Saturday, June 28, 2008

Free Will and Bad Choices

I believe we are free to make choices. As far back as I can remember, I have thought so. Before I knew God, before I thought humans have spirits, before I believed in a life after this one. Even then I believed we have free will. I have always been so confident about free will that I find it impossible to understand folks who profess to believe that free will is an illusion. Some claim that all things are determined by physics, biology, a control freak god, random events, or fate.

It seems very strange for some to argue strenuously that all we do, and all they do is apart from any thing like a free will. What do they think anyone might do in response to those arguments, if all we do is what we are destined to do?

However, forget those folks for a moment. Let's just talk among those of us who believe we are free to make choices. Why do we make bad choices? I'm not talking accidentally bad. I mean the kind of choice that you know full well is bad. The choice to eat too much. The choice to spend too much. The choice to exercise too little. The choice to love too little.

I am a sinner saved by grace. Unmerited favor. And it is truly unmerited. Seeing clearly that which is better, I too often choose that which is worse. I can point to influences and circumstances. I can cite temptation and weakness. Yet I still make bad choices.

I wonder if free will is possible absent the ability to choose foolish things. Are there good choices, less good choices, choices that are a little bad, and choices that are a lot bad? Why wouldn't we stick with good and less good?

I do not know why I make bad choices. But I do. It is easier to see in others. But I see it in myself. I talk to God about it. I believe he loves me nonetheless. I have to believe he wants me to make choices that bring about joy and peace rather than pain and poverty. Perhaps I am learning , bit by bit. I really hope so.
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