1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Featured Has science proven there is no "free will"?

Discussion in 'Science and Religion' started by firedragon, Jul 24, 2021.

?
  1. Yes

  2. No

  3. Dont know

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. firedragon

    firedragon Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2013
    Messages:
    14,483
    Ratings:
    +3,782
    Religion:
    Islam
    This post is inspired by some who claim the heading, that science has proven there is no free will.

    We all have some kind of action in our lives. We do many things on a daily basis. When you go to work without anyone forcing you, you think "I have gone to work freely". One can just stay without going to work for a week or two, or just decide "Im gonna resign, and become an entrepreneur". You are the man (or woman). And you made your choice, thus you are responsible.

    Philosophers will call this free will.

    On this particular subject there are very different and varying aspects, including arguments against free-will. For example, there were two young men who murdered another simply because "they can". Both from rich families, if not for this murder, otherwise not necessarily "wicked", both very good students and if I am not mistaken, both were the youngest graduates in their streams at their respective universities in the United States. They were on trial and the lawyer just had one task, to rescue them from being put to death. Anyway his argument was in the lines of "I really do not in the least believe in crime. There is no such thing as a crime as the word is generally understood. I do not believe there is any sort of distinction between the real moral conditions of the people in and out of jail. One is just as good as the other. The people here can no more help being here than the people outside can avoid being outside. I do not believe that people are in jail because they deserve to be. They are in jail simply because they cannot avoid it on account of circumstances which are entirely beyond their control and for which they are in no way responsible."

    irony or providence, both of them got life in prison, one of them was killed in prison, the other got out in 3 decades or so and became a very good citizen, as he was inside jail.

    Benjamin Libet came up, and his scientific approach to the brain and mind resulted in some experiments to determine if will is behind the hand to put it in my own words. The outcome of his experience in the time it takes a sensation to reach the brain and the time for action kind of provides evidence that the action is already prepared for your prior to you thinking about it. This seems like there is no free will.

    What do you think? Is it as Spinoza says determined and free will is just an illusion, or as Sam Harris says we should not think we are important enough to have the power to choose?

    As some say, has science proven free will does not exist?
     
    • Like Like x 2
  2. ideogenous_mover

    ideogenous_mover Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2014
    Messages:
    3,276
    Ratings:
    +899
    Religion:
    Agnostic with a Theistic bent, toward some form of Dualism
    As a matter of fact, I am listening to all of Robert Sapolsky's lectures and am eyeing up some of his books.. It seems that no man alive has shown how many animal qualities we have in us, before an actual behavior occurs

    All his lectures on behavioral psychology from Stanford are freely available
     
  3. AlexanderG

    AlexanderG Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2021
    Messages:
    390
    Ratings:
    +827
    Religion:
    Atheist
    I think that both science and logic quash the notion of free will. We choose to do things either because of reasons, or because of no reasons. P or not P.

    1. If our choice is for reasons, then those reasons determine our choice. We will have motivators for and against, and one side will outweigh the other so that our choice is determined in that particular direction. This is determinism, and there is no free will here. Even if you think supernatural stuff affects our choices, then it is still deterministic rather than free will.

    2. If our choice is for no reasons, then our choice was completely random by definition. There is no free will here.

    I don't see the third option between P and not P. Free will seems incoherent. Sure, we have an intuitive feeling that we could have chosen differently, but that is in hindsight after we've experienced new information that retroactively might determine us to have chosen differently. This still isn't free will.

    Free will is still such a tenacious issue because it is the basis of Abrahamic religions. God needs to be able to blame us for our choices, and how would there be blame in a deterministic universe? The theology would all fall apart, and leave us unjustified in our baser cravings for punishment and retribution. It could also leave us feeling like we lack control of our lives, and this makes some people uncomfortable. For a determinist, none of this is a problem. And we can still lock up criminals; we can see that many more factors can determine them to make anti-social choices, compared to most other people. The balance of determinants much more often leads them to make criminal choices. Pragmatically, we can't change this about their minds and so we lock them up. Since we are determined not to let people destroy our society, we will sequester such people away from us to avoid harm. Still, if we could give them a pill and cure psychopathy or sociopathy, then society would attribute their behavior to mental illness and not see them as "blameworthy." Currently we lack this technology.

    For an example of this based on our current technology, see research on the man whose brain tumor caused him to desire sexual relations with children. When the tumor was removed, these thoughts and behaviors stopped. Was he blameworthy or not, and how would he be viewed before the advent of modern brain surgery? What exactly was he freely choosing?
     
