Activity time: 10 minutes
Description of Activity
A conversation about free will for groups that enjoy discussion
Begin this activity by asking whether participants would like to play God. That is, would they like a chance to control other people?
Does being God just mean you can control what happens or does it also mean that you assume responsibility for everything? Does this latter aspect of being God appeal to participants?
If they were God, would they allow free will? Talk about free will, asking what it means and how it works. Say that some people do not believe we really have free will. They believe we are controlled by our own chemistry and by the world around us. Do participants believe they have free will? Can they make their own decisions and do what they want, even if they get in trouble doing it?
Point out, if participants do not, that people who write fiction and make movies are in a sense playing God. They get to create their characters and tell the characters what to do. They also decide whether the characters get free will and how they use it. In the movie Click (made in 2006; rated PG-13), the lead character, played by Adam Sandler, gets a “universal remote” switch that lets him control the universe around him. In “The Sims” computer game, players create and control virtual people who live near SimCity and can decide whether to give their created characters free will. Why would you want your characters to have free will? What reasons can you give for not wanting characters to have free will?