On Belief and Free Will

A person on newordermormon.org posted the following comment on Sunday (http://forum.newordermormon.org):
“I am currently reading Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God book.I like the way he portrays God. On one page he says, (quoting as if God) ‘There are those who say that I have given you free will, yet these same people claim that if you do not obey Me, I will send you to hell.  What kind of free will is that? Does this not make a mockery of God…?'”And then on another page, ‘…could God judge God’s own creation and call it bad? If I wanted you to be and do everything perfectly, I would have left you in the state of total perfection whence you came. The whole point of the process was for you to discover yourself, create yourself, as you truly are– and as you truly wish to be. Yet you could not be that unless you also had a choice to be something else. Should I therefore punish you for making a choice that I myself have laid before you? If I did not want you to make the second choice, why would I create other than the first?'”I love the idea that the purpose of free agency is actually to use it to create ourselves.” Very Happy

Here are my thoughts on the subject:

Walsch’s book(s) are fascinating! Lots of ideas to consider in there. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I do love his ideas on God standing back and letting us create ourselves here–with no “divine expectations” or “test of obedience” to thwart our experiment with life.  Not because I want to engage in “riotous living” without consequence, but rather because such a divine plan for “learning without pressure” makes sense to me.  Like a child learning to walk, or feed himself, or talk–that’s our walk of faith here. We observe, and then we try; we fail, and we try again.  The process should be without threats, without external rewards.  Living life itself is the gift–learning its own reward. The way God communicates with me is via the heart and mind–gently, patiently, quietly, peacefully.    He seems to want me to find out for myself what is good, meaningful, joy-filling, and whole–through experience and reflection.  If he wanted to protect us from all harm, error, and pain, if he expected us to not make mistakes or deviate from his commands, he would not have sent us here away from his perfection.  The problem with a belief in God’s harsh expectations is that it would require those who wanted God’s blessings to find “the truth”–in order to know the exact set of rules.  The age-old question of who has claim to “truth” has been argued and fought about for millenia.  Would God set up such a system–where an individual would hold the responsibility of finding the right guru or else be under God’s condemnation for failing to live his “perfect will”?  I no longer believe that.

Rather than having us rely on others to tell us “God wants you to do this . . . ,” God equipped us with reason, conscience, memory, and heart–which is all we need to create meaningful lives and relationships here. That’s what I think.

Being free to believe anything we choose to believe is a precious gift–one aspect of “free will” which I think God is totally okay with. If not, I think he would orchestrate the conditions necessary for every one of his children on earth to come to “correct belief” during their mortal lives–which he obviously doesn’t do. He lets us live and die believing what we will, being influenced by those whom we accept as authorities in our lives. Sometimes people grow to trust themselves and the personal “enlightenment” they believe they have received  from God, others break from their faith as they turn to the collective wisdom of science for answers, some are influenced by the proselytizing efforts of religious missionaries or new-age gurus and accept a new reality for themselves, but most often people just stick with the beliefs/authorities of their inherited faith system. It’s an opportunity cost, but not of “eternal consequence”–in my opinion.  God knows most people don’t want to change, or fear to.

Viktor Frankl reminded us that the last great human freedom was to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances–“to choose one’s own way”. Given that opportunity to choose what we want to believe, how foolish of us as humans, then, to retain beliefs that are inherently harmful–to ourselves, our relationships, and the world. Sometimes “group think” (even outside of religious institutions) can dampen people’s freedom to “create their own way.” We need to guard ourselves against that, otherwise we submit ourselves to a life not our own.  I don’t think it beneficial to be a follower, nor do I believe God requires it.  It is our opportunity to visualize and create the highest  ideal of ourselves–one breathe at a time, one idea at a time, one decision at a time.

With that in mind, I’ve concluded that it would be quite helpful for me to create a list of my basic beliefs about life / family / work / meaning / responsibility / education / relationships / personal growth / god (etc.) to try to find which beliefs I’ve retained that intoxicate (poison) my life.  Only then will I be able to set aside harmful thoughts and enjoy a healthier existence through a wiser worldview.

About Shaunalei

Sometimes working toward peace is a serious business; other times it's just a whole lot of fun. I created "Peace by Piece" as a storehouse for some of my thoughts. (Aren't you lucky to have found them?!) Enjoy!
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