Free Will (according to Webster’s Dictionary) is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action. It is closely linked to the concepts of responsibility, guilt, sin, and other judgments which apply only to actions that are freely chosen.

 

What is free will?  A woman is contemplating whether or not to walk her dog. She thinks to herself, “I know I should walk the dog—he needs the exercise. And while I don’t really want to walk him since it is cold outside, I think overall the best decision to make is that I should take him for a walk.” This is an example of the exercise of free will.

 

But is it really FREE thought? This is one of the topmost spiritual questions of all time.  There are two basic views concerning the nature of free will:

 

1) We make our decisions freely: Liberum arbitrium, moral liberty

The doctrine that an individual, can and does make moral choices, independent of  forces exter-nal to him. This position is essential to support the idea of moral responsibility. For, if our moral decisions are not freely made, how can we possibly be held responsible—either in society or in God’s judgment. Advocates moral liberty base their view on the impression held by people in general that they are making up their own minds. They argue that a human being is distinguished from all else by his ability to initiate his own decisions.

 

William of Occam, who gave us Occam’s Razor 700 years ago, affirmed free will  but claimed it impossible for any human to comprehend how it can be compatible with God's fore-knowledge and omniscience, which cannot be distinguished from his role as prime mover and original cause.  This position has been called into question by neurological experiments, as early as the 1970s, that have shown that brain signals associated with making decisions are sent out before the human being is conscious of having made a decision.

 

Do we then have to accept:

 

2) Determinism—the law of cause and effect
This is the idea that every event or state of affairs, including every human decision and action, is the inevitable consequence of previous states or actions.. Some philosophers have taken it to imply that individual human beings have no free will and
that all events (including human actions) care determined by immediately prior events (such as reasons, motives, desires). If there is no free will, there can be no chance. 

As the Greek philosophers put it, "Nothing occurs at random, but everything for a reason and by necessity." And as Bertrand Russell said "The law of causation, according to which later events can theoretically be predicted by means of earlier events, has often been held to be a priori, a necessity of thought, a category without which science would not be possible."

Are we then nothing more than robots observing events occuring over which we have no control?  Some suggest chance events changing things.  But chance implies a lack of cause and effect relationship. This seems impossible.

No, there is one more explanation.

3) Indeterminism.

Indeterminism is simply an event without a physical cause. What kind of event can this be? Tt is when a spiritual (non-physical) force acts upon us. This could take place with deep meditation, spiritual possession or some types of channeling.

An instance. A man is in deep meditation. In this state, spirit( a force outside the physical universe) operates upon his consciousness and a change (however small) takes place and the entire system of cause and effect is altered by a change of causation.

Whether or not we truly have free will, it certainly seems like it. So let us continue.