Monday, March 07, 2011
GIANTS IN THE LAND - WHAT CAUSED ME TO WRITE THIS?
As mentioned, I would like to make a brief comment about determinism and indeterminism, determinism and human freedom. I would like to suggest three categories of determinism – naturalistic determinism, social determinism and theological determinism. Naturalistic determinism suggests that every event in the universe is caused and controlled by natural law, social determinism suggests that human behavior is purely controlled by previous human behavior (this is important when considering Marxism) and theological determinism suggests that every event in the universe is caused and controlled by God. It is common that people carelessly confuse the word “sovereign” with theological determinism. Without going into detail regarding the aforementioned, I would like to suggest that the position one assumes about why things happen as they do must include a significant place for genuine human freedom. We must attempt to avoid extremes. This is neither an absolute form of freedom nor an absence of actually freedom, neither is it an imaginary freedom (as, for example, with certain soft-determinists who say that man is free and God ordains or controls everything). My concern is that determinism will logically lead people to conclude that, “what is, is right” (if the designation “right” has any meaning). There are many political, psychological, theological and sociological “systems” that embrace such fatalism.
Having made the above statement, I offer two thoughts. First, if we are under a system that is purely “cause and effect”, life becomes futile. The reason we are in the condition we are in is due to a chain reaction that is unavoidable and unstoppable. Any “choice” we make to influence or alter anything is simply part of the chain. Things just are and that’s all. In the case of theological determinism, things are just the way God wants them to be. Nothing is a departure from the divine will and plan. Every apparent “evil” is simply part of the plan. This logically leads to a type of resignation that is often confused with or promoted as faith. When we include some genuine dimension of human freedom, we have other alternatives, both regarding the issue of the presence of evil and regarding actions to be taken when defining and addressing evil. Recognizing human freedom is not a statement of pride as some proponents of determinism might suggest. It, on many levels, is an indictment of man (as opposed to God).
Next, and I end with this, this is actually one thread of postmodernity that I can appreciate. The postmodern perspective tends to be dynamic. However, I am not prepared to embrace an entire “system” due to this one thread.
“The works of His hands are truth and justice; all His precepts are sure. They are upheld forever and ever; they are performed in truth and uprightness. He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; holy and awesome is His name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever. " (Psalm 111:7-10, NASB)