it is more than you would think

Freedom is never free no matter how stridently one might assert that it absolutely must be so, for there is no such thing as absolute, unfettered freedom. All freedoms are bounded by restrictive covenants, limited by how far one can go in exercising one’s power to act upon one’s personal desires.

A Biological Computing Machine

A Biological Computing Machine

So, what price is freedom? You cannot purchase freedom like a loaf of bread or a new car, for freedom doesn’t come neatly packaged and labeled nor will you ever find a price tag attached. That isn’t how the price of freedom is determined. It is not determined by weight, color, size, category, or type. No, the price of freedom is determined precisely by what limits are placed upon it and what consequences are incurred as a result of its employment. Consider for a moment what price was paid for eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Neither Eve nor Adam paid for the fruit in cash or by credit card prior to eating of it. The price they paid for choosing to act in direct disobedience to God’s stricture was far greater than what they would have willingly paid for that single piece of fruit.

All higher forms of life have a brain, a physical system of neurons and synapses that control both external and internal actions and reactions. Touch something hot and the brain signals for the body to immediately, instinctively, and involuntarily react, no thinking required or needed. Threatened by some force or situation and the brain will signal for an increase in adrenalin, the heart will beat faster, and senses will become sharper, and again, no thinking required or necessary.

The brain, no matter whether belonging to human, animal, fish or fowl is in essence a biological computer that receives input and produces output and nothing more. It responds to stimuli and directs the nervous system to perform some action. The brain, any brain, cannot think or make a choice. Stand a million dominoes on end next to each other and they will remain just as they were placed until some external force causes the first one to fall into the next. Nothing inherent in the domino allows for it to make a choice, to decide to do anything other than to stand in place until driven to do otherwise.

Human beings differ from all other life in that we have the capacity to consciously think and make choices. We can choose where and when to have lunch, we can learn and think in the abstract, such as determining the value of x in an equation or understanding the concept of negative numbers. In other words, we not only have a material brain but we also have an immaterial mind. A brain surgeon may be able to look into the brain but no one can access another’s mind. And it is the mind that makes us human and it is the mind where free will resides and it is our free will that gives us freedom.

But what accounts for our immaterial non-physical mind? Where does our ability to think freely, to make choices, to act as we desire originate? Nothing physical can create the immaterial which leads us to the obvious conclusion: there must be an immaterial mind far greater than ours to account for, to conceive of, and to create our minds, and that would and can only be God.

Believe it or not, it is your choice; after all you have free will.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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