And to say there is no becoming and no freedom is another way of saying there is no time, only eternity.
Or -- stick with me here -- time is reduced to space. Thus, any so-called "choice" one makes in the present is actually just the backward extension of a future which has already happened. What looks like a photograph to us is just part of a giant flip book, in which the next picture is already in place, giving the illusion of motion (motion being synonymous with change).
Weird, I know. But plenty of people believe the cartoon, both religious and secular. In fact, speaking of animation, this would mean that Life Itself is also a kind of illusion of movement.
Which is precisely why physics is powerless to deal with Life, because there is no principle in physics that can distinguish between living and nonliving matter. It's all just the same atoms in a different pattern, that's all.
As we've said before, this profoundly unbiblical idea is a Greek import. One reason why science never developed in ancient Greece was that time and change were considered existential defects, so to speak -- like rust, or corrosion, or dandruff. Everything available to the senses is just a more or less imperfect copy of something from the timeless world of pure form. There is appearance and there is reality, and never shall the twain meet on the same twack.
In fact, when Paul makes that cwack about the gospel representing foolishness to the Greeks, this is what he is referring to. The Greek mind could never wrap itself around the idea of the timeless world getting mixed up in the temporal, or of the loftiest principle taking the form of a filthy, screaming infant, no matter how breathtaking the baby.
Yes, there is an absolute and there is a contingent. But for the excessively Platonized mind, the absolute is not "in" the contingent, any more than you are really in a photo of yourself. Just as it would be absurd to suggest that you could jump into a photograph of yourself, God by definition cannot enter the contingent, i.e., that which only exists because it is a distant reflection of, or accidental emanation from, the One.
Note that in the Greek view, God is wholly abstract, a point to which we will later return. Unlike in the Christian view, the Greek One is definitely not a concrete person. Which is why neoplatonism involves ascending up and out of the body and extinguishing all traces of one's accidental self.
I read somewhere that Augustine was once a neoplatonist and that he never quite shook its acute somaphobia. The greatest neoplatonist of them all, Plotinus, was said to be absolutely ashamed of the mere fact of having a body.
I say that predestinistas and other fatalists are tossing out the most essential and shocking news in the good news -- or even the news that makes it good. Indeed, what does make the news good? That everything that has ever happened and will ever happen to you is preordained, so you might as well give up now?
That would be a tough sell, in my opinion. You think the Jehovah's Witnesses have a rough time of it? Imagine Paul going door to door and announcing,
"Hello. I have some good news for you. I am here because I am predestined to be here, as are you. I am compelled to tell you about a vision I had about this Jesus fellow, which you will either accept or not accept, depending upon how God has programmed you...
"And if I refuse?"
"Doesn't matter. God already knows who's saved and who's damned, so I wouldn't worry about it."
Now, it would be a mistake to minimize the appeal of this metaphysic to certain spiritual types. As we've said before, all valid big-box religions are all full-service operations that cater to the individual. This is more explicitly expressed in the East, in particular, with the various paths of yoga, e.g., karma yoga, hatha yoga, jnana yoga, raja yoga, bhakti yoga, etc. Different yokes for different folks.
I would suggest that the innocent fideism of the simple predestinista is an example of bhakti yoga, in which there is an absolute trust that whatever happens happens for the best. Naturally this helps to cultivate spiritual peace in the face of all these damn cosmic fluctuations, oscillations, enigmas, and annoyances. It's an easy yoke, but not everyone gets it -- specifically, those with a different makeup and different spiritual needs.
You could say that it is a transparently childlike approach, and not necessarily with any pejorative connotation. Bhakti yoga is "efficacious for fostering love of, faith in, and surrender to God. It is a means to realize God, and is the easiest way for the common person because it doesn't involve extensive yogic practices."
And as a matter of fact -- and I've been thinking about this lately -- just as all philosophies are "true," there is a little bhakti in everyone, right?
Wait -- all philosophies are true? Yes, I've been noticing lately how virtually every philosophy has an element of truth to it. It's just that the philosopher gets all carried away with his little piece if the puzzle, and elevates it to the whole existentialida.
You name the philosopher, and I'll show where he was right, even Nietzsche, or Hegel, or Kant, or Derrida. (Was that distant thunder, or was that Van's head exploding?)
To come full circle, I would even say that the predestinistas are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. As far as they go.
I wanted to get into an allied subject, to wit: what is necessary in order for existence to be possible? Or in other words, what are the necessary conditions of existence, or conditions without which existence cannot exist? I think that by answering these questions, we might be able to understand how it is possible for it All to be True, i.e., how all these halfwits can be half right.