MAN’S CONSCIENCE CATEGORICALLY REJECTS DETERMINISM
Despite the fact that philosophers and religious scholars have advanced arguments and proofs of various kinds concerning man’s free will, we shall resort to the shortest and easiest argument in this regard, which is man’s conscience.
It is worth mentioning that everybody, theist and atheist alike the easterner and the westerner, the ancient and the modern, the affluent and the poor, the developed and the underdeveloped, all believe that law should govern and dominate human societies and that individuals should be responsible to carry out their duties and tasks at hand and that whoever violates law and order should be punished in some way.
In summary, the jurisdiction of law, the individual’s responsibility towards it, and the chastisement of lawbreakers and wrong-dowers are those issues that all the wise men of the world would agree upon. It is only the savage who does not agree with these issues.
This issue, which is referred to as the general conscience, is the clearest reason to prove the existence of man’s free will.
How could man lack freedom of action and will and then be assumed responsible for the consequences of his deeds? Or how could man be considered obliged to obey the law, and be tried in lawful courts? Or how could he ever be proven guilty and then sent to jail or even be executed?
Man in this case would resemble the stones in an avalanche which cause the death of travelers on the road below.
It is evident that there are differences between a stone and a man. But if we deprived man of his free will, these differences vanish. Then both effects, being killed by a man or by falling stones, would be the same.
The criminal’s urge to kill, would be considered outside his control, just like gravity lies outside the control of the falling stone. According to the proponents of determinism, there is no difference between these two sets of events, for both events have occurred outside the doer’s free will or control.
Now, we are faced with a choice: We either have to reject the common conscience of all members of the society and consider the act of punishing the wrongdoers and criminals as absurd and worthless or reject the proponents of determinism altogether. In this case, we will definitely select the second choice.
It is worthwhile to observe the fact that those who believe in deterministic ideology adhere to the theory of free will in practice when they naturally come face to face with the realities of life.
These kinds of people, when deprived of their rights or when bothered by wrongdoers, seek justice and ask for the punishment of wrongdoers.
Now, if man is not free in his actions, then why should he bother to complain, or seek justice?
Thus, this general conscience of the intelligent people of the world is a clear reason for the existence of free will in man and for the fact that man voluntarily accepts free will and has always been loyal to it. He cannot carry on with his daily life without it even for one day.
The great Islamic philosopher, in his discussion on free will versus determinism states succinctly:
“The perception of the essentials and our conscience lead us to believe that all of our deeds are dependent on us.”(۱)
THE RELIGIOUS OPPOSITION TO DETERMINISM
What we have stated so far has been based on opposition to the school of determinism from the angle of the conscience of the world’s intelligent people, both theist and atheist. But from the religious point of view, we have another convincing reason against determinism.
There is a clear conflict between religion and determinism. If religious programs were based on determinism, every thing would be distorted.
This is because of the following reason:
We could never reconcile God’s justice, on which we have already had a lengthy discussion, with determinism. How could God force a person to carry out something and then punish him for it? This is in conflict with logic itself.
Thus, with a belief in determinism, the issues of spiritual reward, chastisement, Paradise and Hell are no longer valid.
Also the belief in the record of one’s own acts, the concept of the Day of Judgment, divine inquiry into one’s deeds, the idea of chastisement for wrong-doers and the topic of showing favor to well-wishers so vividly brought up in the sacred verses of the Holy Qur’¡n would all be unnecessary. This is because in accordance with such a view, neither a wrongdoer nor a well-wisher would have been free to do what he did.
Furthermore, in our first contact with religion we referred to the topic of “duty and responsibility.” But how is “duty and responsibility” related to a man who is not free in his actions?
Could you ever tell a man to stop his trembling hand when his hand naturally shakes due to his illness? Or could we ask a man to stop suddenly when he is running on a steep plain?
For this very reason, Imam `Al¢ (s), in a famous narration, says. The school of determinism belongs to the idol worshippers and the proponents of Shaitan:
“This is the statement of the idol worshippers, of God’s enemies and of Shaitan’s party.”
THINK AND ANSWER
What is the clearest reason against determinism?
Describe the general conscience of people concerning the concept of free will.
Do the proponents of determinism have the same idea when confronted with the facts of life?
Is determinism compatible with God’s justice? If not, why?
How is freedom of will the basis for any kind of responsibility and duty