Cat’s aren’t people, obviously. They are almost entirely ruled by instinct and conditioning, though I would argue people are too more than they think. But cats do have a measure of will of their own.For example, my cat Perri chooses to eat more food than her sister Dionysus. Dionysus sits on top of my chair when I type and Perri will never do this. Sometimes, Perri will sit on my lap when i type, but Dionysus never does this. The cats will choose to look out of different windows, sometimes to chirp at birds, sometimes to sun themselves, and do other cat stuff. Perri likes eating ear wax for some reason and Dionysus is normal and doesn’t (don’t ask how we found this out.)
Bear with me a little longer. Cats, unlike dogs, are not that loyal. So, if you pet a cat on the head and she is not feeling like being pet at the moment, she walks away. So, the cat freely decides whether to stay and get pet or to walk away and be a jerk (I never walk away from my wife when she rubs my back that’s for sure!)
I have observed something very interesting with cats. Due to instinctual inclination, a cat never walks backwards, but only forwards where she can see where she is going. When I am petting my cat and she wants to go away, I can trick my cat into staying where she is by rubbing in front of her face. She will try to move in a different direction, but never backwards to leave. The net result is that the cat, though she wants to leave, doesn’t–however she can easily leave if she simply walked backwards.
Now, if you are still reading this, that’s great! A man has a much more profound free will than a cat. But, God is a much more profound master than I am for my cat. So, if God wants to nudge me this way or that way, I have no doubt in my mind He can and will do it. So, am I totally free? Most definitely, just like my cats. Is God totally in control? Yes.
Many seem to think is that free will is total autonomy. However, being that man is ruled by instincts and easily manipulated by other people, the truth is no individual is truly autonomous from other men, let alone God. For this reason, I don’t think the existence of monergism and free will should confuse people. It makes perfect sense.
Note: This was written before the author’s conversion to Orthodoxy.