Free Will negated by incentives

Thought Experiment.

Trial A Trial B
R2D2's are placed in a building and told about my existence. R2D2's are placed in a building and told about my existence.
I say who I am. I don't mention anything about what happens after their batteries die.
After they die, I tell them the plan.
I say who I am. I mention what happens after their batteries die.
I tell them that I will recharge their batteries after they die.
Their is happyland and sadland. The ones that love me go to happyland, else they go to sadland. Their is happyland and sadland. The ones that love me go to happyland else they go to sadland.
Result: They freely give love. 80% of them go to sadland as they hate me. Result: They freely give love. 50% go to sadland as they hate me.
Happyland=Heaven; Sadland=Hell; Experimenter=God; R2D2's=Humans.
Short Version

{Love Me} OR {Love me or you DIE}.
5 Years Later
{10% say they love me} OR {92% say they love me}

The incentives negate free will.

Wrong, it is still one’s free will. There are “incentives” in both choices.


If you are talking free will, doesn’t it presuppose sound mind?
Isn’t it irrational to reject God? How can that be a fully informed and free decision, and also be rational? Think about eternal torment for just a second. Is full appreciation necessary for true free will?
And another question if demons and Satan influence, does the influenced opperate with free will?

The problem with your thought experiment is that there is no relationship apparently between Experimenter and R2D2s during R2D2s’ battery life. Also, no indication that Experimenter is doing anything for R2D2s during their battery life, such as showing them love in various ways.

Humans don’t simply love God because they want to get eternal life in the afterlife. That doesn’t make sense. That may be the carrot that gets people’s attention to learn more about Christianity (we see this in the New Testament here and there) but there’s much more to love about God than that.


Having additional information when making a decision doesn’t make the choice less free. Given that Catholics generally believe the will follows what is understood by the intellect, it makes sense.

The question of free will more generally, for Catholics, is just a question of whether YOU have agency (acting on intrinsic principles) in making rational decisions.

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There is another aspect of incentives. Being afraid of a God who condemns us, then loves us, via apeasment of his Divine justice with the blood of his innocent son represents a scary God. Hard to fall in love with.( This is a debate in philosophy and theology that predates me by many centuries.)
The Franciscans still debate it.
Historically the underlying theology is called Atonement Theory. And
For the first 1000 years of church history Ransom Theory was predominant. Origen basically opined Jesus died as a ransom paid to Satan. ( Yup predominant church theory for a thousand years)
Only 100 years later, Saint Anselm’s substitution Theory( our modern position) was devised. Along the way other theories. Point is if Substitution is right, God has been described by scholars in that Theory as psychotic. What Catholic has not entertained this conflict with the God of love? How does fear hinder the relationship with God?

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During all of my formative years growing up, I don’t remember ever being taught of a “scary God” or thinking of God as a scary entity. I would imagine there are some people who are wrongly taught or who don’t have a good parent-child situation to which they can compare God and understand the concept of a loving parent. I hope they find some way to discover the love of God on their own.

I have no idea what it was like in the OT since I was not around then, but people who choose to think of God as scary or as a fearful entity are letting their own mind get in the way of themselves experiencing God.

St. Anselm’s view is not the Catholic view for atonement is through love not necessity. Catechism "616 It is love “to the end"446 that confers on Christ’s sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction.”

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First off: love your formatting on this post! Kudos! :clap:

OK, so… “the plan” that you tell them about is “when your batteries die, I will give them an eternal recharge. No strings attached. Also, you can choose to love me or hate me, and that will determine where you spend eternity.” Right? That’s the “plan” that you tell them about, right?

So… by your thought experiment, 80% of those unaware of “the plan” hate you, and 50% of those aware of “the plan” hate you.

How did you come up with those numbers? It doesn’t seem to follow from the thought experiment.

Moreover, the thought experiment doesn’t seem to account for your love of the R2D2’s, given that you created them and let them know it. Those would seem to be highly relevant considerations, wouldn’t you think?

The conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises. At best, you’ve shown that individuals make decisions based on the data they’ve received.

