Q&A: Objections Against Libertarian Free Will

Q&A: Objections Against Libertarian Free Will

 

Greetings, I am a non-Christian specifically a Deist who wanted to comment on your article 5 Arguments For the Existence Of Free Will, however I am currently unable to comment in the comment section so I am doing it by Email. I am a Determinist who is very much sympathetic to Calvinism and I admire it to a great degree as the most rational of all revealed religions. I agree with Calvinists who believe that God predetermines everything, that God is the Author of Sin, (which does not impune his moral character if he has good reasons to causally determine sin) that we can be held responsible for our actions (and some thoughts) even though we don’t have free will. I agree that compatibilism is wrong, as it is redefining free will to be compatible with something it is not compatible with (determinism). Although I do use the word “choice” in a way that does not mean free will.  That is to clarify my position.

In your article you state that: “Libertarian Free Will asserts that: 1: The Man is the origin and cause of his own actions. 2: The Man, in most cases will have the ability to choose between 2 or more options. And whichever option he chooses, he did not have to make that choice. He could have chosen one of the alternatives. For example, if presented with A and Non-A, man chooses A, but he didn’t have to choose A. He could have chosen Non-A instead. It laid within his power to choose Non-A. He just didn’t exercise that power. 3: The Man’s choice was undetermined. Nothing internal or external to the man causally determined the man to make the choice he did. His choice was uncaused or undetermined.” I am not sure what you mean by number 1, do you mean it is uncaused, or that you self-caused your decision or that it simply came from yourself and your own nature (which I would agree, although this would contradict your second point)? Self creation is contradictory, as it is saying that you created yourself (or a part of yourself) in other words you existed before you existed!! Your second criteria is that Man could have done otherwise. This is problematic as it runs into the Standard Argument Against Free Will. There are 2 possibilities for How something can come into existence: that it was caused to do so or that it was uncaused. You could say that our decision was a mixture of both and I shall address that possibility in a bit. If the decision was caused then it was forced into existence by previous event(s). A cause must force a specific effect, or force several effects at the same time. If when I drop a pencil it could go in multiple places then it is unpredictable even in theory. And if all causes could have a multitude of effects there would be absolute chaos in the universe. Even every thought could have multiple possible results that that we could not predict. That would be a disaster and our minds full of chaos. So the material world is clearly at least mostly deterministic as are our minds/souls. Perhaps however some part of it is caused but not deterministic. Aka: there are certain causes that can have multiple effects. A question that I have is this: if a cause can have to multiple effects what caused it to go to one effect over another? If the answer is nothing then it was uncaused to have that specific effect which means that nothing caused it, including any previous acts of will. That means you had no control over it as controlling it would be causing it to go one way or another which would be causing the uncaused. The idea of uncaused free will is meaningless as it would be undirected, and random as any directing would be causing it. As you have stated deterministic free will is impossible as you ultimately have no control over the previous causes. Combining caused and uncaused parts into a decision is merely combining things over which you have no control over in order to grant control which is frankly absurd.

Your next sentence asks what reasons there are to believe that God has endowed (caused) us to have this type of (uncaused) free will!! How can God cause the uncaused? The same objection applies to an Atheist who asserts that an unguided evolutionary process of random mutation and non-random natural selection caused us to have uncaused free will. The origin of uncaused free will is as far as I can tell is impossible. Several more problems, as the genius Jonathan Edwards pointed out in his brilliant treatise Freedom Of The Will (Edwards, 1754) (See Here) that all of the arguments for the existence of God are useless particularly the cosmological argument. Premise 1 states that everything that begins to exist has a cause. Yet you believe that millions of uncaused decisions begin to exist every minute. If uncaused decisions can pop out of nothing for no reason at all why not the universe? In fact why not anything? Why not irreducibly complex structures? Why not our beliefs? Why would millions of uncaused events happen to pop into existence every minute for thousands of years only in the right part of the soul at the right times? Why not pop up everywhere else? Everything about it looks like it was caused to go there. If our thoughts are uncaused why should we trust a single thing we think when our reason would almost certainly be tampered with? If our reason is absolutely unreliable then we have no reason to even trust that we exist as we must reason that as we experience existence we must exist. Without logic we could exist and not exist at the same time. And existence could not be existence, as well as any absurdity that is thought of.

