According to Christian sociology, all individuals have responsibility and free will to make choices. On the other hand, scientists have argued that the society where we are raised in is the main determinant of our consciousness and actions.
However, science is a means of interpreting the way things were meant to be in the world and utilizing the resources placed at our disposal for the betterment of the human race (Polkinghorne, 46). Because science permeates our lives while informing our actions for example on what to do when a person is sick, importance of oxygen for our survival among other important roles, science is important in those phenomenon’s which can be measured using set rules and procedures.
On contentious issues such as free will, Christians have the bible as their main point of reference. For instance, when Eve and Adam committed a sin, they were expelled for succumbing to temptation. This shows that we have free will on the choices we make.
Several things including the morality in all human beings and the ordered way the world is all point to an all powerful being that carefully planned this (Wakefield, 169). However some atheist scientists have argued that, the problems of evil and suffering experienced daily throughout the world should not exist if there was a supernatural being in control.
Therefore, with such a biased mindset, it is up to the Christians to defend what they believe in according to the teachings of the bible. Further, many scientists look at free will as an illusion. Looking at some of the finest scientists to have ever lived such as Darwin, Huxley and Einstein, they argued that there was no such thing as free will (Clark, 30). Therefore, it is up to Christians to pursue this issue because they have a reference point in the bible. One of the leading believers on matters of free will was Christian philosopher St. Augustine. According to Augustine, cognitive ability to comprehend logical necessity and deductive truths points to our free will. However, he argued that was it not for Grace of God, moral behavior would be almost impossible but all said and done; everyone should be held responsible for his/her actions (Augustine, 83).
However, his belief in grace as the bridge which connects to the divine was vehemently opposed by philosophers such as Sartre. Of all Sartre’s philosophical writings, Existentialism is the most widely read and provides key introduction to critical theme of his many works. Sartre describes existentialism as the most austere and scandalous of teachings, which is only intended for philosophers and technicians (Sartre & Frechtman, 26).
He asserts that the belief that the existence of human being comes before essence is the common denominator for existentialists (Sartre & Frechtman, 26). Contrary to a designed object, what he meant is that, the purpose and blueprint of which a human being or actual physical thing exist lacks a pre-established nature or purpose. He was an atheist who believed that there is no divine artisan, with what the mind conceives our essential properties. This means that Christian should take a leading role when it comes to matters spiritual.
As such, his views are contrary to those of Augustine who argued that not even the smallest good thing can could be found in the world, unless they came from Him, whose ownership of all good things lie, God. Sartre believes that external sources of values are non-existent, such as common human nature as a source of morality (Wakefield, 169). He feels that humans are forced to choose what they are and choice of action is what defines them. He demonstrates that unlike penknife, which has a pre-defined essence, humans lack essence. After coming to existence, human beings encounter themselves and explore the world, which later defines those (Sartre & Frechtman, 28). Many existentialists, such as Gabriel Marcel, were Christian, although Sartre was an ardent atheist, and emphasized the need to derive doctrine from human experience and rejections to external essence appeals.
This though is derived from atheist notions, which assumes that human beings are forced to develop and nurture themselves. These view points differ from those of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine who extensively wrote about the free will. Most of St. Augustine’s writings on this subject were in response to teachings of the Manicheans. In addition, he wrote to refute writings of Pelagius who had written that when we spoke pertaining to unlimited free will, we are denying grace. According to the Catholic Church catechism, Freedom is that “power which is rooted in will and reason”. In addition, it asserted that, “God created man as a rational human being, and gave him dignity of an individual capable of both initiating and controlling his actions (Augustine, 40).
The foundation of Sartre’s philosophy is the tenet of existentialism, which perceives that human being’s essence is preceded by their existence. This concept contradicts with those of Aristotle, where postulates that purpose and essence of an object is pre-determined before its existence. This is explained when the philosopher argues that artisan pre-determines the purpose of a paper-knife before it is created, unlike human beings whose purpose is determined after exploring the world. Similarly, the philosopher believes that the view that existence is preceded by essence is as a result of conceiving that God is the creator of man. This follows the notion that God must have pre-determined the role of man before creation. However, in an attempt to provide human being with the essence before their existence, it is necessary that one believes in a deity.
