Tom Talbott argues (as I’ve read him; incl pages 184-189 in his book) that, for a choice to be considered free,
it must be undertermined;
it must be rational;
and it must be informed.
The implications of this are considerable it seems to me. It means, among many things, for example, that consequences for ones choices must be known and comprehended. It means that choices based on delusions, on ignorance, on bondage to unhealthy (ie self destructive) desires are NOT in fact free. It means that God’s unilateral actions to inform, to shatter illusions, to compel one to see reality as it is, do not violate that persons freedom.
Tom suggests then – and I find his reasoning very coherent – that there are limits to freedom that many don’t consider.
All this in mind, the question that has been bothering me for the last couple weeks or so is the nature of Adam and Eve’s free will. Here they are in the garden – the pinnacle of God’s creation. Thinking, sentient, created in God’s own image, without sin, and, we say, free. Yet they made a really stupid choice – or so it seems to me. (I am aware that various more “liberal” streams of theologic thought find this choice not stupid at all but quite natural and in fact the one God wanted them to make… Enough about that.)
So help me here. Were Adam and Eve truly free?
I’m thinking that, having never seen sin, they had precious little means of understanding consequences – which certainly (at least as I understand what Talbott is saying) seems to limit their freedom. Further, while it’s hard to say they were bound by illusion at this early point, I think it’s fair to suggest that they were unduly drawn to the false picture of reality (ie you shall NOT surely die) offered by the serpent. Lastly, even though God seems to have explicitly told them they would “die” if they ate of the tree, can we say with perfect confidence that they were fully “informed” if they had no knowledge of what death even was??
So it troubles me to lean toward the conclusion that Adam and Eve were not really as free as I’ve always thought they were. And it gets to the awkward questions I pondered over on the Myth of Redemptive Violence discussion, as well as the discussion on the legitimacy of evils; did God actually need sin to save us permanently? Did God actually need sin to become “more” God (that’s a crazy way to put it I know) than He was before sin? And so on…
So; how do you see the freedom of Adam and Eve? It must have been limited, but why, and to what degree?? Hope this question makes some sense…
(of course, if Adam and Eve were not actual people, just representative of the time honored battle within the human soul between good and evil, perhaps this question has little place… wondering…)
(PS – It seems sometimes that the ways we talk about freedom in UR we’re really saying that free people – when truly free – will ALWAYS choose good and God. Which makes a lot of sense actually. So… if God, through Christ, came to set us FREE, truly free, why wouldn’t the result be Universal Reconciliation??!!!)