The Lego Movie & Free Will
Last week Greg tweeted about two movies that have themes related to human free-will and God’s control of the world. They were:
@greg_boyd: Does God want a permanently frozen “perfect” world or an open-ended world filled with wildly imaginative people? Watch “The Lego Movie”!
@greg_boyd: Meantime, me & some peeps are going to watch (again!) THE greatest movie about the nature of time/free will & love-“The Adjustment Bureau.”
In the book God of the Possible, Greg responds to a question that gives some theological background to what he finds insightful about these two movies.
Why would God create a world with free wills he can’t meticulously control or foreknow, a world that allows people to oppose his will, hurt other people, and damn themselves?
This question assumes that it would have been better to create a world in which there were no free wills, in which people could never oppose God’s will, hurt other people, or damn themselves. Such a world would on one level be “perfect,” but it would also be perfectly robotic. God would get everything he wants, except the one thing he really wants — namely, agents who freely choose to participate in his triune love. Love has to be chosen, and this means that love is inherently risky. Reason, intuition, and certainly experience tell us this is true.
Consider this example: suppose you possess the technological knowledge to program a computer chip and secretly implanted it in your spous’s brain while he or she was sleeping. This chip would cause your spouse to talk and act exactly as you would want, though your spouse would still think here she was choosing to talk and act this way. That person would, on one level, be “the perfect spouse.” The loving behavior and words would be exactly what you desire. You would, in fact, know exactly what your spouse was going to say and do before he or she did. After all, you programmed the responses.
We might enjoy such an arrangement for a while, but wouldn’t you eventually grow tired of it? Wouldn’t it be unfulfilling? For you would know that everything your spouse was saying and doing to you, as wonderful as it might be, was really you saying and doing to yourself. Your spouse may speak and act loving toward you, but he or she would not truly be loving you. It would all be a charade. There would, in fact, be no real person, no thinking, feeling, and willing agent, who would be intentionally choosing to love you on his or her own. The fact that your spouse would experience himself or herself as choosing to love doesn’t change this, for this experience also is simply due to the sophistication of your programming. Your spouse’s sense of free will is an allusion. For love to be real, it must really be possible to choose against it.
This illustration demonstrates that love must be chosen. It could not be otherwise. It’s part of its very definition. As a triangle must have three sides and all bachelors must be unmarried, so love must be chosen. This means that love is, by its very nature, risky. To create a cosmos populated with free agents (angels and humans) who are capable of choosing love requires that God created a cosmos in which beings can choose to oppose his will, hurt other people, and damn themselves. If love is the goal, this is the price. (133-135)