There has been extensive discussion on some of the blogs I follow about “Free Will.” I even posted something related to the issue; however, it didn’t really address my personal outlook on the topic.
Free Will is defined in various ways. Following are a couple of defs that I came across …
- WordWeb: (n.) The power of making free choices unconstrained by external agencies; (adj.) Done of your own accord.
- Wikipedia: The ability of agents to make choices unimpeded by certain prevailing factors.
- Wiktionary: (n.) A person’s natural inclination; unforced choice; (philosophy) The ability to choose one’s actions, or determine what reasons are acceptable motivation for actions, without predestination, fate etc.
The major discussion around the topic is generally divided between those who believe humans possess free will (as defined above), and those who are certain our actions are dictated by a higher power. I lean towards the former.
Here’s how I look at it …
Throughout our lifetime, we make choices. These choices run the full gamut of how we live our lives. Further, I think this ability to choose is part of our organic evolutionary makeup and begins in early childhood — around the time of our “self-awareness.”
I DO NOT think our choices are dictated by anyone or anything. We alone our responsible for the decisions we make and the actions we take. Yes, we often weigh external factors and resulting consequences, but in the end, WE are the ones who make the final decision on how we will proceed. If we make a bad decision, we will suffer the consequences, which could even lead to our death.
Here’s how many others look at it …
Some believe God (generally the Christian God) is the controlling factor in our lives. They contend that all human actions are dictated by an omniscient (all-knowing), invisible, super being. Moreover, not only does this super-being know the choices we will make, but it has actually pre-determined these choices. Further, by virtue of its omnipotence (unlimited power), it controls the factors that make up these choices. In other words, our lives are totally controlled by a Power that cannot be physically seen, felt, or heard … yet exists to run our lives.
Based on this “Godly” perspective, not only are we born by God’s choice, but it is God who decides everything for us from that point on. And think on this — if God is the determining factor in a person’s life choices, it could be said it is God who decides whether a baby will be aborted! (Take that right-to-lifers!)
Thus, according to this school of thought, anyone who believes in individual free will is living under an illusion.
As I mentioned elsewhere, this is a topic where neither side can be declared a “winner.” Nonetheless, it makes for fascinating discussions since multiple scenarios can be presented to “prove” one viewpoint over the other. And that prompts me to say … “Have at it!” What’s your take on the subject? Do you agree with me or “the others” … and why?