Often you hear people claim that there’s no such thing as Free Will. They maintain that all is determined by genetics, conditioning, or chemicals in your brain.
However, imagine a professor who preaches this theory of human conditioning. For a full semester, he explains to an eager group of students yearning to shirk any sense of moral responsibility how man is simply the result of the sum total of his DNA and his experiences; how, although society must protect itself, an individual cannot be blamed for his actions or their consequences.
Now, suppose the professor comes home early one day and finds his wife in bed with his best friend.
Consider this professor’s reaction. Is it passive acceptance and tolerance, or does he react as most do – with shock, anger, and the desire to seek revenge? According to the professor’s own theory, both his wife and his friend were simply responding to stimuli.
If the professor truly believed that man has no control over his responses, he would never react to betrayal with hate. A person only reacts in this manner when the one who hurt him acted with intent, by choice, or with negligence. Only when, in your opinion, a person should have or could have acted differently, are you upset with him. Disappointment and anger directed at another are clear and outright testimonies to one’s conscious or subconscious acknowledgement that the other makes decisions.
To further this point, suppose this whole episode with the professor’s wife never took place, and in fact the professor and his wife have a blissful, loving relationship. One day, this professor and his wife are enjoying a beautiful stroll on a crisp spring morning when a bird flying overhead suddenly has a heart attack and falls out of the sky, landing strait onto the professor’s wife, killing her on the spot.
Now, obviously, the professor is shocked, horrified, and in deep emotional pain, but is the professor mad at the bird?
Because the bird having a heart attack and landing on the professor’s wife was totally beyond the bird’s control. It was not the bird’s choice.
We see that when a person gets angry at another, it’s a testimonial that he believes the other to have Free Will.
From this it becomes apparent that everyone believes there to be an element of Free Will in the world – they testify to this belief by their responses – both in emotion and in action.
Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov is a sought after cutting edge international speaker on Kabbalah, relationships, parenting, and life. His recently released #1 Amazon’s Best Seller, Jewish By Choice: A Kabbalistic Take on Life & Judaism, has won wide acclaim as one of the clearest, most comprehensive, and reader-friendly depictions of Kabbalah and the “whys” of Judaism.