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Old 10th-May-2008, 02:12 PM   #1
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Default Free Will? [Thread Split]

Its not a solid enough argument, Occams razor says that when all other factors are the same the simpler explanation tends to be right, its not an universal law that always works.

I like other more subltle arguments, like:

They say that if you believe you will be saved, etc. I ask: Can we really choose what to believe? I think we dont choose what we believe anymore we choose wether to like a particular food or not. You are preached and according to your personality, how you think, how you were raised, etc you believe it or not, there is nothing you can do about it. Some people want to believe and try to convince themselves, but that makes them nothing but hypocrites.
If this is true, religion with its "divine plan", the bible, it is all refuted and what is left? Nothing.

So, do you think we can really actually choose to believe in something?
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Old 10th-May-2008, 03:03 PM   #2
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

No, I'm a determinist too. I think we can choose things, but only outside our mind. If you want to get really technical, you could blame my atheism on my bad memory.

The way I like to put it is, a person can't seperate their belief IN God from their belief OF God. If you thought God was lying to you with every word (including the word that he exists), how could you still believe in him?

The belief in God can never exceed a trust in God. Or can it?
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Old 10th-May-2008, 08:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

I dont mean to imply universal determinism, science can refute that, and it doesnt stand metaphisically either. But the environment infuence is dominant in this. Lets supose for a moment that christian religion is "the true one", what is the chance of someone who was born in India in a hinduistic family to believe in god? So he is condemned to go to hell and suffer for all eternity because of where he was born? Is that fair? The indu is suppose to believe without proof as well, so he does (exactly as christians do), then why is he to blame?
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Old 10th-May-2008, 09:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

I'm not a determinist; determinism is meaningless, as is nondeterminism. When you get that close to the workings of the universe, you don't have the luxury of such high-level abstractions as "free will". These arguments over whether or not we have free will never get anywhere because at that level we don't even have the concept of free will.
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Old 10th-May-2008, 09:32 PM   #5
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesin View Post
I'm not a determinist; determinism is meaningless, as is nondeterminism. When you get that close to the workings of the universe, you don't have the luxury of such high-level abstractions as "free will". These arguments over whether or not we have free will never get anywhere because at that level we don't even have the concept of free will.
I was actually responding to BulimicMind, but OK.

What level are you talklinga about then?
I think we do have free will by the way, but only within our possibilities, within our particular horizon.
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Old 10th-May-2008, 10:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

I know, I just saw all this stuff about determinism. This discussion pops up occasionally on the bus home from school between myself and two INTP friends of mine (there's also an ENTJ who occasionally joins in). When it does, I usually say something like what I just said in that post.

Here I am using a definition of "level" similar to that used in descriptions of programming. The lowest-level method of programming is rewiring the computer to perform a different computation. Then comes machine code, writing in the binary on-off pulses the computer thinks in. Next assembly, which consists of mnemonics for individual processor instructions, and involves moving things around in processor registers and such. Then there are languages like C, which provide conditional statements, loops, functions, and data structures. After a while, you get to languages like Python, Ruby, and Lisp.

Physics deals with the low-level workings of the universe, but free will is a high-level abstraction that is defined only in terms of other high-level abstractions, which themselves are not defined in terms of low-level mechanisms. Whereas you can trace things like the behavior of a star during its lifetime down to the behavior of quantum particles, nobody has managed to do this with the concept of free will. Arguments about free will, as well as most philosophical discussions, are eventually killed by the fact that they depend on the definitions of concepts (such as the concept of free will) that have never been reduced to low-level explanations.
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Old 11th-May-2008, 02:39 AM   #7
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

Oh, i wish i had INTP friends to talk about these things *sigh*

Im a materialist, i dont think there are any levels, thought and concepts exist in the material world, they are not a higher anything, they are just produced by electric currents in our brains. Through this we put names to things and understand them, but we should never take the methaphor for the real thing. Love is just a word, we use it to address to certain biochemical reaction we have in relation to the oposite sex, etc. but the concept of "love" doesnt exist in a higher level of existence than those biochemical reactions, quite the opposite if you ask me.

The same goes for free will, either we have those properties we call free will or we dont, wether we can now explain it in phisical terms or not, is just a matter of temporal scientific limitations, we should be able to do so eventually.

Its really hard to talk about free will directly but we can talk about the implications of there not being free will, for example people wouldnt be responsable for their actions, because everyone who has certain temperament and goes through certain circumstances would do the same things. Murderers wouldnt be to blame, rapists wouldnt be to blame, etc. and good actions wouldnt have moral value either. I cannot accept that, i know i have free will, i choose, and im responsable for my actions, and so is everyone else.
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Old 11th-May-2008, 03:40 AM   #8
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

Quote:
eventually killed by the fact that they depend on the definitions of concepts (such as the concept of free will) that have never been reduced to low-level explanations.
Shall we give this reductionistic exercise a go then? I cannot guarantee a real answer, but this question has potential.

Ok, what is Free Will? Is it something inherent to us or was it acquired? What are the conditions necessary for an entity to say its free will is achieved? Do animals have free will? Must an entity be capable of thought to be considered to have free will? Does free will really exist?

A few basic questions to ask before we can really shred free will down to its basic components.

1) What is free will?
I have good faith that everyone is an independent sentient being who has their own purpose in life, just like me, and are not mindless robots put here by an alien race to entertain me or something similar. One must determine one's own destiny and if someone gives one a destiny, one must first accept it... or fight the power.

