Dumbest Tweet I’ve Read in a While
I’ve complained that arguing via Twitter is a bad idea. The problem is that you get 140 characters to make your point, and that’s it. So reading a tweet that’s truly stupid, but requires more than 140 characters to respond to, creates a dilemma. There’s TwitLonger for some of those cases, or I can link it up to my blog as I’m doing in this case, but there’s no way to know how many people will actually read the reply.
Another issue is, while you might reply to the person that said it, and you include “@” + their Twitter name so they will see it, not everyone who read the tweet will see it. This is complicated by the fact that users can retweet posts that they like, spreading the message (but no replies) far and wide.
And, there are far more atheists using Twitter than theists. Which means that, when an atheist says something that’s plain ignorant but is catchy nonetheless, it is going to get read and retweeted dozens of times. Even if a theist writes a reply, the damage is already done. Few (if any) will see the reply.
Twitter user Monicks (whose real name appears to be Monica), has the ignorant tweet of (perhaps) the year. Maybe not, since we’re only in April (the best month of the year, and yesterday was the best day of the year). But it’s still pretty ignorant. Monica says:
I’m not subscribed to Monica, so the only reason I saw it is because she was retweeted by ThinkAtheist, who I do subscribe to. Monica has 5,609 subscribers and ThinkAtheist has 8,934 subscribers. That particular tweet was retweeted by at least 12 other users, so it looks like way more people have seen that tweet than will ever see this reply. But I wanted to try anyway.
Let’s get it out of the way. I’m a Calvinist. That means that I believe that whatever happens, happens at the behest of God for God’s purpose. Everything is foreordained by him.
That doesn’t mean that God concerns himself with every minute detail, such as choosing what color of socks I’m going to wear tomorrow. The color of socks I have on don’t matter a lick for his eternal plan–I can accomplish the same tasks on Monday whether I have red socks, white socks, or blue. (I didn’t actually intend the baseball reference, but if I add the words “Boston” and “Chicago” right here, then I just upped my search rankings using a new thing I call “accidental SEO”).
It doesn’t mean that God dictates every action each of us takes down to the minute. It seems as if God wanted me to write this post, I wouldn’t need to edit it as heavily as I am. It would come out right the first time.
In philosophical terms, this means that God doesn’t positively decree everything that happens. God’s plan isn’t a precise schematic. It’s more than the “broad intention” that open theists typically define, but for now let’s just say that there are certain things God decrees as working out in specific ways, and other things that he’s left open (but not to chance!).
Whatever happens, however, minimally has God’s stamp of approval. It means he foresaw the occurrence as at least a possibility, but perhaps as a certainty, alongside that which he has positively decreed. In other words, he “decreed” this negatively; or, “allowed it to happen.”
These are necessary distinctions to wrestle with before understanding the ignorance of Monica’s argument–even from a Calvinst perspective. I realize from an Arminan, Wesleyan, open theist, or even Catholic/Orthodox perspective that I wouldn’t even have to define these terms so precisely. Those theologies make Monica’s statement seem even more ignorant; for in those systems, the eternal divine decree is barely present or wrestled with. God created truly free moral agents.
Frankly, Calvinism seems to be the only theology in which Monica’s statement would even have the ring of truth. Given that there are so few of us Calvinists around, it seems that Monica would more likely be familiar with an Arminian system where God creates man and lets man go with no intervention. With truly free will, Monica’s statement is idiotic, and if she was exposed to Arminianism then she should know how stupid her statement is.
However, even in Calvinism, the objection is misplaced for the reasons I’ve described above. God doesn’t meticulously script each and every stage direction taken in a person’s life, nor each line of dialog we speak like some mad version of Joe Eszterhas banging out a seedy Showgirls sequel on his behemoth manual typewriter. We humans are still faced with moral choices each and every day. I see no reason to think God has already decreed, in a positive fashion, which choice we will make (for good or for ill).
In other words, the idea that we are somehow bound by God’s eternal decree to do what we do is bunk. The Calvinist affirms that God is not the author of evil; which means that he has not foreordained our descent into moral evil. And we all descend into moral evil, even me. But it is our own doing, not the will of God for our lives.
His will is that we take the way out–Christ. And that’s good news any way you slice it.
Posted on April 10, 2011, in Apologetics, God, Morality, Theology and tagged atheism, Calvinism, divine decree, free will, Joe Eszterhas, predestination, Unconditional Election. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.