We have no Free Will (If we were created by God)
It's Fundamentally So
It becomes concerning that most of those who believe in a God based upon the Qur'an, Bible or Torah do not realise that we do not have free will if were created by an omniscient God.
This is because fundamentally, if we were willingly created by a God who already knew what we would do before we did it, it was his choice, not ours, for us to do it.
This is because when he created us, he would have created how we decide and react to things. When people commit crimes or sins, it is because of the way they dealt with their experiences, the way they reacted to external stimulus in the past. But have you ever wondered exactly why we react to things the way we do?
Simply put, if God created humans, then he created the way in which humans think and respond to things that happens to them. Why does a child that isn't loved by anyone become bitter and angry in his life? It is human nature we say. But God created human nature. He created the way in which we react.
This is why it is an incredibly weak argument to suggest that any wrongs in the world are because of the ways humans have reacted to things that happen to them. Humans react according to how they were programmed to react. Programming that God gave them.
The Robot Analogy
This may be easier understood by an analogy using robots:
I build a robot who has 100,000 choices to make in his lifetime before he reproduces and dies. He roams around, sees things, and decides what to do from there. Since I programmed him, and the environment he lives in, I know where he will go and how he will react to the environment I created for him. I made the way in which he reacts to every thing he could see. Therefore, I know which choices he will make for every 100,000 choices that he has to make in his lifetime.
Since I knew what 100,000 choices he will make with the programming I gave him, can we say that the robot ever had the choice' to make those decisions? After all, it was my decision for him to do them before he was even born.
We say that robots do not have free will, because they were programmed to do what they do.
Think then of a man that is programmed to do and react exactly how his creator has done?
We should also say that the man has no free will.
The following are common responses I am greeted with when explaining the impossibility of free will and an omniscient and omnipotent God.
"A robot can be programmed with a certain amount of information to function, but its nature is limited to the amount given.
Human's have DNA which is a complex code system for human life to function. This information far exceeds the complexity and intelligence of man; therefore, the source exceeds that of human technology (i.e. robots)."
So here it is stated that the difference between robots and humans is that of complexity. But why would that have any weight on free will? What difference does it make how complex we are? If we built a robot that is more complex than a human, would he be automatically entitled to free will?
And to that point, where in the level of complexity do we say "at this point of complexity, this being has free will and below that, it doesn't".
"It is simple really. God creates *sentient* beings who are aware of who created them. God knows the consequences of going against His nature because He already communicated the consequences to the first human beings that He created that this would happen."
"A human technological machine does not know that its life is coming to a permanent end because it is just made to encode and decode a data stream. No matter how loud you yell at it, it will never have the ability of cognizance."
So here you say that it is also because of awareness. It might be important to first tell you that we have already created robots with "cognizance" as I understand it. Robots with the ability to learn from their mistakes and store that information as knowledge for future use.
Then I would argue that awareness has nothing to do with free will. If a toaster knew that we created it, it would still have no choice over it's functional capability. To that point, atheists do not believe they were created by a God, so are they robots? Of course not.
Unless of course you mean the ability to simply think about your existence, realise that you came from your parents etc. At which point I would argue that this awareness and thinking ability is still just a matter of programming, because after all, God programmed us with the ability to think and be aware. So being aware of something doesn't stop the fact that all of your actions, including the act of being aware of something, were made as a result of your creator.
Also to that point, is that because humans are capable of thinking, and are just a series of mechanical processes, we can conclude that it is possible to replicate in a robot, at which point we would still call it a robot, and still say that it has no free will because all of it's actions were as a result of our decisions.
As for the awareness of the end of your life, that is easily programable into a robot with our current technology. All you would need to do is have a stimulus "high edge" and an emotional response "sadness/fear" and you would have the same (simplified but nevertheless the same) result as when a human sees a high edge and gets a negative emotion. We are but stimulus-reaction creatures too, after all.
(Note: the following is not an argument to show that we have free will, but it was used as one, although all it simply does it state something)
"God cannot go against His nature, but we have been given the ability of free-will to decide to choose life beyond this one"
But where is my free will? If God created my ancestors in a way that they would give birth to me, so that I would never buy into religion or morality, when did I ever have the choice of leading a righteous life? I didn't. If I was actively created as a result of my ancestors being actively created, then I am nothing but a robot, carrying out what my programming tells me to do.
To Sum Up
My argument to complexity is that it has no relevance to free will: we would then be complex robots relative to the robots we can create now, in 1000 years we will probably be able to create humans or more complex robots, so we would be less complex robots than the ones we would be creating ourselves.
At no point does the sheer complexity of how we were made at all have any weight on whether or not we were programmed. Because, if we were programmed complexly or not, we would still by definition be robots and have no free will. As you say we now just " made to encode and decode a data stream", whatever stimulus we are given, we react according to our internal programming.
Awareness of your creator
My argument to awareness is that it also has no relevance to free will because that awareness is itself part of our programming, and could be replicated in more complex robots in the future, because we ourselves function on mechanics that biology is letting us know more and more about every day. Even if a robot knew who it was and who created it, it would still have no choice over what it does because it was our programming that makes it do what it does. We would have programmed the robots with the ability of awareness Just like God did with humans.
Awareness of Death
And being aware of the end your life is just a stimulus-reaction process just like humans use and can be programmed into a robot just like it was programmed into us. Even that ability to fear death is part of our programming by God, and so we really have no choice or upper hand over simpler robots, we were just made more complexly.
To conclude, all of these points are about the complexity of human mechanics, but they are still just about our mechanics. Arguing that we have free will because we are more complex than other robots is like arguing that a computer has free will because it can do functions that a toaster can't.
If we were actively programmed by someone, what makes us different from any other robot other than the person who programmed us being able to do something more complex?
The complexity of our robots are drastically increasing all of the time, they are capable of learning, thinking and being aware - but we would never say that they have free will when we built them to do what they do.
So it is wrong to say that because humans are capable of thinking and learning and being aware that they have free will.
A great online writer Rhonda D Jackson kindly came up with three excellent Biblical examples of God causing people to do things and then punishing them for it.
- "He hardens Pharaoh's heart then punishes him for being hard-hearted."
- "Both God and Satan moved King David to run a census, then God kills the 70,000 people who participated in it."
- "As for Adam, he was created without the faculty to know good and evil [and yet was thrown out of the Garden of Eden]"
A Casual Plea
If you have anything to add, conflict or elaborate upon, please do comment below. I am not saying that this hub is 100% factual, this is a representation of the knowledge I currently possess and the way I am analysing this topic. It is of course possible that it is completely wrong and I am very willing to hear any counter-ideas that suggest so.