Why I Cannot Vote For Romney

I cannot vote for Mitt Romney because he refuses to repudiate his racist past.

From June 1966 to December 1968, Mitt Romney worked to promote and to sign up new recruits for an organization that defined non-white persons as inferior and accursed; and which denied them full participation in the organization—as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

2 Nephi 5:21 states that dark skin is a curse from God:  “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, and they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”

When dark skinned Native Americans come to believe the Mormon gospel, they will become white:  2 Nephi 30:6 “...their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and a delightsome people.”

Black people were barred from the priesthood in the LDS “church,” until 1978, when, after 140 years of official racial descrimination, the policy was changed, without explanation and without apology.

This is the system that Romney promoted.  He has been asked to repudiate the racist policies of his church, to which he ascented and under which he labored, and has quietly passed on the opportunity to do so.  He is unfit to lead.

It's Possible. Is it not?

There is a possible world in which Johnny was walking down Main Street on Monday morning. At 9:53 AM, he encountered a group of people who were handing out religious tracts. A young red-headed woman offered him a tract. He decided to take it.

There is another possible world in which Johnny was walking down Main Street on Monday morning. At 9:53 AM, he encountered a group of people who were handing out religious tracts. A young red-headed woman offered him a tract. He decided not to take it.

Both possible worlds are exactly the same up till that point, with only one difference: Johnny's choice. In one he chooses to accept the tract. In the other, he chooses not to accept it.

Since both are worlds are possible, the God of Molinism (GoM) cannot know which choice Johnny will make, given the above circumstances. If he actualizes a world such as this one, Johnny may make the choice that the GoM desire, or he may not. Perhaps the GoM will actualize multiple instances of this world, so as to increase the likelihood that he will get the desired outcome. But still, he cannot be certain that he will get what he intends.

The Determinism Discussion

On Tuesday, May 22, 2012, Brian Auten, who runs the excellent Apologetics resource site Apologetics 315, created a blog post titled, Terminology Tuesday: Determinism at his site.  In this post, he gave a definition of the philosophical and theological term "Determinism" from a reference book.
 Here is the text of that post:

Determinism: The view that all natural events, including human choices and actions, are the product of past states of affairs in accordance with causal necessity. Thus the determinist holds that, given the state of the universe at any particular time, plus the causal laws that govern events in the natural world, the state of the universe at every future time is fixed. Various kinds of determinism are possible depending on the nature of the causally determining forces. Most determinists today are scientific determinists who believe the laws of nature are the determining factors, but theological determinism, in which God directly determines every event, is also possible.1
1. C.Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 34.

I posted two short Bible passages, Ephesians 1:11 and Isaiah 46:9-11 to comment section, which I understand to be speaking of God's fore-ordination of all things and exhaustive providential governance over all creation.  Someone going by the handle LittleGoose responded with some questions about Calvinism and theological Determinism.  Next, I posted a response, attempting to answer those questions.  Next, a man named Drew responded, with an argument meant to disprove Compatibilism.  This is a theological position that seeks to harmonize and explain the relationship between God's sovereignty and governance of creation, specifically His fore-ordination of all things that come to pass, with the freedom of man's will and his responsibility before God to obey His commands.

Drew and I continued presenting argument and counter-argument several times, until I asked Brian for permission to copy the posts to this site, so that we could continue the discussion here.  I thought that, since posts were getting long (mine especially) and the discussion theologically deep, it would be best not to highjack Brian's site to continue, but to move it elsewhere.  Brian graciously agreed to allow me to copy the text of the discussion, as it has gone so far, to this site.  It is my hope that Drew, and anyone else who is interested in this important subject will come to this site and engage in further discussion here.

What follows is the text of the discussion.  After that, my response to Drew's most recent post.  We can continue the discussion in the comment section following.
Ex N1hilo said...
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,' calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 2:22:00 PM GMT+01:00

LittleGoose said...
Are Calvinists always determinists? I instinctively think so, but a lot of Calvinists that I know do not agree. They say that determinism is the view that every action and choice is the product of a past state of "natural" affairs. Calvinism they say teaches that God predetermines all things that come to pass (usually the emphasis is on salvation). Is this correct?

