« Young worker's dilemma | Main | MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM NEWCASTLE AUSTRALIA »

December 20, 2003

Comments

Pica

Free will is the choice we make as humans to live a godly life. God's will is whatever George W. Bush (or one of his cronies/masters) says it is.

My two pesetas (gone, now, into the past, replaced by this strange thing called the Euro...).

Tvindy

Hm. I've never seen the two compared like that. From the little philosophy I've read, it seems that there are several logical arguments given for why free will is actually an illusion. But I don't remember what they are. It is also mainly a western concept.

A related question is whether God himself has free will. Does he do good by choice, or is he by nature incapable of evil acts?

Snowball

Having a too-Catholic background, I can only tell you what I've been taught. "God's will" is entirely a mystery. We can't know what is planned by the divine or why, which lets him totally off the hook, if you ask me. "Free will" refers to people and our penchant for choosing to sin rather than live the ways that God and Christ have told us to, but if you read the bible, you get a lot of contradictory instructions. I'm pretty sure I can sell my eldest into slavery, according to Leviticus.

fredf

Wow. I'd be curious about the context from which this question arises. Of course, to answer such a question in a comment box insures its trivialization. And any attempts are doomed to be mere fragments of a fuller answer. And I am not capable of even the fragment, but will venture where fools fear to tread… as is my habit. Coming from a Protestant pedigree, my understanding in nugget form is this:

God should be understood to show two aspects of his omnipotent will (that unlike ours, is not limited by "natural" laws that he himself created so there could be a material universe): He has a directive will: Let there be… and there was. His directive will has set the larger story of history, and in the end, His will will be done on Earth as it is in heaven… which by and large is not the case in our times, because…

He also manifests a permissive will. Time and time again in the OT he says to the people of Israel "this day, I have set before you A and B. If you do A you will live and prosper." Typically, they chose B instead, as did many individuals whose stories we read there. In the NT, we learn more about "natural man" whose will is fallen and "carnal", keeping us from coming into God's full fellowship. The gospel account tells how, through the redemptive work of Christ, the old man (and old will) can be redeemed (bought back) and replaced by a new one that is (to a degree dependent on the strength of our trust in him, our faith) aligned with God's will--mortifying the "old man's" violent, selfish, fleshly will, seeking "thy will, not my will be done".

Man is a free moral agent (has 'free will') to chose between serving self, others and God. God has chosen to allow us to operate in a world of choice rather than hardwiring us to do good, honor him, and make the right decisions because there is nothing else we can do. God's will is totally free, including the choice to place some time constraints on the working out of his Plan, and including his choice to give us the power to chose (in this way being "like" God). Man is not totally free, being under the rules of nature (gravity, entropy, and such) and having intrinsic limits (genetics, brain chemisty) and extrinsic limits (human laws) that constrain our will from being fully manifested.

Is God sovereign or is man responsible? Is light a wave or a particle? Yes to both questions. These are antinomies, and understanding the existence of 'true contradictions' has been of some help in partial comprehension of the truths we are offered in scripture.

Okay. I'll shut up. As I said earlier, don't think that refuting my weak response is to tear down the larger truth behind the matter. Volumes have been written on this, to be sure, and we "see through a glass darkly" indeed. We know something, but we do not know everything we need to know to see things as they are. Someday, perhaps, beyond this shadowland.


beth

Let me try a REALLY simple way of explaining this as I see it:

"God's will" is Love.
"Free will" is our open, human choice in each action to move closer to, or further away, from loving God, His creation, and one another.