    #3 AlexanderG, Jul 24, 2021
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2021
    • Like Like x 3
    • Winner Winner x 1
  4. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2014
    Messages:
    61,831
    Ratings:
    +29,961
    Religion:
    Love
    What I say is that careful consideration of the meaning of 'free will' comes first. Yes, Free Will Exists discusses what is really meant from a philosophical perspective. Two paragraphs from that piece.

    In this context, a free-willed choice would be an undetermined one. But what is an undetermined choice? It can only be a random one, for anything that isn’t fundamentally random reflects some underlying disposition or necessity that determines it. There is no semantic space between determinism and randomness that could accommodate choices that are neither. This is a simple but important point, for we often think—incoherently—of free-willed choices as neither determined nor random.
    ...
    Why, then, do we think that metaphysical materialism—the notion that our choices are determined by neurophysiological activity in our own brain—contradicts free will? Because, try as we might, we don’t experientially identify with neurophysiology; not even our own. As far as our conscious life is concerned, the neurophysiological activity in our brain is merely an abstraction. All we are directly and concretely acquainted with are our fears, desires, inclinations, etc., as experienced—that is, our felt volitional states. So, we identify with these, not with networks of firing neurons inside our skull. The alleged identity between neurophysiology and felt volition is merely a conceptual—not an experiential—one.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita Vedanta, Theosophy, Spiritualism
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2012
    Messages:
    15,377
    Ratings:
    +5,724
    Religion:
    Advaita and Spiritualist and Pantheist
    Well they would first have to understand what consciousness is before even getting to the free will question. That hasn't happened yet.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  6. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2014
    Messages:
    61,831
    Ratings:
    +29,961
    Religion:
    Love
    Also, I like what Wikipedia has to say which also underlines that science has not proven anything yet:

    The field remains highly controversial. The significance of findings, their meaning, and what conclusions may be drawn from them is a matter of intense debate. The precise role of consciousness in decision making and how that role may differ across types of decisions remains unclear.

    Philosophers like Daniel Dennett or Alfred Mele consider the language used by researchers. They explain that "free will" means many different things to different people (e.g. some notions of free will believe we need the dualistic values of both hard determinism and compatibilism[clarification needed],[10] some not). Dennett insists that many important and common conceptions of "free will" are compatible with the emerging evidence from neuroscience.[11][12][13][14]


    Neuroscience of free will - Wikipedia
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  7. firedragon

    firedragon Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2013
    Messages:
    14,483
    Ratings:
    +3,782
    Religion:
    Islam
    Fantastic.
     
  8. AlexanderG

    AlexanderG Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2021
    Messages:
    390
    Ratings:
    +827
    Religion:
    Atheist
    Nice quote. It sums up my point quite well. I don't think the second paragraph refutes the first, since it basically just acknowledges that our feelings and intuitions don't line up with the evidence and logic.

    Intuition is a demonstrably unreliable way to determine what is true. There are many, many examples where new discoveries have thoroughly disproven our intuitive feelings about some state of affairs. I'll always go with evidence and reason over intuition. Others will lean the other way, like many theists. That's just how our different brains are determined to operate. ;)
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Friendly Friendly x 2
  9. firedragon

    firedragon Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2013
    Messages:
    14,483
    Ratings:
    +3,782
    Religion:
    Islam
    How has scieince proven there is no free will? Can you explain further?
     
  10. MikeF

    MikeF Proponent of RAEism
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2020
    Messages:
    937
    Ratings:
    +434
    Religion:
    None
    Can there be a distinction between deterministic factors that are primarily internal to the self, and those that are strictly external?

    For example, if one is in an open environment with a wide variety of possible choices, what you chose will be solely the result of all the causal actions that brought you to that point.

    But if an external change occurs that dramatically limits the options available in the environment, the choice you may have made in the open environment is no longer available and you are forced to choose from the remaining options.

    Could the external restriction of choice be considered an impingement on 'free will' or the very least an impingement on the 'free expression of your determinant behavior'?
     
  11. AlexanderG

    AlexanderG Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2021
    Messages:
    390
    Ratings:
    +827
    Religion:
    Atheist
    This sounds like what you're saying is, "What if you were in an environment with a certain set of determinants, and then you were in a different environment with a different set of determinants. Could you make a different choice?"

    Under determinism, different determinant sets could determine you to make different choices. I don't really see the distinction. Does this answer your question?
     
