11/18/09

Flash Forward: free will vs. determinism

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten into a TV show, but Flash Forward is getting me hooked, though I’ve watched more episodes online than on Thursday nights.

If you haven’t watched it or didn’t catch the hype leading up to the September premier, on one day everybody in the world simultaneously blacks out for two minutes and 17 seconds. During that time, nearly everyone has a vision of his or her life six months into the future, their flash forward.

That raises an interesting question: Is the future as seen in the flash forward inevitable or changeable? Are the flash forwards a clue to what could happen or a certainty of what will happen? Sounds like the question Scrooge asked the ghost of Christmas future, doesn’t it? It’s a question of free will. Are we genuinely free to choose, or is choice an illusion? (That question was answered to some degree in episode seven, “The Gift.”)

Sometimes the question gets asked about Judas Iscariot. If his betrayal of Jesus was a fulfillment of scripture, then was he truly exercising free choice? Or was he unknowingly following a script written for him that he could not escape? Personally I believe that Judas was free to choose to betray Jesus or not, even though his free choice was foreseen and foretold.

Left to ourselves, all we would choose is evil. But God graciously chooses to make freewill possible for us. And God gives us this free choice, because he “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

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