So I must say that the general consensus of the responses, that I love, were that the meaning of life is different for everyone.
There is no one way of approaching life’s purpose, it is up to each individual person. I did say that in this blog, I would address free will. I believe the concept that purpose is totally personal and individual directly supports my belief that free will exists and is in fact the only thing we as human beings own.
All other possessions can be taken from you, but the one thing, the only thing that you can always count on owning is your own experience and your choice in the way you feel about things.
I think of this as your perception, meaning that the only difference between a bite of violence and a bite of ecstasy are choice and perception.
It seems to me this is the most terrifying and freeing concept in the world. It is completely up to me.
night.
xox
Allison

Add yours Comments – 65

  • skahahoo

    on August 16, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Darwin!

    Thanks so much for answering! Oh wow…those weren’t slim pickings at all. Very insightful in fact. And “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my favorite books, and Atticus Finch is one of my favorite characters. 🙂 Ok, so now I have more questions. lol.

    I agree that free will doesn’t mean much if we don’t have options to choose from. But I hear many Christians (and other people of faith) talk about how God has a “path” for everyone (In fact, there was a debate about free will and a divine path in this post…between Kevin and Amanda. I put my 2 cents in as well…lol). They say that everything that happens in their lives happens for a reason because it was all part of God’s plan for them. What’s your take on this? Do you believe that God has a plan for everyone? If He does, do you mean that when you’re born, He’s already drawn up this incredibly complex maze for you to travel through, with many twists and turns and forks and branches and it’s up to you to navigate how to get from the start to the end? Or do you have a different interpretation?

    Kevin said that if God has a plan for you, and He already knows everything you’re going to do, then you don’t have free will. I think that many people, myself included, have trouble reconciling the claims of God’s omnipotence and omniscience with our free will. To me, it doesn’t seem like you can have 100% of both. Take Atticus for example. If God sets everything up from the beginning so that Atticus WILL become the lawyer to defend Tom, then I view God as having 100% omnipotence and omniscience when it comes to Atticus’ life, and Atticus as having zero free will. He is just a robot, programmed to respond in a way God had planned when faced with a specific set of circumstances. On the other hand, if God sets everything up so that Atticus COULD become Tom’s lawyer, then that means there is the possibility that Atticus won’t. Possibility by definition negates certainty, in which case…doesn’t that mean that God must also be uncertain as to how Atticus’ life will play out? In my mind, a divine path coexisting with free will only makes sense if God has this obstacle course of sorts laid out for you, but then sets you free to run the course as you will, and He hopes for the best but doesn’t know for sure how things will turn out.

    Oh boy…I have so many questions. lol. But I need to go to sleep because I have to work. And I know…if God does exist, then it’s futile for me to understand what the heck He’s doing. Then again, if He exists, He’s the one gave me this brain, so I might as well use it. lol.

    Thanks Darwin! 🙂

  • Darwin

    on August 16, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Okay…so…you know when you hear things like…Tom Selleck was almost chosen to be Indiana Jones?

    And there was another guy actually CAST as Marty McFly in the BACK TO THE FUTURE movies?

    But it is REALLY hard to picture ANYBODY besides Harrison Ford for Indiana Jones and Micheal J. Fox as Marty McFly.

    You take that a BIT further…and what if instead of Columbus coming to America it was somebody named Francesco?

    And Ralph Coney (completely made up) was the first President instead of George Washington?

    I think there IS a plan for each of us…UNTIL we choose to walk away…and then SOMEONE actually still does the job…

    And takes takes OUR opportunity.

    God gives us opportunities…and we either step up…or we do not.

    But stuff still gets done.

    In God’s plan…things get done.

    Whether we step up or not.

    He would LOVE for us to step up.

    And SOMETIMES people…at first step up…then step down.

    I think God’s burdens are light…and it nis the burdens we UNWISELY accumualte ourselves which REALLY damage us.

    He says…learn this…develop THIS quality of character…do this…and you will be happy.

    And we oftimes say…”Well…that’s just NOT conveniant for me right now…”

    Thinking of going another direction.

    In our own lives…we pretty much KNOW who we can count on and who we cannot
    …out of the people close to us.

    And HOW FAR we can count on the ones we can count on.

    Just because God knows EXACTLY how much he can count on us doesn’t make it any less of a voyage of discovery for us.

    In TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD…the Judge assigned Atticus to defend Tom…and NOT
    the young guy who needed experience….as court appointed defenses usually went to “Maxwell Green”. Miss Maudie (again) states: “You think about that…it was no accident. I was sittin’ there on the porch last night, waiting. I waited and waited to see you all come down the sidewalk, and as I waited I thought, Atticus Finch won’t win, he can’t win, but he’s the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long on a case like that. And I thought to myself, well, we’re making a step – it’s just a baby-step, but it’s a step.”

