There’s been a bit of discussion on a couple of blogs related to “free will” and I thought I would add mine to the pile.
What is “free will”? Psychology Today describes it thus:
Free will is the idea that humans have the ability to make their own choices and determine their own fates.
It follows up with this question:
Is a person’s will free, or are people’s lives in fact shaped by powers outside of their control?
Personally, I lean towards the second part of the above question –that we are influenced by things outside of our control– and I explain why below. I’ve shared my perspective on a couple of blogs and the responses have been … well, interesting.
Here are my thoughts …
All we have is NOW. The past is gone; the future has not yet arrived. We cannot change what has already happened any more than we can control what will come. We can learn from the past and use this knowledge in an attempt to modify our future, but essentially, we have no control over even the next second. It is only in our minds that either has substance.
Thus, in essence, we are simply pawns of time. While we may have the ability to make choices as mentioned in the referenced statement in Psychology Today, we actually have no control over how things will turn out since there are multiple factors that come into play.
Example: You agree to join friends at the local pub on Friday night (sans a pandemic), but between then and “now,” you suffer a serious injury and you’re unable to keep the appointment. You made a choice … but because you have no power over what the future holds, you were unable to follow through.
Believers like to say that “free will” means that God gives humans the opportunity to make choices that affect their destiny. In this sense, free will is merely a decision; that is, the act of making up your mind whether to take Door #1 or Door #2. In the end, however, there are no guarantees the decision you make will come to pass.
How do you feel about free will? Do you agree with me that our choices in life are actually determined by the limitations of time? Or do you feel it’s as the Britannica describes it — the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints?
Or do you go along with the idea that God is somehow involved in your decisions/choices?
(NOTE: There are philosophical discussions related to free will and determinism, but this is not what I have in mind for this post so please try to avoid addressing this theory.)
I look forward to your thoughts on this problematic topic.