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Whether They Know it or Not, Everybody is at Heart an Open Theist

(Or, How to Drive a Calvinist Crazy!)

Hello faithful bloggers. Hope your 2007 is going well so far.

Here’s something to ponder: Whatever a person may theoretically believe, they act like the future is partly open. It’s not their fault. 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 utterly 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. 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 started 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 up, you’ll know that I’m either insincere or self-deceived in professing one or both of these beliefs. Again, the truth of a conviction is rooted in how we act, not in what we say or think.

If this is so, does it not follow that everybody – including those who adamantly deny it – really believes the future is partly open? Just watch them deliberate. It’s obvious.

So, go ahead and deliberate about what you should believe about the nature of the future. Is it open or exhaustively settled? Weigh all the philosophical options carefully. But realize that in the very act of deliberating about what you should believe, you’re already manifesting what you already believe.

At heart, you, like the rest of us, are an open theist!


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