Yes indeed, Life is Complicated. The most baffling complexity of Life involves the man’s apparent ability to make choices while trapped in a Body that is governed by Conditioned Existence over which the man has no choice.
The word ‘Freedom’ has many meanings – theological, metaphysical, psychological, moral, natural, and civil. Freedom may mean enjoyment of personal liberty, of not being a slave, nor a prisoner, and in essence it speaks about the freedom in acting and choosing. Freedom may imply the state of not being subject to determining forces. Is it self-determined or is it determined by external causes?
“Free World” is a Cold War era term often used by the US to describe those countries that are not in the sphere of influence of Communist States like the Soviet Union, or the People’s Republic of China. United States is the Leader of the Free World, and it is the world’s Democratic Superpower. In response to Communist China’s military occupation of the autonomous nation of Tibet, United States to defend its own national interests and to combat the threat of Communist expansionism, initiated a program to render assistance to the Tibetan resistance movement to uphold the principles of Freedom and Democracy in the Land of Tibet. John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States (1961-1963) created a military alliance/pact between the US, India, and Tibet to fight the military threat posed by China. During 1969, I made a deliberate choice to serve in India’s Armed Forces to face the military challenge and threat posed by China after it had brutally attacked India across its Himalayan frontier during 1962. On completion of my military training, I was posted to this US, India, Tibet military organization called Establishment No. 22, Special Frontier Force, or Vikas Regiment. I was very passionate about defending the cause of Freedom and Democracy. I spent several years in India and I had imagined that I had freedom to choose and act and had deliberately expressed this sense of personal freedom when I got married during 1973. This choice had its consequences. It initiated a process of alienation and estrangement from my birth-related social community. The first blow to my sense of social identity and birth affiliation was delivered during 1976 while I was at Armed Forces Medical College, Pune. By the year 1982, I recognized that I have no freedom to choose, or act without compromising my sense of self-respect, and self-dignity. For all practical purposes, I was transformed into a Foreigner or Alien while I was still serving my country as a Commissioned Officer of its Armed Forces. It undermined my ability to serve in the Armed Forces to defend the Freedom of the country while I was perceived as a Foreigner or Alien. Now, I am conscious of the lack of freedom to make choices, or I may state that I am only free to make a choice that is foreordained, or predetermined.
In the drama of human life and history, do we have the capacity to choose our Life? The issue of human freedom, and freedom in world may have to be reconciled with God’s omniscience, and omnipotence to understand as to what extent the will of an individual can and does determine some of his acts. If man is entirely dependent upon God’s power, can man make bad, or evil choices? Do we need divine grace for both meritorious, and even bad acts? How to define the problem of the universal supposition of responsibility for personal actions? Can there be Freedom in the absence of Divine Providence, and Divine Grace?
Determinism vs Free Will:
The term Free Will refers to the power or capacity to choose among alternatives. It refers to the ability to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints. Will is the factor which turns human thought into human action and behavior. Existentialist thinkers like Jean Paul Sartre speak about the concept of a radical, perpetual, and frequently agonizing freedom of choice. Sartre claims that man is “condemned to be free” even though his situation may be wholly determined. Behavioral psychologists hold the view that human action and behavior is determined by the nature of an external environmental stimulus.
Sigmund Freud held the view that human actions are determined by hidden mental causes which control their actions; “You have an illusion of a psychic freedom within you which you do not want to give up.” Freud recommends that this “deeply rooted belief in psychic freedom and choice” must be given up because it “is quite unscientific.” Man appears to be subject to the Law of Cause and Necessity, or is governed by a doctrine of Psychic Determinism.
The Doctrine of Predestination:
Saint Thomas Aquinas held the view that God’s omnipotence does not include the predetermination of human will. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that predestination is consistent with free will since God moves the soul according to its nature. Do I make my own choices while God foreordained my circumstances? Does God have foreknowledge of my reaction to His Choice? If God foreordained the circumstances, the choices, and the destiny of the person according to His Perfect Will, how to explain the exercise of free will? It appears to me that God may elect or predestinate the circumstances of a person and make a choice on His own initiative on the basis of His knowing in advance the reactions of the person to His Will. Man’s free will is like the game of chess; man can make his moves while playing the game according to God’s plan while God is the second Player with whom man has to contend.