I think we all have a huge gift from God. It’s one we don’t think about or acknowledge much. It’s the ability to make up our mind to do something whether or not we know it to be right. It’s called free will.
God Hates Sin
We all know what free will is. It’s the ability to act at one’s own discretion. Do you realize that without free will there would be no sin? We’d all be a bunch of robots and sin would not be a part of our programming. Why? God would be the programmer and He hates sin!
If God hates sin and He would be the programmer… wait, how do we know he’d be the programmer? The reason is that God is the mightiest in the Universe, right? I mean, he cast the devil out of heaven, didn’t he? Let’s not get into that subject. At least, not now.
Is Free Will A Gift Or A Curse?
So, we think free will is a gift, then? Or is it a curse? We said there would be no sin if we didn’t have free will, right? So, wouldn’t it be a better world without sin? Yes, it would. But it would be a pretty boring world, wouldn’t it? And there would be a lot of people without jobs. There would be no reason for courts, or lawyers, or policemen. Social workers wouldn’t have anything to do if they rely on people being in trouble.
Determinism, which was started by the ancient Greek philosophers, suggests that only one course of events is possible and it is determined by pre-existing causes, which have nothing to do with free will. Libertarianism says the two are not compatible. In other words, I choose to do something because of my ancestors’ actions long ago. This is complete fiction. Suppose I chose to do something one way, just because my ancestors did it another? Now, I can see where a person might think I chose illogically. But he has the right to think that, doesn’t he? Its because of free will that he might think that.
List Believes In Free Will
Christian List, a philosopher who wrote the book called Why Free Will Is Real (Harvard, 2019), says that he doesn’t think he was pre-determined to be a philosopher. He wanted to become a computer scientist or mathematician when he was younger. It wasn’t until his last couple of years of high school he developed an interest in philosophy. Now, some people might say that he was pre-determined to be a philosopher, because he developed the desire to be one. I believe he had a choice in the matter.
List believes that the free-will denial we are seeing is because of a reductionistic worldview. Everything is reduced to physical processes. If we take a scientific worldview, it isn’t, he says.
Different Peoples’ Opinions
I asked several people recently for views on free will. I said it would be a boring world without free will. One person said that it wouldn’t be boring because everyone would have different gifts and would be using those gifts. For that matter, people would probably have different gifts than they have now. Maybe not. Also, I was told free will gives us the chance to pick good over evil. Still another said entertainment would be boring without free will and that our world functions on sin. I guess I would have to say that free will gives us the right to pick good over evil, yes, but doesn’t it also give us the right to pick evil over good? I mean, think about it. If we have one choice, don’t we have the other?
Actions Reflect Free Will
Our actions reflect our free will. If we have morality, we would begin by picking good over evil. If we are immoral persons, our choice would be to choose evil over good. But then we have to determine what is good and what is evil. That is free will!
Free will, whether it exists or not is one of the longest running debates of philosophy and religion. We won’t solve the debate here. We’ll just add to the debate. One point is that science would have a hard time explaining human behavior if it didn’t view people as choice-making agents.
Experiment Using Free Will
An experiment, done by Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota and Jonathan Schooler of the University of California, Santa Barbara, on this was to have a group read a quotation of Francis Crick, a British molecular biologist, saying that free will is no longer taken seriously by intellectuals. The assemblage was then compared to another who had been given another quotation to read and the persons in the first group expressed more skepticism than the second about free will and promptly cheated on a math test they were given to take.
“Doubting one’s free will may undermine the sense of self as agent,” Dr. Vohs and Dr.Shooler concluded. “Or, perhaps, denying free will simply provides the ultimate excuse to behave as one likes.”
“Free will guides people’s choices toward being more moral and better performers,” Dr. Vohs said. “It’s adaptive for societies and individuals to hold a belief in free will, as it helps people adhere to cultural codes of conduct that portend healthy, wealthy and happy life outcomes.”
So I come to a conclusion. Free will is in the eye of the beholder. What does that mean? Well, put a different way, we decide for ourselves whether our actions are out of free will or if we have a determinist view. In my opinion that is the only way we will settle this. If the ancient Greeks couldn’t determine whether or not it is valid, I am not sure we are qualified.