Sunday, November 29, 2015

Calvinism and responsibility, a question for secular compatibilists

Think about the Calvinist doctrine of predestination (or deterministic versions thereof). According to that view, before the foundation of the world, God determines that some people will sin and not repent, and go to hell for their sins. Nevertheless, they are held responsible for their actions even though God is the ultimate cause of whatever they do, they are thought to deserve to go to hell because they did not perform those actions against their will. The immediate cause of their actions is their own will, just as in secular compatibilism, but the ultimate cause is God's eternal decree.

If Calvinism were true, would sinners be responsible for their sins? Does having God as the ultimate cause, as opposed to nature, change your compatibilist position? If so, why?

36 comments:

John Moore said...

If you jump off a cliff or get pushed (by God), either way you fall and die. You can't say God is unjust, because God is the very definition of justice. So anyway, it's not a question of responsibility but merely of consequences. Your will has nothing to do with it.

entirelyuseless said...

I would argue that if Calvinism were true, sinners would be responsible for their sins. The problem (with Calvinism) is not whether sinners are responsible. The problem is that it says that God is responsible too.

oozzielionel said...

It is easy to refute a position if you mis-characterize it.
1) Calvinism denies that God is responsible for sin. WC III"I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;[1] yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,[2] nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.[3]
2) Calvinism does not state that God determines that some people will sin. Calvinism affirms that all people (Christ excepted) sin."III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation:[4] so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good,[5] and dead in sin,[6] is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.[7]"

B. Prokop said...

No matter how you slice it, Calvinism is more philosophically incoherent than atheism. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that offered a choice between the two (with no other possible alternatives), I'd choose atheism.

If you asked me to define my Faith in as few words as possible, I'd say "God is Trinity, the Incarnation and Resurrection are historical facts, humans individually have free will but we collectively (a.k.a., in Adam*) chose to fall, and were redeemed by Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross."

* I care not whether there was a historical Adam. (I am 100% agnostic on the subject.) The Fall of Man remains an historical truth and present reality.

Jezu ufam tobie!

oozzielionel said...

Bob:
Collectively chose??

B. Prokop said...

Yup.

oozzielionel said...

A bit of a simplification, but I think we could say that Catholics and Calvinists agree on Federal Headship. It may also be that Catholics are close to Arminians on free will contrary to Calvinists.

Angra Mainyu said...

Victor,

I'll address the questions, but first, let me point out that I do not have the belief that nature is the ultimate cause of our actions. I would like to ask what you mean by "nature", as the word has more than one meaning, and it's not clear which one you have in mind, but under no meaning I'm familiar with I have the belief that the ultimate cause of our actions is nature. In fact, I don't even know whether there is an ultimate cause (as opposed to infinite regress) if by "ultimate cause" you mean something like "first cause", but in any case, I would not say that's nature.

So, let's consider the question:

1. If Calvinism were true, would sinners be responsible for their sins?

If I take that question literally, then given that Calvinism holds (as far as I know) that sinners are responsible for their sins, then sure, if Calvinism were true, sinners would be responsible for their sins.
But I don't think that's what you want to ask. Rather, I interpret your question as:

2. If God determined that some people would sin and not repent, and go to Hell as a punishment for their sins, would those people be responsible for their sins?

There is now a question of what "God" means. Different people mean different things by that. If "God" means something like "an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being", then if God punished them for their sins by sending them to Hell, clearly they would be responsible for their sins - and morality would be vastly different from what it is.
On the other hand, if "God" means "Yahweh" (i.e., the most powerful entity described in the Bible), then they would not deserve to go to Hell (i.e., infinite punishment) for theis sins, and Yahweh would be guilty for his actions. Additionally, Yahweh would be guilty of deliberately creating people who will behave immorally in those specific ways, when he could easily do better.
Yet, the question remains whether they are responsible for their sins.
Before we go on, we need to consider what is meant by "sin" in this context. I take it "sin" means "immoral behavior", so in that case, the question becomes:

3. If Yahweh determined that some people would sin and not repent, and go to Hell as a punishment for their sins, would those people be responsible for their immoral behavior?