Also, the argument that I have often heard against determinism is that if determinism is true then your belief in determinism is simply the product of a previous state of affairs and therefore you would have no reason to believe in determinism. Is this correct? and if so, does it apply to Calvinism?

and to be plain, I am a Calvinist. I just want to understand the position better.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 3:55:00 PM GMT+01:00

Ex N1hilo said...
LittleGoose wrote:

Are Calvinists always determinists?

It depends on how you define the term "determinism." I have heard or read several people argue against Calvinism by saying:

1) Calvinism teaches determinism. (True in a sense.) And much of Calvinist thinking is dependent on a deterministic view of reality.
2) Determinism is the idea that all objects and all events follow necessarily, by natural law, from past states of affairs.
3) Determinism (so defined) is false; and fits much better with an atheistic view of reality.
4) Therefore (much of) Calvinism is false.

In this case, the one arguing against Calvinism is equating the Calvinist view of determinism (more properly called fore-ordination) with the pagan concept of fatalism. And understand, atheism is merely a flavor of paganism.

In fact, the argument fails at point 2. The idea, as you put it, LittleGoose, "that every action and choice is the product of a past state of "natural" affairs" is contrary to the doctrinal position taken by every Calvinistic theologian and creed that I am aware of. It's just about the polar opposite of what Calvinists mean by "God...ordaineth whatsoever comes to pass;" as in the Westminster Confession.

The idea is that a loving, personal being, the Triune God, ordained all things for the glory and the joy of the members of the Godhead, and for the good of those creatures who love God and are called according to His purpose. There is no natural law that determines what must happen apart from the Father's purpose. Such natural law as operates in the world, does so by God's will for as long as it suits his purposes. These laws are merely an instrument in His hands. God works "through, apart from, or above" these means as He wills.

I have discussed this point with a number of people; and, for the most part, they just fall back to "well, determinism means fatalism; so you Calvinists teach fatalism." If they will not allow us to define our terms, but insist that we mean something other than we mean, there can be no constructive dialog. Which is a shame, since this is an important topic about which the bible has a lot to say.

I recommend people read Jonathan Edwards' discussion of Original Sin in "The Freedom of the Will"; not to convince them of the Calvinist view on this matter, but to arrive at a better understanding of it.
Drew said...
If theistic determinism is true then:

1. The eternal predestining is not the product of human free choice.

2. The fact that the eternal decree determines all things is not the product of human free choice.


3. Nothing is the product of human free choice.

Compatibilism is false.

Ex N1hilo said...

If 1 and 2 are true, how does 3 follow?
Drew said...
Because for something to be the product of human free choice, that choice has to make a difference. If the eternal decree of God determines all things, then human free choice cannot make a difference in anything. There are multiple other ways to state the argument:

1. The eternal predestining is not up to us.
2. The fact that the eternal decree determines all things is not up to us.
3. Nothing is up to us.

Or if you prefer:

1. No one has power over the facts of the past and the laws of nature (and perhaps the decree of God).
2. No one has power over the fact that the facts of the past and the laws of nature (and perhaps the decree of God) entail every fact of the future (i.e., determinism is true).
3. Therefore, no one has power over the facts of the future.

If you don't have power over X, then you don't have power over anything X entails.

Ex N1hilo said...

Thank you for responding. The problem I have with the argument in your first post is this: You seem to be saying that, if humans lack the power to fore-ordain what shall come to pass; that is, to create ex nihilo, as God does, then nothing they choose to do matters at all. Even if we grant that that is so, it does not follow that compatibilism is false; just that it doesn't appeal to you.

In your second post you wrote:

Because for something to be the product of human free choice, that choice has to make a difference. If the eternal decree of God determines all things, then human free choice cannot make a difference in anything.

Again, this does not necessarily follow. For, among the things God has determined, are, not only the choices you will make; but also, that you will do so freely, willingly; and that those choices will have effects; that they will make a difference, within and upon the created world, but not upon God Himself, nor upon His decrees—which seems to be what you want.

In the first re-statement of your argument, you conclude, “Nothing is up to us.” This overlooks that there is more than one level or type of causality. When an architect draws up a blueprint for a new office building, he determines ahead of time how it will be built, what materials will be used, a timetable, etc. However, it would be a mistake to conclude that the choices and actions of those involved in erecting the structure are unimportant and ineffectual. Or that the workers really have no part in its construction; that their participation is merely illusory. The architect's choices determine what the choices of the project managers' choices will be, which determine what the foremans' choices would be, which determine what the workers choices would be. Ultimately, it was God who determined it all. And the choices were free all the way from God on down to the man who laid the tile in the restrooms. All these choice were real causes that had real effects, although they were pre-determined.

In the second re-statement of your argument, you state that “Therefore, no one has power over the facts of the future.”

There is One who has full, ultimate power over all the facts of the future. In Romans, chapter eight, verses thirty-eight and thirthy-nine, Paul tells us,

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Here he names “things present” and “things to come” as among those things God has created. This ability to create the facts of the future belongs to God alone. You can't have it. Instead of desiring to be as God, how about taking pleasure in and finding happiness in being a creature, with a creaturely will, subordinate to God's will; and creaturely abilities, subordinate to God's; but with the tremendous priviledge of bearing God's image, and reflecting God's glory back to him. That's a much more highly exalted and wonderful place to be. Much more profitable and effectual than taking of the fruit and eating, and clinging desperately to the impossible dream of taking God's place.

If you don't have power over X, then you don't have power over anything X entails.

This is your presupposition; which you assume, but do not demonstrate. If it is not true, your arguments fail.

Drew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drew said...
Almost everything I have read in the above post is not an argument, but a bare assertion. My whole point is that it is LOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE that any determined act can be free. Therefore, to assert that God determines our free choices is as incoherent as saying that God creates square circles. An assertion to the contrary is not an argument. Romans 8 states that God has chosen to love us, and that forces outside ourselves cannot pry us away from God. It is not an assertion of determinism. Predestination and free will are both Biblically asserted. I am not arguing that there is no way to reconcile both of these. I am merely arguing that compatibilism is not an option in doing so.

1. If X is not up to us, then anything X entails is not up to us, provided that the fact of the entailment is not up to us.
2. The eternal predestining is not up to us.
3. The fact that the eternal decree entails all facts of the future is not up to us.
4. Therefore, No fact of the future is up to us.

You seem to object to premise 1, which I find pretty ridiculous. It should be quite obvious that if something is not up to us, what it entails is not up to us. It is used all the time in court. If you can show that whatever entailed the victim's death was not up to the defendant, then the victim's death was not up to the defendant.

Another way to state it is that we have lots of examples of this and no counterexamples. How do we know that the laws of arithmetic are not up to us? Because the axioms that entail them are not up to us. How do we know that the nonexistence of married bachelors is not up to us? Because the incoherence of such a proposition is not up to us. How do we know that the truth value of a tautology is not up to us? Because the law of identity is not up to us.

I challenge anyone to find a single (non-question-begging) counterexample to premise 1. It seems quite obvious that if x is not up to us, then whatever x entails is not up to us, so long as the entailment is not up to us.

Ex N1hilo said...

I would like to give your recent post a serious response, which will require me to address some of your points at length, along with Scriptural proofs. I think it best not to ask Brian to make his blog the vessel in which we navigate the very deep theological waters we are approaching. If you wish to continue this discussion, as I do, would you please consider moving it over to my blog site?


