The Creation Wiki is made available by the NW Creation Network
Watch monthly live webcast - Like us on Facebook - Subscribe on YouTube

Free will

From CreationWiki, the encyclopedia of creation science
Jump to: navigation, search

Free will is the ability to choose future alternatives. It is a philosophical term that refers to "a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives" and is closely connected to the concept of moral responsibility.[1] Free will is contrasted by determinism. Determinism can be both naturalistic and theistic; with naturalistic determinism the belief that purely genetic, physiological factors are at work in man, and thus alleging we are the products of our environments/circumstances, and theistic determinism (e.g. predestination) stating that God decides beforehand what a person's life and choices will be.[2][3]

The logic of free will has two main parts, the agency which does the choosing, and the alternatives which are chosen. These two parts are wholly different from each other, the agency is called spiritual, what is chosen is called material. Together with these dual substances come dual ways of reaching a conclusion, subjectivity and objectivity. You have to choose to identify what is in the spiritual domain, resulting in opinions (subjectivity). You have to measure to find out what is in the material domain, resulting in facts (objectivity). [4]
William of Ockham wrote about free will


Main Article: Morality

Morality is a system of conduct concerned with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong (from the Latin moralitas "manner, character, proper behavior"). The system of conduct can be referred to as ethics, which is defined as "The science of human duty; the body of rules of duty drawn from this science."[5] The word is rooted in the ancient Greek term ἦθος, ēthos which meant "moral character" or "nature".

The biblical creationist worldview holds to the concept of natural law, that is, morality is absolute, because what is moral is established by the nature of God. This morality informs reasoning of good and evil. Accordingly, mankind being made in the image of God humanity has the law "written in their hearts".[6] Having it written on our hearts means that even atheists can know what is moral. The distinction highlighted within Christian philosophy when confronted by natural relativistic theories of morality presented by evolution is not necessarily how to know what is moral, called epistemology, as it is written in the heart of humanity. Rather what is approached is why objective moral values and duties exist at all and what a person ought to do about them, which would be considered ontological or metaphysical. Actions are not good or bad because of their effectiveness at permitting reproduction. Rather, they are absolutely and objectively right or wrong.

Types of Will

The philosophical debate over individual free will has developed into two rival schools of thought which are essentially metaphysical determinism and metaphysical libertarianism.[7]


Determinism is the view that the past somehow will determine what happens in the future. Events have predetermined every action a person will take before they were even born. There is a physical event that happened in the past that made you act. The concept and status of free will is that of an illusion according to adherents of determinism. According to most contemporary philosophers determinism is, "contingently true" and empirically derived rather than a priori (See: Metaphysics).

We tend to agree with most contemporary philosophers on these matters (that if determinism is true then it is contingently true, and that whether determinism is true is an empirical matter), but we will not argue for these claims here.[8]

Incompatibilism and Compatibilism

Incompatibilism states that free will and determinism are incompatible categories. Many Christians and therefore creationists are considered incompatibilists. On the other hand compatibilism is the notion of acting freely (i.e. with moral freedom) even if the actions were determined by previous conditions, including conditions a million years ago. Essentially, this view is saying that free will is compatible with determinism.

Libertarian Free Will (Moral Freedom)

In the libertarian view, there is no outside determining factor that is both controlling of, and unrelated to, the will of the person. Within libertarian free will the source of a human act of the will is known as the 'agent'. Therefore the cause of things is agent causation rather than deterministic causation. This is reflective of the nature of God, or of the image of God in which mankind was created. God is a metaphysically libertarian being. That is, His acts are not determined by some previous cause but rather God is acting solely by His own necessary nature. Humanity, while not classified as a necessary being like God, still acts freely, even though there are external influences that could cause particular actions. Ultimately however, the decision itself to act, and the physical movement of the moral or immoral action, are all controlled and based within the rational mind of a human agent exercising libertarian free will.

Sometimes the agent is said to be a “prime mover unmoved,” meaning one who causes without being caused to do so.[9]

Biblical interpretation

The biblical doctrine outlined in the book of Genesis, during the creation of the world captures the source of metaphysical libertarianism. The original parents of mankind, Adam and Eve as real historical persons, made the first human choice. This was a choice between the will of God, which they were influenced by since their creation, and their own will influenced by Satan. Both original and separate influences offered distinct choices that humans decide to follow based on the experience filtered through their sensory system which was analyzed by logic within their minds to make the body produce an act of the will. The libertarian free will exercised by Adam and Eve severed the covenant with God by acting outside of His will. This act of free will had the consequence of a generational curse upon the rest of mankind, fundamentally altering life as they (Adam and Eve) knew it because of their sin. This original sin against the will and therefore nature of God physically and spiritually had a sort of epigenetic affect on all of biology, introducing death and the struggle and survival that comes with it.[10]

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" 2The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" 4The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! 5"For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 6When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:1-6

However logically valid an expression of emptiness may be, that does not mean that such an expression is morally good. In creationist theory the universe starts with a free act, and ends with a final free act. The morality of any individual choice is often portrayed in relation to these choices of original creation and final judgement. In creationism morality is about the spiritual content of the choice, and is focused more on the way in which a choice is made, then on the result of a choice.


  1. O'Connor, Timothy (2010, October 29). "Free Will." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab. Stanford University.
  2. Geisler, Norman. "Determinism." The Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (ISBN 0-8010-2151-0).
  3. Geisler, Norman (1999). "Free Will." Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Baker Books.
  4. William of Ockham, , quote: "we can have no knowledge of an immaterial soul; nor can we prove its existence philosophically. Instead we must rely on revealed truth and faith"
  5. Webster 1913 Dictionary edited by Patrick J. Cassidy.
  6. Romans 2:14-15
  7. Free Will By Wikipedia
  8. John W. Carroll and Ned Markosian, An Introduction to Metaphysics (Cambridge University Press 2010), pg. 51
  9. John W. Carroll and Ned Markosian, An Introduction to Metaphysics (Cambridge University Press 2010), pg. 71
  10. Epigenetics Offers New Solution to Some Long-Standing Theological Problems: Inherited Sin, Christ’s Sinlessness, and Generational Curses Can be Explained By Norman L. Geisler, 2010

External Links