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What Is Freedom?


jamesAMDG
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I meant it in a philosophoical sense more than anything.

 

What does freedom mean fundamentally? Are their authentic and inauthentic freedoms? Can freedom be reconciled with duty? to one's neighbour? to God?

 

(Sorry was going to make this an addendum on my original post but couldnt find an edit button)

Edited by jamesAMDG
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I meant it in a philosophoical sense more than anything.

 

What does freedom mean fundamentally? Are their authentic and inauthentic freedoms? Can freedom be reconciled with duty? to one's neighbour? to God?

 

(Sorry was going to make this an addendum on my original post but couldnt find an edit button)

 

How do you define our duty to our neighbour, and to God?

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Freedom fundamentally means to choose. Duty to neighbor or God means nothing if it isn't chosen, if it's done against one's will or grudgingly (one of the reasons that forced conversion or limiting religious freedom violates the most basic concepts of Christian practice). It's the classic answer to the question: "Why did God put that tree in the Garden to tempt humankind?" Answer:"So their devotion to Him would be one of choice, He wanted free, loving children not automatons. If they didn't have a choice, their love for Him would be meaningless to Him."

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Freedom fundamentally means to choose. Duty to neighbor or God means nothing if it isn't chosen, if it's done against one's will or grudgingly (one of the reasons that forced conversion or limiting religious freedom violates the most basic concepts of Christian practice). It's the classic answer to the question: "Why did God put that tree in the Garden to tempt humankind?" Answer:"So their devotion to Him would be one of choice, He wanted free, loving children not automatons. If they didn't have a choice, their love for Him would be meaningless to Him."

 

If we have a choice then surely a just God should not condemn those who do not acknowledge his existence!

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Not necessarily. Sartre said "We are condemned to freedom." It's a scary thing to be responsible for oneself. But it's what makes us human.

 

That's a great perspective. Our freedom is our ally and our foe. For me, however, freedom is also opportunity - to fail, to succeed, to be mediocre.

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If we have a choice then surely a just God should not condemn those who do not acknowledge his existence!

 

I wouldn't put it that way. I think of it as: "How can someone love you if you don't believe in hir and thus never bother to enter the bedroom?" It's not that you're condemned, but your Lover can't reach you if you don't hear Hir voice.

 

Not necessarily. Sartre said "We are condemned to freedom." It's a scary thing to be responsible for oneself. But it's what makes us human.

 

Yes, I like that. I seem to remember that the existentialist perspective is that it's more difficult to not believe in a dogma/god/ideology/etc. because then you are free and all your moral decisions are your own. You can't throw them back on some authority or system.

 

I also consider that a Christian perspective. Jesus offers freedom ("The Spirit blows where it will.") with, not law, but a changed heart: love thy neighbor as thyself. What does that mean? How do we do that? He gives some examples, but no hard and fast rules. For 2000 years people have turned His offer of freedom into rules, others break that dogma to reclaim His freedom, new rules are formed, freedom reclaimed, round and round. Sigh.

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I wouldn't put it that way. I think of it as: "How can someone love you if you don't believe in hir and thus never bother to enter the bedroom?" It's not that you're condemned, but your Lover can't reach you if you don't hear Hir voice.

 

What if you don't want a lover?

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The body has no freedom from the material laws, as the mind finds no freedom from the moral laws. It is like a dog chained to a tree, we only have freedom within the limits of the leash. The real freedom is within omnipresent pure consciousness in the moment. It is naturally all embracing, moving, blissful and unrestricted so the path to omniescent pure consciousness is freedom, a moment-to-moment responsibility and an intuitive communion with God. We can meddle, tinker and mean well, but to break up old patterns of thought and behavior, we need to open ourselves to new possibilities. With the highest exercise of our intellect we know the purpose of our existence and can proceed to live intelligently according to it, if we direct our physical and mental activities to God's pure consciousness.

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If we have a choice then surely a just God should not condemn those who do not acknowledge his existence!

I would think that just the opposite is true: if we do have a genuine choice, and God honors our choices, then He is bound to respect our wish to be eternally separated from Him, if we so desire.