My take is that it's impossible not to be responsible for immoral behavior; i.e., anything that takes away moral responsibility also takes away immorality, so if the behavior is immoral, they would be responsible.
Granted, it might be said that Yahweh is impossible too, so I'm considering a counterpossible scenario anyway - as I've been doing so far -, so perhaps, even if it's impossible not to be responsible for immoral behavior, in that particular counterpossible scenario, people aren't responsible. But I think this is not so. Either Yahweh is possible even if not actual, or the counterpossibleness of the scenario - in my assessment - only comes from the fact that "Yahweh" denotes an actual being, or no being at all. But a counterpart of Yahweh in another possible world is possible, people would still be responsible for their immoral behavior. That suggests that the reply above applies: people are always responsible for their immoral behavior, so the answer is "yes".

Even so, I don't think this is the question you're trying to get at, so I'll consider more options in my next post (I'm just trying to be precise here, so that my views are not misunderstood).

Angra Mainyu said...

So, after considering the matter carefully, it seems to me what you want to ask (but please let me know if I'm mistaken; there is a lot of ambiguity in the language involved) is something along the lines of:

4. If Yahweh determined that some people would, say, beat, rape and/or murder others with the sole intent of having pleasure (or some other behavior that, if done freely, would be immoral), would those people be morally guilty if they did so?

Here, a relevant question is: how does Yahweh go about doing so?

Now, you say that the immediate cause of their actions is their own will. But was their will changed by Yahweh? Is that will free?
For example, let's say Yahweh messes with Bob's mind and alters it, making him intend to do those things. Is Bob then morally guilty?
The answer would be "no".

However, the way you describe the scenario suggest that's not the way he does it. Rather, Yahweh does something like this:
He sets up a deterministic world in which humans exist, sets up the initial conditions so that things happen in the way he wants, and then lets the whole thing run.
In that case, as long as those people's minds are like the minds of actual humans who engage in those actions (and, in particular, assuming that the scenario is actual), then my conclusion would be that those people are morally guilty of course. My compatibilist assessment is not affected. I also reckon that Yahweh would be guilty as well. But that would not affect their guilt, or the punishment that they deserve - which is not eternal torment, or any other eternal punishment; that would be excessive.

I hope that answers the question you intended to ask, at least from my perspective (other compatibilists may have other views). If it does not, please clarify the question.

B. Prokop said...

Never heard of Federal Headship. I'll have to google it.

bbigej said...

"I care not whether there was a historical Adam. (I am 100% agnostic on the subject.)"

I can see why. Paul undeniably affirmed the existence of a historical Adam, while science says that is next to impossible. Best not to stir up any cognitive dissonance.

Carpe dime!

B. Prokop said...

"Best not to stir up any cognitive dissonance."

No cause to. I've long maintained (at least since the 1970s) that the Fall of Man is the one theological doctrine that can be proven by empirical observation alone. As always, there is absolutely zero conflict between science and faith - there never is.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Walter said...

"I've long maintained (at least since the 1970s) that the Fall of Man is the one theological doctrine that can be proven by empirical observation alone."

I am not sure that I agree with this. On the one hand it is easy to demonstrate that no human being achieves moral perfection (however defined), but I don't see how it can possibly be demonstrated that we ever "fell" from a state of perfection to where we are now.

B. Prokop said...

"I don't see how it can possibly be demonstrated that we ever "fell" from a state of perfection..."

I maintain that if we did not, we would not be aware that such a state was even possible. In any case, the doctrine of the fall is not so much about some historical event in the past (although it does affirm such), but rather is concerned with the present state of affairs, in which we seem helpless by our own efforts to refrain from evil, even when we will to do good. As St. Paul wrote, "I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do." (Romans 7:18-19) And that, we can prove by observation alone.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Victor Reppert said...

What I wanted to discuss here isn't exactly Calvinism, but Calvinist compatibilism. It's possible to say that libertarianism is true for moral choices, but receiving saving grace is only possible through irresistible grace. Nevertheless, there is a strong tradition of compatibilism amongst Calvinists, going back to Jonathan Edwards' Freedom of the Will. I was asking secularists, in particular, if they thought that a person can deserve punishment if they were determined by God to do what they did.

As an aside, on the god hates fags website there is an affirmation of a particularly unvarnished version of Calvinism. Apparently for them, God doesn't hate you because you're gay, you're gay because God hates you and intends to damn you. I am sure they would view atheists the same way.

Angra Mainyu said...

Victor,

I think my answer covers what you intended to ask, but if you think it doesn't, please let me know.

oozzielionel said...

It appears that the flavor of Calvinism you want to use here is supralapsarianism. This version places God's decree (sovereign decision) to elect certain people to salvation before the fall (laps) of Adam. The infralpasarian view places the decree to elect some after the god decree to permit the fall (please note this is a logical order, not a chronology). There is an underlying agreement among Calvinists that I know or have read that his debate lies in the dust of minutiae, is not answered by Scripture, and is relatively of little import.

On the other hand, internet theology runs by different rules. You can find all flavors.

Your differentiation between moral choices and choice related to salvation is helpful since most biblical references to election, predestination and decrees focus on salvation more than daily life. These ideas are often extended in Reformed Theology creeds to "all" things. I think you are right that there is a version of Calvinism that differentiates between different types of life choices.

I am not sure that Calvinism is the ideal foil to explore the concept of deserving punishment if our actions are predetermined. Calvinism (and Catholicism) relies heavily on inherited sin as sufficient for deserving punishment sometimes adding that our subsequent actions confirm by our choice the fact that we are guilty. Some of the current discussion is whether these sinful actions are by nature law breaking or evidence of a rebellious heart.

There seems to be a trend among secularist to deny libertarian free will. When a person commits an atrocity, there is often a search for the external forces that caused the bad behavior. The murderer must be mentally ill or abused or economically desperate. In this sense there is an agreement with the Calvinist that there are no free choices. There must be a prior disposition of weakness and inability to chose rightly. The difference is the Calvinists applies the weakness universally. The only escape is intervention of God's grace. For the secularist, the intervention is medication or incarceration and the hope that there is a modicum of health for the majority. The other difference is a definition of health. For the secularist, health is avoiding criminal behavior. For the Calvinist, health is a righteous life evidenced by love for God and others.

Victor Reppert said...

Logically, someone had to be the first human. Let "Adam" be the technical name for whoever that was.

B. Prokop said...

My thoughts exactly, Victor. "Adam" in Hebrew translates simply as "Man" or even "the man". Not really a proper name at all.

Angra Mainyu said...

I don't agree the word "human" is precise enough to be used in such a context.
There is no first human (or first cat, dog, or a first second at which there were humans, cats, or dogs, or a first second at which planet Earth existed, and so on).
The meaning of words (including "human") is determined by usage among speakers, but that does not result in the sort of precision that would be required in this case.

Dave Duffy said...

"The meaning of words (including "human") is determined by usage among speakers"

Exactly. When people need to, they can determine that some people are not precisely human.

Angra Mainyu said...

David,

I'm not sure I understand your point, but I get the impression you didn't understand mine (unless you did but you're still making another, unrelated point? But that wouldn't explain the "exactly", so please clarify).
The point I was trying to make was not about bias but about linguistic vagueness, and would apply to the word "people" as well, and to at least most words we use to describe the world around us.
For example, I don't think the word "heap" is precise enough to be used (i.e., to communicate successfully) in the context of arguments that say things like "If there is one grain of sand, there is no heap. If there are 100000, there is a heap. So, there is a first number of grains of sand that make up a heap".
That's a common example, but I think this phenomenon is far more common.
For instance, I don't think the word "planet" is precise enough (even with the latest definition) to communicate successfully in a context like "let n be the first second when there was a planet orbiting the Sun", even if we fixed a precise reference (i.e., a n=0) to start counting.
I think the same applies to words like "cat", "dog", "horse", and also "human", "person", etc.
So, we may for instance consider our australopithecines ancestors 4 million years ago. None of them was human. On the other hand, our ancestors 2000 years ago were all human. I don't think the word "human" is precise enough to single out (not even in principle, even if we don't know who he or she is) a first human somewhere between the australopithecines 4 million years ago and the humans 2000 years ago.
I also don't think the australopithecines were people in the usual sense of the words "person" and "people".
However, perhaps someone uses "person" and "people" differently, and while communication does not break down in real life scenarios because the referent overlaps in all present-day cases, maybe they would apply "person" to the australopithecines, going by their usage. Or maybe not. I don't know. In any case, we can just consider our ancestors not 4 but 400 million years ago, and then they clearly were not persons (by the usage of any competent English speaker), and make the same argument moving forward in time, etc.