Now to your article. Your first argument is from moral accountability, that people cannot be held accountable for actions that they had to do. But what about the multitude of Bible verses where God hardens people’s heart and then punishes them for it? And further I insist along with Jonathan Edwards that you distinguish between natural inability and moral inability. Natural inability is something that forces you to do something against what you would (normally) will in moral cases. For example if you see a person drowning and you have no legs then you are obviously not accountable for rescuing them as you are naturally unable to save them. If you didn’t know about it then that similarly would be an excuse. Moral inability would be if you were too selfish and lazy to go save them, perhaps because you were born with overwhelmingly selfish and lazy inclinations. Would you not agree that a person would be accountable in that case? Everyone I have talked to about it has agreed that they would still be accountable even if they refuse to agree with me that we don’t have free will. Further would you agree that if someone is born with a character that makes them irresistibly inclined to do good deeds for others even at high cost to themselves (For example Jesus) they will still be praiseworthy for that action? If so you have granted that then you admit that we don’t need free will to be responsible for our actions and that our moral inability whether the result of factors such as our genetics, environment or our (inevitable) reaction to it. As for animals being responsible for there actions that are a result of there nature most people I know think that animals have free will and do not view them as accountable for there actions so there must be another reason such as the fact that they do not know that those actions are wrong and therefore cannot have a truly evil nature. As for your example of balls of course the balls are not responsible, they are not even conscious must less having any type of character or intentions!! We hold people responsible for the way (we believe) others have made them all the time. For example we often say that a persons character is a testament to the way there parents raised them in a good or bad way, yet this does not stop us from praising or blaming the child. So God does not automatically get of the hook for making us morally unable to avoid sinning, however he does if he has good enough reasons which is a different topic.

For your second point you mention several Bible passages that supposedly imply libertarian free will. the 1st is 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) “No temptation[c] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[d] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[e] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” If you look at the “c” you will see that the greek  for tempt may also mean tested. And that is clearly why God would let them be tempted to test them. The question then arises what is God testing? Quite clearly he is testing there character, loyalty, devotion, love or something along those lines. And clearly he is looking for a certain standard. And Paul is essentially telling them that God is giving them a way out so if they ARE SUFFICIENTLY MOTIVATED they may take it and that if they have the standard God has they will. They are naturally able to escape if they have the right character, no free will needed. The rest of your passages can be gone through quickly the ones about choosing are said by prophets and determinists such as myself often tell people to choose, does that make me a liar? The prophets were simply telling them this: you have 2 things that are available to you if you are motivated to (they literally say “if you wish” in one of your verses) God or idols. They are telling them the consequences of each in an attempt to shift there motives, no free will needed and if we had free will we would be able to act against our strongest motives making all exhortation, and promising threats and rewards in vain so these passages actually argue against free will. For the passages about free will offerings do you actually think that that they are making metaphysical points about human freedom or saying that they are voluntary and that punishment will not be threatened if you do not do it?

For your third argument you argue that love cannot be genuine without free will. First of all where is the biblical evidence for this? In 1 Corinthians 13 where love is defined and described there is nothing about love being freely given or even voluntary. And further I can show that it contradicts both the Bible and common sense. If your wife was so inclined to love you because she by nature likes your personality, appearance, intelligence etc that she could not help loving you would you regard that as ungenuine? The robot in your example would just be arbitrarily made to love you for no reason by a flawed human, so much different would it be for a person made to love you by a perfect God. And further the Bible declares that God is by nature love (1 John 4:8) so he did not choose to be loving which would according to your logic make it ungenuine!! In your response to Vexen Crabtree you attempt to address this point by saying that God is by nature loving while man is not therefore we need to freely choose it. However this ignores the fact that an individual human may be a loving person by nature. Although a person’s nature/character may change it still is the case that it may be an essential part of an individual at that time that they are loving which at least to me seems to make it genuine although I would like it better if it was permanent it is certainly still certainly adequate to me, no free will needed.

