie.