Post Author: Bill Pratt
Yesterday, I posted on the issue of free will and God’s knowledge of of human free acts in the future. This is an area the church has grappled with for centuries. But how do other major worldviews deal with this issue?
Most atheists think they can avoid the issue by denying that God (or divine fate) exists. Unfortunately, once you banish an ultimate mind as the source of the universe, you are only left with impersonal physical laws operating on matter and energy.
So free will, for the atheist, is just an illusion that our highly evolved brain gives us. Fundamentally, we are completely determined in our actions and choices by chemistry and physics, by the mechanistic movement of atomic particles . Free will, under atheism, does not exist. So the atheist does not really solve the problem of fate and free will. He just rids us of both, thus denying that the problem is real.
Monistic Pantheists argue that all of earthly life is just an illusion, that we are actually part of one ultimate, impersonal being. When we realize that we are part of this one ultimate being, the illusion of our individual lives ends as we merge with the ultimate being.
In this sense, our individual free will is also an illusion because we, ourselves, are an illusion. The only thing that really exists is this ultimate, impersonal being. Their solution to the problem is to affirm divine fate at the complete expense of human free will or even true human existence.
Oddly enough, even though the theistic God seems to cause problems with the existence of human free will, without a personal God, free will cannot exist!
The Christian concept of God allows for mind to precede and transcend matter, which allows human free will to exist, in opposition to atheism (who only believe matter exists).
Christians also recognize that individual people exist apart from God, in opposition to pantheism. The concept of human free will cannot exist without individual humans truly existing. This the Pantheists deny.
Even though we Christians struggle with this doctrine, as do other theistic religions, at the end of the day a personal God is the best ground and source for free will. Get rid of God, and free will quickly vanishes.