Predestination & Determinism


Religious concepts of predestination





Concepts of determinism

Hard/Philosophical determinism. Barron D’Holbach was one of the first Atheists and observed that if we are not created by God and don’t have a soul, we are just physical things like any other and therefore follow the same laws of cause and effect. Every event is caused by previous events, including human action. If we keep tracing the cause of our action back in time, eventually we will get to before we were born, and could ultimately go all the way back to the big bang. We were not responsible for the big bang, nor our birth, but therefore we cannot be responsible for our actions either. So there is no such thing as free will.

John Locke argued against the idea that the feeling of free will is a reason to believe it exists, by showing how it could be an illusion. Locke asked us to imagine a man in a locked room who wakes up, unaware it is locked, and ‘chooses’ to stay in the room. He felt like he made a choice, when actually reality was such that no choice was in fact available to him. Locke argues this could be the case for every human action. We simply are unable to directly perceive all the causes and effects that determined our action, which leaves us with the illusion that we were not determined, when really we were.

Quantum mechanics tells us that some things happen without a cause. Therefore determinism seems false.

However, if our actions happen because of random quantum mechanics, that hardly seems a better basis for free will than determinism.

Honderich responds to this criticism by arguing that the structures of the brain might be large enough that the laws of quantum mechanics (which only applies to the very small atomic level) might not actually apply to them nor their function. If this is the case, while determinism might not be true at the Quantum level, it could still be true at the macro level.

Psychological determinism

Compatibilism – also called soft determinism – is the view that free will and determinism are compatible (can both be true). Hume distinguishes between internal causes (causes that are internal to a person – their beliefs, desires, motivations, intentions) and external causes (causes that are external to a person – someone forcing them to do something). Hume noticed that we only hold people responsible for actions that result from our internal causes. So Hume defined free will as being determined by your internal causes not external causes. Even though our internal causes are just as determined as our external causes, Hume thinks this definition of free will nonetheless gives us the conception of moral responsibility we want.

The implications of predestination


The implications of determinism