Protestants Trading Acausally

Protestants believe in predestination. The God has already decided on who’s going to get to hell and heaven.

This feels like a terrible incentive structure. If you are already predestined to get one of those places, why care? Why try to be good?

In reality though it works pretty well. Protestants are trying to be good to convince themselves (and others) that they’ve been predestined to go to heaven.

It may even work better (protestant work ethic etc.) because if you haven’t been predestined, it always feels like there’s still time to change your ways and eventually achieve salvation. With predestination it doesn’t work that way. There’s no changing of the decision in play. If you are behaving badly today it’s a sign that you’ve been already predestined for hell. Too bad for you.

This is a funny example of an acausal trade. In particular because it does not assume an intelligent actor, an actor who knows game and decision theory and can act accordingly, which is traditionally an assumption for an acausal trade. A simple artisan or merchant in XVI. century may have done the acausal trade with God although the game or decision theory did not yet exist.