A conversation I had this past weekend has spurred my thoughts around what it is to be a human with free will. We are autonomous beings, given the right to make choices and decisions. It seems that God, far from being an overbearing control freak, respects us enough to give us freedom of choice. Instead of making us robots, God allows us the ability to choose what is right or what is wrong. We have the capacity for darkness, no doubt. It seems this is absurd, for God to allow the option of evil. However, the other option is for us to only be able to choose the good and that does not make for a legitimate, autonomous being.
God wants us to choose Him, just the same as if we are seriously smitten over another person and we want that person to love us back, by their own heart's choice. The majority of people want someone to love them back, but they don't want someone who has no choice but to love them. It seems cheap that way, for some reason, whereas if the person honestly loves us back, it's a wonderful, satisfying thing of beauty.
I'm reminded of two films, both of which are classics in the sci-fi realm (both of these films are based on classic novels, I might add). I love works of art that delve into themes of identity and the human dilemma. Often times, these are dark works, but by looking at the darkness, we can see our need for the light. One of these films, Blade Runner (which has a mention in a previous post on this blog.... see "Memories and the word, 'Buddy'"), is a foreboding drama, examining the world of androids and their struggle to find identity. The androids have implanted memories, but they believe themselves to be real people. One of the main characters revolts against his creator and murders him for not making him a human. I believe this film explores the real need we have, as humans, to make decisions and to be a unique person. We see the sadness of beings who are all set to "die" after a fixed lifespan and have no real life of their own. The film begs the question, "What does it mean to be human?"
The other film I mentioned was A Clockwork Orange. Ever the controversial movie, this is nonetheless a classic, challenging look into the nature of morality and free will. Upon its initial release, this film generated much public backlash for its gruesome and extreme violence, as well as its unconventional ending. There were some "copycat crimes," based on the movie, that caused the director (the late Stanley Kubrick) to regret having made the film and to stop its re-release in theaters. This is unfortunate, because it's actually an amazing study on the way we are created. This film, more than anything else, illustrates why we are given the right to choose, even if our choices are evil ones that cause harm to others.
At one point in the film, the main character, Alex, is given over to scientists who are trying an experimental way to curb bad behavior. They are forcing Alex to watch, on film, scenes of violence, over and over. Alex is then programmed to have a physical reaction of nausea when he sees these actions. When he is released back into society, he can't even function. When he sees violence, he vomits. Instead of making him a reformed human being capable of functioning in society, he is programmed to be sick and can't even choose otherwise. Is he now a better person? Is Alex now a "good" person? No, he is essentially a robot. In the end, when Alex's treatment is reversed, he is capable of once again inflicting evil on others. As a viewer, I felt that this was better than the other way, although the capacity for evil was present again.
I think we can have profound insight into God's point-of-view on this subject. God, too, could have made us to only choose good. However, in His wisdom, which we will never fully understand this side of heaven, He created us with the capacity to choose good or evil. It's a risk, no doubt, but it's one that God sees fit to sustain. I believe the reward God receives when we choose for His Kingdom is much greater and sweeter than if we had no choice in the matter at all.