There’s a school of thought that says free will doesn’t exist. It’s a large school, and one populated with more than garden-variety Calvinists. It includes a significant chunk of adult learning theorists, for instance. And Isaac Asimov with his psychohistory to some degree.
You can easily be a deist and deny free will. You have to, of course, believe that the seeds sown at the beginning of time inevitably lead to the same conclusion, but you can do it if you set your mind to it. (Now you have that song in your head. Ta-da!)
I say this all merely to point out that nothing is entirely certain about anything I see. I appear to have free will, but do I really have it? The fact that I can ask that question is interesting. In a way, asking this question is merely a function of following a bunch of hyperlinks. The hyperlinks were a function of my predisposition to read this or that type of article or blog post. My predispositions are a function of the way I was brought up, the people I knew in my youth, the sort of music I was exposed to, the men and women I admired, my social inclusion or seclusion, or whatever innumerable factors you can think of.
In some way, I can look at the universe both ways, and believe both things at the same time. That I do have free will (I have to believe that if I am to function at all), and that I do not (I have to believe that if I am at all intellectually honest). That is to say, I am a study in cognitive dissonance, except that I don’t believe in cognitive dissonance.
You can view this post as my predisposition to ramble. I like tangents. Who doesn’t really?
On Sunday, I had opportunity to think of the universe as a place that invites belief and disbelief at the same time. An interesting concept. The near-void of space, the loneliness of it all, begs at once faith in a beyond and a rational scientific measurement of what can be felt.
The whole ball of wax seems to designed like that. As if God is saying, Believe or don’t believe, the evidence looks both ways depending on what you look at, and how.
The sum of God’s will is laid out in a book. How silly is that?
I believe that book, the scriptures, at face value, when possible. How stupid must I be?
I am convinced God controls things all the way down to the quantum level. I can’t see him. I can’t feel him. I can’t reach out and lay a finger on God. I can’t even begin to understand how God can relate to a person and yet be the brains behind redshift, gravity, strong nuclear forces, dark matter, black holes, spacetime, quantum entanglement, probability, neutrinos, and a billion other completely and ridiculously amazing things I can barely appreciate, much less understand.
But I can write long sentences about them anyway. But in a way, God’s sentences are much longer than mine. The universe is, by any reckoning, many billions of years old. My life, in that expanse of zeroes, is barely a flicker, barely an eye batting, barely an electrical storm somewhere in my brain.
I cannot tell you how pleased I am that God notices me. That he slows himself down far enough to give me the Book, to let me know what precious little I can grasp, to work like a Ghost in my being and bring me to faith.
But there are countless millions who look at that expanse of space and its intricacies and see nothing at all except what is there. This seems to me unspeakably sad, but also quite normal. Gut-wrenching but mundane.
It’s the way God set it up. The most awkward of manoeuvres, creating men and women, seeding the world with us, sending us a Christ to save us from ourselves. The strangest of procedures, to work through the screwed up psychology of humanity. The oddest modus operandi, to pick the weak, the gullible, the broken, the few.
Isn’t that a weird way to go about things?
I remember once saying that I found belief stupendously hard. I always have. Belief; obedience moreso. I cannot have stumbled into this on my own. No way. My head’s too thick. My tendencies too backwards.
You can look at the universe and see a set of laws that just are, or you can see a Glue holding it together. You can see anarchy or design. You can see free will or guide rails or constraint.
The book says this is the Holy Ghost at work. I believe this. I can’t help it. How odd is that?