Free will is overrated

desert moses pharaoh egypt

This post is part of a year-long experiment wherein, week-by-week, we write the Bible better than it was in the original.

God kept unleashing plagues on Pharaoh. Pharaoh didn’t really, you know, care.

Moses: It’s weird that Pharaoh won’t let us be free even after all these plagues.
God: That’s because I keep stopping him.
Moses: What?
God: Every time he wants to free you, I change his mind. I would’ve mentioned it, but then you probably wouldn’t have gone through this whole thing.
Moses: Why?
God: Stories need conflict, yo.
Moses: If you control Pharaoh’s choices, do you control my choices too? Do I have free will?
God: …
Moses: Oh my god. What’s the point of my life? What’s the point of anything?
God: Chill. I’ll free your people. I just have to kill some Egyptian babies first.
Moses: What now?
God: It’s called blood magic. I kill some babies, and your people go free.
Moses: Can you maybe free my people without killing babies?
God: Can you maybe make an omelette without cracking a few eggs? That’s the deal. Take it or leave it.
Moses:  I feel like, either way, this decision is going to haunt me forever.
God: How’s the free will going? You made that whole speech about it earlier.

The next day, as all the Egyptians buried their babies, the Hebrews looted their houses.

Moses: So if I don’t have free will, I’m not responsible for what happened to those babies, right?
God: Sure.
Moses: But I still feel like I have free will. And if I don’t have it, then I can’t choose to stop feeling like I do.
God: You’ll have plenty of time to think about it. We’re about to go on a pretty long walk.

Illustration by Dana Lo

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About The Author

Ilana Strauss

Ilana E. Strauss is a human-shaped collection of atoms that have written for The Atlantic, Reader's Digest, the Washington Post, Tablet, and the Toast.

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