Free Will 101

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Brandon C. Jones, May 12, 2005.

  1. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think it might be wise to present the basics of free will as an incompatibilist (libertarian) and compatibilist (aka. Calvinist) define it. These terms refer to whether or not human free will (which entails moral responsibility for one's actions) is compatible with any form of determinism. If Calvinism is being discussed, then it is soft determinism that is involved. This is in distinction from hard determinism where the past, with the laws of logic and the laws of nature determine a unique future. Soft determinism, in a theological sense, allows for God to decree the events of the world by ordaining the ends as well as the means which include human actions.

    Incompatibilistic free will claims that genuine free human action is incompatible with causal conditions that decisively incline the will. Genuine free human action is incompatible with causal determinism. “Decisively inclining the will” means that there are causes strong enough that get a person to actually make one choice over another. In view of this position, it must always be possible for the agent to do otherwise than he/she chooses because nothing makes him/her choose outside of his/her will (the principle of alternative possibilities).

    Compatibilistic free will claims that genuine free human action is compatible with causal conditions that decisively incline the will without constraining it. “Without constraining it” means that the agent is not forced to act/choose against his/her wishes, thus one chooses in agreement with what one wants to do. An act is free if it is causally determined, and yet those causes do not force one to do what he/she does not want to do.

    What qualifies as constraint?: For instance, a robber points a gun at a bank teller and tells her to give him all the money in her drawer. The robber does not physically force her to give him the money, but her decision to give him the money was clearly constrained.

    How careful must an imcompatibilist be in making sure that an act was without sufficient causal conditions to decisively incline the will? One must make sure that biblical examples like Paul's conversion would still count as "free" even though this experience may "incline the will," but not in a decisive sense.

    It seems that some believe that if you are a Calvinist, then you do not believe in free will. However, Calvinists affirm compatibilistic free will. The same examples will suffice to illustrate:

    Adam's Fall: Libertarian freedom says that Adam could have chosen otherwise. Compatibilistic freedom says that Adam desired to sin and his choice to sin was not constrained.

    Paul's Conversion: Libertarian freedom says that Paul could have chosen otherwise. Compatibilistic freedom says that Paul choosed Christ out of his desires and his choice was not constrained.

    Now one can hopefully understand how Calvinists affirm human free will and what they mean by free will. If both sides can understand the other side more accurately maybe some sharpening and learning can abound on this board instead of grandstanding.

    For those interested on print sources I can recommend John Feinberg's "No One Like Him." He presents both sides of the debate and makes a biblical and philosophical case for a Calvinistic approach. Keith Yandell's Routledge "Introduction to Philosophy of Religion" handles the philosophical arguments and makes a cogent philosophical case for libertarian freedom in the final chapter of this work. For a biblical case, there is some good treatment in the new book "Why I am not a Calvinist."

    Sincerely,
    BJ
     
  2. Wes Outwest

    Wes Outwest
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,400
    Likes Received:
    0
    God gave us free will to use to the maximum extent possible for a human. God's knows the limitations that he put into man, and therefore has no fear of man usurping His throne and authority, and man has no power whatever to destroy God's glory. Who's able to judge God anyway? Who's able to play "king o the hill" with God? I suppose one could try, but of the estimated 10 Billion humans that have lived on this earth, not one has ever left this earth alive, except for the two will come back to be "witnesses", then experience death and resurrection before the eyes of the world.

    Yes man has free will, God fearlessly gave it to him. If you don't think you have it, you're only fooling yourself!
     
  3. billwald

    billwald
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2000
    Messages:
    11,414
    Likes Received:
    0
    There is no test for free will because there is no way to detect God's possible manipulation of our thought processes.
     
  4. rc

    rc
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2004
    Messages:
    1,068
    Likes Received:
    0
    To say that John Fienburg represents "Both sides" of the debate is wrong. I would try Jonathan Edwards " Freedom Of The Will" for a more accurate assessment of classic Calvinistic thought BY FAR than Feinburg. That's like saying CBS is conservative reporting because you are comparing it with CNN ! Fienburg's rejection of God doing EVERYTHING for His glory is a glaring contradiction to Calvinism in the problem of Evil... so I must not agree in your understanding of a proper Calvinistic view in this topic.
     