A cell must decide whether to turn malignant or continue to contribute to the whole.
A seal must decide whether to catch fish for its offspring... or try and hump a penguin.
And of course, humans have their lives to decide.

I believe that in the greater scheme of things, free will is the chaotic factor in the various evolutionary cycles that brings variety to the order of the cosmos.

2) Is free will inherent?
I believe that as long as a choice is available, free will exists. It does not really matter what kind of choice it is, as long as both paths lead to different endings. What else really matters?

Animals have choices too, even cells have their choices. I'll bet plants do on some level.

3) What are the conditions necessary to say an entity has achieved free will?
In the context of humans, this is not an easy question to answer since we are a finicky and illogical bunch. To a lot of people free will is simply the absence of binding to do what they want within the confines of their morality... but can we say a person who chooses to be bound is operating on his or her own free will?

Is the refusal of free will free will? Its certainly a choice, so by my standards the answer is yes. A refusal to choose is a choice, a simple addition to the paths laid out.

In fact this cuts to the heart to what I believe to be the nature of choices, which I have a hunch are not discrete, but continuous; there are no finite amount of choices, but an infinity of them. It is only through a level of generalization that there appear to be a finite number, which is limited by our imagination and cognitive capability.

So taking that in account, the true probability of every action we take is actually 0. Every living breathing moment we are doing the impossible, seeing the invisible, ROW ROW FIGHT THE POWAH. Either that or I am losing sight of reality as we accept it again.

Next question.

4) Do animals have free will?
The BBC would have us believe that.

5) Must an entity be capable of thought to have free will?
Well I believe I have somewhat answered that question, but have yet to put it together very concisely yet.

If all that is required of an entity to have free will is the availability of a choice, and the nature of choices is continuous and infinite, the presence of thought seems nothing more than a happy bonus.

That chair you sit on and the mouse you are using the scroll this paragraph have free will as well. Of course not on the same level as you, that would be creepy and just plain crazy.

6) Does free will really exist?
After saying all that, this would really seem a no-brainer question, but is it really?

What is existence? If something is all pervasive does it really exist? Or is it merely just another natural law?

What if something can only exist if it can also be nonexistent? Like air, water, the sun, the moon, you and me. If it has always existed, how would we know if it does not exist? If we cannot know if it does not exist, how would we know if it really exists?

I guess we could look to gravitation and infer that if it were to disappear we would start floating off the crumbling earth shortly before we are engulfed by the massive wave of nuclear fire from our sun that is now unbound and be destroyed and obliterated at levels most of us cannot comprehend yet. So yeah free will exists, but I wanted to be sure.

So what is free will?

An artifact of the continuous and infinite universe.
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Old 11th-May-2008, 06:14 AM   #9
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oblivious View Post

So what is free will?
I question whether free will is real. We are programmed by genetics and personal experience. While it seems as if we are making decisions, I wonder if perhaps our programming is moving along a path that we can't objectively see since we are subject to only hear our own brain and see through our own eyes.
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Old 11th-May-2008, 06:25 AM   #10
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

Indeed.

Our choices are also limited by our ability to detect them and our willingness to execute them. This is one of the reasons true knowledge is equatable to power. However, are these choices nonexistent simply because of our inability? Or because we are programmed to see certain choices?

If a tree falls in a forest.

I am not arrogant enough to assume that I can see the infinite continuous choice that is presented to me, but I can damn well try.
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Old 11th-May-2008, 08:09 AM   #11
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

The question, Oblivious, is whether those choices you mentioned over and over are determined by processes set into motion earlier, or whether we are able to escape a rational chain and control our own responses (and thoughts that generate those responses, and whatever thoughts that give us control of the notion of controlling our thoughts, ad infinitum) to actions, so that we are not just a programmed reaction to our surroundings.

I am simply pushing the discussion on; I believe in some kind of convoluted free will, I'm not sure about what terms that comes in though.

It's part logic, part intuition. It's a deeply complex issue.

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Old 14th-May-2008, 03:21 AM   #12
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dissident View Post
Im a materialist, i dont think there are any levels, thought and concepts exist in the material world, they are not a higher anything, they are just produced by electric currents in our brains. Through this we put names to things and understand them, but we should never take the methaphor for the real thing. Love is just a word, we use it to address to certain biochemical reaction we have in relation to the oposite sex, etc. but the concept of "love" doesnt exist in a higher level of existence than those biochemical reactions, quite the opposite if you ask me.

The same goes for free will, either we have those properties we call free will or we dont, wether we can now explain it in phisical terms or not, is just a matter of temporal scientific limitations, we should be able to do so eventually.
You seem to still be missing my point. When I talked about higher levels, I didn't mean higher levels of existence, I meant higher levels of abstraction. I agree that thoughts don't exist in any sort of "higher plane" than the electric and chemical signals and neuron configurations that give rise to those thoughts.

What higher level abstractions do is they let you ignore irrelevant details. The lowest level of abstraction is just the axioms, the most basic, fundamental things that govern how everything else behaves. Higher abstractions can be defined in terms of the axioms, or other abstractions, but for an abstraction to be well-defined, its definition and the definitions of the abstractions it depends on must be eventually traceable back to the axioms.

