Monday, August 10, 2009

The Problem Of Free-Will

Why doesn't God intervene in the mind of a serial killer before he strikes? Because He gives each of us free-will to act as we may, it is thoughtfully reasoned. And this free-will is an intrinsic aspect of our nature which is ultimately what endows us with any semblance of humanity. Without it, we are just robots capable of doing only what God “commands” us to do. But if this is the case, how could God ever intervene in a person's free-will to thwart evil?

It is oftentimes claimed God intervenes to prevent evil from occurring but clearly He does not always intervene in our evil free-will pursuits otherwise there would be no evil. But if He only occasionally intervenes in our evil free-will pursuits, this sporadic intervention appears arbitrary. Being arbitrary, it is difficult to reconcile this to a God who is thought to be all good and always perfect. It seems this God could be at best nobly inspired but somewhat aloof.

There is something that struck me about the problem of free-will and how God might conceivably deal with it. Let's suppose a terrorist is threatening to blow up a building with children in it. Of course the authorities call in a set of negotiators to quell the terrorist's anxieties and plead with him to reconsider all the while the faithful are busy praying for the situation. In this instance, the terrorist stands down. Isn't God great? I knew God would act on the prayers and influence the conscience of the terrorist in order that he not consummate his diabolical plan! Might it also be suggested that the negotiators had at least something to do with this peaceful resolution? In any case, many view this as a "coup" for God.

But suppose the terrorist does not stand down and many school children perish in the blast (it's happened before). How could God let this happen? Well, you see, this is simply a product of free-will and humanity's “love of sin" running amok.

But if free-will ultimately trumps intervention by God, can we reasonably question whether God can ever intervene to resolve crises? Many implicate God's intervention to peaceful endings. But maybe the explanation for peaceful endings has nothing to do with God's intervention? This nicely coincides with situations that do not end peacefully where it is typically reasoned that God could not have interfered with the person's free-will and that is why said atrocity happened.

In the end, I have more peace believing happy endings and sad endings happen independent of God's intervention.

For more on the concept of free-will, please see blog entitled "Pondering The Variability Of Morality"

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