THEOLOGICAL DETERMINISM is a form of determinism which states that
all events that happen are pre-ordained, or predestined to happen, by
God , or that they are destined to occur given its omniscience .
Theological determinism exists in a number of religions, including
Islam . It is also supported by proponents
Classical pantheism such as the Stoics and
Baruch Spinoza .
* 1 Categorization of theological determinism
Free will and theological determinism
* 3 History
Martin Luther and
* 4 See also
* 5 External links
* 6 References
CATEGORIZATION OF THEOLOGICAL DETERMINISM
Two forms of theological determinism exist, here referenced as strong
and weak theological determinism.
* The first one, strong theological determinism, is based on the
concept of a creator deity dictating all events in history:
"everything that happens has been predestined to happen by an
omniscient, omnipotent divinity".
* The second form, weak theological determinism, is based on the
concept of divine foreknowledge - "because
God 's omniscience is
God knows about the future will inevitably happen, which
means, consequently, that the future is already fixed".
There exist slight variations on the above categorization. Some claim
that theological determinism requires predestination of all events and
outcomes by the divinity (i.e. they do not classify the weaker version
as 'theological determinism' unless libertarian free will is assumed
to be denied as a consequence), or that the weaker version does not
constitute 'theological determinism' at all. Theological determinism
can also be seen as a form of causal determinism , in which the
antecedent conditions are the nature and will of God. With respect to
free will and the classification of theological
compatibilism/incompatibilism below, "theological determinism is the
God exists and has infallible knowledge of all true
propositions including propositions about our future actions", more
minimal criteria designed to encapsulate all forms of theological
FREE WILL AND THEOLOGICAL DETERMINISM
Free will A simplified taxonomy of philosophical
positions regarding free will and theological determinism.
There are various implications for metaphysical libertarian free will
as consequent of theological determinism and its philosophical
* Strong theological determinism is not compatible with metaphysical
libertarian free will, and is a form of hard theological determinism
(equivalent to theological fatalism below). It claims that free will
does not exist, and
God has absolute control over a person's actions.
Hard theological determinism is similar in implication to hard
determinism , although it does not invalidate compatibilist free will.
Hard theological determinism is a form of theological incompatibilism
(see figure, top left).
* Weak theological determinism is either compatible or incompatible
with metaphysical libertarian free will depending upon one's
philosophical interpretation of omniscience - and as such is
interpreted as either a form of hard theological determinism (known as
theological fatalism ), or as soft theological determinism
(terminology used for clarity only). Soft theological determinism
claims that humans have free will to choose their actions, holding
that God, whilst knowing their actions before they happen , does not
affect the outcome. The belief is that their God\'s providence is
"compatible" with voluntary choice. Soft theological determinism is
known as theological compatibilism (see figure, top right).
A rejection of theological determinism (or divine foreknowledge ) is
classified as theological incompatibilism also (see figure, bottom),
and is relevant to a more general discussion of free will.
The basic argument for theological fatalism in the case of weak
theological determinism is as follows;
* Assume divine foreknowledge or omniscience
* Infallible foreknowledge implies destiny (it is known for certain
what one will do)
Destiny eliminates alternate possibility (one cannot do otherwise)
* Assert incompatibility with metaphysical libertarian free will
This argument is very often accepted as a basis for theological
incompatibilism: denying either libertarian free will or divine
foreknowledge (omniscience) and therefore theological determinism. On
the other hand, theological compatibilism must attempt to find
problems with it. The formal version of the argument rests on a number
of premises, many of which have received some degree of contention.
Theological compatibilist responses have included;
* Deny the truth value of future contingents , as proposed for
Aristotle (although this denies foreknowledge and,
therefore, theological determinism).
* Assert differences in non-temporal knowledge (space-time
independence), an approach taken for example by
Boethius , Thomas
Aquinas , and
C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis .
* Deny the Principle of Alternate Possibilities : "If you cannot do
otherwise when you do an act, you do not act freely". For example, a
human observer could in principle have a machine that could detect
what will happen in the future, but the existence of this machine or
their use of it has no influence on the outcomes of events.
Many Christians have opposed the view that humans do not have free
Thomas Aquinas , the medieval Roman Catholic theologian,
believed strongly that humanity had free will. (However, though he
desired to defend a doctrine of free will, he ultimately ended up
espousing what today would be known as compatibilism, or "soft
Jesuits were among the leading opponents of this
view, because they held that divine grace was actual, in the sense
that grace is among other things participative, and that humans could
freely benefit from grace by a mediation between their own imperfect
wills and the infinite mercy of God.
MARTIN LUTHER AND DESIDERIUS ERASMUS
The concept of theological determinism has its origins within the
Bible as well as within the
Christian church . A major theological
dispute at the time of the sixteenth century would help to force a
distinct division in ideas - with an argument between two eminent
thinkers of the time,
Desiderius Erasmus and
Martin Luther , a leading
Protestant Reformer . Erasmus in Discourses On the Freedom of the Will
God created human beings with free will. He maintained
that despite the fall of
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve freedom still existed. As a
result of this humans had the ability to do good or evil. Luther,
conversely, attacked this idea in
On the Bondage of the Will . He
recognised that the issue of autonomy lay at the heart of religious
dissension. He depicted an image of humanity manipulated through sin.
Humans, for Luther, know what is morally right but are unable to
attain it. He claimed that humans thus must give up aspiring to do
good, as only by this could salvation be formed. Luther also believed
that the fall of
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve as written in the
Bible supported this