|2. Philosophy. the doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.
Okay, that's a pretty good definition to work from. So, freedom from
physical or divine forces, to
make uninfluenced decisions.
I have a problem with free will on two levels--behavioral and theological. I'll deal with them in order.
From a behaviorist point of view, free will simply doesn't make any sense. Every choice we make is decided by countless external and internal factors, over none of which we have any control! Let me illustrate: a simple example, you offer me an apple and an orange. Now, almost certainly, I will choose the apple. Why? Because I don't like oranges. This isn't because I freely decided 'I will enjoy the taste of apples, but not the taste of oranges'; of course not. My taste buds decided that for me. But of course, there's a slight possibility that I might choose the orange, in which case I would be being influenced by another factor--say, a desire to up my vitamin C levels, or a desire to try something new. Again, either of these reasons would be based on a vast body of experience, education, information, societal pressure, my doctor's advice, hormones... which are also completely outside my control. There will always be a reason
for me to choose either the apple or the orange, and as long as that reason is based EITHER on external or internal factors, it is outside my control--it is not 'free from physical forces'. And of course, this is the way it should be! If my will wasn't guided by any reason, it wouldn't really be a choice at all--it would be chaotic, random, and I might very well end up eating an orange, which I dislike. Which would be most unusual!
Or let's take a more complex example. I love my husband; we recently celebrated our first wedding anniversary. As none of our friends or family were pressuring us into marrying each other, one could say we 'freely' chose to marry each other. But did we?
If I'd been born ten, 100 or 1000 years earlier or later, I wouldn't have met DH at all. My time, place and fact of birth, our two families' migration to NZ, were both events entirely outside my control. Similarly, if my parents had been richer I probably wouldn't have ended up at my local university. If I hadn't been bullied at a taster course for a diploma in catering some years previously (certainly an event outside my control!), I probably would have become a chef, and my path would simply not have crossed with DH's. If DH hadn't (again, outside my control) developed an interest in swordfighting and started up a swordfighting club, he would never have been at the University campus; and if my Uni hadn't decided to host a cultural hour every Wednesday at lunchtime, I probably wouldn't have been sitting overlooking the Clubs area and noticed the swords. And so on, and so on. I haven't even listed one thousandth of the things which could have kept DH and myself from even MEETING... and none of them were anything I could do anything about.
And what about internal factors? DH and I clicked (eventually, this wasn't love at first sight, I should probably add) because we're both Aspergic. We didn't ask to be Aspergic; we didn't deliberately decide to equip ourselves with personalities which found crowds annoying, change frightening, logic appealing, grammar important, or any of the thousand quirks that Asperger's gives us. Similarly, we were certainly influenced by our families in terms of viewing marriage highly. And I can't even begin to list all the things about us that make us work--a love of music, certain hangups, tiny neuroses, senses of humour. And on a biochemical level, of course, hormones! And how about the weather? Or the Western diet we were both brought up eating, with all the specific nutritional advantages and disadvantages that gives us?
I'm sorry to belabor the point, and I know this post is getting extremely long--but do you see where I'm getting at? I did make the choice to marry DH, but to say it was 'free' seems nonsensical. It was based on innumerable factors beyond my control, of which I'm probably only aware of a small percentage. The choice was real; but it was not 'free' in the sense you described.
I mentioned having a theological objection to free will as well. I'll try to keep this brief.
Basically, if God is truly sovereign (in control of everything), upholding and sustaining all creation (Colossians 1:15-17), it follows that he is also in control of human thoughts, decisions and reasoning. Romans 8:28-30 confirms this specifically in regard to salvation--that God predestined those who would believe in Him. Romans 9:18-24 goes into this in more depth. Then the Bible gives specific examples of God 'interfering', if you like, with a person's will--He hardened Pharaoh's heart repeatedly in Exodus. 2 Thessalonians 9:11 is another example of God causing unbelief.
So God must
be in control of people's thoughts, decisions and actions logically, and
the Bible shows Him to be so in both general principles and on specific occasions. Furthermore, and this is rather important, there is nowhere in the Bible which teaches free will! When pressed, advocates of free will tend to bring up verses in which God commands people to choose, repent, perform certain tasks etc; but of course, this is a red herring, as God saying 'Do such and such' in no way necessitates or even implies free will.
And *that* was the longest post I've made in a while! Hope it clarifies my position some.