COMPATIBILISM & DETERMINED DESIRE


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(If you don’t know this meme, the original wording for the bottom part is ‘With extra steps’ – https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/well-that-sounds-like-slavery-with-extra-steps )

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Compatibilism says that people DO have ‘free’ will – however they invariably ‘freely’ choose according to their greatest desire. It makes a kind of sense, because if we can choose according to what we WANT to choose, then we are free right?

But don’t forget, even those desires great and small are determined by God:

We usually call this “biblical compatibilism,” which we might summarize by saying that human beings freely chose what God foreordains. – James White

Has God predetermined every tiny detail in the universe, such as dust particles in the air and all of our besetting sins? Yes. … Yes, every horrible thing and every sinful thing is ultimately governed by God. – John Piper

The hand of God rules the interior affections no less than it superintends external actions; nor would God have effected by the hand of man what he decreed, unless he worked in their hearts to make them will before they acted. // From this we declare that not only heaven and earth and the inanimate creatures, but also the plans and intentions of men, are so governed by his providence that they are borne by it straight to their appointed end. // But of all the things which happen, the first cause is to be understood to be His will, because He so governs the natures created by Him, as to determine all the counsels and the actions of men to the end decreed by Him. // It is easy to conclude how foolish and frail is the support of divine justice by the suggestion that evils come to be not by His will, but merely by His permission. Of course, so far as they are evils … I admit they are not pleasing to God. But it is quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely [idly] permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing but the author of them. // But the objection is not yet resolved, that if all things are done by the will of God, and men contrive nothing except by His will and ordination, then God is the author of all evils. // But when they call to mind that the devil, and the whole train of the ungodly, are, in all directions, held in by the hand of God as with a bridle, so that they can neither conceive any mischief, nor plan what they have conceived, nor how much soever they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetrate, unless in so far as [God] permits, nay, unless in so far as he commands; that they are not only bound by his fetters, but are even forced to do him service,—when the godly think of all these things they have ample sources of consolation. – John Calvin

So under hard divine determinism, God determines your every thought and action – there is no such thing as free will.

While under compatibilism, God merely determines your every desire – which you then ‘freely’ follow the greatest of, leading to your actual thoughts and actions.

Apparently, there is a meaningful difference there. It seems I have been determined / given the desire not to see it, however.

Why Compatibilism’s Theodicy Fails

This is an important circularity in the claim by Calvinists that humans can be considered genuinely free so long as their actions are in accordance with their desires (i.e. “voluntary”). Given the long-held Calvinistic belief that all events and actions are decreed by God, then human desire (the very thing that compatibilists claim allows human choices to be considered free) must itself also be decreed. But if so, then there is nothing outside of or beyond God’s decree on which human freedom might be based.

Reflections on my discussion with Matt Slick

Matt, after just denouncing determinism, says of this quote, “That’s good Calvinism.” (1:09) Do you see my frustration? On the one hand he denies being a determinist and then he affirms quotes like this which clearly state that Compatibilism “is a form a determinism and is not less deterministic than hard determinism.”


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