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Free Will, Essay Example

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The human tendency to strive beyond the boundaries of understanding demonstrates a quality of intelligence and curiosity that is a primary characteristic of humanity, and one that separates us from all other creatures.  Our soul and our spirit are linked to our ability to employ reason in all areas of our lives, including those of science and faith.  As expressed in the Catechism, our very existence is that which allows us to recognize our spiritual soul and ask questions about our place in the world, the nature of its creation, and the existence of God.  This spiritual curiosity is a facet of our essential self that “can have its origin only in God” (Albl 177).

As Bishop Kallisto Wares explains, our “spiritual intellect” (177) provides us with the motivation and intelligence to actively seek answers for what mankind perceives to be the positive and negative elements of our relationship with God.  As the Catechism states, “the Natural Law is nothing other than the light of understanding placed in us by God” (177).  Thus, it is entirely natural and perhaps preordained that mankind expresses doubt and disbelief, as we have been created to question such elements of faith in order to demonstrate our free will and moral conscience. While the secular and sacred worlds may, at times, inform our awareness of ourselves and of God independently, they can also interact with each other, allowing faith and reason to work together in order to demonstrate the existence of God.  Without intellect and free will, human beings would be unable to grasp the essential nature of God, and would lack the curiosity that motivates them to ask important questions that ultimately validate our relationship with God and our fellow man.

Free will is an aspect of Christian anthropology that seeks to study and explain the relationship of humankind to God, and the manner in which body, soul, and spirit contribute to man’s essential being.  Unlike a determinist approach, which denies free will in favor of explaining man’s moral and ethical actions through the lens of environment and genetics, a Christian approach to free will illustrates that God provides us all with the choice to believe or disbelief in his existence.  As understood through Aquinas, human free will “commands the intellect to assent to the divine truth [as] one way of expressing the truth that faith is a response of the whole person, not merely their reason” (Albl 37).

Our relationship with God–whether present or not–informs the choices that we make and the formation of our worldview.  The doctrine of free will doesn’t necessarily clash with a scientific approach to creation, but can complement it to better explain the faith that God has placed in mankind to exert individual control over the causes and circumstances that makes each individual unique, and yet still created in God’s essential image.  If we accept that God has perfected the expression of free will by being able to choose which creatures should exist and what their existence should be like, then it stands to reason that  as creatures created by God and in His image, we too can utilize free will to decide whether to accept good or evil, and live a life that is dictated by the pursuit of a moral and ethical code. Free will provides us with the ability to make mistakes, behave badly, and turn our back on God, demonstrating that God possesses the ultimate faith in mankind to make the right choices as an expression of free will and liberty.

Works Cited

Albl, Martin C. Reason, Faith, and Tradition: Explorations in Catholic Theology. Winona, MN: Saint Mary’s Press, 2009.

Imperato, Robert. Christian Footings. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2000.

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