 

Only a God who does not honor our choices would drag us kicking and screaming into his presence.

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If we have a choice then surely a just God should not condemn those who do not acknowledge his existence!

 

 

I don't believe God does. I believe God exists but I certainly can not prove it to be so. Just as someone who does not believe in God can not prove it to be so. I don't know that I would believe in God were in not for my background (growing up going to church). I don't see how God (if God does exist) would condemn me for my understanding of Her/or lack of knowledge based on a family I grew up in which I have no control over.

 

I doubt God is overly concerned about who believes in Her and who does not. I think that is more of a human concern. God is certainly bigger than our beliefs.

 

I would think that just the opposite is true: if we do have a genuine choice, and God honors our choices, then He is bound to respect our wish to be eternally separated from Him, if we so desire.

 

Only a God who does not honor our choices would drag us kicking and screaming into his presence.

 

 

I don't believe in your god. He doesn't sound very compassionate or loving. That is not the god I know.

Edited by October's Autumn
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I don't believe in your god. He doesn't sound very compassionate or loving. That is not the god I know.

 

And sometimes I can only agree with you. I know all the arguments about "God honors our freedom and will allow us to choose hell, etc." But I have to admit, sometimes it doesn't speak to my heart as well as it does my intellect.

 

I have to ask: exactly how free are we? And exactly how much are our decisions bound and directed by influences (everything from our parents to our place of birth to our genetics) most of which we aren't even aware of. Universalism is a constant temptation. Maybe God's compassion and love is larger and wiser than my intellect can get around. I've got no problem with that. As a matter of fact, a God whose love is so vast and overpowering that ultimately no one can resist it is a very attractive idea.

 

Maybe the idea of "God honors our freedom . . . " is actually a way of stroking our own egos. Sort of "Even God must honor the power of human freedom!" And maybe when the time comes, when we stand at the doors to the Party-at-the-End-of-Time, God will chuckle at our presumption and just say, "Whatever, my child. Take a seat, good to have you here."

 

Yeah, I think I'd like that.

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Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the thread so far, thouroughly interesting, enraging and enlightening.

 

In this post I will be jumping all over the place a bit, flowperson may want to avoid this as it may seem disjointed. You've been warned.

 

Last things first...

 

October:

 

I don't believe in your god. He doesn't sound very compassionate or loving. That is not the god I know.

 

I don't want to speak for DCJ here, but I bet that he/she would give you answer the same answer as Saint Paul who told the Greeks at Mars Hill that they were already worshipping the True God but unknowingly. Just because you don't know this God, does not mean He doesn't exist.

 

Now back to the first things.

 

Aslan:

 

It's to be without restraint, to act as you see fit. It's good because it is what God has wanted for us from the beginning of time.

 

How can this freedom be reconciled with the duty that God has given us to be our brother's keeper? Or in the duty to love God with all our soul, strength and mind and our neighbour as ourselves? Surely if the freedom God intended excluded these concepts Jesus wouldn't have put so much emphasis on them.

 

love:

 

If we have a choice then surely a just God should not condemn those who do not acknowledge his existence!

 

Why not? I'm not seeing the steps in reaching that conclusion. God has after all commanded us to love and worship Him, if we don't well, we reap what we have sown. As DCJ puts it later in this thread (better and more succinctly than I would have)

 

if we do have a genuine choice, and God honors our choices, then He is bound to respect our wish to be eternally separated from Him, if we so desire.

 

Only a God who does not honor our choices would drag us kicking and screaming into his presence.

 

Aslan:

with, not law, but a changed heart: love thy neighbor as thyself. What does that mean? How do we do that? He gives some examples, but no hard and fast rules.

 

Actually he gave us 10 hard and fast rules. The rest of the rules help to keep these 10.

===============

 

Now my own unresponded ranting.

 

I agree and sympathize with the posters who have noted the inherent contradiction in the freedom God gives us. While no one has brought up pre-destination, I think it is important to bring this up as well. It is clear from Scripture that some are destined to be saved, others not. Does this mean that those who aren't going to be saved were deprived of their freedom to choose God? Does it mean that God created them to be destroyed and to suffer in Hell forever?

