Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Free will is like chess

I am working my way through C.S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain for the second time and reading it with fresh eyes.

Confession: I can only get through 5-10 pages in one sitting because he goes so deep! Lewis does not mince words or waste time with fluff. Every word, every phrase has a purpose.

Tonight's gem jumped out at me from a passage about free will. Almost as an afterthought to a fairly comprehensive explanation, Lewis includes this final sentence that summarizes free will in a way that hit home to me:

"(...)the chess player's freedom to play chess depends on the rigidity of the squares and the moves" (p. 65).



If life is a game of chess, we humans long to have the freedom to choose which moves we're going to make. We have a strategy that we think will help us win the game. We don't question the fact that there is a bishop and a pawn, a king and a queen, dark and light squares. We play with the game pieces as they exist. We honor and abide by the rules. There is a code to follow, and it is respected. There are some serious chess players out there!

The analogy is an easy one. In life, there is freedom to choose within "parameters" and in relationship with other "game pieces" (people). These parameters aren't established to ruin our fun or make life boring or a list of rules. They control the chaos and create order. The game Creator knows that the game will work best when played by the rules. He wants us to enjoy the game - enjoy it together and learn from each other. How fun is it when you play chess with someone who makes up rules throughout the game that work to their advantage? We all know what that is like.

So, the next time you think about free will, think about chess.

Bobby Fischer said it best: "Chess is life."


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