David Brightly said...

Bob, what do you think Paul means by that? It's more than merely bemoaning the law of unintended consequences, presumably?

Ilíon said...

oozzielionel: "A bit of a simplification, but I think we could say that Catholics and Calvinists agree on Federal Headship. It may also be that Catholics are close to Arminians on free will contrary to Calvinists. ... It appears that the flavor of Calvinism you want to use here is supralapsarianism. ... Calvinism (and Catholicism) relies ..."

When it needs to (*) Catholicism can, and will, out-Calvin even the most ultra-Calvinists.

(*) I have in mind, specifically, the doctrine, and rationale, of the Immaculate Conception: in a nutshell, God caused Mary to be conceived without Original Sin because had she been tainted with Original Sin, as every other Son of Adam and Daughter of Eve is, she would not have free to submit to his will that she be the Mother of God.

And, being me, I cannot help but wonder, if God caused/causes Mary to be conceived without Original Sin, why does he not simply do the same to the rest of us. For, after all, the *very* rationale that provides the need (I mean, for Catholicism, not for Christianity) for the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception *also* entails that no one can submit to the Will of God and cease his innate rebellion by acknowledging Christ as his Lord and Savior unless God causes it to do so. Which is to say, in decreeing the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Roman Church has committed itself to an esoteric hyper-Calvinism wholly at odds with its exoteric defense of the freedom of the will.

Thus we see that Catholicism's Mariolatry forces it to be incoherent.

B. Prokop said...

Ilion,

The doctrines of original sin and of free will are not in the least incompatible. They are like Newtonian physics and quantum mechanics. The issue here is one of scale and perspective. Matter and energy behave in fundamentally different ways,dependent upon whether you observe them from a "human" perspective, or from a subatomic one. Man is always free at each moment to choose the good (that's the "quantum mechanics" perspective), yet we all too often do not. And that is because in an aggregate sense, we are from birth inclined to evil (and there we have the "Newtonian physics perspective).

Please Note: I am not saying there is a connection between will and physics. Iam simply using these as analogies to convey the importance of scale and perspective. When I stand on the seashore, the ocean is infinitely vast. When I look at Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" image of the Earth taken from outside the solar system, our planet's oceans are microscopically small - they share a single pixel along with all the continents. And both perspectives are equally valid.

The passage from Romans that I cited above illustrates a "macro reality". When Sirach writes "If you will, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice" (Ecclesiasticus 15:15) he is considering our free will from a "micro" perspective (i.e., at the quantum level).

Both statements are 100% correct and not in conflict with each other, just as my views of the ocean as being inconceivably vast or vanishingly insignificant were both valid, depending on context.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Ilíon said...

"The doctrines of original sin and of free will are not in the least incompatible."

Of course they are not: it is the (hyper-Calvinist) doctrine of the Immaculate Conception that is incompatible with free will.

B. Prokop said...

And as for "Mariolatry", do we not all, Catholics and Protestants alike, pray the "Our Father"? Since we are the adopted sons of God, is not His Father our Father as well? And that being so, is not His mother also our mother? Christ Himself declared this from the very Cross. He looked at Mary and said of the beloved disciple (a.k.a., the Church), "Behold your son!" and to the disciple (i.e., each one of us, individually) "Behold your mother!"

Despite unfortunate Protestant misunderstandings, Catholics do not "worship" Mary (implied in the word "Mariolatry"). The very idea is abhorrent to us - worship is reserved for God alone. We honor and venerate her as our mother - as we were commanded to do by our Lord Himself.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Ilíon said...

Riiiight! That's why you (plurally/institutionally) refer to her as "the Co-Redemptrix" and as "the Mediatrix of all Graces" and "the Advocate for the People of God" ... as though there were any other Redeemer than Christ and any other Mediator than Christ and any other Advocate than Christ, in open opposition to the Bible's clear assertions that there is one name given men by which they might be saved, and there is one advocate and mediator and High Priest.

Ilíon said...

The thought occurs to me just now that perhaps an important reason why so many Catholics (*) are able to be deal with, which is to say, ignore, the cognitive dissonance of holdng both to a leftist and a Christianish world-view is that they are already highly skilled in dealing with the cognitive dissonance of worshipping Mary while insisting that they don't.



