"For the first time, a computer program has officially passed the Turing Test, which measures a machine’s ability to think for itself — at least under the standards set by a competition in Britain . . . As part of the competition, 30 judges each held conversations with five computer programs and five humans. During each conversation, the judge had to determine whether he or she was speaking with a human or machine." http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2023807725_thinkingcomputerxml.html
When I heard this story the other day . . . I thought of the issue of "free will" and seeming "free will".
The computer was able to respond--to "think" in a sense . . . enough to fool the humans questioning it. It appeared to have "free will" in the way it analyzed and came up with answers to varied inquiries. . . .
I suspect our situation is much the same except that we also have souls and actual consciousness.
But look at this. . . . The machine was programmed with millions, perhaps billions of bits of data, such that it could "respond" to changing situations (questions) as if it had independent volition. And it did have independent volition . . . TO A DEGREE. But truly, it was only able to act/respond WIHTIN the framework that had been programmed into it. Yes, the vast amount of information built into it made it SEEM like it had "free will" . . . but actually, it was completely limited and contained within the parameters (ie., the "nature") that had been set around it by its "creator". . . .
Likewise, we too are able to respond and act to changing situations. We have vast amounts of information and ability to interact with that information, such that it would appear that we are completely "free" to think and act and choose any way we want.
But, according to the God's Word, we are only "free" to act WITHIN the parameters of our "nature" (ie., the program) which has certain, absolute boundaries. Yes, we have something like "free will" contained in that "state" . . . but we cannot go beyond it, just like the computer cannot go beyond whatever was set up by its designer. No matter what, the computer at its core only exists and acts because its creator set it up a certain way to do so and within (albeit vast) limits.
Likewise, we experience what seems to be uncontained "free will" because there are an almost infinite permutations of thought and action we are capable of--but, if you could view us from "above" or from the Creator's perspective, you would see that even so, there is a border--an end--to what we are actually able to do "freely".
All analogies break down at some point, and this one is imperfect as well, but this is the comparison that came to mind when I heard this story. . . .