Geoff

I am going to make the same error as fredf and try to put big ideas in a small box.
Free will is the freedom to make choices that are our own. A computer may appear to make choices even though it is just following a program where every response is predetermined by a set of rules. Similarly, many of our choices are predetermined by our biological make up. For example we are programmed to try to eat food when we are hungry. Sex is another example, but somewhat more complicated. But the difference with humans is that we usually don't just automatically follow our urges and desires. We usually choose to follow our urges and desires. The fact that we usually do, and that it is usually sensible to do so doesn't alter the fact that we make a choice. But the concept of free will is more usually applied to choices between good and evil. Again our choices here are influenced by many factors beyond our control including biological urges. Such factors may, for example, push us towards being selfish, whilst our conscience (our knowledge of what is good and what is evil) encourages us to make an alternative choice. (I am not suggesting that our biologic urge always tend towards evil), The ability to calculate the consequences of our choices is also a factor. We may choose "good", but due to unforeseen circumstances, miscalculations or bad luck, "evil" may result.
Our free will is not limitless. We can only choose between the alternatives available to us. Some people are dealt a load of crummy alternatives. Some people are dealt lousy consequence-calculating skills. Some people are dealt "overly strong biologic urges". Such people still have free will but alternatives are fewer and it is more difficult to do the "right thing".
What then is God's will? God is not a biological entity so should not have biological urges and desires to limit and influence her choices. God knows the difference between good and evil, and will naturally choose good over evil every time. God should be able to calculate all consequences of any choices. God's power is without limit. This leads us to a paradox. If God gave us free will, then He deliberately lessened His own power and control of the world. In other words God deliberately created a world in which He isn't all-powerful and all-knowing because by giving us the power to make choices for ourselves, there are things He does not control. Did God have a choice? Perhaps God could have created a different world, without Evil, but I suspect such a world would have no free will and no us. Why did He choose this one?
Having written the above, I think I like Beth's comment better. Without love there is nothing.

Jim

My understanding is that God, being everything, created us in order to experience individuality. God's will is for us to have our own will and through us completely know himself. Forest and trees...

Stephen

I want to post this thought for anyone willing to ponder on it. Think about this: when thinking about good and evil, try not to conceptualize good as a sort of autonomous ever existent law that has always been, and is in a way on par or above God. I think that most people tend to think of good and evil as two paths that transcend all, and sometimes even God. Because of this we begin to look at the relation between God, and good and evil as something that God must follow because he must continue to be "good". But I want to say that we should rather think that God is Himself, good, and whatever comes from his mouth is good, he is incapable of evil because of the fact that HE IS TRUTH. God is not bound by the law, HE is the law, the law comes from his mouth, and he is not bound by any human notion of good and evil, HE IS GOOD, and He defines evil. It is because of this fact that God is incapable of evil as I have already stated. This is why nothing escapes his ultimate will (his will that will be completed ultimately, no matter if you believe in free will or predestination.)

rprasad

By definition God is omniscient and omnipotent. My argument is based on the above definitions.

Using free will can we act against God's will? If yes, then we are more powerful than God. This is not possible. If the answer is no, then there is only God's will. No free will.

If you argue, that God gave us free will, still I can ask the same question. With this gifted free will, can you do anything against God's will?

There is no free will. This is my current conclusion.

lenny

Before I made it to rprased, I came up with the same question posed in their post. Can we do anything contrary to God's will? Going deeper, think about the word "will." Whether you're talking about God's will or free will, it implies deciding between choices. Is God faced with choices where He has to pick one over the other? Choosing between two "good" options might be comprehensible. But what if He were confronted with picking "the lesser of two evils?" What if He had only two options and both were "bad?" In that light, does God really have a will? If so, what exactly do you mean when you say God's "will?"

Some Guy

In evolutionary terms, free will is the ability for us to subvert our instinctual impulses, thus corrupting our natural tendencies (instincts) that nature designed through countless years of evolution.

buy viagra

Hello everyone ...

Excellent blog ... I love your blog ... every day we thank God for making this wonderful world we live in and give us the ability to feel love for others and we also have to see to the love of God comes first in our hearts every day so be stronger ...

Thanks a lot
Coral T. Rose

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 08/2003
My Photo

Weblogs

Newcastle 10km run

  • Birdwood Park
    Scenes from a 10km run around Newcastle. Sunday morning starting at 7am.

Google


  • Search this site on Google: