Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Free Will Paradox -- Writer's Poke #283

Philosophers may debate it, but most people accept that we have free will. While we can all think of exceptions to the rule, for the most part the buck stops with us. We are responsible for our actions.

Now here's the fun part. Some religious traditions promote the idea that, yes, we have free will, but we really shouldn't be using it. That's not exactly how they would state it, of course. Such traditions would most likely state that part of our "free will" is to freely avoid acting on improper impulses, etc. Yes, you have the free will to do x, y, or z, but instead, accept that doing x, y, or z is "wrong" or "sinful" or "against God's plan," and don't do it.

Can we use our free will to question why x, y, or z is wrong, sinful or against God's plan? Well, no. Because doing so would itself be wrong, sinful, or against God's plan. Please don't question. Be obedient. Offer yourself up as a willing sacrifice. Submit. Accept.

To me, this is the Free Will Paradox. To believe in such religious traditions is to believe that we were given a gift that we were never expected to use.

Explain why some people don't want you to fully exercise your free will. Should free will ever submit to obedience? If so, when, and under what circumstances?

“Man was predestined to have free will.”  -- Hal Lee Luyah

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