May I copy the discussion, as it has transpired so far over, over to my site? If so, that's what I'll do, and Drew and I can pick it up over there. If I may not, I will just post a summary over there, so that we can continue, and if I missed anything important, Drew can post it, if he elects to join me in a discussion there.


I will challenge you on one point here. (As an introduction to my full response, which I will post on my blog site.)

You wrote:

My whole point is that it is LOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE that any determined act can be free.

If this is logically impossible, it should not be difficult to demonstrate that it is. Will you please do so? So far all we have is your bare assertion of this.

Appeals to the obvious, to common sense, or to our basic intuitions do not constitute logical argumentation or proof.

In an ingenious, but relatively simple way, Galileo showed that, if objects of different masses were to fall at different rates (in a vacuum), that this would entail a logical contradiction. And so, he demonstrated that the Aristotelian view of motion was logically impossible, sweeping aside Aristotle's physics of motion forever.

What I am challenging you to do, Drew, is to demonstrate that the view I have tried to articulate and support--that God ordains that sins occur, while holding men accountable for those sins as acts they chose to do, because they love sin--if you can demonstrate that this view entails a contradiction, you will join in the company of men such as Galileo, who were able to finally dispatched long held, entrenched viewpoints. You will have disproven Compatibilism. You will have swept it aside forever. Along with it, I would add, the doctrine of original sin, and the forensic (Reformation) view of justification will be overturned. If you cannot do so, you ought to cease claiming that Compatibilism is "logically impossible."

Brian Auten said...
Feel free to carry on wherever you wish! : )

Ex N1hilo said...
Thanks, Brian. So, you don't mind me copying the discussion from this page?

Brian Auten said...
Go for it... just post a link in the comments so others have a bread crumb trail to follow.

Ex N1hilo said...
OK. Thanks again. The discussion so far, along with my response, will be posted, hopefully, later in the evening here:


Drew, and anyone else who wishes to will be welcome to post further responses.

Drew said...
Do you have a counterexample or not?


You wrote:

My whole point is that it is LOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE that any determined act can be free.

If this is logically impossible, it should not be difficult to demonstrate that it is. Will you please do so? So far all we have is your bare assertion of this.

Romans 8 states that God has chosen to love us, and that forces outside ourselves cannot pry us away from God.

That's not what the text says. It says that no created thing can pry us away from God. It explicitly includes “things future”, at least some of which you want to place outside of God's creative decree. This includes you, doesn't it? Aren't you a created thing? Or is that the real point of contention in this discussion? Is it not your position that there are aspects of your being—your free will, your decisions, the acts you choose to commit—that are uncreated?

1. If X is not up to us, then anything X entails is not up to us, provided that the fact of the entailment is not up to us.

Premise 1 is the presupposition, the lens through which you see this issue. I used to think that way too; although I would not have known how to express it in philosophical terms, as you have done. I would have said, “You can't blame me for something if I didn't have any say in the matter.” I might also state this idea in positive terms, “You cannot credit me with any good that I did not have a say in bringing about.”

The problem with premise 1 is that Scripture explicitly teaches the contrary. And it gives us many counterexamples to premise 1. For this reason, I have had to abandon this principle. I have had to say “Let God be true and every man a liar.” I had to admit that I was the liar; denying God's sovereign providential governance over all created things.

Here are just two examples of God ordaining men's acts; men freely choosing to commit those acts, and then God holding them accountable for those acts. There are many more.

In 2nd Samuel 1:24, God moved David to conduct a sinful census. So eager was David to conduct this prideful census, that he overruled the advice of all his most trusted advisers, who pleaded with David not to do it. Then, God punished Israel for this rebellious act of David's.

In Romans 1:24-32, Paul tells us that God gave men and women up to a debased mind, to dishonorable passions; so that they would do what ought not to be done (homosexuality, murder, lying, slander, etc.). Although they know that those who do such things deserve death for them, they do them and give hearty approval to others to commit the same sinful acts!

In both these examples—and there are many more—God determined that men and women commit certain acts, and; as a result, these men and women then chose to commit them. With gusto they made these choices.

