Philosophy in Defense of Free Essay

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Buddhists, who similarly believe in the concept of Karma, also have a strong commitment to the belief that their actions have consequences. While Buddhists have a much different value system than Hindus or especially Western religions that tend to see good and bad as black and white, while Buddhists see it as wholesome or unwholesome (Sach 80), they still have a code of morality, such as valuing peace over harm. Karma represents this moral dichotomy. Thus, both the Eastern religions of Hinduism and Buddhism support the theory that one creates one's own destiny. If they did not, they could not have their system of moral rights and wrongs. Without the chance to make positive or negative decisions, a belief system cannot coherently state that one cannot make one's own decisions, creating one's own destiny. How could a belief system maintain that one would be punished for his or her actions without giving one the chance to make those decisions, instead suggesting that the decisions were simply a product of fate or destiny?

The major Western religion, Christianity, makes similar claims. By offering the punishment and reward of heaven and hell, much like Buddhists and Hindus offer the punishment and reward of positive and negative future lives through Karma, Christianity espouses that one has the ability to choose between right and wrong. Otherwise, the principal concept of the religion would be a judgment of those who could not make a choice. Although Christianity complicates matters by suggesting that a God knows what will happen in the future, the religion does not make the claim that God makes certain events happen to certain people. St. Augustine is one of the primary Christian philosophers and theologians that came up with this concept. He maintained that:

We have the free will to embrace light, and if we eschew its beacon to sulk in the darkness of sin and despond, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Such is the price of free will. Just as goodness is its own reward, sin is its own punishment -- a descent into the maelstrom of nothingness..."(Mannion 45).

Thus, both the major Eastern and Western religions maintain that one creates his or her own destiny, using free will, and that punishments and rewards exist for each person's decisions.

Because of the fact that both major and Eastern and Western religions make use of the concept of free will so logically, one can conclude that a belief in free will both exists and is necessary for systems of rewards and punishments in various religions. Those who believe in fatalism, or that one's destiny creates them, believe in fatalism, that what will happen is destined to happen. Aristotle even argued this point, suggesting that everything happens out of necessity, and meaning that one cannot prevent from happening what fate has already decided will happen (Rice 2006). Fatalists will argue that humans are not powerful enough to change the course of fate and that everyone is a part of an intricate plan. The Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu would most likely respond to this argument by agreeing that all are part of an intricate, and perhaps cyclical, system, but would suggest that our progression in that system depends upon our deeds, our choices, and that this can be proven by the system of punishments and rewards offered by most religions in order to motivate their followers, a system that would be nullified if one did not have the ability to choose one's actions. Although some of each of these region's believers may argue that they, in fact, subscribe to fatalism, for instance caste members or those who suggest that God has predetermined events that will occur throughout history, most would believe, as is argued here, that the system or punishments and rewards that exist as parts of most religions signify the necessity of free will and personal choice.

Works Cited

Mannion, James. Essential Philosophy. Avon: F+W, 2006.

Rice, Hugh. "Fatalism." 2006, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 8 October 2008.

Stanford University. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/fatalism/

Sach, Jacky.…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Mannion, James. Essential Philosophy. Avon: F+W, 2006.

Rice, Hugh. "Fatalism." 2006, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 8 October 2008.

Stanford University. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/fatalism/

Sach, Jacky. Essential Buddhism. Avon: F+W, 2006.

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