Friday, October 31, 2008
By Richard E. Noble
Determinism has plagued philosophy and theology for centuries. In relation to God it is especially problematic. God has been defined by some theologians and philosophers as pure act or existence. A thought in the mind of God being an instant reality in the world of man, and existence. Nothing being possible without God's will (thought). So then how does God become separated from the responsibility of his Own thoughts and creative will? If there is Sin and Evil, God must have thunk it. If He thunk it, He must be it. At the least, at the very least, God would have to be an accomplice in the crimes of Man, Being and Existence.
In another sense; If God knows that I shall perform a certain act, at a certain time and (2) if I am nevertheless able to forego that act when the time for performing it arrives, then (3) it follows that I am able to confute an item of Divine Knowledge, whether or not I actually do so. That conclusion is, of course, absurd. So then it follows that either God is not all-knowing, or my actions are predetermined by God. If my actions are predetermined before hand, by God, then who is truly responsible for my actions - me or God? On the other hand, if God is not all knowing, then what else might he NOT be? Not all Powerful? Not all Loving? Not infinite? Not at all?
As far as I can see, this question has not been resolved theologically. Answers have been postulated by Saint Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, various Popes and others, but nothing that makes any sense to reason or logical thinking.
In Philosophy, Jean Paul Sartre, and many, many others before him have solved this problem, and a slew of other problems, by eliminating God. To be specific; if there is no God, then there is no Determinism; man is then free and responsible for his own actions. John Lennon suggested in his song; Imagine that there is no Heaven, and there is no Hell, if you can; a world in which virtue and vise are their own reward. As the man in the oat meal commercial says; Do it because it is the right thing to do.
But science and psychology have now entered the argument and even without God, we still have problems. What about DNA? What about our genetic makeup? What about our chromosomes, our hormones? What about our chemistry? What makes us a genius or a fool? God, DNA, genes, chromosomes, hormones, or ...iodine, vitamin C, niacin and riboflavin? And what about conditioning and training? If I tie you up to a tree in my back yard, beat you with a stick each morning, and for food, provide you with nothing but live animals (please do not try this at home) can I then predict your future behavior or inclinations? How “undetermined” and free are we really... even with no God?
Richard Noble is a freelance writer. His latest book is a volume of poems and prose – “A Little Something.” It is for sale on Amazon along with Hobo-ing America, A Summer with Charlie, and Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother. If you would like to stock his books in your store or business he can be contacted at richardedwardnoble@gtcom.