(*) specifically, almost all of the ones who think of themselves as being intellectual

B. Prokop said...

Ilion, Ilion, Ilion,

Saint Louis de Montfort, famous for being perhaps the greatest advocate for devotion to Mary in all of history, wrote in his book True Devotion to Mary:

"Jesus, our Saviour, true God and true man must be the ultimate end of all our other devotions; otherwise they would be false and misleading. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end of everything. "We labour," says St. Paul, "only to make all men perfect in Jesus Christ." For in him alone dwells the entire fullness of the divinity and the complete fullness of grace, virtue and perfection. In him alone we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing; he is the only teacher from whom we must learn; the only Lord on whom we should depend; the only Head to whom we should be united and the only model that we should imitate. He is the only Physician that can heal us; the only Shepherd that can feed us; the only Way that can lead us; the only Truth that we can believe; the only Life that can animate us. He alone is everything to us and he alone can satisfy all our desires.

We are given no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. God has laid no other foundation for our salvation, perfection and glory than Jesus. Every edifice which is not built on that firm rock, is founded upon shifting sands and will certainly fall sooner or later. Every one of the faithful who is not united to him is like a branch broken from the stem of the vine. It falls and withers and is fit only to be burnt. If we live in Jesus and Jesus lives in us, we need not fear
damnation. Neither angels in heaven nor men on earth, nor devils in hell, no creature whatever can harm us, for no creature can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Through him, with him and in him, we can do all things and render all honour and glory to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit; we can make ourselves perfect and be for our neighbour a fragrance of eternal life."
(Part One, Chapter Two, Paragraph 61)

Satisfied?

Jezuufam tobie!

B. Prokop said...

Oh, and by the way. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in no way, shape, or form violates or contradicts either the doctrine of the fall or that of the Redemption. "Nothing is impossible to God" (Luke 1:37). Why is is so incredible to think that God can work retroactively in time? Mary's preservation from original sin was a direct consequence of the Redemption. The fact that it occurred (in our time frame) prior to the Cross and Resurrection is irrelevant to God, who is of course outside of time ("I am who am."). What was granted to her will in the fullness of things be granted to all of us. (We will have no inclination to evil in Heaven.)

The same goes for the (quite scientific) doctrine of the Assumption. Mary was assumed (by Christ) body and soul into Heaven, as we will all be at the End of Days. And why was this so? Have you never heard of microchimerism? There were present in Mary's physical body countless cells that belonged to Christ. Were these to "see corruption" (Acts 2:27) at Mary's death? Certainly not!

How interesting that centuries before doctors ever knew of such things, the Faithful were already aware of their implications.

Side note: Observe how carefully the Church distinguishes the Ascension (Christ ascending into Heaven under His own power) from the Assumption (Mary doing pretty much the same, but entirely due to the action of God - not her own). People who ignorantly think that Catholics "worship" Mary seem to always miss these countless precise yet blatantly obvious distinctions.

Jezu ufam tobie!

Dave Duffy said...

Angra,

The word "exactly" was meant to provoke. Thanks for your reasonable response to my provocation.

I do understand the point about linguistic vagueness. I was a math and chemistry guy when I went through college. I wish my theology could be made as clear as those studies.

"our australopithecines ancestors 4 million years ago."

At this point it's all a guess.

Angra Mainyu said...

Dave,

You're welcome.

As for your point about our ancestors, I'm not sure what you're saying is a guess. Is it that our australopithecines ancestors 4 million years ago were not humans and/or not persons?
If that is the case, I would say that for the purposes of my post about linguistic vagueness, there is no need to settle that point. Instead, one can just replace our australopithecines ancestors 4 million years ago with our also primate ancestors 44 million years ago - for example -, which were also the ancestors of, say, present-day mandrills. I would say that they were neither human or people, in the usual sense of the words. The substantive part of the argument remains unchanged.
If you meant something else, please let me know.

Ilíon said...

B.Joking: "The same goes for the (quite scientific) doctrine of the Assumption. Mary was assumed (by Christ) body and soul into Heaven, as we will all be at the End of Days. And why was this so? Have you never heard of microchimerism ? There were present in Mary's physical body countless cells that belonged to Christ. Were these to "see corruption" (Acts 2:27) at Mary's death? Certainly not!"

