Tag Archives: Good and Evil

On the Worst of All Possible Worlds

Dear Father,

A common point often brought up when faced with the contradiction of your benevolence and our evil is that this world, this cruel and harsh earth we inhabit, is the best of all possible worlds. The reasoning often goes that you, in your boundless and infinite wisdom, considered all the worlds, all the possible outcomes of all the possible actions, and chose to create this world because it was the one in which the most good was found. We are told that this has to be the case because you are good. Any evil we see in a world such as ours exists in spite of your benevolence and not because of any hidden malice, for had you been less than perfectly good our lives would be much, much worse than they are now.

As with nearly all explanations that come from your House and your children this one is quite circular. It doesn’t actually prove your goodness; one must assume your benevolence as incontrovertible truth in order to reach a conclusion such as this. There are, however, more interesting implications to this line of thought than its basic circular nature.

Consider first dear Father the process of imagining all the other worlds. When a being of your stature brings to bear his imagination, one can expect it would not be quite as vague and imprecise as those of your children. When we imagine things our minds gloss over tiny details. We look at the big picture so to speak, only getting into the specifics when we have determined a certain course to be desirable and wish to flesh it out. For you Father one would expect the opposite to be true. When you imagine, everything, from the smallest detail to its largest effect, would at once be laid bare before you. You would know intimately the details of your imagination, because an intellect as all-encompassing as yours would simply be unable to gloss over anything.

I’m sure you would agree that such intricate imagination is fundamentally indistinguishable from actual creation. There would be no new discoveries to make when making your imaginations real. There would be no quirks, no bugs, no tiny little idiosyncrasies born from the “specifics” of your implementation. In fact because even the very concept of “real” is something that would be created by you, simply imagining a world would be tantamount to making it. Many House elders and lovers of Sophia have posited that the universe exists entirely in your mind and it is easy to see why. Even if it didn’t, even if there was a tangible qualitative difference between your mind and reality, the things themselves in both these cases would be indistinguishable. An observer moving from mind to reality would be unable to tell that he has changed environments as all observable entities would be exactly the same.

What this means Father is that your defenders have not escaped the problem of evil by stating that our world is the best. They have in fact made it worse. By considering all possible worlds you have essentially created all possible worlds, including those where life is as bad as it can possibly be. And because we do not know how bad life can be, it is entirely possible that this world is the worst of all possible worlds.

Of course one would be hard pressed to argue that our world is the worst that could ever be. There is, admittedly, quite a bit of happiness attached to our existence and we can certainly imagine things being worse than even the horrors we witness and hear about today. But we can also imagine things being so much better than they are now, making the argument that our world is best specious by the very same standards.

Even if our world isn’t the worst possible world it means that the worst possible world has existed at some point, perhaps exists right now (some in your House believe you to be timeless, meaning that all things happen at once from your perspective). It means that somewhere, in your mind or otherwise, there exist children of yours that are undergoing as much suffering as is conceivably possible simply because you thought it. What justifications for their torture exist in their world I wonder? How do those faithful to you even there come to terms with their suffering? How do they manage to praise your supposed benevolence?

Of course it can easily be countered that you needn’t have imagined all worlds with a level of intricacy that makes them indistinguishable from reality. Ignoring the fact that such a statement places a needless limit on the breadth of your intellect, it still does not absolve you of the suffering in our world; it indicts you even more. How can you be sure there aren’t better worlds if you didn’t uncover every stone, consider every possibility? If your imagination is as limited and as vague as ours, how do you guarantee to yourself that the earth you picked is in fact the best? How do you square it against your standard of being good if you cannot stand before your children and tell them there are truly no better worlds because you checked?

And in the event that this is in fact, by some as yet unknown justification, the best of all possible worlds, does that not fill you with sadness Father? That you, with all your might and power and wisdom, could create no better a world than one where your children still starve to death every day, are tortured mercilessly, and inhabit an existence so bleak some of them choose to end their own lives? I know those within your House felt they had come up with an excellent point when they posited that this world was the best you could do, but as with most explanations from that hallowed institution it just leaves me even sadder. For if this is the best you can do, dearest Father, how can you ask us to believe in your perfection?

With a heavy heart,

Your Prodigal Son

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On the Choices of My Father

Dear Father,

The words Doubt spoke to me the last time I wrote have refused to leave my mind, and as the days have passed my head has been filled with even more terrors concerning your title as Great Arbiter. I am afraid his attempt to explain away the paradox of our freedom has backfired, for if I sounded lost and confused at the end of my last letter, I am far more lost now, and much more afraid.

