Long ago I provide a list of scriptural passages that I thought taught freewill. (link) Turretinfan asked me: Why do any of the passages you cited, or the combination of passages, require anything more than a simple, Calvinistic free will? I asked him what is Calvinist free will, so I can respond? He said: “Calvinistic free will simply says that a choice is a determination or judgment by an animate being with respect to one object in preference to another object.” I responded: “Choice and preference can be synonyms, but to use a synonym to define its counterpart is somewhat bootstrapped.” (link)
I didn’t consider the “thesaurus approach” precise enough and pushed for a more rigorous definition, which Turretinfan was somewhat reluctant to provide, in fear that it would obscure rather than clarify the issue. Turretinfan warned me that philosophy may just confuse things. (link)
Gene Bridges said: we Calvinists have no burden of proof to prove "compatibilism," but the Libertarians MUST prove libertarianism since they're positing it as axiomatic. …GIMJ is doing a marvelous job of demonstrating that Arminianism has no exegetical argument against Calvinism of merit, it's all ethical and philosophical when the exegetical dress is removed. (link)
Consider this the father of the “choose” argument, but you should also meet the mother. I objected to Bernable’s use of a divided sense of freedom. (link) I thought that compatiblism fails since in some ultimate way we are not free given we are not free from determinism. TF responded again warning me of my use of philosophy. I was starting to think compatiblism could only survive by keeping its head down. I again asked TF to define choice and he gave me a definition that I thought sufficient to conflict with determinism.
Here’s a concise form of my argument against a divided sense of freedom:
P1: When one posits that idea A is logically compatible with idea B, he is
speaking of idea A in a compound sense, including idea B P2: compatiblism posits that the idea of being able to freely choose between 1 & 2 and the idea of being determined to 1 are logically consistent C1: Therefore, the compatiblist is speaking of being able to freely choose between 1 & 2 in a compound sense, including the idea of being determined to 1 P3: Compatiblists can say we are able to freely choose 2 only in a divided sense, excluding being determined to 1. C2: therefore, compatiblists speak both in a divided and compound sense at the same time. (link)
Ok, so the three key takeaways: 1) I didn’t think compatiblism works but 2) I needed a sufficient definition of choice to demonstrate why, so the “thesaurus approach” would not do and 3) determinists had been reluctant to get more precise, criticizing me for being too philosophical. The dictionary was simply a tool to get me past problems 2 # 3.
OK, enter Paul Manata… In many ways Paul’s approach was the exact opposite of Turretinfan’s.
Here’s my initial argument: The American Heritage College Dictionary (3rd edition) defines choose as: to select from a number of possible alternatives. (similar definitions available here and here) Determinism includes the idea that preceding causal forces render all our actions necessary such that they cannot be otherwise. So a “predetermined choice” implies an “impossible possibility” and an “inalternate alternative”. Since the bible states that we have wills and choose, determinism isn’t consistent with the bible.(link)
Paul on the other hand had cited philosophers Kane and Goetz/Taliaferro and expressed concern that we frequently hear that "choice" just means some kind of libertarianism about the will. The second is like unto it: "You Calvinists must necessarily go against laymen, common sensical understandings of certain terms. Your position is counter-intuitive. Ordinary folk laugh at you." (link)
The posture is the exact opposite – Paul sees the threat coming from the common parlance and appeals to philosophers; TF had warned me of being too philosophical and wished for me to stick to common parlance. Further, Paul seems skeptical about classic compatiblism (i.e. #1). It literally seems like all my problems above (1 to 3) are gone and the main aspects of the debate were over before it started. I was standing ready to try to knock down all forms of compatibilism, but the attack never came.
So I criticize Kane and Paul criticizes the dictionary. When Paul seemed ready to grant that the common man’s view of choice conflicted with determinism, I moved in to close the discussion by saying scripture was written to the common man: if Paul admits the common man thinks of choice as libertarian, he should address the fact that the bible was written by common men and to the common man (i.e. to the people of Israel and the church, not the semi-compatiblist) and it uses the terms choice and choose. (link)
So my argument:
P1: The bible says people have wills and choose P2: But choosing rules out determinism C1: Therefore, the bible rules out determinism. (link)
P2 is another way of saying compatibilism doesn't make sense, which Steve and TF have opposed. Compatibilism can knock out P2, but compatibilism has to stand to be able to do so.