Monday, August 23, 2010

Free Will and Predestination Part III: Why do I consider some things "Best"?

Before I jump in on part three of three of this series, I would like to direct your attention to my wife's recent blog posts (Part 1, Part 2) on an equally interesting metaphysical question about what makes up a human, that is, are we made up of body, soul, spirit, mind, heart, gut, etc...  It is actually a phenomenal couple of posts. 

In part II of this series I made the following claim:
"When a person is faced with a choice, they choose the option that, for them, at that moment seems best."
In this post I would like to dig deeper to consider the really big question, why do I consider some things "best."  Or, to put it another way, why do I choose what I choose.

This really is the biggest question in this matter as it cuts to the very heart of the debate, do I choose because I was predestined by God, or do I master my own reality?

So, why do I think some things best?  Why did I choose to get up this morning before dawn and take a half an hour long walk?  Why did I choose, not only once, but twice, to attend Baylor for my education? Why did I choose to marry my wonderful wife?

All of these questions can be answered by saying that at the moment of those choices, I chose what I thought was "best."  But why?

The answer to this question is complex.  As I have studied the matter more, I have learned how influential two factors are: 1) my personality, and 2) my upbringing.

For example, if I am faced with a choice of going to a busy downtown club to have a drink with with my wife, or to sit at home on the couch and watch a good movie with my wife, nine times out of ten I will choose the latter.  This is because my personality is introverted.  I get energy from being alone or with a small group of friends.  Large groups of strangers sap my energy (luckily my wife is the same way).  But what about the one time out of ten that I choose to go to the club?  It usually has to do something with my upbringing.  Lets modify the situation slightly and say that the invite to the club came from a longtime friend whom I have not seen in a long while.  Then I will go to the club.  Not because it is really all that appealing to me (my personality), but, my sense of loyalty and responsibility to my friend jumps in.

Now, if you look back at my first post, you will see that I had very little, if anything to do with either my personality or my upbringing.  Sure, I have influenced it in small ways, usually by the choices I have made, but only in small ways.  Much of my personality was determined genetically by my parents (whom I did not chose), and by my upbringing (which was determined by my parents).  So, in many choices, factors that I had no control over determined my choices.  They are still my choices, and I am fully responsible for them, but the amount of control I have over them is sometimes illusive.

So, it appears that my logic is leading me toward some sort of determinism.  Factors over which I had no control have determined a large part of who I am and what I choose.  But, before I go there, I want to talk a little bit more about the importance of the choices that I have made. 

So, for next time, consider the following questions: 1) could I really have made any different choices in my life?  Once I make a choice, are the choices that I have forsaken a real possibility?

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