Free Will

Free will can be defined as the ability of an agent to make choices devoid of constraints. Free is therefore the ability of an individual person to choose what to do and determine his or her future without the influence of natural forces (Clifford 23).  Free will is rooted on human ability to reason and made choice among the available alternatives. Philosophical arguments have been constructed on the presumption that free will is related. Free will is contrasted to determinism and this creates a ranging debate in religious lens (Clifford 28). Determinism is a philosophical view that postulates that human behavior, including actions and decision are determined by past events.  Determinism therefore contrasts free will in the sense that it asserts control of human decision and actions by prior events while free will asserts the independence of human beings to make decisions. Christianity believes that God is omnipresent which means Gods presence is felt in every place and has the power to influence human decision and actions.  It is difficult to understand how human can be said to possess free will yet God has predetermined the course of human life. If humans are to be held accountable for their actions, then they must have free will otherwise God should not hold them accountable for actions that were influenced by external powers.  It is for this reasons that most religious teachings root for existence of human free will.

Free will  A paradox in religious teachings
Free will is defined as the power to act or not act according to determination of the individual will.  It is doing things that process from individual desires to act in that particular way and not due to influence of external forces (Wegner 197).  Free will tries to root for human introspective conviction that individuals have a control of most of their choices and therefore, their destiny.  Human destiny is created through individual freedom to think and decide. The complexity in understanding free will is because it has been tied to involuntary action like heartbeat or digestion which is controlled by human instincts that are naturally controlled. Human decision may not be certainly controlled by nature because it can variably change. For example one can decide to attend a mass in the church and halfway through to the church, one decides otherwise and goes back home. This cannot be compared with an action like heart beat because the heart cannot decide to stop pumping blood resume again.
Free will remains a controversial theological dogma.   It is an issue that presents with compounding effects on human kind and place of God in human life. The main theological question pertaining to free will is, does man posses the moral and true ability to determine the course of his  thoughts in face of power of Gods control of his life This question begs to consider whether mans actions are really an origin of his own power or they are influenced by power of God (Clifford 35).  If the thoughts and actions do not originate from human power, then they are predetermined in great details by the rigid line of past events like power of creation which reasserts the determinism approach that God charters human destiny and each and every human action thought and action is predetermined. However, how would it be possible to hold man accountable for his action along this line of thought Free will remains a religious paradox.

Early philosophers, who contributed a lot of the modern debate on free will in religious view, assumed that human beings have the will to make moral decision which bears their responsible to sin and calls for consequential retribution during transmigration of souls (Wegner 107).  Moral aspect of human action came to limelight with teachings of Socrates. Socrates upheld that human intellect guides them to do what is good and evade from what is bad for fear of consequences.  He argued that every man possess necessary will that can be described to be his greatest good and his action are just means to achieve this.  Socrates was convinced that people who commit evil do it out of ignorance.  Aristotle believed that man should be held responsible for his actions and his action, whether they are means to the end or not, should be taken as a matter of deliberation and a choice.  This clearly illustrates that earlier philosophers held the belief that man should be held responsible for their actions.

Christians hold the doctrine that God created man and commanded him to obey moral laws, promising to reward or punish him in accordance to observation of these laws (Kane 188). However, the contradiction within Christian teachings of God control of human life has been expressed with the arguments that unless man  has free will to decide whether to obey of not obey the moral laws, he should not be held responsible for his actions.  Like was discussed earlier, there are actions that should be predetermined for human life while others are not predetermined. For example the date of birth, color of skins, and others are all predetermined by nature and cannot change.  Christians recognize Gods hand in these actions. However, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand how each and every human action is predetermined.

In accordance with creation account, God created man to take care of the world. God placed in the garden of Aden but restricted him from eating fruits at the center of the garden. This means that God puts some moral responsibility of Adam and Eve that they had to use their knowledge to evade from eating the fruit at the center of Aden.  The fall of man in the Garden of Aden could have been prevented if God had predetermined Adam and Eve action since it would bring disgrace to human race (Kane 286).  The omnipresence of God was felt because immediately after they age the fruit, God appeared to them, which can be take to imply that God was with them all along but did not prevent them from eating the fruit. This is a clear illustration of the fact that God has given man free will to think their course of action with full knowledge that they will be held responsible for their actions.

A review of two verses in the Bible clearly illustrates that man has free will. The book of Deuteronomy 3019 says I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing therefore choose life (Jesner 30). The book of Joshua 2415 also assert that Choose you this day whom ye will serve. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD (Jesner 26).  These two verses are evidence of the fact that Christians are given free will to make their own decision.  The book of Deuteronomy shows that God had given man the free will to make choice between life and death. Man was also mandated to choose between blessings and cursing. However, the book makes a proposition for man to choose life meaning that though man has to make a hard choice, he is advised but not compelled to choose life.  The same idea is expressed in the Book of Joshua.  Joshua shows Christians that they have a choice to make but for him and his house, he shoes to serve the lord.

Similar argument is also presented in Jewish teachings. In Jewish teachings, it is understood that man was created with two forms, yetzer tov and yetzer ra (Robinson 29).  These are two impulses which define human life in the world. Yetzer tov is the moral conscious of man which makes him remember Gods law before making any choice. On the other hand, yetzer ra is the impulse that moves to satisfy human needs and desires.  There is nothing wrong about yetzer ra since it was created by God and is natural to all human beings.  However, Yetzer ra can lead to since if not well checked by Yetzer tov (Robinson 69).  This clearly illustrates that free will is central belief in Judaism. It shows that every human has the ability to make choice between good and evil.

However, the bible also presents contrasting view that seems to assert lack of free will for humans.  The book of Acts13 (48) reads And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. This means that there is a predetermined conditions for eternal life for all individuals who ere ordained. This seems to suggest that human have already a destined future. In Romans 8 (29-30) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called and whom he called, them he also justified and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Again, this verse shows that God did foreknow all humans and therefore he predestinated their life.  This verse seems to glorify human race, chosen by God and predestinated. According to 2 Timothy 2(11-12) God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie That they all might be damned. This verse presents a contradictory statement about the purpose of Gods influence on human kind. It shows that God shall send delusion among men so that they may believe in lie so that they might be dammed. While this verse may express Gods anger with human actions, it does not portray Gods good intention of the creation. In essence, it may be understood as a form of punishment for human action rather than a statement of expression of Gods predestinated control of human actions.

If human has free will as outlined in religious books, how then can we say that God has power over human destiny God has power over human life since He can see the whole course of life. In other words, God sets the destiny of a man but man is supposed to choose the destiny his life will take (Kane 298). After creation, God gave man the power to reason and that is why he set rule that prohibited man from eating the fruits at the center of the garden. Condemnation of man from the Garden showed that man had realized what was good and bad and therefore became intelligient. This intelligence helps man to differentiate between what is good and bad. God predestinate many to eternal happiness in heaven or punishment in hell but in the course of his life, man has the free will to choose whether to do all that is good and go to heaven or do evil and go to hell.

Free will is the ability of man to make decision without being influenced by external force. It is the elective power that guides man to decide what to do. However, free will in religious lens remains a paradox since God created man with a predestinated future and Gods providence controls human action. It should be understood that God has predestinated future of man whether in heaven or in hell and in the course of human life, God has given man intelligence to choose between doing what is good or evil with a clear understanding of  rewards attached to each action. Free will is not fiction neither is determinism. They are two perspectives of human life that show the control of nature on human life and also portrays the power of man on his life, but as was discussed in Jewish teaching of yetzer ra and yetzer tov, both have to check each other to give man purpose of life.


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