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Atheist Determinism vs Calvinism

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by idav, May 30, 2016.

  1. idav

    idav Being
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    I want to talk about determinism vs Calvinism but with how determinism can be similar to Calvinism. Also would like to discuss how atheist determinism is similar.

    In Calvinism theology it says that entry into heaven is already predetermined from birth and that even belief in god is predetermined from the beginning. Similarly with determinism all our actions and consequences are inevitable.

    What I find interesting with the similarity is that belief in god has little to do with the belief that everything is ultimately determined by an original cause. Obviously an atheist would not say god purposely determined the state of the universe but it amounts to the same thing. That whatever started the whole thing ultimately determined the fate of everything in the universe.

    Isn't that at odds though with atheism, to say some ultimate power from the beginning has ultimate control over every aspect?
     
  2. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    Yes, it is. By "atheist determinism" I am going to assume you mean materialism. Please note that the relationship is not automatic and there are diverse forms of atheism.

    In the 18th century materialists considered the possibility that man was an animal and a machine (both cases would result in determinist positions which reject free will as an illusion).

    Marxists also rejected free will but believed in "freedom". Rather than assert that freedom was a product of the mind or the will, they instead said it was the result of knowledge of the laws of nature and our ability to utilise them. Freedom is therefore a question of degrees of control and is not an absolute property of the will. At its most simple our "freedom" to fly is greater when it is based on the knowledge of thermodynamics and knowledge of atmospheric forces that create lift. Whereas jumping off a cliff with bird wings is obviously "not freedom".
    Because of this the definition of freedom and power are closely interrelated created a very complicated problem in which totalitarian societies are free on so as they utilise economic and social laws. This is alien to most of our western understandings of freedom which are built on free will.
     
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  3. idav

    idav Being
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    That is interesting using knowledge as a means of freedom. It's in the ability to know various outcomes that choice is even an option. It seems to be more about degrees of limitation, in which case determinism would be the ultimate limitation.
     
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  4. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    That is essentially right. It's a "knowledge is power" approach to freedom; our freedom increases with our knowledge and the means to exercise it. Our material interests determine how or whether such knowledge is used.
     
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