Free will or fate?
I think most people believe in free will, but I suppose I could be wrong. It doesn't seem to matter whether someone is a theist or an atheist as to which they believe. It just seems like a personal thing either way.
I've done a thread like this before I'm sure, but I want to address it once again, as I'm leaning more towards the free will side this week;)
I would like to use these definitions for the discussion:
free will: the ability to make choices within the laws of physics
fate: no ability to make choices due to predetermination
I would also like to discuss WHO has the ability to make choices, not only humans, but whether or not things like less complex animals, plants, or non living things like atoms can make choices. (I am currently writing a hub on this subject, and am looking at new ideas)
We cannot truly know if free will exists for us, but...without it any reason to live is gone. Any reason for ethics or morals is gone. If our choices in life mean nothing (pre-ordained), there is no reason to make them.
So whether there is free will or not, it makes me happy to believe that there is.
I think the fact that we cannot know for sure renders it moot, and probably it is better that way.
IMHO I think most things are mostly determined, but not entirely. If there is quantum uncertainty, and it seems there is, that opens the door to thing not being wholly predetermined. Exactly how much free will exerts an influence I am not 100% sure.
I think it works like this:
There are the laws of physics (whatever those laws are, I just want to note here that we probably have them somewhat right, but not completely). There are 'choices' that can be made confined within those laws. For instance, there is a certain amount of "leeway" inside those laws. Water has a certain gradient of temperature, from the solid state to the gaseous. In between, different things can happen. If you throw a stick of butter into the water when it is near freezing, it won't melt. But if you throw it in close to boiling, it will.
Different things can happen within the confining laws. We can make choices within the laws. To choose to make a step to the right, or the left. Once the limit of the law has been reached, we can't make certain decisions. We can't jump high enough to reach orbit, but we can choose to jump right or left, somewhat higher, or somewhat lower.
We have free will to make choices. Obviously, within the realm of possibility.
Our series of (lifelong) choices, determine our fate.
So, I guess, in a sense, we create our own destiny (fate) within the realms of possibility.
Fate to me, is predetermined. What you're calling fate is just an end result of something.
Thanks for answering my post.
Interesting thought, that if I have a set fate, then, my choices are but an illusion.
The question would have to be asked, then, if two people in (near) identical circumstances, have the same options to choose from, make different choices, was that their fate to go in divergent directions, or did they indeed have NO choice, but the one they made?
The other factor that enters into the equation, is, unforeseen circumstances, such as disasters, losses through external forces, etc. Here, one has NO choice about the situation the "disaster" has placed them in.
I agree with wilderness, in that life without free will is pointless. I think we all have free will, but i also think our free will drives the multiverse through the choices we make and this level, although seemingly predetermined, is only predetermined in that our choices on this level are tied to predetermined choices made by others on this level.
I know that sounds odd and intricately difficult,but think of what your life might have been had you made a different choice at times you remember as crucial points. The same goes for everything. From the moment of the inception of the universe. Everything is tied together, and as it is now because all of the possibilities which had to be satisfied for this reality to come into existence are tied together; as are the events in other levels which allow those levels to flow in a unique manner.
Who you are may exist simultaneously on each level, unaware of the you on other levels. Learning, and growing, from the experience of existing within the reality created by the result of another set of causes and effects.
Think of all you could know, and understand, had you the benefit of seeing how reality played out within any of an infinite number of variations. Which, within the multiverse, is possible. The essence of you, in the end, would have to reconnect; with all of the memories of a lifetime within each reality the parts of you who branched off onto other courses through the decisions you made, finally available for comparison and contemplation.
If anything is predetermined, I think it is only predetermined within the level it plays out on. Ultimately, those levels may only exist in the form they do in order to allow each of us, through future retrospection, to fully understand how our choices do matter, to the whole.
I do think choice is available to all that exists, but limited to its level of awareness.
Janesix, a wonderful question. And thank you for defining your terms.
Free will (per your definition): No! Definitely not.
Deterministic, action-reaction laws of physics do not allow for decisions of left or right. The apparent choice is an illusion.
But I agree with others that life without free will seems pretty pointless.
Even with things like quantum mechanics and chaos theory, physical behavior is still deterministic.
The apparent disorder in chaotic systems is still perfectly deterministic. If you have initial states defined to infinite precision (an infinite number of significant digits, or perfect accuracy) and a perfect definition of the effects involved in a closed system, you can determine future results forever, but infinitely accurate representation of states is neither practical nor possible. An infinite number of digits held in computer memory would take a computer infinitely large (larger than all the universe and its billions of galaxies). Irregularities within a dynamic system (e.g. turbulence) remain limited in scope, like your example of not jumping into orbit.
The attractors in chaotic systems confine the results to remain within their fractional dimension. Thus leaves do not look like clouds and vice versa.
But deterministic "free will" is not free will. It's an illusion. And yet, free will does exist -- a type of free will which stands outside of your limiting box (your definition).
The neurons in your mind follow the same deterministic laws that a bowling ball follows when thrown down the lane. Choice? If you're asleep spiritually, you have none! But none of us are perfectly asleep spiritually. All of us are at least partially awake. Some, not so much (perhaps 0.000000000001% awake).
Ego is the biggest barrier, because it is physical and obeys the laws of deterministic physical processes. Ego is the blindfold on the spiritual self. The stronger the ego, the less free will. The more one depends on physical law.
One atheist many months ago wrote a rather cute treatise on miracles. He likened them to accidents and the believer would accidentally see such an accident the moment it happened and would automatically think that there was some meaning to it beyond the physical. I can see how the atheist would think such a thing. Many so-called miracles are ordinary, accidental coincidences that make us feel awe or appreciation -- like when a scientist repeats an experiment and determines that there is a physical law at work behind the repeated behavior. This yields the awe of discovery, and one basis for the ordinary miracle.
But there are also extraordinary miracles that are cause-and-effect coincidences. Jesus walking on water was no accident. No matter how many times you roll the dice on water molecule motion, you will never find an instance of all water molecules accidentally pushing upward to keep Jesus afloat.
Free will -- the ability to make choices (period).
Trapped in a deterministic, action-reaction, dynamic system like this physical universe, free will can only exist by returning to the viewpoint of spirit. That's the whole point of religion. Ego has mucked up that purpose, but like I said, Ego is physical. Ego is also vulnerable. Ego likes to be right and "first." And Ego will find all manner of reason and logic to protect itself from being rubbed out. But humility is the antidote to Ego.
You might note that scientists use humility all the time. It is the active ingredient which allows discovery. Arrogance is Ego -- pretending that you know the answers before investigation, thus more than a thousand years of scientists agreed with Ptolemy and missed a more elegant, heliocentric solution.
So, the path to free will is through humility. For someone thoroughly trapped in the physically deterministic, this will be a tough path to follow, at least at first. But it is the only path. Christ knew it. So did Gautama Siddhartha.
"The apparent disorder in chaotic systems is still perfectly deterministic. If you have initial states defined to infinite precision (an infinite number of significant digits, or perfect accuracy) and a perfect definition of the effects involved in a closed system, you can determine future results forever,"
BUT...even with an infinite precision, all it would take is one quantum subatomic particle, randomly coming into existence, interacting with a photon or other particle and again leaving the scene forever, to change all the results from that point on, with the error growing with time. The same concept as going back in time and killing a butterfly in the Jurassic, then coming home to find bug eyed monsters living on earth. Small changes grow.
And THAT should give rise to free will - nothing is set in stone, and random events can and will affect the future. Including the random interaction of a single neutrino being knocked off track and passing along THAT nerve in your brain.
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