Buridan’s Ass (Donkey)

It has been argued by skeptics that if God is in control, then choices are not possible. The reason for this line of thinking is the concept of “determinism.” Determinism says that all human action is governed by something outside of themselves. This means (according to skeptics) that man’s will is then eliminated if God is sovereign, because Him being sovereign over all things means that He already determined everything ahead of time. Therefore, our choice is just a facade. The contrary is also true according to these same detractors… When putting the opposite in view, they then say that if we actually can make choices, then God’s sovereignty is negated. Which defeats the notion defended by Christians (in the skeptic’s mind) that God is all powerful (omnipotent) and that He is also all knowing (omniscient).

This leads to a question…

How do we then explain the fact that the Bible says that man is culpable regarding his choices…

Ecclesiastes 12:14 (ESV)
For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

…and yet, God is also still sovereign?

Isaiah 45:7 (ESV)
I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things.

Buridan’s Ass (Donkey)

“‘Buridan’s Ass’ is a medieval philosophical fiction in which the animal starved to death between two equidistant and equivalent piles of hay, being completely unable to make a justifiable choice between the two. We might otherwise suffer a similar fate when trying to decide ‘What color of shirt to wear to work today?’ or ‘Which door to open when fleeing an approaching ax-murderer?’” – Dr. Luke Jeffrey Janssen, McCaster University

In other words, the donkey in this experiment starves to death because it has not been given the proclivity or preference for one pile over the other. Therefore, it has no bases for choosing either one to eat. This philosophical exercise demonstrates that without the possession of a predetermined desire for one pile over the other, choice for the donkey is then not possible. The same goes for us. Unless God (who is sovereign) has given us a desire to choose Him, we won’t…

2 Timothy 2:24-26 (ESV)
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

Acts 16:14 (ESV)
One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

The Skeptic

The skeptic promotes the notion that God’s interference in our thought life inhibits our freedom to choose. But, as the above philosophical exercise shows, without God’s intervention (just as the donkey starves to death) we also will die, because death is our sin’s gain…

Romans 6:23 (ESV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is why we are encouraged pray to God for the conversion of everyone…

1 Timothy 2:1-4 (ESV)
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.


We must pray for and do all that we can to help the skeptic to see that God is actually needed for any choice to be made by us…

Jude 1:22 (ESV)
…have mercy on those who doubt

Because, unless God causes them to acknowledge Him through faith in Christ, the skeptic can never please God…

Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)
without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Godspeed, to the brethren!

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