Friday, August 27, 2010

Predestination and Free Will Part IV: The Results of Making a Choice

In part III of this series I asked you to 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?

Lets take these questions in order.

First, could I really have made any different choices in my life.  Sure, one can speculate, but if you consider my line of reasoning so far, I am not sure that I "could" have made any different choices.  I have argued that a person makes any given choice based upon what seemed "best" to them at the moment of the choice.  And I have argued that what seemed "best" is determined largely by personality and upbringing (i.e., experiences).  Let us just say for the sake of argument that I had a time machine and could literally go back and re-experience a choice in my life. But, the minute I go back and re-live the moment of the choice, I do not have the advantage of 20/20 hindsight.  I am reliving the moment just as I lived it the first time.  Would I make a different choice?  If so, why?  What changed that I deemed something else "best" at that moment.  The answer is that nothing has changed.  My personality is still the same.  My experiences in life are exactly the same as the first time I made the choice.  So, what would drive me to choose something else as "best?"  I would argue that there is not a real possibility of me choosing differently, even given a second go around. 

Sure, there are choices that I have made in my life that looking back I see I could have made a better choice.  But, we don't have the advantage of looking back and then choosing again.  We can sometimes correct bad choices, but we can never relive them again for the first time. 

This line of reasoning leads to the second question: are the options that I did not choose a real possibility?  If, as I argued above, I could not have made any different choices in my life, then are the options that I passed on a real possibility?  Were they ever a real possibility? 

(Sanity warning.  When I reach this level of my argument, my head starts to hurt and my brain starts to whirl about like a tornado.  Just thought I would warn you.  Things could get crazy).

What my logic leads me to is that the options I did not choose were never a real possibility because I could not choose any other way than I did. 

So, where does this leave me.  It seems like things are predetermined and I had no "real" choice.  It felt like I had a choice, but I really didn't.

Let me finish this post as I would have several years ago, like a good Calvinist.  A good Calvinist would probably agree with most of what I have said so far, and they would come to the same conclusions, namely, that things are predetermined.  And, a good Calvinist would say that all of these things are predetermined by a good God who has a plan for the world and our lives.  Therefore we should rest in faith in this good God. 

While this theology brought me comfort for some time, it just didn't ring true.  It makes sense to my head, but not to my heart and my experience.  This is where the fracture in my self comes in.  My logic and head tell me one thing, and my heart and experience tells me another.  I don't like to be fractured or separated,  I like to be whole?  So where do we go from here?  For next time, I will discuss the consequences of my line of reasoning so far and possible ways that I can avoid being fractured.

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