Does Man Have Free Will?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

Let’s define free will first.  I define free will as the human ability to make contrary choices or decide between multiple options.  Free will is the power of self-determination.  It gives human beings the power to make real moral decisions.

Some Christians deny that humans have free will because they say it diminishes God’s sovereignty.  If humans have the ability to choose, then God cannot be in control of human choices, they argue.  But this is just not so.

God could have created humans with the power of free will, and also have known from the beginning of time exactly what humans would do with their free choices, because everything that humans will do pre-existed in the mind of God “before” it was actualized by God.  God wrote us in as characters in a cosmic drama, but as characters who make real choices.  We are not rocks or robots, but people with free will.

Since God is the cause of free will in humans, then he absolutely has complete control over it in the sense that nothing has happened or will ever happen without his knowledge and determination.  God knowingly determines and determinedly knows every choice we will ever make.  Does this take away free will?

No.  Throughout church history, the majority view has been that God is sovereign over everything and that man is free.  During the Reformation, some of the reformers took the position that man cannot be free because it necessarily follows that God is not sovereign, but as we’ve seen, that is not true.  God is still in control, even with free creatures wandering around.  Even today, most Christians still hold that man has free will.

How exactly does God have control over everything, but humans possess free will?  Bottom line: we don’t know exactly how this works because we are dealing with a being, God, who exists outside of time and space.  God’s interactions with humans will necessarily remain mysterious, but the Bible clearly teaches both the sovereignty of God and man’s free will.  A sound Christian theology will retain both of these teachings.

  • matt

    This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  • Hey, some of these thorny problems of sovereignty vs free will are solved by the middle knowledge argument. Have you heard about that?

    It’s the idea that God has foreknowledge of what everyone will do in any set of circumstances and actualizes a world in which the free decisions of individuals are compatible with his sovereignty over history.

    Here is a link to William Lane Craig’s paper on it:
    http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/middle2.html

    I blogged about it here:
    http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2009/03/16/what-about-those-who-never-heard-of-jesus/

  • Mark

    I believe God knows, determines, and causes all things. He is soveriegn. God causes us to voluntarily choose Him. I also believe man is responsible for his choices.
    This is not rational or even explicable, but neither is Jesus being 100% God and 100% man, and one God being revealed in three Persons.
    To God be the glory.

  • Rick Godfrey

    Unless a man is born again he will never see or understand the kingdom of God. The things of God cannot be understood with the carnal unregenerated mind. A man must be born again to enter into the kingdom of God. A man will never choose God without God first choosing him by influencing him and drawing him to himself. You ask if a man has a free will. Yes he can choose coffee or tea, chocolate or white milk, baseball or basketball, but when it comes to choosing his destiny, only God can do that. For all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and deserve just punishment for their sin. God has been gracious to have chosen an elect remnant of people that he predestined to be his sons. This chosen remnant of people were chosen from the foundation of the world and the moment in time when they become the manifested sons of God has been set by God. When the last chosen son is manifested by God then and only then will be the return of Jesus for the gathering of his saints or elect. Then the wrath of God will be poured out on those that God did not choose. The wicked, ungodly, workers of iniquity that God hates and that Jesus said he never knew. Yes man may have a will but he will not choose God unless God chooses him first and influences his will. Good day! Rick

  • Bill Pratt

    I am somewhat familiar but need to spend more time on the idea of middle knowledge. Thanks for the links.

  • Bill Pratt

    Rick,
    Thanks for the comment. I think the question is: how far will God go in influencing a man’s will? If a person is dead set against God, will God override that person’s will? Is God’s influence persuasive (influences to a point but stops before destroying the person’s ability to resist) or coercive (resistance is futile)?

