The Path to Free Will

“Free will is the ability to choose.” No, it’s not. The ability to choose only shows you have a will. Your will might be free, or it might not be.

Looking at the diagram above, suppose you choose option A. There is a reason you chose A, and that reason was determined by one of the preceding desires. You don’t choose your desires, at least not in the moment of choice. You can shape your desires over time through ongoing actions, but in the immediate moment of choice your strongest desire will determine which option you chose.

Your desires may be evil, and if they are, you will choose to do evil things. You may have good desires and evil desires. If so, the strongest of those desires will determine your choices.

If a man’s desires are only evil, all he can do is chose to act on one of those evil desires: the one which appeals to him most in the moment. This man is not able to chose good. He is a slave to evil.

If a man has good and evil desires, the potential to do good and evil is present, but he will still act out his strongest desire in the moment.

If a man has only good desires, all his choices will be good. This man is free.

Only through Christ can you become one who desires only the good. It is a process of a series of deaths and resurrections. It is not easy and is sometimes painful, but it is necessary.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” ~Roman 12:2

Sufficient Wisdom

The bible is sufficient in telling us everything we need to know. Emphasis on the word “need.” The bible is not sufficient in telling us everything we want to know. That’s not a flaw; it’s intentional. God is not saying to us: “If it’s not in the bible, I don’t want you to know about it.” Rather, God is saying: “If it’s not in the bible, I’ve given you the wisdom to figure it out for yourselves.”

This is where philosophy comes in. Philosophy: philein sophia – lover of wisdom. Philosophy doesn’t replace the scriptures. My faith is based on scripture, not philosophy. Truth is based on scripture, not philosophy. The nature and character of God is based on scripture, not philosophy. So what is philosophy good for? For figuring out the things not directly revealed by God.

God gave us curious and inquiring minds. He gave us the ability to gather information and solve problems. He expects us to wrestle with difficulties and obstacles so that we will grow in maturity, understanding, and knowledge (see Luke 2:41-52). We can ask the tough questions. We can safely talk about the possible answers. We can philosophize.

As long as we keep philosophy in it’s proper place, and not make it the foundation of our lives (that’s what the scriptures are for), we do indeed have sufficient wisdom to find and know what we want.

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” -Proverbs 25:2

Defeatism

I am currently reading The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu, a Chinese science fiction novel. In the story, the leaders of what is called the space force, are concerned that the greatest threat to their force is defeatism. They study the problem and come up with a list of what defeatist attitudes look like among their troops. I found the list to be quite profound and applicable to real life. I will share it here, but I will change and remove some elements so that you can fill in the blanks for your own life….*

  1. Treating one’s duty in _________________ as an ordinary job: despite working with dedication and responsibility, lacking enthusiasm and a sense of mission, and doubting the ultimate significance of one’s work.
  2. Passive waiting: believing that the outcome of __________________ depends on [certain special people]; believing that prior to breakthroughs [in advancing your field of work], _________________ is just a pipe dream, and subsequent confusion about the importance of [your] present work; being satisfied simply with completing tasks related to establishing ________________; lacking innovation.
  3. Harboring unrealistic fantasies: … On the surface, this is a positive state of mind, a desire to throw oneself onto the front lines [of what is perceived to be a losing battle], but it is essentially just another form of defeatism. Lacking confidence in victory and doubting the significance of [the] present work, [your] dignity becomes the only pillar sustaining work and life.
  4. The opposite of the above: doubts about [your dignity in your work] … and that fighting to the end has no meaning; the belief that [your] dignity [in your work] only exists when there is someone to see it, and [if your work] ends in defeat [or failure] … your dignity loses its significance.

* Taken from: Cixin Liu, 2008, The Dark Forest, New York, TOR, pg. 78