    And logically, if Miss Maudie could figure out something like that about Atticus…that he was the ONLY man in these parts who could keep a jury out so long on a case like that…baby-steps…
    And Judge Taylor knew that about Atticus…
    Then why would it be hard to recognize (were it real life) that God would know that too?

    I think the only difference would be that the judge would believe it to be the best option wheras God would know it was the best option.

    On a personal note…

    I have felt…impressed that I should be someplace…and not leave…just yet…and not quite yet…but NOW…and have it turn out PRECISELY timed.

    On one of my first dates with my now ex-wife…we went to a beach…and I was kind of distracted and hanging back…and she asked me why.

    And I told her…it was because for a few times in a row now…every time I went to the beach…even though I am a LOUSY swimmer…probably the LOUSIEST swimmer around…someone out in the water would call for help…and NO ONE else would hear them…

    And then…even though I was scared of deep water…I would go to help.

    And she said…so someone would call for help and no one else responded?

    *we are interrupted by someone calling for help*

    Yeah…

    …Exactly like that…

    She smiled and said…I guess you’d better go.

    Now…again…I was NOT a good swimmer…and I was afraid of deep water…but I DID listen.

    Listening and willingness can make a difference.

    And my wife…

    I KNOW I was supposed to marry her.

    And she left me….

    AND left me thinking “What the heck?”

    Was she worth the effort even if she didn’t stay?

    Yes.

    Had I known…would I have still tried?

    Yes.

    I am mad at God for knowing?

    No.

    Having a failed marriage was even scarier to me than deep water…and deep water is TERRIFYING.

    Did God know it would fail?

    Yes.

    Do I feel God wanted me to marry her?

    Yes.

    Was there purposes served? Undoubtedly.

    Will I know what they all were?

    Probably not in this lifetime.

    Did it hurt?

    Excutiatingly.

    Am I damaged?

    I choose not to be. I also choose not to hate or to have anger or to be bitter or to curl up in the corner sucking my thumb.

    Instead…I choose love and forgiveness and being happy.

    She choose not to love me…I will find someone who will.

    It does not mean I am required to hate her.

    It’s my choice.

  • skahahoo

    on August 17, 2008 at 5:04 am

    Hey Darwin!

    First let me thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I really, sincerely appreciate that because I know you could be doing a zillion other things. 🙂

    I have, of course, more questions, but they’re a bit jumbled and incoherent at the moment, and I need to go to work right now. lol. I’m going to take the rest of the day to think about what you said, and I’ll ask my questions tonight.

    And again…please don’t feel like you HAVE to indulge me. I understand that everyone’s busy, so I appreciate whatever you’re willing to give. 🙂

  • Darwin

    on August 17, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Hey skahahoo!

    You are quite welcome…And I should thank you!

    Because it is fun to dust off my brain and use it every once in a while!

    So I look forward to your questions tonight.

    A random thought I had…when one writes a test…often someone SOMEWHERE does know the answers…before you do…but it has no effect on the outcome of your efforts…because your efforts are based on your own efforts…

    …YOUR knowledge…

    Not theirs.

  • skahahoo

    on August 17, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Hey Darwin!

    lol…Ok, so I tried. I took your premises (that God has a plan for us, that He gives us options, that He knows exactly how much to expect from us at every turn, and that we have free will), and turned them over and over in my head, but the mathematician in me can’t get these things to compute. lol.

    I understand what you’re saying about how if we know how much we can count on others, then God would know as well, even better than we do. Check. I also understand your analogies with the Judge and the test. Check. But with the Judge and the test…these are isolated examples in a lifetime of opportunities. The Judge presents Atticus with one opportunity. A teacher presents a student with perhaps many opportunities throughout the year. But God, if I’m understanding you correctly, presents us with ALL of the opportunities we will ever face. That’s, like, another level entirely. Then, on top of that, whenever He presents us with an opportunity, He knows what we will do because He knows exactly how much to expect from us. Then, on top of THAT, He has a plan for each of us. Under these circumstances, it’s very difficult for me to see how I have any say in the matter. True…I will be presented with options. True…I will be the one choosing among those options. But a computer program is also presented with options and makes choices. But I wouldn’t describe the program as having free will, mostly because it’s predictable. In fact, I think it’s very telling that when a program, or anything really, behaves unpredictably that we often describe it as having “a mind of its own.” In other words, I think predictability and free will are inversely related – the more you have of one, the less you have of the other. So if I am completely predictable in the eyes of God, how can I have any free will?