    God bless,
    Bill

  • Rick Godfrey

    Hi Bill, Who can resist the will of God. Look at Jonah, God told him to go to Ninevah but Jonah did not want to because his will was against it therefore he went the other direction. Did that stop God from having his will and purpose performed through Jonah? No, God set up a set of circumstances in Jonahs path that inevitably led to Jonah obeying and performing Gods’ will. Jonah was still mad and did not want to do this but God made him do it anyway because it is what God wanted done. God knows how to work us. He knows how to conform us into the son he wants us to be. God is the potter and we are the clay. Blessed be God! Rick

  • Wes

    I don’t believe God is interested in our coerced response, but our free choice to follow Him. Read Jonah 2. God wanted Jonah to choose to obey Him, and Jonah did. If God was going to force Jonah to obey anyway, why let him flee on the boat. If Nineveh was to be forced to repent, why allow them to sin?

    God sent forces against the nation of Israel that should have inevitably led to Israel’s obedience, but they still chose to turn to other gods. God put King Saul and (General) Barak in positions where God clearly wanted them to lead Israel to success, but they both chose not to do so. God allowed that choice and put someone else in their place to lead His people.

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Rick,
    Thanks for the response. So it sounds like you would say that God does coercively override man’s will. So if a man is one of the elect, but he has not yet been regenerated and he absolutely hates God with a passion, God will “zap” him and flip his hate into love, completely against the man’s will. Would you agree with this?

    God bless,
    Bill

  • Rick Godfrey

    Hi Bill, Look at Saul (Paul). Here is a man that was antichrist. He was against Christ and anyone that identified with Christ. But God, as Paul would later say, had seperated him from his mothers’ womb and called him to be an apostle. So God had chosen Saul from the beginning. When the time for Saul to be born from above came then God revealed the truth to him and called him. This truth revealed was the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Why did Saul hate Jesus? He did not even know him. When Jesus revealed himself to Saul, Saul loved and obeyed him. Saul became a new man filled with the spirit of God. God changed his name to Paul. I dont believe any of us can resist the will of God for our lifes. Either God is God or he is not. It certainly is not us. Sincerely, Rick

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Rick,
    I think it’s highly debatable that Paul had no free will to accept God’s gift of grace, We just don’t know what was going inside his mind.

    I think I have a good understanding of your view now, so let me ask about some implications of it. As a person reads through the Bible, they read repeatedly that man is responsible for his sins. They read that God is angry with man when he rejects God. They read that man must first believe and then he will be saved. The 5-point Calvinist says that man must first be regenerated (saved) and then he will believe, which is exactly backwards from every verse in the Bible that talks about salvation. You never hear Jesus say, “Be saved and then believe.” It’s always, “Believe and be saved.”

    So how would you respond to these challenges? First, how do you explain that the Bible explicitly states that man is responsible for his actions when you deny that man has any freedom to choose his actions? Second, why would God become angry with men when they actually cannot help but reject him? Third, why does the Bible always implore men to believe, and then be saved, not the other way around?

    God bless,
    Bill

  • Brad

    Rick,

    When you became saved, how did it occur? Did it just “happen”, through no doing of your own, or do you remember making a conscious decision to follow Christ?

  • Rick Godfrey

    Hi Bill, Man has the freedom to choose but only those that are THE CALLED will make the right choice and believe in Jesus. If God doesn’t choose to give someone the ability to HEAR his word then they won’t believe. God is not angry with man for being who he wants them to be. Man becomes born again when the word of God is sowed in his heart and he HEARS AND BELIEVES and confesses Jesus as his Lord. Only God can give man the ability to HEAR his word. Jesus said, ” To him that has ears to hear let him hear”. We all have physical ears to hear but are these the ears he was talking about. Jesus often would talk about a natural or physical thing and then would switch to talking about something spiritual or supernatural. The ears he was talking about were spiritual ears to hear. Only those chosen by God will have the spititual ears to hear and understand spiritual things. So once again salvation is totally of God and by God alone. He chooses whom he will (THE CALLED), he then predestines them to be his son, he gives them the ability to hear the call, he justifies them, and he glorifies them. Your right man must believe and God gives man the ability to believe. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Rick

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Rick,
    You said, “Man has the freedom to choose but only those that are THE CALLED will make the right choice and believe in Jesus.”

    You are saying that man has the freedom to choose, but he can only choose the wrong choice. In what sense is that free will? If you can only choose one thing, then how are you free?

    “God is not angry with man for being who he wants them to be.”

    “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them (Ro 1:18-19). I could probably come up with a hundred more verses like that. You really don’t think God is angry with men who reject him?

    Third, if a man is regenerated, is he saved? Is there any difference between those two terms? You believe that regeneration comes before belief, so you believe that salvation comes before belief. That seems to go against all Scripture.

    Thanks for the discussion, Rick!

  • Rick Godfrey

    Hi Bill, All mankind have the ability of choice. What I said was that unless a man has been chosen by God first, he will never on his own choose God. It is not that he can’t, he just won’t. To me regeneration is not salvation. Regeneration is being chosen by God but you still must be born again because you were born in iniquity because of Adams’ transgression. Those that have been regenerated (chosen by God) have been given the gift of faith to believe and receive the incorruptible seed of the word of God. When they confess Jesus as their Lord and believe in their heart that God hath raised him from the dead, they are saved. Only those that are chosen have the ability to believe. Jesus said only those that are of God could here and understand him. If you can’t understand him, you will never be born again. Those that are of God are the chosen of God. As far as God being angry, I thought you said that he was an all-loving God, so how could he be angry. Once again, what does an all-loving God mean? Rick

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Rick,

    You said. “What I said was that unless a man has been chosen by God first, he will never on his own choose God. It is not that he can’t, he just won’t.”

    I agree with that statement. See my post on this topic. However, the next question is how many men will God choose to be able to know him. You believe that God chooses only a few, whereas I believe that God chooses to give every man the chance to know him.

    Again, if God only gives some men the chance to know him, then those who are not chosen cannot be free in any meaningful sense of the word. You can say that the unchosen are still free, but you have stripped the word “free” of all meaning. You are saying that man is “free” to always choose the same thing (hating God). Whether you say he can’t choose or won’t choose is irrelevant. At the end of the day, the non-elect never choose God.

    I guess my basic point here is that for you to use the word “free” in a Calvinist context is nonsensical. You are using the word in a way that nobody else uses it. I don’t think you really don’t believe that man is free with respect to God, but you probably don’t want to say it, because it sounds bad. But the reason it sounds bad is because it is bad! 🙂

    “To me regeneration is not salvation. Regeneration is being chosen by God but you still must be born again because you were born in iniquity because of Adams’ transgression.”

    Let me ask you. Is it 100% certain that every single man who is regenerated will choose God? Is there ever a person who is regenerated who does not choose God?

    “As far as God being angry, I thought you said that he was an all-loving God, so how could he be angry.”

    Rick, before I answer this question, you must answer mine first! You said in your previous post that you did not think God was angry at men! I just showed you that he is angry. Will you change your position and admit that God is indeed angry with men who reject him?

    Thanks for the discussion,
    Bill

  • Rick Godfrey

    Hi Bill, You are right! Wrath is intense anger. God will one day pour out his wrath on the children of disobedience. These men are not God’s sons but are as Jesus said, “Children of the devil.” Jesus told the scribes and pharisees that did not believe in him that they were of their father the devil. God loves his chosen sons but the devils sons he hates and will one day pour his wrath on them and then judge them and cast them into the lake of fire with the devil, false prophet, and the beast. By the way I do believe that 100% of the people that God foreknew, chose, and regenerated will be drawn to him and be saved from his wrath. Paul says that we (the chosen of God) are not appointed to wrath but have been saved from destruction. I enjoy so very much writing to you and the other people that write on this blog! thanks. Rick

  • Bill Pratt

    Thanks for your response! Let’s continue with this train of thought. We both agree that God is angry with those who reject him. You believe that men are only able to reject God before they are regenerated, and after they are regenerated they are only able to love God. So the logical next question is: why do they reject him? Where does the desire to hate God come from?