One good example of this is Arc, a dialect of the Lisp programming language family. Some other language is used to implement the core axioms, and then the rest of the language is built up in the language itself given those axioms. Consider this Arc code snippet:
Code:
(in (car x) foo "baz" nil (quote zing) 3)
Simple, yes? It turns out that in is a macro, defined in terms of other things. So, let's see what happens if we expand that macro once:
Code:
(let gs24 (car x)
  (or (is gs24 foo)
      (is gs24 "baz")
      (is gs24 nil)
      (is gs24 (quote zing))
      (is gs24 3)))
A little more complex, but still pretty short and readable. Seems that let and or are also macros, and it just so happens that or can get particularly messy when it has a lot of arguments. Anyway, I'm going to skip all the steps that come after this and show you what it looks like when the entire thing has been reduced to the axioms, with no macros left to expand:
Code:
((fn (gs24)
   ((fn (gs25)
      (if gs25 gs25
          ((fn (gs26)
             (if gs26 gs26
                 ((fn (gs27)
                    (if gs27 gs27
                        ((fn (gs28)
                           (if gs28 gs28
                               (is gs24 3)))
                         (is gs24 (quote zing)))))
                  (is gs24 nil))))
           (is gs24 "baz"))))
    (is gs24 foo)))
 (car x))
Argh. Compare the high level code (the one-liner with in) to the low-level code that macro expansion eventually produces. This is why abstractions are a good thing.

The problem with concepts like "free will" is nobody can seem to come up with a well-founded definition. Given a definition of free will, if you try to expand the definition, you keep getting more and more abstractions and you can never seem to get it down to the axioms. You often end up with a loop, with two definitions referring to each other. Free will is just not well-defined in terms of physics, so when you try to talk about free will in terms of the workings of the universe, it doesn't work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dissident View Post
Its really hard to talk about free will directly but we can talk about the implications of there not being free will, for example people wouldnt be responsable for their actions, because everyone who has certain temperament and goes through certain circumstances would do the same things. Murderers wouldnt be to blame, rapists wouldnt be to blame, etc. and good actions wouldnt have moral value either. I cannot accept that, i know i have free will, i choose, and im responsable for my actions, and so is everyone else.
I'm going to take issue with that, too. First, if "the environment is to blame, not the person", then it isn't punishment, it's a change in the environment to discourage undesirable behavior. Second, by the same logic, you could argue that "It's not our fault, we have no choice but to punish you".

Lastly, you're arguing that because you find the idea of a lack of free will morally unacceptable, free will must exist. That's called a fallacy. There is no logical connection here. "It would be nice if X were true" does not imply "X is true".
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Old 14th-May-2008, 11:21 AM   #13
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

There are certain things that can never be understood reductionistically.

Such would become apparent when one considers the phenomenon of flocking or swarming in abstraction of everything else save a single unit; the bee or the goose. Or perhaps the waves of a roiling fluid. Even if we do understand the physics of the particles that constitute the fluid, how do they relate to the complex behaviour of a seemingly simple construct?

This has been one of the main criticisms of particle physics in semi recent times and is what gave birth to the fields of chaos and emergence.

Free Will, I believe, would fall into this catagory, since it is a construct that can only be understood in the context of the mind, which is embedded in psychology, which emerges from from biology, which emerges from chemistry which emerges from atomic physics --> particle physics --> who knows.

As is apparent, these new levels of abstractions give birth to completely new concepts that are completely incomprehensible at the level below it. Also these lower levels almost never have any evidence that points to any higher unique emergent phenomenon. One of the reasons the internet was such a revolution.

Free Will is an emergent phenomenon.

That said, I do believe that we can indeed come up with semisolid or solid rules regarding free will. I think I gave it a half decent shot back a page.
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Old 14th-May-2008, 01:22 PM   #14
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesin View Post
The problem with concepts like "free will" is nobody can seem to come up with a well-founded definition. Given a definition of free will, if you try to expand the definition, you keep getting more and more abstractions and you can never seem to get it down to the axioms. You often end up with a loop, with two definitions referring to each other. Free will is just not well-defined in terms of physics, so when you try to talk about free will in terms of the workings of the universe, it doesn't work.
So what is your point? "you cant get an answer so dont bother"? If we dont discuss it we SURELY wont reach a conclussion.
The definition is not a problem i think we all mean the same thing when we talk about free will, there is no mystery there, the problem is proving it. It cant be defined in phisics yet, we are noone to denie the possibility of doing it in the future.
Quote:
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I'm going to take issue with that, too. First, if "the environment is to blame, not the person", then it isn't punishment, it's a change in the environment to discourage undesirable behavior. Second, by the same logic, you could argue that "It's not our fault, we have no choice but to punish you".
yes, thats what im saying, so what? that is not my stance, thats what it would be like if there wasnt free will, im arguing there is.
Quote:
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Lastly, you're arguing that because you find the idea of a lack of free will morally unacceptable, free will must exist. That's called a fallacy. There is no logical connection here. "It would be nice if X were true" does not imply "X is true".
You are not even making a little effort to understand. Its not because it is morally unacceptable (if there was no free will moral would NOT exist, moral value comes direclty from choice, if there is no choice, then there is no morality whatsoever), im not saying it would be nice if it were true, im saying it IS true because there IS choice. You cant choose to have the desire to kill or not, but you can choose to do it or not, that is why you ARE to blame if you do it. You cant choose to feel pleasure eating or not, but you can choose wether you eat till you burst or not. Are you going to denie this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oblivious
Free Will is an emergent phenomenon.

