Conversations with Pluto - Free Will

Pluto is my neighbor's cat. Though he categorically belongs to my neighbor, he spends most of his time at my place, like many of us spend the entire day at office. He sleeps on an extra mattress in the room, topples the dustbin and eat all that's inside and torture the unfortunate cockroaches who come out for a walk in the sun. Generally he keeps quiet as he goes on with the above mentioned acts, but there are times when he decide to have a conversation. I get worried whenever he puts on that serious face, scratch his head, jump on to the table and take seat atop the pile of books. This is his favorite attacking position, having gained the 'higher-ground' advantage over me slouching on the bean bag.

So after watching 'Bedazzled' for the Nth time, when he quickly jumped on the table I knew he is on to something. I had noticed him scratching his ears vigorously during that scene where Lucifer plays dice with God on the sidewalk. So I picked up a cup of coffee and sat down, ready to face the assault. Finally after a long wait the Oracle spoke..

"How did you, me and the circus came about?", Pluto asked. 'Circus' is how he generally refers to the 'rest of the world', where according to him, his master is one of the Head-Clowns.

I gasped at the profoundness of the question and answered, "Many say that a God created all this out of love. Some say it happened when electric charge acted upon a primordial soup of atoms. There are a few who think aliens did it. And then there are the real intellectuals who say all this is a simulation"

Giving me one of those you-are-hopeless looks he said, "Ok, for the time being let us assume that God did it. Can we?"

"But how can you base a discussion on an assumption? We shouldn't have ambiguity in rational dialogs", I tried to act intelligent and interested.

"If you use the assumption only as a premise and later prove it a fact by virtue of the outcome, for which the assumption was not directly utilized, then there is no problem", he said effortlessly like a primary school kid reciting Jack & Jill, as I desperately tried to wrap my head around the statement.

Sensing the confusion he soon added "Anyway, it doesn't matter in our case as we are not trying to prove anything", nudging me back on track.

As I nodded my head in the affirmative he continued, "So if indeed God created us, then why are our actions at times judged as evil? How can his creations be or do evil?"

"Heard of 'Free Will' moron?", I tried to be my assertive best.

"Ok Theophiles, what IS Free Will?", he retorted, with a twinkle in the eyes. I noticed it was the same delight with which he corners cockroaches in the room, before pouncing on them.

"HE did not want us to act like zombies or just enact a script, and hence gave us the free will to 'choose'. So while he fixed the start and end points for our journey, birth & death, he lets us decide the path we take from A to B. Our destiny is a function of the choices we make and destiny of the world is crowd-sourced from people like us, much like a web 2.0 content aggregator. And since we make our own decisions, we are judged on our actions", I concluded.

"Amen", said Pluto. "So HE shifted the responsibility of decision making to us, so that he can sit and judge us for everything we do. Is this what you are implying?"

"No, No.. he just wanted to give us more freedom to shape our lives the way we want. Its like writing the preface and introduction of a book and letting you write the rest of the chapters", I was beaming with pride on my excellent choice of example to make the point.

"mmmm.. impressive. So, let me ask you this. What would we have done if there was no free will?", he asked scratching his balls. (Cats can do it no matter where, and no one frets about it!)

"We would have followed HIS will I guess", I replied.

Without blinking an eye he asked again, "And do you think HIS will means no evil and only good?"

"Of course, that is why we do not call him Idi Amin"

"OK, so without free will we all would have done just good and the introduction of the so called free will now lets us do bad things as well? All that HE really gave us through free will is the knowledge of evil and the temptation to falter? What kind of a 'free' will is that mate?"

"Without both good and evil, how can you implement free will?" I tried to reason with Pluto.

"Choice need not always be about right and wrong, it can as well happen between multiple good options; like you choose the color of some shirt you buy. HE never thought of that possibility?" he asked as the wicked smile returned to his face.

I was quiet.

"Checkmate", said Pluto, as he jumped off the table after another roach.

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