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The 'free Will' Argument


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Would there be any need to even argue at all about the concept of 'free will' if one did not believe in the 'holy' scriptures' that promote it? :shrug:

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Yes, the concept of free will can still be argued without a God and without religions at all.

It's all revolves around determinism.

 

The interesting thing is that if there is an omnipotent all knowing God then there can be no free will since if he knows what is going to happen its predetermined.

So people arguing that an omnipotent all knowing God gave us free will really are supporting two mutually exclusive views.

Just another reason why the concept of an omnipotent God is stupid. It means he made us all so that we will do whatever he destined us to do and then punishes us eternally for doing it. Yeah. Makes sense to me...

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Yes, the concept of free will can still be argued without a God and without religions at all.

It's all revolves around determinism.

 

The interesting thing is that if there is an omnipotent all knowing God then there can be no free will since if he knows what is going to happen its predetermined.

So people arguing that an omnipotent all knowing God gave us free will really are supporting two mutually exclusive views.

Just another reason why the concept of an omnipotent God is stupid. It means he made us all so that we will do whatever he destined us to do and then punishes us eternally for doing it. Yeah. Makes sense to me...

 

Regarding God and free will, I always thought it would be easy for God to know all the different outcomes of each persons choices and knowing the endless number of world-history-scenarios depending on the peoples choices. It's not like he would have a problem with storing all that information. They way I see it, we could then still have free will, even if he knew the outcomes. That way, he would know everything in between each choice we make. Each time we made a choice with our free will, he'd still know everything, but a different everything.

I might be missing something crucial here. If I am, let me know. This is how I always saw it anyway..

 

 

To Margee: Free will is in fact semi-illusion. Everything that comes to pass is a result of the past. It might be biological strains from your great great great grandfather that made your reasoning-traits just the way they are so that you would choose just THAT choice in just THAT scenario. It might be the fact that someone slipped in the snow, that helped you catch that bus so that you could do something important and the fact that they talked a little to long on the phone with a certain friend that made them forget to look out in the slippery snow. This again, could be a product of their friend having some experience that again depended on something else, etc. It doesn't even have to be between humans. It could be a solar flare that fried some electronics on an un-grounded computer somewhere that made some paperwork be late and flight somewhere be cancelled. This solar flare again has its reasons for happening just at that moment, involving astronomical events predating our existence, and it carries on and on.

 

Regardless of all that, I'd say our will is still free, since we don't have access to the past events that govern our choices. Also, the more hard a choice is, the further back in time you would need to go to find the reason for the choice you picked.

You still have free will, Margee. It's free as long as you yourself don't know the future.

 

-Daniel

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Regarding God and free will, I always thought it would be easy for God to know all the different outcomes of each persons choices and knowing the endless number of world-history-scenarios depending on the peoples choices. It's not like he would have a problem with storing all that information. They way I see it, we could then still have free will, even if he knew the outcomes. That way, he would know everything in between each choice we make. Each time we made a choice with our free will, he'd still know everything, but a different everything.

I might be missing something crucial here. If I am, let me know. This is how I always saw it anyway..

 

-Daniel

 

The problem with that is that if you know every possible alternative you also know nothing other than probabilities.

E.g. rolling dice.

If you roll one dice I can say I know all the alternatives but I really know nothing about what is going to get rolled.

If I was omnipotent I would know what you would roll, not that you have a 1 in six chance of rolling any number.

 

How impotent is an omnipotent God if he can't tell me the actual outcome of a roll of dice any more than I can.

 

Work that upwards from atoms unpredictability and you quickly get to the point that God cannot be omnipotent under that assumption.

 

 

 

 

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Would there be any need to even argue at all about the concept of 'free will' if one did not believe in the 'holy' scriptures' that promote it?

 

I can't say that I've ever heard of it being argued about outside the realm of religious belief of some sort.

 

 

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I think the scriptures (or at least Christian interpretation of it) promotes what I will call perfect free will. By that I mean that individual adults who are not mentally impaired are said to have a choice in many things in their lives. For example, they say homosexuality is a choice and that is the justification for their condemnation of it. Their reasoning goes something like this: god would not condemn homosexual practices if the homosexual had no choice in the matter. And the list can go on and on. The fundamental principal that justifies their hell doctrine is that people ultimately have a choice either to obey god (and go to heaven) or disobey god (and go to hell). And for the real hardcore Christian fundamentalist, it doesn't matter whether the person actually was told about god because, as Paul wrote:

 

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

 

Romans 1:18-20.

 

But ask any gay person you know whether they chose to be gay. I have heard our gay friends say over and over that it was no more of a choice for them to be gay than it was for me to be heterosexual. I never consciously chose girls over boys when I was an adolescent. Girls simply appealed to me in a sexual way and boys didn't. I would surmise that our gay friends had similar experiences, except members of their own genders appealed to them in a sexual way.

