Background: I was raised in a faith based on a literal interpretation of the Bible. (a Lutheran denomination) And I became an enterprising young thinker and stumbled across the debate of Free Will that had so haunted Martin Luther. Only, instead of coming to his conclusion, (that God chooses who goes to Heaven, and man chooses who goes to Hell)... yes, that was his conclusion... I came to a different one. And that was that: Martin Luther was rationalizing his faith, basically copping out of answering that question, there is no evidence in the Bible itself (if one takes a literalist interpretation) to support the idea that man has free will.
So I began a year of my life where I believed (as the Bible literally teaches), that God chooses the destinies of man. I became angry at God, disillusioned, and surly. I did not want to go to Heaven, because I felt that if God causes some people to go to Hell he was not worth worshiping. Well, after that realization, I became disillusioned in the whole Bible and began a life filled with much less inner turmoil, abandoning the belief that the Bible is really all that great a book to base my life upon.
And now I come back to The Free Will Debate, but I realize that the options are not as clear-cut or limited as when I debated with myself as a Christian. And the debate seems vastly less important. After all, there is now (in my perspective) more to life than Heaven and Hell, there is a vast array of options and possibilities.
First of all, the terms have become substantially more vague. Who, or what, is the determining force behind predestination, if it exists? How can we prove that there is free will without knowing every detailed factor in each choice? How do we even define a choice? Some people do not see alternatives even though they are there. (For example, they think that leaving a relationship is their only solution to a specific problem.) In their own mind, they do not have a choice, even though externally they do. So not only do we have internal and external choices, but we have a million different "causes" for our actions. Society, genetics, God, karma, destiny, etc.
I do believe in free will, but obviously there are a lot of factors to be taken into account. Sometimes they come into conflict. Like, if society says I need to be a stick-thin girl, but my genetics gave me big bones and a healthy appetite. Which is more important? We base our decisions on what is important to us, which may or may not be determined at least in part by external factors. The fact remains that there is always a choice- the question is, how do human beings make choices? Some reason out the pros and cons, some go by impulse, some follow the advice and influence of others, some follow their own whims. Why do humans make choices in such different ways? What makes humans fundamentally different (or similar) to each other? What creates a person?
The question of free will is extremely hard to answer because anytime you try to delve into deep discussion about it, you end up stumped by impossible-to-answer questions like the previously mentioned ones.
So I'm interested in your opinions. Do you find The Free Will Debate to be an important one? An impossible one? Do you know all the answers? Please share. :)