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The Paradox of Free Choice: Six Questions

The Paradox of Free Choice: Six Questions

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Question:

How does our tradition explain the paradox of free choice?

Answer:

This issue becomes difficult to discuss because we are often confused with just what the question is. As soon as we hear one question being answered, another one is nagging us.

So let us first distinguish and list those questions:

1) Determinism: Isn't everything predetermined by the mechanics of the universe?

2) Robotism: G-d knew exactly what I was going to do when He made me this way. I'm just a programmed machine. How can I be blamed for being what I am?

3) Prescience: Since G-d knows the future, what choice do we have in it?

4) Omnipotence: G-d wants something to happen and it happens. So how could I possibly choose to do something He doesn't like? Who's more powerful, after all?

5) Oneness: Since there is nothing else but His Oneness, what room is left for us to make any difference?

6) Primal Cause: If G-d is the Primal Cause, doesn't the buck stop there?

Each question has its particular answer. So let's deal with these one at a time (since each question picks up were the previous one leaves off, it's best to read them in order):

Question 1: Determinism * Question 2: Robotism * Question 3: Prescience * Question 4: Omnipotence * Question 5: Oneness * Question 6: Primal Cause

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription.
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