I’m going to be honest with you. I’m pretty tired right now. Writing about free will is something that one should probably do when their brain is operating at maximum, but it’s the topic that I’ve been thinking about much lately, so I’ll give it a go.
My old stance on the subject of free will was simple; of course it exists. Call it a gut feeling. That was good enough for me until college.
In college, I often argued with a friend over free will vs. predestination. He believed in predestination, which basically accepts that God is in control of everything, including our wills, and therefore determines our eternal abode.
The problem with this is that we do evil things so it’s hard to see how God could be entirely in control of our wills and not be evil himself. It’s hard to imagine that God controls people and then damns them to hell for doing the things he made them do. That’s no good.
Beyond the theological arguments, free will is no less complicated. For instance, how do you even define the will? And with so many internal and external pressures and controls is it even possible to claim that any decision is purely your own?
I’ve thought much about this topic. And after many years of thinking, debating, researching, and writing I’ve developed my own outlook on free will.
Here it is.
Almost everything in life is beyond our control.
The time in which we live.
The area in which we live.
The existence of other influential people like friends and siblings.
Our pre-history (The sum of the lives and events that preceded our lives)
The nature of life on this planet (Eat and drink to survive, reproduce, avoid pain etc…)
The sights and sounds we are exposed to.
Philosophies and religions.
Genetics and upbringing.
And countless others…
I imagine myself being swept by a massive wave over an endless ocean. I can’t control the wave, and I can’t escape the water. This is the world we live in.
That isn’t everything. I know in my heart that if this was the plain truth of life, life wouldn’t be worth living. A life without a will is a life without value. It is a life without heart.
We live in the present. We always live in the present. The present is like the thin membrane of the water. It exists between eternity past and eternity future. The vast ocean depths and an endless sky. We live in the present, and that is where our hearts reside. It is the home of our wills.
I didn’t choose this world. But even if I am the sum of all these things beyond my will, I can still see myself as a separate identity. I am not anything else. My soul is mine. And I can decide what to do with it.
The deepest part of you; the source of your decisions and ultimate identity is your heart (soul). The junction of flesh and spirit: present and eternity.
Or, you’re an advanced animal that developed a complex sense of self in order to deal with a dark, cold, and violent universe.
It’s up to you to decide. You could even make that last alternative sound more attractive.