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Author Topic: Free Will  (Read 3802 times)

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Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Free Will
« on: November 13, 2008, 10:41:59 PM »
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?

-Epicurus
And... free will?

Offline Vekseid

Free Will
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2008, 04:38:12 AM »
And... free will?

I would like to see a good definition of free will, honestly...

But as for the quote, when I was a Christian I answered the last line - God is defined, in many philosophies, as the Creator or First Mover. While Christian thought requires that God have an awareness of humanity, only some philosophies hold God to actually be omniscient or omnipotent.

Offline Oniya

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Free Will
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2008, 07:33:22 AM »
Quote from: Geddy Lee
You may choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears
Or kindness that can kill.
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose Free Will.

Or, to put it more concisely, Free Will rejects the idea that Man's actions are manipulated solely by outside forces, whether that be God, 'the stars', or some other higher power.

There are some branches of Christianity that require all three beliefs to be held simultaneously.  It's clear that the Old Testament God was not omnibenevolent, considering the Plagues of Egypt (which struck down the Egyptian-in-the-Street as well as those actually responsible) and some of the other over-reactions.  Although I've used the Epicurean argument myself to jolt the random door-to-door Bible salesman, it does have a bit of an 'allness attitude'.

Offline Vekseid

Free Will
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2008, 07:46:13 AM »
Or, to put it more concisely, Free Will rejects the idea that Man's actions are manipulated solely by outside forces, whether that be God, 'the stars', or some other higher power.

I should be more clear (and probably split this).

Given the exact set of external stimuli and events in your life up until now, would you make a different choice?

Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Free Will
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2008, 09:44:25 AM »
I should be more clear (and probably split this).

Given the exact set of external stimuli and events in your life up until now, would you make a different choice?
The point is that you  have a choice. Now the choice might suck, and you might feel you have none but you do. Now there are times when man takes away the free will of another, but God won't.

Free will.

1.    free and independent choice; voluntary decision: You took on the responsibility of your own free will.
2.    Philosophy. the doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.

EDIT: Removed the always, because people are literal.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2008, 09:47:06 AM by Inkidu »

Offline Valerian

Free Will
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2008, 09:54:16 AM »
I think the problem here is that it's impossible to remove the influence of external stimuli.  Your 'free will', or decision making power, is constantly being shaped by outside forces.  Whether those forces are divine or physical or what have you, they're still there, and can't be accounted for.

So if you were trying to conduct an experiment along scientific lines, isolating the concept of free will, you couldn't do it.  We are, one way or another, the sum of our experiences, and those are primarily external, therefore tampering with whatever internal free will we might have.

Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Free Will
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2008, 10:00:55 AM »
I think the problem here is that it's impossible to remove the influence of external stimuli.  Your 'free will', or decision making power, is constantly being shaped by outside forces.  Whether those forces are divine or physical or what have you, they're still there, and can't be accounted for.

So if you were trying to conduct an experiment along scientific lines, isolating the concept of free will, you couldn't do it.  We are, one way or another, the sum of our experiences, and those are primarily external, therefore tampering with whatever internal free will we might have.
True. One could argue that one should shape the outside forces that they can. Not let them shape him or her. I feel that is a half empty; half full argument, though.

Offline Oniya

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Free Will
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2008, 10:02:38 AM »
I think the problem here is that it's impossible to remove the influence of external stimuli.  Your 'free will', or decision making power, is constantly being shaped by outside forces.  Whether those forces are divine or physical or what have you, they're still there, and can't be accounted for.

So if you were trying to conduct an experiment along scientific lines, isolating the concept of free will, you couldn't do it.  We are, one way or another, the sum of our experiences, and those are primarily external, therefore tampering with whatever internal free will we might have.

That was why I included the word 'solely' in my definition.  Everything depends on the initial conditions to some extent, some more sensitively than others.

Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Free Will
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2008, 10:06:32 AM »
That was why I included the word 'solely' in my definition.  Everything depends on the initial conditions to some extent, some more sensitively than others.
Well honestly I like to point out that I think free will is proven by the fact not everyone believes in God (Or any other god etc.).

Offline Valerian

Free Will
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2008, 10:12:33 AM »
That was why I included the word 'solely' in my definition.  Everything depends on the initial conditions to some extent, some more sensitively than others.

Yes, my comments were aimed mainly at the dictionary definition... which seems to me good as far as a general understanding of the idea, but isn't precise enough for the fine points being dealt with here.  Really, I'm not sure there is a definition that's actually objectively precise enough when one gets really philosophical, but philosophers are sometimes forced to be subjective.

