An Argument Against Divine Determinism

C.S. Lewis wrote the following excerpt as an argument from reason against atheism. It struck me today that one can use a similar argument against Calvinism. But first C.S. Lewis’s argument against atheism:

“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.” [1]

Here is my similar argument against Calvinism:

Supposing there was no indeterministic autonomy or contingency behind our choices, no free will. In that case, God did not design my will for the purpose of genuine freedom. It is merely that when a choice is made, it is the effect in time of what God previously determined I think, desire and do. This gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call choice. But, if I’m divinely determined to believe everything I do believe, whether wrong or right, how can I trust my own thinking about anything I believe to be true? It’s like believing that everything is divinely determined and then pretending that your belief in divine determinism itself is a result of rationality and not simply because you were divinely determined to believe it. For if I can’t ultimately control my own thinking and choosing, I can’t trust the arguments leading to Calvinistic determinism either, and therefore have no rational reason to be a Calvinist, or reject Arminianism as false. Unless I believe in indeterministic freedom of the will, my thoughts are just uncontrollable bi-products of God’s determinism of all things, and I cannot believe my Calvinism to be true according to reason: so I can never use Calvinistic arguments to disbelieve Arminianism.

William Lane Craig wrote five BRILLIANT arguments against Calvinism’s acceptance of determinism and/or compatibilism. You can find all five of them here. One of his arguments greatly underlines the point above and highlights the abject failure of Calvinism to be rationally affirmed. Craig states:

“Universal causal determinism cannot be rationally affirmed. There is a sort of dizzying, self-defeating character to determinism. For if one comes to believe that determinism is true, one has to believe that the reason he has come to believe it is simply that he was determined to do so. One has not in fact been able to weigh the arguments pro and con and freely make up one’s mind on that basis. The difference between the person who weighs the arguments for determinism and rejects them and the person who weighs them and accepts them is wholly that one was determined by causal factors outside himself to believe and the other not to believe. When you come to realize that your decision to believe in determinism was itself determined and that even your present realization of that fact right now is likewise determined, a sort of vertigo sets in, for everything that you think, even this very thought itself, is outside your control. Determinism could be true; but it is very hard to see how it could ever be rationally affirmed, since its affirmation undermines the rationality of its affirmation.” [2]



About StriderMTB

Hi, I'm Matt. "Strider" from Lord of the Rings is my favorite literary character of all time and for various reasons I write under the pseudonym "StriderMTB. As my blog suggests I seek to live out both the excitement and tension of a Christian walk with Christ in the 3rd world context of Asia. I started my blog as an unmarried man who was blessed to oversee an orphanage of amazing children in South-East Asia. As of 2022, I am a happily married man to an amazing missionary wife serving together on the mission field. I hate lima beans and love to pour milk over my ice-cream. I try to stay active in both reading and writing and this blog is a smattering of my many thoughts. I see the Kingdom of God as Jesus preached it and lived to be the only hope for a broken world and an apathetic church.
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