“If the God of Calvinism exists, would you worship him?” asks philosopher Randall Rauser. He offers the following construal of the Calvinist God:
On the one hand, this being is understood to be perfectly good, maximally loving, and absolutely wise. On the other hand, this being is understood to elect a subset of the human population for redemption whilst electing (or “passing over”) others in what constitutes a decree of reprobation which results in damnation in hell.
Let’s assume that the Calvinist God is in reality the true God. This truth is somehow revealed to you. (Maybe the angel Moroni pays you a visit or you are given a vision of heaven in which Master Calvin is honored as Theologian Supreme.) You suddenly know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that
(1) God has the attributes of perfect goodness, maximal love, and absolute wisdom; and
(2) God has elected (or passed over) a subset of the human population in an eternal decree of reprobation.
It takes you a few moments (okay, maybe an aeon or two) to get over your shock. You look over at your bookshelf and realize that, with the exception of Basic Writings of Saint Augustine, you’re going to have to toss out every theological title that you own. Oh well. You took a gamble on the catholic faith and you lost. But you still have to decide what to do with your life. After all, you don’t want to spend an eternity in hell. So are you going to worship this God or not?
Rauser maintains that it is irrational for you not to do so. I’m not persuaded. I’m not persuaded because I believe the scenario is incoherent. Here is the comment I left on his blog:
Your argument, Randall, is asking me to believe what, in my eyes, is manifestly a contradiction; hence I cannot even seriously entertain the possibility that the Calvinist God in fact exists, just as I cannot entertain the possibility that in some possible world 2+2=5. That God is maximal love and goodness, by definition, excludes limited atonement and double predestination. If the Calvinist continues to insist that the perfect God of love and goodness does in fact elect some to eternal salvation but reprobates the rest, then the proper response, I think, is that the Calvinist is using words in equivocal fashion, as David B. Hart argues in a recent article (https://goo.gl/Uj6fwu).
I am sure that many of my conceptions and preconceptions about God will need to undergo drastic revision when I see God face to face (pray that it may be so), but I don’t see how it can ever be true that the Calvinist God might exist, even as a hypothetical possibility.
Here’s Rauser’s rejoinder:
To equate Calvinism with a flatly contradictory statement like 2+2=5 is strong indeed. So I’ll repeat to you the invitation I extended to Zeno: If you have a valid deductive argument with incontrovertibly true premises you should share it. In the absence of such an argument I think the rhetoric has outrun the evidence.
I’m not very good at constructing valid syllogisms that would satisfy a philosopher. How about helping me to construct one?