Free Will?

Ingmar_Bergman-The_Seventh_Seal-01

The question, do we live in a determined universe, and if so do we have free will, is frequently asked and one I have often wrestled with. My conclusion is yes, the universe is determined and, yes we do have free will but, it is limited. I call this limited modified free will. This idea is best illustrated by the following analogy. We are like an ant traveling down a rushing stream of water on a leaf. The ant can turn the leaf a bit this way or that way, but it cannot change the direction of the traveling leaf or its final destination.
Because we are men and women and not ants, we have a bit more control of our lives, and can make choices which creates causes. As the world operates by cause and effect these causes can change the course of lives. But some circumstances are beyond our control and are indeed determined. Such as when and where we were born, who our parents are, our genetic makeup, our intelligence, and the color of our skin. All of these things play a role in determining our existence in spite what free choices we make.
And then there is the question of fate. Sometimes, it seems, no matter how hard we try, no matter what choice we make, we still cannot avoid what seems to be our fate. I am reminded of the story of the servant who had an appointment in Samarra. There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, “Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?” “That was not a threatening gesture,” I said, “It was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

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2 thoughts on “Free Will?

  1. Hi Timi! Thanks for your comments. Sadly, I don’t think the servant can avoid his death. It comes to us all sooner or later. Our time on earth is limited and therefore precious, let us not waste the moments. The question of fate is one that has long fascinated me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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