Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The divine video game

I'd like to elaborate a previous post:

Some pop freewill theists act as though, if humans are predestined, then we aren't real agents. Then we are merely projections of God's mind. What we think is reducible to God thinking about himself. 

Let's take a stock distinction in philosophy of mind. The hard problem of consciousness includes the unique, first-person experience of every self-aware human. Suppose I was born blind. In that event, I can't know what it's like to be sighted. I can try to imagine what it's like. I can try to extrapolate from a sighted person's description of vision. But even in that case, my own experience remains the frame of reference. 

To recur to my previous analogy, suppose God is like a video game designer who programs artificially intelligent virtual characters. Everything they think, feel, and do was programed. 

Suppose the plot includes a teenage boy (Nate) who has a crush on a teenage girl (Angie). The fact that the Nate has a crush on Angie doesn't mean the programmer has a crush on Angie. Angie is simply a character that he created. He doesn't have the same feelings for her as Nate. He may like her as a character. A novelist may have a favorite character. But the programmer is not a teenage boy to fell in love with Angie. Rather, she's just a character in his story. The programmer doesn't experience the story from the inside out, from the viewpoint of a virtual character within the story. Nate has a unique, first-person perspective about Angie which the programmer does not and cannot share. 

Dropping the analogy, creation has its own objective existence. It has a different and distinct mode of subsistence. God is timeless and spaceless. The world is temporal and spatial. Finite.

Humans have minds. That's not reducible to God's mind. Each normal adult has a particular, intransmissible perspective. That's not equivalent to divine self-reflection. 

In addition, our mental states, unlike God's, are mutable and temporally successive. We change. We learn. God doesn't.

Humans can form intentions and act on their intentions. That's because God has made a world with cause/effect connections. I will my hand to turn a key. My mind caused the hand to move, which caused the key to turn.

"God alone" didn't make that happen. God created the initial conditions to make that possible. But the transaction is not reducible to divine agency. God doesn't have hands–I do. 

That's all consistent with absolute predestination and meticulous providence. There are other objections you can attempt to raise against Calvinism, but this isn't one of them. 

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