Freewill and Making Choices

Time for another installment of theology.

One of the time-honored arguments of theologians and all philosophers is that of “Do humans have free will?” I’m not going to rehearse the whole of the arguments or the enormity of the situation. However, I suggest one must live one’s life as if one does have free will. How else can one live?

On a practical level, when faced with a choice, one must choose something. Turn left or right. Stop or go. Paper or plastic. Vote progressive or make sense. Relieve one’s self or ship small stores. To wait for a ‘sign’ or consult the gods, or stars or let karma take its course are all ways of procrastinating.

On a Biblical, spiritual level, one notes the Book of Ezekiel (the one in the Bible, not one of the Pseudepigrapha attempts) has a number of statements revolving around “The soul that sins is the one that shall die”. One notes the essential message is also repeated throughout the Mosaic code sections and repeated in the teachings of Jesus. The question “what is meant by death” is side-stepped; the message is clear God holds each person responsible for choices.

Any questions? Good.

Paul the Apostle says in 1st Corinthians 10:23, “Everything is lawful,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is lawful,” but not everything builds others up.” The statement “Everything is lawful” was a slogan in Corinth; Paul is not quoting Old Testament scripture, by the way. Still, it is in some regards correct.

Consider smacking yourself on the head with an eight ounce ball peen hammer. Repeatedly. Is that ‘lawful’? Are you free to do so? To the best of my knowledge, it is, and you are. Is it a good idea? All in favor raise their hands. (I see two hands. Both are known to me; one is a compulsive smart mouth and the other – we won’t discuss the other one.)

Jumping once again and promising this all ties together; one observes certain laws of nature and does one’s best to observe them. Gravity is one such law. Most of us respect the laws of gravity and choose to use stairs, elevators or escelators rather than jumping from upper floor windows. Most of us respect laws of volume and inelasticity of fluids by NOT intentionally overfilling carafes or water jugs or gasoline tanks. Nearly all of us observe whatever laws governing the collision between hammers and skulls. (Even without medical training.)

Keep this in mind. As the designer, builder, creator and sustainer of the Universe, the Lord God designed and instituted all these laws. And more, by the way.

So what about choices of natural laws NOT of obvious and immediate consequence? Smoking comes to mind. I know of no cases where any person developed lung cancer from their first cigarette. (Some never do; some develop lung cancer without smoking.) However, there seems to be a noted correlation between long term smoking and lung cancer. Or several other lung problems. So it seems that while lung cancer is NOT an unavoidable punishment for smoking, it does have a connection.

Sexually transmitted diseases are another. If one continues having unprotected sex with random partners, sooner or later one will contract some form of sexually transmitted disease. (Okay, pregnancy is NOT a disease, but can be contracted inadvertently.) The occurrence is NOT a punishment from God for fooling around, it’s just a natural consequence of the action.

Ask anyone – professional or amateur – if, while using a hammer they have hit their fingers inadvertantly. (Some without much consequence, some with serious injuries.) However, God does NOT punish use of hammers in such fashion. It is just a consequence of using a hammer – and typically overconfidence.

Having read the above, think about the question: “With all this in mind, why does anyone ‘choose’ to ignore the laws of the Universe?”

God, in making the laws of the Universe, has instituted certain manners of conduct. One ignores those ‘manners of conduct’ at one’s own peril. Therefore, one is careful in negotiating stairs, mountain paths, automobile traffic (both as driver and pedestrian), contact with potential sexual partners, gambling, drinking and so forth.

No. I don’t think Evel Knievel was sinful in his motorcycle stunts. I am fairly certain had he chosen accounting as his life’s work, he would have broken fewer bones.

So why does one make choices intentionally to flaunt God’s laws? Those moral laws God has given us in the Bible?

I will point out this thinking is supported and encouraged by modern societal thinking. It is phrased somewhat differently of course. Doing what which is punishable by natural consequence is described in various ways. “Adventurous” comes to mind. This is probably one aspect which makes rock climbing attractive. I’m not claiming, or even suggesting, rock climbing is sinful or rebellious against God. However, depending on the level of preparation, rock climbing is silly and dangerous to some degree. (From a purely logical standpoint; there are more convenient and safer ways to get atop any specific rock face.)

The danger of the ‘adventurous’ excuse is that it leads to other dangers. Illicit drug use and abuse has been described as ‘adventurous’. Driving in a dangerous (usually including excessive speed for conditions and/or posted traffic ordinances) manner is ‘adventurous’. One’s sex life can be ‘adventurous’.

I think the underlying reason is this. One wishes to make “one’s own choice”. Since God says ‘option A’, one is under the somewhat clouded view the only “own choice” is ‘not option A’. In other words, if one is to ‘decide on one’s own’, then one must do other than God already decided.

Nearly all people go through a period of rebelling against authority. Usually in the person of one’s parents. Normally this fades out with some degree of maturity. (To be honest, I’m still lacking when it comes to cleaning up my room. House, these days.) However, rebelling just to be rebelling isn’t a choice; the practice is a rather limiting, knee-jerk reaction.

Make your choice.

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