Compatibilism is Incompatible with Reality

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

|

April 9, 2018

The idea of compatibilistic free will (CFW), or simply “compatibilism” is one of the worst ideas ever introduced to the church! It has brought nothing but confusion and those who purport it often have good intentions, yet they inadvertently deceive those who have not been trained to think otherwise (but hey, a good compatibilist does not believe one ever has the freedom to think otherwise anyway)! Libertarian free will (LFW) otherwise referred to as “libertarianism” ought to be preferred.

Compatibilism is the thesis that exhaustive determinism is true (something other than you causally determines everything about you) yet somehow humans are still free and/or morally responsible for thoughts, actions, beliefs, and behaviors. Not only have I argued that this CFW view must be false (See “Can You Have Your Cake & Eat it Too?” and “Compatibilism & the Consequence Argument”), the eminent philosopher of mind John Searle pulls no punches (note that Searle has no theological axe to grind):

“I think compatibilism simply misses the point about the problem of free will. As I have defined it, libertarianism is definitely inconsistent with determinism. To repeat, the determinist says, ‘Every action is preceded by causally sufficient conditions that determine that action.’ And the libertarian asserts the negation of that: ‘For some actions the antecedent causal conditions are not sufficient to determine the action . . . I cannot think of any interesting philosophical problem of free will to which compatibilism provides a substantive answer.” (Searle: Rationality in Action: 278)

Another Argument

With my previous work and John Searle’s words in mind, please consider another argument against compatibilism:

1- If compatibilism is true, then determinism is true.

2- If determinism is true, then no human possesses the libertarian freedom to ever think otherwise.

3- If one does not ever possess the libertarian freedom to think otherwise, then one cannot rationally affirm knowledge claims.

4- Some Calvinists have rationally affirmed that compatibilism is true.

Therefore

5- It is possible to rationally affirm knowledge claims.

Therefore

6- Some Calvinists possess the libertarian freedom to think otherwise.

Therefore

7- Determinism and compatibilism are false.

Conclusion

It is interesting that many naturalists like John Searle and Thomas Nagel concede that rationality presupposes a strong libertarian view of free will, while many theologians continue to favor compatibilism. It is sad when atheists realize the deterministic compatibilism they have argued for in the past is now a sinking ship but many Christians decide to drown with their theological presuppositions. We must do better!

This Calvinistic view of compatibilism is absurd. I do, however, affirm what I refer to as “Biblical compatibilism.” Biblical compatibilism is the thesis that God predestines all things and humans are free and responsible for some things. This might seem like a contradiction at face value (note the “all” vs the “some”). Although Molinism and the doctrine of God’s middle knowledge explain how this biblical data makes sense by connecting all the logical and theological dots (See Molinism is Biblical).

Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18),

Tim Stratton


Notes

Consider a slightly different argument:

1- If compatibilism is true, then determinism is true.
2- If determinism is true, then no human possesses the libertarian freedom to ever think otherwise.
3- If one does not ever possess the libertarian freedom to think otherwise, then one cannot attain rationally inferred knowledge.
4- Some Calvinists have rationally inferred that compatibilism is true.
5- Therefore, rationally inferred knowledge is possible to attain.
6- Therefore, some Calvinists possess the libertarian freedom to think.
7- Therefore, determinism and compatibilism are false.

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About the Author

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

Tim pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Kearney (B.A. 1997) and after working in full-time ministry for several years went on to attain his graduate degree from Biola University (M.A. 2014). Tim was recently accepted at North West University to pursue his Ph.D. in systematic theology with a focus on metaphysics.

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