Skip to comments.Genetic Determinism or Free Will?
Posted on 07/20/2014 6:59:19 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
In a recent blog post at American Thinker the brilliant Rosslyn Smith falls into this trap, making the case that our DNA determines our fate to a large degree. She makes a compelling case, but I am forced to disagree; one should be cautious in confusing coincidence with fate. Smith cites two examples of "nature over nurture" -- one an incident where an adopted man was raised in a strictly religious family and rejected their faith, then met his birth father to find he was also an atheist and the other a case where a tornado chaser's illegitimate son shows up at his funeral and is also a tornado chaser. Eerie, maybe, but hardly proof that we are hardwired by our genes. Many people raised in strict religious families rebel by rejecting the faith in which they were raised, and there are enough atheists that the chances are quite good that an adopted son would find his birth father was also an atheist. As for the two meteorologists, was it not possible that this subject was interesting to the mother, who slept with the father because she interested him, and she passed along that interest to the son? Again, an amazing coincidence, but proof of genetic hardwiring?
(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...
Under materialistic atheism, sometimes known as communism, everything is material, and there is nothing known as the mind. So everything is seen as deterministic.
Reality: mind exists, and so does free will.
I’d wager that the *capacity* for different kinds of intelligence, in similar fashion to the *capacity* to be sports inclined (by way of physical strength/endurance), is what allows for the often uncanny “genetic memory” theories to come about.
I watched a coworker’s kids grow up into adults that have a greater mathematic ability than I could even hope for.
Meanwhile my step kids obviously came prepackaged with many things from their biological father that they didn’t have a chance to develop by being around him.
Preprogramming though? Not so much. It is a combination of nature, nurture and environment, wherein one often trumps the other, that determines who we become.
Still, Hagar’s kid’s descendants are wild asses of men, their hands are against everyone...
What a sad piece. Ultimate questions about reality cannot be answered without consulting the Word of God. We are certainly not products of genetic determinism, yet because we are all in bondage to sin we aren’t free in the sense that many apparently believe.
I heartily recommend the sermon “If God is Sovereign How Can Man Be Free?” By Dr. R.C. Sproul.
Below is a snippet I found on monergism.com by pastor and writer John Hendryx.
44. How can God be sovereign and man still be free?
Responsibility and voluntary choice are not the same thing as free will. We affirm that man is indeed responsible for the choices he makes, yet we deny that the Bible teaches that man has a free will since it is no where taught in the pages of Scripture. The Bible teaches, rather, that God ordains all things that come to pass (Eph 1:11) and it also teaches that man is culpable for his choices (Ezek 18:20, Matt 12:37, John 9:41). Since the Scripture is our ultimate authority and highest presuppsosition, the multitude of clear scriptural declarations on this matter outweigh all unaided human logic. We find that almost always the objections to God’s meticulous providence over all things are moral and philosophical rather than exegetical. This means we must strive to consciously affirm what the Scripture declares over all our finite understanding and sinful inner drive for independence.
In order to understand this better theologians have come up with the term “compatibilism” to describe the concurrence of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Compatibilism is a form of determinism and it should be noted that this position is no less deterministic than hard determinism. It simply means that God’s predetermination and meticulous providence is “compatible” with voluntary choice. Our choices are not coerced ...i.e. we do not choose against what we want or desire, yet we never make choices contrary to God’s sovereign decree. What God determines will always come to pass (Eph 1:11).
In light of Scripture, (according to compatibilism), human choices are exercised voluntarily but the desires and circumstances that bring about these choices about occur through divine determinism. For example, God is said to specifically ordain the crucifixion of His Son, and yet evil men willfully and voluntarily crucify Him (see Acts 2:23 & 4:27-28). This act of evil is not free from God’s decree, but it is voluntary, and these men are thus responsible for the act, according to these Texts. Or when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, Joseph later recounted that what his brothers intended for evil, God intended for good (Gen 50:20). God determines and ordains that these events will take place (that Joseph will be sold into slavery), yet the brothers voluntarily make the evil choice that beings it to pass, which means the sin is imputed to Joseph’s brothers for the wicked act, and God remains blameless. In both of these cases, it could be said that God ordains sin, sinlessly. Nothing occurs apart from His sovereign good pleasure.
