B: Ya know…it seems pretty obvious that despite the fact that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and loves us like His own children, He sure gives us a lot of freedom to do whatever it is we want to do. (In fact, one might argue that because God is so perfectly loving, He gives us our freedom.) You remember I was saying something about this before? I mean, He has to be giving it to us: we do all these things that we know we shouldn’t, that we know He doesn’t want us to do, and yet He doesn’t ever appear to be stopping us from doing so. If He’s restricting our freedom, wouldn’t one think that He would stop us from doing those things, or punish us when we do?
A: I thought He does punish us. Aren’t all the people who do bad in this life going to that one really hot and fiery place that the devil owns?
B: “Heck,” you mean? Well, I suppose so, but if that really happens, it doesn’t come until after this life. As far as this life is concerned, however, we can do whatever, and we don’t necessarily get punished or rewarded for our choices. I mean, we’re not given $100 or something for every good choice we make, and have it taken away or go into the hole for every bad choice we make. You’ve heard of that scripture – you know, the one about the rain falling “upon the just and the unjust”1.
Let me clarify, though, that we do get some “blessings” during this life; for example, if we generally make good choices and exercise faith in God, He promises that we’ll always have enough for us and our families to get by2. And we get some “curses” – remember what I said a “curse” was – as well; sometimes He’ll allow us to suffer some difficult times or trials to stir us in remembrance of our duty to Him and to others, or simply to test our devotion to Him. But other than that, we can pretty much do whatever we want, and He won’t punish us for it, at least not until the next life.
B: Two things to remember: this life is a test, and it’s relatively short compared to the remainder of our existences. Life wouldn’t be much of a test if we got an immediate reward every time we made a good choice, and instant punishment every time we made a bad choice. And by allowing the terrible things, God is able to really test us in our extremities. But when one realizes that there’s a life after this one, those terrible things don’t actually seem quite as bad. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they flat-out stink when we’re enduring them, but just remember that in the next life, things (hopefully) will be made alright.
A: So how come I can’t just take off and fly whenever I want to? God restricts us to the laws of physics, doesn’t He?
B: Well, perhaps He appears to be doing so, right now anyway. But then again, how do we know that we always have to be so restricted by them, if at all? We’ve already figured out how to fly using balloons, airplanes, space shuttles, and the like.
A: Buddy, these things were done while still obeying the laws of physics.
B: We continually gain increased understanding concerning the laws of physics. For instance, we find exceptions. Once upon a time, primitives may have said that it’s impossible for any man to fly, whether aided or not, but somebody invented some of those machines I just mentioned to show there are exceptions. Who’s to say that sometime in the future somebody won’t figure out a way to get around gravity by inventing some kind of antigravity substance, essence, or ether, or whatever, or to genetically engineer people so that they can fly? Way back at the dawn of history we were pretty limited in our abilities, but now look at all the stuff we’re able to do. Even the sky isn’t our limit any more.
A: But even then, all that will be happening is that our understanding of the laws of physics will be increased.
B: Indeed. We’ll be closer in our understanding to God’s eternal laws concerning physics. So I suppose we are restricted to those laws, whatever they are. We just don’t know if what we think of as the laws of physics are the same as what God knows them to actually be. Let’s talk about this more, but later.
So yeah, we got all kinds of freedom. And ain’t it great? We can do anything we want, and if there’s something we want to do but don’t know how, we can try to figure it out, and maybe eventually, we will!
Everyone loves and wants freedom. Even those who think that there should be more restrictions made on themselves or others value the privilege to choose to direct their lives in whatever way they choose. Throughout the ages, people have cherished freedom, and dreamed of having more than what they’ve been allotted. What’s odd is that even though God gives us all this sweet freedom, we sometimes don’t seem to be so keen on necessarily allowing others the same privilege.