On Free Will or Planned?

Many people drive on an interstate every day as part of their daily routine, yet each day brings events that change people’s lives.

On March 26, 2010, I heard the news of the horrifying accident on I-65 as a tractor-trailer semi crossed the median and crashed into a van killing most that were on their way to a wedding. Because I have traveled that road more than a few times, the event bothered me a bit more than normal.

I flashed back to May 14, 1988 when a church bus filled with 70 members of a church youth group were returning home after a full day at an Ohio amusement park (Kings Island), whose bus caught fire (killing 27) after a collision with a drunk driver (who survived). Whenever I travel between Cincinnati and Louisville, a sign reminds me of that event.

Events like these sadly happen – but comments as “It’s God’s will” or “It’s part of God’s plan” bother me. Do people really believe that the God of love, compassion, forgiveness, and grace is so cruel to cause a crash killing people? Do people really expect the God of hope, care, joy, and goodness is into playing cruel jokes on humanity? Do people really believe that God programs our lives, thus we (individually) lack any free will?

I close with this thought by Dr. Joseph Bracken from his book Christianity and Process Thought.

The divine persons make things happen by giving us “initial aims,” by enabling us to be ourselves at every moment. This is a minimal exercise of efficient causality (the power to make things happen) on their part since in the end the decision is ours, not theirs. But they are much more active in terms of final causality (the power to give order and direction to decisions).

The divine initial aim, after all, not only empowers us to make a decision, but is likewise a feeling-level lure or sense of direction and purpose for us in making that decision. Because they see the bigger picture for each of us as individuals and for our world at any given moment, the divine persons are in a unique position to guide us to a better rather than worse decision at every moment in our lives.

Christianity and Process Thought at Amazon and Google Books.