I came out of a religious culture that stressed obedience to God and "His" ministers - unquestioning obedience that was to be performed without thought, justification or resort to "human reasoning." They loved to quote scriptures like Deuteronomy 27:10 - "Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the LORD thy God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command thee this day." They also liked Deuteronomy 5:32 - "Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left." They loved to talk about Abraham's unquestioning obedience in being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac when God demanded that of him. And they really liked Hebrews 13:7 - "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." BUT is that the kind of mindless obedience that God wants and/or expects from us?
We'll first let's look at the scientific evidence in our attempt to answer this question. When we look at what science has been able to tell us about the world in which we live, it quickly becomes apparent that God (or Nature if you prefer) has allowed things to evolve or develop over time. In making this observation, it should be noted that I'm not suggesting a random or haphazard sequence of events. I'm merely suggesting that God/Nature has set laws and processes in motion that as far as we know have not required constant supervision or intervention from Him/Her/It. This implies to me that God has allowed at least some degree of independence or freedom of action to exist or operate within "His" creation.
Likewise, as humans, we see that we have this extraordinary ability to reason, make decisions and create new things. If God is indeed the source of this ability, isn't it reasonable to conclude that "He" gave us such an ability to use? Think about it. Why would God/Nature make us (or allow us to be) self-aware, reasoning creatures if these abilities did not serve some purpose? Does the ability to think and reason give us some advantage over the other life forms on this planet? I know - sometimes we all wonder about that one; but doesn't everything that science has taught us about ourselves and the world we inhabit suggest that this ability is an advantage that our species has exploited (admittedly without much restraint at times). These observations also raise some rather profound questions about the way God operates relative to us, and what "He" may or may not expect from us.
Why are humans so inquisitive? Why do we seek answers to these questions? Why do we explore the world around us and attempt to study the universe that surrounds us? More importantly for our discussion, why didn't God supply us with all of the answers? Did God/Nature design us to seek answers? Does God want us to make choices and decisions? Does God want us to learn things for ourselves? Does learning require process and time? Does learning involve trial and error? Does personal experience and observation play any role in the process? What if God had handed us everything on a silver platter? Would our ancestors have even understood what they had been given? Is a lecture the only or most effective way to learn something?
Now let's return to the scriptural evidence relative to our question. Is there anything in Scripture to suggest that God has designed us to have free moral agency? Is there anything in Scripture to suggest that God designed us to seek "Him"? Is there anything in Scripture to suggest that God wants us to learn about "Him" and grow in grace and knowledge? Is there anything in Scripture to indicate that God wants us to make up our own minds about accepting "Him" and "His" salvation? Is there anything in Scripture that implies humans can learn from past mistakes and make corrections in their behavior? Is there anything in Scripture that suggests that it is possible for humans to be deceived? Is there anything in Scripture that indicates that God has ever had to "reveal" something to someone or teach people about "His" ways? Is there anything in Scripture that indicates that a good example is a better teaching tool than a lecture? Is there anything in the Bible to suggest that God didn't want "His" people to impose their authority on each other? Finally, is there anything in Scripture that states that each and every one of us will be required to give account for his/her personal behavior and decisions?
Brethren, if we look at all of the evidence, I think that most of us would have to conclude that God does not want mindless robots. The totality of the evidence suggests to me that God wants something more from us. What do you think?