So there’s this guy who told me that:

1) We have free thoughts;
2) But not free will, God orders our steps.

I am trying to parse the difference between the two but don’t mind some help.

I thought of scifi and fantasy analogies to try and pin down the concept:

  • Alita Battle Angel, where the bad guy dissects your brain and eyes out into a life support jar – the victim can perceive and think, but not act.
  • HalfLife 2, where if a headcrab parasites onto you, the victim is fully aware of what horrors his mutated body is forced to do but cannot act otherwise, since the alien has hacked into his spinal cord.
  • Dota2, where an arrogant wizard trapped himself inside the mind of the monster Naix. The latter has full control, the former can only go along for the ride as a disembodied mind.

But none of these actually stop the victim’s will from existing. They merely prevent the victim from carrying out anything with their will. They can still both think about their predicament, and will (want, wish, intend, desire) to try and escape it or have someone rescue them from it.

It’s a bit like the Calvinist bad argument, “You think you have free will? Then can you fly like a bird?” which conflates the intent to do something with the ability to carry it out.

(But the examples I give DO illustrate the existential horror of being sentient characters who cannot control anything about themselves or their lives, as in the ‘God is the novel writer’ analogy that some Calvinists use. We are all storybook characters, we cannot do other than what the author has already plotted out, BUT WE WILL BE FULLY AWARE OF THE ETERNAL SUFFERING IN HELL.)


  1. br.d Says:

    We know that determinists of many strips – just to have a sense of normalcy in live – incorporate what I call *AS-IF* thinking. For example, Stephen Hawking telling an audience he believes Libertarian Freedom doesn’t exist – but he lives *AS-IF* it does. And John Calvin’s belief that all things are determined in every part – yet the disciple is to -quote “go about his office *AS-IF* nothing is determined in any part”.

    Dr. William Lane Craig identifies this pattern of thinking as a reflection of the determinist’s psychology – rather than his theology.

    Essentially, determinists live in a world in which they both affirm and deny their belief system.

    After having observed this pattern of “Having it both ways” enough times with Calvinists I now take it as part of their attempts to retain a sense of normalcy. And determinists are very inventive in how they go about it.

    I think this guy who wants to reject free will – and yet have a mind that is free has simply created his own little private *AS-IF* thinking pattern.

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