"How long do you have to get hit in the head before you start asking who's hitting you in the head?"

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Some Thoughts on Calvinism

I received a comment* a few days ago that prompted me to think about Calvinism/predestination. I Googled the man himself and learned some remarkable things, such as
[w]hen we attribute foreknowledge to God, we mean that all things have ever been, and perpetually remain, before His eyes, so that to His knowledge nothing in future or past, but all things are present; and present in such a manner, that He does not merely conceive of them from ideas formed in His mind, as things remembered by us appear present to our minds, but really beholds and sees them as if actually placed before Him. And this foreknowledge extends to the whole world, and to all the creatures.
So an omniscient god can see, this very minute, everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen. It seems to me an easy leap to think that everything is predestined, then, not just salvation/damnation. Everything that has happened, is happening, or will happen is meant to happen, all part of what Calvin termed god’s “gratuitous” plan. And in that case, if I may borrow the words of my commenter, “there is nothing I can do about” anything.

And people say atheists have a pessimistic worldview?

*And I was nice in my reply—I didn't say anything about his spelling.

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At 6:19 AM, Blogger jim said...

Dear Lee,

predestinatio might only be "pessimistic" from an emotional point of view but not from a logical point of view.
Logically, predestinaiton does not alter possible outcomes (speaking in freewill-ease). That is, there is no environmental/historical difference between free will and predestination: they encompass the same events.
It might be emotionally difficult (if you don't believe in God) to accept that He controls or wrote it all down but it does not change events themselves.
On the other hand if one has faith-- that does make a difference.


-- Jim

At 8:05 PM, Blogger lee said...

But if god sees everything that has ever happened and will ever happen simultaneously (“all things have ever been, and perpetually remain, before His eyes”), as Calvin claims, there is no free will, because future outcomes are already established. Calvin also says

"In conformity, therefore, to the clear doctrine of the Scripture, we assert, that by an eternal and immutable counsel, God has once for all determined, both whom He would admit to salvation, and whom He would condemn to destruction. We affirm that this counsel, as far as concerns the elect, is founded on His gratuitous mercy, totally irrespective of human merit; but that to those whom He devotes to condemnation, the gate of life is closed by a just and irreprehensible, but incomprehensible, judgment."

Therefore, John Wayne Gacy may be enjoying an eternal stroll through the golden streets of paradise while one or more of his arbitrarily condemned victims is enduring new and unspeakable horrors, all based on the mysterious whims of an inscrutable god.

That anyone would accept such doctrine simply boggles my mind, Jim.


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