How does a belief in causal determinism influence how one lives?

A friend of mine recently asked what, if any, impact the belief in causal determinism (or lack thereof) has in practical day-to-day living. Here’s my answer:

Well, one example to the contrary1 is this:

I never locked my doors.

This was because I believed that men had no free will and that not only were all things determined, but that they were causally and directly brought about by God. So that, if someone were to break into my house or steal my car, or even if I or someone I loved were to become ill, such an event or circumstance would be directly caused by God himself so that any interference2 would be bad and wrong3.

As you know, this view didn’t serve me very well practically4 and the realization that we are commanded to take reasonable measures to secure what we are in charge of or responsible for (which includes people as well as possessions) led me to change my beliefs which, in turn, made me change my behavior.

I now lock my doors5 as religiously as I kept them unlocked because my belief in causal determinism vs. limited freedom changed.

  1. When I did hold to a view of causal determinism as a result of my commitment to Calvinism. []
  2. I never did reconcile how all things could be causally determined and yet we still influence their outcomes. This lingering paradox also helped lead me to the abandonment of the belief in causal determinism. []
  3. I used to hear all the time how we ought to never “get ahead of God” or interfere with “God’s plan”. such notions sound nice, but upon further examination they are neither logical nor Biblically mandated. []
  4. My car was stolen, keys still in the ignition. This happened in the driveway next to our house, which also was not locked, which contained an infant and a 2 year old inside. Needless to say, this incident was a very clear catalyst to cause me to re-evaluate my beliefs on the matter. []
  5. I still maintain that all events are predetermined, just not causally so such that my actions do not matter. For more information on how these seemingly opposing views can be safely reconciled to the detriment of neither, see my previous post on Molinism. []
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7 Responses to How does a belief in causal determinism influence how one lives?

  1. Wow, you went to a weird church if they taught you that. When did Calvinism start teaching folks not to lock their doors, or other suitable precautions? I've never heard that taught by a Calvinist. I've heard it used as an objection by a lot of semi-pelagians of various stripes, but never actually taught.

    • Of course this wasn’t taught “from the pulpit” or in any concrete form. However, I am one of the curious and precious few individuals who attempts to take what I believe and apply it practically to every aspect of my life.

      The “Que Sera, Sera” (though causal determinism turns that into “whatever will be must be) attitude displayed in us through not locking our doors isn’t really all that uncommon. I hear people utter sentiments of this sort all the time, usually in the form of “well God will just take care of it”.

      The problem with causal determinism, and it’s Christian implementation known as Calvinism is that it is simply unable to be lived out consistently and with any rational justification.

      Why do you find it odd that I decided, based on the teachings I received, not to lock my doors? If you were to believe that God were in control of all things and brought about events regardless of the wills of men (or angels or demons), why would you lock your doors?

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention How does a belief in causal determinism influence how one lives? | Reason To Stand -- Topsy.com

    • No, this is the logical outcome of a belief in causal determinism. My hope is that my account would serve as a warning or at least a speed bump for pastors who teach these sorts of things.

      Ideas have consequences.

  3. It's wonderful to see Molinism grow on the popular level. Keep it up. I too came from a reformist background and found the same ideology lead to this why do anything (including pray) because of the logical conclution. Much like the Nihilist I have to believe that my actions mean nothing. Anyhoo I cam across Philosopher William Lane Craig and learned about Molinism and felt that I could be a more rasional and complete Calvinist.

    Now my dad is a Reformist and he too has a world view about things like apologetics and witnessing to athiest that buggs me. He thinks "well if the athiest doesn't understand then it wasn't mean't to be" I worrry becuase that is so unbiblical.

    Thanks again.

    • Yes, I recently had a conversation with a well-known apologists wherein we discussed how it is encouraging to see in Africa a growing core of Christianity with a solid theological ground but it is sad that this theological ground is largely reformed and as such almost completely uninterested in apologetics and, by extension, evangelism.

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