Monday, March 12, 2012

How Much Do Love Free Will?


Free will was a hot topic this morning. I was sitting in the Springfield, MO airport watching the news accounts of an American soldier’s murderous rampage through an Afghan village when the fellow next to me mutter, “poor bastard.” I glanced over at him and he took it as a rebuke.
“I’m not saying I don’t feel bad for the people he killed and their families, I’m only saying that we should have compassion on the guy: four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the guy just snapped. The system killed those people as much as this sergeant did.”
I was sympathetic to this argument, but a woman sitting to his other side disagreed. He should have gotten help if he was stressed, she said. He had choices other than killing people. Don’t make him a victim; he had free will.
I’m not one who believes over much in free will. Most of our decisions are made subconsciously, and the conscious mind only lays claim to and creates a rationale for doing what the subconscious mind already decided to do. I shared my doubts about free will, and the woman said that it is free will that makes us human; it is free will that allows us to be held accountable for what we do. Without free will, she said, we would be puppets, and life would not be worth living. That is why God gave us free will.
I asked her is she would want to live in a world where murder and war couldn’t happen?
No, she said. I want to live in a world where they don’t happen but could happen, but don’t happen because people choose not to do them.
So if some researcher developed a vaccine that we could erase the urge to kill and make war, you wouldn’t want people to take it?
She wouldn’t. It would rob us of free will, and God needs us to be free. Why? Because if people couldn’t do evil, God couldn’t punish them in hell, and if God couldn’t punish them in hell and we all went to heaven then what is the value of heaven?
In other words, I said, you prefer hell on earth—murder, war, brutality of all kinds—so that some people can enjoy eternity in heaven?
She did.
What do you think? If we could vaccinate humanity against murder and war the way we can vaccinate ourselves against polio, would you vote to use it?

7 comments:

Maggid said...

All i know is - you were in Springfield, MO . . kinda close . . too bad for me i wasn't hanging out in that airport . . .

Beautiful Day to YOU!
-g-

Poopoo Platepussykatz said...

Reminds me of the premise behind the X-Men franchise and Rogue's dilemma, in particular.

There all ready is a way to make men less inclined to violence: It's called Western Emasculation or Mutilation of Uncut Genitalia.

No One Special said...

To answer specifically - ABSOLUTELY!!!

The will to develop and implement such a vaccine is what would be involved in the 'free will' concept.

And doing so would reflect a huge leap in the spiritual evolution of our species. :-)

Karen said...

It depends. It's one thing to develop a vaccine and FORCE everyone to get it. It's another to develop a vaccine and SUGGEST people take it. Since our country firmly plants feet in both of these arenas, it would be fascinating to see if this vaccine would be forced on us or if we'd get to choose. Then, following, the "free choice" thread, how many would actually choose to get this vaccine? And what would be the side effects? This is a completely different blog...

Karen said...

It depends. It's one thing to develop a vaccine and FORCE everyone to get it. It's another to develop a vaccine and SUGGEST people take it. Since our country firmly plants feet in both of these arenas, it would be fascinating to see if this vaccine would be forced on us or if we'd get to choose. Then, following, the "free choice" thread, how many would actually choose to get this vaccine? And what would be the side effects? This is a completely different blog...

Tara said...

Free will is critical to my (albeit fuzzy) model of spirituality. I agree, many decisions are made unconsciously or with varying degrees of awareness, but there is some awareness.

The idea of a God/Higher Power who micromanages which cars crash into each other or who gets cancer just baffles me. The only way I can make sense of God/The Force/HP is to include free will in the picture.

Thoughts?

Lyn Baker said...

The idea of exercising free will is much bigger than choosing between just evil or good. Those are very relative terms and ideas and, are just two choices among many that can be made. So a vaccine to prevent murder or war only eliminates the desire to commit murder or war, not eliminate free will. I suppose I could continue to exercise my free will to choose to lie, cheat and steal if I so desired. My response to the lady about not wanting to live in a world without free will and it's relationship to heaven is what's the point in wanting to go to heaven? Heaven is a place without war, hunger, and all the things that are termed as evil in this world. So, by her definition/explanation, that must mean we loose our freewill when/if we are fortunate enough to gain entrance into the Christian heaven. So, why would she want to go there?

Seems to me the problem is not one of gaining or loosing free will, but one ego. Ego is what drives choice resulting in action. And it's the recognition of the role ego plays in or everyday lives that makes Buddhism so attractive to me. If each of us could just strive to be mindful of our egos, I think, the world would be a better place.