    Have you ever watched “The Truman Show” with Jim Carrey? He plays a character named Truman, who just goes about his life like anyone else. But one day he discovers that his life is actually a TV show…that all of the people he’s met, all of the experiences he’s had…they were all planned. It is true that no one forced Truman to make the choices that he made. But he still feels powerless and manipulated. So even though no one forced him to do anything, he still didn’t perceive that he had free will. I think that’s because free will isn’t just about having the ability to choose. It’s also about having the power to affect your own destiny.

    If I were to accept that God has a plan for me, that He is the one who places all opportunities before me, that He knows exactly what I will do…then logically, I would have to submit. I would have to acknowledge that my life is in His hands, that I am part of a grand design that I will probably never understand, that I am there to serve Him. How does free will fit into this picture?

    If I truly am able to influence the course of my life, then doesn’t one of these things have to give? Either God doesn’t have a plan for me. Or the events in my life are random and not due to Him. Or He doesn’t know what I will do. lol…Am I missing something here?

    Thanks Darwin! 🙂

  • skahahoo

    on August 17, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Also, I just wanted to say that I really respect the constructive outlook you’ve taken towards the painful experiences you’ve had. I try to do the same. 🙂 And I understand that you’re making the choice. But what I don’t understand is, if God is the one behind everything leading up to that point, and He already knows that you will choose love and forgiveness…how can it be that you ever had free will?

  • Darwin

    on August 17, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    God has a plan for each of us to succeed.

    But the simple truth is in the fact that so many people fail.

    There are principles which God taught…people fall short…people “miss the mark” …people run the other way
    …people openly fight against God.

    People CRUCIFIED their God…(and there were more tribes present in Jerusalem at the time besides the Jewish people…and the Roman officials could have stopped it all as well.)

    People can be SO monstrous…I think of the recent muder on a bus here in Canada…

    If God CONTROLLED everything…none of that would happen.

    Aside from all of the admonitions in the scriptures…basically the TEN COMMANDMENTS being broken would not be a daily event in the lives of so many people.

    WE CAN choose what we do…but we cannot choose the consequences.

    If we TRULY want to screw up…he lets us.

    But sooner or later…the consequences come.

    Then there are those who DON’T rebel.

    Some are obediant out of fear…scared of consequences…punishment…loss of reputation…whatever…

    Some are obediant out of a sense of duty.

    Neither one of these options show much “heart” or commitment…

    Some are obediant out of love. because they love truth…love to live truth…love God and love others…and TRULY want to spend their lives making other lives better.

    How can there be SO many degrees…SO many variables…if no one has a choice?

  • skahahoo

    on August 18, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Hey Darwin!

    Hmmm…so I read your last post, and I felt like perhaps I either missed something you said earlier or misinterpreted what you said, because not everything is coming together for me. So I went back, re-read everything you said, and this is the analogy I came up with to help me understand what I think you’re saying.

    One day, I wake up in the middle of a maze with really high walls that I can’t climb. I have no idea what’s going on. No memory or anything like that, although I am aware of my mortality. Anyway, there isn’t much for me to do but to get moving, so I start on my journey, which twists and turns and forks, and all along the way there is food hanging from the walls. And I eat all the different kinds as I go along, and as I do, I start to notice a pattern. Some food tastes AWESOME…a total trip! But after eating this kind of food, I don’t feel so good, I get tired easily, and my mind is fuzzy. Other food tastes okay, not nearly as awesome, but afterwards I feel more energized, my body feels stronger, and my mind is sharper, so I’m able to navigate the maze better. And then there’s food that, not only is it a pain to eat, but it tastes NASTY. It also comes up only once in a while along the maze. Unfortunately, it is this type of food makes me feel the best afterwards. So I come to learn which food is good for me and which is bad. But I still have no idea when I’ll reach the end of the maze. Sometimes I feel like there is no end, that I’m just going around in circles, so what’s the point, I might as well eat the awesome food and enjoy myself. Other times I have more faith, more hope that I can reach the end, and eat the good-for-me food to help me get there. But the entire time, I know that I won’t have forever to navigate this maze. One day my time will be up, and whether or not I reach the end depends on the choices I make along the way.

    Let’s say God is the one who made this maze and put me there.

    First question…what is your view as to how ACTIVELY involved God is as I’m making my way? Is He completely hands off and just lets me do what I do…whether I decide to go right or left, or eat the good food or the bad food, etc.? Or does He get a little involved and do things like…maybe once in a blue moon, on one of the days I’m feeling hopeless…He causes a piece of good food to drop in front of me? Or is He more involved than that, and EVERY single time I get hungry, He causes one of the foods (either good or bad) to drop in front of me. But no matter what happens, I’m never physically compelled to eat the food that drops. If I don’t want the dropped food, I can always choose something that’s hanging from the wall.

    Second question…every time I make a choice, no matter how mundane, does God know with absolute certainty what I will choose to do?