    Second train of thought. If 100% of those who are regenerated are saved, then why is it wrong for me to lump salvation in with regeneration. It’s a an automatic process that occurs, so it seems very reasonable to me to refer to them as the same thing. Once regeneration has occurred, a man is saved. If I write “1+1=” we all know that “2” must follow. It’s as if you are arguing that writing “1+1=” is not the same as “1+1=2”. Visually they are not the same, but logically they mean the same thing.

    I think it is even stronger than that. The Calvinist believes that once a person is regenerated, he is immediately saved. So, regeneration and salvation occur at the same time. Do you agree with that or do you think there is some period of time between the two?

    God bless,
    Bill

  • crom

    Since man hate God so much and deplore his word, how come man is always in search of god and is often found guilty within himself though some false religions are made up of many biblical princples, but yet they believe and follow thoses twisted interpetation of the sriptures? Now thoughs who choose this route, heard somthing in the retoric of those false religions that produce belief in them and they may have not been regenerated by the spirit, but they do have enough since to understand that there is somthing wrong with them. The bible did not say that Saul was regenerated by the Spirirt and then believe. It said he heard the voice of Jesus and somthing with in him reconize the voice of the Lord and produce the faith to believe.

  • eric

    I want you to know that God loves you. Im not a drama king but i find that as I follow Gods word ,He does throw some mind boggling, awe inspiring,jaw-dropping curve balls at us that are intended to “wake us up” (as he has done with this most recent revelation i received)! Jesus “woke people up” not that im anywhere close to being like Jesus(beings he was the son of course he would speak as the Father , shockingly);case-in-point:when people were told to forgive everyone their tresspasses & love their enemies; is,was, and will be for most people a real SHOCKER (most people dont want to do this nor do they) (they just dont want to believe it). Their are many out here in this world that dramatise HELL,SATAN,GOD for to control the people and rob them; i assure you i am not one of them. I come with the TRUTH (not my truth,cause as a man i havent,but with Gods) & I CAN PROVE IT! For starters look to Exodus 7:3, 9:12, 10:20, 10:27. Would you agree for a man to have a hardened heart is evil/bad right? Of course God chastised & punished mankind since the beginning for being stubborn,unyielding,self willed, hardened hearted or stiffnecked!!! However, in these scriptures it clearly states that GOD hardened pharoahs heart “NOT PHAROAH”! See you and I thought that if we did evil OR good its cause “WE CHOSE TO” but here in these scriptures it DOESNT SAY that pharoah hardened HIS OWN HEART. So that it is quite evident that God was in charge,implying pharoah WASNT! When pharoah thought he was in control (choosing to go against God), God tells Moses I WILL harden his heart. Pharoah DIDNT HAVE A CHOICE AT ALL! At least think on this for a few moments and God will reveal truth to you, so that you can see what the Bible truly reads. Allow me to further prove throughout scriptures,time & again God says HES IN CONTROL OF BOTH EVIL & GOOD, with the clear implication that mankind hasnt a choice in the matter, for good reason! Matthew 6:13 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. Why do you think Jesus would tell us to say “lead us not”? Does Jesus think God gets confused with helping people or hurting them,so you must be specific with God or he’ll hurt you? Have you ever questioned this prayer or just overlooked it, well nows your chance to look. Jesus said that we should pray that way cause he knows that God delivers and destroys,heals & wounds, throws people in sin & brings them out,cast people in darkness & brings people to the light and that we must ask this way so in essence we are asking Gods MERCY! God is in control, not man. Again please, you may know the story of Joseph (coat of many colors)? Have you considered one of the most important things JOSEPH ever said? Gen.50:20 “Ye indeed meant evil against me: God meant it for good, in order that he might do as it is this day, to save a great people alive” Dont you see yet what the Bible truly reads? When man (his brothers in this case) does evil he thinks that hes in control, he thinks he had his OWN WAY & God doesnt have any say about, this is the blindness of man! When man does evil or good you better believe that God has everything to say about it & is in complete control, not man. Man has no choice in any matter,none,nada,zero,zilch,zip,squat, nothing!!!! Its