Your 4th point is that it makes God into a deceiver because we all have the illusion of free will. You use the analogy of God making the universe look like it is 13.8 Billion years old when it is actually 6,000. There are however a multitude of differences. One, there is no benefit to us and much harm if Christianity is true (in terms of people doubting there faith) coming from us being deceived by honest investigation of the world as to it’s age and getting the wrong answer from science in a way that (allegedly) contradicts the Bible. However there is much benefit coming from us feeling like we have free will in terms of motivation which persists even if we realise that it is an illusion. 2. If we inquire harder we can see through the illusion. This is similar to how we initially were deceived into thinking that the sun revolves around the earth by the observations of the sky, however when people were motivated by a desire to gain truth to focus there mind on being logical and investigating the world they eventually discovered that this was false. Does this make God into a deceiver in any evil way? Of course not!! It means that he wants it to be so that people who love truth will have to work hard to get it. This is very different from lying. The Bible does say that God sends certain people strong delusion so that they may believe a lie (2 Thessalonians 2:11) as a punishment for sin, which as shown above can be justly punished even if predetermined and rewards can be justly given as well. If the external world can have things that initially appear true but end up being false upon further investigation, they why not the way our minds work? As for your argument that free will is a properly basic belief, I shall refute it by showing that the illusion of free will is an inevitable by product of the way we know our minds work and therefore ruled out by Occam’s Razor. There are 3 things that meet this criteria. 1. That we are unaware of many of the causes of our thoughts. At this very moment we are not aware of all of our thoughts and the interactions between them. For example the music stuck in your head, the lighting of the room, all of the previous thoughts you have had the memories that are going through your head at the sights sounds and other sensations around you that trigger them, all of your motives, habits, subconscious thoughts, etc. Yet these things clearly are affecting us. 2. The sense of self control. We are aware that we can control our actions and even some thoughts if we are sufficiently motivated. 3. The fact that we imagine hypothetical options. I imagine that I can type this or that sentence, say this or that thing. I imagine things I can do. If you combine all 3 things you will get the illusion of free will: I am unaware of all of the things that cause me to use my self control making it seem almost random yet also something under my control and I imagine multiple options which is what I am controlling. Combine all of these things and you have the illusion of free will and Occam’s Razor now dictates that we should rule it out unless given additional evidence/arguments.

For the freethinking argument it is true that I could not have chosen better beliefs unless I was motivated to focus on doing so (and perhaps had access to better information) which would have required a different world with a different set of cause and effect. However it is self evident whether or not we are focusing on being rational and logical, imagining alternative hypothesis to what extent we have done this, etc. All conversations presuppose that if we are calmly focusing we can tell whether something is logical or not if corrected whether or not we have free will. If I were to ask you how you know you choose the right beliefs you would (probably) say that you choose to exercise your reason as much as you could and that you have investigated the opposing sides arguments to a great extent, thought about it a lot while focusing on using logic, ect. I would say more or less the same thing although I would say that I was determined by my strongest motive to focus on being logical and applying it to the question. As for the idea that if the soul doesn’t exist libertarian free will doesn’t exist that is true. On the other hand if souls do exist free will also doesn’t exist as my argument against free will given in the beginning of this comment applies to souls as well. I look forward to your response if you do response and I thank you in advance for doing so.

