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Is Free Will an Illusion?

Discussion in 'General Debates' started by Mr Spinkles, May 20, 2004.

  1. Bdkimmel61

    Bdkimmel61 Member

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  2. Bdkimmel61

    Bdkimmel61 Member

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    well my previous response did not go through so I will try again.\

    My reasoning is that free will is ours to a point. That point being, God is in control totally and completely. Even of our actions.

    One must understand the omniscience of God before one can understand free will.
    Many times in HIS word HE speaks of an evil spirit of the Lord. Many times HE instructs people to MURDER other people.

    One must look at Pharoah.Did he refuse to let the hebrew nation go? Not until God HIMSELF hardened Pharoahs heart. Did Pharoah have a choice? Some say yes but the scriptures say no. Did Jonah have a choice?God turned Jonah around.Did Moses have a choice God made Arron go with him.God took away Moses's argument. God said, of the passover, " I did this, so I could bring up mu armies and bring my people out of Egypt according to my word".

    God gave us 10 commandments of which one is (thou shalt not steal).Now look at what the Hebrews got from the Egyptians just before they left Egypt and how they got it.Gold, they borrowed Gold (notice the operative word is borrowed) and they took it with them.Regardless of how one looks at it if you borrow something you are responsible to return it. If you do not then you are guilty of Fraud which is determined theft.

    God said in Isa 45:7 I create the dark and I form the light, I create good and I create evil, I do these things.

    In Proverbs it is written, Pro. 16:4 I create the wicked, yes even for that day of evil.

    Jesus said, " If they knew me they would not do this thing and it is for this purpose I came".

    The entire point to this post is that if we acknowledge that God is in control and allow HIM to do with us as the potter does the clay then our struggle ceases and we are in the will of God wether it be on a mission of helps or a mission of death.

    If we reject that God is in control then we spend the rest of our lives fighting our situation or patting ourselves on the backs because we have achieved something according to HIS will when no one knows for sure just what Gods will is in their individual lives.

    HOW MANY WOULD AGREE TO SELL JESUS FOR THIRTY PIECES OF GOLD? :fight:

    Again I say, " One must understand the power of omniscience to understand free will.

    Ask yourself this question, " If God knows it, then can I change it? If I can change it then how can God know it?"

    They do not mix, one cannot happen in conjunction with the other.
     
  3. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    Bdkimmel61,

    Hey there. Your post was a little confusing to me...do you believe we have free will?
     
  4. Bdkimmel61

    Bdkimmel61 Member

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    yes within limits :smile: how is that for starters?

    My whole point is that I believe free will to be the right to believe that God is in control or not to believe that.

    I have had many debates on this issue and still have not been able to understand the perception that God knows what we will do but has differents plans based on our decision.To me that is not logical.

    My sense of free will is that it is an illusion.
     
  5. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    I still don't understand how free-will can be an illusion (therefore not exist) and yet we can still have it within limits. Lol, I'm sorry, I'm feeling a bit slow this morning!
     
  6. Bdkimmel61

    Bdkimmel61 Member

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    one of the things that free will thought does not take into consideration is the fact of outside intervention.

    To make my case I use my own example.

    I was born into a very poor family........no choice
    I was beaten......................................no choice
    my mother died when I was 13............no choice on how that affected me
    I was kicked out of the house,same time...again no choice
    at 13, three weeks after my mother died, I was raped while hitch-hikking....again no choice

    That rape created hatred in my heart and mind.....no choice

    One could argue that however faint, I yeilded to choice but the problem with that line of thinking is that choice and reaction are not one and the same.When you fall and break a leg you don't make a choice on wether or not to cry out, you just do or don't but the point is that there is no choice in the matter. It is a simple reaction.

    I maintain that the Apostle Paul said it right.........Praise GOD in all things....

    Does that mean GOD caused me to be raped? I don't think so for GOD knows the true nature of man.What I do believe is that GOD knew it would happen and therefore it had to happen. When it did GOD had HIS stragedy already prepared. HE met me in the night and called to me when I was 24, I recieved HIM but it wasn't until I was past 40 that HE introduced HIMSELF to me in the Spirit.That Spirit was the Spirit of Forgiveness.

    My life was for that moment.Now I see HIM in everything I do and see.I see HIM in ever area of this earth reaching out to others the same as HE did to me. HIS prophecies herald HIS coming.

    Don't mean to preach to anyone but that is how I see HIM and our free will.The two of them are joined and cannot be seperated.