According to Sartre, it is apparent that man is the source of his freedom since he creates his own essence. His treatment of freedom focuses on the ontological questions regarding identity and being. This is quite apparent in “The Flies”, where he treats choice and freedom by given essence and freedom to human life. Despite constructing a robust conception of personal choice and essence creating freedom and meaning, his antithetical concept is overly subjective and leaves a number of questions unanswered.
According to Sartre, the central conception of existentialism is that essence is preceded by existence, where every man is subjective rather than objective. For human beings, essence comes after existence; whereas for penknife, the reverse is true, although Sartre has not to say regarding non-human animals as far as essence is concerned. The insistence on the human beings’ freedom of choice is an attribute associated with all existentialists.
Rene Descartes believes that the basis of a true philosophical system is through establishing one’s indubitable truth. Descartes defines man’s mind as existing because of its capabilities to think and feels the body and mind are two separate entities. We can get more pertaining to Descartes point of view from one his most ardent followers, Samuel Clark. Samuel Clark was an important British philosopher as well as one of the main figures within Newton’s circle (Ariew, 95). He had wide ranging philosophical interest in areas such as theology, metaphysics and ethics.
To a large extent, his philosophical vocabulary as well as a substantial portion of his philosophical ideas had been influenced by Descartes. However, His general judgment of Descartes was rather critical. In his point of view, the fact that Descartes identified matter with extension and space, made it eternal and infinite contributing to the furtherance of irreligion (Ariew, 8). In his views, on free will, he held that the highest achievable form of freedom entails willing as one ought to, that is to have his will with his right values. He was also a believer in libertarian power of for self determination and held that it is an important condition both for the higher type of freedom as well as for religion.
He opposed teleological arguments pertaining to God’s existence based on the apparent design and purpose in nature (Vailati, 10). The foundational premise of the argument is the same to that of Sartre, which concerns the essence for creation. In its very nature, the teleological argument belongs to the domain of philosophy just as the essence of existence by Sartre. A teleological argument further defines how a human being ought to act in their relationship with others, as well as the application of moral values to factual circumstances to determine how we were expected to act in such situations (Anthon, 415).
Christians ought to delve into the esoteric world of great philosophers like Clark, Descartes, Plato and Dewey, not because they cannot get a sense of direction on their own without having to go so deeply into the subject, but they can gain increased assurance when they have gained insight of fundamental issues underlying philosophies of these great minds and hence build on them instead of having to start from a scratch. Clarke was a strong believer that their existed a self determining will which can freely accept or refuse one’s mind from accepting/agreeing to some judgments (Ariew, 7).
According to him, this is liberty to make choices rather than freedom of freedom of acting, because according to him, a prisoner in chains “who choose or endeavor to move out of their place is therein as free agents as they actually move out of his place” (D 75; W II.566). He argued that the understanding brought the agent value judgment. For instance, for instance to the effect that doing B is better than doing C, which the agent can decide whether to follow or not. Another area of philosophy which has been highly debated pertaining to free will is rationalism. To begin with rationalism, it holds that an individual’s consciousness on what is perceived forms the integral part of reality. Rationalism asserts that knowledge being fixed body of truth which is fixed applies in all places and at all times.
According to Plato, there are ideas which are lasting and real that when we compare them with things which we have come to know through our senses, the later are only transitory and fleeting. This means that the basic reality is anchored by our ideas and senses but not the external objects. The physical objects therefore are imperfect embodiments born of the ideas they represent which are both eternal and universal. For example, a beautifully written and performed song may succeed in expressing the feelings of the composer or performers, but in itself it is not that actual feeling. For instance, a person listening to a gospel song on eternal peace and happiness in heaven while going through life’s tribulations can sense even if for a short time the realities which are behind physical objects which are tangible and visible.
However, I find rationalism lacking in the fact that there are ideas which we cannot represent physically such as beauty, truth, goodness and so on. Rationalism can be traced back to Socrates and Plato before later day philosophers adopted and expanded on the philosophy. For instance, Descartes argued that because God is perfect, then he is supremely good. Because acts such as deception are evil, then it follows that God cannot be a deceiver (Vailati, 11). Therefore, God could not allow one to be systematically lied to about anything in a way which would make an individual unable to discover the truth. However, although Descartes was a committed a staunch catholic, his method was more science based than Christian. It entailed a starting point whereby he eliminated all the past opinions in order to establish knowledge afresh on the basis of solid foundations. In his viewpoints, that knowledge which we attain from academic pursuits and experiences is mass of falsehoods and truths, and as such it is almost impossible for human beings to differentiate between the two.
