I am a Compatibilist

Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are compatible ideas, and that it is possible to believe both without being logically inconsistent (people who hold this belief are known as compatibilists). While compatibilists hold that free will and determinism are not mutually exclusive, not all compatibilists would insist that both are true.

Incompatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are not logically compatible categories. This could include believing that determinism is reality, therefore free will is an illusion (hard determinism), or that free will is true, therefore determinism is not (libertarianism), or even that neither determinism nor free will are true (pessimistic incompatibilism).

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7 thoughts on “I am a Compatibilist

  1. I am fairly new to blogging, however, through searching wordpress I came across your weblog and saw that you believe free will is compatible with determinism and wanted to hear your thoughts regarding this matter.

  2. I believe it helps a lot to see that God exists on a greater dimension (i.e. not only ours). Thus what He does may not be clearly seen or understood. Imagine a 3-D object (a ring) that intersects a piece of paper (2-D). If we are living only on the piece of paper, we will see only 2 circles that are far apart from each other. We can never fathom how they are of the same element, because we are limited by our 2-D perspective. God is 3-D. To Him there is no problem explaining that the two circles on the paper are the same. To us, we have problem.

    Same with ‘free will and determinism’. Scripture is very clear on the fact that both exists. It looks compatible in life. But that does not mean a 50/50 compatibility, but one that is subservient to the other. 🙂

  3. I agree to some degree on your statement, however, being as those I hold an incompatibilist Libertarian view on free will I was wondering if that is what you hold. Some events are determined already, as science shows such as childhood events determining future events, but that if determinism is true (all events are already determined, then we have no free will). Things such as moral responsibility can never take place if determinism was indeed true. I am a Christian as I take you to be, so this discussion in no way is a backlash at you–just a nice little debate per se.

  4. “All events are already determined, then we have no free will” – We cannot know that for we are like dots on the piece of paper screaming at each other that circle A has to be mutually exclusive with circle B, for we can think of no alternative (the answer is limited to our ability to comprehend only on what appear on the piece of paper). I prefer to rest on God’s assurance that it is ‘free will’ as we experience it (even as I am typing this) and yet, it is as planned as God already puts it in His book plan (Psalm 139:16). I’ll end by echoing what Spurgeon says: Let us not divide between friends (referring to free will and determinism). 🙂

  5. I agree with you 100%, I think the miscommunication lies between the fact of determinism and foreknowledge. I agree that God knows everything that will happen in this world, however, this foreknowledge of events to occur does not take away our free will. For instance, God knows that person A will do event/action Z at time T1. Person A has the free will to choose whichever action he deems appropriate (or just feels like doing for that matter), however, it follows that either person A must do action Z at time T1 or God lacks the ability to be able to foreknow anything, or at least some things. Since God is able to foreknow events, or anything, then action Z at time T1 by person A necessarily comes into fruition. For if it did not, then God would not have foreknowledge, but since He does, the event must come true. That does not make the person do anything, because knowing is not coercing. Anyways, thats my two points- i actually feel we are somewhat in the same boat (somewhat).

  6. In my reading, I’ve come across two analogies that attempt to explain how God is in full control and yet we have free will. Of course, given our limited and finite human knowledge, any analogy is imperfect.

    The first is from Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” that likens God’s sovereignty to a play, where the director (God) directs, and the actors (us) are free to act the roles that the director has given us. The obvious objection to this is that it seems as though we are all automatons that are simply responding to whatever God wants us to do (thus it is an imperfect and inadequate analogy, which Grudem points out in his book).

    The second is from A.W. Tozer’s “Knowledge of the Holy”, where he describes us all as being on a cruise ship that, say, is cruising from New York to London. On the ship (“piloted” by God), the passengers (us) have the “free will” to do whatever they want — eat, sleep, play, relax, etc. However, their final destination is still going to be London no matter what they do.

    Of course that is an imperfect analogy too.. but I don’t think we can do anything about it given our imperfect and finite knowledge of the things of God. 🙂 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)

  7. I am a hard incompatibilist. This means I believe free will is (logically) incompatible with both determinism (all events having a causes) as well as indeterminism (some acausal events happening).

    Just another incompatibilist category to add to your list. 🙂

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