    I would suggest to everyone that they read Isa. 45-7 and Prov. 16:4 and then think on those things.Also a very good verse for those who think THEY forgive others is to read Dan. 9:9.

    Just recieved a phone call and must leave for a while. HAGD all. :smile:
     
  7. Pah

    Pah Uber all member

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    There is a relatively new movement going around called Open View in which God does not have complete knowledge of what the future holds.

    Scriptual suppoert for that is quite extensive but just a few from Christus Victor Community

    Open View would seem to say that free will is more determinate that God's foreknowledge. This would also say that free will, at least biblically, is not an illusion if it shows some limitation of God.

    As far as me being an Atheist, I think free will is largely an illusion. It would be comforting to say we have control over our lives but so many factors abate that "idealistic" concept. We do not, for various reasons, have equal opportunity or resources and are thus are limitied on what we can actually effect.
     
  8. Brien

    Brien Member

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    I'm not sure this is true. Humans at the age of seven are capable of representing objects mentally by words and other symbols, can respond to objects that are remembered but not present, and understand the concept of conservation of mass, number, and volume (e.g. - the same volume in two glasses of different shape). (Introduction to Psychology, Kalat) I can't think of any animal that can do these things, let alone read and write. Regardless of this, I think that children are capable of making choices as soon as they become physically independent. A bear may teach her cubs some survival skills, but ultimately they will rely on instinct as their primary survival mechanism. A human mother will teach her child survival skills, but also a basic moral premise. To me it seems the child can choose to obey this moral code set before it, or choose to disobey it. It's instincts would have no reason to be involved since survival is not dependant on their implementation.

    So that everyone can be perfectly clear on what I'm saying, this is my definition of 'free will' but feel free to raise objections. In its most fundamental since, free will is the act of choice. But we are beings that exist with limitations (physical and psychological); obviously genetic factors influence our development along with the environment to which we are exposed during our development. People have abilities to varying degrees: in some areas, no matter how hard you try you will fail where others have succeeded. Thus, I would say that the concept of 'free will' pertains to one's abilities to react to various influencing environments and channel various genetic predispositions. But most importantly this notion involves the nature of the choices one makes on how these abilities should be employed. Free will is the ability to reason, independent of all external factors, and the ability to choose to use this reason.


    I would say that all memes are thoughts but not all thoughts are memes. A meme is a unit of cultural information and is used in reference to ideas that are passed from one mind to another. To say that all thoughts are memes implies that humans are not capable of forming their own ideas and that humans possess no intrinsic instincts or inherent abilities. If this is true, where did all of these thoughts come from?

    Free will is an internally derived ability, but more than an evolved instinct. We can choose what to do with the memes that we process. We can rationalize whether or not an assertion is reasonable. We can also choose to use our reasoning ability and heightening our conscious awareness.

    If free will is ultimately a matter of rational self-determination, then we exercise free will in the very acts of constructing and evaluating arguments against it. So if free will did not exist, it might be the case that some people would still go around making and listening to arguments about such a topic, but factors beyond reason would ultimately determine what arguments are offered and accepted. The act of denying free will presupposes its existence. (The Psychology of Self-Esteem, Branden)

    I also think that the 'open view' that Pah brought up is a pretty sound theory for theists that believe in free will. One of the themes in the Matrix series was that "No one can see beyond a decision that they do not understand."
     
  9. Pah

    Pah Uber all member

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    There is a dog that has a working vocabulary (he listens) of over two hundred objects. He can retrieve the requested object from another room with a great degree of accuracy. He can even retrieve "new" objects far better than chance would predict..

    There are primates that understand a limited symbolic language and can constuct a sentence.

    Many scientists are beginning to think that the difference in cognative ability is one of quantity not quality.

    Studies in the field have found that there is an element of morality (right in wrong in a society) amongst primates. Those who give the wrong "danger call" or who neglect to give the call are punished. Bonobos who do not participate in homosexual sex with others of the troop are shunned and eventually die (bisexuality is the norm and essential for a functional troop)..

    Big horn male sheep who do not participate in male homosexuality are forced to live with the females where they are not allowed to procreate.

    I have more data and will research it for more examples if requested.
     
  10. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    Brien,

    As humans, we do need morality to get along with each other and therefore survive. Morality has become instinctual to us in a sense, and I think that if bears needed it, they would develop it and cubs would be taught morality as well as salmon fishing.

