Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Free will - does it exist?

This has always been something I've been interested in but my church (Brackenhurst Baptist) had been discussing election when I really started to seriously think about the issue of free will.

My dad, who is a pastor gave me a book called "A Primer on Free Will" by John H. Gerstner which really opened my eyes regarding this topic!

He starts the book like this...
"Dear reader, you have in your hands a booklet entitled A Primer on Free Will. I dont know you, but I know a good deal about you. One thing I know is that you did not pick up this book of your own free will. You have picked it up and have started to read it, and now continue to read it because you must do so. There is absolutely no possiblity, you being the kind of person you are that you would not be reading this book at this time.
Still, you have not already put down the little book in indignation. If you had, you would not have read that sentence. A few of you may smilingly know how right I am. But some of you are angry because you think that what I have said about you is foolish and absolutely false. You insist, "It was of my own free will that I picked up this book and am reading it now. And you, author are not telling the truth when you say it was otherwise and that I actually have to be reading this at the present moment." "

A ver interesting introduction I thought!
After reading the rest of this wonderfully written little book I came to the following conclusions:

There is no such thing as a "free" will in the true sense of the word...

Think about it for a moment
Free means totally uninfluenced by anything, unhindered and free of any boundaries whatsoever.
If you claim to have a FREE will than you can only be insane...
If you think carefully about it, every descision and every choice you make are in some way determined by other factors. Motives. Nothing you do is done without a reason.
We, being rational creatures act according to reason, we cannot function without it. Anyone who behaves as if they cannot reason is deemed to be a lunatic.
You absolutely HAVE to be reading this post (I'm not just being arrogant ) because your mind is a type of difference engine. You weighed up the pro's and con's of reading the blog and it seemed better to you to read the post than not to.
You might say now "I'll prove you wrong and stop reading right now", but if you study that carefully you find that the motive for stopping would be to prove me wrong and therefore your choice was based once again on a motive. If you decide to do something completely random like punch your screen, you motive would be that you wanted to do something random. So therefore our will will never be free in the true sense of the word.

You dont have completely free will because you cannot do everything you will yourself to do. You cant fly because your will is bound by laws like gravity etc.

But your will is free in a sense because your motives are based on your personality, morals etc. Therefore your descisions will be inclined a certain way - if you are a good person (saved) you will be inclined to choose to make the right descision because it seems good for you to do so. If you are a bad person you will inclined to choose to make the wrong descision because that will seem good to you.

So therefore we do have a freedom and can be held liable for sins and for good deeds, but our wills are certainly not free and are influenced by innumerable factors.

Dont you find comfort in God having control over our will though? Imagine if we were left to ourselves!!! I dont pretend to fully understand all of the issues surrounding free will, but I'm pretty convinced that we dont have free will and that God controls our destiny.

A preacher (cant remeber his name - might have been spurgeon) once put forward a brilliant allegory. He said that we are like an ant on a piece of paper and God directs us not by turning us (we arent robots) but by turning the paper...

And we know that all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

5 comments:

Kaitlin said...

Welcome to the blogosphere Antz!

Great post, you've given me lots to think about.

Jazz said...

Very thought provoking!

Sam said...

Hey Antz

Very interesting article. :)

Beth said...

That is a really great thought, Antz. I loved the allegory at the end especially.
Our God is definitely an awesome God to have created us and all other factors in such incredible design as this!

Gareth said...

I would agree with you 100%, if it where left up to us and our "free will" then all we could make are bad decisions. . . thank goodness that it is all up to God and not us!