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Skeptic: Free Will and Love

In response to Conversations with a Skeptic Podcast.

My final entry in response to the poorly-named Conversations with Skeptic is about Free Will. The Pastor talks about free will at many points throughout the 7 part series. There was one part where he mentions the idea there can be no love without free will. I wish I had written down the time info so I could go back and find the original quote, but I think that is pretty close. It's one of the few things on which I agree with the Pastor. Without Free Will you cannot claim to love another person. He mentions a couple of examples during his sermons in the pursuit of this idea.

(summarized)You can't claim to love your wife and yet chain her up in your house. You can't claim, "Well, we've been married 30 years and she's still with me, so she must love me!" because without Free Will there can be no love.

I'm going to just summarize a couple of the quotes in this entry because either I forgot to write down the time info to get the transcript or the transcript is just too long. I agree with the above example, wholeheartedly. That's not love. Love allows the freedom to walk away. He gave another example in which he described a husband who had a small microchip implanted in his brain which forced him to happily perform any task that his wife merely thought. She could think, "I sure wish someone would do the laundry today," and immediately her husband would happily respond, "Honey, I'll take care of the laundry today. Don't worry about it." Again it is the same principle. The husband doesn't have the freedom to choose even though the chip makes him HAPPY to perform these tasks. He is merely an automaton.

In a previous series of posts, I talked about a book called The Five Love Languages which gives some incredible advice on successful relationships. I posted these quotes before and they are relevant to this discussion as well:

Love makes requests, not demands. When I demand things from my spouse, I become the parent and she the child. pg 48

A request introduces the element of choice. Your mate may choose to respond to your request or to deny it, because love is always a choice. That's what makes it meaningful. pg 49

Love makes requests, not demands. That phrase changed my whole brain and it informs all of my behaviors with my loved ones. But back to the podcast..

The Pastor provides yet another parable when talking about Free Will. This one is geared toward answering the question "If God loves us, then why does he permit such suffering?" It's a very common question for people of faith and people of skepticism alike. The parable is roughly summarized here:

Kenny: This room is yours, Bob. You may paint it any color you like, you are free to do so. Now, white is the color that you are going to like the best and so I really recommend that you paint with white, but you are free to choose any color.

Bob: Great! *opens a couple paint cans* But all of these cans have white paint in them! That's not freedom, there's no choice involved there. The only choice I have is to paint white from that can or that can or that can.

Kenny: You're really going to want to paint with white though, I really recommend it.

Bob: You said I had the freedom to paint with whatever color I wanted.

Kenny: You're right, ok. *gives Bob a can of red paint* I warn you though, you won't like red. It tends to burn and itch. You really will prefer white.

Bob: *dips his brush in the red and tries to put it on the wall, but it changes to white immediately* Hey! You lied to me! You said I had the freedom to choose!

Kenny: But you won't like red, it'll burn. You'll prefer white.

Bob: That's not the point, you said I was free to choose.

Kenny: You're right. Ok, you're free to paint red.

Bob: *paints the room red and finds that the splatters of red paint he got on himself are starting to burn and itch and it's very painful* Dammit! Kenny, if you loved me you wouldn't have allowed me to hurt myself like this!

The Pastor's point with this example is to say that all the ills in the world are because we have Free Will. Now, let's just ignore the obvious problems and bias with the parable such as red paint burning the skin. My point in this entry is Free Will. The Pastor's deeper point is that God LOVES humanity so much that he gives us the Free Will to make mistakes.

But does he?

Let's pull up that first example of the wife chained in the house and alter it just a little bit. Originally the example involved a husband chaining his wife up in the house so that she couldn't leave. Let's remove the chains. She is absolutely free to move about the house how and when she would like... but if she steps out of the house she will be shot in the head and killed. Is that Free Will? No, it's not. Free Will is not part of the equation when your choices are a) do what I say or b) I'll kill you. Even if the "a) do what I say" part is merely a stipulation of what not to do. Free Will is FREE Will. You can alter the example slightly so that the wife is told by the husband, "You have the freedom to move about the house when and how you'd like, but if you step out the front door I will divorce you." Does Free Will exist here? Yes! Sure, there will be consequences to her actions, but she has the freedom to make the choice here. Making the choice to walk out of the house doesn't result in the loss of her life. She gets continue living and making more decisions about her life, living it as she sees fit. It's still not a GOOD situation and the husband in that version of the example is still an asshole, but you get the idea because she can walk away anytime.

That is the situation of a life based on the Scriptures and God. According to the Scriptures... Eve made a choice to break God's rule. Adam made a choice to break God's rule. They were both kicked out of paradise and left to wither and die. The population of the earth made their choices on how to behave in Noah's day. God wiped them off the face of the planet. The population of Sodom and Gomorrah made their choices on how to behave and God burned them all to ashes. The entire point of Armageddon is that if you use your Free Will to choose something other than what God wants, he's going to annihilate you from the face of the Earth as if you never existed. Those are the actions of a strong-arm dictator, a bully, who forces you to behave how he wants through the threat of violence and destruction.

That is not Love.

That is not Free Will.

I live in the United States where our culture accepts the Social Contract. I give up some of my Freedom in exchange for protection and order. Now, if I violate those Laws I can be imprisoned or even put to death (depending on the severity). Do I have Free Will then? Yes, I do. I don't have live in the US if I don't want. I have the Free Will to choose to live here and I understand the exchange of freedom for order. If I don't want to live according to those rules, I can just buy a boat and go live on the ocean however I please. I have the Free Will.

The Christian God does not allow you Free Will.
The Jewish God does not allow you Free Will.
The Muslim God does not allow you Free Will.

Any entity that claims power and domain over every human and threatens them with death does NOT Love you and does NOT allow you to have Free Will.

I am an atheist, but not because I refuse to give up my Free Will to any God. If God were to show up at my doorstep and say, "Kenny, we need to talk," and then violated some law of Physics then I would happily believe in God. I am an atheist because there is simply no evidence that a God exists. The Bible is a contradictory text that was written during a time on Earth that is completely alien to the one in which we live. It was pieced together by a committee and has been the subject of great internal debate throughout the religions that actually believe it including the huge question of whether or not Jesus was the actual Son of God or if he was just a figurative "Son of God" much like all people are sons and daughters of God. It was a useful tool to keep the masses in line for a very long time, but we don't need it anymore.

P.S. Buying and living on a boat (nsfw) on the open sea doesn't sound so bad.

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