I agree with most if not all of what you just said inksprout. I definitely believe in free will, and I totally know where you're coming from peteman. I was also raised in a very christian family and have struggled with my faith in the past couple of years.
I agree, I don't believe in pre-destination either. The thing is I also don't believe in hell, or at least not a hell in the conventional sense... The bible is generally kind of vague when it describes heaven and hell (with the exclusion of revelations). I've had many discussions with my father (pastor) and others, and what i've generally decided i believe is that hell boils down to eternal separation from God, and heaven is eternal life with God. It's impossible to know what happens when we die, but I have a hard time believing in a God who sentences people who were never given a chance to believe (think people who died really young) to eternal suffering.Premise 1: I believe that pre-destination is wrong. A God that is supposedly all loving would not create people in the full knowledge that they were going to hell. What mother would have a baby when they knew that as soon as they had it the baby would be totured and killed?
I'm supposed to be a psych major, but I still haven't learned a ton. I do know, as i'm almost positive someone else already mentioned, it is true that environment plays a huge part in who you are and I guess in the decisions you make. Its almost the nature vs nurture argument... only not quite. Bah I'm not sure how to explain it. I believe that it is a matter of choice, but it's hard. I have issues with like the story of Jonah (did he really have free will? The story goes that he was stuck in a whale's stomach until he decided to listen to god...), oh! but didn't Jesus have free will? He wanted to back out of being crucified (see any of the gospels at the end when he's praying in the garden of gethsemane) but decided to go submit to it anyway. Crap man I guess I don't know :/ I just believe that we have free will, but I guess I don't have a good logic for it..... I feel foolish now. I'm going to go hide in my cornerPremise 2: (and the main issue) We cannot control where and to whom we are born. The one thing that will effect everything about the rest of our existance; our personality,our culture, our values our way of life, how we see our selves, the chain of cause and effect that is the rest of our lives. Thus if we cannot choose to be in a position were Christianity (or any other religion for that matter) has any bearing on our lives or that we end up having a personality that will accept or decline it is beyond our control; how is being a Christian a matter of choice? And if it is not a choice then God is a douchebag for sending people to hell just because he made them.