Monday, February 27, 2012

What is true freedom?

The lovely and gracious Stacy Trasancos post about why believers know more about science than non-believers.  It is well worth a read and raises some good points about worldviews and knowledge of them.  But I do have a nit to pick with the article, and since I have nothing else to write about at the moment Stacy will be the latest victim of my habit of critiquing fellow Catholic bloggers.  Mind you, I do not know what Stacy thinks about the subject of freedom. I am only going off of what she wrote in her article.  

The offending quote that I found is the following about freedom:
Faith is not a human invention. The believer bases faith on Divine Revelation, and bases science on Creation. Both have their common source in God, the Eternal Truth. It is true, the believer is less free in his knowledge than the unbeliever, but only because he knows more.
Stacy, say it an't so?  This statement subscribes to the modern notion of freedom, which loosely means, "doing whatever the hell one wants."  This notion of freedom needs to die.  Quickly.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. - John 8:32
 True freedom lies in knowing the truth.  Freedom, properly defined, is geared toward the health and well being of the individual and community.  If knowledge of the truth is absent, my ability to make my choice is compromised.

To say that the unbeliever is more free than the believer is to say something akin to the drug addict is more free than the law abiding citizen.  Yes, the drug addict is "free" in that he "can" take drugs.  But would anyone call something as harmful as doing drugs "freedom" in a healthy sense of the word?  One can say is is free to do drugs, but most likely one would say he is a slave of his addiction.

I have the freedom to reject God's word.  Much in the same way I have freedom to throw myself off a cliff.  The fact that the former damages my soul while the latter will damage my body does not diminish this freedom. That both are boneheaded things to do does not mean I am somehow "less free" simply because I recognize that these are bad for me.

True knowledge aids in freedom, not by saying that you "cannot" do bad things, but by pointing out that bad things are stupid and dangerous.  Sin damages us, no matter how much we want to do it.  That is one of the points of the Faith.  These things that we do against how God designed us damages us.  To point this out is to help us, not hinder us.

True freedom recognizes limits because there are things that hurt us.  We can still embrace these things, much like I can put a gun to my head and pull the trigger.  That doesn't mean these things are right, or smart, or healthy.  And conversely, true knowledge recognizes that freedom, and seeks to inform our conscience of the merits of those choices.

So let us dispense with this notion of freedom that treats eating a fine meal with lacing it with cyanide.  I am not less free simply I recognize the harm cyanide does and refuse to consume it.  If anything, my knowledge of the harm cyanide causes makes me more free, since I can now exercise my choices in an informed fashion.  True freedom seeks the truth, and truth fulfills freedom.

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