Whatever a person may theoretically believe, they act like the future is partly open. For, as a matter of fact, there’s no other way to act.
Think about it. Every time we deliberate between options on the way toward making a decision, we assume (and we have to assume) that a) the future consists of possibilities and b) that it is up to us to resolve these possibilities into one actuality (that is, our concrete decision). It’s simply impossible to deliberate in a way that manifests a different set of beliefs.
Go ahead and try it. Right now, think about a matter you need to resolve with a decision. Consider your possibilities and weigh your options. Now, try to do this without presupposing that these possibilities are genuinely real and genuinely up to you to resolve. You may consciously believe that the fact of what you’re going to decide has been “out there” for an eternity in the mind of God, but you can’t act on this belief as you deliberate. In fact, you act against this belief in your very act of deliberation.
What makes this interesting is that it’s something of a truism that we reflect our true convictions more by how we act than by what we say or even think (for our conscious minds are frequently deceived). If I truly believe my car is rigged to explode when I start it, for example, and if I truly believe life is worth living, then I will not get into my car and start it. If I profess these two beliefs and yet get into my car and start it, you’ll know that I’m either insincere or self-deceived in professing one or both of these beliefs. Our truest convictions are manifested not by what we say or even think, but by how we act.
From this it would seem to follow that everyone – including those who adamantly deny it – really believes the future is partly open. Just watch how they deliberate.
Here’s the irony. In the very act of deliberating about whether to embrace or reject the open view of the future, people presuppose the open view of the future is true.
The only remaining question, then, is whether they’ll get their theoretical beliefs about the nature of the future to line up with their core conviction about the nature of the future. .