The desire for determinism

What I’m about to say might seem like a different language. At least, it’s not a very modern language. But, I believe we have already conceded our language to the opposition and are playing the language game by their rules. We just manage to shift some words around in the right order to make some semblance of Christian sense. But, it’s just like playing football using the rules of chess. Ultimately, it may not work. We must start to learn what the opposition learned years ago: if you want to change the collective consciousness of a people, you must change their language.

So, here it goes…

A large part of the rejection of God, conscious or unconscious, is a desire for determinism.

My explanation of this statement will begin by clearing up a misunderstanding about God. For mankind to be free, means that every act man takes is a result of the direct and immediate creative activity of God. A man’s actions can be considered to be free when no other thing constrains him; and that the choice he makes is not the result of some other creature or anything else guiding and directing him. But, let me clarify something. God is not anything else. God does not occupy the same universe as man, nor does he exist along side it. He is not an existent among existents; and therefore is not an outside force guiding man at some times and not at others. Yet, everything exists and continues to exist by God’s creative activity. If God were to stop his activity, everything would cease to be. It’s not that the universe would stop. It’s that there would be no universe to stop.

Now, for my purposes here I will group God’s creative activity into two categories: determined and free. By determined I simply mean that some things are caused by other things: such as the wind blowing a leaf. This could also be called indirect creative activity. By free I mean that Fred’s decision to ride his bike is not due solely to indirect creative activity. Indeed, Fred may ride his bike because his body feels like it want to be active. But, by free I also mean that there is an element of Fred’s decision that is not due to anything else. It is not the result of outside forces but is the direct activity of God making Fred’s action free.

Now, you may begin to understand my first statement. A rejection of God is a desire to be free from the direct creative activity of God whether one realizes it or not. It’s no wonder that many who deny the existence of God think themselves not free to have done so. They think they were determined to have done it. To them, logically, there is no other option but determinism.

Many of us have felt our actions to be determined in some way. This is what is meant by the psychological term addiction. We feel compelled to go back again and again and do the same thing. We have addictions to drugs, sex, food, and many other things. We may try to stop, but we feel as if we are being acted upon by some outside force. That is a glimpse of what it is like to live in rejection of God. But to be free, is not to be constrained by anything else, but to have nothing else in between the creative action of God and you. Freedom takes the direct creation of God. It’s ironic, though,  that God is usually rejected in the name of freedom.

Dear Determinist, (Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne, or whoever reads this first)

I’m sorry, but you’re not a real person. You don’t have your own thoughts, make your own decisions, or control your own actions. If you stand here and argue with me, I can only regard it as the universe arguing with itself. One part of the universe argues and says “A” is true and “B” is false, while another part of the universe declares “B” true and “A” false. The universe declares “A” and “B” to be both true and false, therefore truth is incoherent in this universe. In the absence of a standard outside of the universe, there is no truth for beings who are just another part of this incoherent universe.  So, determinist, you’ll have to excuse me if I can’t believe anything you say.

Heavy Burdens

The modern intellectual is like a man at a crossroads having many roads from which to choose. He picks a road easily enough and even delights that he has not taken the more unpopular or distasteful roads. But, his problem is not that he has started down the road, rather that he has stopped before the end and camped out.

There are many philosophical roads which travelers are proud to walk down, yet at the same time cannot bear the end of the journey. Materialist determinism is just such a road. Why? There is a difference between lightly but genuinely considering a philosophy and its end, and actually experiencing the reality of the road. As a traveler walks down the road, he must bear the weight of his realizations and each one increasingly weighs him down.

It’s one thing to realize all events in the history of the universe are completely predictable if one had possession of all the facts from the beginning  and knew how one atom bumped into another; and it’s another thing to realize that this applies to your thoughts as well. The realization that you had no choice in your thoughts is a heavy burden to carry throughout life. Your choice to love your neighbor or murder him was never up to you, but was determined from the beginning.  Mankind was never responsible for his unlawful deeds. Morality is incoherent because a man’s actions were never up to him, but determined from planck time.

Bearing the burdens of these realizations leads to the addition of another burden: the existence of genuine persons is now impossible. If your thoughts are not your own neither your actions, you can’t really be said to exist as a genuine person. There is no such thing as you. In fact, there is only one thing that is genuine — the universe. All the arguments, all the proofs, all the evidence, all science, all the thoughts, all the suffering, all the beliefs, all desires, love, hate, and evil, are not because of anything we did; but are the result of the universe moving matter and energy from one place to another and fizzing in places here and there. There is no you, no right, no wrong, no genuine observation of evidences and facts, no truth-tested theories — only an empty universe as it expands faster and faster getting farther apart until every spec of dust becomes completely alone.

Yet, the materialist determinist goes on excoriating other people’s beliefs wishing to bind them with the same chains and shackles with which he himself is bound. He argues fervently as if it really matters, as if he’s found the right way, as if he had real virtue in discovering it, as if all others were really and completely wrong and ought to know better. Doesn’t he know? He’s only fizzing stardust. He genuinely does not exist as a real person.  But no matter — he’s only traveled part way down his road. The burdens he has carried have weighed him down and he cannot take it anymore. The heat of a thousand insignificant days have wearied him and he cannot bear to think that he does not exist. So he has camped out underneath a tree. — While from somewhere in the distance a voice like refreshing waters echoes across the wasteland, “My burden is light; come all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11)