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Free Will vs. Divine Intervention

Strider97

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Harad: To resort to interventions from deities is the last result of people at the end of their logical rope. Even JRRT rejected active intervention from deities in his books, until there was no other hope. If you think the deities micromanaged decisions by the characters--Aragorn deciding to go East or West--then you have thrown free-will out the window.
Tolkien declared that the Lord of the Rings had a strong religious component. I wonder what his views were on divine intervention and free will. He gave Frodo free will during his quest. Frodo displayed free will (of a sort) when he chose not to destroy the ring. Was it divine intervention that spared Gollum to be there to fight for the ring, find it, bite the finger off and then miraculously fall into the chasm. When Gandalf decreed that many live who deserve death and many die that deserve life and asked who was to decide was he acknowledging a higher authority. When he decreed that Gollum may yet have a role to play was he acknowledging that we as humans have no idea what faces us in the masterplan. Being an atheist and a humanist I disagree with this philosopy but since we are discussing Tolkien and his work this is appropriate since he was such a devout Christian-

Harad- Sorry to start this under a new thread but I knew that you and Goro would respond and I did not want to change the direction of the other thread. Thanks for understanding, Strider.
 

Goro Shimura

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And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.

Sauron creates the ring... the ring (as a seperate will-force) compells Gollum both to break his promise (through the addiction-lust) AND to fall in the crack of Doom... and incredibly...

Ilúvatar's will is accomplished....

This is the heart of the story... and also a really interesting view of God, Evil Spiritual powers, free will, and providence.
As I've posted elsewhere... Tolkien stands with the Orthodox Christian view that asserts that creation is good, that evil is the result of disobedience to God by either angels and men, and that God's will is accomplished in history in spite of this disobedience-- yet at the same time (even though its confusing) all creatures have free will to obey or disobey. A corollary to these assertions is that evil cannot create-- it can only twist and pervert. (This last idea is explicitly stated in both LotR and Sil!)
 

Strider97

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Thanks,

So the free will that allows man to disobey and cause evil is part of the master plan (music) and will redound to accomplish God's (Illuvatar's) will. So either the master plan is very flexible or free will really does not exist.

I agree that this is the central theme that led Tolkien to describe the LOTR as having a strong religious component. It is not finding God in the LOTR but finding the relationship between good and evil and prre vs. self determination.

I have to sign off for a few days but will catch up when I return. thanks, Strider.
 

Anarchist

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Well this is interesting. I believe that in LOTR, no divine intervention besides the wizards exists. It was plain coincidence that made Gollum be there when Frodo arrived in Mount Doom. As we can plainly see, Iluvatar is almost completely inactive after creating the world and it's beings. He does nothing but watching while dramatic events happen that he could prevent. I believe that LOTR shows the power of no-divine beings of solving their problems. At some point, even the Valars stop helping the people of ME. What characters in LOTR do, they do it byt free will. For example Frodo, who had a lot of times the choice to sto the quest but went on without until a point being forced to.
 

Roseberry

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Anarchist: I believe that in LOTR, no divine intervention besides the wizards exists.
The only problem with that is that if you're dealing with the plot of a book, you have to go with what the author gives you. And Tolkien gives us a lot more than just the wizards, as we've been discussing over in the "Did Aragorn make the right choice" thread.
 

Anarchist

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I don't understand what you mean Roseberry. In LOTR wich is our issue here, neither Iluvatar nor the Valar help anybody in the quest. After some events in the Silmarillion, the Valar stoped communicating with Iluvatar's children. Only the wizards sent by Iluvatar (correct me if I am wrong) help Middle Earthians ;) in any way.
 

Roseberry

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I just mean that there are a lot of allusions to "powers" beyond the wizards, elves or anyone else - not specified, just implied. For example, one we've been citing a lot is when Gandalf tells Frodo that he was "meant" to find the Ring. Tolkien doesn't make it clear how that could be, probably purposely.
 

Merry

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Originally posted by Roseberry
For example, one we've been citing a lot is when Gandalf tells Frodo that he was "meant" to find the Ring. Tolkien doesn't make it clear how that could be, probably purposely.
That is very different from divine intervention, the ring wanted to be found and wanted to return to its maker, it was the rings power that drew it homewards bound, not the gods wanting the quest to be acheived.

My own opinion is that free will determined the result of LOTR. For example, Aragorn grieves that all of his choices had been evil and that he had been unwise after taking leadership when Gandalf fell in Moria, surely not the attitude of a person influenced by god. The Valar would have just sat back and watched Sauron destroy all that was good. It may have moved them to punish him eventually but direct intervention seemed beyond their cares.

There is nothing in the LOTR that makes me think (apart from the wizards) that the Valar took any note of M-E's problems.
 

Eonwe

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Why did Bilbo find the Ring?

Why did Gollum find the Ring? Why was Gollum involved in the end of the quest?

