The Philosophical Discussion of Free Will

The philosophy of logic plays an integral role in the lives of rational people. We use logic in our everyday endeavors. For instance, when you want to sell out your old car to a potential buyer, you must provide arguments that will make the buyer believe that indeed your car is the best among many other offers. Moreover, logic will enable you to determine whether the buyer’s arguments are good or bad. Goldfarb (2003) defines logic as the study of principles of rational thinking. It does not concern itself with how people reason but rather how they ought to reason if they want to guarantee the truth of their results. For example, many people, especially Christians, believe that God is the maker of the universe and hence controls everything, including our thoughts and our daily activities. However, through logical arguments, it can be argued that God only knows about our intentions but does not in any way control us.

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It is worthwhile to note that reasoning as used in logic is a matter of arriving at conclusions or inferences based on certain premises. Deductive reasoning, otherwise known as Deductive logic can therefore be used effectively to argue that humans still have the freedom of choice as God only knows but doesn’t control anything. Sternberg and Leighton (2004) defines deductive reasoning as goal-oriented reasoning that commences with an exact starting point, known as the premises, and leads to conclusions that arise necessarily from the premises. Deductive philosophy must be combined with the concept of free will or freedom of choice to effectively be able to argue that God only knows but does not control our actions. By definition, free will is a principle in traditional philosophy that is often used to refer to the belief that human behavior is not premeditated by some external forces or causes but rather is the result of free choices made willfully by an agent. Accordingly, the choices are made by the motives and intentions of the individual agent rather than some external forces (Carroll, 2009).

Using the above definition, it is possible to deductively argue that humans can voluntarily decide to carry out one of the several possible acts or to avoid all actions in their entirety (Kane, 2002). It should be noteworthy to put in mind that ethical choices in free will involve attributing qualities such as right or wrong, better or worse, good or bad, etc. In the first premise, God only knows that the individual will choose to go to class, which the individual says he will do necessarily. This premise shows that the power or authority belongs to the individual, or to humans for that matter. Consequently, the premise means that people have free will over their own lives to choose to perform or not to perform any particular action based on their rational perception of that idea – whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, etc. The individual necessary choose to go to class because he knows it’s the right thing to do if rational thinking is followed.

According to Barnett (1998), the principle of free will, otherwise called the freedom of choice asserts that an omnipotent divinity does not in any way affirm its power over an individual’s will and choices. The second premise on the case example proves the point since God only knows that a choice has already been made to go to class; a choice He has no control of. The motive or intention is to go to class, and that’s why a choice has been made. Deductively, the conclusion is that the individual has necessarily chosen to go to class. The conclusion reveals that God does not control the mind of an individual. He only knows about our plans, actions, or thoughts but it is us who choose what to do based on our intuition, motives, and intentions.

The principle of free will has significant ramifications in the field of theology. Arguing on the platform of the Holy Bible, Christians argue that there is nothing like human free will. They argue that the existence of God alone philosophically, rationally, and theologically denies the prospects of any free will (Crabtree, 2005). In addition, they also argue that the bible is clear on this matter – there is no free will. But their arguments are based on some supernatural beliefs and superstition rather than deductive reasoning. In the case example, deductive reasoning and free will have been used to show that individual freedom of choice indeed takes precedence over God’s control over individual actions. To that effect, the argument that individuals have their freedom of choice is more valid.

The concept of free will is completely incompatible with the notion that God is omniscient, meaning that God can perfectly predict the future. In the case example, the first and the second assumptions seem to suggest that God had perfectly predicted that the individual would go to class. But the concept of free will or freedom of choice implies that it could have been possible for the individual to act differently from what he did due to any given reason (Barnett, 1998). His Free will could have directed the individual to go and play football or swim instead of attending class. To this extent, it can be vehemently argued that God had the power to predict that the individual will go to class but could not control the individual over what he or she could have decided to do. This argument forms the basis of the principle of free will or freedom of choice. God knows what we shall do at certain times but the decisions as to whether we shall do it or we shall engage ourselves in other activities assuredly rests on us.

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The argument above contradicts the concept of an ever omniscient God as it has effectively shown that we have the power to change whatever had been predetermined for us by God. The case study can also be viewed from a third front. Theological arguments point to fact that God gave us free will to make our own decisions and decide our destination without any coercion from God whatsoever (Barnett, 1998). Whether we do good or bad things are entirely our own decisions. Going back to the assumptions, the first and second assumptions entail God’s prediction that the individual would go to class. But according to some philosophical thinkers, that prediction was made some fourteen billion years ago when God created the universe (Barnett).

By then, God knew the concise details of every event and occasion during the full history of the newly-created universe. But events have unfolded, changing everything in the whole process (Barnett, 1998). He couldn’t have predicted that I’ll be sitting here today writing this essay. All in all, assumption three argues that the individual necessarily chose to go to class. But God created us and gave us free will to make our own decisions and decide our destinies. It could be therefore argued that the individual exercised his free will and chose to do the right thing by going to class. This is a valid argument to show that God only knows but doesn’t control our destination whatsoever.

It is therefore prudent to argue that what individuals choose to engage in is wholly out of their rational thinking while considering the intuitive obligations and intentions. As the Holy Bible says, God is holy, and only walks in the comfort of holy people. If it is God who guides our every action, why then do we have thieves, murderers, rapists, arsonists, etc. Such people must have been guided by their own free will to commit crimes, not by God’s omniscience. This only serves to add weight to the fact that free will or freedom of choice takes precedence over external causes regarding our actions. He may know that you will not become a good person, but He does not send you to murder someone nor does He control you when you are robbing a bank. That’s why the concept of free will must be closely correlated with the concept of moral responsibility (O’Connor, 2005). Every individual must be responsible for his or her actions. In the same vein, it can be argued that God does not make someone receive salvation as it is popularly argued. Rather, it is the free will to receive salvation after reflecting through own life.

Works Cited

Barnett, A. Free Will Contradicts the Idea of an Omniscient God. 1998. Web.

Crabtree, V. Christianity Says Humans Have no Free Will. 2005. Web.

Carroll, R.T. Free Will. 2009. Web.

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Goldfarb, W.D. Deductive Logic. Hackett Publishing. 2003. ISBN: 0872206602.

Kane, R. Free Will. Wiley-Blackwell, 2002. ISBN: 0631221026.

O’Connor, T. “Free Will” in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2005. Web.

Sternberg, R.J. & Leighton, J.P. The Nature of Reasoning. Cambridge University Press. 2004. ISBN: 0521009286.

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