In this article I would like to submit a simple logical proof that we do in fact have a free will. In so doing it is my intention to also falsify any form of what has become known in recent months as the “Settled View”, which includes both Calvinism and Arminianism as well as any other perhaps unnamed theological system which teaches, whether it be simply in the mind of God or in actual fact, that the future is settled in any way or by any means.
Because such arguments have been bantered around for centuries and because many are somewhat familiar with them and have thus formed preconceived notions as to the flaws in such arguments, I feel it is important at the outset to point out that the argument that I am making here isn’t that God causes things by knowing them. Whether or not God knowing something causes that thing is an altogether separate issue that has to do with God being the first cause of all that happens and if God knew it and didn’t cause it then who did, etc. But the point is that I do not make any such argument in this article, nor does the argument presented here have any such notion as one of its underlying premises.
My argument has simply to do with the definition of free will and the logical implications of a future act being known (i.e. settled), or even knowable for that matter. For clarities sake I offer the argument in the form of a logical syllogism and I remind the reader that if we are to have a rational theology then we must not be afraid to accept the conclusions of sound reason.
We start with the definition of a couple of terms:
Premise 1a: Free will is defined as having the ability, by an act of that will, to do or do otherwise.
Premise 2a: If something is known, it is apprehended with certainty.
Premise 3a: If a future action is known by whatever means then there is no ability to do other than what is known or else it could not be said to have been known.
Conclusion A: If the future is known, by whatever means, then I do not have free will.
Now, that only gets us to an “If then” statement. It does not answer for us whether we do or do not have free will nor does it answer whether or not God knows the future. All it does is prove that IF God does know the future THEN we are not free. To prove we do have free will we have to take a few more steps:
Premise 1b(Conclusion A): If the future is known, by whatever means, then I do not have free will.
Premise 2b: Love, by definition, is a choice. Love must be volitional. Love must be a product of a free will. (Whichever way you want to put it, these are all equivalent statements.)
Conclusion B: If I do not have free will then I cannot love.
Conclusion B is another “if then” statement, which then yields the following…
Premise 1c(Conclusion A): If the future is known, by whatever means, then I do not have free will.
Premise 2c(Conclusion B): If I do not have free will then I cannot love.
Premise 3c: The Christian faith demands the ability to love. Or put in more logically formal terms: Love is a necessary condition of the Christian faith.
Conclusion C: Either I have free will or the law of non-contradiction rationally falsifies Christianity.
Premise 1d (Conclusion C): Either I have free will or the law of non-contradictionrationally falsifies Christianity.
Premise 2d: Christianity is true because of the rational impossibility of the contrary. (As this article is aimed primarily at Christians, I will not bother to establish this premise here. But for those of you who are interested you can get a taste for it by reading THIS.)
Conclusion D: I do have free will.
Conclusion E (From Conclusions A and D): The future is not known.
Now, that’s the whole argument in a nutshell. I won’t bother with putting it into a syllogism but it is important to point out, and I will simply trust that the reader is able to see intuitively, that if the future is not known by God, it certainly cannot have been predestined by Him either and thus this argument falsifies the Calvinist version of the Settled View and much as it does the Arminian and any other version of the Settled View that one might be able to conjure up and that therefore the Open View must be true because of the rational impossibility of the contrary (i.e. because all other options have been rationally falsified).
Some of you will instinctively begin to quote Scripture in an attempt to refute the conclusions offered but I remind you again that our theology must be BOTH biblical and of sound reason. Scripture does not trump sound reason, nor reason the Scripture. If both are true then both must be in agreement with each other. We know that Scripture is true and so if my reasoning is in error then whatever Biblical argument is offered in refutation of it must be presented in the context of addressing a specific premise in this argument prior to ‘Conclusion C’ because if Christianity is falsified then so is the Bible and thus any Biblical argument offered would fail on that single point alone.
It is my contention and firm belief that the Bible must be read in the context of this free will paradigm in order to make any rational sense whatsoever, and so you can expect that I will reject any interpretation of the Bible that contradicts this line of reasoning (without this line of reasoning having first been demonstrated to be fallacious), in favor of an interpretation that maintains this rationally coherent paradigm.
The Bible is true and therefore it is rational; any irrational interpretation must and will therefore be rejected as false. I would pray that you adopt this same attitude toward the Scripture for yourself.
May God bless you as you grow in His wisdom and grace.
Resting in Him,
This will be my first article submitted to this website and so let me start off by saying thank you to Pat for giving me the opportunity and for doing all the work that is necessary in putting together a website of this nature. It is my hope that this and whatever other contributions I make to this site will work for the furtherance of the Gospel of the Grace of God and to the edification of the Body of Christ in its understanding of the Word of God rightly divided.