Rationality Argument Against EDD: A Matter of Life and Death



(The FreeThinking Theist)


November 1, 2021

It is far too common to see many former church-goers today identify as an “ex-vangelical” or proclaim that they have “deconstructed” from the Christian faith. These are folks who were raised in the Church, but are now leaving the Church. This is a concern. 

There are several factors contributing to this movement.[1] I believe, however, that one of the primary reasons as to why so many have come to reject Christianity today is because many theologians, pastors, Sunday school teachers, and Christians in general have advanced what A.W. Tozer described as a “low view of God” (and thus, something other than God; not worthy of worship). With this in mind, teaching Perfect Being Theology does not merely seem to be an academic theological exercise — it is a matter of eternal life and death!

I am committed to the maximal greatness of God. Thus, any view that directly or indirectly rejects God’s perfection (in knowledge, power, or love) is a view I will oppose with my entire being. In fact, one of the primary goals of FreeThinking Ministries is to help all people — from atheists to Church-goers — see God for who He really is: a necessary and perfect maximally great being who perfectly loves each and every human created in His image. 

Christians ought to affirm and argue that God is a maximally great being! Offering anything less seems dangerously close to idolatry.[2] Thus, Christ followers ought to oppose exhaustive divine determinism (EDD). That is to say, one who worships a maximally great being (God) ought to oppose the idea of EDD because (i) it destroys our ability to rationally infer and affirm theological knowledge — a low view of humanity — and (ii) it entails a low view (and thus a false view) of God. This is why I spend what seems to be a majority of my time defending “Mere Molinism” as it seems to be the only view that consistently and logically affirms the maximal greatness and perfection of God. 

I have spilled much ink explaining why humanity runs into “rationality problems” if naturalistic determinism is true. I have also sought to explain why humanity runs into the exact same problems — but for different reasons — if EDD is true. Indeed, if God causally determines all human thoughts and beliefs all the time, then theologians, pastors, Sunday school teachers, and Christians in general are in trouble. Consider the following syllogism:

Rationality Argument Against Divine Determinism (RAADD)

1. If God causally determines Jack to affirm a false belief about X (in the actual world), then Jack does not possess the opportunity to exercise an ability to infer a better or true belief about X (in the actual world).

2. If EDD is true, then God causally determines all humans (including Jack) to affirm false theological beliefs (no one’s theology is infallible).[3

3. If God causally determines all humans to affirm some false theological beliefs, then Jack stands in no epistemic position to know which of his theological affirmations are true and which of his theological affirmations are false.

4. If Jack does not stand in a position to rationally affirm his theological beliefs, then Jack possesses a defeater against (a reason to doubt) his theological beliefs.

5. If Jack possesses reason to doubt his theological beliefs, then Jack cannot rationally affirm his theological beliefs (this would include the affirmations that God causally determines all things and that humans do not possess libertarian freedom to think).

6. Therefore, if EDD is true, Jack cannot rationally affirm his theological beliefs (this includes the affirmations that God causally determines all things and that humans do not possess libertarian freedom to think).

This argument showing that Jack doesn’t know “jack” about theology can be phrased in many ways. Jacobus Erasmus examined the above argument and offered it in different words and fewer steps. Erasmus said:

“Let’s borrow the term “misinformation” from the almighty fact checkers and, in this context, let it mean “false theological propositions.” Then, let “misinformation is determined” mean that, for any created person p, if p affirms misinformation, then God causally determines that p does this. Also, let “misinformation is incalculable” mean that, for any created person p, p stands in no epistemic position to know whether misinformation is, in fact, misinformation.” 

With these prerequisites in mind, the following syllogism — The Incalculability Argument — reaches a strong conclusion:

1. If EDD is true, then misinformation is determined.

2. If misinformation is determined, then misinformation is incalculable.

3. If misinformation is incalculable, then theological beliefs cannot be rationally affirmed.

4. Therefore, if EDD is true, then theological beliefs cannot be rationally affirmed.

Amen to that! If exhaustive divine determinism is true, the ability to rationally affirm theological claims of knowledge goes down the drain. This would include, but is definitely not limited to, theological claims of knowledge such as “God is a Trinity,” “Jesus had two natures,” “Jesus was physically raised from the dead,” “God causally determines all things all the time,” “humans do not possess libertarian freedom,” and “I possess the assurance of salvation.” 

This is absurd! Indeed, the theological claim of knowledge stating: “Humans cannot rationally affirm theological knowledge claims” is self-defeating as it offers at least one claim of knowledge a person can rationally affirm (if one claims it need not be rationally affirmed, then there is no reason to believe it). Thus, we have a pivotal premise to add to Erasmus’ reformulation of the syllogism and three deductive conclusions follow:

5. Theological beliefs can be rationally affirmed (Proverbs 1:7; 2:6; Psalm 19:2; Isaiah 1:18; Acts 17:17; 18:4; 26:25; 1 Cor 8:1; 12:8; Col 1:9; 2:3; etc).

6. Therefore, misinformation is calculable (you are not a mere “passive cog”). 

7. Therefore, misinformation is not determined (God is not a “deity of deception”). 

8. Therefore, EDD is false.[4

These are not just logically deductive conclusions; these truths seem to be a matter of life and death. The solution is to embrace the maximal greatness of God. He is eternally perfect in power, knowledge, and love. As I discuss in Human Freedom, Divine Knowledge, and Mere Molinism, the only view that can logically and consistently affirm each of God’s omni-attributes is Molinism. And this is exactly why I spend so much time advancing this view. 

I invite you to join me because, as A.W. Tozer said in his book Knowledge of the Holy, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Thinking incorrectly about God can have eternal consequences. So, before your neighbor “deconstructs” and becomes an “ex-vangelical” show them who God really is — a maximally great being! 

Exhaustive divine determinism entails a low view of both God and humanity created in His image and likeness, but as I have said elsewhere, “God is not a DOD (deity of deception) and you are not a passive cog.” 

Stay reasonable (Isaiah 1:18),

Dr. Tim Stratton


[1] Next month I will be publishing an article dealing with three cultural reasons that are influencing young persons to “deconstruct.” These seem to be related “political reasons” influencing people to reject the Law of Christ and Biblical Christianity today. This is utterly bizarre! After all, one’s metaphysical view of reality ought to determine one’s politics, not the other way around. 

[2] To be clear: I am not suggesting that EDD folks (not to mention Open Theists) are worshipping idols. Indeed, I am sure that I inadvertently hold some false beliefs about God (although I strive to think correctly about Him). If one could logically demonstrate that my current view of God diminished His greatness in any manner, I would drop it in favor of a new view (or “punt” to mystery) immediately. If I were more committed to my view, instead of the highest view of God, then I would be swimming in dangerous waters.

[3] A deity who causally determines all people — including all Christians — to affirm false theological beliefs does not seem to be a maximally great being.

[4] This deductive conclusion follows whether one thinks freedom and/or moral responsibility is compatible with EDD or not. EDD is false (period) and does not describe reality. Rationally affirming theological claims of knowledge is not compatible with EDD. 

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About the Author



(The FreeThinking Theist)

Timothy A. Stratton (PhD, North-West University) is a professor at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. As a former youth pastor, he is now devoted to answering deep theological and philosophical questions he first encountered from inquisitive teens in his church youth group. Stratton is founder and president of FreeThinking Ministries, a web-based apologetics ministry. Stratton speaks on church and college campuses around the country and offers regular videos on FreeThinking Ministries’ YouTube channel.

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