all God. Sounds bleak doesnt it? Even unbelievable? Its all true but heres the bright side (even though man has’nt “free will”) man has a part in it after all, he truly does. Mans part isnt to make decisions(Gods made & makes all those), man gets to receive BELIEF,thats right “power to believe”, a.k.a. FAITH. See faith isnt the same as choice,not at all. Choice says i am man and i choose. Belief says God is creator,& he chooses,hes in control,he has all the power,all glory and i have faith in HIM, not in myself. Saul thought he had a choice to do evil and so he did evil,but Saul was blinded he had no choice in the matter NONE. David was going to be king and their was nothing Saul could possibly do about it,so he ends up killing himself,and even then Saul probably thought that he chose to commit suicide, BUT HE DIDNT, God chose death for Saul. Same with back stabbing Judas, he had no choice,lets look closer at this one. John 13:27 “And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus to him, That you do, do quickly.” Dont you see yet what the Bible truly reads? Jesus had control over Satan and put satan into Judas<SEE THIS SATAN has no choices! Just as Jesus had control over the demons he has control over Satan. Satan cant say hmm, i will be a good boy today and worship God the Father. WHY? cause God tells Satan what to do and how,when, and where! Consider the story of Job 1:7….."And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job" Now Satan didnt harm Job all the years of his life up until now (Job was doing pretty well for himself). But WHEN did Job have hard times? when God told satan what to do, God told him to consider Job, didnt he? God is in control. Satan & man DO NOT HAVE choices, we do as God has us do. Does God want us to do evil? NOOOOOOOOOOOO, thats not what im saying,think man think! God wishes that no man does evil. Matthew 18:14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost………………………….What little ones? the children that were near by. Why children? cause they are representative of the angels in heaven with the humility that they have. God doesnt destroy the humble. However, to all who received him, those believing in his name,
    he gave authority to become God's children!!!!!!! its not about choice as MAN has thought it has been since ADAM. Stop thinking you GOT CHOICES-YOU DONT. You have belief, thats different completely. Man thinks that he even has the ability to choose belief or not to believe;YOU CANT choose belief or non-belief. Belief is given to all man freely. GIVEN,get that? Either you believe or you dont. But God gave us the truth and he gave us belief in truth. If we (think we) choose not to believe truth ,we are only liars,which God made us guilty if we reject/refuse HIS BELIEF in HIS TRUTH. The best man can do is BELIEVE. A friend of mine said "Hey,if mankind hears this revelation God has shown you then they will justify all the evil they do." And i asked this friend: " does most mankind follow more often choice or belief" she responded "choice/free will". Then i asked "does most mankind justify their evil or repent and grow in faith?" She exclaimed "they justify their evil". I replied, "there you have it, when mankind follows "free will" they believe they have the power,they have the last say, they,they,they. But believers are the apples of Gods eyes for they know not to justify, cause they know that they are guilty as sinners and work towards greater glorification to God almighty, not mankind. May God continue to bless you.

  • Bill Pratt

    Eric,
    Thanks for the comment. If you would consider some advice from me – when you write a comment as long as yours with no paragraph breaks, it is very difficult to read. Therefore you will find that very few people, if any, will respond to you. If you want to interact with people, you need to write much shorter comments that get to the point quickly.

    God bless,
    Bill

  • Wally

    “[T]he Bible clearly teaches both the sovereignty of God and man’s free will. A sound Christian theology will retain both of these teachings.”

    This is the clearest way to sum up this apologetic.

    As a Christian-Apostate, I must say, my inability to reconcile these two clearly contradictory teachings was a supporting factor in rejecting religion.

    A sound Christian theology requires one neglects the multiple self-defeating implications of letting either ‘the sovereignty of God’ or ‘man’s free will’, let alone both, determine a world where this same all-knowing and all-powerful God allows his supposedly beloved children to to endure eternal damnation as wage against mortal transgressions; rather than simply forgiving them as commanded in 1Corinthians 13:5 and dictated by his nature as cited in 1 John 4:16.