That said, I do believe that we can indeed come up with semisolid or solid rules regarding free will.
I agree, conciousness is an emergent phenomenon as well, and it doesnt mean it doesnt exist, or cant be proved or explained.
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Old 14th-May-2008, 11:07 PM   #15
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

How do you know there is choice? Determinists argue that choice could be just an illusion.
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Old 14th-May-2008, 11:32 PM   #16
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

ok, what's there in its place then?
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Old 15th-May-2008, 12:35 AM   #17
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

Determinism has been refuted (uncertainty principle, chaos...) But indeterminism doesnt ensure free will either, like i said its very dificult to talk about the subject directly, there is no way to prove it beyond subjectivity for now (atleast that i can think of ). I know i have free will and conciousness, as people living in caves hudreds of thousands of years ago knew there was gravity when they didnt even have a word for it. (not a perfect analogy but you know what i mean)
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Old 15th-May-2008, 12:46 AM   #18
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=185348
Quote:
Some believe that free will is achieved through random aspects of quantum mechanics. This is particularly attractive to people who don't understand quantum mechanics.
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Old 15th-May-2008, 02:59 AM   #19
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

Again, not even a little effort...
I named uncertainty principle and chaos as refutations of determinism, i clearly said it didnt prove free will. I suddenly feel tired...
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Old 15th-May-2008, 03:25 AM   #20
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

free will?
I personally think that every decision we make is simply the amalgamation of two factors: genetics, and environment. I suppose you could say that this means we have no free will (our early childhood environments shaped the choices we made as a child etc), but you have to ask yourself: what is free will?

The thing that each of us considers to be our "free will" is the result of millions upon millions of mental algorithms ("schemata") that our environments and genetics have shaped since our times of conception.
We are nothing more than complex systems that are constantly being unconsciously molded and reshaped by our environment. Genetics - the way our brains were made to work at the time of birth - has an incredibly profound affect on everything we do as well.


I suppose unforeseen thoughts could arise in minds due to high EM fields/whatever, but we must remember that these thoughts were not caused by "free will," but by the environment.
The biblical version of free will is laughable at best. If there was a god, he would have destroyed the possibility of free will the moment he set this universe into motion.

___

If someone could find a way to perfectly modify an unborn child's genetics, and then hook their brains up to a computer, then feed their brains only certain experiences... Then I guess that person wouldn't have free will. Until that day however, free will does exist in our society, because theres no way for a fellow human to make decisions for you: your accountable for everything you do unless you were genetically modified etc.


Thats how I see it anyway.
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Old 15th-May-2008, 07:59 AM   #21
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

Quote:
The biblical version of free will is laughable at best. If there was a god, he would have destroyed the possibility of free will the moment he set this universe into motion.
The utter irony of such a statement, that says, "Obviously if G-d existed, he wouldn't have done things such & such a way," is that it assumes you would be able to understand G-d if he existed.

All one needs to do is play a mere human 'complex' strategy game (Chess, Go), and watch masters play, stop the game regularly, and ask where the 'obvious' next move is. See how often you get it right.

Surely such statements assuming knowledge of 'obviously' best choices for infinitely complex situations that we hardly grasp can be seen as absurd, this in mind?

--

Quote:
We are nothing more than complex systems that are constantly being unconsciously molded and reshaped by our environment
But then

Quote:
Until that day however, free will does exist in our society, because theres no way for a fellow human to make decisions for you
??

Do we have free will, or don't we? Your first statement suggests consciousness is nothing more than an inner man in a sailboat of a body with no actual rudder. It suggests that with an infinite amount of knowledge, one could calculate anyone's choices at any given time.

What would you answer to the above arguments that claim determinism can easily be scientifically refuted?

.L
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Old 15th-May-2008, 12:46 PM   #22
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

Sorry to ask such a mundane question in the middle of the discussion but
Linsejko: why do you write it G-d?
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Old 15th-May-2008, 07:41 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Linsejko View Post
The utter irony of such a statement, that says, "Obviously if G-d existed, he wouldn't have done things such & such a way," is that it assumes you would be able to understand G-d if he existed.
I think you read that out of context. What I was saying with that sentence is that if a god created this universe (the one that we currently inhabit) he did set us up so we don't have free will.
Assuming there was a god, when he created the first human being he did set it up so that there was no way we could have "free will." The way the human mind currently works, there is no free will.

Your "free will" is not free will. It is just the latest result of a cause/effect reaction that was initiated when your personal genetic structure was created in the womb.


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Do we have free will, or don't we? Your first statement suggests consciousness is nothing more than an inner man in a sailboat of a body with no actual rudder. It suggests that with an infinite amount of knowledge, one could calculate anyone's choices at any given time.
We have the free-est type of free will we possibly could have. Where would this biblical "free will" come from? The way each and every one of us makes decisions is by referring to past experiences and decisions we have made and comparing them to the new situation in order to make an informed decision. Emotions - which are caused by genetic preferences, past experiences, and the environment - can also have a profound effect on what we will decide.

How could it be possible to make a decision that wasn't directly caused by the culmination of past experiences that were, in turn, caused by the environment and genetics? Its not possible. If god set the universe into motion then he is the one that caused the chain reaction that would eventually lead to every single situation you would ever get into. This also means that god created your genetics, which would decide any preferences you would have.


We do not have free will. Biblical free will is a completely flawed concept. I guess if you go deep enough you realize that yes, we do each make our own decisions, but all "we" are is an assorted mix of experiences and genetics. Each individual is merely a software program that, if something of high enough processing power and understanding knew enough about, would be as predictable as the second hand of a clock.



