Hearing that we don’t have free will because G-d already knows what we’re going to do is one of the most frustrating arguments I hear people make all the time. It in essence makes us robots, programmed by a Creator who gives us no ability for free thought, as if we’re drones fulfilling a mission on Earth we have no power over. As an Orthodox Jew, it goes against our entire reason for living, so I thought I would try to help anyone struggling with this question, which for some reason has seemed to perplex people for thousands of years.
I am going to prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that sure, G-d might know what we’re going to do every second of our lives, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have full control over these decisions. Believing in G-d and knowing we have free will are not mutually exclusive, in fact that fit together like a glove.
I heard this following example of proof of Free Will from one of my Rabbis, Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi, which I will add some commentary to.
Here we go…the experiment begins now!
I come to you with an envelope containing a piece of paper, and I tell you that this piece of paper contains your exact activities that you will engage in tomorrow, from your clothing choices to your movements to your interactions…literally I tell you what your entire day is going to be like from beginning to end. I tell you that if I am correct you have to buy me dinner, but if I am wrong I will give you 1 million dollars…I even show you the cash in a suitcase.
You are obviously excited because there is no way under the sun I could possibly have the knowledge of what you’re going to do tomorrow, but just in case, you take steps to totally throw off your normal routine. Tomorrow comes and this is how you proceed.
You usually get up at 6:15am, so instead you decide to get up at 9:17am. You are always dressed in a business suit, but today you decide to wear gym clothes. You always eat breakfast, but today you decide to skip breakfast. You always brush your hair, but today you wear a hat. You get the point, this continues all day long, you live a day in your life as you’ve never lived before. Every single detail of your day is planned by you trying to make your activity as bizarre as possible, so you can claim your 1 million dollars.
The clock strikes midnight and I now approach you with the envelope, and to your horror, you open it up to find that every single aspect of your day is on that piece of paper. Every single switch that you thought would throw me off, didn’t work. I knew about your late wake-up, I knew about your gym clothes, I knew about your hat…I KNEW ABOUT IT ALL.
So now let me ask you, did you have free will today? Absolutely, you did every single thing based on your own decisions and your own intentions. You decided to wake up late, you decided to put on different clothes, you decided to do every single thing you wanted to that day. Yet I still knew what you were going to do…can we agree that you had free will?
G-d knows what we’re going to do because He’s G-d. He is beyond our comprehension, He is above time, He is not able to be grasped. But you still have free will. I literally just proved it conclusively beyond any doubt. In the experiment I knew what you were going to do before you even did it, but you still had free will every step of the way and acted accordingly.
We are not robots programmed by G-d, we as humans have the free will to act in any way we want. Some us that to their benefit, others to their own destruction. However, saying that we lack free will is not only unequivocally false, but it undermines the incredible qualities that make the human the pinnacle of Creation.
G-d knows our FATE…we still have FREE WILL, always remember that and make your choices wisely!
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