In John Milton’s “Paradise lost” we learn how satan and others like him come to live under the burden of their own kind of freedom, which is no freedom at all. But even in this dismal place where no one but God can tell him what to do, the realisation is that God can still tell him what to do. When we understand freedom as individual, as being free from all restraint, under no authority and holding no responsibility, we are not so much free as we are a slave to our own desires. Those who then pursue this kind of freedom (which can be interpreted as the desire to have all authority and live as if you do) will live within the restraints of their own fallen and self directed desires. So in the end, the self professing atheist claiming to be free, even from the influence of God in this world and over his life, demonstrates that he has less sense than satan himself. For even he knew, that to reign in choice alone is still under God who can tell him what to do.
Dummheit macht frei – stupidity that sets you free (not a real freedom)
“this the Region, this the Soil, the Clime,
Said then the lost Arch-Angel, this the seat
That we must change for Heav’n, this mournful gloom
For that celestial light? Be it so, since he
Who now is Sovran can dispose and bid
What shall be right: fardest from him is best
Whom reason hath equald, force hath made supream
Above his equals. Farewel happy Fields
Where Joy for ever dwells: Hail horrours, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new Possessor: One who brings
A mind not to be chang’d by Place or Time.
The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less then he
Whom Thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th’ Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choyce
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav’n.
But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,
Th’ associates and copartners of our loss
Lye thus astonisht on th’ oblivious Pool,
And call them not to share with us their part
In this unhappy Mansion, or once more
With rallied Arms to try what may be yet
Regaind in Heav’n, or what more lost in Hell?”