  • NickyMac

    God created man (and woman) with a free will. He provided them with the ability to choose, and there were two choices: God or sin. They chose to sin and thus they rejected God and the life that He offered. From that point on, sin was something that we were all born with.

    We humans now don’t have the same abilitiy, as Adam and Eve did, to make a purely unbiased choice. We don’t have the level of free will that they did. We can make choices, but they are always swayed in the direction of the sinful nature. Unless God intervenes, we’re never going to choose Him. That’s the whole point of the gospel message: we couldn’t save ourselves.

    I love this analogy by Mark Driscoll… A group of people from a cult decided to make a suicide pact. They all gathered together in a house and set it on fire and waited for it to burn them up. The neighbour nextdoor had two choices to make that he would be totally justified in making. He could either do nothing (and that would be understandable), or he could save some of them (and he would be considered a hero). He didn’t really have to save any. In fact, he risked his own life to do it. Plus he would be going against the will of those people by taking them out of the house.

    It says in Romans 9:15 (NLT), “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.” God has His reasons for choosing some and not others. The truth is none of us deserve to be saved, so we shouldn’t question God.

    Wally,
    With regards to forgiveness… Whenever I want to remind myself how ugly my sin is to God, I always pretend that God looks at me the same way I look at Hitler. If you were the judge at Hitler’s trial listening to all the disgusting things he did, would you want to let him off?

    God loves justice. He is totally within His rights to send us all to hell (hell being a place that is so unbearable because there is no mercy – we are under the full force of the wrath of God). Hell wasn’t meant for us though. It was meant for Satan and his angels. We choose to go there by breaking the law.

  • Bill Pratt

    Wally,
    The question of free will poses just as many, if not more, difficult problems for the atheistic naturalist. If there is no God, then every one of your thoughts and actions are “programmed” into you by the atoms banging around in your brain. In other words, there is no mental reality, but only physical reality. You are just dancing to your DNA and your belief that you have free will is a complete illusion. Every thought and opinion you have is the result of the laws of physics working on you, so you can have no free will.

    At least in Christianity, I can conceive of how a person, God, could give us limited powers of free will, such that we can make real decisions. I don’t know exactly how this works, but it makes more sense for an intelligent, personal Mind to give us free will while still retaining complete sovereignty over creation than it does for a physical world to give us the non-physical power of free will. As a Christian, I am not trapped in the deterministic, physical world that the atheistic naturalist is trapped in. I trust that God is in control, but that he has given me the power to make real choices.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Bill, if you see free will as a problem in a naturalistic world, I don’t see how introducing a God solves the problem. You say you don’t know exactly how it would happen. I don’t either. Do you imagine some kind of magic ‘free will box’ inside our heads that makes decisions not connected to external events? The process that takes place when we make decisions – ‘real choices’ – is the same whether or not there’s a God – as far as I can see, any way.

  • Bill Pratt

    Andrew,
    It makes more sense for a free, personal God to extend his powers of free will to his creatures than for non-free, impersonal matter to extend to humans a power of free will that it does not possess. I can see that God can give free will to humans, but I cannot see how atoms randomly banging into each other can give free will to humans.

  • Andrew Ryan

    ” I can see that God can give free will to humans”

    Then can you explain how? How does He escape the chain of causality?

  • It may be interesting to look at the idea of “free will” as used in a non-theological/philosophical context.
    In looking at mental health we see that the decisions and actions of people are often outgrowths of their pasts, in ways that are almost as deterministic as the actions of balls on a pool table.

    For very ill people, this may be the result of physical and chemical conditions, schizophrenia, various psychoses, etc. More common may be the individual who has had a past filled with a very emotionally powerful figure, and is spending his “present” either in identification with that person, trying to act in conformity to him/her, or in reaction formation trying to break free by opposition to that model. In either instance, my present thoughts and behavior are driven by that past interaction. They are not “free.”

