Can freewill ever be removed from humans?

March 5, 2020


A few years ago – a day or so on from the siege of a school by terrorists in Belsan (Russia) – I was listening to Radio 4  when newscaster Jonathan Humphries announced he would in a few minutes time, be interviewing Archbishop Rowan Williams for his take about what had happened at the school and why. Curious as to what the Archbishop’s response would be, while at the same time mortified at the resultant mauling he might receive from Humphries, I hung about to hear what he had to say. It is necessary to add here that Humphries’ atheist leaning was widely known which not only made him rather unsympathetic to the Church (or any faith for that matter) but a hard person to be interviewed by (imho).

Suffice to say, the interview started amicably enough with a couple of ‘serve’ and ‘return’ rallies by both men while they set out their positions – then SUDDENLY – it kicked off!

(Can I add here that the short transcript of the radio programme can be found by clicking this link and is far more succinct than my recollection of the event but for those of you who want the skinny on what was said….

…it all kicked off when the Archbishop, in explaining the siege and the actions of the terrorists, framed it in terms of the complexity of the terrorists’ use and misuse of freewill. To say this was akin to a large red flag being waved in Humphries face is an understatement who went off on a blistering tirade about how the terrorist’s actions had denied parents and children the opportunity of their freewill. The Archbishop’s response, acknowledging how indeed the terrorists had curtailed the freewill of children, family and teachers by taking them hostage for their purposes, also noted that even in a curtailed state, children and parents might still have been able to exercise freewill in a lesser measure through choosing to comfort the child next to them or the weeping parent outside.

If you want to know the rest and how it ended, you’ll have to read the transcript which isn’t long and real insight into the issue of freewill which is the core of understanding the tenets of the purposes of God and tenets of Christian belief. But for now, it will suffice to say that the issue of freewill affects us all and even when other’s actions may deny us the freedom to make the choices we’d prefer, it does not mean that God is absent nor that all options have been removed from us.