Perhaps you will argue that, these instances, in which God moved the hearts of men to commit sinful acts, represent the judgment of God on them for previous sins that they have committed—the text mentions idolatry specifically. If that is your position, I agree. Further, I would contend that it is the teaching of Scripture that all sinful acts that men have committed, since the fall of Adam, along with the 'sin nature' we have inherited from him, do represent the righteous judgment of God upon them, as individuals for their previous sins, and on humanity as a fallen race, for the sin of Adam.

But the question here is not "Does God judge sin by giving men up to a reprobate mind in order that they will commit more and greater acts of sin?" I hope we would agree the answer is "yes." It's not a happy doctrine, but the Bible does teach it explicitly. No, the point of contention between us is whether man had any say in God determinating to judge sin in this way. I know that God did not consult me about this matter. And there is no record of God taking counsel from Adam on this matter. Perhaps He consulted with you, and incorporated this manner of judgment into His response to sin, based on your input or on your permission?

No. Nor did God consult with any creature when He determined that He would impute Adam's sin to us, as taught in Romans, chapter 5. Nor did God consult any creature when He determined that we would inherit the propensity to do evil from Adam, indeed that we would be incapable of doing anything that is pleasing to God, in our natural state, apart from God's redeeming grace. God did not consult any of us when He determined that he would judge us for our sins, and that that judgment would include removing his hand of restraint against sin; thereby moving our hearts to sin all the more in frequency and degree. Neither did God consult you or I when He determined everlasting fire as the final punishment for our sins.

You seem to object to premise 1, which I find pretty ridiculous. It should be quite obvious that if something is not up to us, what it entails is not up to us. It is used all the time in court.

This is what our discussion has been all about, isn't it? “If X is not up to us, then anything X entails is not up to us, provided that the fact of the entailment is not up to us.”

When you point out that this principle is used in court, I take you to mean that blame cannot be assigned to a party for anything entailed by a decision or determination made, not by that party, but by another party. That this is a principle of the American system of jurisprudence, or that of any nation, is not a problem for the system of “Divine Jurisprudence” that the Bible reveals.

The principle of the imputation of another's guilt, and of the imputation of an alien righteousness, is not to be found in man's systems of justice. But it is the way God deals with human beings.. Indeed, I believe this is precisely why Proverbs 28:5 tells us "Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely." The justice of God is unlike man's justice. And lost sinners have no idea how it works. It is other-worldly. It does not work according to common sense or according to our intuitions about justice. But there is no logical contradiction in it

2nd Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Adam sinned. As a result, death has come to everyone. Because, in this one act of the one man, Paul tells us, “All sinned.” Romans 5: 12-13

Do you reject God's imputation of Adam's sin to you? I hope that you do not, since it (the doctrine of “original sin” as it is commonly known) is the teaching of God's word. If you do accept this doctrine, then you have contradicted premise 1, as it is applied to court cases. Do you see this? This imputation was God's determination alone. You didn't decide that He should impute Adam's sin to you.

If, on the other hand, you reject the doctrine of original sin, you also reject the imputation of Christ's righteousness to you; which is the only provision God has given for our salvation.

Now, you may respond, "I'll take the imputation of Christ's righteous on my behalf. But I don't want God imputing Adam's sin to me. God cannot logically do so without my consent." But consider that, if it is illogical for God to impute Adam's guilt to you, how could it not be equally illogical for Him to impute to you Christ's righteous? Further, if you have not inherited a propensity to sin from Adam, what do you need Christ's righteousness for? You have the ability to do for yourself what God requires.

I think we may be rehashing the controversies of Augustine vs. Pelagius, Luther vs. Erasmus, and Molina vs. Turretin. Are you familiar with these historical controversies?

Finally, if human beings were truly free, in the sense in which you mean, could they not simply say, "Alright, I have sinned enough. I will stop now."? But they cannot. In John 8:34 we read,

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.