— Sam

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Before I address your objections to the existence of libertarian free will, let me just get this out of the way. You said “I am a Determinist who is very much sympathetic to Calvinism and I admire it to a great degree as the most rational of all revealed religions. I agree with Calvinists who believe that God predetermines everything, that God is the Author of Sin, (which does not impune his moral character if he has good reasons to causally determine sin) that we can be held responsible for our actions (and some thoughts) even though we don’t have free will.”  — This couldn’t be more wrong. On determinism, God is certainly the author of evil and therefore evil himself. In fact, on divine determinism, God would really be the worst sinner of them all, being the fount from which every evil ever committed springs. God would be responsible for the fall of Adam and Eve, the Holocaust, every rape, every murder, every cruel and prolonged torture. All of it would be God’s fault! Why? Because, as I said in my article, every cause is responsible for it’s effect. If I knock a ball off of a table, who is responsible for the ball falling off of the table, the ball or me? Obviously, I am. I am the one who caused the ball to fall off of the table. The ball had no say in the matter. It could do nothing but what I decreed for it to do. Now, if this ball were somehow sentient and freely chose to jump off of the table against my wishes, that would be a different story. In such a scenario, we could certainly hold the ball accountable for I had nothing to do with it, the choice originated in the sentient ball, and the ball had the power to choose otherwise.

Sometimes to get God off the hook, determinists will appeal to “secondary causes”, but this is less than a persuasive rebuttal. Anyone could plainly see that if I caused the ball to fall off the table via the use of an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine, I would still be just as responsible as I would be if I knocked the ball off directly with my hands! Since the effect of the ball’s falling would still be my volition, It would still be my fault that the ball fell. The ball would not be accountable.

It gets worse when the Calvinist’s soteriology comes into play (i.e the T.U.L.I.P). For on the Calvinist scheme, not only has God caused everyone to commit every sin, but He punishes the vast majority of mankind in eternal torment for the sins He caused them to commit! John Calvin said “[God] arranges all things by his sovereign council, in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction.”1 If God sends people to Hell for sinning, and yet God is the reason people sinned, then God is punishing people for doing what He caused them to do. It would be one thing if man fell into sin of his own free will and volition, but for God to cause man to sin and then punish him for the sins he caused him to do is obviously not justice. The problem for God’s goodness on Calvinism is not simply that he doesn’t want to save all (though that would impugn His love to an extent, and ergo undermine His maximal greatness). The real problem for God’s goodness on Calvinism is that God created a problem for everyone and chooses to solve it only for some.

Calvinism makes God out to be like a doctor who infects his entire hospital and then offers the cure only to some of his patients and lets the rest die. On Calvinistic determinism, how is God better than Dr. Mengele, who infected his patients with diseases and refused to give them the cure? We rightfully call Mengele evil don’t we? Then why wouldn’t God be evil if he did the same thing?

As far as the greater good defense goes (i.e having good reasons for evil), I think this can only work with God permitting sin, but not with Him being the cause of it. On the greater good theodicy, God allows some evils to occur because He knows that if He permits evil X to occur, then some greater good Y would come about as a result. For example, God knows that if Stacey comes to the end of herself, then she would realize her desperate need for God and come to Him. But on divine determinism, there would be no need to let Stacey experience that suffering that brought her to the foot of the cross. God could have done an end-run around that by zapping Stacey with irresistible grace.

Objection 1: Libertarian Free Will Is Uncaused


In my article “5 Arguments For The Existence Of Free Will”, I described Libertarian Free Will as follows;  “Libertarian Free Will asserts that: 1: The Man is the origin and cause of his own actions. 2: The Man, in most cases will have the ability to choose between 2 or more options. And whichever option he chooses, he did not have to make that choice. He could have chosen one of the alternatives. For example, if presented with A and Non-A, man chooses A, but he didn’t have to choose A. He could have chosen Non-A instead. It laid within his power to choose Non-A. He just didn’t exercise that power. 3: The Man’s choice was undetermined. Nothing internal or external to the man causally determined the man to make the choice he did. His choice was uncaused or undetermined.” 

