Friday, August 5, 2011

Why did God create Free Will?

The thing that sets us apart from the animals is not just our intelligence, or opposable thumbs, but also our free will. Without free will, there is no such thing as virtue. We might speak of a dog being 'courageous' or 'loyal', but really the dog does not (I expect) sit back and deliberate about what he's going to do- he just does it. We as humans can actually choose whether we are going to be courageous or cowards, loyal or traitors, loving or hateful, joyful or self pittying, hopeful or despairing, etc. This is the very thing that gives humans dignity beyond that of animals. We were created in the image and likeness of God, and God is love.

But real love is not a feeling or even consistent affection, but it is a choice. I think God gave us free will for much the same reason that I would prefer to think that my wife has chosen me then to think that I somehow forced her to 'love' me. I think that it is interesting that in Aladin the Genie cannot force Jasmine to love Aladin, and similarly in Bruce Almighty, Bruce cannot force his girl to love him. It's like there is an understanding that to do so would be a violation of that persons diginity, and actually it would not make sense. It would not be what people actually know that love is.

So without free will, we would be little more than intellignet animals. We would still be subject to our emotions, or some other guide, and would not be able to love. God saw that to make a world where genuine love was possible, He had to allow that the opposite, the rejection of love, (sin) was possible.

There is also the question of why God does not put limmits on our free will. After all, what loving all powerful Father would sit back and let some one rape his daughter- yet it seems that God allows this, and many more things, daily. But then I wonder- If I was all powerful, I feel like not only would I not allow someone to rape my daughter- I would not even allow them to lust after her! I would not allow children to call my son names. And I would never allow my child to steal.

God must have deemed that to make love possible, he would have to make sin possible, and I expect he would give man the full range of possibilities within physical restrictions. I think what God wants is for us to choose to love- and this includes responsibly creating laws and a culture which discourage and limmit sin.

If the whole purpose of life and our existence is love, and love has to be chosen to be love, that kety actually, surprisingly, makes sense out of a whole host of existensial questions.

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