Thoughts About Free Will And Predestination
I have no intention of writing a thesis about free will and predestination. This is just the ramblings of an average guy who thinks a little bit about life and should be pretty easy reading for most. I’m sure this is a subject that many of you have thought about, perhaps when things don’t go your way, or when you are faced with a major life-changing decision.
Before getting our feet wet, let’s talk a little about predestination. There are two views on the meaning of predestination. The first view is more religious, with a meaning that relates to a person’s destiny. The general idea is that a person is born to fulfill a certain destiny, a certain path in life that he is supposed or predestined to take. The second view is scientific, relating to how predictable the future is.
As I do not even know whether it was Abel who killed Cain, or Cain who killed Abel, I think I would be better off talking about predestination in the scientific sense.
The most natural and logical place to start would be with Newton’s classical universe. In his universe, everything is 100% predictable. Take two billiard balls, representing the smallest possible particles. In such a universe, so long as you know everything there is to know about the billiard balls at a certain point in time, you can extrapolate indefinitely into the past and the future. You will know exactly where the balls have been and where they will be, whether it is a minute, a year, or a million years, in the past or into the future.
Our universe has a lot more billiard balls. Assuming the model of Newton’s universe is correct, despite the much larger number of billiard balls, our universe is no less predictable than a universe with 2 billiard balls. Our universe is still 100% predictable indefinitely into the past and the future.
And when you consider that we are also part of this universe, and that we are also made of these same 100% predictable billiard balls, does that not make us also 100% predictable?
Current scientific opinion has moved away from the idea of a billiard ball which is 100% knowable. The billiard ball, although still knowable to a very large extent, contains a slight fuzziness. In other words, we still can know everything there is to know about the billiard ball, but with a very slight margin of error. This margin or fuzziness is built into the character of the billiard ball itself. To bring God into the picture for a moment, I would like to say that even God himself cannot iron out the fuzziness.
I would think that it is probably a combination of free will and predestination at work in our lives. We have no control over where we are born, who our parents are, and how we were brought up. That is predestination, or the destiny that we were born into. If we were born into a poor, uneducated family in a poor country, then we are destined to die poor and uneducated, and probably even in the same village that we were born in.
But we can exercise our free will to rise above our circumstances. We can be more than what our destiny says we should be. It will be difficult, and many will fail, but I believe that it is in our very nature to try. And perhaps, if there is a creator, and all of this is his masterpiece, then perhaps this is the way it is meant to be.