Monday, May 10, 2010

On predestination and free will

…You did not choose Me, but I chose you...[John 15:9-17]

These few words have potent implications. The Calvinist doctrine takes the obvious interpretation that God "freely and unchangeably ordained whatsoever comes to pass" and “appointed the eternal destiny of some to salvation by grace, while leaving the remainder to receive eternal damnation for all their sins, even their original sin.” Others argue (C.S. Lewis among them) that if God is pure Good, then He must love everyone (and would not predestine any to damnation) or that no one could be beyond the redemption of an omnipotent God (and that a God who did not wish to save everyone might not be worthy of worship). It is possible to obfuscate the discussion by asserting that predestination is based on a pre-knowledge of how a soul will freely choose to behave, but that is not useful. The idea of reality being predestined makes the concept of free will difficult to define (and that would in turn make the idea of personal responsibility difficult to determine). There is ample anecdotal evidence throughout history that human beings on occasion have prophetic dreams (precognition). This would seem to lend credence to the belief that the events of reality already exist to some degree (and that it might be impossible to modify them, see Cassandra). Perhaps related to this question is the quantum Zeno effect, which states, simply put, that a human being may stop the evolution of time by focusing attention (seriously). It may be that we all are carried by a river of time that follows a defined path (confined by the banks of the river and its inevitable path to the sea), but have some illusion of free will reinforced by the small movements (changes) we might make within that inevitable path. Whatever the case, let us behave as if we indeed have the choice to love one another, to do good rather than evil.

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