Calvinism and Robots

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  • Calvinism and Robots

    It’s not uncommon to hear that the view of God’s sovereignty maintained by Calvinists reduces human beings to the role of a mere robot. Here John Frame thinks through this objection:

    Scripture is concerned, above all, to glorify God. Sometimes glorifying God humbles man, and those who believe Scripture must be willing to accept that consequence. We covet for ourselves ever more dignity, honor, and status, and we resist accepting a lower place. But Scripture assaults our pride and honors the humble. Scripture compares us, after all, not to sophisticated robots, but to simple potter’s clay.

    What if it turns out that we are robots, after all—clay fashioned into marvelous robots, rather than being left as mere clay? Should we complain to God about that? Or should we rather feel honored that our bodies and minds are fashioned so completely to fulfill our assigned roles in God’s great drama? Some creatures are born as rabbits, some as cockroaches, and some as bacteria. By comparison, would it not be a privilege to be born as an intelligent robot?

    Indeed, what remarkable robots we would be—capable of love and intimacy with God, and assigned to rule over all the creatures. Is it not a wonderful blessing of grace that, when we sinned in Adam, God did not simply discard us, as a potter might very well do with his clay, and as a robot operator might well do with his malfunctioning machine, but sent his only Son to die for us? Risen with him to new life, believers enjoy unimaginably wonderful fellowship with him forever.

    As we meditate upon these dignities and blessings, the image of the robot becomes less and less appropriate, not because God’s control over us appears less complete, but because one doesn’t treat robots with such love and honor.

    -John M. Frame, The Doctrine of God
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