 

Peter Kreeft explains it this way. God is like a novelist who writes with creation through history. All novelists would say that their characters are free within their worlds to choose their lives, if they were not the product of their own free choices they would be merely automatons and the story would fail as drama. And yet, the novelist knows what they will choose and how the situation will resolve itself, simliar but not exactly the way that God predestines all men (Which I am using to include all females and males because I think PC language is silly and stultifying)

 

The analogy isn't perfect, but I think it captures in a particularly effective way some of God's mysterious ways.

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And yet, the novelist knows what they will choose and how the situation will resolve itself, simliar but not exactly the way that God predestines all men (Which I am using to include all females and males because I think PC language is silly and stultifying)

 

And yet I have read so many writers who have said that their books wind up nothing like what they planned. Characters they planned to kill in chapter 3 become the heroes, single books wind up as trilogies, comedies become dramas. Most writers will tell you that once they start writing their characters and the world they are creating take on a mind of their own and the men and women (silly and stultifying? How about accurate?) seem to take charge. Strange, but true.

 

Surely if the freedom God intended excluded these concepts Jesus wouldn't have put so much emphasis on them.

 

Which is why God wants to change our hearts by Hir love, not limit our actions with Hir power. Freedom should be doing what we want to do and if we love God and realize Hir love, we'll want to do Hir will out of love, not rigid, enforced duty.

 

Actually he gave us 10 hard and fast rules. The rest of the rules help to keep these 10.

 

Actually, I think more in terms of the 2 Jesus emphasized (love God, love neighbor) and I don't think those were rules as much as attitudes, worldviews or reactions to God's love. If my neighbor is starving, can I steal to feed hir? If a man is endangering an innocent, but not me directly, can I take lethal action to stop him? Does honoring my mother and father require me to offend God if they so demand? Mmmm, not so hard and fast, are they? ("Principles are what people have instead of God" ---- Frederick Buechner

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Aslan:

 

Which is why God wants to change our hearts by Hir love, not limit our actions with Hir power. Freedom should be doing what we want to do and if we love God and realize Hir love, we'll want to do Hir will out of love, not rigid, enforced duty.

 

Whether you want to say that God wants us to act and live properly through chsanged hearts or rules (I would agree that a repentant heart is the sacrifice most pleasing to God) it doesn't change the fact that He still wants (and demands) certain things from us. That's my point. Regardless of method, the Lord God has explained what is good and what is evil. What you are describing as loving God for Himself and doing what is right not out of fear of punishment is what is known as perfect contrition, to do so out of that fear (or some mixture) would be imperfect contriition. Are you saying that when we struggle to conform our wills to God's that we are displeasing Him?

 

Actually, I think more in terms of the 2 Jesus emphasized (love God, love neighbor) and I don't think those were rules as much as attitudes, worldviews or reactions to God's love. If my neighbor is starving, can I steal to feed hir? If a man is endangering an innocent, but not me directly, can I take lethal action to stop him? Does honoring my mother and father require me to offend God if they so demand?

 

Charity trumps law, Jesus showed and taugh this maxim (in a less explicit fashion throughout His ministry). Luckily, Cathoilic theology has already dealt with these things. Feeding the poor and starving is good. Stealing is bad. Charity (love of neighbour) trumps law unless you are starving the one you steal from because you are creating a worse evil (stealing + starvation). If someone endangers an innocent you can use lethal force if absolutely necessary. The harm intended, for example, would need to be taken into effect. If this fictional man were to push a child down and you decided that you needed to kill him for it? Not so much. Preventing the death of an innocent with lethal force would be a reasonably good act. The guilty suffers for their crimes. Honouring ones parents cannot extend to offending God for the simple reason that offending God is a worse crime.

 

While the application of the rules may not be hard and fast in every situation, having a solid basis and foundation for deciding the moral merit of an act is necessary to make a true choice.

 

love:

 

Well then the old chap in the sky is a mental case, you can't command love and worship, it doesn't work like that!

 

You'd think that people in the UK and Canada would understand each other better than this what with having been your colonies and all... What the business is that supposed to mean? God is insane? That would deny His transcendance and, thereby, His deity.

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