Friday, June 3, 2016

Free Will is an Illusion: Yes or No? (C'mon, hurry up and decide)

While I would love to spend hours unpacking this article with you today, I've also got a sermon to write for Sunday, so for now you'll just have to be content with two quick thoughts.
Determinism (the belief that free will is an illusion) is growing in popularity in recent decades, set in motion by Darwin's theory of evolution 150 years ago. The sciences have grown steadily bolder in their claim that all human behavior can be explained through the clockwork laws of cause and effect. This is the idea at the center of Stephen Cave's recent article published on The Atlantic, "There's No Such Thing as Free Will".

“We cannot afford for people to internalize the truth”, says Saul Smilansky, a philosophy professor at the University of Haifa, in Israel “the more people accept the determinist picture, the worse things will get.”

Two quick thoughts:

1. If determinism is true, if our decisions are really just dominoes falling and free will is an illusion, then how can society believing it make things worse? How can more people accept the determinist picture in the first place? Aren't we all either genetically determined to either believe it or not believe it (and by the same logic, isn't society determined already to either get worse or better)? 

So both the choice to believe this theory and the attempt to prevent society's worsening are both logically incoherent on this view. Both my beliefs and how bad society gets are already determined, and we're all just along for the ride. So kick back your heals, Smilansky, and enjoy the ride (and I'll come plunder your house of all your valuables and you'd better not complain about it).

2. If the clear outcome of your worldview is “the more people accept [my proposed worldview or philosophy], the worse things will get", at what point do you start asking yourself if the juice is worth the squeeze? How bad do the logical outworkings of your worldview have to get before you start doing some serious soul-searching? How far down the slippery slope do you have to slide before you start thinking "This view is not only logically inconsistent, but it goes again the deepest human intuitions"?


Paul G said...

Hi Jared, It is obvious that we have a free will, otherwise men would not be guilty of sin.
If we will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we will be saved, and if we will not believe, we will be damned.
It's very simple, isn't it ? :-)

Damian Romano said...

Of course we have a will that is free to choose what we wish. But that needs to be seen in light of the Bible's clear teaching on our moral inability to choose good (Romans 8:7). Fallen man has no desire to honor God without the quickening, life-giving, regeneration of God's Spirit that enables us for this very task (Eph 2:4-5).

Jared Totten said...


Totally agree. We are free to choose what we want (and thus, morally responsible for our choices), but sin has so corrupted us that we are wholly unwilling to choose towards God without God giving us a new heart first.

Thus, God is completely sovereign, salvation is monergistic, and yet we have real freedom (though not in the libertarian sense) which preserves our moral culpability. From the bit I've read, this would be considered compatibilism, correct?

Paul G said...

Thanks Jarred, the way I look at the Scriptures, I think that the only salvation which is monergistic is the new birth (to be born again), meaning saved from a dead state unto life. That salvation is a free gift from God so that boasting is excluded.

Any other salvation is synergistic, meaning that a man has to play his part and believe, or call on the name of the Lord in order to be saved from whatever he need to be saved from.

That is the only way which makes sense to me