You see Father, your power means that you are capable of anything. If you say that up is down, up becomes down. If you say that left is right, left becomes right. Faced with such power one realises that you can truly do whatever you want; there are no bounds or limits on the extent of your abilities. Before you existence is a blank slate, putty to be moulded in whatever shape your desire.

This means that you could have created any number of worlds where things were slightly different from this one, where, for example, the First Brother did not partake of the forbidden fruit, thus ensuring that he and his children remained in paradise for all eternity. But you did not. You could have made a world where even after his blatant disregard for your commands he was immediately forgiven and allowed to remain in the garden, but you did not. You could have created a world where nothing he ever did could have violated your will, where it was not his destiny to fall out of your favour and your paradise. But you did not. Faced with all these choices, all these universes, all these possibilities, you chose instead to make the First Brother in such a manner as to guarantee his failure. You chose not to forgive him for his transgressions but to cast him out. You chose not to allow his offspring, guilty of nothing but being born, to return to paradise. You chose to allow disease to flourish, to allow wars and famine and pain to exist for millennia before finally sending the Brother-Saviour, and even then you chose to take him away. You chose to make a universe in which the Brother-Saviour’s sacrifice did not immediately mean salvation, but one where we would have to wait two millennia (and counting) for another, final judgement, when you would cast all the children you damned before they were even born into the fiery pit made ready for them. These horrors are the things you chose.

Even more alarming is the fact that your status as the Great Arbiter is ongoing. You still have the power to speak things into being, to make something from nothing. You can still eradicate all disease with a wave of your hand, reform all sinners, end all wars. You can return as the Brother-Saviour tomorrow and establish a paradise for all men. These things are not out of reach; they are certainly not beyond your ability. All you need do is will them be and they will be. And yet the world around me remains the very same way it has always been. The people starving as I write these words will continue to starve. Those dying will continue to die. Those suffering will continue to suffer.

These are frightening thoughts, dearest Father, for they mean that you are actively choosing to be bring suffering to your children, to watch while they struggle in the harsh world you have given them. This is manifest cruelty, for not only did you make the world as it is, you are refusing to change it. You are allowing the very evil you created to grow and spread, to fester and flourish.

Our independence may be questionable Father, but yours is without doubt; you will not be our Father without it. And if this world, an existence free of freedom and mired in suffering, is what you have chosen for your children, how can we call you good? How can we look to you for guidance? How can we think on your image and rejoice? Yours is not a face of love, but a face of brutality, and thinking on the kind of mind that could do all this and call it good, I am filled with a fear most visceral…

My once little friend is silent, Father; even he has no counter to this.

With fear and trembling,

Your Prodigal Son

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On Words and their Meanings

Dearest Father,

As you have probably surmised, my discoveries on free will and justice have not exactly set me ablaze with love for you. Where I sought to discover the freedom in your children that absolved you of the harshness of your justice, I found instead puppets and strings, little subjects moving to the whims of their master. I have thought long and hard on what these conclusions mean for my prospects of returning home, and I must say Father that it does not look good. I do not understand the crude nature of your justice, but if your children are not freely choosing to turn their backs on you, how is their punishment fair? How can you condemn them to an eternity of suffering when they are simply fulfilling the very destinies you created for them?

Of course I would be remiss if I did not mention that my once little friend has not been silent as I have thought these thoughts and asked these questions. He has tried all too often to find flaws with the reasoning that brought me to this point, and he has failed at almost every turn. One of his statements, however, has stuck with me these past few days and it is one I wish to share with you. I do not think he has found a way to give me hope though; in fact the implications of his words may have served to drive me even further away from the House I once called home.

His words to me were thus:

“You cannot say that your Father is not just, or that you are not free, because he has said that he is, and that you are. He is the Great Arbiter; his word is truth.”

If you remember Father, in our bid to discover the meaning of truth we realised that a lot of what we took as fact was nothing but simple arbitration, statements that appeared to make sense but lacked the proof that would reveal their real truth value. We concluded then that absent verification all statements must remain arbitration, neither true nor false but open for discovery and deliberation. We also concluded that even under such rules you remain untouchable, for you are the Great Arbiter; your arbitrations become truth from the sheer force of your will.

