Again, that kind of vulgarized omniscience reduces to absolute nihilism. I don't see any way around that conclusion. If someone can explain otherwise, feel free. But a cosmos without freedom is a cosmos without even the possibility of meaning.
It's not just the risks Paul took in traveling to strange places and preaching to usually hostile crowds. Think about the fact that he would only spend a week or two, but apparently leave with a handful of converts.
But what did it mean to "convert" back then? It certainly had nothing to do with sola scriptura, since the Gospels were decades away and the New Testament wouldn't be canonized for centuries.
Even more astonishing is how the message "stuck," and how the newly converted didn't simply revert to what they had previously believed before the excitement of the apostle's visit. To insist that it was all simply predetermined is to drain it of all majesty, mystery, and heroism. Nothing to see here. Literally -- any more than there is anything to learn by interrogating a cog in a machine. The cog simply does what it does because it has been preprogrammed to do it.
Now, was there an element of divine causation here? Obviously. It's called the Holy Spirit, AKA God. But how does the HS operate? Via material or efficient causation, again, like a linear machine in a Newtonian cosmos?
I don't think so. Rather, it seems to me that the HS is the quintessential case of formal and final causation: it doesn't so much push from behind as pull from ahead or above. But we are always free to resist the attraction.
I mean, c'mon. Is there really a human being who hasn't passively ignored or actively resisted this attraction? What is sanctity if there is no resistance to the sanctifying energies? Does it really make sense to insist that Charles Manson and Pope John Paul II simply followed the path of least resistance? For there is no conceivable path with less resistance than predestination, since there is nothing to resist and no one to resist it.
I feel like I'm championing the obvious, but there are obviously many people who believe the absurdity of predestination, and not just Muslims and Jansenists.
Rather, it is an implicit secular dogma, the reason being that there is no scientistic principle -- and no possibility of one -- that can account for our free will, which mysteriously dangles from above like an invisible thread of possibility. Therefore, it "must" be impossible and illusory.
Which immediately begs the question of how one could possibly know this if one has no choice in the matter. It's not even incoherent, because being incoherent requires the possibility of coherence.
As alluded to yesterday, the very first thing we learn about God is that he creates. God has many names, but the first one -- before redeemer, before judge, before math wiz -- is Creator. Does this word have any real meaning, or is it just poetic, not to be taken literally? Because to literally create must involve freedom, which is why machines, Marxists, and Muslims (collectively speaking) do not create.
How did we reach this point of madness? By losing our mind. Topping writes that because "modernity pretends to offer a creed more universal than the Church's," the West needs a "renewal and recovery of its own mind."
The western mind has a source, a ground, a purpose and a destiny, but now the tenured spend their days tediously sawing off the diseased branch they sit upon, and then pretending it's a new and better tree.
"When religion is gone," writes Topping, "reason is going." Or in other words, where reason is crumbling, God has already left the building, since God is the principle that renders reason more than an absurcular tautology. And an enclosed world without reason or freedom has a name: hell.