When thinking about the topic of whether to
allow people to have truly free choice, it reminds me of a story from my own history. When I was a sophomore in high school, I went
to an all boys Catholic school and Fr. Ray, who was teaching us religion, wanted to illustrate
to us why it is that God gave human beings free will. And here is the story he used. He said imagine you were walking down the
street, a beautiful woman is walking towards you, and you have the power to snap your fingers
and make her fall instantly, madly in love with you. Just imagine you had that ability.
Of course, we are imagining that ability as we were 14-year-old high school students.
And he said, what will be even greater than that ability? And of course, we’re thinking
about that tooó14-year-old boys. And he said no, no, what would be even greater than that
ability is if she fell in love with you completely of her own accord. That’s a really profound
moral insight. Now, Fr. Ray’s point was that, that explains why God gave us free will. Could God have commanded our obedience? Of
course. Heís God. But, that would have been demeaning both to us and to him; it would’ve
been to not respect us as moral agents. But, we can put the religious part of that aside
and just think about that core moral insight. What it means to respect a person as a moral
agent is to give that person the opportunity to choose, even when you know that sometimes
they will make bad choices. Sometimes they will choose things that they shouldnít. Sometimes
they will choose things that even they themselves will regret later. Respecting the dignity of a human being is
giving that person the freedom to choose, good and sometimes, yes, bad. And that moral
insight is really at the core of classical liberalism.