Thursday, May 03, 2012

Determinism and open theism

Open theists like to quote Bible verses in which God expresses surprise to prove indeterminism or disprove determinism. But even if (ex hypothesi) we grant their exegetical appeals, divine surprise is entirely consistent with determinism. It’s only inconsistent with divine determinism. The universe could still be determinate, apart from God. Indeed, this is rather like Classical mythology, where finite gods, including the high gods like Zeus, were subject to the Fates.

As one writer notes:

The key idea is that machines can only do what we know how to order them to do (or that machines can never do anything really new, or anything that would take us by surprise). As Turing says, one way to respond to these challenges is to ask whether we can ever do anything “really new.” Suppose, for instance, that the world is deterministic, so that everything that we do is fully determined by the laws of nature and the boundary conditions of the universe. There is a sense in which nothing “really new” happens in a deterministic universe—though, of course, the universe's being deterministic would be entirely compatible with our being surprised by events that occur within it.

1 comment:

  1. I like it. God has determined to keep me, and work in me to will and to do. It may not feel like it at times, but the truth trumps my feelings.

    •"...Even when the Lord announces that some aspect of the future is settled, it may still be alterable. The 'settledness' may be conditioned on unsettled factors, such as decisions we make. What this shows us is that not only is part of the future open, but also some aspects of the future that God has announced as settled are to some extent open. God's mind can yet be changed..." -Gregory Boyd