Free Will?

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Free Will?

Post by zoofence »

For some years along my own spiritual path, I have wrestled with the concept of free will. Having been raised in a Christian faith, I was familiar with the Genesis story suggesting that the Creator endowed humankind with free will, and that it was our poorly considered exercise of that feature which resulted in what each of us now calls “my life” -- a phenomenon characterized by painful birth, toilsome adulthood, constant threat of disease and disaster, and finally unwelcome death, not to mention snakes that crawl on their bellies instead of walking on their feet.

But even as a youth, and particularly as an adult seeker, I have been unable to square that explanation with the parallel teaching of an omniscient and omnipotent Creator. If God knew the trouble we were going to make for ourselves out of the “free will” He created (and being omniscient, how could He not know), then why did He not design either us or free will in such a way as to protect against the worst (which, being omnipotent, He could surely do). In effect, I could not understand why an omniscient and omnipotent God would create a creature that lacked a failsafe mechanism.

A few years ago, my consideration of this subject generated the book In The Beginning. A couple of days ago, a new thought surfaced in my brain. Is it possible that the idea of free will actually originated with humankind as a way to explain the mess we observe in our own lives and histories without implicating God, whom we want always to be the source of good and peace and joy. That is, even though we perceive God as Infinite and Omnipotent, we cannot bring ourselves to attribute to God the disasters, destruction, and death we perceive all around us, so we attribute it instead to ourselves, to our faulty exercise of “free will”. In that way, God is in no way implicated.

If any of that makes sense, and I am not even sure I have articulated it clearly, then as seekers we need to ask ourselves these kinds of questions: Why might we be uncomfortable attributing to God not only the good around us, but the bad? What is it about certain people, events, and things that lead us to consider them “bad”, and therefore “un-Godly”? Is it a coincidence that virtually everything we label “bad” in some way impacts the body each of us calls “me”?

The Gospels Teacher urges us to “consider the lilies”. Perhaps one of the differences between us and lilies, is that lilies don’t divide their lives between “good” and “bad”, and so don’t have to come up with an explanation – an explanation that seems to me very contrived – for the latter.