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Freewill And Determinism - Nairaland / General - Nairaland

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Freewill And Determinism by ajuksobi: 5:49pm On Jun 09

The debate whether man is a being governed by freewill or determinism is nearly as old as man himself. Man as a rational being has, from the very beginning, preoccupied himself with the thought whether his actions actually emanate from his freewill or they are determined by a (higher) force(s) outside of him. This thought is reinforced by his acknowledgement of the fact that he is a finite or limited being that continually needs support from an infinite and all poweful being - God.

For the purpose of clarity, freewill is when an individual voluntarily decides to pursue a line of action instead of another. This emphasizes the freedom to choose from two or more options. Expectedly, this comes with consequences - being morally responsible or accountable for his/her action(s). The term 'determinism' is indeed an intricate one. However, a common definition is that; "it is a cause (unseen force) behind every event". In otherwords, no event occurs by chance or accident - there's always a force(s) behind them.

The labyrinthine nature of determinism has seen different scholars and movements articulate theories in defence of determinism.

Prior to recent formulations concerning determinism, the ancient Greeks developed the concept of 'moira' otherwise known as 'fate' or 'necessity' a force conceived to govern occurrences especially the destiny of those who violate certain moral injunctions. Other cultures share the same conception with the ancient Greeks. Shortly before the modern era, Christian thinkers began to reflect upon God's characteristics and relationship to the world. Some of the views that came out of this include; 1. Every thing happens as the unraveling of God's essence. 2. God has foreknowledge of all that happens. Other thinkers that came later like; Robert Boyle developed a conception of determinism based on the 'science of mechanics'. In this approach, God was conceived to be the 'First cause'. Here God is given a more important role - He sustains the harmony of the world through some form of permanent activity. Some psychologists like; Baron Holbach etc rejected the reality of freewill on the ground that human decisions and actions are governed by laws similar in some fundamental way to the law of classical mechanics. Recent psychological postulations tend to deemphasize the principle of freewill in the sense that certain factors influence the way man thinks and behave. Contemporary psychoanalysts like; John Bowlby, Melanie Klein et all agree that man's behaviour is not by chance, they are determined by; 1. Genetics - from the particular way our brains are wired. This predisposes us towards certain moods and preferences. 2. Experience from our earliest years and from the type of attachment we formed with our mother or caregivers 3. The habit and experiences we form as we get older.

As I have shown above, psychologists are of the view that our thought pattern or moods do not just fall from the sky; they are propelled by certain deterministic factors. For instance, a child with terrible upbringing is most likely to grow up to be a nuisance. The same child, given the right conditions will grow to be a responsible person.

Every society is made up of good and bad characters. The bad ones are resented while the good are admired and held in high regard. Those who have attained an enviable height are looked upon with veneration - these type of people are considered to be 'great'. But is this greatness predicated on chance or design (determinism)? This is the thought that occupied my mind after listening to the story of a great man - Pastor E. A. Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). In marking his 40th Anniversary as the General Overseer of the church, he bagan by thanking God for giving him such a good wife. He added that without his wife, he wouldn't be where he is today. He mentioned several other factors that aided his ascension to his present position. Throughout the sermon, one thing remained very explicit: that God had made it possible for him to rise to his present position. Even in areas where he would have taken credit or responsibility, he still maintained that the Holy spirit helped him. I know somebody may argue that he (Adeboye) voluntarily chose to serve God in spirit and truth! But the conviction didn't come by chance, it was sown and sustained by an underlying reality - God.

Listening to this great man, it became obvious to me that, while it may appear that man is in charge of his actions, certain forces underlies his success or failures.
Because of God's plan for him, he was spectacular in every way. He was brilliant, humble, hardworking, resilient etc. God made sure that these qualities are embedded in him in order for His plan to be actualized in his (Adeboye's) life. A good, loving and caring wife is one of the key factors to becoming great - God made sure that he is blessed in this area. In fact, all that was necessary for his greatness, God made available to him. From an empirical standpoint, this may be hard to proof just as it is hard to proof God's existence using empirical principles. But one thing is clear, God's existence is ingrained in our being - we don't need any proof, He's there! In the same vein, we don't need any proof to know that God raised Adeboye.

At the end, I realized that the idea of determinism is a veiled reality: you cannot behold it the way it is. In the course of trying to understand it, what manifests is the individual's power (freedom) to make choices - freewill.

Fidelis O. Ajukura
Re: Freewill And Determinism by nigerianrevolut(f): 8:36am On Jun 10
Please what exactly is your point sir? Your gender, race, nationality, zodiac sign, parent's economic class and other inherited factors determine the choices available to you, don't they? For example, I did not choose to be born a woman or a Nigerian (determinism) but I have chosen to be free from the shackles of the North (freewill). That is why I fly the SOUTH NIGERIA flag everywhere I go.

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