The Limits of the Free Will

A cruel, callous god, one who watches the abducted child with indifference. Oh, how could he? How could one who loves his creations so dearly allow such abject suffering? What’s that, you say? To preserve the freedom of will is the purpose of such inaction? The abductor must be allowed to torture his abductee in order that man may enjoy his greatest freedom? The freedom to be his own agent?

But what of the will of the abducted child? Where is the preservation of his free will? Its exercise is certainly denied to him by his abductor, for he would choose to run away if the choice was so available.

Alas, I am foolish, for I fail to recognize the inhibitions placed on the child’s mobility are physical, not metaphysical. The child is detained by walls, and locked doors. He has freedom of will, the freedom to protest and scream in whatever way he wishes, but not the freedom to will nature itself to change its laws, to make the molecules which constitute the walls that imprison him disregard their electromagnetic bonds. I have erred here. I have failed to realize that the physical places limitations on the freedom of will.

But where do these limitations end? Is not the matter which makes up the beings themselves whom exercise the freedom of will subject to the same processes of the physical? If the child cannot make the walls fall before him because to do so would break natural law, then what is special about the material that makes up the child?


The matter which constitutes the child is simply more interesting than the matter which makes up the wall, but no one set of matter is any more or less material than another. The abductee cannot escape from his abductor because of the laws of nature, and the abductor can do no other thing than detain his abductee because of these same laws. In fact, no thing can happen in any other way than how it happened.

And now we come back to the original question: oh, callous creator, why have you so ordained it to be that the unthinkable is in our view? That the least deserving of suffering must suffer? We have shown the freedom of will you have given us to be a fallacy. Why is it that you did not set the initial positions of all the universe’s atoms in such a way as to unfold in an alternative history, one where the child exists as always, but does not become abducted?

Is it that you yourself lack freedom of will? Is it that you yourself are subject to the one way path that is time? To the temporal crawl that orchestrates only one version of events?

Surely it can’t be; for one who is subject to law is not omnipotent, and one who is subject to law is not a god, at least by the definitions we have so arrived at; another consequence of the outcome of fixed events.

Nay, it is not you, creator, whom we should deride for allowing such cruelty to exist, but existence itself. Cruel, callous nature, how could you do this to us? But this is the wrong question, for it implies nature itself did something other than simply exist.




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