Revisited

The topic of free will has been debated for centuries.  Each doctrine, religion, philosophy, or application has its own particular view of what constitutes free will and the ramifications for the human race, and more singular, for the individual.  For argument’s sake, let us define free will as the capacity given to a human being to choose, by using the process of rational thinking.  Assuming this definition to be generally correct, we enter into an already vague understanding of the concept.  For example, what happens when the thinking is not rational, as in the case of a mentally ill individual, psychopath or brain washed individual?  In this circumstance, does free will exists for that person?  Alternatively, let us think about the religious beliefs of someone.  Most likely, that person makes decisions according to what those beliefs determine as right or wrong.  In this case, is free will dominated by religion?  Let us take the case of the atheist who is not influenced by religion but has a defined set of morals, a sense of right and wrong, good and bad.  Most likely, the atheist will act and choose according to those values.  Does it mean that his/her free will is influenced by morals and not by God or religion?

What happens in the case of a child?  Is that child capable of making sound decisions?  Is free will capped by age?  Is free will something that we develop with age?  The same could be said by cultural limitations, socio-economic conditions, and philosophical and existential beliefs.  For example, let us look at destiny.  Are events in our lives already pre-destined to happen?  If they are, what happens with the capacity to direct your own life by exercising free will?  If the concept of destiny assures the confluence of events, places, and people at one particular moment in your life, how does that affect the free will to choose the events, places, and people in your life?  Astrology is another subject in question.  If you are supposed to be born under certain conditions, according to constellations and planet configuration, and according to your birth sign, there are certain characteristics that you share with others of the same sign – where is free will in that?  And if you belief in reincarnation, that presents a different set of challenges as how many lives you had and how does free will fits in each one of them.  A second chance to choose?

Moreover, how about your own personal family beliefs and teachings?  I bet you that if you were raised thinking that going to a ballroom and dancing was a capital sin – and you were religious about it – you would think twice before stepping foot into one.  And maybe this is all free will is, after all.  The ability to steer our lives, the best we can, according to where we are at a particular time of our lives, with the set of beliefs and morals that we have at that particular moment, and choosing the best we can.  Every decision has a set of consequences, and for every consequence, there is a set of events that will be generated and put into motion.  So maybe, free will has been given to us to keep the ball rolling, to keep this planet going – this human existence – until it is time to go where essence goes (or spirit, or energy, or whatever it is you call it).   Assuming that energy is eternal and that it cannot be destroyed (a scientific fact) but transforms, then in that case, is there a need for free will?