Free Your Free Will!

Presentation1“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” ~William Shakespeare

Thought for the Week

Are we free? Or is the ability to choose an illusion? And why is our understanding of this subject so dim? We are clearly programmable creatures, as famously demonstrated by Pavlov and Skinner. But we also have a higher consciousness or spirit that enables us to take charge of that programming (to become our own programmers, so to speak), or at least the most important aspect of life: our moral choices.

This is called an antinomy: two apparent contradictions that are nevertheless both true. I sometimes think of it this way: my Creator determined my fate (predestination) at the moment of creation, knowing the choices I would make (free will). But this argument has its flaws, and in the end is merely an attempt to apprehend what I can only partially grasp at best.

It’s as if there were two lines stretching from earth into the stratosphere. They appear to be parallel, but aren’t: they simply intersect beyond my range of sight.

In the first century, the Apostle Paul wrote: “For now, we see a dim reflection, as if in a mirror, but then we shall see face to face. Now we know in part; then we shall know fully, even as we are fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). “Mirrors” at the time Paul wrote this were sheets of hand-beaten metal. Even the best gave extremely inaccurate representations, revealing more about the mirror than their subject. 

Such is our understanding of transcendent truth.

So, is much of our fate beyond our control? Yes. And yet it is also true that if we choose foolishly, selfishly, the fault (as “Free Will” Shakespeare tells us) “is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

For the present, we see dimly, but eventually we will look Truth full in the face, and we will see how those two lines intersect, how the choices we made dovetailed with our fate. Fortunately, our future doesn’t depend on our level of knowledge, but on the infinite goodness of…

the One behind the mirror.

“My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.”

~William James

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Free Your Free Will!

  1. believe4147 says:

    “Fortunately, our future doesn’t depend on our level of knowledge, but on the infinite goodness of…

    the One behind the mirror.”

    “My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.”
    These are great. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is mind boggling-except for making good moral choices.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Goosebumps! I’m thankful to be part of this incredible journey while aching toward my True Home.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. How true ! I guess we won’t stop looking in the mirror, however dark, but look so forward to seeing Him face to face. Have good ‘evening ‘ Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bette Cox says:

    Infinite contingency plans… I asked the Lord a question about whether free will was real one day, and he said “I have infinite contingency plans,” with the hint of a smile in his voice. Trying to figure out how that would work gave me a bout of brain freeze.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Yeah, God’s CPU is just a smidge bigger and faster than ours.


      • mitchteemley says:

        P.S. I like your/God’s use of the phrase “infinite contingency plans,” Bette!


      • Bette Cox says:

        Have you ever researched the connection between intercession (intervention) and someone deciding to make Jesus savior and Lord? That might take a long time to trace, although I’ve spent a good bit of time on it myself. Sometimes the Holy Spirit drops a name or a situation into my mind, I ask what he wants done about that, he tells me what He would like me to pray (or command, declare and decree) regarding it, and then I do. R. A. Torrey wrote about that in Chapter 7 of his book, The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit (1910). Once in a while I have the privilege of seeing the outcome but whether I do or not, I trust the Lord to work it out. Holy Spirit is a pretty good persuader.


  6. Such a rich and deep thought!
    God has His plans. We have ours. You ever notice that many times our plans go off the rails? Ever wonder why? We have imperfect plans because our sight is short-term (relatively speaking 50 years is but a 1/2 of an eyeblink) and we only see our immediate surroundings. God’s plans include this little bitty back-water planet in an unspectacular solar system in a boring galaxy. And yet…
    Of COURSE, we have free will, and sometimes…ok most of the time, we will choose badly because we have way too little information. If we had ALL the information, it would take us centuries to determine whether we should eat that pop tart in the back of the cupboard. We can’t possibly interpret all the information instantaneously.

