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The Free Will

by Reinarto Hadipriono Monday, Dec. 13, 2004 at 4:30 AM 62 231 206980 Lemahwungkuk 37, Cirebon - Indonesia

Does man really have any control over his own free will? Is it possible that any will that emanates from man is but a will that is under the influence of "the wills" of his cells? Could it be that the "wills" of the cells themselves are influenced by the "wills" of the molecules of his body cells, and that the "wills" of these molecules are just as inseparable from those of their atoms as are the "wills" of these atoms from those of their sub-atomic particles?

The Free Will

These are words that we oftentimes hear coming from around us. The free will is indeed a fact of life. You are, for instance, free to move your arms in whichever direction you wish. You are free to go anywhere you desire. But what if your space of movement is very narrow? What if your body is paralyzed? Does man really have control over his own free-will? Could it be that, in such a case as this, his free-will will always remain a free will never to be realized? Is it true that even if he fails to realize his free will, he will-still be in total control of that free-will, free from the intervention of any other of his bodily elements? To what extent?

In the Encyclopedia Britannica online, free will in humans is defined as the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints.

From our layman’s point of view, however, we should say that the “will” can perhaps be divided into a number of simple parts, i.e. the emergence of the will, the desire to realize the will, and the realization of the will itself. Now, which of these actually deserves to be called the free-will? Let’s now take a look at how, in our attempt to realize our will, we have to observe certain “natural laws.” In the Encyclopedia Britannica online, Law of Nature, in terms of logic, means a stated regularity in the relations or order of phenomena in the world that holds, under a stipulated set of conditions, either universally or in a stated proportion of instances.

What is meant by the “law of nature” a habit that nature regularly exhibits in a particular condition.

Let’s consider this example: You are now at a certain place, with your back against a high wall. Before you are the bushes, on your left is a lake, and on your right is a ravine. Now, let’s say, you want to prove that you have this free will with which you are at liberty to make your choice as to whichever direction you would like to take to get out of that place you are now in. To get to a place somewhere behind you, you naturally have to observe a particular law of nature which, in this case, is one that requires you to climb the wall. To get to some place to your left, you’ll have to swim across the lake; to get to some place yonder ahead, you’ll have to clear the bushes; and if you intend to go somewhere to your right, you’ll naturally have to descend the ravine.

Even inside our selves there are a number of natural laws that we have to abide by concerning our bodies, as they have significant roles to play in our effort to translate our free will into actions. Physical disability and poor stamina, for instance, may adversely affect our actions. A man who has just sprained his ankle as he wills to go to a certain place, for instance, will at once alter that will of his the instant he remembers that one of his legs is incapacitated. An elderly man who wills to carry a heavy load, for instance, will immediately abandon his intention to realize his will as soon as he begins to worry about the fragility of his bones. It thus seems that whatever free will you have, it is always adjusted to the various previous impressions imprinted in your brain. On the other hand, however, there are also a variety of factors that are highly influential upon our free will, which originally emerges from our brains and which, in fact, is an aggregate of the wills of all the cells of our bodies, particularly those cells that form the sensory organs. It is these wills of the cells of our sensory organs—after they have reached the brain and combined with the various impressions, which by now have become memories—that later emerge as our present will. In doing what he chooses to do, a person will involve the impressions he has obtained earlier and which are now stored in his brain. Thus, if he is afraid of the heights, he will naturally choose to swim. This is proof enough that man’s free will is governed by the laws of nature in effect, not to mention the man-made laws meant to restrict him from doing harm to others. Changes in conditions both external and internal to our bodies can at any time also effect changes in our will. But these changes in man’s will do not necessarily have to take place in an orderly manner. Among those who are insane, the “free will” does not emerge in as orderly a manner as it does in people with a healthy mind. Here it is obvious how man’s “free will” emerges from all the “laws of nature” that God provides for the whole universe.

Please bear in mind that animals too have their “free will.” In fact, even plants have their free will, because if they do not, they will not be able to grow the way they wish to. Of course, the degree of freedom varies from species to species. If in the above paragraph we have claimed that the human will is derived from the collective wills of his cells, we should by now also dare to ask, “Where then do these wills of the cells come from?” Isn’t it our common knowledge that cells are made up of molecules, which are made up of atoms, which are made up of atom’s parts or sub-atomic particles, which have within them energy and continuous movements? Here’s a few simple examples for us to ponder. A man who earlier had the will to rise from his seat will instead shift to scratching his leg now that it is itching due to an ant’s bite. This he does, because the cells of his leg tell his brain via his nerves what’s happening to them such that he is moved to scratching his leg before realizing his other will. A “will” can be defined as the “desire” to perform an action. Such a “desire” emerges from the change of the molecular composition of his body cells resulting from the ant’s bite. The molecules in turn are “moved” to taking such an action by their formative atoms whose behavior is determined by their formative sub-atomic particles. Apparently, it is the combination of those simple “wills” of the sub-atomic particles that forms the will of the man intact.

Perhaps from here we can attain some grounds to determine where the human will has come from. Unfortunately, however, as it turns out, there are still a considerable number of people who are just reluctant to accept such an explanation. So, let’s leave it to the development of the human mind to seek the answer later.

Of course what we have just described here does not at all run contradictory to what the Holy Books/Scriptures say about the presence of the “free will” in man. This is particularly true, because whatever is explained by the Holy Books/Scriptures, it is all based on our very nature as a normal human being who has his own will—a will that is just inseparable from any laws or habits of nature that God imposes on all the contents of the universe.

By Reinarto Hadipriono

Quoted and developed from the philanthropic book Paradigm for Peace

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