Explain religious teaching on free will.


A-Levels R.E Mind Map on Explain religious teaching on free will., created by Katie Hanlon on 12/05/2013.
Katie Hanlon
Mind Map by Katie Hanlon, updated more than 1 year ago
Katie Hanlon
Created by Katie Hanlon almost 11 years ago

Resource summary

Explain religious teaching on free will.
  1. Free will is the power of making choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances by an agency or divine will or fate. Generally there are 3 main views in response to free will; hard determinism, soft determinism and libertarianism. Hard determinism rejects free will, soft determinism means some of our actions are determined but we have free will to choose with them what we want, libertarianism accepts free will and responsibility.
    1. Traditional Christian view is that humans are autonomous agents and are responsible for their actions. In Genesis, Adam and Eve exercise free will in choosing to eat the forbidden fruit, God did not order them or instruct them to, with a lack of knowledge they themselves decided what to do. Many Christians suggests that we are free to choose good or evil and that this is an important part of our human dignity. Therefore humans are made in the image and likeness of God but it is up to each human to accept God's invitation in a living Christ existence. If we do this we have freely accepted God's grace.
        1. St. Augustine of Hippo disagreed. He believed that because of the fall of man, humans were no longer free to choose between good and evil. For humans to choose to do the good, he thought they must behold God's grace. In his theology of the fall he thought the story was the literal truth and his entire philosophy of salvation, grace and evil stem from it. One of the central tenents was that man was created to be immortal, and that 'morality might have been swallowed by life'. His overall view was that free will was given by God and you can choose to do evil with it but it wouldn't morally be your fault because everyone is born with sin inherited from Adam. When people choose to do the right thing, he believes this is God saving them from the sin.
          1. On the contrary to St Augustine, St Pelagius believed the fall was a good thing. He didn't think that human free will was damaged by the fall and did not think that original sin was inherited from Adam. He thought human beings were created mortal, death being a natural process, thus it was not Adam's sin that caused death, rather death is a natural cause of the world God created. Therefore humans were completely responsible for their actions and their free will remained making them not damaged by the fall, but in actual fact gain freedom to achieve salvation. He thought it was our own efforts that gained us a place in heaven and we must strive to be so good that when we use free will we choose to do the good things and become good people.
            1. St Ireneaus saw God's creation as good but incomplete, humans were made in God's image but not in his likeness and so must grow into his likeness during the course of a lifetime. This is why humans are given free will so they can grow to make choices that reflect God and allow us to be closer to him.
          2. HINDUISM
            1. Hindus believe in karma which indicates humans have free will. Karma is not fate, for they act with what can be described as a conditioned free will creating their own destiny. They believe the self-determinism and accountability of the individual soul rests on its capacity for free choice, this is exercised only in the human form. Whilst in the lower species such as animals, that atman takes no moral decisions but instead is bound by instinct. Therefore, all species of life are subject to the reactions of past activities, such karma is generated only in the human form. According to Madhva, one of the Hindu Gods, although he has control, he does not interfere with mans free will; although he is omnipotent does not mean he engages in extraordinary feats. They think God enforces a rule of law and gives them freedom to follow their own nature.
            2. PREDESTINATION
              1. Predestination is every divine decree by which God has appointed and ordained from eternity, all events occuring in time, especially those which directly proceed from or at least are influenced by mans free will. St. Augustine believed each man could be saved by the grace of God and that 'heaven' stands for the whole spiritual creation. The Catholic Church considers his view to be consistent with free will. He often said that anyone can be saved if they wish. While God knows who will be saved and who won't be, with no possibility that one destined may be lost, this knowledge represents God's perfect knowledge of how humans will freely choose their destinies.
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