Monday, September 05, 2011
Is There Free Will in Heaven?
Gustove Dore's illustration of Dante's Divine Comedy
I see this topic raised by atheist from time to time. It never seems to die out. I get the feeling they think they have some big air-tight contradiction or something. I can't really really figure out what it's supposed to prove. I want to state from the outset before I start analyzing it, my own bias is free will. I am opposed to the sort of Calvinistic predestination that removes from us any part in choosing to follow God. I think God must like free will and value it highly to place it above the consequences of having it. I can see why he would because free will is a wonderful thing. Why should God want a robot who has to do his will when he could have a free moral agents who obeys out of love and wants to please God becuase he loves God? So to be a free will loving God God must be a loving God who wants a love relationship with his "children."
For many atheists free will in heaven is not just a wrench of the works of belief in after life, it's actually a dilemma they use to make a point about this life. Many atheists don't like the idea of free will because it means they must choose. Since they refuse to choose God's way they must choose their sin they want to either believe that they have to choose sin and thus are not blame worthy, or the blame God for giving them the choice when he could just as easily avoid it. So they construct a dilemma like this:
(1) If God allows free will in heaven it will undermine heaven's righteousness becasue sin nature will force us to sin.
(2) on the other hand if he takes away free will in heaven why not take it away on earth and avoid the conflicts and problems?
It beats me why anyone would want to be a robot. I suspect their genreation were trianed to be docile and accept being told what to do. My generation, the Woodstockers, did not accept being told what to do. We loved free will and want it all cost. I don't see the allure of being a robot but I have seen many atheists argue for it's virtues.
To complicate matters more this generation "y/z"* as I call them, they understand determinism. They confuse determinism with regular cause and effect. So they think any kind of C/e is automatically deterministic. That means they think regular motivations are deterministic and thus no temptation is resistible. If you have given the power by God to resist sin you are already a determined robot.
Start with answering the question "if god hates sin so much, why allow us the ability to sin?" I theorize that God wants free moral agents who willingly choose the good. Why does he want that? Becuase it's more satisfying and is the product of love, to have creatures (children?) who willingly do what you want becuase they love you. Jesus said "he who is forgiven much loves much." This implies that as free moral agents we are given free will so that we can willingly seek the good. To seek the good we must internalize the values of the good. If we don't do that then we are vainly seeking something we don't understand or care about. It is through interlaizing the values of the good that we come to "love much" because it's that way that we realize we have been forgiven much. It's a learning process one must go through first hand.
That also means we have to have the risk of evil choices. To have free and seek the good we have to risk making the wrong choice and getting off track and choosing the wrong thing. If we don't risk that then we don't have a true choice. It's only through choice that one makes moral depictions and without moral decisions we don't have a moral universe. All of this assumes we have a world in which to work, a world in which we mus search for truth, in searching we internalize the values. If every time we faced problems and dangers everything fell into place through miracles there would never be a search.
Given this answer let's take the first side of the dilemma. If God allows free will people will sin and screw up the good in heaven. No this wont happen becuase no one wants to sin in heven. no one in heaven wants to sin. Everyone in heaven has been through the search, forgiven much, loves much wants to be with God and doesn't want to sin. I'm sure there a sustaining aspect to being in heaven, not that have no free will but that being face to face with the source of all goodness and love and having no problems and being with one's departed loved ones there not much motivation to leave. I would imagine one probalby can leave heaven but why would they? If they had it in them to leave why would they be there anyway?
The second side of the dilemma is automatically answered. God allows free will in heaven so there's no inconsistency in allowing it on earth. To that answer they usually say, "well why not just have us born with all the knowledge of the search?" This is like trying to cheat the process. It's saying why go through this? It's a learning process you can have it given to you it just wouldn't mean as much as doing the search and finding the truth yourself. The sign posts to point the way to truth are there and there are many of them, if you have the right attitude. It really is an absurd delimma.
Why don't we turn the tables and ask them why they are so delirious of not having to search? I can't claim to know the hearts of all atheists but I would image for many it's that they don't' want to let go of sin. They are saying, and I've heard them say it many times, why should God care if I want do X?" So don't take away my pet sin. That may be the hardest part it may the par we have to do, is let go of sin.
Of course at his point my Calvinist brothers/sisters become concerned because think this is works. Letting go is not works. It's not earning slavtion it 's being good enough to make it, it's not making it on your own, it's almost passive. It's one active move, let go. That basically amounts to wanting it. That's the same free will. Free will is not earning it it's no more than just wanting the truth really.
*What comes after generation "y/z?" generation "Duh!"