Transcript of my YouTube video of the same name…
For anyone who’s seen my last video, “Free Will And Determinism,” you’ve got a pretty good idea of where I’m coming from in terms of belief in Free Will – that at this point, I don’t see a reason to believe we have Free Will. With this in mind, I was asked by Silvermage87, in a response to my video on the immorality of Hell, as to whether or not I believe Adam and Eve had Free Will in the Garden of Eden.
I had written a couple posts in my old blog about whether or not I thought God was justified in punishing Adam and Eve for eating the forbidden fruit, but I had not fully considered whether or not I believed they had Free Will in order to choose whether or not to eat it.
I think it is an interesting question, and I could approach it from one of two perspectives. First, is from a Biblical, or Christian, perspective. In light of what the Bible teaches, and whether Free Will is an option in that case. Then, secondly, from a naturalistic perspective.
It’s important to keep in mind, though, that I don’t believe the account in Genesis is true, and I don’t believe it to be historical in any way. I am speaking, in this case, in entirely hypothetical terms.
The Biblical Perspective
I’ll start out with a Biblical perspective of Free Will and how it pertains to Adam and Eve, if for no other reason than because it is the easiest to deal with in terms of making a case for Free Will.
One of the basic tenets of Christianity is that man has a soul, a spirit within which is supposed to be the manifestation of what the man really is. An expression of his desires, wants, needs, his personality, etc. An unseen, imperceptible something which makes up the essence of the person. It is through this medium of the soul which I believe Free Will would be possible. Adam and Eve would have been free to choose whether or not they ate the fruit.
The Naturalistic Perspective
Now on to the naturalistic perspective. The position that I hold. And because, as I said before, I don’t accept the account in Genesis as historically or metaphorically accurate, I will be speaking entirely hypothetically here.
Let’s consider these two characters, Adam and Eve. It’s difficult to reconcile a naturalistic perspective when speaking about this story, but setting all of those difficulties aside, let us start with the situation in the Garden of Eden. Assuming that somehow, naturalistically, God brought Adam and Eve into existence, let us assume that they are there in the Garden, and God gives them the order not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Because this is a naturalistic world, they don’t have souls. There is no supernatural force guiding their decision-making process. They are the result of natural processes, again, while taking great liberty to avoid many problems with this proposition. For the sake of argument, we’ll just assume it to be so.
From this point, from the perspective of Free Will, what can we say about this situation? I argue that from the moment that God brought things into existence, by whatever naturalistic means He used, He basically set in motion a chain of events. I say this because this naturalistic world is also void of miracles or supernatural energy. Taking this point into consideration, and from the arguments I made in my previous video about Free Will, Adam and Eve had no choice but to eat of the fruit. You’ll have to go back and watch that video if you haven’t seen it yet. It will make things much more clear to you.
In conclusion, as far as I can tell, a naturalistic world doesn’t provide a mechanism for Free Will. With the information available to me at this point in time, I don’t see any mechanism for Free Will other than through supernatural means. I’m really hoping I can be shown to be wrong in this point, but I have to side with where the evidence points, whether I like it or not.