As someone who has read the Hebrew Torah, along with the Talmud, multiple versions of the Christian Bible, The Qur’an, and so on and so forth,I have found that the question of free will versus determinism depends upon whom you ask.

Various fundamentalist sects absolutely believes that God is responsible for all of our actions. Other Christian sects and movements embrace free will with the caveat that, if you don’t follow God’s rules, you will burn in hell forever. Calvinists in particular, believe that your eventual destination — eternal life or eternal damnation — is predestined by God. A further complication stems from the Calvinist belief that God transforms the will of the individual who is predestined for eternal life so that that individual’s behavior “freely conforms” to God’s will, and there are a lot of Presbyterians out there who are still following Calvin’s concepts.

Free will implies the ability to go against God’s laws without suffering punishment. If punishment inevitably follows the violation of God’s rules, then we are subject to divine ordinances and free will, though technically available, becomes meaningless to the devout. If punishment is not inevitable, that isn’t free will. It’s license. We have the license to do what we can get away with and God, being inconsistent, is not God at all and we need not fear him.

Alan is a poet, journalist, short story writer, editor, website developer, and political activist. He is the executive editor of BindleSnitch.com.