Master or slave?

Christians would have you believe that everything is preordained by God but, if this is indeed the case, then ‘free will’ – in which Christians also believe – is an illusion.

Multiple times a day we have to make a choice between ‘A’ or ‘B’ but how can it be a free choice if the outcome has already been determined by God? And how much pressure do Christians feel – having to make the right choice (even with the smallest little things) if the wrong choice would mess up God’s plan – not only for them but for all mankind? No man is an island!

In fact, if you think about it, a Christian’s whole existence is essentially that of a mere pawn on a chessboard – with a seemingly infinite number of squares and possible moves! Either every move for every pawn has already been preordained by God or each individual man, woman and child on earth has a real and actual freedom to choose his or her own move – as and when the choices arise.

From a purely mathematical standpoint, the possible permutations of even a single person’s choices (over the course of, say, a life lasting seventy-five years) are so incalculable as to render the notion of theistic determinism improbable! The notion becomes increasingly improbable when the choices of the entire population of the earth (not just at the present time but right back to when Eve first bit into her apple and on until whatever point in time mankind ceases to exist) are considered. And the permutations of all these choices were supposedly included in the one and only original plan – drawn up by God even before the first man drew breath. I saw some seriously deep decision trees throughout my career as a Computer Scientist but both the width and depth of the decision tree for God’s plan would take the proverbial biscuit if the permutations of billions of people’s free choices were to be depicted!

The simultaneous existence of preordination and free will is a concept which demonstrates the very essence of mutual exclusivity. It is, at its core, an utterly irreconcilable paradox.

I have neither the time nor the ability to discover if the plan I have for my own life coincides with God’s plan for me! So, I am left with little choice but to carry on regardless and with as much humility as I can muster, consider the life I live as being closer to that of the master (of my own destiny) rather than a slave to some predetermined plan.

It is in our nature to desire a sense of control over our own destiny. Without that sense of control we tend towards catatonia, numbly accepting whatever fate awaits us. Determinism, however stochastic, leaves us kneeling at the feet of some omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent planner, heads bowed in prayers for guidance, forgiveness, mercy, understanding and redemption – a cowering crowd of quivering pawns, awaiting the hand of God to reach down and move us to our designated squares on the board.

If, in the end, I am wrong and I am indeed a constituent part of some greater plan – well, at least it felt like I had some sort of control over my own destiny at the time.

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