thedaddyblitz recently wrote a post titled “A Tangled Dance: the Will and the Holy Spirit” in which he makes an argument for determinism. Being a believer in free will, I thought I’d comment on it. The comment got rather long, so I’m turning it into a post. I’m going to quote from thedaddyblitz’s post, but I recommend you read the whole post first.
In order not to create robots, God creates man with a will and the ability to reason. The will and reason give man freedom to make choices, so that when a man turns to evil, that is not of God, but of the man’s own desire.
This is an argument for free will. “Gotcha!”. But now the counter arguments:
[M]an started out with free will, but, at the Fall, man’s character became corrupted by the taint of sinful desires. At that point, man still had a will, but it became inclined to evil.
Before we became conscious, humans had no knowledge of good and evil, so our choices had no moral implications. After gaining the ability to reason and make judgements about what is good and what is evil, we had, for the first time, the ability to exercise choice between good and evil. The inclination toward evil is the inclination toward self interest while disregarding the interests of others.
“Bondage” and “blindness” are used repeatedly to describe the fallen condition of man. These terms are simply incompatible with the common understanding of “free will.” How can someone who is blind, cannot understand spiritual matters, and is enslaved to sin be free? They cannot.
People who live unconscious lives of hedonism, never pausing to think, are truly blind. They have been given the gift of consciousness and free choice, but choose to squander it. Jesus’s message was to rise up out of this state, to become spiritual. Fundamentalists (like the Pharises in Jesus’s time) are blinded by their own surety that they have the one true answer. It is the log in their eye.
There is no in-between, where a man’s eyes are opened by the Spirit and then he freely rejects the Spirit.
This is observably false. Many have been awakened. Some fall back into unconsciousness, others fall into the trap of blind rationalism. Others are blinded by their own belief that they are enlightened and know the one true path. “They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”
Man is neither forced to sin nor forced to believe. Both in sin and in faith, man does so of his own will. What I am trying to point out is that such will is not “free” as commonly understood… But reborn man consciously chooses between the influence of the Spirit and the flesh, as Paul describes.
This is free will, as I understand it. Those who live unconsciously can be said to have no free will; they are enslaved by their own desires, and their lack of desire to look beyond the immediate reality in front of them. Those who become conscious may fall back into blindness, or they may stray from the path. “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
If the universe is truly deterministic, what is the point? If my actions are predetermined, why should I care about others? Determinism leads to nihilism. If one truly believes in determinism, what purpose is there in debate? Whether you believe that free will comes from a higher power or is an emergent property of the human brain, you believe that life is worth the struggle. Believing that everything you do is predetermined is just another way of blinding yourself.