Do you ever *think* about this special-pleading stuff before you say it?

Was the infant Jesus' meconium also assumed into Heaven, lest his cells in it (which is to say, the bulk of the matter composing the stuff) "see corruption"?

During his fetal development and subsequent life between birth and crucifixion, countless trillions of cells of Jesus's body died and were shed (cell-death is, after all, how our bodies grow and develop). Were these cells assumed into Heaven, individually or en masse, thest they "see corruption"?

"Have you never heard of microchimerism ?"

But of course. I long ago suggested that as part of a line of naturalistic reasoning contra the Christ-haters' strange insistence that the Virgin Birth is "(logically) impossible".

Ilíon said...

B.Obtuse: "Oh, and by the way. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in no way, shape, or form violates or contradicts either the doctrine of the fall or that of the Redemption."

Oh, so it's really, "All -- except Mary -- have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God"?

And it's really, "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone ... and Mary."?

And it's really, "As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one" ... except Mary"?

And so on, multiply.

Ilíon said...

B.Obtuse: "Oh, and by the way. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in no way, shape, or form violates or contradicts either the doctrine of the fall or that of the Redemption. ... Why is is so incredible to think that God can work retroactively in time? Mary's preservation from original sin was a direct consequence of the Redemption."

As is customary when you need to miss the point, you quite miss the point.

self: "And, being me, I cannot help but wonder, if God caused/causes Mary to be conceived without Original Sin, why does he not simply do the same to the rest of us. For, after all, the *very* rationale that provides the need (I mean, for Catholicism, not for Christianity) for the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception *also* entails that no one can [voluntarily] submit to the Will of God and cease his innate rebellion by acknowledging Christ as his Lord and Savior unless God causes [him] to do so. Which is to say, in decreeing the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Roman Church has committed itself to an esoteric hyper-Calvinism wholly at odds with its exoteric defense of the freedom of the will."

Adam's sin either infected all human beings with sin, and thus death, or it did not. The doctrine of Original Sin is the claim Adam, being the progenitor of all human beings, stands in Headship for all of us, and thus that due to his sin, *all* human beings -- all his lineage -- are infected with sin, and thus death, ab origine, in their (individual) origin. The doctrine of Original Sin means that we *all* are sinners from our conceptions -- even before we commit any specific sin.

The doctrine of the Redemption is the claim that Christ Jesus is the Second Adam -- that being not merely a "son of Adam", but also the Creator himself, he is able to stand in Headship for human beings in place of the first Adam, for all who freely repent of their sinful natures inherited as members of the lineage of the first Adam.

The distinctive doctrine of Calvinism is that no one even even has the 'free-will' capacity of repenting his sinful nature inherited as a member of the lineage of the first Adam -- unless God first choose that individual as a(n unwilling) recipient of his "irresistable grace" and redeem him from sin against his will (*). Which is to say, according to Calvinism, the truth of the matter is not *merely* that none of us have the capacity to free ourselves of the infection of sin, and of death, but that not one of us even have the capacity *to desire* to be freed of the infection unless God first free us of it ... which, if it were true, rather makes repentance a hollow act.

(*) According to Calvinism, a person can will to *not* repent his sin -- which willing may be countermanded and negated by God -- but no person can will to repent his sin. According to Calvinism, the fact of one's membership in the lineage of the first Adam or of the Second Adam has nothing at all to do with how one responds to the wooing of God, but rather with whether God-as-Cosmic-Mind-Rapist has fixed his gimlet eye upon one.

As mentioned above, the one of the important rationales for the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is the assertion that had Many been subject to Original Sin, as the rest of use are, then she'd not have had the freedom even to acquiesce to God's will that she give birth to the Second Adam.

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is (hyper-)Calvinism-for-one.

B.Obtuse: "... Why is is so incredible to think that God can work retroactively in time? Mary's preservation from original sin was a direct consequence of the Redemption."

If God prevented Mary being infected with sin at conception, as the rest of us have been, then she was never in need of redemption as the rest of us are. We need to be brought to Life because we're already dead; according to the d.I.C., Mary never was dead.