  5. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't know what to say. Feinberg will call himself a moderate Calvinist, but his treatment of Eph 1:11 in the book comes to the conclusion that God accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will--not sure what your issues are in that regard. Concerning the problem of evil, he presents a non-consequentialist ethical Calvinistic defense...I think you are a little too harsh in your assesment. If you prefer the consequentialist account (The end that is God's greater glory justifies the means which are various evils), then fine, but it's just a different ethical theory not a completely different theological position. Have you even read "No One Like Him" or "Many Faces of Evil" before taking these shots at him?
     
  6. rc

    rc
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2004
    Messages:
    1,068
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am well read.... I am making my statements in regards to the "Many Faces of Evil". He does not believe that evils chief end is to glorify God.
     
  7. BobRyan

    BobRyan
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2002
    Messages:
    30,837
    Likes Received:
    4
    So in your examples incompatibilist (libertarian) free will applies to Lucifer - and ADAM choosing to sin without a sinful nature that DESIRES sin and wihtout God decreeing that they sin.

    What is more to the point - God created all things first and had to first CREATE and WILL that form of Free Will for His intelligent created beings. This means that it is God's Will that such a condition exist to begin with.

    So is is expected that it is His will that supernaturally enables all the "deciding" that total depravity disables by His own choice to supernaturally DRAW all mankind to himself.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  8. Wes Outwest

    Wes Outwest
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,400
    Likes Received:
    0
    What makes you think God does such? It is results God is after. He established the processes a long long time ago.
     
  9. BobRyan

    BobRyan
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2002
    Messages:
    30,837
    Likes Received:
    4
    The idea that God monkeys around with our thinking so we don't know if our sin is really "ours" is not a doctrine found in scripture.

    "The primary test" is Lucifer. God who would monkey-with-the-mind missed his chance to "tweek" Lucifer's thinking LONG BEFORE it had come to the point of rebellion. Doing so would have saved Him 1/3 of the angels, the loss of mankind and the death of His son.

    The next place for "tweeking the mind" was in Lucifer's presentation of his case to the angels - God could have "tweeked 100% of THEM".

    The next good tweeking place was the time of Eve at the tree of Knowledge of Good AND Evil. A little tweeking along the lines of "That sounds like a great idea - but let me talk this over with my husband and sleep on it for a day or two. This tree will still be here tomorrow - right?".

    The next place would be to "Tweek Adam's" thinking" along the lines of "whoops! What have you done now?? Lets go talk to God about this and see if He can help us find a way out of the problem. If He has no solution -- THEN I will join you. But let me think about it for a day or two".

    Having done so would have saved God the loss of mankind and the death of His Son.

    The idea that "the death of His Son and the Loss of mankind really did not matter to God" is a hard error to swallow. (Remember Christ IS God so for Him this was HIS OWN death "not really being anything that He cared to avoid" for this error-scenario).

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  10. rc

    rc
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2004
    Messages:
    1,068
    Likes Received:
    0
    BCJ,

    Ever read Piper?

    The Death of Christ was determined before the foundations of the world. So tell me how Adam would not of sinned? The law of concurrance gives glory to God. It's for Him and always will be for Him.
     
  11. BobRyan

    BobRyan
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2002
    Messages:
    30,837
    Likes Received:
    4
    So Adam had NO CHOICE but to sin???

    What a wonderful savior and a great Gospel to rescue US from a sin that Adam had NO CHOICE but to commit??!!

    Not!

    Adam DID have a choice and the "what if Adam had not sinned" scenario is legit.

    The problem is - it is hard for Calvinists to "be God" and know how foreknowledge works with free will.

    Yet even so - it is only the rare CAlvinist that will go so far as to say that sinless Adam had NO CHOICE but to fail because of God's foreknowledge.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  12. BobRyan

    BobRyan
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2002
    Messages:
    30,837
    Likes Received:
    4
    Here is a simple trick for Calvinists trying to imagine what it is like to "be" God.

    Think of God as having knowledge of the future the way you have knowledge of the past.

    You know that Adam sinned - because Adam sinned. If Adam had not sinned - you would know that.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     

Share This Page

Loading...