    Besides morality though, the choices that are presented to animals vs. those of children (or even adults for that matter) are pretty much based on instinct. Because of our advanced intellect, humans' choices tend to be more complex, or at least they think about them from more complex angles, but this doesn't necessarily change the basis of the decision which is usually instinct. Choices of 'to eat or not to eat' or 'to go see a movie with friends or not' can all be related back to our instictual opinion of what the best choice is to better survive happily in our environment.

    Mmm...kind of. I personally think that all thoughts are memes (and therefore we don't have free-will) but I don't think that means we can't have original ideas, and as far as intinsic instincts and abilities, I believe certain memes (instincts, etc) can be inhereted much like genes. Back to the original idea thing though: Everyone's brain is unique and different. The way a person's brain processes and interprets information is different from everyone elses becaused it's based on how they think, which is unique to them. When a person is introduced to a new meme, their brain will interpret it in their own unique way. Likewise, within the brain, memes affect each other based on how the brain works, so the way my memes affect each other in my brain is different from yours, etc. That said, it is very easy to accept that people can still have original ideas with memes and without free-will...does that make sense?

    And as for where the memes came from, that's an excellent question! I would say that they evolved much like anything else. By the process of natural selection, those who possessed the meme 'eat when you get hungry' survived and those who didn't died off, etc.

    I think that our thoughts/memes are what shape our opinions and outlooks on life. the way I see it, is that we cannot control which memes we come into contact with, neither can we control which memes we pick up and how they are processed (because this is controlled by the involuntary workings of our brains). Once in our heads, we cannot control how our memes will bounce off and affect each other, possibly altering each other or even creating new memes, because this also has to do with the involuntary workings of our brains.

    Because memes control our opinions and how we react to those opinions with the introduction of new memes (aka, in different situations) I think that whatever 'decisions' we make cannot truly be controlled by us.
     
  11. keevelish

    keevelish Member

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    There are examples of some animals who are as intelligent as children as old as 7


    I'm not sure this is true. Humans at the age of seven are capable of representing objects mentally by words and other symbols, can respond to objects that are remembered but not present, and understand the concept of conservation of mass, number, and volume (e.g. - the same volume in two glasses of different shape). (Introduction to Psychology, Kalat) I can't think of any animal that can do these things, let alone read and write. Regardless of this, I think that children are capable of making choices as soon as they become physically independent. A bear may teach her cubs some survival skills, but ultimately they will rely on instinct as their primary survival mechanism. A human mother will teach her child survival skills, but also a basic moral premise. To me it seems the child can choose to obey this moral code set before it, or choose to disobey it. It's instincts would have no reason to be involved since survival is not dependant on their implementation.

    Has anyone considered the studies done on Alex the African Grey Parrot? Dr. Irene Pepperburg began them in the seventies- she is still working with him now. I would say that he can display all of the above qualities that a seven year old displays.
     
  12. Mr Spinkles

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    keevelish--
    I think I recall there was a big documentary about the intelligence of various parrots on the Animal Planet network...it was really fascinating. I can't remember if the show involved Alex, but I think it also talked about some of the more intelligent apes, dolphins, and even squirrels out there. It's really remarkable what some of these guys can do!
     
  13. Brien

    Brien Member

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    Morality, in a general sense, is not necessary to survive. How could having a particular set of moral principles help you to stay alive while coexisting with others that hold different morals? A large percentage of the population in the Southeastern United States consists of conservative Christians. But individuals who live within the same neighborhoods who believe and practice different things get along just fine even though some of their acts are viewed as ‘wrong’ by the conservative Christians. Of course being aware of certain moral standards help individuals to survive, those concerning murder and theft for example, but we tend call these ‘laws’ more often than ‘morals.’ There are moral principles taught in parenting that exists above the plane of moral standards (those necessary) held by our respective societies.


    I believe that the term as originally presented by Richard Dawkins was used only to describe the transfer of ideas in cultural evolution. Thus a thought can only become a meme once it is conveyed to someone else. Sensory perceptions, fantasies, and revelations do not immediately become memes. Suppose you discover a new species on an uninhabited island and study its structures and unique behaviors then formulate a theory on how it came into existence. These thoughts will only become memes after they are passed on to others.


    Yes, when Einstein formulated the equation energy equals mass times the speed of light squared he used pieces of information that were already known. Yes, it was his unique abilities that allowed him to use these pieces of information that were known by others to create something that was not known by others. But it was his choice to use his reasoning abilities and discover the equation or to put it in autopilot and sit back. It is this primary choice that is both caused and necessitated by the nature of man. Given any set of circumstances, man must choose. The choice to focus or not is the expression of volition.


