(Please note: For the purposes of this post (and most others on this blog), the term “determinism” or “determine” should be understood as PRE-determinism, according to the accepted metaphysical definition found in neo-reformed theology and its most comprehensive form, Calvinism. Pre-determinism meaning that the outcome of one’s life is the function of a divine decision made without respect to the one or the one’s actions whatsoever, usually referring to salvation or damnation (but often including ANYTHING whatsoever in service to the doctrine of “God’s sovereignty”; and, further, made before you ever even existed.
Yeah…trying figuring the logic out on that one. You were determined before you were. Hmmm…how does that work exactly? It hardly seems possible to determine something before it exists. Because before it exists it is by definition nothing. So, er…the determined outcome of nothing must equal nothing. Wait…did I just debunk neo-reformed determinism? Maybe there is no need for the following post.
Oh…what the hell. Can’t hurt. )
If man’s will is in service to and a direct function of God—and in this post I will demonstrate that both “in service to” and “a direct function of” are the exact same thing as it pertains to the neo-reformed/Calvinist doctrine of the divine pre-determinism of man’s salvation or damnation– then there is no rational way that it can be qualified as “free” in any honest sense of the word. Attempts to do so are either deliberately or unwittingly deceptive, and can only be part of a carefully nuanced argument that at its core is logically unworkable; and demands the suspension of disbelief by anyone who lays claim to the reality of their own existence and/or the existence of God (for they are not mutually exclusive in the Creator/Creation construct…meaning one does not exist without the other). Which they must…for existence, being axiomatic, is an unavoidable prerequisite to any argument of any kind. By definition, if you don’t exist, then neither can your argument.
And, to begin this article, part one, I want to focus on this: The idea that those who believe in determinism must deny their own existence in order to do so. And this is precisely the reason why those who accept determinism can never argue from any idea that can ever be consistent with their OWN self-affirmed beliefs. If you are determined, then you are a perpetual effect. You, and all you know and do can have nothing to do with independent will; and as such, there is no real you. And if there is no you, you don’t have an argument to defend. Everything about you is a forgone conclusion stemming from the absolute of determinism that can have, by definition, no beginning. Determinism has determined. Thus, everything is merely an effect. Will of man can have nothing to do with it.
But even more than that, because determinism is an absolute, will of any kind can have nothing to do with it; that is, the determined outcome of your life, and all you do and know and are. In other words, if man’s will isn’t free, then God’s will isn’t either. Determinism is the ONLY force; the beginning and end. Full stop. For in this notion of divine determinism, God’s reason for the outcome (or “objective”, of your life) must NOT include anything to do with man or Creation–if it does, then it isn’t determinism; it is based (yes based) on an attribute of man or creation that must happen according to a wholly independent ability of man or Creation to act on its own behalf. And if this is true then God’s determinism is conditional on something outside himself. Aaaaaand if this is true, then determinism is based on the free will of man and/or creation to act, and thus, man cannot be determined because arbitrary actions of another are the root of reason for the objective, and the objective could not have been pre-known/pre-determined until the object (man and/or creation)acted FIRST. And if it is man’s free will which must have acted first, then the objective is inexorably rooted in man’s free choice; it is not determined. And if the act is a function of an inanimate, unconscious created thing acting according to its own ability to act in this way or that, then the objective is inexorably rooted in arbitrary inanimate action; it is not determined. And if we claim that neither of these instances can be true in light of God’s absolute sovereignty over Creation and man, but that the objective for man is a function of God’s sovereign and free Will, then that Will, being utterly resistant to any form of object action outside of Itself, can find no basis in man or Creation. And if that is the case, then God’s reason for setting the objective must be completely arbitrary…that is, a result of His OWN utterly unfettered free and wholly sovereign will. In other words, God’s rationale for the determined outcome of your life is nothing more than Himself. Because bereft of any outside influence whatsoever, the only definition for God’s will is GOD. God’s will can have no other definition. Which means that any reason for doing anything is predicated on His will, it is predicated on nothing more than HIMSELF. All “why?” questions return to: God. All how, when, where, what, and what if questions are likewise the same: God. God is the beginning and end of His own Will, and thus, God is the only reason that He does anything at all. (Seems a bit redundant then to throw man into the mix…and oh, it is; which is why human beings are disposable fodder for “doctrine” in the Calvinist/neo-reformed orthodoxy/orthopraxy.)
And if that is the case, then any divine Will effected upon Creation and Man, having nothing to do with either whatsoever, or anything else, must be completely exclusive to Creation and Man, and thus, must be totally arbitrary. There can BE no reason because God would have to be the reason in this construct. But God then must be a reason that is wholly exclusive to Man and Creation. God’s “reason” is utterly removed from man and Creation.
Thus, the reason as it is applied to man and Creation has to be arbitrary because the only way it can be not arbitrary is if there is something in man or Creation that bridges the gap between God and the man and/or other Created object He has determined. If the reason has nothing to do with the man or object determined whatsoever, then insofar as the man or object is concerned, the reason is again utterly arbitrary. “God is God” when applied as a reason to the divinely determined conclusion of an object or man can mean only one thing, again: there is NO reason. Because “God is God” is not a reason, it is a metaphysical, existential statement. It is a metaphysical axiom that can have nothing at all to do with ANYTHING not God. And thus, this being the deterministic rationale, the rationale is demonstrably false. There is no reason at all. The outcome/objective concerning man is arbitrary, and it must thus be set arbitrarily. And if the objective is set for purely arbitrary reasons, then the objective is not determined. Because if something is determined according to NOTHING (i.e. no relevant preconceived criteria involving the determined object whatsoever), then it cannot be determined because NOTHING cannot determine SOMETHING. And that is the problem in the Calvinist construct. They ALWAYS want nothing to somehow equal something. They want the utter removal of man from the entire process of salvation and existence to somehow equal an outcome that is actually efficacious to man. Via “election” and “predestination” man is both literally condemned for nothing and literally saved from nothing, and yet they still demand that we concede that somehow condemnation and salvation can actually be REAL and somehow can actually apply relevantly to man and his life. They want man to be utterly enslaved to a nature outside his will–which means outside his very SELF—be it the sin nature for the “evil” he “does”, the Holy Spirit for the “good” that he “does”, and yet concede that there can actually be an efficacious “joy” (heavenly pleasure) or “gnashing of teeth”(hellish pain and agony) by THE MAN. But the man does not exist in anywhere in the entire equation! So there is no MAN to DO anything or RECEIVE anything.
Behind the slick and intellectual façade, Calvinism, and reformed theology in general, is a logical and metaphysical fraud. And this is truth: It cannot possibly be true.
So, once again, if we argue that man’s conclusion is determined, then God cannot have freely made the choice. Something must have determined it for Him; either an outside force beyond Him (which must also be determined, by the way, as determinism is an absolute…remember?), or something in man or Creation was a root and undeniable matter upon which God decided to base the outcome of one’s life (meaning the “matter”, whatever it is, had to have happened FIRST, and FREELY)…in which case the outcome is not determined. It is rooted in the free ability of man and/or Creation to act according to themselves, apart from God.