What kind of freedom do we have? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
As an American citizen who was born here and has thus far never left the country, freedom is a big deal over here. It makes sense. The Pilgrims who came over here came in search of freedom. Our country fought a war in order for us to be free. We are called the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Many of us like freedom, but we don’t think about what it is. In Castronova’s book, we’re going to be looking at two different kinds of freedom. The former is freedom-of or freedom-to. In this, you are free to do what you want, within certain parameters of course. You are free to have an affair with your neighbor if both of you agree. You are not free to murder your neighbor, even if for some reason both of you agreed to this. (Perhaps a convoluted plot involving insurance fraud?)
This is a freedom we’re very big on today. A woman will proclaim proudly that she is free to have an abortion if she wants. If someone wants to do something that the world thinks is foolish, well it’s a free country. You want to go and eat donuts for every meal every day? You can do that.
Freedom like this is saying you are free to do what you want. Many of us value that freedom. However, there is a freedom that takes it a step further.
Aquinas spoke of a freedom where you can do something free from guilty, anxiety, and stress. This is not that you are free to do what you want so much as you are free to want what you do. It’s like the saying about a job. If you like what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.
What does this have to do with the book’s thesis? It has a lot to say about how we can try to cheat the system. Some will try to game reality to get as much as they can while everyone else around them loses. They are free to do this.
However, there are still some rules that cannot be broken. You cannot put $2 in your piggy bank and then $2 more and somehow have $5. You are free to jump off of a building if you want to, but gravity might have a word to say to you when you hit the bottom. You are free to commit some crimes, but your society might have something to say and put you in jail.
This also has something to say about suicide. You are free to do this, but once you do this, the game is over. Dead men do not play any games.
In our world, we often want the former freedom, but think somehow we can escape the consequences. If you sleep around continuously, you should be able to avoid pregnancy and STDs. You should be able to eat whatever you want and live a healthy lifestyle. You should be able to avoid studying and still be able to ace all the classes that you have. You should be able to be a deadbeat employee and still be kept on board and get a raise.
Such freedom doesn’t really exist. Every choice has consequences. There are tradeoffs with every decision that we make. Some are minor and inconsequential. Some are huge with major consequences.
This means that we have to choose how we will play the game very carefully. We can play as if we think we are an exception to the rules, but reality is under no requirement to comply to that. If we try to go against reality, and I contend that with transgenderism and the redefinition of marriage our society is very much doing that, reality will eventually come back and hit us hard.
We can say God is loving, and that is true, but even love does not mean freedom from consequences. Most of us have been in a position where being loving to someone seemed to be very unloving at the time, perhaps to both of us. It meant letting them suffer with a bad decision. Parents have to do this regularly.
Not only that, we suffer from the bad decisions of others. None of us is immune to suffering. For we who are Christians, it’s extremely arrogant for us to think the Son of God was not spared the worst suffering when He walked the Earth, but somehow we will get a free pass.
I would that every day I could tell you all that I am not divorced, but every day I have to face that reality and it still stings every day. However, under freedom, I have a choice on how to respond to it and my choice is to do my best to live every day and overcome whatever led to that horrible event and work towards my goal of remarriage. It would be great if I lived in a world where I am understood and I don’t have to learn all these social skills that I don’t get at all and seem pointless, but such is not the world I live in.
If I am to play the game well, I need to understand how it works and so do you. This is where our worldview thinking comes into the picture. If we choose the wrong worldview, then we will suffer for it. If Christianity is true and we live like atheism is true, then there are consequences. If atheism is true and we live like Christianity is, then there are consequences. We all must weigh out those consequences and go beyond more than just a strong feeling or hope that one of those is true.
I still choose the Christian side to this day since I am convinced that is where the evidence of reality points, but I know there are still consequences. I have to live a certain way. There are things I can want to do but I cannot do because of the decisions I make. This is something everyone has to decide. Say what you will about Pascal’s Wager, but every one of us has to make it somehow. We all have to say this is how I’m going to believe reality works and I will live accordingly.
However, we have the added difficulty that we don’t agree how the game is played. A few weeks ago, I had a get together over here that involved playing Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. While we all had varying skill levels, we all knew there were rules to the game and it had to be played a certain way. We could have made some artificial rules, such as my being handicapped somehow, but we would have agreed on those.
Our society can be difficult today because we have many vastly different views on how the world works and how to function in it. There are people today who still live as if the world is in a past era and that if you just say what the Bible says, everyone will agree with it. There are some like myself who agree with Scripture, but knows that not everyone else does and you need to be able to make a case from multiple fronts. There are some who think it’s just a book of fairy tales with perhaps some good bits on living, but nothing to live your life by.
And we all have to live together somehow.
This makes freedom hard, but this is how we are all playing the game. Every day we get up and face reality, we agree that we will play. Our job at the start is to find out how we think the game is to be played and do so to the best of our ability. We are free to do as we please to an extent, but hopefully, we will be free from guilty, worry, and stress, and live our lives enjoying what we do.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)