My plan tonight was to write about something totally different. However, I am entrusting God and letting go of my planned writing.
About fifteen years ago when I was younger, more arrogant and knew everything I needed to know about life, I reasoned out that free will doesn't exist. Man is guided by his decisions using the pleasure principle. In other words, a person will make his decisions based on whatever derives the most pleasure. To do otherwise was illogical. Why would anyone do something that would derive more pain than pleasure?
This argument worked for everything. Every decision that is made is based on an outcome and as such, a person can reasonably deduce what decision will be made. Therefore, how can there be free will?
An example of this would be as follows:
1. Somebody you know loses $100 and asks you if you've seen it.
2. The next day, you find the $100. Do you return it?
Person A may return it because if he kept the money, it would be stealing and thus a sin and he didn't want to go to Hell. Thus, his keeping the $100 wasn't worth eternal damnation.
Person B may not return it because he doesn't think about Heaven/Hell and he could use that new DVD player he's been wanting and there was no way that the guy who lost it would figure out that he found it.
Either way, each person really doesn't choose freely, they are letting the perceived rewards guide their actions. My above argument makes a whole lot of sense and I couldn't see around it.
Well, around 9 years ago, I underwent a conversion experience that shook me to my foundation (another post for another time.) It came like a bolt of lightning for which I was truly not prepared. I could see so clearly how misguided I was regarding my theology, my understanding of the Catholic Church and my understanding of God.
At that time, I started to grasp the whole idea of free will. Our gift of free will has nothing to do with every day decisions for in a large part, our decisions are (or can be) determined by what derives the most pleasure.
Our gift of free will comes in our ability to choose to love God with all our hearts, all our mind and with all our strength.
Why should we choose to love God?
And for no other reason. Not for salvation. Not out of fear. Just because. It's in that choice that God gives us free will. To choose Him above all things. As a result, we choose to follow His commandments. Why? Because. This is where Adam failed. He actively chose to not love God. If Adam knew the consequences of his actions, he probably would have thought twice about eating that fruit.
So, regarding my dillemma, I guess I would fall under "Person C" who returns the $100 because God commanded me not to steal and I love Him and choose to follow His commandments for no other reason than because I love Him.
And loving Him is the only real free choice I have.