I wrote this reply to MAL at My Atheist Life – “My World View – Free Will”
This is one of the things I am passionate about and I’m glad her blog gave me a jumping off point to explain something that I think is very important.
She describes free will as decisions that people are constantly making, and I disagree with her…
But check her blog out for yourself. http://myatheistlife.wordpress.com/
My World View – Free Will
Feb 10, 2013
How about this idea of free will. It exists, but humans rarely exercise it. Free will is not the same as decisions, but it is a form of a specific type of decision. I base this argument on the survival drive that exists in all life forms from the amoeba on up. I love amoeba’s, they are fascinating to watch when they test out objects in their environment to find out if they are either food or predator. Humans do the same thing. This is not free will. This is the drive to survive.
But when a decision is made that is not based on the drive to survive, then that is a free will decision. And these occur rarely. For example, if I perceive that someone has hurt me (a predator), and most of me wants to give back what I feel I got, but instead I choose to ask God to heal their heart and to remove my resentment, then that is a free will decision. It rebuts my drive to survive. This is something I’ve been experimenting with for the last few years.
It started with Alcoholics Anonymous. AA’s program is based on the idea that a higher power can help an alcoholic stop drinking. Since from childhood I’d been introduced to the possible existence of God, I chose the Universe and God (I don’t say ‘Him’ because God has no gender) as my higher power. But then I didn’t know where to go from there. I had my ‘higher power’, but I still wanted to drink so what good did it do me? No good. But my curiosity and experimental nature kicked in. I decided to see if there really was power available to me in having a higher power. So, by accident, I started playing a game with this higher power.
I was in a situation in my own head that I felt powerless to get out of. AA’s 1st step is to “Admit I am powerless over alcohol and my life has become unmanageable”. This admission is the basis for the free will decision. I thought why stop at alcohol? Perhaps I was powerless over many other things that created unmanageability in my life.
So, to continue with my story, I was considerably excited from a stimulating conversation after an AA meeting that morning. My mind was racing while I was traveling to a job. I could not quiet down and I was starting to panic. I tried many different techniques without success. When a body experiences a surge of energy, it does not easily give it up. This comes from the drive to survive. Though I wished to feel calm, I really did not want to give up that energetic feeling. It made me feel “alive” – a word that defines survival.
Then it dawned on me to see if my higher power could help me get into a better frame of mind. This might have been a ‘higher’ thought from a higher aspect of myself. Or maybe it was just the fun of experimenting. Anyway, I had prayed before for things without any apparent results so I was not sure what would happen. However, this time was different because I was basing my prayer for a quiet mind on my free will choice at that moment. How did I know this? Because I knew enough about myself to recognize that this was new and different. I felt like a virgin. I only asked for help after I found what I call a ‘grape size amount of willingness’ to be open to help from the all-powerful Universe. That grape size willingness was how much free will I could actually find inside me. And it was not easy. Most of me was enjoying the roller coaster ride going on in my head. It was exciting to feel my mind race. It was energizing.
As you may have guessed, the prayer worked almost instantaneously. A calm came over me that amazed me. I was stunned at how easy and natural it felt. I experienced complete and total peace. For a time there was no worry. My body relaxed. I felt liquid. I saw that everything was one. And at that moment I became consciously aware that I had discovered something massive. From that moment I had access to a real higher power that, with my cooperation, would help me get a better foot hold on my dysfunctional life.
Most people don’t realize how small free will really is. Why is this? Because we have very few publicly practicing role models in our culture and especially in families. God, the creator of the Universe, as a higher power, gives free will its power. This connection to that power became, for me, a red phone line installed in my brain, heart and mind and when I choose to pick up the receiver God is waiting for my call.
My experience showed me that a connection to God cannot be found in the bible or any book. God must be independently discovered.