We Know How G-d Feels

 

I was thinking today about raising children, and dealing with the fact that they have Free Will, too. Nothing we can do or say as their parents removes their free will. So at least some of our children, some of the time, will make us sad, or angry, or hurt. Not because we did anything wrong, but because our children get to be independent, or rebellious, or stupid.

And I think this is all by design. We get to know how G-d feels.

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  1. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    I figure that if batting 300 will get you in the Baseball Hall of Fame, batting 300 with the decisions made by your children will get you in the parental hall of fame. Especially since I did not raise my sons to be obedient drones, but rather to challenge the world using the values I instilled in them.

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  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    So very true. And painful. But true. At least they also show wisdom, at least at times.

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  3. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    I’ve been fortunate that my children have not yet done anything that’s filled me with grief or regret. I’ve been doubly fortunate that none of them has suffered any terrible loss or hardship. I’m thankful for both of those facts.

    However, were one of them to suffer some awful misfortune, either through a choice of his or her own or as a result of circumstances beyond his or her control, I wonder how much worse I would feel if I knew that I could have chosen to prevent it.

    Of course, I probably couldn’t  prevent it, so I wouldn’t have to consider that aspect of my child’s suffering. But it seems to me that that, at least, is a sense in which we don’t know how G-d feels.

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  4. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I wonder how much worse I would feel if I knew that I could have chosen to prevent it.

    Of course, I probably couldn’t  prevent it, so I wouldn’t have to consider that aspect of my child’s suffering. But it seems to me that that, at least, is a sense in which we don’t know how G-d feels.

    I think G-d respects the rules of the game He wrote. G-d does not, as far as we know, directly block our free will.

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  5. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    iWe (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I wonder how much worse I would feel if I knew that I could have chosen to prevent it.

    Of course, I probably couldn’t prevent it, so I wouldn’t have to consider that aspect of my child’s suffering. But it seems to me that that, at least, is a sense in which we don’t know how G-d feels.

    I think G-d respects the rules of the game He wrote. G-d does not, as far as we know, directly block our free will.

    I understand that. I also know that, if I could foresee a tragic event befalling one of my children and it was within my power to prevent it, I’d be hard-pressed not to prevent it — even if it meant depriving him or her of the ability to choose a tragically flawed path.

    But maybe G-d doesn’t really feel just the same as I do about things.

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  6. Lawst N. Thawt Coolidge
    Lawst N. Thawt
    @LawstNThawt

    It makes perfect sense to me that life, and everything about it, teaches us something worth knowing.  

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  7. Keith Lowery Coolidge
    Keith Lowery
    @keithlowery

    And I think this is all by design. We get to know how G-d feels.

    @iwe

    I think you’re right. I also think that free will is the essential enabling context for there being any possibility of love in the world. The two are inextricably linked. One might argue that justice and free will are linked in similar ways.

    I also think Ezekiel 18 offers a strong argument for free will and, even, the idea that free will prevents bad parents from being able to deterministically “ruin” their kids.  (e.g. it argues that bad parents can produce good kids and that a child’s moral choices, even those with dysfunctional parents, grows out of true moral agency.) The bible views children as not quite so programmable as our modern materialist superstitions would have us believe. Of course, if this is true, we parents deserve far less credit for their good choices and far less blame for their failures.

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  8. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    I remember a television show that discussed genes and genetic influences on human life outcomes.  One example that stuck with me to this day is the example of identical twin boys.  

    By middle age one of the boys was a health nut and heavily into martial arts.  The other boy was a homeless alcoholic.  

    The twins actually had similar life journeys until one of them suffered the tragic loss of his wife in a car accident.  Then he started drinking heavily to dull his emotional pain.  It’s possible that both men were genetically predisposed to alcoholism, since they had the same DNA, but only one of them had an “environmental” influence that made him vulnerable to becoming a drunk and a homeless man.  

    There’s also the case that identical twins aren’t necessarily born identical since one of the twins takes up more nutrients while in Mom’s womb.  So, the environmental differences exist even before they are born.  

    I suppose determinism could be true, yet we would still have a sense of free will in the sense that we think that there is a meaningful distinction between jumping into a swimming pool and being pushed into a swimming pool.  Even if both events were “determined” in some abstract sense, we can understand why one event was a result of a free choice by the swimmer while the other was a result of a free choice by the pusher.

    We can distinguish a person who got cancer through bad genes from a person who got cancer by smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day, heavy cocaine use and a heroin addiction.  

    Free will is a fascinating topic.  

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