You objected to this as follows; ” I am not sure what you mean by number 1, do you mean it is uncaused, or that you self-caused your decision or that it simply came from yourself and your own nature (which I would agree, although this would contradict your second point)? Self creation is contradictory, as it is saying that you created yourself (or a part of yourself) in other words you existed before you existed!! Your second criteria is that Man could have done otherwise. This is problematic as it runs into the Standard Argument Against Free Will. There are 2 possibilities for How something can come into existence: that it was caused to do so or that it was uncaused.”

What I meant by “uncaused” was that there was nothing except the agent’s own volition that caused the act. God didn’t make Agent A choose to do what he did, the laws of nature and chemistry didn’t force Agent A to do what he did, nor did any non-divine agent make Agent A choose to do what he did. The only one who made Agent A choose as he did was Agent A himself. I admit that I could worded that first criterion a little differently. Our actions aren’t uncaused, but rather they are caused, by us. Now, you said that this is incoherent since “it is saying that you created yourself (or part of yourself) in other words you existed before you existed”. I don’t understand this objection, Sam. You don’t cause yourself to come into existence by making a choice. The only thing you cause to come into existence is your making of the choice. You exist at the time you exercise your volition. Your mind exists at the time you exercise your volition. Your volition is even present at the time you exercise your volition. At the time prior to choosing to move your legs, all of the necessary conditions are present. If your legs don’t move, it’s because you lacked a sufficient condition; your decision. Now, you can will for your decision to be different prior to the time of making it, and thus, you stand still. Or, you can choose to put one foot in front of the other and thus, you begin walking (this is criterion two for libertarian free will).

Hopefully, you can see that our choices aren’t something that pop into being without a cause, we are the cause. We exercise our God-given faculties to cause our actions.I apologize for muddying the waters with my description.

Objection 2: Problem With The Principle Of Alternative Possibilities 

You wrote \”Your second criteria is that Man could have done otherwise. This is problematic as it runs into the Standard Argument Against Free Will. There are 2 possibilities for How something can come into existence: that it was caused to do so or that it was uncaused. You could say that our decision was a mixture of both and I shall address that possibility in a bit. If the decision was caused then it was forced into existence by a previous event(s). A cause must force a specific effect, or force several effects at the same time. If when I drop a pencil it could go in multiple places then it is unpredictable even in theory. And if all causes could have a multitude of effects there would be absolute chaos in the universe. Even every thought could have multiple possible results that we could not predict. That would be a disaster and our minds full of chaos. “\

Based on the way you worded your objection to the Principle Of Alternative Possibilities, I get the impression that you have the common misconception that that PAP entails that our choices are random, spontaneous events. Hence, your analogy of the dropped pencil being able to go in multiple places when it is dropped.

Kenneth Keathley rebuts this point in his book Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach. Keathley wrote “Compatibilists work from the intuition that if a choice is undetermined then it must be capricious. Indeterminism is equated with inexplicable choices in which an agent’s will is disconnected from the rest of his person, resulting in random and chaotic choices that bewilder even the agent. In this scenario, free will resembles something akin to Tourette syndrome or epilepsy rather than a moral ability. But as determinists admit, in this field intuitions must be questioned. Kane responds by arguing, ‘It is a mistake to assume that undetermined means ‘uncaused.’’ Rather, one must think of the effort to choose and indeterminism as ‘fused,’ not that indeterminism is something that occurs before or after the choice. The fact that the choice is indeterminate doesn’t make it any less the agent’s choice, nor does it make the choice simply a matter of chance or luck. So the objection that undetermined choices are ‘happenings’ is question-begging. It assumes what the objector wishes to prove: that all choices are determined.2

Objection 3: Problems With The Argument From Moral Accountability 


You wrote “Your first argument is from moral accountability, that people cannot be held accountable for actions that they had to do. But what about the multitude of Bible verses where God hardens people’s heart and then punishes them for it?” — The passages in the book of Exodus which say that God hardened Pharoah’s heart resulting in Pharaoh refusing to let the Israelites go free certainly seem to prima facie suggest that God prevented Pharoah to disobey. However, when you look at all of the places where it talks about Pharoah’s heart being hardened, I think a better interpretation of this phenomenon should be adopted.

