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Hard determinism and the religious approach to ethical living are not compatible Essay

Hard determinists hold the view that all our actions are completely governed by previous events: all actions stand at the end of a complex network of prior events, this network includes sociological, psychological, political, religious and cultural influences. The sum total of all these influences is enough to determine all our future actions. The implication of this would be that a person cannot be held morally responsible for their actions.

John Locke (1632-1704) uses the idea of the man “locked room” that chooses not to leave the room and upholding the belief that he could in fact exit the room if he wished, to show how all moral chooses are illusionary. Spinoza also wrote on the issue of illusion of freedom, “men think themselves free on account of this alone, that they are conscious of their actions and ignorant of the causes of them. ” However Christians would disagree with hard by hard determinists: “the eternal decree of god, by which he determined that he wished to make of every man .

For he does not create everyone in the same condition, but ordains eternal life for some and eternal damnation for others” (Calvin). Christians would argue that if are lives are predestined and we do not have free will there would be no point of the 10 commandments prophets, setting ethical rules in which we have to abide by. If are life’s were predestined then there would be no temptation to sin or the need to repent our sins, more importantly Jesus “saving of our sins” and making us one with god again would have no purpose .

Further, the idea of determinism completely undermines the religious understanding of judgement and punishment by god, because there would be no need to fear god and the consequences of your actions if are destination was already predestined. It seems Therefore that these two beliefs are like repelling forces. Determinism destroys human responsibility. If God is the cause of all human actions, then human beings are not morally responsible. One is only responsible for a choice if there was free will to avoid making it.

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All responsibility implies the ability to respond, either on one’s own or by God’s grace. Ought to implies can. But if God caused the action, then we could not have avoided it. Hence, we are not responsible. Determinism renders praise and blame meaningless. Similarly, if God causes all human actions, then it makes no sense to praise human beings for doing good or to blame them for doing evil. For if the courageous really had no choice other than to show courage, why reward it? If the evil had no choice but to commit their crime, why punish them?

Rewards and punishment for moral behaviour makes sense only if the actions were not caused by another. Further Determinism leads to fatalism. If everything is determined beyond our control, then why do good and avoid evil? Indeed, if determinism is right, evil is unavoidable. Determinism destroys the very motive to do good and shun evil. Finally, Determinism is unbiblical. Theistic opponents to determinism offer several objections from Scripture. Defining free choice as “doing what one desires” is contrary to experience.

For people do not always do what they desire, nor do they always desire to do what they do” (Romans 7:15-16). Moreover the view held by John Hick “if all our thoughts and actions are divinely predestined, However free and morally responsible we may seem to be ourselves, we cannot be free and morally responsible in the sight of god, But instead be his helpless puppets. ” However If this statement is true God must give the desire before one can perform an act, then God must have given Satan the desire to rebel against Him.

But this is impossible, for in that case God would be giving a desire against God. God would be in effect against Himself, which is impossible. Therefore Christians argue we must have free will and make ethical choices. However the religious approach to ethical living is also in question. As a Christian only lives an ethically correct life: out of fear of divine retribution or sense of guilt if they disobey religious laws.

Therefore actions are not done due to the person innately wanting to produce a good deed but in fear of the consequences of their actions. You cold go as far to argue that fundamentals of the Christian belief are selfish an completely un ethical as good acts are only carried out in order to preserve oneself and achieve a place in heaven. In conclusion, hard determinism and the Christian approach to ethical livings are, for the most part incompatible on the subject of ethical living.

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