 

Personally, I tend to agree with Leinad89 when he wrote, "Free will is in fact semi-illusion."

 

To answer your question, Margee, I do believe there would still be a debate about free will even if god were not in the picture at all. And the debate would center around the extent of our free will.

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The Christian idea of free will is that we all have free will to choose as long it that choice coincides with one's church doctrine and we all choose to do god's will, but don't choose wrongly or you will go to hell. I just consider freedom of choice instead of free will, which is pretty much the same thing except freedom of choice doesn't include having to decide if our choice is what god wants us to do. to me, that's the only difference--free will includes the guilt trip of whether our choice we made is good to god. Since I am no longer xtian, I don't think about it any more.

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The idea that "God has a plan" coupled with "God gave people free will" creates cognitive dissonance which the christian believer thrives on. Which one is it? They both can exist in an irrational mind.

_____________________

 

Here is me own take on Free Will:

 

Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that

 

“certain pairs of physical properties, like position and momentum, cannot both be known to arbitrary precision.”

 

That simple fact about the basic building blocks of the universe completely annihilates determinism and predestination.

 

If the position and speed of quantum particles can never be known.

Quantum particles exist only as statistical probabilities. That is, they exist as possibilities, not as physical particles in any sense. The verb “to exist” is now actually questionable.

 

Until the particles are measured, or observed, they don’t really exist in the sense that we know that things like cups, buildings and turkeys exist in the physical universe. In effect, there is only a statistical probability at any given point until a human being looks at it.

 

How can predestination exist in a reality built upon statistics? It seems that in the smallest building blocks of the real world there is a plan of probability rather than of fixed certainty. And the simple act of a human to observe or take part in reality will fundamentally alter that reality.

 

These facts strongly suggests free will and human agency.

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Personally, I tend to agree with Leinad89 when he wrote, "Free will is in fact semi-illusion."

 

To answer your question, Margee, I do believe there would still be a debate about free will even if god were not in the picture at all. And the debate would center around the extent of our free will.

 

Overcame - could you expand on this a little for me please?

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That simple fact about the basic building blocks of the universe completely annihilates determinism and predestination.

 

If the position and speed of quantum particles can never be known.

Quantum particles exist only as statistical probabilities. That is, they exist as possibilities, not as physical particles in any sense. The verb “to exist” is now actually questionable.

 

Until the particles are measured, or observed, they don’t really exist in the sense that we know that things like cups, buildings and turkeys exist in the physical universe. In effect, there is only a statistical probability at any given point until a human being looks at it.

 

How can predestination exist in a reality built upon statistics? It seems that in the smallest building blocks of the real world there is a plan of probability rather than of fixed certainty. And the simple act of a human to observe or take part in reality will fundamentally alter that reality.

 

These facts strongly suggests free will and human agency.

 

The problem with this is that it doesn't annihilate determinism. For instance, you're right that we can only calculate probabilities with particle physics, however, on a macro scale, deterministic machines are reliable. Just because you've replaced a boolean with a probability, doesn't mean we can nix determinism or give way to absolute free will. We can make statistical predictions with .. precision. That would seem to say that our universe is statistically determined (i.e. not random)

 

Instead of having free will, I have statistical likelihood that can be predetermined to take one choice over another. Sure it makes things a little more interesting, but it also means I'm bound by these stats. Not precisely free will.

 

But then you've got to understand that the principles that describe the quantum world don't always translate to the macro scale. Just because the wavefunction of particles doesn't collapse until directly observed doesn't mean that the systems they create operate identically (though it means macro reality may not be as intuitive as we think, that's for sure). Stephen hawking suggests throwing together many different theories to bridge the gap between the quantum levels and macro levels. (M-theory), because the principles don't translate directly.

 

Here's my take on free will: (i originally posted this on thumbelina's wall)

If you break it down, the concept of free will equates to: being able to make a sub-optimal decision when a more optimal solution exists -or- being able to make a random decision when all options are equal. I'll argue that there are no equal options, since everything has a bias (chocolate or vanilla may have an almost immeasurable difference, but a difference nonetheless).

 

Given this information, you must conclude that people always make optimal decisions based on bounded rationality (to the best of their knowledge). Nobody makes a decision that they consider will not fulfill their goals, though an outside observer may not consider it optimal (thus it's bounded rationality).

 

In order for free will to exist, one would have to not only have the ability but the statistical likelihood to make a different decision based on the exact same input stimuli. (the only way to test would be time travel). Since a person always makes a bounded rationally optimal choice, I'd argue that given the exact same set of circumstances, one must always make the same choice.