  12. AlexanderG

    AlexanderG Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2021
    Messages:
    390
    Ratings:
    +827
    Religion:
    Atheist
    Science isn't in the business of "proving" things, only supporting some ideas with evidence more than others. For very narrow propositions, it can falsify.

    There is no evidence for free will, aside from our intuitions and our religious traditions. These are both demonstrably unreliable forms of evidence. One the other side, we have verified predictions and knowledge about neuroscience and logic, which are reliable forms of evidence that specifically supports determinism. I think the logical dichotomy is particularly conclusive, with or without the science.
     
    • Winner Winner x 2
  13. firedragon

    firedragon Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2013
    Messages:
    14,483
    Ratings:
    +3,782
    Religion:
    Islam
    I asked because you said "I think that both science and logic quash the notion of free will.".

    Nevermind. Thanks for the clarification.
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  14. stvdv

    stvdv Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2018
    Messages:
    13,616
    Ratings:
    +7,979
    Religion:
    Sanathana Dharma [The Eternal Religion]
    Has science proven Free Will does not exist?

    Impossible that science has proven that "Free Will does not exist"

    And easy to prove that science will never be able to prove that "Free Will does not exist"
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. ecco

    ecco Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2016
    Messages:
    14,959
    Ratings:
    +7,700
    Religion:
    atheist
    As this person said...

    Furthermore, the concept of free will is a philosophic one, not a scientific one.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  16. MikeF

    MikeF Proponent of RAEism
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2020
    Messages:
    937
    Ratings:
    +434
    Religion:
    None
    I was trying to imagine some scenario where one might imagine an expression of free will, but I was simply conflating freedom of choice with free will. :)
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  17. osgart

    osgart Nothing my eye, Something for sure

    Joined:
    May 1, 2017
    Messages:
    4,404
    Ratings:
    +2,014
    You would have to establish what the totality of being reality is and all the factors of it. Then define a worthy meaning to the concept of freedom. Then define what biological limitations there are on such freedom.

    For me a moral person is much freer than an immoral person. Also I think it self evident you are free to will what you will regardless of physical constraints on actions. Of course the argument against that type of freedom is that what I will is directly caused by my environment and my biology. Then why can a person develope their own philosophy and then live according to it? Doesn't logic and understanding empower people to do things that are difficult? The will to create a computer is not naturally determined by the environment nor is there anything impeding such will. The adversity to creating a computer is not on will freedom but in physical possibility, and intellectual capacity. Nothing is stopping a person from willing to create a computer. The constraints are otherwise.

    Because people can apply understanding to their own wills it is possible to correct one's own will with valid knowledge. At heart one may never ever desire to change their will but that is a freedom of their own choice.

    The ability to do otherwise is not necessarily anything meaningful in regards to free will. Freedom of will is more about does my will align with my desired life and actions, and are those desires and actions exactly what I wish to live, and do those desires and actions reflect who I truly am. Or is my will seriously caused by other circumstances outside of my control whereas I'm stuck with a will not my own that is ruled by necessity, or worse tragedy.

    There is slave will and free will both.

    Digging a ditch while in prison, you may have no will to dig that ditch other than consequences. That would be slave will.

    Free will is that my will lives according to my desire and not anyone else's unless I so desire it.

    I argue that bad desires enslave a person, and good desires free the person.

    Who is in the driver seat of your own will? You or somebody else. Or perhaps a truth or falsehood of reality governs your will.

    If I had my way, if you had your way what would it be. A person can slave themselves to an inferior will of their own choosing.

    You are what you truly love, hate, and have ambivalence to. Or be neutral non affected.

    If what you love, hate, and don't care about enslaves your will then you are not free. If you are aligned to freedom in your will then you are free indeed.

    It's much more different and much more complicated than able doing otherwise.

    Predictability means nothing to freedom.
     
  18. mangalavara

    mangalavara Member
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2021
    Messages:
    211
    Ratings:
    +253
    Religion:
    Hindu
    Has world literature proven that when air surrounding a lightning bolt rapidly expands, the sound of thunder is produced?
     
  19. firedragon

    firedragon Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2013
    Messages:
    14,483
    Ratings:
    +3,782
    Religion:
    Islam
    What do you think about Libet's scientific experiments? If its only a philosophical one, why would scientists get involved in it? Are they just being unscientific?

    Please explain.
     
  20. firedragon

    firedragon Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2013
    Messages:
    14,483
    Ratings:
    +3,782
    Religion:
    Islam
    Interesting question. Does world literature engage in trying to prove things like that like science does? Please explain.
     
Loading...