The Illusion of Free Will
How the Concept of God Contradicts Freedom
In theological debate, it is generally a given that the god of choice, albeit that of Christianity, its various sects, or that of most monotheistic religions, has to be a god of unlimited power that exists beyond the scope of natural law. This god is the creator of everything in existence, eternally present, and knows the outcome of the entire future prior to even bringing life to fruition. Given all that, there of course should be the question, why would an all-powerful god allow things like evil and suffering to exist and what would be the point of causing such atrocities to befall his own creation? Without fail, the explanation given for this is the concept of free will. Believers in this all-powerful version of god will say that evil and suffering is brought about not by the will of their god, but by the choices of the creations who operate of their own accord. Having said that, believers will also be quick to mention that God works in mysterious ways and the tests of suffering on Earth are all part of his plan for his creation. How is it possible for both of these things to be true?
I argue that it is not possible for both these things to be true. The concepts contradict one another, and are a paradox of beliefs that shift back in forth of the mind of the believer as a matter of convenience for whichever side of the coin is needed to be the least challenging of the belief during a moment of crisis. Kids dying of cancer? Well, that’s either a plan of a deity beyond our own understanding, or cancer is an unfortunate result of various inventions of mankind that god couldn’t control. Politicians enacting wars that cost millions of lives? Again, either it is god’s plan beyond our scope of understanding, or such evil is in the choices made by his creations that he could not foresee.
Where does the idea of free will come from? In the Christian belief model, there is no actual basis for God granting his subjects free will. The concept stems from theological interpretations of events in Biblical text rather than any actual references to it explicitly. I would therefore conclude that free will as a concept is simply a RATIONALIZATION meant to justify the cohabitation of an all-powerful deity with events that seem cruel or inhumane to the subjects of said deity, or even to explain how subjects created by the deity could possibly ever do things against the will of the deity. The most obvious example is the explanation of the origin of sin, which takes place in the book of Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve. This is of course the story of creation, and depending on the level of religious fanaticism, is interpreted metaphorically or literally by believers. The events are not up to debate themselves, as it is widely accepted that Adam and Eve disobeyed the direct order of God to not eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, and were therefore condemned to lives of death and sin, tossed out of the Garden of Eden (heaven) by an angry Lord.
This one event in the Christian Bible is the entire basis for the concept of free will. Believers would argue that Adam and Eve were able to disobey God because God did not control their choices. But at the same time, they will tell you this was God’s plan for life on Earth all along! It simply cannot be both. God set forward his PLAN for this outcome, knowing already what would take place. OR, subscribers to this faith must admit that their god is not all-powerful, which they will never do. It grants this kind of mysticism and magic a bit of logical credence to even consider the debate, but if someone can point to any real loophole present in their texts that mentions where God absolves himself of controlling his creation or admits that he doesn’t know everything, I would love to hear it.
There are more examples after the creation story of course. Incidents and events throughout the Bible where God presents “tests” to his subjects. And there is the punishment/reward system set into place of either getting to go to heaven or being sent to hell for either being a loyal subject or for being a heathen. The same contradiction of freedom exists in all of it, if you readily accept that the deity in charge of it all contains all the power and knowledge of the outcomes. First of all, how free can a person genuinely be if they live their lives in fear of punishment from the gods? Who in their right mind would choose to be tortured or choose to suffer? And then, why would a deity create things simply to watch them exist in agony? What kind of cruel being is this God anyway? If God knows everything and has all the power, that means he has created literally billions of lives that he knows will end up suffering in Hell. All of it seems like series upon series of impossibilities stacked into a convoluted maze of irrationality.
I want to propose an alternate truth here: the concept of god and religion itself is only meant as an allegory for the rule of law. The punishment reward system is an extension of the system of law present in society. The idea of God and heaven and the need to choose to be loyal or disloyal, is the idea of needing people to adhere to the authoritarian structure of society, be it kingship or democratic rule, the people need to respect authority in order to keep society from falling into chaotic anarchy. It is also a way of maintaining classism. With authority comes power and wealth. The teaching of the Bible repeatedly tells people to abhor wealth, and that the poor will inherit the earth. So, it is a duality in the teachings, that the subjects of religion are to worship the powerful, while not seeking the power themselves. This duality exists along with the illusion that people are free to do as they please, even though they do so under threat of horrific punishments. And they are told to maintain modest lives of humility before their authority figures, because they will achieve great riches AFTER THEY ARE DEAD. It seems pretty obvious tactics of gaslighting and manipulation when it is broken down this way. Wouldn’t you agree?
In conclusion, I want to make a final point here, and that is this: free will does exist. But it exists only outside the confines of religious belief. It exists outside the confines of the worship of authority and the subsequent subservience to its rules and threats. You are only free to do anything when you free your mind of the yoke of mysticism and stop allowing yourself to be a slave to the ideas of others. So, what are you afraid of? Free your mind. Free yourself.