Edit: I don't believe in any one particular god myself, but that's almost certainly because going to church wasn't part of my childhood.  How does that prove free will?

Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Free Will
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2008, 10:20:08 AM »
I gave those definitions because Veks asked for them.

Fine. So God was a bad choice for free will. Do you choose what you watch on T.V., what you eat, what you wear? It's very basic but it's free will.

Offline Oniya

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Free Will
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2008, 10:22:24 AM »
Edit: I don't believe in any one particular god myself, but that's almost certainly because going to church wasn't part of my childhood.  How does that prove free will?

Going to church was part of my childhood, and I'm in the same philosophical head-space in that regard?  

If free will didn't exist, then wouldn't that mean that God chose for me not to believe in Him?  (Not sure how valid that is logically, but it is an interesting question.)

Offline Valerian

Free Will
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2008, 10:58:46 AM »
I gave those definitions because Veks asked for them.

Fine. So God was a bad choice for free will. Do you choose what you watch on T.V., what you eat, what you wear? It's very basic but it's free will.

And I was trying to expand on those definitions, to make them more useful here.  :)

One of my coworkers, an otherwise apparently intelligent human being, always votes the straight Republican ticket without thinking twice or even bothering to see who's running, in some cases.  When asked, he says he does this because that was how his father always voted.

Conversely, I've been known to decide on one of those more minor issues such as what clothes to buy by guessing what my mother would pick and then choosing something as opposite as I can get.

Both of us are exercising a sort of reverse free will, you could say -- perhaps he doesn't want the effort of deciding, so chooses to follow his father's path.  I don't need to be as different from my mother as possible, but it makes me feel better.  Still, I don't feel compelled to do that.  So it's both free will and external influence, mixing and combining in weird ways.  You simply can't separate them.

And clearly Oniya and I took two very different paths to arrive at roughly the same place.  Is that because our internal compasses would have taken us there anyway, or because upbringing can have such wildly unpredictable effects?

If free will didn't exist, then wouldn't that mean that God chose for me not to believe in Him?  (Not sure how valid that is logically, but it is an interesting question.)

Didn't some philosopher cover that question?  It's been much too long since that intro philosophy class...

Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Free Will
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2008, 11:35:44 AM »
Quote
perhaps he doesn't want the effort of deciding, so chooses to follow his father's path.
Still, that's his choice. He's exercising his free will. He is neither forced, nor obligated to follow in his father's footsteps but he does. 

Offline Valerian

Free Will
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2008, 11:45:13 AM »
But if it is free will, it's free will tangled up with externals.

External forces can't be separated from any concept of internal free will.  That's all I'm trying to say here, and you're not quite refuting that.

Offline InkiduTopic starter

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Free Will
« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2008, 12:18:37 PM »
But if it is free will, it's free will tangled up with externals.

External forces can't be separated from any concept of internal free will.  That's all I'm trying to say here, and you're not quite refuting that.
Well you can let it. I mean. I'm not going to go shooting up a street because it's wrong. However, I could. Yes our personal experiences, upbringing, external stimuli, and such might influence our choices one way or another. However, you don't have to let them. Sometimes the choice is obvious sometimes it's not. Very rarely are we left without one. Very rarely. Just because someone's father was a racist bigot, doesn't mean the son or daughter has to be.

Offline Mathim

Re: Free Will
« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2008, 01:08:45 PM »
Free will is a load of horse***.

You have to take into account mental illnesses, childhood innocence and then debate when that ends, etc. Then there's my FAVORITE argument; homosexuals. If they are born that way, that's not their choice, since obviously if the god is the 'creator', he MAKES them that way. And they have to endure all kinds of prejudice and abuse based on that trait they're born with; they didn't receive a choice in that matter, so why would a creator give them that kind of difference and not give them a choice about it?

Then again, I don't know what we really ought to call our consciousness...maybe just consciousness is sufficient to sum it up?
« Last Edit: November 19, 2008, 01:17:42 PM by Valerian »

Offline Valerian

Re: Free Will
« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2008, 01:23:04 PM »
Free will is a load of horse***.

You have to take into account mental illnesses, childhood innocence and then debate when that ends, etc. Then there's my FAVORITE argument; homosexuals. If they are born that way, that's not their choice, since obviously if the god is the 'creator', he MAKES them that way. And they have to endure all kinds of prejudice and abuse based on that trait they're born with; they didn't receive a choice in that matter, so why would a creator give them that kind of difference and not give them a choice about it?