    In many therapeutic modalities, a great deal of effort is expended trying to break the compulsive elements from the past. Often this involves examining the influences so that one understands them, sometimes the source of the compulsion is ignored as irrelevant, but today’s thought patterns are targeted. These techniques have various success rates, and I am not qualified to give an opinion on them. But in each case, a movement away from emotional compulsion into increasing freedom is seen as a movement towards health. The ability to accurately say “I choose” based on factors I believe to be relevant, is more free, and more healthy, than to say “I must.”

    If one accepts God as prime cause, the “unmoved mover” then He has started by being the first link in the chain of causality –no infinite regress. At the moment, we humans are mostly determined, our thoughts and behaviors are pretty predictable outgrowths of our past. But every now and then, we experience a moment of independence in our choices. If God is still working out the “Let us make man in our own image” project, then perhaps the ability to not be simply a link in a causal chain is part of what is being developed. Even the secular mental health practitioners think that is a move towards wholeness.

  • Bill Pratt

    Eric’s thoughts are interesting, as always. With regard to causality, no traditional Christian understanding of God would allow for human freedom to be completely 100% autonomous (free of God or anything else in existence). As Eric pointed out with regard to the environment, it is naive to think that human beings ever possess that kind of freedom.

    God is the primary efficient cause of human beings and their free choices, but human beings have been given the power to be secondary efficient causes of their choices. God clearly made humans to be different than every other thing he has made. He has given us the ability to make free choices, but we are never completely free of Him. God accomplishes things through human free will in a way very different than he accomplishes things through physical laws. Stars shine, water flows, clouds float, but these activities are not at all like the way human beings make choices. They are activities of a completely different order. Again, there is no complete explanation to how this works, but the mental life is better explainable coming from a mental God than from non-mental nature.

  • As I’ve said before, I find a lot to contemplate re. God’s purpose and intent for us by looking at the Holy Trinity. We see the Son as being subject to the Father, and yet having within Himself the fullness of the Godhead. There is subjection of will where there is not subordination of rank. The Son chooses to prefer the Father, as a manifestation of love. His choices are directed by, not limited by, the will of the Father.

    Among the purposes of the Law are these two: First is to make a society of fallen creatures function as well as it does. A lawless society is unworkable. Second is to show me, even when I accept and consent to the law, how far I am from desiring to fulfill it. In other words, even my obedience is largely by my being in a subordinate position to the lawgiver (whether God, the state, social norm, whatever). My obedience, even when achieved, is usually of a different character than that of the Son toward the Father.

    I envision (With little direct scriptural support, but with great scriptural concord) God’s aim for humanity to be at least in part to create a being that can act as a causal agent (instead of solely a reactive one) in this universe, but with the choices we make in freedom being directed by our loving and freely chosen subjection to the Triune God.

    That sort of Free Will I believe is part of the goal of this stage of the creation story. Holy Scripture only gives us the vaguest hints of what is to come next. But there is enough to believe that there is a purpose to come, and not just a heavenly retirement home.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Sorry, but as I said before, I don’t see how offering a deity makes any difference to the problem of free will. I’m sympathetic to the argument that humans don’t have free will, but if you accept that argument then rather like the ‘no objective morality’ argument, it pretty much stands with or without a God. A deity might perhaps be another causal element, but complicating the chain does not remove it. NB: randomness or the supernatural doesn’t solve the free will problem.

  • Mars188

    God knows every path in are life for better are the worse when we choose what path we will pick from- I wished God would pick for me i always pick the wrong path.

  • James

    You wouldn’t even be able arrange a single concept in the mind without freewill. When speaking, alone, we decide inflection, percussion, tempo, amplitude, and a precise melody…and thats without even mentioning the sentence structure.

    I have found that people who claim we have no freewill have a pathological bias blcoking their reasoning because they show such a childish, almost a simpletons, understanding of human thought..as if freewill is only about what choice of ice cream they want. Again, thought itself is not possible without being able to arrange information around in the mind and that occurs every second…not just at a fork in the road.