In all my debates, that free will exists has never been called into question in any context save for in direct conflict (or in conjunction with, if you know how that works) with the concept of predestination.
But yesterday, I was faced with a body who in 22 years of life had apparently never even heard of the term, ‘free will.’
“What’s free will?” asked most sincerely, and not quite indifferently, but with just as much sincere curiosity as one might have in inquiring as to the weather in some week of February when one has planned a road-trip up to Pennsylvania. You get my meaning. One wants to know, yet has absolutely no concept of how very great of a matter one is asking about, and therefore cannot even be properly interested to the extent that such a subject requires. Suppose there is a four-foot snowfall expected at your destination and you simply haven’t considered it, because for some crazy reason, it’s 60 degrees over here in what ought to be the middle of winter.
I stopped. I could not immediately formulate an answer. To me, free will is so ridiculously obvious, it has never needed explanation. What else would enable one to reason, to choose, to choose rightly or wrongly as one pleases, to grow in knowledge… Everything around me speaks of free will, from the walls of this house, to the books and papers and musical instruments, the sewing machine, the DVDs, my cell phone, this laptop… Protests and wars and peace and endless conversations on pointless nothings; how on earth to explain without insulting a body?
And the concept of predestination does not deny our ability to reason, and to grow, and to believe in what we will.
But here was an individual who has never supposed that their unique ability to do all these things, as opposed to dogs or dolphins, was indicative of something greater.
How many others in this world get through the first fifth of their life, or maybe even make it through their whole life, without ever even hearing the words, ‘free will’? Maybe talking about it wouldn’t be necessary if it was as obvious as I thought it was, but apparently I’m wrong.
More on this next week…