Thursday, May 7, 2009

Do You Really Want to Live in Pleasantville?

On April 28 I wrote a brief commentary on "The Shack" stating one of the messages it conveys is that God does not interfere in human free will - hence evil and wrongdoing are present in the world. A reader made this comment:

But whence the assumption that free will creates evil. I can't really make sense of the idea that baby birds - and little children - starve to death because human beings were purposefully made fallible and then went out and acted that way.

I'm no theologian, but here are my thoughts on this issue. People often blame God on the injustices in the world and use them as a reason not to believe in God at all. The injustices, I suppose, include the emotional pain brought on by death, prejudice, divorce, bigotry, war, hatred and the physical pain brought on my disease, injury, starvation etc.

Those of us who have developed some sort of spiritual life have, no doubt, pondered the notion of a loving God versus the evil in the world. But, for a moment, let's imagine a world with no free will to choose right or wrong - a world with no evil, pain, injustice etc. What if you had no freedom to choose and your life was decided for you to ensure that you never made a wrong choice that might lead to pain for someone else. Your days here on Earth would be acting out a script already written to the tiniest detail. For example you would not have the choice of what to eat or wear because we know that bad diets can lead to bad health and possible pain, and your daily decision to express yourself in what you wear would not be necessary because it might lead to someone elses's misjudgment of you and emotional distress.

You wouldn't get to choose to have a nice glass of wine with dinner because one could lead to several and you might drive drunk and kill an innocent person (or animal). Your mate would be chosen for you so there would be no chance of infidelity or abuse. I wouldn't have the option of writing on this blog because it might offend someone and you wouldn't be able to give your comment either.

With no free will there might not be war or famine, but there would also be no reason to get up in the morning, no motivation to live, nothing to work for, no opportunity to develop relationships with other fallible human beings - not even the chance to help someone less fortunate than you because no one would be less fortunate. Without pain there would be no joy.

It would be Pleasantville. (one of my favorite movies- see HERE) Everything in God's world would be black and white - no colors - that might bring on doubts, questions, human failings, or emotions. I love this movie because it reminds me how boring and useless our lives would be if they were perfect.

Free will causes pain and suffering every day in this world and we may not understand why those who inflict pain on others have chosen to do that. But out free will allows us to make the world a little bit better every day too. It allows us the choices that make us who we are as individuals. I'm sure God wouldn't have created a whole world just for robots. Our free will is what makes us human. It lets us choose beauty and truth. All the joy, generosity, love and goodness in the world is human choice as well. Does that make sense to you?


74WIXYgrad said...

The concept of us all being free moral agents is a complicated one indeed. But I agree with this post that life would be real boring without freedom of choice. God made us in His image in order for us to fellowship with Him.

Julie said...

What you say makes perfect sense to me, Diane. Free Will is complicated. There are many things that happen that I don't understand. I am human, and humans like explanations.

But I agree with you. I love the Creator who gives us individualism.

I like how you present it here, too. I admire your spirit of love. It shines through in your words. Thank you!

Amy said...

Makes sense to me, Diane. I think you've hit the nail on the head about free will and what humans choose to do with it. You also struck a chord w/me when you said people blame God for the world's injustices and choose not to believe in Him. This describes me in my twenties--when I let go of my faith and neglected my spiritual self. I came around again in my 30's when working as a L&D nurse and having children of my own. For some reason, this is what brought me back to God and my faith, so I totally get what you're saying here.

Anonymous said...

I like to post, but, I'm not sure that I totally agree.

I think that if you are accepting the idea of God--all knowing, all powerful, all good--then you have to accept that humans can't have free will. If I have freedom outside of God, then God isn't the "most" anymore. So, you either have to change your premise (what God's qualities are) or consider determinism to be a better description of human potential than the free will model.

That said, we are subjective beings. This subjective part (individual perspective based upon millions of little particles of information and experience) makes it seem like we have free will. I'm okay with that. I don't think that it makes our positive experiences any less powerful or significant.

Anonymous said...

lol, I meant, "I like your post but... I'm not sure I totally agree"

grr@ typos.