We referenced this viewpoint when we discussed free will. Unwilling to accept that you were a simple machine, bound to always pick the good option when presented with a choice, we surmised that you must be above good and evil. You made good and evil; whatever you dictate to be good becomes good. Whatever you dictate to be evil becomes evil.

Applying the same concept to justice and free will gives you the crux of Doubt’s statement to me. You are the Great Arbiter. Whatever you define to be free is free; whatever you define to be just is just. I cannot claim that your justice is unjust. It is your justice; it cannot help but be just. I cannot claim that our freedom is bondage. It is your gift; we cannot help but be free.

If one ignores the powerfully circular nature of this argument it would appear that Doubt has floored me completely. But as I mentioned before his statements only served to drive me further from you, as the true implications of this point seem almost too terrible contemplate.

I would like you to consider what his statement really means, Father. It means that we cannot, not now, not ever, know what anything means. Your children, of limited minds and hearts, have (for as long as we can tell) used signs and sounds to communicate. When we say or do certain things there is a tacit agreement amongst us for what those things mean, or what they are supposed to mean. It is this agreement that has enabled to us to form societies. Without it even your noble House would not have been built, as the children that remained after the Brother-Saviour would not have been able to communicate with the world and spread your word. This tacit agreement is what allows us to have general feelings (if not outright definitions) for such words as good, evil, love, freedom, and justice. Now these definitions may vary from culture to culture, from House to House, but within these cultures and these Houses they are generally agreed upon. The very existence and survival of their institutions depends on this.

Now consider yourself, dearest Father. We are told that you love us. That all the other Fathers and Mothers and Uncles and Aunts in all the other Houses are not only false, but that they do not love us the way you do. Only you truly cares. Only you truly wants what’s best for us. These messages, coupled with the sacrifice of the Brother-Saviour, have been among the biggest reasons that many have been brought to the House, and that many have stayed within it. And accompanying these statements is a fundamental understanding of the concept of love, of benefit, of harm. That which brings fulfilment is borne of love, that which brings happiness is beneficial, and that which causes suffering and pain is harmful. You are none of the latter, Father, and all of the former, or so we are told.

Against this one looks at the world born from your lips and sees pain and suffering, fear and hurt, bondage and predetermination. We see a justice apparently motivated by as much negativity and spite as the crude offerings of your flawed children. We see punishment for punishment’s sake, pain for no other reason than pain itself. We see children created solely for salvation, and others only for damnation. And if we are to believe that you are the Great Arbiter, and that you have termed these things good and loving and just, then we must also believe that this pain and suffering, this our lack of freedom, is indeed good and loving and just.

Thus the words that we use to communicate the love and justice and freedom and happiness that we believe come from your House are apparently meaningless, for they can have their meanings changed at will. They can mean one thing and their complete opposite at the same time, for you have spoken it. Does freedom today mean bondage? Does it mean predestination? Does it mean captivity? Does good today mean genocide? Does it mean the condemnation of little children for the sins of their fathers? We cannot, of our own admittedly feeble faculties, say. We must first consult with you, and hope that you deign to bestow upon us your answers.

Perhaps more terrifying is the fact that this means that a good amount of the people called to your House have had the wrong impression about you from the very beginning. It is hard to believe that those that heard about your all-encompassing love believed that within that love lay the capacity to create some children solely for the purpose of burning them. No loving parent on your green earth would do such a thing, yet a quick study of your world and a short perusal of your Book reveals such acts in great detail.

Of course there are some within the House that believe that our lack of understanding comes from the less than perfect nature of our minds, but this, much like the assertions made with regards to the First Brother’s faculties, does not vindicate the state of your world. Ignoring our apparent lack of freedom this would mean that the salvation of a good chunk of your children is purely circumstantial. If our fundamental understanding of love and justice, the intuition with which we analyse the world, is not complete due to our failings, then there is nothing but chance to dictate who comes to you of his own volition. The very tools we have to understand what you do and why you do it are flawed. That anyone comes to you in the first place is a wonderful combination of luck and opportunity, and that people fail to understand your ways should be expected. In fact, if one looks upon the various Houses and tents and institutions the world over, all separate and distinct from the House of the Cross, this is exactly what we see: a vast majority of your children that simply does not get you. And yet true to form you have taken it upon yourself to condemn these people, and to cast them out of your sight. And this is good, Father, because you have said that it is.

