UPDATE: Alan Kurschner put up a response to this piece entitled, "Teachable Moment for Those Who Live in Lumpkins' World." So far as I can tell, nothing in it denies my teasing out of Kurschner's skewed moral norm I did in this piece. Instead he simply repeats his observations while flogging me for addressing the moral norm he himself insists is derived biblically. Apparently, Kurschner doesn't appreciate someone taking his interpretation and following the logic of it. Frankly, I don't blame him for wanting to forget about his "drunken teen" illustration. It hardly places Kurschner's determinisn in the best moral light
Calvinist* apologist, James White, has lately had a spike in guest bloggers on his site, one guest of which is Alan Kurschner. A while back, Kurschner put up a post denying human responsibility implies the concept of “so-called free will.” Couched in the garb of an ethical scenario, he wrote>>>
Human responsibility is dependent on an objective entity (God's law), not a subjective entity (human moral ability). Human responsibility relates to a moral standard. It does not imply a so-called free will. If a teenager boy gets drunk and runs a red light, is he no longer responsible because of his condition? Yes he is responsible because he has broken the law, even if he did not have the ability to obey the law because of his condition.
So, the teen is responsible—and presumably guilty—because he broke the law even if he had no ability to obey the law because of his condition, ah? Let’s tease that out a bit.
Suppose Kurschner was headed to his son’s little league baseball game and passed the intersection at the precise moment the drunken teen ran the red light. Unfortunately, Kurschner’s car was broadsided forcing him into the walkway where his car ran down an elderly woman. Once the police arrive, they charge the drunken teen with routine traffic violations while cuffing Kurschner and carrying him off to jail for involuntary manslaughter. He is tried, convicted, and spends five years in prison. While Kurschner just wanted to see his son play little league, he didn’t even get to see his son graduate from high school. Why? Well, he was guilty of manslaughter which is a crime. But he only ran the woman down because a drunken teen slammed his car! So what? Recall Kurschner’s moral maxim—one is responsible because one breaks the law, even if one lacks the ability to obey the law because of his or her condition.
There is added difficulty to the strict Calvinist’s attempt to morally deny ought implies can.
Kurschner wants one to focus on running red lights when the obvious place one needs to first consider is the “gets drunk.” Now, was the “gets drunk” a result of the “so-called free will” or not? It surely cannot be the result because Kurschner denies “so-called” free will” is relevant. Where does that leave the drunken teen? Is he (or she) not responsible for his (or her) drunkenness even if he (or she) did not have the ability to obey the law against drunkenness? For Kurschner, the only answer must be affirmative. And, if the drunken teen gets behind the wheel and consequently breaks the law, is not the basis for his (or her) responsibility for breaking traffic laws because he or she is responsible for breaking drunkenness laws, not because of his or her inability to keep traffic laws?
But wait! We don’t need to go there yet.
First let’s ask, is not the teen responsible for his or her drunkenness even if he or she did not have the ability to obey the laws against drunkenness because of his or her condition? So, the question which begs asking is, what conditions would exist which makes drunkenness a reality which voids the teen’s ability to keep the law against drunkenness?
Suppose Amie forced her teenage acquaintance to drink, tied her to the seat, and threatened her life if she didn’t drive. Or perhaps another scenario would suffice. Whatever the case, that he or she did not have the ability to obey the laws against drunkenness because of his or her conditions cannot be used to deny responsibility for drunkenness. In short, the one thing to remember from Kurschner’s view is, the “so-called free will” is irrelevant. One is responsible to keep the law even if no ability whatsoever exists to keep the law, presumably including laws against drunkenness.
What if we ask further, is not the teen responsible for being forced to drink to drunkenness even if she had no knowledge she was being forced to drink to drunkenness? Recall since “so-called free will” is relevant neither to responsibility nor guilt, no amount of ignorance can be cited as relevant either.
Consider, then: unknown to her, Amie gave the unsuspecting teen a strong tranquilizer so that she was unconscious through the entire imbibing process. Consequently, the drunken teen woke up behind the wheel. In an obvious state of raw confusion, she took off, and because of her drunken stupor, she ran a traffic light. Was she responsible for breaking the traffic law even though she had no ability whatsoever to obey the traffic law? For Kurschner, she surely was.
What’s more, she was not only guilty of breaking the traffic law even though she had no ability to avoid it, she was also fully responsible for her drunkenness even though she had no ability to avoid being drunk.
But what about being imbibed while she was tranquilized? Is she also responsible even though she was fed alcohol through a tube while under a drug about which she had no knowledge? Why would she not be fully responsible? Recall: since “so-called free will” remains irrelevant, so does the unsuspecting drug given to her without her knowledge. The teen is responsible because she broke the law, even if she did not have the ability to obey the law because of her condition.
It’s the kind of moral nonsense like this that can make a strong free-willer out of just about anybody. Try as they may to the contrary, strict Calvinists hang themselves by their own moral noose when they attempt to deny the fundamental moral maxim, ought implies can.
With that, I am…
*Some theologians are convinced White holds to theological Hyper-Calvinism