This is what my Apologetics Study Bible has to say on the subject.

“The Bible teaches that people are free to make choices (Genesis 2:19 Ezekiel 18:2-32) God is good (Psalm 25:8; 34;8; 100:5) and always acts consistently with His nature. Yet people can choose to rebel against God’s goodness and consistent rebellion can lead to their hearts being hardened. As the old saying goes ‘The same sun that melts butter also hardens clay.’Egyptian Pharaohs believed they were divine and Pharaoh would have never been inclined to surrender to the Israelite’s God. Each time God placed a demand on him, he became more determined to resist. Thus, it was both God’s demands and Pharaoh’s own pride motivated stubbornness that led to his hardened heart. God would use Pharaoh’s stubbornness for a good end, to demonstrate his power and extend his reputation.”3

So it may not be the case that God wanted Pharoah’s heart to be hardened and therefore directly caused it to be hard. Rather, God hardened his heart by continuing to demand him to let the people go. If God hadn’t kept demanding the Pharaoh, his heart wouldn’t have been hardened. This would be like when we say a person angered us. You could say “Tom angered me”. In saying this, you wouldn’t mean that Tom took over your mind and caused you to feel the sensation of anger. Tom angered you because Tom did something that provoked your angry emotion. In the same way, God didn’t take over Pharaoh’s heart and mind and caused him to resist Him. Rather, it was God’s insistent demands that caused Pharaoh to freely choose to harden his heart against God.

One might accuse this interpretation of being ad-hoc, and I would agree if it weren’t for the fact that The Bible speaks of Pharoah’s heart being hardened from more than one perspective. Exodus 8:15 says that Pharoah hardened his own heart. Exodus 8:32 also says that Pharoah was the one who hardened his heart. In Exodus 14:8, it is said that God is the one that hardened Pharoah’s heart. So which is it? Did Pharoah harden his own heart or did God harden it? I think the answer is both. The explanation I gave above would account for how The Bible could speak of both God hardening Pharoah’s heart and of Pharoah doing the hardening.

*Natural Inability VS. Moral Inability

I don’t find the distinction between natural inability and moral inability to be a very good one. I don’t think the distinction makes any difference. On determinism, our moral character and choices are the way they are. We have no control over them. Therefore, if a person is naturally cruel natured and this causes him to watch an innocent boy helplessly flail about in a river before drowning, I would hold this person no more to blame than a person who wanted to save him, but couldn’t because he was a double amputee! For in both cases, the agents were unable to make a choice other than what they did. Both had no ability to rescue the drowning boy. The double amputee, because he was unable to move. The sadist, because his temperament causally determined him to stand back and take pleasure in the boy’s demise. I don’t think you can be responsible unless you are response-able (i.e able to respond), and on determinism, neither the double-amputee nor the sadist was able to respond. One was physically disabled and the other was determined either by brain chemistry, his moral nature, or God’s decree not to respond. The two are different types of inabilities to be sure, but they are inabilities nonetheless.

I don’t blame fire for burning me. I would blame a person for attacking me with a flamethrower because I fully believe that he didn’t have to do that. He could have chosen not to use the flamethrower on me. I wouldn’t blame a robot for killing me with his laser gun. I would, however, blame the man who programmed him.

In Captain America: Civil War, I hold that Iron Man’s rage at The Winter Soldier to be unreasonable. Why? Because he couldn’t have chosen other than to murder Tony’s parents. The ones to blame are Hydra. Hydra are the ones that programmed Bucky to be a killing machine. So, Iron Man’s rage should be directed at them.

