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Free Will

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Posted by Harvey on September 17, 2004 19:57:40 UTC

I think you should define free will. Consider these possibilities:

- Do I 'choose' to type this e-mail because the accumulation of my experiences, education, genetic makeup, religious upbringing, etc, requires that I type this e-mail?

If so, then my will is a product of this accumulation (which means my will is not free to be something other than it is).

- Do I 'choose' to type this e-mail because there is a product of this accumulation, but in addition, there is a certain unpredictability to my will which is hardwired in my decision making processes which makes my will a free will decision?

If so, then my will is a product of this accumulation combined with some kind of random generator action (which means my will is not free to be something other than it is).

- Do I 'choose' to type this e-mail simply out of an unpredictable nature of my mind?

If so, then my will is a product of a random generator action (which means my will is not free to be something other than the result of a random function).

- Do I 'choose' to type this e-mail because this is simply the kind of person that I happen to be as a result of some pre-existing soul that predates the physical mind?

If so, then my will is a product of this pre-existing soul, not something that I had a choice to select (which means my will is not free to be something other than the result of a pre-existing random soul function).

In my opinion, the biblical perspective is the latter. People are what they are from the beginning of their lives and their destiny in life is to discover who they are. The 'free will' designation only means that there is nothing preventing you from selecting that destiny. In other words, we decide who we are by deciding. The way you decide is what determines the make-up of your pre-existing soul. If you choose the wrong path (sinful) then your decisions show that you 'freely' choose that corrupt identity. If you choose right (righteousness) then your decisions show that you 'freely' choose a just identity.

Now, since God sees the heart, he already knows 'who' you are at birth, so your free will choice is already known before time. However, I believe the full biblical perspective is that God requires us to choose our identity in order for that identity to be fully decided.

Hence, there is nothing about predestination that violates the philosophy of free will just as long as that we are accountable for our actions and know the kind of person we become (or 'are' from God's perspective) when we make our predestined decisions.

From an ultimate perspective, I guess, there really is no free will. We all are just what we are. The freedom is that we don't know who that is, so we get to prove to ourselves by deciding it. The sinner might be prove themself to be a saint by their repentance, or the saint might prove themself to be a sinner by their betrayal. The only way to know for sure is 'you pick'.

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