What exactly is free will? Does free will mean that we have the right to express our thoughts and feelings without regard for the rights and feelings of others? Or, does it mean that we are allowed to express our thoughts and feelings in such a way that is politically correct in our own families, peer groups, workplaces and cultures?
Christianity allows that we have free will. But, the catch is that we have to abide by the rules and regulations that exist within a certain book which is dominated by a certain creator image. Many other of the worlds foremost religions and beliefs also express this restriction although the books and creator images vary. We are informed in some cases that we are sinners, and as such, we can only hope for partial redemption if we follow the proper rules. So, does this mean that we only have partial free will even in our quest for things of a more spiritual nature?
Even in our everyday lives we are expected to follow the rules. We abide by laws that oftentimes we find to be unfair or demeaning. We pay taxes on our wages to help support our government leaders even though we may feel they are not doing anything to help us live more balanced and secure lives. We send our children to schools to learn the rules, regulations and structures of our countries, even though we may not feel that these rules, regulations and structures are strong enough to support our economy.
So, what then, is free will? We do have the right, at least in America, to voice our opinion (within reason), to choose religions or beliefs that we choose to pursue, and we also have the right to earn an honest wage. But, what if we inadvertently bend or break the rules? What penalty do we pay for having free will that does not comply with the rules and regulations of our society, our culture or our religion or belief? What about the homeless people, the jobless people, the people who are lost in the system? Do they have free will?
Of course, the flip side of the argument is that we must have some sort of law and order or our lives would fall into chaos. We have governmental structure and the right to cast a ballot for the political leaders of our choice. A society without rules, regulations and structure just wouldn’t work out. Or, would it? Can we say with certainty that our society of today has more free will then societies of yesteryear who grew their own food, built their own homes, and farmed their own lands? Is it possible that we have become so dependent upon structure and rules and regulations that we have forgotten how to live independently and to support ourselves and our families through the simple act of creating a homestead and teaching our children how to live off the land? Could it be that the more knowledge we gain the less free will we actually have?
Food for thought.