And therein lies the problem with the belief in you as the Great Arbiter, dearest Father, for if your justice, an institution barely distinguishable from that of the lowest of your children, is in fact fair and good and loving, then those words have lost their meaning. And if our freedom, a state barely distinguishable from the pre-arranged motions of actors in a scripted play, is in fact freedom, then that word has lost its meaning as well. And if words can lose their meaning at your whim Father then what is the point of even trying to understand you? What has been the point of my journey, my quest for both you and the great Sophia? In a single moment this very page could mean something completely different simply because you willed it to be so!

I suppose in the end my journey truly is nothing but a pointless exercise. After all, Father, wasn’t my fate already decided before I was born?

With sadness,

Your Prodigal Son

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On Freedom and Knowledge

Dearest Father,

It would appear that free will is an immense and insurmountable quandary. If it is taken from the perspective of good and evil then you do not have it, for you can never choose evil. If we take it from the basis of constraint and power then we do not have it, for our wills are not free at all but are limited by predetermined rules we cannot change. The last point is among the reasons I am writing yet another letter on this issue, for Doubt has not allowed me to rest since I sent you my last missive. Adamant that freedom, however small, is still freedom, he has forced me to think more deeply about the wills of your children, and to consider that perhaps we still possess our wills even if they are constrained, that we still have some agency even if it is not limitless.

In some way I agree. Though tiny and feeble our freedom may be, it still feels, for lack of a better word, like it is there. As I said in my last letter, even my illustrative prisoners possess freedom in certain things. They can choose to behave properly while serving out their sentence; they can choose the friends and foes they make whilst incarcerated. They are not free, but they are not completely bound either.

There is, however, one issue with this line of thought, and as I mentioned in my last letter it is one of judgement.  You see, the biggest reason we are given for our inability to reach the Great Upstairs with you is that we are not good. Against a being as wonderful and perfect as you we are bad, fundamentally stained and unworthy. The elders of the House do not say that we are a different kind of good; they say we are not good at all. When you are the standard anything that is not you is not it. If we are not as good as you we are not good, period. If one can be so harsh, so abrupt, so binary in meting out the judgement that shall serve us for all eternity, why then can one not be equally harsh in viewing the very constructs around which this judgement is made? If you are the model of free will then anything that is not like you in that manner is not free. Your children have a saying about having cakes and eating them that expresses this succinctly. We cannot use binary means to judge our worth, and then turn around and use continuous means to judge our freedom. Where you are the standard, there can be no deviant.

Still, Doubt had a point. True, our wills are not free; they are limited. However, they have not been shown to be completely constrained. We have some leeway. We may not possess the almighty, world-creating freedom of our Father, but we have something. While a stubborn part of me was unwilling to give quarter to these thoughts, my curiosity was piqued and I decided to explore the implications of this. You, for whatever reason, decided at the moment of our creation to constrain our freedom, to (perhaps ironically) limit it to two “things”: good and evil. This compromise would mean that we have solved our problem. We have some freedom, and we have will. What your children have done with these things can now be squarely laid at our feet.

I had barely finished nodding my head at his postulations when Doubt turned around and attacked his own words. We may have some freedom, he offered, but is it freedom that matters? There are certain kinds of freedoms that are ultimately pointless and others that are infinitely more useful. The freedom, for example, that allows our aforementioned prisoners to eventually break free of the bonds keeping them in prison is a very useful freedom. The one that allows them to sleep on whatever side of their cot that tickles their fancy is, on the other hand, quite useless. Admitting that we have some kind of freedom is not enough. We must be able to see if this freedom is useful or constructive, if this freedom serves some purpose. And to that end Father, Doubt revealed one thing that rendered all the freedoms you have given us pointless: knowledge, or perhaps more accurately, ignorance.

Once again Father, I must look to you to make his point. Ignoring the immense freedom that power brings, there is still a certain advantage afforded to beings like yourself that know what their choices mean. Knowing which choices to make, knowing which choices would have certain desired consequences, these are forms of knowledge that are not just invaluable but essential if one is to consider your children truly free to choose. Knowledge is power, and power is freedom; he who knows more can choose better, and the very existence of Doubt tells you all you need to know about the state of your children’s knowledge.

