You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose free will.Rush: "Freewill", from the album Permanent Waves (1980)
When going through all the questions posed by the Hillbilly Atheist, and when reading other atheist websites, the issue of freewill keeps coming up again and again. The atheist's view of the Christian belief about freewill seems to go something like this:
God has given man freewill, so that he can choose to follow God or reject him. In order not to force man's hand on this issue, God will not provide proof that he exists. But, in order to sway man's decision, God does threaten those who make one choice with hell and promise those who make the other choice with heaven.
As I say, this appears to be what atheists think that Christians believe. This is not what I believe.
Freewill is not a universally held Christian belief. Some Christians will maintain that God predestines some people to be Christians and some not to be; essentially predestinating some for heaven and some for hell. They believe that man has no freewill, and anything that looks like freewill actually isn't as God has predestined everything. I don't agree with this belief - for a start it implies that the world, in its present state, is the way God wants it - he ordained the tsunami, he ordained the war in Iraq, in fact, even the 9/11 attacks must have been predestined by God. Nonsense. If God planned everything, why on earth would he invent all the other religions? Why would he make some poeple mass murderers, etc. The whole concept is nonsense and requires quite a bit of interpretation to justify the belief from the bible.
But freewill is not an easy belief to justify from the bible either. I don't remember ever reading a bible passage that states that God has given man freewill (for what its worth, I have also had discussions about the subject of angels not having freewill, and this isn't stated anywhere in the bible either, so why is there no redemption plan for fallen angels?).
Those of us who believe in freewill, do so primarily because it is self-evident. We can choose to follow Jesus or not. We can choose to reject the claims of Christianity. So we must have freewill because we can do what we want to (more or less).
So what about the issue of God not wanting to force our hands...? Well, I'm kind of in agreement with this, up to a point. God wants us to be in relationship with him - I believe that is the only reason we exist, because he wants us to be in relationship with him - but he won't force us to do this, beacuse he wants us to choose to love him. You can't force love. I truly believe that God would rather have you reject him and live life your way, than force your hand and make you follow him. But I also believe that he does offer benefits (in this world and the next) to those who follow him and drawbacks (in this world and the next) to those who don't. This is why 'heaven' will be better than 'hell' (although I believe we have totally wrong concepts of both).
And I don't belief that God has not provided any proof of his existance. See my earlier blog posts. You can have proof that God exists if you actually are prepared to go looking for it. Those who seek will find. Of course, many people don't actually want to find proof of God's existance, because they know that they'll have to change the way they live if they find out that its true.