Christian Determinism

In the past blog, we have seen how science can help us understand how God is involved in our natural world.  In this blog, we will again use science but in a different way.

Science is materialistic.  Webster’s defines materialism as a philosophical view “that regards matter and its motions as constituting the universe, and all phenomena, including those of mind, as due to material agencies.”  In other words, the material world is all that exists.  If the material world is all that exists, there is no room for God.

Materialism is also deterministic.  Determinism believes that every event is caused or necessitated by all other events that make up the system.  All change is determined by previous actions; the immediate cause of our actions is a chain of events stretching into the remote past.  The universe, and that includes us, is like a clock.  All the gears, springs, and hands and how all the parts are assembled determine how the clock functions.  One who knows how the clock is made and assembled can predict the appearance of the clock in the future.  Likewise, a mind that knows everything about how our universe is constructed could predict our every action.

Most religious people are firmly opposed to materialism.  However, most believe that God controls all aspects of our lives.  They reason that since God is all-powerful and sovereign he must control all the events on this earth.  They reason that since God is all knowing he knows what choices we will make and therefore we must make those choices.  Some even believe that God brings about our sinful behavior but he has a good reason for doing this. [1]  Such a view is also deterministic and is no different from the materialists.  The end result is the same:  we humans are puppets to either God or to the impersonal forces of the natural world.

So science and religion both seem to assert we humans have no free will.  Where did this idea come from that we have free will?

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[1]   John M. Frame, No Other God (Phillipsburg, NJ:  P & R Publishing, 2001), pp. 67-74.

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One Response to Christian Determinism

  1. Oumar says:

    I have had many of those same conversations. I reemebmr reading a biography of C.S.Lewis which chronicled his conversion. He was frequently confronted with the struggle of mustering up enough faith to take what he saw as a blind leap into belief. It was years later when he said that he came to faith on the basis of how many questions were answered by God, not by how many questions went unanswered. That is true faith versus blind trumped-up faith. Hold strong to the real kind of faith. God is not known through mystery, but through gracious self-disclosure.

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