J/A and Dr. Elisha Weismann
“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:6-9
There is a clear distinction between the mind of God and the mind of man. The struggle to define the boundaries of accountability and free choice is drawn between definitions of freedom. Free will is the ability to choose A or to not choose A without any compelling force that causes the choice, as opposed to determinism which is the view that God from eternity past has determined all things whatsoever comes to pass. Yet if determinism (viz, compatibilist freedom/soft determinism) is true, and our minds are simply following predetermined responses, then ultimately God is having a universal chess match with Himself.
Free will is important in distinguishing the difference between an infallible creator, and fallible humans. Permitting free will demonstrates that man makes choices that God would not make, and thoughts that God would not think, actions that God would not take. Free will shows that God’s thoughts and actions are infinitely superior to humans. By God allowing man to think and act independently without any external or internal compulsion, man proves that he is incapable of making the best and wisest choices. When man is given the choice to decide between A and B, and chooses B where God would have chosen A, man’s free will shows that he can not possibly be like God.
Free will proves the sovereignty of God far more than a deterministic system. If God determines that man chooses A, then ultimately man has not actually had the ability to make a decision that is independent from God, and if God controls the response as well as the decision, then there is no way to prove that man is not just as equally as intelligent as God.
In a compatibilist form of free will, compatibilists deny that man has the ability to refrain from choosing A or B, but only the freedom to incline and such inclinations being programmed into the man’s will. Thus man is still doing what he wants to do out of the will that he has been programmed with.
Thus, if a computer prints out the letters “ABCDEFG”, it does so not because it chooses to but because that is the manner in which the software has been designed to produce the sequence of letters. The computer is in effect printing what it wants to print based on the software that has given it its available options. However, if a glitch is introduced into the system that causes the computer to print “AXYZEFG” can the computer itself be blamed for its production?
The actions of the computer reflect the programming of the software designer. When a computer fails to produce what it was designed to produce, the creator of the software is held accountable because there is no distinction between the results produced by the computer, and the actions of the programmer. Thus ultimately, man who is pre-programmed to act out of a determined inclination can not be responsible or accountable for what he produces because his own actions and inclinations were not the cause or the ultimate origin of the glitches, but that of the programming.
For God to be the cause of man’s sinful actions and poor choices, deprives God of the ability to claim that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts because inevitably, our thoughts ARE His thoughts if our thoughts are the result of His determining. Compatibilist freedom is no more than a human philosophical attempt to be God. It turns our frailties into God’s attributes by proxy and extension.
Let God be true, and every man a liar (Rom 3:4). Albeit, man can not be said to be a liar if his thoughts and actions are concurrently dictated by that which God determines them to be predisposed to. Ultimately, God would be the cause of the lie, and could not consistently maintain His own truthfulness. The Bible shows an obvious distinction between choice and causation, yet determinism would opine that the 2 are equal:
“Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD” Deuteronomy 12:11
Only libertarian free will provides the distinction between God and humans. Only the permissive will of God that allows humans to act independently and autonomously proves that man is a complete failure in comparison to God. God proves nothing of Himself by determining men to fail. There is a way that seems right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Prov 14:12. We see this concept often in our own families with our children. We often permit children to do things that we don’t always approve of, only for them to return later and say “Dad, you were right”. If we force them to do precisely what we desire, we can make no distinction between their reasons, will, and choices from ours. Thus we demonstrate that we are wiser than our children by allowing them to freely fail.
The concept of free will and accountability for choices is ingrained not only into our morals but also our governments. In the legal system, duress is a defense against actions that compelled the defendant to act otherwise than he would have chosen to. Likewise those who compel another to commit a crime are charged with conspiracy.The Bible is replete with examples of free will and accountability:
“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” 1 Kings 18:21
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8
“There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Genesis 39:9
” Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” Hebrews 11:25
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” Luke 14:28
“Go and say unto David, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.” 2 Samuel 24:12
” And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21
” But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them….I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” Deut 30:17,19.
Furthermore, the Old Testament is full of moments where God shows anger for rebellion against Him. Isaiah 65:2, 2 Sam 4:21, Exodus 4:14, 2 Kings 13:3, Numbers 12:9, Joshua 7:1-13, 2 Sam 24:1, Isaiah 5:25, Judges 2:14. That fact that God reacts negatively to decisions that are made against His will show that God did not determine their actions. It would be absurd to imply that God is angry over actions that He determined and caused.
” And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech;which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.” Jeremiah 32:35
“Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not.” Isaiah 65:12
The fact that the Bible itself proscribes against compelling others to sin and choose to act negatively is telling of the character of God. Mark 9:42, Romans 14:21.
There are clear Biblical and logical reasons to reject any form of determinism and compatibilist freedom. Divine determinism is an affront to the sovereignty of God because it not only makes the human will and mind equal to God and provides no distinction between His thoughts and our thoughts as it only claims to limit capacity but not origin, it fails to prove that God always chooses that which is ultimately the best and wisest choices by eliminating any standard of comparison to that which is autonomously inferior, thus obscuring God’s own will as well as turning options themselves into a deity equally rivaling God’s omnipotence.
When determinism is compared to Scripture, and reduced to its logical denouement it fails miserably as a legitimate explanation of our relationship to God, our accountability and responsibility for decisions, the very existence of choices, and God’s own autonomy and omnipotence. No Christian should ever be a compatibilist. Only free will rightly provides the distinction that demonstrates the holiness and sovereignty of God.
See also short excerpts from Dr. Elisha Weismann’s debate on secondary causation on our forum