Sunday, November 22, 2009

Arminian atheism

Robert said...

"I am not the one who believes that 'God completely and directly controls their every thought and action', THAT IS WHAT YOU COMPATIBILIST CALVINISTS BELIEVE!!! I have seen internet calvinists who are compatibilists make this kind of comment frequently. They think that God controls everything directly and completely and continuously. Where you really see it from your comrades is when they discuss the human will which they claim God directly controls at all times. This kind of control leads to all sorts of problems."

In fairness to Robert, he's not the only one who can't stand God's Lordship over all. Not coincidentally, atheists also share his revulsion for an all-seeing, all-controlling deity. For example:

"[Alvin Plantinga] Right, that’s what I’d be inclined to say. We human beings – our minds have been darkened in certain ways as a result of sin. Not only that but our wills have been warped so that many of us don’t want it to be the case that there is some person as God. I have friends like that. A main obstacle for their being theists is that they didn’t want it to be that there is this great being who is privy to your every thought and such that you owe him allegiance and obedience. They think it was a kind of insult to human autonomy that there be such a being. From a Christian perspective that’s a result of pride, of sin, and that’s one way in which there are cognitive consequences of sin, or noetic effects."

"[Thomas Nagel] In speaking of the fear of religion, . . . , I am talking about . . . the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself. . . . I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that. . . . My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about life, including everything about the human mind."

"Predictability does however make vivid what is at stake in determinism: our fears about our own status as free agents in the world. In Laplace's story, a sufficiently bright demon who knew how things stood in the world 100 years before my birth could predict every action, every emotion, every belief in the course of my life. Were she then to watch me live through it, she might smile condescendingly, as one who watches a marionette dance to the tugs of strings that it knows nothing about. We can't stand the thought that we are (in some sense) marionettes."

"[Austin Cline] Have you ever had the feeling you were being watched? According to Christian theology, you are — Christians believe their god is omnipresent, which means that their god is in all places at all times. So wherever you are and whatever you are doing, God is right there, watching you...Why is God such a voyeur? Isn't such stalking behavior a little creepy?"


  1. " Christians believe their god is omnipresent, which means that their god is in all places at all times"

    On a side note, how do you square this understanding of omnipresence with the notion of God being immaterial? I mean, if He is immaterial then He wouldn't really occupy space in such a way that He could be in all places at all times. But yet I'm not sure how you'd square away any other definition with verses like Ps 139

  2. Ps 139 is using spatial metaphors like ubiquity to signify that God isn't limited by space. God is not a local god. He can't be localized. He enjoys universal jurisdiction. Because he is nowhere in particular, he's available to us wherever we are.

  3. Martin Gardner, an agnostic, once pointed out that all it would take is for God to be in the 4th, or some higher, dimension for there to be no logical contradiction between God's omnipresence and His "separateness" (which is akin to His being immaterial). In other words, just as someone in the third dimension can simultaneously "touch" all points inside and outside of a two dimensional object, so too would a fourth dimensional being be able to touch all points of your being (i.e., the inside and outside of your skin, without tearing through it) at the same time. Note that just as we would consider it ridiculous to think that someone could touch the inside and outside of our skin, so too a two dimensional object would consider it absurd to think that someone could touch his inside and outside without tunneling through. Yet you can draw a square and place your hand over its entire structure, thus touching both inside and outside of that square at the same time, without tunneling through.

    That's not to say that spiritual existence is necessarily identical to some higher dimension of existence. It merely shows that there is at least one plausible way to harmonize the apparent contradiction.