Free Will vs Predestination: What's Gaming Teach Us?


Free Will vs Predestination is hotly debated among Christians. Free Will says we make our own choices and God holds us accountable for that. Predestination seems to imply God is making choices for people to some degree. That He overrides free will to make it happen. I think the reason they believe this is because His Plan requires specific things to happen in the future that implies He controlled the world and people in it to make it happen. So, they think Free Will can't exist. Gaming argues otherwise.

In games, a designer creates the world players inhabit. These worlds let players use free will in terms of movement, acquiring/using resources, and interacting with each other. The world designer often has expectations of the player. They want them to do certain things, go certain places, and so on. There's also usually an over-arching story where very specific events will happen in the future in order. Players are usually rewarded for following the designers' intended path. If they do it long enough, they reach the winning point. It's often perfect for the player. If they disobey, they experience anything from immediate discipline to eventual loss of life. Those in the world are usually allowed three choices: progress on important matters; doing pointless, but fun, activities that stall their progress; failing with temporary or permanent loss.

Although players have free will, the designer wants them to progress down the intended path. The designer has many options for getting the player to do what they want:

1. Telling them what's required by giving them their words with an implied promise that believing and acting on those words will lead them somewhere good. Example is with on-screen messages or in-game books.

2. Using the physical world to entice good behavior or punish bad. Good ones might be places to find food, paths that are easier to cross, and so on. Bad ones will make the struggle pointlessly harder, damage the person, or prevent progress altogether. Barren landscapes, walls, mountains, and natural disasters are most common ways to prevent bad behavior. The oldest trick for designers is a timer. If the goal isn't achieved in time, it ends the player's life, ends the entire world, or both.

3. Putting people in the world to influence the person. The good ones will help, heal or equip the person. For intended path, they might give hints or even tell them what they need to know. Some know a piece of the puzzle, some have direct revelation from the designer. The bad ones, usually enemies, will mislead, injure, kill, or just block the person.

Note: The reward vs punishment system usually works through obstacles. The person will be able to get through some obstacles. Examples include crossing hard terrain or defeating enemies. Experience handling these problems may be used to build them up and further equip them for future challenges. Those the designer uses to limit their behavior will appear to be impossible to overcome. It's hard to tell the difference on some. Putting thought, effort, and patience into some will reveal they're can be overcome. Those that are impossible to overcome will, upon further reflection, still be impossible.

4. Designing the environment in a way that forces progress. This can be subtle where the environment rewards them for going down the intended path. It can be straight-up forcing them to go in a specific direction. If designer is really insistent, they might force them in a direction while putting the threats in opposite directions to give both positive and negative reinforcement. One Jackbox game has an attempt to escape by moving right (the goal), a specific way to do that (equipped for it), and the wrong side closing in to kill you (negative reinforcement). Finally, the designer can break the physical rules of the world to force progress. Changing their physical condition (eg health) or teleporting them are examples that put them in a specific place and/or time.

That was good part. I have literally a few minutes before going to work for next. Quick and dirty.

1. Designer has world with highly-specific goals that will happen in general, in order, and so on.

2. People in the world have free will. They can obey in a way that makes progress, try to stall (may be morally neutral), and/or disobey.

3. Designer can use direct messages, entities in the world, and the world design itself to reward obedience and punish disobedience.

4. No matter what the person decides, specific events will occur in specific places in the sequence the world designer desires.

Application to Free Will vs Predestination

God has a Plan. Specific events will happen in order. He's put people in His world with free will. Everything from the environment's design to His own manipulations of it force people in the world to go in the direction He expects. His omniscience of their motivations and thoughts along with His total power over them and their world ensures everything moves according to His will along with or in spite of their free choices.

God said He designed us and our world to receive glory showing off His attributes. One way He might do that is accomplishing predestination using beings with free will. Humans can pull it off in a limited way in video games. God could pull it off for our entire universe. Just another reason He is so worthy of worship.

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