Monday, December 24, 2007

Does God have Free Will?

God gave us humans free will. For that we are grateful. We'd never have known that we didn't have it had we been created to do only what he wanted us to do.

As I sat in Sabbath School this past Sabbath the thought just popped into my mind. Does God have free will like we have free will? The thought startled me. I was even more concerned when the following text came to mind: "And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. . . Genesis 3:22. Now this probably means that God learned about evil, not from first hand experience, like Adam and Eve learned about it, but by being acquainted with Lucifer and his originating of the concept of evil.

Now, of course, I wouldn't want to suggest that God is capable of evil if he wanted to, being a free moral being that he is. But then I thought that since he is good because he is God and can only be good and never evil, then we are more free than he is by being able to choose good or evil. Of course, having chosen the latter, as it turns out, is not so pleasant, after all.

If you don't use the bible as your yardstick for matters of good and evil--bear with me for a bit---then an objective observer might think that God in wanting to destroy all he had made because humanity had turned to evil--except for Noah and his family--was less than good. Also, a very clinical observer might think these humans, although evil, were the work of God's hand. How could he be good if he wanted to destroy them all because he had regrets for having created them in the first place?

Now a subjective reaction to this might be that since God created humanity in the first place, he had every right to destroy it just as a potter has a right to reshape a pound of clay into something more perfect. Of course, the potter could also decide after he had finished the jar or glass vase, or whatever other work of non-living art, that it was imperfect and though he loved it a bit, it was better to destroy it and start again. After all does not the artist or the potter have every right to do what he wants with something he creates?

I read a while ago, that the Jews at one time attributed all of the vicissitudes of life to God. The good with the bad. The verse from Job, "the lord giveth and the lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord" addresses this issue somewhat. Later on, Jewish thought attributed the bad things in life to Satan (the accuser) and the good things in life to God only.

Do we attribute only good qualities to God because that's what we would prefer him to have? Of course, there's the matter of violation of his law and the need to punish the guilty which most religious people feel that God is justified in doing.

These issues suggest, to me at least, that matters involving free choice and good and evil are more complex than many people facilely state they are.

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