 

That's the intuitive reasoning. For a more logical failure, consider this: In order to test free will on a more objective scale, we'd need time travel to test the same set of circumstances multiple times. If a choice was made differently, that would immediately cause a time paradox, as our memories would immediately change to believe the different choice was the first choice all along.

 

Therefore, logically, the concept of free will requires us to be able to make sub-optimal decisions given the same set of inputs multiple times, which is logically impossible due to the paradox of time travel, and therefore is a superfluous ideal. It simply loses all meaning in the context of reality.

Free will is, at best, an illusion of choice in order to cause you to properly analyze all of your options when making a decision.

 

'Interested', I haven't got 2 clues what you guys are talkin' about here - but thanks for the input. (you guys are MUCH smarter than me!:grin: )

 

HOWEVER......... you did say one simple sentence on thumbelina's content that made much sense to me.

 

Quote 'Interested': Free will is, at best, an illusion of choice in order to cause you to properly analyze all of your options when making a decision.

 

Thank you - this I understand!! :grin:

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Free will is, at best, an illusion of choice in order to cause you to properly analyze all of your options when making a decision.

 

I came to the conclusion some years ago that this must be the case. Free will is an illusion. Thank you for your exposition, Interested.

 

There is a distinction between determinism and predestination.

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There is a distinction between determinism and predestination.

 

Although I acknowledge that people recognize a distinction (which means they subscribe to a compatiblist view) the distinction is fundamentally flawed and illogical. Compatiblism in determinism is hand-waving at best, and doesn't lend itself to a coherent and logically consistent philosophy. In other words, to be a compatiblist means to deny certain innate and integral components of the logic.

 

Could you elaborate a bit further on the distinction as you see it between determinism and predestination? I never saw myself as a compatibilist.

 

To me, there must be some overall entity or force that has an idea of what will occur and does occur (such as God) which would be predestination, whereas determinism has no such focal point but is the result of many millions (or more) of disconnected circumstances and causes that come together to create a certain outcome. In other words, for anything to happen the whole universe, in essence must be involved in making it happen.

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Personally, I tend to agree with Leinad89 when he wrote, "Free will is in fact semi-illusion."

 

To answer your question, Margee, I do believe there would still be a debate about free will even if god were not in the picture at all. And the debate would center around the extent of our free will.

 

Overcame - could you expand on this a little for me please?

 

What I mean about a debate centering around the extent of our free will is that we know certain things we do have nothing to do with free will. For example, our physiological functions are not regulated by our free will. Our hearts beat automatically and the same goes for our breathing. But these are obvious.

 

What is not so obvious are things like inborn talents, or gifts if you want to call them that. For example, most people can learn to play a musical instrument. But it is extremely rare that a person is a virtuoso. I could practice and practice on a musical instrument and I may learn to play reasonably well. But I could never be good enough to win the Van Clyburn International Piano Competition. So my free will is limited in that respect. I simply am unable to choose to be a serious competitor for the Van Clyburn International Piano Competition.

 

One may say that a virtuoso has the free will either to play or not to play. But have you ever met a true virtuoso? I have met a number of them. And everyone of them will say that they have no real choice in the matter of playing. It is something within themselves that is so strong that they are unable not to play. Their lives are incomplete without their music.

 

And then there are things even more subtle than that. In theory, I can choose to eat anything that is considered safe to consume human food. That would include foods that I simply find totally distasteful in smell, texture, and taste. One could say that I have exercised my free will by avoiding those foods, and in a sense I have. But if you really think about it, how much of my free will was actually involved? What really convinces me not to eat those foods is not a conscious choice on my part, but the fact that I hate certain foods and find them revulsive. Maybe it's culture or what I'm used to eating, but the real reason I won't eat those things is because I hate them and not really because I have chosen not to eat them.

 

And then there are the so-called moral choices, choosing between right and wrong. We are all subject to our family, community, and cultural values whether we think we are or not. With some exceptions, of course, we are taught what is right and wrong as children and those notions do not leave us so easily. So when we think we are making a moral choice, what we are really doing is falling back on our family, community, and cultural values which were taught to us.

 

Could I choose to murder someone? In theory, I guess I could make that choice. But in reality, I could never choose to commit murder. It's not in me. I could no more choose to commit cold-blooded murder than I could choose to jump off a 30 story building and fly around the city. Therefore, I do not have the free will to commit murder.

 

And then there is whether we have a choice and the extent of that choice in how we interact with people. I saw this fascinating study done in Russia, I believe. The issue being studied was how the common dog was domesticated. This group of scientists decided to study a certain sub-species of fox. So they caught wild foxes. Those wild foxes were naturally very aggressive towards human beings. Then they started selectively breeding the foxes. When the fox babies were born, they selected out those that were the least aggressive towards human beings and only allowed them to breed. Over a 50 year period of time, they produced a strain of foxes that were the most docile creatures you can imagine. You could bring them into your home and cuddle beside them just like a puppy dog.