    Evolution of memes does make a lot of sense. Ideas can mutate – be cut in half, added together, changed here and there – but synonymizing the evolution of ideas to genetic evolution is oversimplifying the issue. DNA is composed of chemicals, ideas are formed with brainwaves. We sometimes observe analogous structures that are shared by two different organisms. According to the theory of evolution we presume the more advanced species inherited the structure from the more primitive species. If the structure is not helping the organism in any way, we presume the structure was passed on to the new species because it is genetically attached to a trait that is helping the species. This is supported through the observations of various genomes. Brainwaves, however, are different from the sections of DNA because they are not chemically attached to other brainwaves. We cannot say that we still have thoughts unnecessary for survival because they are attached to thoughts that are necessary. Yes, brainwaves are created via chemicals, but we can form new thoughts and alter old ones. This idea that thoughts can be changed indicates that thoughts are at least partially independent of our DNA. Evolution of memes can only explain how they have developed, not how they were created.


    I actually did some research for this one and found out that Dr. Pepperberg’s studies have determined that the African Grey Parrot is able to: (1) request, refuse, quantify, identify, and categorize objects, and (2) control, to a limited extent, its immediate environment. (alexfoundation.org) While quantification and categorization are amazing abilities for an animal, it is very different from the example that I gave concerning the conservation of volume. Around age seven children typically enter a phase of development known as the concrete operations stage. The significance of the example is that it shows the child can perform mental operations on concrete objects and apply previously attained knowledge to new problems.

    Of course arguing this is pointless since you could easily say, ‘Well what about a child that is six years old.’ However, if you look at a dog or a parrot in a comparable stage of development you will find that its abilities are not equal to the dog or the parrot that has become a fully developed adult. Comparing the capacity of a developed animal to that of a human child is irrelevant since the child still possesses the potential to exercise ‘free will’ at some point. Of course there are some adults that will never use their ability to reason; they would rather just float through life believing what others tell them and doing what others say. That is their choice. That is free will – the decision to use reason or to ignore it.


    I’m not exactly sure what difference you are referring too, but I assume you mean the difference in cognition between humans and animals. Cognition is only the mental process of knowing. Yes, a major difference between human and animal cognition is how much we know. But another difference between humans and animals worth noting lies within our intelligence, which is the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge, especially in a purposeful, rational, and effective manner. (The Concept of Intelligence and Its Role, Sternberg)
     
  14. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    Brien,

    I think we're basically agreeing here. What you call laws, murder, theft, etc., I think of as necessary moral standings which help our society to get on. Even the example you used of the conservative Christians allowing other to live among them is an example of people exercising the moral of tolerance--without which, those 'others' wouldn't survive for long perhaps.

    Maybe I need to find a new word besides 'meme' then. For lack of a better word as of yet, I'll continue to use 'meme' though.

    Here I would say that it was still not his 'choice'. His opinions are controlled by his memes, therefore, the question of 'to release the idea, or not release the idea' is based upon which way his natural tendencies and opinions lean.
     
  15. trishtrish10

    trishtrish10 Active Member

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    since when are we free of laws. disobedience is deadly as experienced by adam and eve and most everyone since then. God allows us to make wrong or immoral choices, that's our choice or free-will although sometimes we get carried away, and sometimes he intervenes. it is all relevant to what's on your heart not necessarily in your mind. he was, Jesus, tempted like us to do wrong, but chose not to, unlike us hypocrits.
     
  16. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    The thread has to do with free-will, not being free of laws.

    Most everyone? Who are the lucky few who escaped such fate?

    Trish, things can't be 'on your heart'. The heart pumps blood, the brain thinks and spews out emotions.

    Well, I don't believe in god, so I guess that means I'm not a hypocrite. Woohoo.
     
  17. trishtrish10

    trishtrish10 Active Member

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    you are free to choose what u want to think. your environment contains ure body. u have plenty of choices to make and it's u who make them, no one else unless of course u are possessed.

    mary and Jesus were the onlly perfect people who live.
     
  18. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    Mary, the mother of God.

    Peace,
    Scott
     
  19. Ceridwen018

    Ceridwen018 Well-Known Member

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    SOGFPP,

    I am interested to know...I read somewhere that it doesn't say anything in the bible about the supposed 'immaculate conception' of Mary, or her supposed 'sinless' life. I checked it out myself (after having grown up Catholic, I was baffled to hear such a thing) and sure enough, I drew a blank. Am I missing something here?
     
  20. Mercellus

    Mercellus Member

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    Good question, Ceridwen018.
     
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