So I asked a few people on the street the free will question from the other day.
For those of you not following along the question is if the “System” of our “Free Will” receives the exact same circumstances as inputs, is it capable of generating different outputs.
The programmer accross the hall from me provided this insight which I found to be interesting..
“The will is not a solid state system. Every input changes the system”
For the record, I think he is right.
Much of who we are is shaped by what we have experienced.
I am taking a foster parenting class right now, and it is amazing how neglect in the first 18 months of a child’s life can often effect their decision making for years, if not for a lifetime. Inputs – Or lack thereof creates a system (Will) that fends for itself and doesn’t work well with others. For much of their lives, inputs that would generate an output of comfort and security in most kids generates an output of fear and discomfort in these kids.
I am confident that our “free will” can be mutated in an instant if our circumstances change drastically enough.
Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face.
(Numbers 22:31 ESV)
Balaam had one heart condition in one instant (Beating his Donkey), then he recognized the true condition, and his will was changed in a flash.
2 Kings 6 also shows how drastically our perception of the situation can change. The servant was afraid of the massive armies that where surrounding them, then the Lord opened his eyes and he could see the armies of angels that where defending them from these armies.
Likewise, the Syrians who where invading had there perception changed in and instant when they where all struck with blindness. Their “System” of thinking was changed in verse 23 they got their physical sight back, but had a different perception about the wisdom of raiding Israel.
Certainly Saul of Tarsus also had his “Will” changed in an instant – in very similar circumstances.
There are many events in our life that mutate our will. Nearly anyone who goes through a trauma says that their priorities are changed. Things that used to seem important don’t seem as important anymore.
Anyway, there is a certain camp within Christianity that really idolizes “free will”. Freedom is a very important western value, and the idea that someone can make you do something that you don’t want to do is pretty offensive to most people.
It is never popular to point this out, but the Kingdom of God is not a democracy. Dieing to self does really mean that I must die to self. If I where allowed to be totally free, I would mess it up.
But the good side of this is that when God changes our will, he does not do it with force or manipulation and lies like a human would. He does it by opening our eyes to the Truth. Lies are what leads us to destruction. Lies are the source of our fear, our angst and our cowardice. Lies are the source our our disbelief, our unthankfulness, and our self importance. When lies die, we are set free from the bondage of our will.
So God is not a puppeteer forcing us to do something that we would not normally do – He shines light on the lies that are corrupting our will and leading us astray. When we know and understand the truth we choose correctly. He removes us from the reality of lies that we have created to numb ourselves to the pain and injustice of this world, and places us in a reality of Truth. When we bathe ourselves in lies, our system is going to choose wrongly. Garbage in Garbage out. When our system is fed with Truth, it begins to heal, and over time, it will begin to choose correctly.
People who hold the will as sacred and something that God cannot manipulate are looking at the will as being a lot more rigid than it is. My kids can manipulate my will. An idiot on the freeway can manipulate my will. I don’t think God needs some special permission to rebuild my heart. He just modifies the inputs, and the system of my will is altered. There is not a lot anyone can our should do to stop him.