Free Will

Not All Free Wills are Created Equal

Choosing to be Moral for the Wrong Reason

Not All Free Wills are Created Equal

This so-called "free will" is actually a very complicated, tangled mess that involves hard-wired unchangeable preferences, years of personal experiences, morality, and opportunity.

Is a heroin addict free to refuse heroin? The addict has to use all his self-control and will-power to resist using it while a normal person refuses it easily without a thought. Clearly, the addict's free will is compromised. He doesn't face the same freedom of choice as a normal person because he has to fight and win a fierce internal battle to make the right choice whereas a normal person does not.  It might not even be his fault that he's addicted to heroin in the first place. 

Mike is in prison for theft and he's being lectured by a Christian: "God gave you free will and you chose to steal, so now you're paying the price for your crime. I know a man your age...Victor. He has never stolen anything nor committed any crime in his life. He's a good, hard-working, model citizen. But you... you have a lengthy arrest record and criminal history. You chose this path in life! You chose to be immoral whereas Victor chose to be moral."

Turns out this model citizen Victor was raised in an upper-class neighborhood by two loving parents. He went to a good school and has a well-paying job. Criminal Mike, on the other hand, grew up in a crime-infested ghetto. His father was killed while robbing a liquor store and his mother is in prison for prostitution and smoking crack. Mike was raised by the local gangs, where thievery, violence, callousness, and hostility are encouraged and rewarded.

So did Victor really choose to be good and did Mike choose to be bad? Or were those paths in life already carved out for them by their childhood circumstances? The point is, not all free wills are created equal. People's moral decisions are greatly influenced by their childhood and adolescent experiences, which means the choices their free will makes can be worsened through no fault of their own.

Freely Choosing to be Moral for the Wrong Reason

"God doesn't want slaves or robots" the Christian says, "God wants us to choose to serve Him."

Does God differentiate between a man who obeys Him out of love and respect and a man who obeys Him just to get into Heaven? The second man goes through the motions of praying and going to Church and doing good deeds but he doesn't really care about anyone, including God. Both people spend their entire lives doing good, moral things, helping others, and refraining from sin. One is doing it because he loves God, the other doesn't care about God or morality at all. He just wants the reward of Heaven and he'll do whatever it takes to get there. His motives are purely selfish. Both have freely chosen to obey God. Their physical actions are indistinguishable, only their thoughts differ. Will God let the selfish one in to Heaven?

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