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What would you answer to the above arguments that claim determinism can easily be scientifically refuted?
I think that they didn't really even try to prove their points.
If there is something truly random in the universe then I guess determinism goes out the window.

However, my personal belief is that with enough information, anything can be predicted.
Of course I know nothing about quantum mechanics or anything like that, so I'm probably just making an ass of myself.


EDIT:
of course, my personal view on predicting anything wouldn't really effect the argument against free will in the religious sense.

Since god created the universe, random decisions caused by the cascading effects of some quantum force still wouldn't qualify as free will. It would just be another of god's laws shaping the decision-making process of an individual. To have free will we would each have to develop in a completely separate place from anything affected by another being. Thats impossible and completely illogical since we are always affected by god himself no matter what (he created our minds).

Thats assuming god exists.
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Old 16th-May-2008, 08:52 AM   #24
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However, my personal belief is that with enough information, anything can be predicted.
I am sorry to inform you that you seem quite entranced by the Laplacian Dream. This has been disproved.
(Like many of us on this forum you have probably independently developed one of the great theories that have already been developed by long dead old men in lab coats. However, I am still going to rag on it. )

You speak of the mind, soul and human consciousness as if they had bolts and screws we can twist, tweak and dissect.

It is simply not that simple. Taking things apart will never penetrate or glean useful knowledge of a multitude of phenomena. Reductionism and determinism are limited.

Take a hologram for instance. You can cut a hologram as many times as you want, but each piece is able to reproduce the full original image, albeit smaller and warped. There is much evidence that the brain is holographic.

Please consider the Lorenz equations for a moment.

Tell me how, if it is impossible for three dead simple non-linear equations to reach a steady state or any predictable pattern, how it is possible to deterministically map out the human brain, the psyche, and the full richness of all human consciousness, which are the result of millions of neurons operating on quantum levels we cannot even fully understand?

In the 1980s, immensely colossal amounts of economic power and the most powerful computers in existence were channelled to determining and controlling the weather, which is a deterministic system by the way. However all that was completely futile in determining or controlling conditions beyond several days. It was likeable to a game of dice, weather control being an extra dice roll.

Sensitive dependence on initial conditions.

In short my reply to your point on determinism is this: It's simply not that simple.

Now regarding free will and how it relates to determinism... I believe I have already addressed this a few posts back. I shall quote it for convenience. If there are certain things you take contention with please do not be shy to bring them up.

Quote:
There are certain things that can never be understood reductionistically.

Such would become apparent when one considers the phenomenon of flocking or swarming in abstraction of everything else save a single unit; the bee or the goose. Or perhaps the waves of a roiling fluid. Even if we do understand the physics of the particles that constitute the fluid, how do they relate to the complex behaviour of a seemingly simple construct?

This has been one of the main criticisms of particle physics in semi recent times and is what gave birth to the fields of chaos and emergence.

Free Will, I believe, would fall into this catagory, since it is a construct that can only be understood in the context of the mind, which is embedded in psychology, which emerges from from biology, which emerges from chemistry which emerges from atomic physics --> particle physics --> who knows.

As is apparent, these new levels of abstractions give birth to completely new concepts that are completely incomprehensible at the level below it. Also these lower levels almost never have any evidence that points to any higher unique emergent phenomenon. One of the reasons the internet was such a revolution.

Free Will is an emergent phenomenon.
PS: I swear God threads never fail to deliver.
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Old 16th-May-2008, 01:35 PM   #25
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

Oblivious: Like you say, it is not that simple, either way.
It doesnt matter if HUMANS can predict things or not, if the nature of the universe is deterministic (and that is a matter that is not settled yet) then we can infer that with absolute knowledge everything could be predicted, of couse we dont (and never will) have absolute knowledge, but it doesnt change what it is.

Chaotic systems may be imposible for US to predict because we cant measure perfectly the initial conditions (using 16 decimals could throw out completely diferent results from using 18 for example) but that is our limitation, it doesnt mean initial conditions cant be determinated, if we could, it would be perfectly posible to predict the outcome: They are not random.

Emergent phenomenons still have to obey the laws of the universe, if its nature is deterministic, then those phenomenons cant be any other way than deterministic as well.
Nevertheless, i am with you, i intuitively think there is free will, but i just dont see how it could be proven. Even if there were random chaotic events, that wouldnt be free will either. This subject really bothers me.
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Old 16th-May-2008, 01:46 PM   #26
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

Given that the two factor influencing our decision are genetics and environment, an all-intelligent god would have forseen the path that such a universe would have taken as it was being made, and therefore nullified free will.
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Old 16th-May-2008, 02:13 PM   #27
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

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Given that the two factor influencing our decision are genetics and environment, an all-intelligent god would have forseen the path that such a universe would have taken as it was being made, and therefore nullified free will.
I dont hink that helps, that argument is based in 2 assumptions we shouldnt accept so lightly:

*Determinism
*God
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Old 16th-May-2008, 04:50 PM   #28
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This subject really bothers me.
Actually come to think of it, it bothers me too. For all the logic I bring to bear this is the real reason I want to believe in free will. I also agree on absolute knowledge being the crux of determinism, and that the more knowledge we have, the greater our resolution.

However, I do believe there is cause to press on. That cause lies in the notion of the Lorenz waterwheel, which is basically an elegant representation of a convection system. This is a salient point because chaos arises here not because of lack of absolute data resolution, but simply because the input is higher than the system's ability to dump it.

