...i'm starting to rant a bit now, meself...
AC: I beleive that if there is a God then our own free will is his greatest gift to us. Do you share this view? If so, why would you give it up?
J1: Because He knows what is better for you, than you do.You put your trust in Him.
The irony of the patronising deity needs no further repetition. So am i correct in my assumption that you believe the only reason man was given such a jewel as free will, was so that he could relinquish it again to something? That point as it stands, may well have validity. But what gets me about your viewpoint, is the fact that after hundreds of thousands of years of cultural evolution and human development, some bright spark comes along and decides it's all down to a particular representation of the Real (i prefer the Sufi term for God, it avoids all those anthropomorphic representations that cloud the judgement of religiously minded folks like yourself) So NOW we ALL have to subscribe to that very specific set of imprints that this geezer realized many hundreds of years ago, and live our lives, worship, etc, in the manner he set forth, or the Real ain't gonna what, love us? Or we're gonna for ever be some sort of second class soul? Ouch!
J1: If you think about it, you do not have total free play to your will regardless. You only have limited free will, free range to do what you choose in small spheres. You are limited by society, by the weather, by gravity etc.
As an example. You do not get to decide if it right or wrong to steal, its imposed on you. God imposes the same thing, indeed did it first. Would you rather accept it from Him, or society?
Yeah, up to philosophical point. See, having physical constraints opposed to our free will may not mean we have a limited will, just that it's expression is defined by the physical universe around us.
For example, i would like to fly. Now i can strain my brain all day long, chances are i ain't gonna raise myself off the floor at all by sheer will power. But i could go and board an aeroplane, or buy a helicopter, or i could go live on the ISS, or get Craig Venter to splice me with an albatross. All these choices would require exertion of will to enable it to happen, some a hell of a lot more than others.
Now, the example you give is very different, is an example of morality, and maybe one where we have the greatest choice of all. So are you saying i never learnt the difference between right and wrong, someone just told me and i blindly went along? That's not the way i remember it, matey! I stole things in my yoof, despite my 'good' upbringing, and people stole from me, and i learnt about right and wrong, that they aren't just arbitrary appellation, but deep concepts that go far beyond life and death. Maybe in this way God taught me. And i've already made the sublimation that seek. And if that's the case, does that annoy you? If so, look to that place, and there you will find the head of a snake, a serpent of human desires and greed that doesn't want you to question the perspective that the egos of countless dead old men have imposed upon you. Beware....
J1: Who will you submit to?
Who are you?
What do you want?
Who do you serve?
Who do you trust?
I reckon this question's round about number three on the Straczynski scale of reality checker!
Religion is all about ego, as man implements his semantic definition upon the divine. Just as i'm doing now. Just as a bunch of dead dudes did many many generations ago, and upon whose schizoidic, 'I hear voices in my head, therefore i'm talking to an external agency (because obviously I'M not mad), so it MUST be God, so i'd better just do whatever the voice in my head tells me' gibber the people of faith place their trust in. Can't you see? Even if the human who channelled those thoughts is the most humble enlightened being, that's no guarantee that any other space monkey in his retinue isn't gonna be bringing their fallible monkey egos to the party. And as the importance of the thing grows, then so too does the influence and power of those who do. Any who really wanna get jiggy with the Real ain't gonna be running round organising massed ranks of humanity into obedient little herds. That's for the politically minded, ruling class members of the theocracy (sound familiar?).
J1: A little further thought, the only gift that you have to give Him, is your free choice. Everything else is already His. He is the creator the maker, the evolver of it all. Will you give Him this one most precious of gifts. Remember, He gave even that to you first.
That is the most beautiful definition of faith from the religious point of view. Thank you, i shall keep it in my heart. To me, faith is the point where you choose to believe in something even though you know there is no proof. As long as religious minded folks like yourselves remember that, then we'll all get along just peachy. It's when some try to find actually physical 'in your FACE, science!' proof, from the world of the logos, science, to support this faith, that it all gets messed up. It's as impossible to use science to prove faith, as it is to disprove it. You scientists had better remember that the next time you wanna tell all those religious people they're talking cock, just cos your giant space telescope can't see their God (though it did get a rather wonderful shot of his great balls of fire). You can't, they're in the world of mythos, get over it and whist you're at it, stop thinking that just because you ain't gotta God, you ain't preaching!
So in short, if we can all respect that some of us may have stumbled upon the same things as others of us, and that there's more than one way to approach this, and the concepts we enshrine it in are not as important as the actions and ultimately the compassion we show our fellow man, then do whatever turns you on!