    We just learned we can see ALL of time going back to 350 million years after the Big Bang. But we cannot look forward. Everywhere we look from Earth is in the past because of the time it takes light and images to get here. God sees time as a single unit–past and future. He set things in motion. Determined the laws of motion, the process of time, and the fate of everyone and everything in the universe. God’s plans will not swirl into chaos because we choose to eat that Pop-Tart. Nothing we do will derail them.
    It’s like the one ant that goes to visit your kitchen and you see it and squash it. Does that disrupt your daily routine? Does it destroy the ant colony? It’s an insignificant choice by an insignificant ant. But the ANT thinks it’s significant as he sees the sole of your shoe coming down… The ant ISN’T insignificant, it’s his choice that is. The consequences of his choice are according to the rules God set up. Each of our plans has its consequences, and even the most dire consequences are too small to derail God’s plans. They will happen regardless of our choices.
    Thank you, thank you, I’m here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      ;>) Good stuff, Rebecca! (Although I believe the pop tart in the back of the cupboard would be an instant “no” under any circumstances). Interestingly, a major science news item recently regarded quantum physicist who’s supposed to have proven the theoretical solution to the time travel paradox, i.e. that a time traveler coming from the future to the past would change the future they came from. Any changes the time traveler made, the solution says, would produce a reconfiguring of circumstances, resulting in the exact same future as before.

      Liked by 1 person

    • #hood says:

      change for a 35 dollar bill


  7. Caroll says:

    It would be SO much easier if God would just explain everything that happens to us — why? But I look forward to the “big reveal” after I get to go behind the big curtain in the sky. In the meantime, at least He gave us a roadmap for what is “right” and “good” and it’s up to us to follow it. We can save ourselves a lot of needless grief if we do. But it’s up to us. Free will, yep.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. #hood says:

    1 corinthians 11:12 from 13:12


  9. C.A. Post says:

    A new favorite quote from C.S. Lewis as reported in “A Severe Mercy”:
    “He must often seem to us to be playing fast and loose with us. The adult must seem to mislead the child, and the Master the dog. They misread the signs. Their ignorance and wishes twist everything.”
    SOOoooo much we do not understand! So we walk by faith, not by sight.
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Glenn Riffey says:

    Think of this…

    Unsaved man’s will is free to choose only according to his nature. What is man’s nature? Sinful.

    God choose Jacob over Esau “before” either had done good or evil; not based on what they did.

    The same is with us. God chooses whom He wills save according to His will and not based on anything we might or might not do.

    Jesus said, “ You will not come to me … “ Also, “No one CAN come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” And, “Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.”

    Election in no way is based on anything we may do, say or think. It is based solely on God’s will to choose.

    God predestines, calls and saves whom He wills; not according to our wills…

    Scripture is full of verses on election. They are nuggets just waiting to be revealed to us by God…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think God wills everyone to be saved. He puts the invitation out, he fills the banquet table, and due to our sinful nature, we throw the invitation out with the “you might have already won!” letters. Our intuition and our inspiration all come from God, but so few listen to it. We suppress our intuition because it doesn’t scan scientifically. We ignore our inspiration because it seems like too much effort. God does draw us in, we just ignore Him. He smacks us on the back of the head sometimes to wake us up and if we don’t respond, that’s on us.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Lesley says:

    Such a fascinating post, Mitch. I often have thoughts about God giving me free-will, yet he already knows the choices we will make. It’s mind-bending.

    “Fortunately, our future doesn’t depend on our level of knowledge, but on the infinite goodness of… the One behind the mirror.” These words bring me so much comfort and hope!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Nancy Ruegg says:

    I imagine when we get to heaven and these mysteries are revealed to us, we’re going to respond, “Well, of COURSE!” Meanwhile, we can rest our questions in our loving, all-wise, and sovereign God, who is over all, in all, and through all (Ephesians 4:6).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Piano girl says:

    “ they simply intersect beyond my range of sight.” Love this image!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. An Audience of One says:

    This part really jumped out at me: “Mirrors” at the time Paul wrote this were sheets of hand-beaten metal. Even the best gave extremely inaccurate representations, revealing more about the mirror than their subject.” I know I’m off track from the intent of your post, but how lovely to think of looking into the mirror and seeing more of Him than of ourselves!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I love that final quote.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Reaseaorg says:

    Very interesting thoughts there. I think it doesn’t really affect the choices we make knowing if they have been planned already. That idea can provide some level of comfort I suspect. That said it also reduces the level of freedom we supposedly have. Not everyone will have the opportunity to make some choices aswell, and some choices are not good ones. Your article synthesises lots of literature on this very well, and I find the quite interesting due to the irony that if you think something is freedom that you are free, which may well be the case, since no one will probably ever truly understand the meaning of freedom.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pam Webb says:

    Once again Shakespeare accurately and eloquently sums up the human condition.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Very good article Mitch. Thank God that we are free is Jesus Christ!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s