Therefore, Descartes tried to come up with definite philosophical conclusions through the use of systematic doubt whereby he rejected anything with any possibility of being untrue. By use of this rational approach, Descartes anchored his views that because human beings reason and are rational, then they have free will. This position by Descartes is supported by Leibniz. He argues that it was perfectly consistent with general good and order that God should give some of his creation a chance of exercising their liberty, even when he knew in advance that they were going to turn to evil.
Hence, in his unlimited wisdom, God did not see it fitting that so as to prevent people from sinning he should always be acting in ways which are extraordinary (Wakefield, 170). For example, although the fall of Adam resulted in so much evil in the world, it brought a positive benefit by leading to Incarnation of God through Jesus. This gave humanity something nobler than anything else which would have otherwise been. Leibniz has further asserted that a world with free sinning creatures is much better than a world where no free will exists. This is because it is within is the power to intervene.
One of the reasons for continued endurance of religion is that, while from the perspective of science, intentions and humans are just incidental components in the universe, religion treats them as the central elements because we have free will. Science cannot deal with some human existential anxieties such as deception, death, loneliness, sudden calamities, or craving for justice or love. Therefore, because Christianity have to deal with these issues, it is pertinent that belief in free will is of utmost importance because it impresses upon human beings that they can decide to participate in actions which pain them and others or to restrain themselves.
However, although morality has universal presence, it varies across cultures. These obvious contradictions have been dissolving due to convergence of studies from several disciplines on a number of shared principles such as the role of moral intuitions, the nature of morality which is socially functional rather than after truth and moral minds’ co evolution with the cultural institutions and practices which create different moral societies (Wakefield, 169). Many religious scholars have argued that free will and religion cannot be separated and either morality is a component of religion or the religion they profess to is their morality. However, what is generally accepted is the fact that religion comes up with different methods of tackling moral dilemmas, such as helping people who feel that their will is giving way.
Further, researchers found out that people consider religion as well as spiritual well being as most important aspects when making decisions in live. To this kind of people, religion is a determinant of people’s ethics. It asserts in them the required free will to make choices in life and that these choices will have consequences. Because ethical bases are a major consideration when people in society make decisions such as when choosing their leaders, then community choices are shaped by what the religious leaders have decided are the correct ethics.
This is based upon the fact that many religious denominations belief that there is free will. The practical outcomes of the choices which people make depend entirely on the moral norms (Wakefield, 170). In this world whereby rapid innovation as well as ethical judgment is the norm, selecting the best way of life possible is dependent on the religious views that individuals hold dear.
When human beings decide that fairness, honesty and protection of the weak are the virtues they are looking for in a leader, religious point of view is essential in deciding who becomes a leader or not. In this respect, nobody questions scientists pertaining to which direct to take on ethics. However, religious leaders are expected to show their flock the way making their decisions pertaining to Biblical interpretation of free will more important. Religion is also associated with virtues such as love, kindness and sympathy. Therefore, the society looks upon the people believed to be in possession these leadership virtues (Brodd, 15). Thus, people consider religiously focused individuals as models to imitate in the society. They are also most likely to elect them into leadership positions.
This is because of the belief on the goodness of an action which ought to be gauged by its outcomes. When looking at the views of Kant and Mill, Kant’s opinions are that good actions are one that are lining with duties. As such, because when people believe in existence of free will, a society becomes much better. This becomes well known to all depending on apportions which are categorically imperative (Brodd, 17). On the other hand, Mill’s opinion can be classified as utilitarian. In this theory, goodness has been located in reference to the happiness it brings. Mill’s impeding issue with Kant is on what people can call empty formalism
However, it is worthless that the philosophers are passionately interested in personal liberty and hence liberty for all the concerned individuals. For Kant’s opinion, it is due to the fact that human autonomy is the very essence of morality. One part of it is due to his believed that when we allow people liberty, it will result to the best type of society which we can ever aspire to. This is dying to free will which guides people in choices they make.