Sunday, July 31, 2016

Agents Unto Themselves

One philosophy that is growing in popularity these days is the denial of the existence of free will. That we are nothing more than extremely complicated automatons and that our consciousness is just along for the ride. That whenever we make a choice, it is nothing more than the result of the complex, but ultimately predictable interactions between our environment and our bodies. There are very convincing arguments in favor of this philosophy, as well as enticing reasons to subscribe to it. After all, if free will doesn't exist, then we aren't really accountable for our actions, are we?
Those who subscribe to this philosophy however fail to take into account that when God created our bodies, he put in them a spirit. And while that spirit is subject to the frailties of the flesh while experiencing mortality, it also has the capacity to act. That action however must be a conscious choice.
When we are not paying attention, our mind and body slip into "autopilot" mode. And this is not a bad thing. Think of all the things we do every day without hardly needing to think about it: eating, walking, driving, working, etc. But there are moments when we need to switch out of autopilot mode and into "agency" mode. These moments include times when we are interacting with others and when we are resisting temptation. When we fail to make the switch, it can seem very much like we have no control. We lash out in anger, we succumb to bad habits, we indulge in things we know not to be healthy. The switch from autopilot to agency is sometimes difficult, especially when we are stressed or tired. But with practice, the switch can get easier, we will feel more in control over our actions, our lives, and our destinies, and we can do many good things of our own free will.

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