The values can be decided by the experimenter himself, and chaos will still arise.

http://www.math.cornell.edu/~mec/200...n1/lesson1.htm

In fact the interlinked equations (Lorenz Equations) that describe the behaviour of the waterwheel have been attempted by many, many physicists, and none have been able to solve them. The kicker is that there were only three equations comprised of no more than a few terms and one or two operations.

Only one thing is for certain. Though it is impossible to determine the fate of the convection currents in a boiling coffee cup in the next two minutes, it is trivial to predict them in an hour. Room temperature is the destiny of the coffee cup, no matter how chaotic or unpredictable its transition is.

Though it is impossible to see the micro, seeing the macro is trivial, and the only way forward if you want to know anything useful about how coffee cools itself. This flies in the face of reductionism and as a result, determinism, and any hypothetical supreme plan of whatever hypothetical supreme being. Simply put, particle physics will not tell you what happens in coffee cups; you have to look at the coffee cup holistically.
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Old 17th-May-2008, 01:09 PM   #29
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

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Given that the two factor influencing our decision are genetics and environment, an all-intelligent god would have forseen the path that such a universe would have taken as it was being made, and therefore nullified free will.
As mentioned above, assuming G-d exists, trying to understand his motives/purpose/reasoning is inherently beyond us according to the natural understanding of who G-d would be.

But really, why just nullify free will? Why not nullify the whole thing? Really, what's the fun in making non-sentient creatures?

Surely any value we have rests in that we are capable of free will?

Also, besides the very fascinating arguments on particle physics being unable to achieve its initial lofty goals... the crux for me seems to be whether, after all variables have taken their toll at any given moment on an individual human being, that human can then process that information in some way "quantum" way that generates new information that is more than the sum of the factors input into that being.

--

Concerning the last post of Oblivious:

Does this suggest that the path of humanity can be theoretically charted, if not the path of an individual human?

The argument sounds to me to imply yes; but if yes, then how is a human not just some other larger hierarchical system taken in the other smaller factors leading to its existence?

.L
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Old 17th-May-2008, 01:41 PM   #30
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

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Concerning the last post of Oblivious:

Does this suggest that the path of humanity can be theoretically charted, if not the path of an individual human?

The argument sounds to me to imply yes; but if yes, then how is a human not just some other larger hierarchical system taken in the other smaller factors leading to its existence?

.L
This discussion is becoming more and more interesting.

Your first question is what the entirety of population studies and economics is based on. That's a yes.

To your second question: In no way.

I know what you are trying to imply and here it is; if we are to live we cannot escape our destiny to advance from cradle to grave nor our need to breath air, drink water, or eat. This is true.

Even if we have free will, it is limited, but I at least believe it is not a binary concept.

The needs I mentioned are primarily biological needs. Beyond that, however, between the boundaries of psychology and the next level (whatever that may be... group intelligence?), chaos exists, and hence, free will.

Edit: I propose thread split.
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Old 17th-May-2008, 08:38 PM   #31
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

I chose to live a lifestyle where I only think about what exists in the perceivable universe, not only the visual, but anything that has causality. If a god exists and is is completely unremarkable, then he has absolutely no effect on any part of the universe. This god is irrelevent, futile and absolutely outside of the universe. His existence, or absence results in the same thing.

Since I believe that causality is a constant in the universe, I cannot believe in things that are unperceivable in their description.
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Old 17th-May-2008, 09:25 PM   #32
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

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chaos exists, and hence, free will.
I wonder if chaos alone does prove free will, chaos is random, so if you are deciding between two paths, you are uncertain about which one to choose, and some random synapse in your brain is the catalyst thats makes you choose one, can we call that free will? Its not predictable, but the decision is still not made by your will.
For free will as we understand it to be possible conciousness would have to exist in some kind of diferent level in which thoughts (efect) come not only because of inner and outer influence (cause) and chaos (randomness), but mainly because of pure will. That sadly sounds like a soul, and i cannot accept the existence shuch a thing as it is.

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I propose thread split.
--> Good idea
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Old 17th-May-2008, 09:50 PM   #33
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

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the crux for me seems to be whether, after all variables have taken their toll at any given moment on an individual human being, that human can then process that information in some way "quantum" way that generates new information that is more than the sum of the factors input into that being.
Yes, I think that is possible, but not in the narrow, anthropocentric way you stated it. If a human being can "process that information in some 'quantum' way that generates new information", so can a computer, a butterfly, a tree, a teacup, a roll of toilet paper, and an electron.

If humans have free will because of the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics, then so does everything else.
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Old 17th-May-2008, 10:20 PM   #34
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

Free will is badly defined. There appears to be multiple levels of what should be constituted free will.

We cannot consider the limits imposed by reality to be preventing free will, since free will is the possibility of choice when confronted with reality. The fact that I cannot shoot lightning at will is not a limit on free will. The same way that a man living in a wartorn nation still has free will, even if he cannot get a safer or better life.

The fact that prefferences exist, that the brain has developed in such a fashion to make a certain decision when the oppertunity arrises, is often seen as a limit on free will. I do not see free will in that sense, to me free will is the possibility to exert the natural, physically induced decision that would come naturally. Every man has free will, but limited possibilities. The latter varies alot.
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Old 18th-May-2008, 12:09 PM   #35
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Exclamation NOTICE:

Everything before this post was actually first posted in the "Do you believe in God?" thread.

Carry on.