Objection 4: The Biblical Evidence Of Libertarian Free Will 

With regards to 1 Corinthians 10:13, you commit a linguistic fallacy almost immediately. Randy Everist rebuts this argument saying “It’s one of the more abused layperson fallacies to say something like, ‘This Greek word *can* be translated as X instead of Y, so it means X.’ That’s not how it works at all! Words have a semantic range, and that range does not mean that *all* such translations are applicable. It means that you can select from that range. Sometimes it’s really evident which one should be chosen, other times you have two or three or more candidates. In any case, the selected word should be argued for, not thrown out there as correct because it’s in the semantic range.”

You also have a fairly unsubstantiated view. You say things like “clearly,” but it doesn’t seem clear at all. In fact, the church at Corinth was admonished for their pagan practices. In fact, Paul assumes that v. 13 forms the basis for v. 14. He tells them because you have a way of escape, flee from idols. These verses being connected suggest that the Corinthians could potentially serve idols (and did! See chapter 12 and the discussion of eating meat offered to idols in chapter 8), and could potentially avoid so doing.

As for you telling people to choose, I wouldn’t call you a liar. I would just think this is another example of a determinist living inconsistently with his determinism. I see people all the time who are self-proclaimed determinists but they live as though people had libertarian freedom. When I’ve poked fun at Calvinism, they got mad at me, as though I had the ability to choose not to make the meme that poked fun at Calvinism. When they witness to non-Christians, they behave as though it’s the non-Christian’s fault that he’s rejecting the gospel message. They behave as though he could accept Christ but just chooses not to.

In the case of Deuteronomy 30 and Joshua 24, if the Israelites were really incapable of choosing between A (God) and non-A (idols), then the prophets (not to mention God himself) would be insincere in their offer. For God knows full well what He intends on causing them to do. It would be deceptive of Him to make the Israelites think what god they worship is truly up to them. Unlike human determinists, God would be too smart to forget that determinism is true and act as though LFW exists.

Objection 5: An Objection To The Argument From Love


I see no reason to think there’s any difference between a robot determined to love me and a person determined to love me by God. The fact that man is flawed and God is perfect doesn’t seem like a meaningful distinction to me. The fact of the matter is that in both cases, love is just automata. Automata originating from flawed man or perfect deity is still automata either way.

And yes, there is nothing in The Bible about free will being a prerequisite to love. This is a philosophical argument. The Bible teaches that humans have free will, but it doesn’t tell us why God would prefer that we have it than be determined by Him. We learn this through philosophy.

My response to Crabtree was that God is by nature loving and that love is an essential attribute that makes God who God is. If God were not loving, then He would cease to be God. Being perfectly loving is an essential attribute of a Maximally Great Being. By contrast, a human being can lack love, but that doesn’t make him any less human. Hitler and Stalin were just as human as Mother Teresa. My argument it is greater to be essentially loving than to just-so-happen-to-be loving (i.e by free choice). The greatest conceivable being wouldn’t just choose to love at all times, but it would be an essential part of who He is.

My argument wasn’t that God has a loving nature, but that it’s impossible for God to be unloving. Just as hotness is an essential and necessary attribute of fire, love is an essential and necessary attribute of God. To lack it would result in a lesser god. As St. Anselm put it, “if you can conceive of a being greater than God, then that being is God.”

Objection 6: Objection To The God-Is-A-Deceiver Argument 

I think you don’t quite understand what a properly basic belief is. A properly basic belief is a belief that one is justified in holding without any external warrant. This includes self-evident axioms (cogito ergo sum) and, arguably, directly observed (hence empirical) facts. A properly basic belief is not necessarily a true belief (though I would hold that some are). A properly basic belief is just simply a belief one is justified in holding even in the absence of any arguments or evidence. A properly basic belief can be refuted if a powerful defeater is presented, which is what your entire e-mail attempted to do. You haven’t shown free will is a properly basic belief. All you’ve done is try to show defeaters to this properly basic belief. Defeaters that I don’t think are successful.

