I have tried, and I have failed, to define free will. I embarked on this stage of my journey in an attempt to absolve you of the harshness of your justice, to find something that made it seem acceptable, if not ideal. The reasoning was that ultimately you cannot be held responsible for our bad decisions. Empowering your children with freedom meant exonerating yourself from the consequences of their actions. Harsh though your judgement, one would be unable to cry foul if he freely chose to be on the wrong side of your favour, if he and he alone were solely responsible for the actions that led him to your wrath.
But week after week and trial after trial it has become clear to me that this free will is something that cannot be defined. We looked at good and evil and found you lacking. If free will is the ability to decide between what is good and what is evil then you are not a free being; you can never choose evil. We looked at power and limitations and found ourselves lacking. In a world of bounds and limits your children are anything but free, constrained and tied to consequences and occurrences we did very little to create or cause. We looked at “limited” free wills and found ourselves lacking once again. Any freedom you have given us is completely nullified by the fact that we are ignorant children with imperfect minds. We will fail because we do not know any better, and this is how we are by design. Lastly we looked at your all-encompassing knowledge and boundless power, and came to the realisation that against such infinity our freedoms, even the smaller, limited kind, are nothing but charades. You are already very aware of what each and every single one of your children will do. Like the designer that makes his automaton in full knowledge of its potential actions given certain situations and circumstances, you created your children. In light of this, claiming that we possess any kind of freedom behind our wills is about as silly as claiming that our programmable machines have freedom behind theirs. We may feel like we do, and for all we know our machines “feel” the same way, but that does not change the reality of our (and their) situations. As I iterated at the end of that particularly depressing missive, we are your toys, your programmable machines, and only you know what the true purpose is behind our existence.
Despite all of this Father, I cannot shake the feeling that I have free will. I keep telling myself that I choose to write the words on this paper, freely, compelled by no one and no thing but myself. Knowing that this choice is not truly free, understanding intellectually that I am no freer than the tools with which I write to you, I still feel free. It is perhaps one of the greater feats of the imperfect minds you have given your children, where we cannot even come to grips with our true limitations, insisting instead on clinging to concepts we know make no sense and cannot be defined, simply because they feel right.
Such feelings led to needless hope that perhaps something has been missing from my months-long analysis, that I may have overlooked an important detail that would lay bare this puzzle of free will and bring me to a better understanding of your grand plan. And yet day after day of racking my brains has borne no fruit. If there ever was a question I needed you to answer Father, it is this. So much of House dogma and mythos is dependent on the existence of free will that I fear that my belief in its absence may prevent me from ever returning home. If we are not free Father then this is nothing but an extended game for your benefit and pleasure. Anything we happen to get out of this is simply luck and chance, not some product of the deep love you hold for your children. The few among us that make it to the Great Upstairs were destined to because you made them to make it up there, and the rest of us never stood a chance, regardless of what our weak, wishful minds tell us. Much like the sinking heart that emerged from my scrutiny of your justice, thoughts such as these make me sad and shocked. This is not what one has come to expect from the Father that died for his children.
And yet, I still wish to believe that I am free. Perhaps it is above my feeble mind. Perhaps free will is a fundamental constant of our world, something supreme and abstract that cannot be defined but is intuitively understood. Perhaps it comes from an undetected substance called freewillium that you possess and that you included when you breathed life into the First Brother and his companion. Perhaps this amazing substance allows you to design your children with their futures fully-known, as well as imbue them with the “freedom” to choose who they want to be, where they want to go. After all, when sense and reason fail Father one has to resort to hand-waving to make things fall into place. As has happened in all the times I have been unable to make sense of the opposing viewpoints put forth by your Book and your House, I must accept that this is just the way things are and that my childish mind would never understand your holy and perfect purpose.
If my words ring hollow dearest Father, it is because they are. I have never felt so far away from home.
Your Prodigal Son