Then again, I don't know what we really ought to call our consciousness...maybe just consciousness is sufficient to sum it up?
No language like that in the public fora, please, Mathim.  It's also showing disrespect.

Inkidu, the point I'm trying to make (and which I'm not sure you're grasping) is that there's no way to tell, reliably, what is external and what internal.  If you become a vehement animal rights activist because as a toddler you once saw a dog kicked to death -- but you don't remember the incident; it's only in your subconscious -- did you choose that path of your own free will?

Mathim, that's getting into free will versus genetics, which isn't quite what we've been discussing.  However, the fact that one's sexual orientation isn't freely chosen doesn't mean that nothing is ever freely chosen... even if it's only mostly a free decision.

Offline Mathim

Re: Free Will
« Reply #18 on: November 19, 2008, 01:29:50 PM »
Sorry, I forget which sections are which.

Still though, if we're debating if free will is something god-given then it really does make very little sense looking at it like that. I didn't quite get to finish my point but if someone is born gay and if someone does prove that it really is a sin in the bible (I think it's still up in the air whether or not there's a definitive answer to that, and I ain't touching another bible again with a fifty-foot pole) then giving someone the challenge of not 'living sinfully' even though they're born with that orientation, is a horrible thing for a creator deity to do. That was my big point about why free will doesn't make sense from that standpoint.

Offline Silver

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Re: Free Will
« Reply #19 on: November 19, 2008, 01:36:37 PM »
Free will..

To me free will is real, very much so. God made man and gave him free will, the power to have control of his or her life. To reject him if they so chose or to welcome the creator with open eyes and arms.

The choices that are made are ours and ours alone. But perhaps there is fate, something to guide us to make the correct choices within life, would that be called 'God giving a helping hand' or is that something else completely. Is there more to free will, fate and other things? Is one more powerful than the other at any given time..


Offline Vekseid

Re: Free Will
« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2008, 02:07:55 PM »
Well you can let it. I mean. I'm not going to go shooting up a street because it's wrong. However, I could.

Your physical capability to do such a thing does not entail mental capability. I can physically write out the Alcubierre metric, it does not mean I understand it. I have an -extreme- mental block against intentionally hurting people, even if they've hurt me. What makes your emotions, and interprets your experiences, are still nothing more than electrochemical stimulation.

But even if it's not - picture some soul that operates independently of your mind, guiding its actions - that soul, however much a part of you it is, must still respond to external stimulus. No matter how complex the machine, it can still be described in terms of input and decisions. The input may change that machine, but that machine was itself at some point constructed from lesser parts - the molecules that make you up.

Offline Sugarman (hal)

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Re: Free Will
« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2008, 09:42:48 PM »
I gave those definitions because Veks asked for them.

Fine. So God was a bad choice for free will. Do you choose what you watch on T.V., what you eat, what you wear? It's very basic but it's free will.

yes, but only by what is available to choose from.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Free Will
« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2008, 10:01:06 PM »
yes, but only by what is available to choose from.

TiVo, man... TiVo.

Offline The Overlord

Re: Free Will
« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2008, 11:11:24 PM »

I really tend not to believe anyone or anything 'made' us the way we are, beyond the human genome that's the blueprint for all of us. But mixing of genetic traits and mutations over time does the rest, along with nurture; the environments and experiences that shape us.

It irks me that it really comes down to numbers, and not to derail into another thread I opened recently, but mathematics is probably responsible for everything. If homosexuals and transgenders were the norm rather than the minority, we wouldn't think twice about them. What gets our goat really good as humans is when something sunders our comfortable little blueprint, pops that fragile little bubble of perception that we dwell in. All in all, we're not very progressive as a species because while we're adaptable to changing climates and technological environments, we're slow to progress on a lot of fundamental stuff.

If you want to see sexual deviants as a disease, a curse, a mutation, whatever....ultimately they are what they are because it's written into their DNA. What makes me really laugh is that all this is often seen as going against our nature...but the people that say this think evolution is some ancient force that made the world and then moved on. I challenge that notion with the idea that sexual deviance such as homosexuality is part of our evolution as a species.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2008, 11:12:50 PM by The Overlord »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Free Will
« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2008, 12:44:14 AM »
It is actually seen in nature during times of overpopulation.  Funny, that.