Finally, your thought experiment on the “Trial A” side doesn’t account for the particular teachings of the Catholic Church: those who, through no fault of their own, do not know God, but attempt to live lives in line with the Good, may be saved. So, I’m not at all certain that the harshness (let alone the “impingement of free will”) is warranted in “Trial A”.

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What would free will be without incentives? It wouldn’t really be free will if good and bad were both equally appealing to us because we would only ever choose good; thus, while it is technically free will, the reality would be something quite different. One purpose of free will is that it presents us with challenges and incentives to both what we call good and bad decisions.

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Hell is scary. Or is meant to be. Its always been used as a threat although i have noticed that some people prefer now to say that its more an absence of god. They seem to prefer a nicer version. Do a word association test with any one and see what you come up with.

I was raised that if you trust in God and do you best to follow his commandments, you don’t go around fearing Hell. Focus was on a loving relationship with God, not “God’s gonna send you to Hell” for the most part. The few times my mother started hollering about Hell were an anomaly and usually meant she was very upset. Also, I didn’t do too much bad stuff as a child and teen. Adulthood was another matter but when I returned to the Church, it wasn’t because I feared Hell, it was because I missed having the personal relationship with Jesus and Mary and having them be central in my life. I didn’t even think about Hell until I had been back actively practicing in the Church for about a year.

I find it odd how many people (including non-Catholics) dwell on Hell.


I agree Bear. Wasn’t raised on fear. If we believe God loves us unconditionally, why would we fear? We need to confess our sins, but I don’t feel fear from them, but shame.

I do not live my life according to God’s will in order to avoid hell, as much I do because to follow his will, is to do what he wants for me. Following his will removes a lot of questions about what to do. I don’t base everything I do on “is this going to send me to hell?”


Heaven is canceled, 1/5 the church leaves.

I love all of your made updstatistics you have come up with in this thread. :smirk:

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I had loving parents and began my Catholic School education in first grade. My three kids have gone as well.
Eternal punishment? I attended an old fashion Irish working class Catholic school. To a child, touching yourself and getting hit by a car on the way to confession could cause you to end up in " eternal fire". ( Obviously extreme, but there was a virtual gauntlet narrative that created fear. And was designed to)
My own parents loved me and couldn’t concieve of tossing me into eternal torment by comparison.
Admitted, these were simple times with simple lessons. But it was confusing, even to a young child, the parallel teaching about God’s love.
The narrative of needing the blood of his son to go from condemning us to salvation ( to satisfy Divine Justice) was equally confusing. Troubling.
I can tell you God is love and is not scary. That which contradicts this truth is where the error lies

God says that to us. Only in a more deep and more indirect way.
Blessed is the man who ----------, woe to the man who ---------. I love you all, and I wish that you would love me. By the way, the devil is real, hell is real, people go their. Make a decision.

What is the relationship, if any, between free will and rationality?

God is perfect. Does that sound like a plan for existence from a perfect being. It sounds more like something Trump would say

I’m with @Irishmom2; you’re just making statistics up, here. But, let’s think our way through your proposition, because it has value as a thought experiment!

If “heaven is cancelled”, I presume that this only means “there’s no eternal reward.” That’s problematic on the face of it: are you saying “we have eternal life, but no heaven” or “there’s no eternal life”?

Either way, though, it boils down to a particular fact. If we accept that it’s true that:

Love God --> go to heaven
Don’t love God --> don’t go to heaven

…then we have to ask what falls into the “don’t love God” category. I would assert that “reject God” and “pretend to love God” both fall into that category. I would conclude, then, that those who only pretend to love God out of a hope of not being punished, will be “out’ed” in the end. (They’re the tares that are indistinguishable from the wheat, in Jesus’ parable, but which will be separated out at the end of time.)

So… the “1/5 [of] the church [who] leaves” are those who weren’t attaining to heaven anyway. The 4/5, on the other hand? Still good. (Maybe not attaining to the Beatific Vision, according to the thought experiment, but still in that group who is attempting to love God.)

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