Why did Gandalf tell Thorin to take Bilbo on a trip to kill Smaug the dragon? How ridiculous is the premise of that trip?

Why did Gandalf suggest destroying the Ring by sending a hobbit into Mordor? How ridiculous is the premise of that trip?

The story is full of coincidences, as Bilbo calls it "luck" and constant prodding from Gandalf, a direct emissary of the Valar to do things, sometimes completely bereft of logic with slim chance of success.

See especially the conversation between Gandalf and Gimli in the chapter "Quest for Erebor" in UT.
 

HLGStrider

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Well this is interesting. I believe that in LOTR, no divine intervention besides the wizards exists. It was plain coincidence that made Gollum be there when Frodo arrived in Mount Doom. As we can plainly see, Iluvatar is almost completely inactive after creating the world and it's beings.
That depends on your outlook. Do you believe in coincidences? Personally I don't. I believe that everything, down to the falling of the 'lowliest sparrow' is planned towards some greater end. Why couldn't it be the same in Tolkiens world? In fact, since Tolkien was a Christian and undoubtalby had similar believes, it probably is.

I think it would be sad to believe in no god or an inactive one. What purposes would there be? I've always believed that in all things "God works for the good of those who love Him". Tolkien did too.
 

Roseberry

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Definitely, since we're dealing with Tolkien's world, we have to come at it from Tolkien's point of view. And he was a Christian, and for him, nothing happened without purpose and plan.
 

Merry

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I must protest at the fact that everyone seems to know Tolkien personally and knew how his mind worked and knew why he wrote the way he did.

Lets try and deal with the facts!
 

Quercus

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I'm a little confused here! Does this mean that Devine Intervention drowned Frodo's parents so that he would end up becomming Bilbo's heir? How cruel!


Note to Strider97: Frodo displayed free will when he took the ring to Mt. Doom, it was the ring that conquered Frodo's will when he chose not to destroy it.
 
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Harad

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Amen (hah!) to Merry's thoughts about speaking for JRRT. Many people knee-jerked for example that JRRT didnt believe in evolution because...When I asked in a thread for ONE PIECE OF EVIDENCE, I got:


ZERO.
 

Landroval

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Originally posted by HLGStrider


That depends on your outlook. Do you believe in coincidences? Personally I don't. I believe that everything, down to the falling of the 'lowliest sparrow' is planned towards some greater end. Why couldn't it be the same in Tolkiens world? In fact, since Tolkien was a Christian and undoubtalby had similar believes, it probably is.

I think it would be sad to believe in no god or an inactive one. What purposes would there be? I've always believed that in all things "God works for the good of those who love Him". Tolkien did too.
If EVERYTHING is planned as you say, then no matter how evil I may be, I have no guilt because I am controlled by another (higher) power. In fact, the concept of evil does not exist in such a philosophy.

To me it is sad to believe in an active God that allows evil to work as it does.

I agree with Merry and Harad. We should try not to peer into the mind of JRRT (at least not speak for him), and stick instead to his written words.

Just my opinion. :)
 

Eonwe

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HAHA! Well in the words of Aragorn, there are other powers at work here far stronger.

What powers? Note its plural. The Ring and what?
 

Merry

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OK then, please explain:

Why did Isildur not destroy the ring the first time round when standing on the crack of Mount Doom IF the Valar were helping? Why did the war of the ring last so long if divine intervention was working on the side of the good guys?

Why did Frodo and Sam suffer little/no food and water throughout their journey? Surely the Valar would have provided?!

The whole saga seems devoid of spiritual backing and it was the strength of men, elves, dwarves, hobbits and the wizards that beat the dark lord.
 

Eonwe

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BTW Merry I am not trying to be a jerk, I like your posts, so please don't get mad at me. I just disagree with you on the Valar not having any intervention OK?

I'll answer your questions, when you answer the ones I wrote before... :)

Originally posted by Eonwe
Why did Bilbo find the Ring?

Why did Gollum find the Ring? Why was Gollum involved in the end of the quest?

Why did Gandalf tell Thorin to take Bilbo on a trip to kill Smaug the dragon? How ridiculous is the premise of that trip?

Why did Gandalf suggest destroying the Ring by sending a hobbit into Mordor? How ridiculous is the premise of that trip?

The story is full of coincidences, as Bilbo calls it "luck" and constant prodding from Gandalf, a direct emissary of the Valar to do things, sometimes completely bereft of logic with slim chance of success.

See especially the conversation between Gandalf and Gimli in the chapter "Quest for Erebor" in UT.
 

Merry

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Originally posted by Eonwe
BTW Merry I am not trying to be a jerk, I like your posts, so please don't get mad at me. I just disagree with you on the Valar not having any intervention OK?


Hey don't be silly Eonwe, that is the fun of these forums! I only get mad if people start making personal remarks about others. If you disagree with me, tell me so! :)

But I am right......;) :D
 

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