We often say that the road downstairs is paved with good intentions, and this truism illustrates exactly what is wrong with the ignorance you have allowed to fester among your children. You have made a world, Father, where it is not enough for one to want so fervently to do good; one must also know how to do good. This would not be quite the issue it is if you saw fit to bestow upon your children wonderful, perfect intellects that revealed intimately both the good things and the bad, so that intent was coupled closely with knowledge, so that ignorance would be no defence for there would be no ignorant people. Instead you have made beings with minds most weak, beings that learn only through repetition, beings that forget very easily, beings that need continuous experience in order to truly know.  You have made beings with whom there exists such a disparity in beliefs they cannot agree on what good and evil are. If we do not even know what these things are, if we cannot trust our own heads, one what basis can you say we are free to choose the right things?

Now, there are those within the House that state that all these flaws of the human mind came as a result of the Fall, that the sins of the First Brother clouded our heads and hearts. And while this answers the questions surrounding our immense limitations, it also raises a very terrifying corollary. It means, Father, that Adam, of sound mind and heart, knew what he was doing when he consumed the forbidden fruit. This leaves one with the scary conclusion that he either possessed intent most evil, or he was a terribly foolish person.

Think about it Father. For one to believe that before the Fall we were perfect one has to believe that Adam knew exactly what eating that fruit meant. The deceptive words of the serpent become useless in this world, for Adam would know that he was not going to become you; he was instead going to die. And not only was he going to die; he was also going to damn his sister-wife and every last one of his offspring to death as well. This is stupidity and evil to the most extreme, for he effectively traded happiness and paradise for death and destruction. Only a being most evil would do this in full knowledge of the consequences, a being that doesn’t care much for itself or for anything really, a being we have seen personified in the history of the House as You-Know-Who… (I wonder, was he also possessing of perfect intellect before his fall from grace?)

Of course because the fruit itself was from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, this means that Adam could not have known that he was doing evil, even if he perhaps knew the dire and damning consequences of his actions. In one move we appear to have created a terribly evil being that is not even aware of his evilness.  Is it any wonder that he fell? Could he really have been called good along with the rest of your creation when such evil lurked within his soul?

Thus, our First Brother was either ignorant and good when he fell, or knowledgeable and evil. The first option means that we have never been free of ignorance; our minds have always been weak and clouded. The second contradicts the very need for the act that led to the Fall in the first place, making it a useless, if already frightening, conclusion.

And so Father, even with the assumption that we possess some freedom to power our wills we are left realising that this freedom is once again useless as it does not (and never did) contain the most necessary ingredient for free and informed choice: perfect knowledge. It seems Doubt pushed me down this path of limited freedom with the express intent of dashing my hopes, for once again I am left with the unfortunate conclusion that your children in no meaningful way possess free will. We are not as free as you, and even in our limited existence we lack the necessary tools to have prevented our Fall and to save us from ourselves.  This calls to mind once again the question of judgement, Father, for one must wonder on what standard you judge beings that have been handicapped from the very beginning.

As I sit here and ponder that even my once little friend is silent; this, it seems, is a question neither of us can answer.

With much thought,

Your Prodigal Son

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On Freedom and Will

Dear Father,

Dissatisfied with where I left things in my last letter, I decided to revisit the issue of free will and what it means for you. The thought that you, Father of fathers and lord of the universe, were somehow nothing but a mere machine did not sit right with my Crossian upbringing. My mind, perhaps my conscience, rebelled against this thought and it sought to find a way out, a loophole I could exploit to bring you back to your full power. Charged with this intent I did what very many lovers of Sophie have done over the years; I decided to engage in a thought experiment. Now, as with all thought experiments there was an underlying premise to mine, in this case the direct opposite to the feared conclusions of my last letter. The central premise of my experiment was thus: You possess free will; any definition of freedom and will must be made in such a manner that keeps them firmly in your grasp. Needless to say dearest Father, with my once little friend quizzing my thoughts I arrived at a not-so-rosy end to this most basic assumption.

Consider yourself, Father. You are. Before there was time, you are. After the end of time, you are. There is nothing without you. The very first pages of your Book spend words expressing how you fashioned everything. They tell us how you commanded light into being with a simple utterance from your lips. Pages, verses, chapters and books have been spent across the ages expressing the sheer, wondrous breadth of your power – power, we are told, beyond anything your children could ever imagine. You see all; you know all; in very many ways you are all.

