Many people discuss whether God can intervene in a person’s will. I understand that beneath a person’s belief about God’s sovereign and humans’ will is a vast range of life experiences that no one but one’s self can truly understand.
But the same time, there is a lot about ourselves that we do not understand. I have read that 95% of our brain activity is subconscious. Thus, we are only conscious of 5% of what goes on in our minds. This fact alone should make us cautious about sweeping assertions regarding free will. Can we really use the 5% of mental activity that we are aware of to manipulate the other 95% any way that we desire?
Even if our conscious minds had the theoretical power to control our subconscious minds, I doubt that our natural consciousness has the wisdom to do so. We may feel as though we have free will because we see a range of attitudes that we could adopt. I can, to some extent, choose to make myself righteously angry about something by deliberately thinking about how much damage it causes or how much it frustrates me. In the heat of that effort, I could get some sort of action to result from the anger.
However, in another sense, the anger I conjured up is somewhat of a show. If I was happy before I felt the need to get serious about something, I will still be having happy thoughts even while trying to get more serious, and those happy thoughts compromise any seriousness that I am trying to generate. Even when I am acting upon the so-called anger, I am still simultaneously enjoying the action – I am not really all that stern – and the action itself often reflects that.
So, while it appears that I have free will to make myself angry, my ability to adopt a genuine attitude of anger is often absent, unless there is an event to provoke it. Thus, it is hard for me to say that I really have free will.
Also consider physical forces of nature. I have heard complicated sermons, and sometimes arguments, over how God’s protection over humans works, what humans have to do in order to receive protection, and how that protection is manifested. However, beliefs regarding divine intervention could evolve when it is realized that the natural order itself is more complex than what meets the eye.
An interesting fact is that, as your chairs sits on the floor, there is an upward force (called the “normal force) from the floor pushing up against the chair? I didn’t know that until I took a Physics class. If the chair is stationary, it is because the normal force and the chair’s weight balance.
When we think of the supernatural, we tend to think that we are going about our normal lives until suddenly something happens that defies the natural order of existence. We then term that sudden event “supernatural” and distinguish it from natural life.
But when we realize that there are many forces of nature that we do not know about, and many behind-the-scenes processes in our brains and bodies that we do not know about, then suddenly there are many more channels through which God can operate. The fact that we are unaware of it does not make it any less of a divine presence.
I believe that it is only through the spirit of God that we can live from day to day. There are so many processes inside of our bodies that, were they to go awry, life would quickly end. The heart has to keep beating, whether we’re awake, asleep, idle, exercising, or stressed-out. One’s heart rate can rise up and down depending on activity and circumstances, and everything in the body reliant on it still carries on normally.
Many proponents of Creationism and Intelligent Design say that the natural world could not have arisen by accident. I agree with that. But if creation cannot arise by itself, how can it be sustained by itself? I believe that it is the Spirit of God that enables all of us to be alive right now.
Ultimately, I believe that there are different reasonable views that one could hold regarding God’s sovereignty and involvement in the world. But I think that the complexity of the natural world and our own minds should give us caution about making any sweeping assumptions about what God cannot or would not do. There is much more to life than we are consciously aware of, and over time, we can gain glimpses into how God works through it by reflecting on our experience. This is God’s way of gradually teaching us His wisdom.