As for the God-is-a-deceiver argument, I’m not sure how to respond. You might have a good point. That’s alright. While I did think it was a good argument (or else I wouldn’t have included it), I did find it to be the least strong out of the 5.

Objection 7: The FreeThinking Argument


P1) If naturalism is true, the immaterial human soul does not exist.

P2) If the soul does not exist, libertarian free will does not exist.

P3) If libertarian free will does not exist, rationality and knowledge do not exist.

P4) Rationality and knowledge exist.

C1) Therefore, libertarian free will exists.

C2) Therefore, the soul exists.

C3) Therefore, naturalism is false.

I’m not sure The FreeThinking Argument depends on being able “to choose your beliefs”. It simply depends on being able to weigh the evidence pro and con, think critically, deliberate, and come to a conclusion. This, I would argue, cannot be done if determinism is true (hence the affirmation of premise 3). If you reason to a wrong conclusion, it’s because you were determined (by brain chemistry, God’s divine decree, or whatever) to make a fallacy somewhere along the way. If your view is correct, we cannot reason. Our brains can only fire certain ways. In his article “Deliberation Requires Liberation”, philosopher Tim Stratton wrote “If exhaustive determinism is true, then the non-rational laws of nature and past events, or God, always exhaustively determines a person’s considerations, examinations, and estimations (all of one’s thoughts about their beliefs and one’s beliefs about their thoughts). If that is the case, then the person cannot rationally affirm or provide justification that their beliefs really are the best or true (including their belief that determinism is true). With this in mind, it seems that libertarian freedom is necessary if one genuinely possesses the ability to rationally evaluate one’s thoughts/beliefs and to deliberate in the truest sense.” 4

Since you obviously agree with premise 4 (since you think we can know determinism is true) and you said yourself that premise 2 is true, then premise 3 must be the only premise you find debatable. But you haven’t really addressed it. You attacked a straw man since the premise doesn’t say anything about being able to choose our beliefs. The premise says that if libertarian free will doesn’t exist, then we cannot have knowledge (justified true belief) that was arrived at through a true rational process. The beliefs we hold might just happen to be true, but they wouldn’t count as justified since they wouldn’t have been arrived at through a rational process. They would have been arrived at through a mechanical, deterministic process which we mistook for reasoning.

On determinism, the reason you’re a determinist and I’m not is just simply due to the fact that either God had different plans for us or our circumstances caused a chain of events that caused us to arrive at our currently held beliefs.

Before I finish, I’d like to say that you’re right in pointing out that just because souls exist, that doesn’t mean libertarian free will also exists. However, that is certainly not the case the other way around. If libertarian freedom exists, then souls exist, since libertarian freedom is impossible on physicalism/naturalism.

Conclusion 


You’re free to be a deterministic Calvinist if you so choose. This is an in-house debate among genuine Christians. What I care most about is that you give your life to Jesus Christ and receive forgiveness for your sins, whatever system of divine providence or soteriology you embrace. However, I find Molinism to be a much more intellectually satisfying and biblically tenable theological position. Deterministic Calvinism just has way too many holes in it.

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NOTES

1: John Calvin, “Concerning The Eternal Predestination Of God”, X.9

2: Keathley, Kenneth. Salvation and Sovereignty (Kindle Locations 1307-1316). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

3: The Apologetics Study Bible, first edition, pages 91-92, footnote on 4:21, Holman

4: Tim Stratton, “Deliberation Requires Liberation”, FreeThinking Ministries, October 2018,  http://freethinkingministries.com/deliberation-requires-liberation/

If you have any questions about Christian theology or apologetics, send Mr. Minton an E-mail at CerebralFaith@Gmail.com. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Christian or Non-Christian, whether your question is about doubts you’re having or about something you read in The Bible that confused you. Send your question in, whatever it may be, and Mr. Minton will respond in a blog post just like this one. 

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