.L
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Old 18th-May-2008, 03:31 PM   #36
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

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I wonder if chaos alone does prove free will, chaos is random, so if you are deciding between two paths, you are uncertain about which one to choose, and some random synapse in your brain is the catalyst thats makes you choose one, can we call that free will? Its not predictable, but the decision is still not made by your will.
For free will as we understand it to be possible conciousness would have to exist in some kind of diferent level in which thoughts (efect) come not only because of inner and outer influence (cause) and chaos (randomness), but mainly because of pure will. That sadly sounds like a soul, and i cannot accept the existence shuch a thing as it is.


--> Good idea
I've not considered so many deep questions in such a short stretch of time before, but that's the fun thing.

All I have to answer your question right now is pattern recognition.

On the chemical/physical level we have the butterfly effect.
On the biological level with have random mutations.
On the psychological level we have free will.

On all three levels, the forces I identified defy nearly all attempts to predict and analyse with any decent tolerance of accuracy. However in each case the result is visible on the higher level of abstraction.

Convection turbulence being the system's attempt to dump heat faster.

Random mutations being the life form's attempt to gain a biological edge.

Free will to differentiate ourselves and to advance society doing what we love to do.

I don't know about souls and such, but if the marriage of chaos and order has managed to create such beauty and elegance in nature, I do not mind being subject to it.
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Old 20th-May-2008, 12:42 PM   #37
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Default Re: Free Will? [Thread Split]

Here are some interesting views about the subject:

Free Will doesnt matter

A response to the previous

Another by the same guy
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Old 8th-June-2008, 07:00 PM   #38
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Default Re: Free Will? [Thread Split]

While I can understand his reasoning, to totally disregard the ramifications of a lack of free will on human life is ridiculous. Life will continue without us pursuing this questions just as life would continue without us pursuing any other scientific or philosophical question. Humanity could have easily continued to live believing the earth was flat. If we are to continue any form of thought then we should and must also continue to analyze that thought.

He seems to be insinuating that the discovery of determinism is the end of the line for purpose based philosophy and that to continue questioning along the lines that have led us to question free will is pointless.

The idea of determinism does have moral implications and does change the way we should approach or consider lawmaking. Determinism shows us that the criminal activity within societies is the fault of that society and not a "bad seed", therefore society is forced to take a look at itself and not simply it's criminals as the wrong doers and react accordingly. Due to the introspective morality that determinism imposes, I feel that determinist founded morality will lead to greater social freedoms and liberalism (not fiscal liberalism.).


So yeah, Free will matters.
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Old 8th-June-2008, 09:43 PM   #39
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Default Re: Do you believe in God?

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Originally Posted by Oblivious
On the chemical/physical level we have the butterfly effect.
On the biological level with have random mutations.
"butterfly effect" seems to be just a complex web of physical 'transactions' resulting in an unanticipated effect. If we had better understanding of the variables, the result can conceivably be predicted. Quantum effects may confound the cause/effect chain though.

Random mutations aren't random, not really, if each were examined closely they would have a cause (e.g. cosmic rays, DNA copying errors, etc). RM is only RM at the macro level, but not at the micro level.
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Old 9th-June-2008, 07:59 AM   #40
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Default Re: Free Will? [Thread Split]

I agree. I believe (guess this is what you could call a "religious belief") that there is Order in the universe, that which is the goal of Science to uncover. It is a logical, causal system, nothing is random, it only seems to be because of our ignorance. Randomness is a God of the Gaps.

"Free will matters"...

hmm if determinism is correct, no. You will just be "destined" to think and act whatever you will, but that will not change the nature of the universe, and this discussion will be carried on by some but not by other, but will ultimately be irrelevant.

If determinism is wrong, and there is free will, then it does matter. Nevertheless (I love that word, heh), it seems to be unprovable, and you will enforce your free will whatever your philosophical stance is.

It is sort of like Pascal's Wager. But if there is a divine tribunal at the end judging our moral behavior, I'll just plead innocent on the basis of misleading reality due to the free will dilemma.

Quote:
On the case of Flying Spaghetti Monster vs. Tekton, the defendant is declared innocent due to inherent human psychological incapacity to be certain of the existance of free will, moral values, and arrabiata sauce.
Heh, maybe I can even use it on a real tribunal! But then I'll end up on a mental institution. But it would set precedent and become the beginning of the end for ALL laws. Civilizations would crumble! The world would be ravished by anarchy! Man would once again become one with beasts!


I seriously need sleep. Nothing to see here, proceed discussingizing.
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Old 9th-June-2008, 10:57 AM   #41
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Default Re: Free Will? [Thread Split]

You obviously aren't paying attention.

If free will doesn't exist then the realization of that nonexistence is crucial to the proper development of morality and laws.

As much as everything will all turn out the same in the end, the reason it will turn out the same is because those who hold the wrong ideas will be eventually convinced by those who hold the right ideas.

In the idea of determinism I find meaning, and eventually so will everyone.

I understand that you're claiming free will or no free will doesn't matter because the inability to predict the future means that our understandings are still reactionary. But really the understanding that there is a lack of free will is important when it comes to developing a new 'spiritual' truth for mankind.

How can anyone be depressed or satisfied by the amount of wealth they have accumulated if they are determinist? Once you get over the original shock of the idea, you come into a feeling of infallibility.
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Old 9th-June-2008, 01:19 PM   #42
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Default Re: Free Will? [Thread Split]

We have free will in as much as we have the ability to weigh situations and act on them as we feel is necessary, however this includes the parameters of our personality, as well as of possibility, and maybe even probability. Potentially perplexity should also be pondered upon as a possible cause for certain perogatives.
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Old 9th-June-2008, 01:22 PM   #43
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Default Re: Free Will? [Thread Split]

The last bit means that maybe a person's lack of understanding would also have a large affect on how they react. Reading that again, that's a bit obvious. So really, all the questions about free will are already answered, and you know the answers. Now accept them.