And in Romans 8:7,

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

They had no choice in God's choosing to judge their sins in the way He did, by turning them over to a depraved mind, that they should sin all the more. This principle was God's decision and His alone. And as a result of this determination, sin multiplies as humans multiply. We see this repeated throughout scripture. There are many examples.

Instead, they have a sort of freedom that does not imply independence from God's decrees, but rather, a sort of freedom in which they choose as their hearts desire; those hearts having been inclined toward evil or toward good, as God has decreed for His purposes.

The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.
Proverbs 21:1 ESV

There is an Alternate Universe Where...

Championed by eminent scientists, including Steven Hawking, the cutting-edge physics of M-theory postulates that the Universe in which we live is merely one among a vast number of Alternate Universes. Existing eternally, without beginning or end, tiny one-dimensional "Strings" vibrate and interact with each other within an eleven-dimensional space. It is this interaction of Strings that gave rise to the Big Bang and the subsequent development of our Universe.

But not ours only. Throughout time and space, a literally infinite number of Alter-verses have been spawned. Some of these are very much unlike our Universe, with physical laws and constants that differ from our own. For example, there are those universes (an infinite number of them, in fact) in which the speed of light is twice what it is in our Universe. In an infinite number of others, the speed of light is precisely 4½ mph, the pace of a brisk walk. In Alter-verses such as these, where a physical constant differs from ours by even a slight amount, life as we know it cannot exist.

Other Alter-verses are similar to ours in this respect or in that. And some (again, an infinite number) are exact replicas of ours; identical to ours in every way, with the same physical laws, the same number and placement of galaxies; containing an Earth whose geography, history, and population are indistinguishable from our own.

Somewhere in between the two extremes, there exist those universes which are nearly identical to ours, including an Earth that is much like ours, but with subtle differences: Humanity may have evolved a bit differently; having, for example, 24 pairs of chromosomes, rather than 23. There may be two moons, instead of one. History may have followed another path.

In an unlimited number of these Earths, history worked out exactly as it has here--with just one exception: Steven King has written no novels. Instead, he has written some of the most beloved songs of the Holiday Season. Here's a sample of his work:

"He seizes you when you're sleeping.
He won't let you awake.
He GLOWS if you've been bad or good;
So be armed for dear life's sake.

Oh, you better watch out;
You better not die.
Better get out;
I'm telling you why:

Santa Claws is coming to town!"

Happy New Blog Year

As the Earth completes a revolution around the sun, pausing for a moment to catch its breath before embarking on another circuit through the cold, treacherous vacuum* of interplanetary space, it witnesses the birth** of a new blog - a blog brimming over with all the promise and anticipation of 2010 itself.

"Does the Earth really need another blog?" you may ask. "Doesn't it have enough reading to do already? What - with the explosion of blogs, websites and wikis on the Internet, not to mention old-fashioned print media: newspapers, magazines, and all those books sitting up there on the shelf? Is it not already difficult enough to give The Greatest Book*** the attention it deserves? Where will it find the time to fit in yet another on line journal from one more second-rate would-be author?”

Not to worry, my spherical friend, the scribblings offered here will be available in miniature bites, designed to be consumed quickly, so as to present minimal interference to all the important tasks that occupy your day. It will be my aim to provide thought-provoking posts; to inform; to edify; to challenge; occasionally to entertain and amuse. You may even find posts that enrage you, even as they impart nourishment to your mind.

Consider them healthy textual snacks; tasty, nutritious morsels to be savored in moderation between meals. And I'll throw in a piece of candy from time to time as well.

So, I invite you, Earth, take a break from your restless wanderings through the cosmos
****; fire up the Internet; point your browser to Scribbles In Bits, and enjoy.


* Not a true vacuum, but nearly so.

** Not a true physical birth. The term “birth” is used here metaphorically.

*** http://www.biblegateway.com/

**** Derived from the Greek “kosmos”, meaning “an orderly arrangement.”