Friday, December 5, 2014

The Limited Free Will of Humans



Dr. Ashok Malhotra at Raj Bhavan, Nainital

As a result of scientific understanding, some humans have come to believe that life began on the planet by a chance combination of elements, at first as the simplest of life forms that later evolved over millions of years into complex organic machines with humans being a prime example. Some scientists who hold this type of view also conclude through only a little further reasoning that humans cannot have any free will, just as robotic machines cannot; that all their actions and choices are based on their pre-programming and inputs this machine receives. A little more reasoning also reveals that such machines cannot have feelings such as love, hate, fear etc. since a robot cannot possibly possess such things.

On the other hand there are also scientists (such as me) that believe in God and also believe that our scientific understanding is not yet complete. They accept that their feelings of love and hate are real and not just chemical reactions in the body. They also admit that humans have a free will and all this is possible because God is something that is not just the created material universe but also beyond in unknown mystic realms where our scientific laws do not apply. And since we are a creation of God we possess free will and real feelings. Lo and behold, you were right after all in believing that you make your own free choices and really love your wife.

Since I too believe firmly in a loving Almighty who is the parent of all life, I too believe in free will. However my reflections and experience indicate that this is a limited and supervised free will much like the freedom given to a child by a loving parent. A loving mother would permit a child to choose his paths in the forest but if she finds he has chosen one that leads to a deep pit, she would immediately pick the child and remove him to another path. A father teaching a son to drive would sit quietly on the side and even allow the son to make mistakes so that he may learn but the same father would grab the wheel if the car was headed for a crash, briefly curtailing the freedom of the child. My belief is that the free will of humans is something like that, something the lord curtails at times of dire need and important moments in our lives.

The Lord can act from within and without both, so that not only do we make the supervised choices at such times but also those we interact with do so, so that the desired outcome follows. At such moments the presence of the Lord no longer remains subtle but tends to become obvious. Many of us would have noted such moment in our lives but the suggestion for those who wish to continue disbelieving in the Lord is that they can put it down to chance or just good or bad luck as the case maybe. The Lord grants humans the freedom to disbelieve in Him if they wish to and if it makes them happy. I on the other hand firmly believe that there cannot be any freedom from little fears leave alone fear of death and assorted insecurities and therefore no happiness without belief in the Lord.

Therefore, my belief in the Almighty is for selfish reasons. I am not sure if I should envy or sympathize with those who are not similarly selfish. however, I do not worry about them because of the knowledge that the Lord loves them in any case just as good parents even love the child who ignores them. 

2 comments:

Ramakrishnan Ramanathan said...

Well articulated ! Why have you posted your picture at Raj Bhavan, Nainital ? Does it add value to the subject elaborated therein ? The picture is terrific though !

Ashok said...

Thanks Ramakrishnan. I just add a picture to most posts and could not think of one to illustrate this, therefore I added one of me of a place that is the source of my spiritual thoughts and inspiration - The Nainital Himalayas