If God is omniscient and omnipotent, do we really have free will, or are we merely puppets of fate? To answer this question, we need to go back to the Garden of Eden.
Adam and Eve did not have theology or organized religion; they had ONE rule. Don’t eat off that one tree. That’s it. Only one “don’t.” Everything else was a “go ahead.”
Well, we all know how this turned out. Eve said that the serpent deceived her, but she still chose to eat the fruit. Adam didn’t even have deception as an excuse. However, since a man will do whatever a naked woman says, he also chose to eat the fruit.
Now theologians have argued for centuries about whether or not Adam’s choice was predestined. Well, if it was predestined, then it was not a choice. If Adam had no freedom of choice, then it would follow that we don’t either.
This argument makes no sense theologically, or even just plain logically. A complete absence of free will would make our creation devoid of purpose. God created us in His own image, and God is not a robot. Therefore, we are not robots.
Everything we do is a choice, whether we are conscious of the fact that we are making a choice or not. Some of those choices may be against God’s plan for our lives.
If we were to live a perfect life, as Jesus did, then our lives would be a straight line between point A (birth) and point B (death). This straight line represents God’s predestined will for our lives.
Only here’s the problem. No one lives a perfect life, on account of our having free will. The choices that we make which are not in accordance with God’s plan will direct us away from God’s straight line from point A to point B.
Since God is omniscient, He knows not only that our rebellion was possible but all the possible ways in which we could rebel, consciously or unconsciously.
So how does this concept play out in our lives?
Picture the predestined straight line of God’s will as an interstate highway taking you on the fastest and easiest route from birth to death. Making a choice contrary to God’s will would be like getting off the interstate and taking a dirt road into the desert.
The farther you go down that road, the farther away from the interstate you are. In addition, the dirt road may have twists and turns and lead you down into canyons and ravines. Then, not only are you far away from the interstate, but you are also completely lost.
When we stray from God’s path, He sets up detours in our lives to divert us back to His predestined will—the straight line. Nevertheless, we still have the free will to choose whether to allow ourselves to be detoured, or to crash the barricades and continue to go our own way. If we do that enough times, God steps back and lets us go over the cliff.
Fortunately for us, we still have the opportunity to repent and surrender, thereby allowing God to lift us up out of the ditch we have steered ourselves into and put us back on his road (kind of like in Mario Kart). Furthermore, as long as we are alive, God’s grace gives us an unlimited number of do-overs as we continue down the road.
When you look at it that way, the issue of whether events of our lives are predestined fades in significance. The main question becomes not “Do I have control over my life?” so much as “What will I do with the control that I do have?”
In other words, ultimately our free will determines our fate.