(HT: blog post from the Reformation21 blog and the upcoming start of the school year that makes it desirable for me to have a schedule and structure...Sunday is "Reformed Theology Day"...although looking at the "what I believe" page, there are some aspects that I haven't posted on...)
There are a lot of terms that I'm not sure are being used correctly - I'm not sure if I'm using them correctly. But the way they're used does make a difference in how you see things.
(all definitions are from Wiki)
Determinism is the view that every event, including human cognition, behavior, decision, and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences.
Indeterminism is a philosophical position that maintains that some form of determinism is incorrect: that there are events which do not correspond with determinism (and therefore are either uncaused, or caused in a manner that the corresponding form of determinism does not allow).
so...if you believe in determinism, as strictly defined, given any circumstances, you cannot NOT make the decision that you must make, given all the factors that led up to that circumstance.
If you believe in indeterminism, it's all up for grabs. You might make that decision or you might not. You are a product of your past, but you are not bound by it.
Will - simply the ability to make a choice.
Free will - the ability to make a choice without force
Libertarian free will - the ability to make a choice with no outside constraints whatsoever.
These are varying degrees, but the differences are important. Whether or not you "must" make a particular choice (based on determinism), it is still you making the choice. Free will is further down the road, there may be history or constraints that you may or may not even recognize, but you are still not "forced" to make a particular choice. With libertarian free will, there is no outside influence that would constrain any choice you might make. Influence, yes...constrain, no.
Compatibilism (...) holds that the sovereignty of God and the free will of man are both biblical concepts and, rightly understood, are not mutually exclusive. The all-knowing God (who sees past, present, and future simultaneously from the perspective of eternity) created human beings (who have the subjective reality of making choices in the present that have consequences for themselves and others in the future) in such a way that both are true: God is ultimately sovereign and therefore must have at least permitted any choice that a human could make, but at the same time God is right to hold humans accountable because from their perspective within the confines of serial time, humans make moral choices between good and evil. (from Theopedia, through Wiki)
Incompatibilism takes two different forms...at either end of the compatibilist spectrum.
compatibilism must be false because both the sovereignty of God AND the free agency of man cannot be true.
thus (choice 1) in order for man to have libertarian free will, God must choose to not take control over man's choices...
(choice 2), God is sovereign over all, thus man must not have the ability to make choices of the will.
This is an important question of theology for one who studies Reformed theology. Where on the spectrum do I fall?
My belief is: since Scripture teaches that God IS sovereign over all AND man makes choices, both good and evil, then some sort of compatibilism must be true.