Henry told his family members that he was going away for several days; he needed to just be alone and not even in his house. It seemed somewhat unusual to them, because it was. He had never done that before. But, they said, “Alright. Keep in touch if you need to.”
The next day, he left home with the several thousand dollars he had withdrawn from the bank two days ago. About 300 miles out he found a motel for the night. It had the amenities he was looking for, and there were eating places nearby that matched his preferences. To check in, he used cash to pay for two nights, using as identity a forged driver’s license he had obtained a week earlier. It wasn’t all that difficult. Up to that point he was still unknown, although the motel folk didn’t realize it.
Why was Henry doing this, maintaining anonymity to such a degree? What was he planning?
His rationale was that if people, both family and friends, knew that he was as sick as he knew he was, and that he would be dead within a week at the max, they would be shocked, solicitous, and self-giving. He was correct about that.
That was the point. Henry said to himself that knowledge, such as that of his impending death, would destroy free will. Their expressions of concern weren’t really being birthed from within them, but were “forced” out of them due to their recently gotten knowledge of his impending death. Since that was the case, he didn’t want to receive their expressions of kindness, of grief, etc. – they weren’t really authentically and freely offered.
But, was Henry correct? If free will is as he projected it to be, is there such a thing as “free will”? Does knowledge of some kind curtail free will? If that were the case, would the only truly free person be the completely ignorant person, the one who knew absolutely nothing?
Such a conclusion is an example of an ad absurdum argument.
The fact that destroys Henry’s argument is that knowledge isn’t the enemy of free will, but one of the requirements for free will. The greater our knowledge, the greater is the possibility of escaping unforeseen consequences. And, for a Christian, the greater the knowledge, the greater the possibility for faith.