Thursday, September 3, 2009

Why does it matter if people have free will?

Many times, as soon as the words "free will" leave my mouth, people assume that I'm trying to say that people can choose God. I believe that that is an entirely separate issue. Whether or not man can ask God for help is like arguing whether or not man can fly. Maybe he can and maybe he can't, but either way, he remains free to choice whatever. I can go outside and jump off my roof because I believe I can fly. I cannot, of course, but that is separate from my power to will.

The idea of free will (the 8th definition) goes a lot deeper than that. When I say free will, once again I am not speaking of the idea that we are not compelled to do things, or of the idea that we cannot be slaves. Many people are physically slaves. The idea of "free will" is merely the idea of "will" or of life. The concept of being a "free agent" is the concept of being separate from another, and responsible for one's own actions. This is very key to the concepts of existence, life, and relating.

[Boundaries: This is me, that is you]

Once again, spiritually we are all either slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness. God Himself, who is of all Beings most free, "cannot lie." Please understand that when I say "free will," I am not used definitions 1-7 or 9-10 from my other blog. When I say that people have free will, I am saying that they are responsible for their own choices and are separate from other beings.
Free agent - Originally used to describe a person subject to the philosophic concept of free will (as opposed to determinism), this expression was first recorded in 1662. (

Even outside of christianity, this topic comes up. Men commit crimes, and then this or that party exclaims that it was due to chemical imbalances, or that their childhood determined it. They had no other choice! That is the concept of "determinism," or more accurately, "other-determinism." On the other hand, we have the idea that although those factors influenced the person, the person made that choice to commit the crime, having other options he could have chosen instead. That is the concept of "self-determinism," or by the 8th definition, "free will."

We are separate beings, each one of us alive and responsible.

What counts as alive?
People? Aliens? Plants? Animals? I would say that plants are alive, but not in the same way as people or animals are. The difference is that people and animals are aware of self, and make choices (determine their choices.) God, though perhaps a "slave to righteousness," is aware of Himself and is a "free agent" because He determines His own choices. In that sense, God has free will and is truly alive. On the other hand, a book is not alive. It is not aware of itself, and it's actions are determined not by itself, but by the creatures who pick it up and put it down. Does this matter? Yes. It is wrong to abuse a dog. It is not wrong to burn a log. We relate to other free agents. We do not relate to a computer, whose every choice is determined by someone else.

What is responsibility?
Only "free agents" hold any responsibility inasmuch as they actually determine the way things happen. I cannot blame the vase for falling and breaking: it had no choice. I can blame my little brother who determined to push it. If something cannot respond in one way or a different way, it cannot have responsibility. Adam and Eve blamed the influence of other agents, but were both held responsible for their own self-determined actions. Though influenced, a free agent determines his own choice and is held responsible for it. We are not held responsible for that which we cannot determine. I am not held responsible for hurricane Katrina. I did not determine that it would happen. This is why, in court, lawyers tried to prove that their client's choices were determined by an outside forces: circumstances or chemicals, because if the client's choice was not self-determined, the client cannot be held truly responsible for it.

What does separateness have to do with it?
Some are an extension of another. Right now, the keys are acting as an extension of me. Their actions are being determined by me, and therefore I can write this blog as I want to write it, without the keys choosing random to insert random words here and there. I am responsible for what this blog says, even though it was typed up by the keys. What does this have to do with anything? If my choices were not determined by me, I would merely be the extension of whoever is determining them. For example, I had a dream the other night, and one guy in my dream was untrustworthy and unkind to me. Can I hold him responsible for that? No, because he is not a free agent who determined his own actions. I subconsciously determined his actions. He is merely an extension of my own mind. If I write a program, and the robot goes off and does what I programmed it to do, it is not a free agent and did not determine it's own action. It would be an extension of me, and if I programmed it to sabotage something, I would be the one to get in trouble. We are separate beings, and not an extension of one another because we are free agents who determine our own action. If God, or Fate, causally determined our every action, we would not be separate beings, but only the extension of His mind.

So that is why the idea of will, or free will is important.
It has to do with the core of existence as a separate being, with loving other people as separate beings, forgiving those who determined to act against you, or apologizing for what you determined to do. It has to do with the fact that breaking eggs to make an omelet is fine, but beating up other people is not. It has to do with why you can punish a kid for lying, or why you can justly condemn a murderer to death. Without personal responsibility, without the idea that we are responsible for what we ourselves determine to choose, none of that would be right, just, or correct. This is the foundation one must build off of to say that man exists separate from God. This is the foundation one must build off to say that man is responsible for biting into that forbidden fruit. This is the foundation one must build off to say that man or beast is truly a living being.

[Separateness: There is a God. You are not Him.]

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