Thursday, June 23, 2005

Against Libertarian Free Will

John Frame, in a forthcoming IVP Dictionary of Apologetics article on “Determinism, Chance and Freedom,” outlines the case against the Arminian notion of libertarian freedom:

  1. Human intuition reveals that we choose among various alternatives, but it never reveals to us that any of our choices are absolutely uncaused. Intuition cannot prove a universal negative.
  2. Far from teaching that libertarian freedom is essential to moral responsibility, Scripture never mentions libertarian freedom.
  3. This doctrine would make it impossible for us to judge anyone’s guilt in a court of law. For to prove someone responsible for a crime and therefore guilty, the prosecution would have to take on the impossible burden of proof of showing that the decision of the accused had no cause whatsoever.
  4. Law courts, indeed, assume the opposite of libertarianism, namely that people are responsible only for actions that they are sufficiently motivated to perform. If it could be shown that an accused person committed a crime without any sufficient cause or motivation at all he would most likely be judged insane rather than guilty.
  5. Scripture contradicts libertarianism, by ascribing divine causes to human decisions (Exod. 34:24, Is. 44:28, Dan. 1:9, John 19:24, Acts 13:48, 16:14), even sinful ones (Gen. 45:5-8, Ps. 105:24, Luke 22:22, Acts 2:23-24, 3:18, 4:27-28, Rom. 9:17). In none of these (or many other) cases does divine causation eliminate human responsibility. In fact, these texts often mention human responsibility in the same context.
  6. Scripture also contradicts libertarianism by teaching that human decisions are governed by the heart (Luke 6:45), and by teaching that the human heart itself is under God’s control (Ps. 33:15, Prov. 21:1).
  7. In Scripture, the basis of human responsibility is not libertarian freedom, but (a) God’s sovereign right to evaluate the conduct of his creatures (Rom. 9:19-21), and (b) the knowledge (Luke 12:47-48, Rom. 1:18-32) and resources (Matt. 25:14-29) God has given to each person. (b) shows that in Scripture there is an important relation between responsibility and ability, but the abilities in view here do not include the absolute ability to choose opposite courses of action.