September 14, 2007

Determinism (Part 4)


When considering God, determinism in some form or fashion will be present. From the pantheists need of Fate to the theists need for a first cause, any higher presence with power greater than ours can supersede our will. I am going to specifically look at the Christian view of determinism because it is what influences me the most and it is the particular “religion” that I know the most about.

For Christians, God is the creator of all that exists (physical matter, time, humans) and because of this He is Omnipotent, meaning all powerful. He is also continually active within His creation, in contrast to the Deist god who was creator but then takes a passive role in his creation. He is the author of all that is good and at the very least uses that which is evil to work for His good. He became a man, and entered into time to redeem mankind with His sacrifice.

This redemption was necessary because despite the initial creation being perfect, man had fell and brought creation into a fallen state. The Fall begins to raise very important deterministic questions. If God is in complete control of His creation, how is it that He allowed evil to be a part of it? One view is that the Fall was part of the original plan and that all evil is used to the eventual good and glory of God. Most Christians will place the Fall as Adam’s choice to disobey God, resulting in the fallen world. The position of man’s will in relation to God’s plan begins to bear very important consequences.

From the protestant viewpoint there are two major factions that are represented by the follows of John Calvin and those of Jacobus Arminius. Calvinism emphasizes the complete sovereignty of God over His creation. Specifically in the area of man’s salvation, this view would claim that man is born in a state of total depravity, meaning that no matter how righteous we are, we will still reject God and choose self. Salvation in any man is the work of God alone, and by His calling and grace man is redeemed. Ultimate glory is God’s because he rescues man when man can do nothing for himself. The Arminian position emphasizes human free will, and the choice of following God. Their position is that God gave a portion of will to each man that he might choose to honor God with his life or deny him with it. The glory to God is in the love of willing followers.

Ultimately, all Christians believe in a powerful God who maintains His power in the world. There is a peace in knowing that there is something acting against the chaos of the universe. Equally as ecumenical is the rejection of fatalism; that despite how much God really requires an individual to carry out His purposes, the Christian is always called to a life of serving God. Furthermore, all Christians believe God places value on individual human life, that from the human point of view concepts of social Darwinism are a wrong and twisted application of determinism.

Obviously Christianity has had much to say on the subject, so I can’t fully express every point of view throughout history, the best I can do is an overview. Plus, I need to finish this so I can move on. I will post my conclusions tomorrow and be done.

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