I can almost imagine you sitting (if such a concept even existed at the time) all by yourself and deciding, freely, to make things. Perhaps you even made ‘making’, and ‘unmaking’, and ‘remaking’, and all the other kinds of makings there are and can be. With no compulsion, no impetus, no force but your own, you made stuff. You fashioned the earth, and the heavens, and your guards, and the animals and your children, freely. And this is the point Father, for I cannot stress this enough: You did these things without necessitation. You had your freedom and you had your will, and this is the world that they birthed. The question of good and evil seems almost childish in hindsight, for you truly are above such petty nonsense. You are the Great Arbiter, the one whose words and arbitrations immediately become the very truth of the universe. This is not just power, Father. It is freedom, perhaps the purest kind of freedom… perhaps the only kind of freedom. Your actions have no consequence, unless you will it to be so. Your choices have only the meaning you want, only the effects you wish. You are unconstrained, unbound, unfettered. You are free to do whatever you want. Your will is truly yours.

Contrast this with your children, dearest Father. Unlike you, supposedly eternal, we were made, and without our consent. Our very beginnings are a testament to lack of freedom, for our existences are tied to your whim; our fates are in your hands. But that is not all. We do not choose our bodies; we do not choose the matter from which we are made. We do not choose our parents, and by extension we do not choose the environments into which we are born, the people to whom we are charged. We are, with the exception of the First Brother and his wife, dropped into a harsh and cruel world we had no part in making, and forced to do all that it takes to survive. From the moment we are born we are surrounded by things we do not understand, people we do not know, circumstances we do not control; and by the very nature of the bodies and brains you have seen fit to give us, these things and people and circumstances are constantly affecting and changing us, constraining us, directing us, putting us into little boxes before we even know what boxes are.

Even the ‘we’ that I refer to already comes, at birth, with its own set of rules and regulations, rules that our conscious minds are unaware of, compelling us to do things, using our surroundings and our very compositions to form the consciousnesses we will in turn use to observe and judge our worlds. We inherit traits and characteristics from our parents; we are moulded and changed by our environments. From the very first days of our lives to their last, we walk in a world of constraints, of limitations, of twists and turns and things we cannot do.  And then (unlike you) our actions, voluntary and involuntary, are surrounded by consequences, consequences we once again did not choose, consequences we had no part in creating.

So, we do not choose ourselves; we do not choose our characters. We do not choose our environments nor do we choose the effects of our choices. Examining all the things we do not choose, Father, one starts to ask exactly what our free will means. Placed beside your freedom and the will it enables, our wills and our freedoms seem to me to be very limited, almost non-existent. It seems then that if we attribute free will to you, if we say that you have free will and you are the standard by which everything else is to be judged, then we are severely lacking. We are prisoners of the bodies and worlds you have given us, ultimately your prisoners, for in the end only you can decide whether we are worthy of the Great Upstairs or deserving of the pit down below.

Of course an argument can be made for different levels of freedom, and it is one that Doubt put forth while these thoughts were flying through my head. We are free, he offered, but not as free as you. And to that I laughed. Imagine that Father. Not too long ago I was the one offering outs to unpalatable situations and Doubt was the one laughing at my feeble attempts.

Of course, one can assume that freedom is not binary and that there exists, no matter how small, a modicum of it in every being. But even in that the difference in the levels of freedom between you and us is so great I cannot really assume that we are ‘free’ in any sense of the word. To use a human analogy: The justice of your children requires the existence of prisons, places people are kept either temporarily or permanently for crimes against their fellow men. By Doubt’s definition these people are free. They can roam the expanse of the prison; they can talk to other inmates; they can walk around in their cells and sleep in whatever manner they desire. But against the freedom of being able to go anywhere, or talk to anyone, or do anything (within the constraints of the law, of course), these privileges, these ‘freedoms’ are useless. The inhabitants of these prisons are often described as having lost their freedom, not because they have become like the machines your children have invented, but because they are so constrained by the wills of others their little smidgens of freedom are effectively useless. Against the freedom of our Father most powerful, your children are in prisons, Father. Ours is really no kind of freedom at all; it is a very elaborate form of bondage.

If you are said to be free, truly free, then your will is free as well, and we have satisfied our initial assumption that you have free will. However, in doing so we have stripped ourselves of the very freedom I rejoiced over in my last letter, turning our wills into nothing more than pre-allowed permutations over a fixed set of options. Of course if we take you out of the picture and turn to our programmable machines and the inanimate objects and plants that surround us, we suddenly feel once again like beings of immense volition. But if we cannot judge something as fundamental and intrinsic as free will against the standard of our Father, then whence comes our judgement? And, perhaps more importantly Father, if our freedom pales so greatly before yours in what way can you look upon us and judge us on the basis of truly ‘free’ will?

With indignation,

Your Prodigal Son

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