Big Brother is watching you. Accept or be punished.
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Old 9th-June-2008, 01:29 PM   #44
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Default Re: Free Will? [Thread Split]

Free will?
Well of course we all have free will.

Technically.


Of course technically somone can influence you subconsciously, therefore altering the choices you make, and is that not taking away your right to a 'free will'?


I mean, I can do anything I like really, but society and it's consequences prevent me.


So yet again, in a cosmic way, yes we have free will, but we don't use it, because if we do, we get called all sorts of things.
Inhuman murdering psychopath at the least.
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Old 9th-June-2008, 01:32 PM   #45
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Default Re: Free Will? [Thread Split]

Free will is subject to absolutely everything. That is what makes each of us to be reasonably unique.
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Old 9th-June-2008, 05:05 PM   #46
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Default Re: Free Will? [Thread Split]

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Free will?
Well of course we all have free will.

Technically.


Of course technically somone can influence you subconsciously, therefore altering the choices you make, and is that not taking away your right to a 'free will'?


I mean, I can do anything I like really, but society and it's consequences prevent me.


So yet again, in a cosmic way, yes we have free will, but we don't use it, because if we do, we get called all sorts of things.
Inhuman murdering psychopath at the least.
Can you, indeed? Name a single decision you've ever made that wasn't influenced by external factors that are outwith your control.
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Old 9th-June-2008, 09:38 PM   #47
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Default Re: Free Will? [Thread Split]

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I understand that you're claiming free will or no free will doesn't matter because the inability to predict the future means that our understandings are still reactionary. But really the understanding that there is a lack of free will is important when it comes to developing a new 'spiritual' truth for mankind.
Funny thing, i think that lack of free will would destroy any kind of spirituality. It does have moral implications tho, suddenly parenting becomes even more important, the values you put in your childs mind from birth on are crucial to its development. Criminal proceidures would be pretty much the same, only the reason would change, you still dont want dangerous people on the streets, no matter if its their fault they are criminals or not. I still dont see it as a breakthrough in human history, those with the ability to understand it will be sad, but everyone would go on with their lives just the same. If we dont have free will we still have a good illusion of it and we still have to decide wether we want a sandwich or salad of luch.
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Old 10th-June-2008, 12:17 AM   #48
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Default Re: Free Will? [Thread Split]

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If we dont have free will we still have a good illusion of it ...
You've articulated the thing that I find quite extraordinary. Ponder that thought for a minute. WHY do we have such an illusion? What is the selective advantage of free will illusions if you accept a materialist account of things? Why would the stirring of atoms in our brains give rise to an illusion of free will.

My assessment (so far) is to provisionally adopt the simplest explanation, namely, that free will is real, not illusory. YMMV.

Its a fascinating topic that has attracted the attention of some of the greatest minds in history. I haven't read nearly enough to form anything more than a provisional view of the matter.
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Old 10th-June-2008, 03:10 AM   #49
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Default Re: Free Will? [Thread Split]

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Funny thing, i think that lack of free will would destroy any kind of spirituality. It does have moral implications tho, suddenly parenting becomes even more important, the values you put in your childs mind from birth on are crucial to its development. Criminal proceidures would be pretty much the same, only the reason would change, you still dont want dangerous people on the streets, no matter if its their fault they are criminals or not. I still dont see it as a breakthrough in human history, those with the ability to understand it will be sad, but everyone would go on with their lives just the same. If we dont have free will we still have a good illusion of it and we still have to decide wether we want a sandwich or salad of luch.
When I say spiritual I mean that there is a way to look at determinism which replaces the "god is looking out for me" mentality. Determinism might be the idea that gives people the confidence to stop having so many silly social programs and other things like that.

I don't understand why determinism gets people so down. Even if you had a soul and could make your own decisions, wouldn't you apply rational thinking to those decisions? This is why people say free will doesn't matter, and they're right. The benefit of free will is nonexistent, so what are you mourning?
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Old 10th-June-2008, 04:15 AM   #50
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Default Re: Free Will? [Thread Split]

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If free will doesn't exist then the realization of that nonexistence is crucial to the proper development of morality and laws.

[...]

I understand that you're claiming free will or not free will doesn't matter because the inability to predict the future means that our understandings are still reactionary. But really the understanding that there is a lack of free will is important when it comes to developing a new 'spiritual' truth for mankind.
I agree that the concept of no free will can make people reconsider their morality, and laws, taking a more deeper look into society.

But the thing is... that only matters if there IS free will.

If there is none, there is no decision making since there is no choice. Everything is scripted. So there is no "realization" or "developing" of anything. No morality can exist when there is no choice. There will always be the appearance of it... but that's just how the world is "destined" to unfold.

Guess we'll never know...

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Funny thing, i think that lack of free will would destroy any kind of spirituality. It does have moral implications tho, suddenly parenting becomes even more important, the values you put in your childs mind from birth on are crucial to its development.
Isn't this a contradiction? If there is no free will and spirituality, why would parenting become more important? I mean... the values you put in your childs mind... that action, that you think you decided to do... was inevitable, destined. So...
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