    Or…is this analogy not appropriate? In which case, I am completely missing your point. lol.

    Thanks Darwin! 🙂

  • Darwin

    on August 18, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    I think your analogy works VERY well!

    Impressive!

    And if I understand what you are saying…Yes I believe there is a time when the training wheels DO come off…
    and he backs off a bit…but is close at hand.

    And throughout life…there are times when we need more “hands on help” and he gets closer to us…as we allow it.

    IN other words…he stands ready…and we close the gap.

    Another personal example…(having lived my life trying to keep that gap narrow…)

    I had a frustating week in college…need to veg…away from campus…away from the city…I plan to climb a nearby mountain.

    Circumstances combine…and I leave late.

    Climb slow.

    Suddenly…I can no longer hear the roar of the crowd rising from the football stadium a mile or so distant.

    As it is late fall…I realize it is about to get dark….but as I am only about a 100 feet from the top…I press on…complete the climb…and then begin to hurry back down.

    I abandon the shear rock faces and look for the less severe slopes…then I switch to seeking out rock washes…broken rocks from past tumbles or avalanches of rocks…which have cut a swath through the trees and go down for quite a ways.

    One can actually “ski” down these…slide on your feet…and the trip to the base of the mountain is a lot faster.

    Five more of these and I will be down.

    But…

    It is EXREMELY dark…

    The rock wash I am on concludes…

    So I run along a ridge to another…

    I slip…

    And basically fall off the mountain…

    Touching down a bit farther down on this
    slope…

    But I am rolling and sliding out of control with a sharp long drop coming up quickly.

    I spead out…grasping…grabbing at the surface…

    I try to dig in…but nothing…no rocks to slow me…no vegatation…

    nothing to grab…

    But…

    I AM praying….quickly…

    …And the edge is right THERE…

    Abrupt STOP.

    My first thought is THANK-YOU!!!!

    THEN I look around curious.

    My right foot…(as I was then sliding feet first) stopped me solidly…

    …on a small thick root sticking about four inches out of the ground.

    I look around.

    There was NOTHING else on that slope… no rocks no other vegatation…for a few hundred feet in any direction.

    I could not have hit that if I was aiming.
    ESPECIALLY in the dark.

    Because I could only see it while being right on top of it…and not at all from any distance.

    So yes…when we are aware…striving listening…closing that gap…the gap is small when we need it.

    And God does provide…events…words whispers…people…

    and even miracles…

    To help.

  • Darwin

    on August 19, 2008 at 12:19 am

    *additional note*

    How long BEFOREHAND do you think God arranged for the ROOT to be there?

    *smiles*

  • skahahoo

    on August 20, 2008 at 12:41 am

    lol…I like your question. 🙂

    Well, I think the root was there for however long it normally takes a root to grow in a spot like that. Otherwise, our physical and biological laws as we know them would have to be radically altered at best, or completely invalidated at worst.

    Do I think God arranged for the root to be there specifically to break your fall? No. I cannot accept that and also believe you exercise a significant amount of free will in your life. If He did arrange for the root to be there for that reason, then He had to have known for quite a while, for a period lasting at least as long as the time required for the root’s growth, that one day, you were going to fall down that mountain and cross that exact location at a time when the root was big and strong enough to break your fall. That sounds like God had to arrange for a lot of other things to happen, not just the root, in which case I see very little, if any, free will being exercised.

    The only scenario I can think of which would allow for God’s active intervention and some semblance of your free will would be if He only stepped in to help when you asked Him to, at which point maybe He actually guided you down that mountain so as to hit the root. If there were no root, maybe He would’ve created some kind of upwind or something to break your fall. Who knows. If a flight attendant can fall from an airborne plane and survive, you can survive a fall down a mountain.

    Or maybe God actually gets His hands dirty and actively shapes all of the natural wonders on our planet because…I dunno…He likes sculpting things and He needs a form of stress relief when He sees us messing up our lives. And maybe, either because of foresight or experience, He builds mountains so that there’s always a fail-safe, like a root, to break someone’s fall should the need arise. Who knows. 🙂

  • Darwin

    on August 20, 2008 at 8:07 am

    In order for all of these little miracles in my life to continue…

    I always find it best never to put limitations on God.

  • Firebolt

    on August 20, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Congratulations Allison on directing Smallville, so far my favorite show. I’m most looking forward to Doomsday appearing in Smallville & can’t wait to see how the makers of the show make his hulk-like form look.

    If you need help, all you have to do is ask

  • skahahoo

    on August 20, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    lol…Fair enough. 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing all of these thoughts with me Darwin! I really appreciate it. You helped me better understand where some people who believe in God are coming from. 🙂

  • Darwin

    on August 20, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    skahahoo, you are MOST welcome!