Choices? Essay, Research Paper
Are We Free to Make Our Own Choices?
Pre-destination can often bring up the question as to whether we as humans control our own actions. Are we free to make our own choices, or is everything we do pre-determined by a supernatural being of some sort? Is it safe to say that we are responsible for our own choices? Do we own a free will that allows us to choose our life path, or are our actions pre-determined, making our exertions useless? In a society that believes in a God who is in control of our lives, this is a difficult question and problem to discuss. But through a series of questions, arguments, and examinations I hope to influence you that we do have a free will and are quite able to make our own choices.
To begin to answer the questions stated in my introduction, we must first cut the fat off the widely used definition of choice. Defining choice in this situation can be a difficult task. One must be careful in using this word. A popular definition of choice could be a mental process through which an individual weighs the consequences of their actions to create an ideal image of their preference to the outcome of their actions. But, when you look at this definition you see that it suggests that someone who fails to carefully analyze their actions doesn?t actually make choices. Can we assume by this definition that choices are free? I believe we can say yes because according to this definition if we do carefully analyze our actions we create the outcome that we choose. On the other hand some people may say no. They may say that if we do not reflect carefully on our actions, we are not taking responsibility for them, leaving the cause of the action to some other force. So, in essence, I believe that answering yes to the definition above is valid?but wait a minute. When looking at the word responsibility in the ?no? side of the argument, one may still draw up a few questions that need to be explained and answered. If we are ignorant of our own responsibility in taking a course of action, how are we to know that we are not reflecting carefully on our actions? What are the standards of responsibility when reflecting on our actions? What if we do something wrong that we do not know is wrong? To answer these criticisms I believe that ignorance of our actions is natural and cannot affect our ability to rationalize to the best of our ability. In a given situation where it is impossible to know what is best, we have the ability to do what we think is best in that given situation. Assuming that an individual has the power to think about and carefully consider choices, I can theorize that they do have a free will within them that they can bring out in any situation, even if the person has no knowledge of what to do in that certain situation.
Some people may not be ready to believe my conclusion as stated above. Is this a reasonable response to believe? Let me elaborate. I believe it is safe to say that most people around here, and even across the nation, were brought up to believe in an omnipotent, omniscient God. I also believe that most people around here believe they have a free will. Does this make sense? Can we put these two things together? I don?t think anyone can really meet halfway in this situation. But it seems that a lot of people choose to do this anyway. It seems to me that the people that ?sit the fence? tend to think that they have total power and control in making small, insignificant choices and that God has total control of large, meaningful choices. They may say that they chose to eat Cheerios for breakfast this morning, but then they praise God that he led them to a certain job opening. Now, if God were omnipotent and omniscient, he would have made both of those choices, right? If God chooses to pre-determine only certain events in our lives, we must have some power as individuals to choose our own paths in life. Now, as confusing as this is, how does one go about choosing between the idea that God pre-determines all choices and the popular belief that he only seems to be involved with the significant ones? Is this a battle of free will? I think so. Now, in arguing for my belief that we do have a free will, I can accept the possibility that God determines only certain events in our life, but I must shoot down the idea that he actually does pre-determine everything we do. Plus I must touch on the perspective that we may be in total control of everything that we choose to do. Well, here goes nothing.
Consider these situations. Wouldn?t it be silly to assume that God chooses which cereal we eat for breakfast in the morning? Wouldn?t it be hard to imagine that God would choose if we would wear a white shirt or a black shirt on a given day? Don?t you think that it would be easier if God gave us some sort of a free will so we would be able to determine these things on our own? One may argue that God can pull this sort of feat off, that He can make every choice in our lives. But, one must consider this. If you think of how many choices you make in a day, there is no way to even count them. I must have already made hundreds of thousands of choices just typing this paper! Now, when you multiply these choices a single person makes in a single day by the 6 billion people that live on the earth, you come up with just about an infinite number. In a humorous manner, this even seems like too big a task for God! In all reality, one must consider the fact that this feat could be likely for God. I mean, hey, he?s God, he can do anything. But in this philosophical argument, one must also consider that this takes on a more improbable case.
Is the above case a good enough argument to assume that we do have our own free will? Is the argument above stable enough to assume that we can throw pre-determination out the window? Probably not. I believe that we must go one step deeper into the issue. Here is a well thought out argument that may come up when arguing about free will. If one accepts the idea that we do make some of our own choices in life, one may state that God knows the outcome of our lives. They may argue that He does not need to make the choices in our lives because he already knows how things are going to turn out. We may have a free will, but we can also ask God for help on issues, having Him take control of our lives. So what this argument is saying is that God can be omnipotent and omniscient without making our everyday choices for us, unless we ask Him to. This argument states that God may have valued our freedom enough to discard the need for him to pre-determine everything for us on earth. He may have just decided to have everything end up the way he wanted things to end. There is one major question though. If God knows how everything will end, doesn?t he know about everything that happens on the way to the end, therefore pre-determining the choices that we make? My response to that question would be that with our gift of free will from God, we have the choice to choose Him. If we do not, we don?t get to the end with Him, and then He would not know us, or what choices we made on earth.
Is this essay of arguments good enough to satisfy a critical reader on the issue of a free will? Let?s re-cap my main points. If we do carefully analyze our actions we create the outcome that we choose, therefore supporting the idea of a free will. We do have a free will within us that we can bring out in any situation, even if we have no knowledge of what to do in a certain situation, because our ignorance can be classified as natural. It would be improbable to say that God is in control of every action we take because the sheer mathematics of that fact is mind boggling. A free will seems possible to understand because God may value our freedom and free will enough to let us choose whether or not we want Him in our lives or not. Even though He knows what will happen in the end, he lets us choose when we can ask us for help, if any time at all. We can choose Him, and live until the end that he knows, or we can not choose Him and live to no end at all.
It seems as though there are still questions to be answered, but in the case of free will, no one could ever know the right answers to all of the possible questions on this topic. The ideas I stated above are ones I thought would answer the question as to whether we are free to make our own choices. I hope that the solutions I came up with were clear and that I proved that they were the correct ones to answer the question.