Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Broken free will

We like to think that we have free will and can decide our own values and to act on those values. But let's say someone's free will wasn't working properly. There are probably a number of ways this could manifest, but what would be the main problem that you'd see if it did happen?

Let's say that I have a certain principle that in certain circumstances people should do XYZ, including me. And that's not a principle I reluctantly accept, but one that I want other people to follow and for me to follow.

A free will that doesn't work properly would be a free will where I'm unable to act consistently on the principles that I hold near and dear. That sort of free will would be like a car that occasionally breaks down for no reason, or a computer that crashes every now and then for no reason. Because a free will like that is a free will where someone is effectively unable sometimes to choose what they have chosen.

Using that standard it seems that possibly everyone has a free will that is broken in some ways, because we all seem to affirm principles that we hold near and dear, and yet no one, unless those principles are very prosaic, can consistently act on those principles 100% of the time. So our free will, if we have it, is broken in some way. It doesn't work the way you'd expect it to work in theory, and perhaps the way it was intended to work.

These thoughts were prompted by a reflection on John 8:34-6: "Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.'"

And Romans 7:15: "I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it."

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