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A question of free will.

The_Chameleon

Grandmaster
I have heard it said by atheists that they don't like the idea that they are not in control of their own destiny. It got me to thinking... "What is free will?". If I know someone's character really well, I can predict and even intervene in their decisions even before they've made them. Here's an example: If I happen to know someone is very opportunistic and of low moral character, and I place a wallet with $20 in it where I know he's going to be the first to find it, does it then make me a "god" to know before he does that he is going to find the wallet, glance around, and choose to take the money inside? Does he still have free will if someone else knows his choices before he does? To what extent is the belief in free will a component of it? To what extent is ignorance of our own future choices a component, regardless of whether or not that ignorance is shared by others?


Your thoughts?
 
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Hilander

Free Spirit
Staff member
V.I.P.
No it does not make you a God and he still has free will. You just provided the opportunity to steal. Maybe you know what they have done in the past which will give you insight on what to expect in the future. However he still has to chose to take the money or not.

Even if you are a psychic and can see into the future. He still has to make the choice himself for you to see what is going to happen. All you are seeing is what he decides to do, your not controlling what he does.
 

The_Chameleon

Grandmaster
So if say, an all knowing being by the same token creates scenarios, knowing how you will approach them and where it will ultimately lead, do you still have free will, or is your path predestined? You see where I am going with this? Is the difference in this case whether or not you know you are participating in created scenarios? How I approach a situation may vary greatly depending on whether I see it as random or manufactured for a purpose (i.e. to teach, reward, punish, etc.). Atheists often pit the concept of fate/predestination against that of free will, but can't they in a sense co-exist? I may have been created in such a way as to predetermine my decisions, every choice following a sort of formula unique to my design, but if I don't know that formula or have any way of knowing what I will decide until I decide it, then the illusion of free will and actual free will are functionally the same thing, are they not?

If I am sick and take a placebo, not knowing it is a placebo, and I feel better, is that placebo not functionally a drug? Research has shown that people taking placebos even knowing there is no active ingredient still often show improvement, and that is because the active ingredient is already within them. Free will may technically be a sort of placebo, but if it's free will to you then it's free will. A rare instance where subjectivism is part of the equation rather than a bias.

(I hope I'm explaining myself okay) :)


- Chameleon
 

Hilander

Free Spirit
Staff member
V.I.P.
I don't know, seems to me if a all knowing being, even though he knows what you will do and sets up the scenario, as long as he doesn't make you do it you still are acting out of free will.

What if we are all living the same life over and over do we still have free will? Or is it more like a movie and the same thing is going to happen over and over again? In that case it would be predestination. Your going to keep doing the same thing no matter what. Ha ha, might explain psychics.
 

The_Chameleon

Grandmaster
Everything is predestined by virtue of our design, but since we don't know our design we perceive each choice as an act of will. But it is this perception that makes free will real to us, even if on a greater scale it is an illusion. Without that illusion, we would make very different choices. If we hear from a psychic that we will go down a certain path, and if we believe it, we do not exercise free will when that time comes because we believe it is predestined and therefore just go with what we believe is inevitable. Free will vanishes and we are for a time robots following an external program. The same is true however if we believe in free will but fail to exercise it because we tend to think our choices don't really matter one way or the other ("All roads lead to Rome" sorta thinking). Our choices then may become more erratic and morally ambiguous. I think free will at it's core involves rational thinking but also empathy. Without these factors our choices are dictated by external influences rather than worthwhile priorities, and thus aren't free but slave to circumstance. If free will is on a greater scale an illusion, it is folly for us to try and see through it because the illusion of free will makes it real. The moment we try to see through the illusion of free will we predestine ourselves based on our assumption of fate.


- Chameleon
 
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Major

4 legs good 2 legs bad
V.I.P.
We had a good discussion about free will about a year ago. My first post in that thread pretty much sums up my thoughts on the subject.

http://www.generalforum.com/religion-and-philosophy/do-believe-fate-106606.html

Major said:
I believe in fate, that everything that happens in the universe is predetermined. Our lives are like a train just following the tracks. We are powerless to change our course.

Yes, we make choices, but does that mean we have free will? Or will we make the same choice every time if we are put in the same exact situation? I believe it's the latter. We will always choose what we believe to be the most desirable outcome.

So if our choices are based on desire, what are our desires determined by? What we desire is determined by who we are - our DNA and everything we've learned and experienced up to that point in our lives. Or in other words, our past. The past determines the future. Cause and effect.
I also touched on free will in relation to God in that thread, how God's omniscience and free will are mutually exclusive. It is impossible to know something that has not yet occurred unless it has been predetermined, and if our lives are predetermined, then there cannot be free will.
 

dDave

Well-Known Member
V.I.P.
We had a good discussion about free will about a year ago. My first post in that thread pretty much sums up my thoughts on the subject.

http://www.generalforum.com/religion-and-philosophy/do-believe-fate-106606.html



I also touched on free will in relation to God in that thread, how God's omniscience and free will are mutually exclusive. It is impossible to know something that has not yet occurred unless it has been predetermined, and if our lives are predetermined, then there cannot be free will.
God is not constrained by time. Yeah, hard to wrap one's mind around that, but it's what I believe.

If our lives truly are predetermined then why are we here? Makes life seem totally pointless.

You can look at things like chemicals released in the brain, neuron patterns, etc. but I believe that we also have a spirit or even a soul that defines who we are, the workings of the brain are merely a physical manifestation of that.

If everything is predetermined then why put effort into anything? Just because I believe God knows the future doesn't mean that we don't have free will.

I'm certain that free will exists. Even the fact that I'm consciously choosing to type this reply right now proves it to me.
 

The_Chameleon

Grandmaster
What I am referring to here is a resolution of paradox by virtue of scaled perspective. Free will exists on a human level. From a design perspective it is the function of false perception that causes our "program" to run correctly so we can fulfill our destiny/purpose. A necessary placebo that has the same net result. As long as we believe we have free will, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I've not yet read the linked posts, but I suspect this point of view hasn't been covered.


Here's something that has just now crossed my mind. If God has a consistent nature/character, then in theory there should be some kind of psychological/mental formula by which his choices are made. So then does God have genuine free will as opposed to doing what is dictated by his fundamental (and eternal) nature? I only ask as a thought experiment. I would not presume to actually know the answer.


- Chameleon
 
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