 

So what does that experiment tell us? It tells us that animals (and we are animals) act the way they do to some important degree based on their genetic make-up. Those foxes didn't choose to love human beings. It was bred into them.

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Personally, I tend to agree with Leinad89 when he wrote, "Free will is in fact semi-illusion."

 

To answer your question, Margee, I do believe there would still be a debate about free will even if god were not in the picture at all. And the debate would center around the extent of our free will.

 

Overcame - could you expand on this a little for me please?

 

What I mean about a debate centering around the extent of our free will is that we know certain things we do have nothing to do with free will. For example, our physiological functions are not regulated by our free will. Our hearts beat automatically and the same goes for our breathing. But these are obvious.

 

What is not so obvious are things like inborn talents, or gifts if you want to call them that. For example, most people can learn to play a musical instrument. But it is extremely rare that a person is a virtuoso. I could practice and practice on a musical instrument and I may learn to play reasonably well. But I could never be good enough to win the Van Clyburn International Piano Competition. So my free will is limited in that respect. I simply am unable to choose to be a serious competitor for the Van Clyburn International Piano Competition.

 

One may say that a virtuoso has the free will either to play or not to play. But have you ever met a true virtuoso? I have met a number of them. And everyone of them will say that they have no real choice in the matter of playing. It is something within themselves that is so strong that they are unable not to play. Their lives are incomplete without their music.

 

And then there are things even more subtle than that. In theory, I can choose to eat anything that is considered safe to consume human food. That would include foods that I simply find totally distasteful in smell, texture, and taste. One could say that I have exercised my free will by avoiding those foods, and in a sense I have. But if you really think about it, how much of my free will was actually involved? What really convinces me not to eat those foods is not a conscious choice on my part, but the fact that I hate certain foods and find them revulsive. Maybe it's culture or what I'm used to eating, but the real reason I won't eat those things is because I hate them and not really because I have chosen not to eat them.

 

And then there are the so-called moral choices, choosing between right and wrong. We are all subject to our family, community, and cultural values whether we think we are or not. With some exceptions, of course, we are taught what is right and wrong as children and those notions do not leave us so easily. So when we think we are making a moral choice, what we are really doing is falling back on our family, community, and cultural values which were taught to us.

 

Could I choose to murder someone? In theory, I guess I could make that choice. But in reality, I could never choose to commit murder. It's not in me. I could no more choose to commit cold-blooded murder than I could choose to jump off a 30 story building and fly around the city. Therefore, I do not have the free will to commit murder.

 

And then there is whether we have a choice and the extent of that choice in how we interact with people. I saw this fascinating study done in Russia, I believe. The issue being studied was how the common dog was domesticated. This group of scientists decided to study a certain sub-species of fox. So they caught wild foxes. Those wild foxes were naturally very aggressive towards human beings. Then they started selectively breeding the foxes. When the fox babies were born, they selected out those that were the least aggressive towards human beings and only allowed them to breed. Over a 50 year period of time, they produced a strain of foxes that were the most docile creatures you can imagine. You could bring them into your home and cuddle beside them just like a puppy dog.

 

So what does that experiment tell us? It tells us that animals (and we are animals) act the way they do to some important degree based on their genetic make-up. Those foxes didn't choose to love human beings. It was bred into them.

 

Thank you so much my friend. You've been a great teacher for me, right from the start. I will re-read this again until I comprehend every word.

 

Sincerely, Margee

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[snip]

Is this actually a free will/fate argument or a nature/nurture argument? It seems the latter.

 

Maybe I'm confused?

 

mwc

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Deva,

 

In order for future events to be decided, we must adhere to a strictly closed causal system to ensure that the events and circumstances leading up to this event occur. For instance, if I truly had free will except for a few pre-ordained events, could I not then travel to a different country to avoid my fate? Or perhaps kill myself before my fated day? If the answer is: No, you cannot escape your fate, then you've just described why free will is eliminated in this scenario.

 

This is the short version of why compatablism is logically incosistent.

 

 

I don't think compatibalism is what I am saying or advocating.. I don't believe that "free will" exists. Period. No such thing ultimately - but on the everyday level we must pretend that it does and buy into the illusion.

 

I don't believe there is any such thing as a "pre-ordained" event. What is doing the ordaining? That would be predestination and to me it very much implies that the universe has some plan centered around "you".

 

In addition, its a fact that the brain and nervous system are late. It has been proven that if you make the decision, for example, to raise your arm, the action happens before the brain and nervous system register that and then you realize it as a type of command. There is no free will, even on this simple level. You realize and interpret the action after the action.

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