We should be clear that NEITHER compatibilism nor hard determinism affirms that any man has a free will. Those who believe man has a free will are not compatibilists, but should, rather, be called “inconsistent”. Our choices are our choices because they are voluntary, not coerced. We do not make choices contrary to our desires or natures, nor seperately from God’s meticulous providence. Furthermore, compatibilism is directly contrary to libertarian free will. Therefore voluntary choice is not the freedom to choose otherwise, that is, a choice without any influence, prior prejudice, inclination, or disposition. Voluntary does mean, however, the ability to choose what we want or desire most according to our disposition and inclinations. The former view (libertarianism) is known as contrary choice, the latter free agency. (the fallen will is never free from the bondage of our corrupt nature, and and not free, in any sense, from God’s eternal decree.) The reason I emphasize this is that compatibilists are often misrepresented by hard determinists at this point. They are somehow confused with inconsistent Calvinists. When compatibilists use such phrases as “compatibilistic freedom”, they are, more often than not, using it to mean ‘voluntary’ choice, but are not referring to freedom FROM God’s decree or absolute sovereignty (an impossible supposition).
In biblical terminology, fallen man is in bondage to a corruption of nature and that is why the biblical writers considered him not free (see Rom 6). Jesus Himself affirms that the one who sins is a “slave to sin” and only the Son can set him free. Note that even Jesus speaks of a kind of freedom here. He is not speaking of freedom from God but freedom from the bondage of sin, which is the kind of freedom those have who are in Christ. In this sense God is the most free Person since He is holy, set apart from sin... yet He cannot make choices contrary to His essence, i.e. He cannot be unholy. So, we must conclude, according to Jesus in John 8:31-36, that the natural man does not have a free will. The will is in bondage to sin. Any consistent theologian who uses the term “freedom” usually is referring to that fact that while God sovereignly ordains all that comes to pass, yet man’s “free choice” (voluntary) is compatible with God’s sovereign decree. In other words the will is free from external coercion but not free from necessity. In my reckoning, there is no biblical warrant to use the phrase “free will”, since the Bible never affirms or uses this term or concept. So when some theologians use the word “free” they may be misusing or importing philosophical language from outside the Bible, but I think anyone who is consistent with the Text means “voluntary” when they say “free”, but NEVER affirm they are free from God in any sense. For to affirm that God sovereignly brings our choices to pass and then also say man is free FROM GOD, is self-contradictory. So I repeat, many of those whom I read seem equate the word freedom with the meaning “voluntary”. If any mean “free from God” they are confused. I heard R.C. Sproul say there are “no maverick molecules”. Nothing happens by chance, but all falls within God’s meticulous providence, no exceptions.
One of the best statements on compatibilism is one I found from John Calvin:
“...we allow that man has choice and that it is self-determined, so that if he does anything evil, it should be imputed to him and to his own voluntary choosing. We do away with coercion and force, because this contradicts the nature of the will and cannot coexist with it. We deny that choice is free, because through man’s innate wickedness it is of necessity driven to what is evil and cannot seek anything but evil. And from this it is possible to deduce what a great difference there is between necessity and coercion. For we do not say that man is dragged unwillingly into sinning, but that because his will is corrupt he is held captive under the yoke of sin and therefore of necessity will in an evil way. For where there is bondage, there is necessity. But it makes a great difference whether the bondage is voluntary or coerced. We locate the necessity to sin precisely in corruption of the will, from which follows that it is self-determined.
- John Calvin from Bondage and Liberation of the Will, pg. 69-70
Prior to the fall, Adam’s will was not in bondage to sin, thus it was free from sin’s bondage and corruption but it was not free from God’s decree. His choice to rebel was completely voluntary even though God has ordained with certainty that it would come to pass. He was not yet sealed in righteousness even though his inclination was toward the good. Through Satans devices, that he overcame his own good inclination and chose evil makes original sin all the more heinous.
Nature and nurture are important, but there is a third factor, which is personal choices. Humans have freedom to choose to think or not to think. The outcome of this decision then effects our other choices.