My dachshund’s namesake.
Lately a couple of trouble-making readers have been asking my opinion on the question of free will vs. predestination. For some time now I have struggled mightily to ignore their queries; when finally forced by etiquette to acknowledge them, I suggested, in hopes of distracting them, that they upgrade their cable service, or invest in pets.
“You can watch Chinese soccer matches!” I tried. “And a dachshund can be so much fun! They look like sausages—with free will!”
But, alas, they stayed on topic. “Stop trying to get out of it!” they responded.
“Choke up your opinion on predestination!”
The problem is that I’ve never been too interested in trying to suss out the exact relationship between my free will and the idea of God’s already knowing my whole life. Once I tried to do some reading on the matter, but in so doing right away bumped into words like “determinism,” “Calvinism,” and “Arminianism.”
So I ran out and bought a dachshund, which I named Emanuel Swedenborg.
And today I find that freakishly determined readers are right back at it, challenging me yet again to solve the whole question of free will vs. predestination. So I will now formally do that, so that I can go back to watching Chinese soccer.
There can be no question but that I have free will. To prove it, I will now do an imitation of Daffy Duck.
There. I did it. You didn’t see it, but it was hilarious. Nobody does Daffy like me. Like I.
Anyway, there’s no way God could have predicted that I would do that.
Ha! And now, just to drive home the point, I did an imitation of Daffy Duck imitating the Road Runner.
Also funny! Except I think I hurt my throat.
But the point is, I decided to do that larynx-traumatizer all by myself.
There’s no way that in any Book of Life written before time there’s an entry that says: “5:43 a.m. July 25, 2007. San Diego, California. Dork on couch with laptop does imitation of Daffy Duck imitating Road Runner.”
Except I don’t want to have free will. Which is to say, I don’t want to be able to surprise God. A God so stuck in temporal time that he has to wait to see what will happen next doesn’t sound like a very inspiring, very All-Knowing sort of deity. That sounds like me watching TV or reading a book if I ever read books.
So forget what I said before. God knows all. Period. That’s not debatable.
So God did know I was going to wrench my throat box!
And yet, He didn’t stop me.
That seems kind of … obnoxious of Him.
Hmm. So I think I have free will. But in actually I do not, because God, knowing all, is perfectly aware ahead of time of everything that I’ll ever do, say, or think. Moreover, he causes me to do, say, and think everything that I do. Because if he’s all-knowing, then he must be all-powerful, since anyone who is all-knowing but not all-powerful is just … a nerd.
Say, you know what I think?
I think I’ll take little Emanuel Swedenborg for a walk.
Okay, fine. Here is what I really think about this matter:
When we’re outside of God’s grace—when we’ve chosen to Go Rogue—we have free will, because we’ve then placed ourselves outside of God’s purview. But when we’re with God—when we’ve surrendered ourselves to the reality of God’s presence within us—then we don’t have free will, because then our will is subsumed by the larger will of God.
There. Done. That was easy.
How is it that Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and all those other brainy theologians never thought of that?
You know, sometimes I think Preeminent Theologian Types really just keep pretending all of this stuff is so hard, so that they don’t have to get real jobs. Then again, many famous philosophers and theologians lived before the invention of television. Maybe keeping themselves amused was more of a challenge for them than it is for, say, me.