Really struggling with this question:
As Catholics, we believe that we have this thing called ‘free will’. I understand why this does not conflict with the fact that God is omniscient. His knowing what we will do is not the same as his causing it. But:
When we take a ‘free’ decision, consider what influences us. Presumably, every decision we take is a result of our nature and nurture. I (person ‘A’) see a laptop on someone’s desk, for example. By nature I am, say, impulsive and reckless (my genes predispose me to this). My genes also predispose me to steal this laptop. But my nurture - for my parents have brought me up well - causes me to resist this temptation.
Another person (‘B’), say, sees this same laptop. He is similarly predisposed to steal, but his ‘social conditioning’ has not caused him to be able to resist this temptation. He steals the laptop.
We may say, I would have thought, that we can guarantee what each of these two people would do when confronted with this situation. Person A will always resist the temptation, and person B will always steal.
How, then, can we hold person B ‘responsible’ for his action? It seems that in order to do this, we have to say that there is some entity which exists outside the influences of his nature and nurture. This, I understand, is what we call ‘the soul’.
But what ‘causes’ the soul to make the right, or the wrong, decision? Are not all souls conceived equally by God?
If two people with identical natures and nurtures (identical twins, say) were both confronted with the same temptation, we must be able to say that each is still ‘free’ to make his decision. Otherwise there is no free will. So why might one resist, and the other not? Are sins predestined for heaven or hell?
This question is causing me serious doubts. I’d be so grateful for anybody who can shed some light on this problem!