Recently, I’ve read some things attacking Free Will and God from Genesis 1-3. It really annoyed me that they misinterpreted the Bible or committed logical errors to attack God, and so I wrote an essay about why I thought they were wrong. Hope I get extra credit!
So first, I need to define free will. I define free will as the ability to make our own decisions. In its most basic context, free will is the ability to choose between God and ourselves. It’s a choice of whether we will reject God and worship ourselves or choose God and worship him for all eternity. Now to the actual issue.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. After that, he created light, and water, and land. After that he created plants, and birds and fish, and finally land animals. And lastly, God created Man and built a garden for man to live in. And in the center of that garden God created the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
One of the main objections to this story that I had seen was why did God make the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Didn’t God know that Man was going to sin, and turn away from him, because of a fruit? Isn’t God responsible for everything that has happened because he put the tree there, and not Man? Did not God create humanity to be curious, and naturally want the fruit?
In fact, I’m glad you asked. God gave Man free will, or the ability to make a choice. God gave Man the ability to turn against him. But how were they going to do that? How would Man be able to choose between him and themselves? Man was not naturally inclined to sin, they wouldn’t just randomly start sinning one day for no reason. They needed to know there was a choice, and have a way to make that choice.
And thus entered the fruit. God gave Man a simple way and a simple choice: Follow and love me, or eat of this fruit and choose yourselves. God put the tree there to insure free will, not to set them up so that he could punish them. God gave them a command not to eat of the fruit. Because of this, Man was able to exercise free will: The ability to actually choose between God and Man. And when they chose the fruit, they chose to be enemies of God.
This is another important point most people ignore. God gave them a choice, and they chose to disobey God. They tried, not just to disobey God, but become like him, and by extension, replace him. How did the serpent tempt Eve? “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” How did the serpent tempt Eve? With Godhood. Maybe Eve didn’t realize that was the choice, but that’s what it was.
Ultimately, the sin that Eve first committed was the most rampant sin today; Idolatry, or the replacing of God with something else. Usually, it manifests as a replacing of God in our hearts, but in Eve’s case, it was a attempt to replace God’s authority.
Trying to replace the authority of God is something we call a rebellion. God had set up a kingdom, and its inhabitants had decided to try and depose the glorious, loving ruler of that kingdom. The king who had only ever given them goodness, and had created them and breathed life into them, betrayed. And because we started a rebellion, God is our enemy. God has every right to destroy us, but instead, God offers us redemption.
Viewed in this light, it only makes sense that God will not just forgive everyone and take everyone to heaven. After all, we started the rebellion to replace him. This whole problem started because God gave us free will, knowing what would happen. If we rebelled against God’s authority, it would be a gross crime against free will for God to just erase all our sin. After all, we chose to rebel against him, when all he gave us was life and goodness. If God chose to just look past that and forgive us all, he would be ignoring our choice, and reduce free will to nothing. If he forgave all the world, free will would no longer exist. In fact, it would be a crime against free will to even let people who had not repented into heaven, God’s kingdom. It would be taken our most precious trait and stomping it into the dirt. A gift God deems so valuable that he would rather give it and go to the cross to have a relationship with someone with free will then not give free will at all. Does that not show the depth of the value of free will, and the depth of God’s love? God loved us so much that he let us make our own choice, and that is one of the greatest gifts he can give.
If God had not given free will, what would we all be like? It’s one of the questions we cannot definitively answer, but we can make some educated guesses. I think, and this is personal opinion, that we would be robots, unable to think anything our programming did not expressly say we could think. All creativity, all independent thought, squashed out. We would no longer truly be sentient: Instead, we would be robots, so tightly controlled by our programming that we would not even be able to think anything against God.
When Man took the fruit and rebelled against God, we chose rebellion, a choice God let us make instead of making us robots. Instead, he died the worst death in history to have a relationship with us! How gracious and loving is our God!