Do we have freewill ? is it biblical ?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by zacariah88, Feb 22, 2023.

?

Do you believe you have freewill

  1. yes

    5 vote(s)
    45.5%
  2. no

    6 vote(s)
    54.5%
  1. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    21,608
    Sure. Here's an fMRI of someone thinking sad, neutral and happy thoughts while listening to music:
     

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  3. davewhite04 Valued Senior Member

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    I agree.
     
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  5. davewhite04 Valued Senior Member

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    Would you expect a motivated agency? Would a motivated agency suggest God, or that the universe is self aware or such?

    At some level, love, anger, justice... do not exist?

    Have you got an example of a "conscious moment"?

    If it was that cut and dry, all scientists would believe in design. It wreaks of design to me.

    I hope so

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    An all knowing God is almost a static position, no need for memory, it knows everything, past, present and future.
     
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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Without actually saying what a choice is, though.
    You misunderstand. I have no issue with the example of the slime-mold reacting, and you referring to it as "decision-making", at least not once you actually define what it is you mean by such. I do have issue with the wandering into how wonderful slime-mold is, and all the other wonderful things you exampled about slime-mold. As said, this isn't a thread about slime-mold. Try to keep it relevant. That's all I ask.

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    Being capable of astonishing feats is not really adding anything to the question of freewill, though. You do seem to be wandering around the subject without actually talking about it, exampling things that seem to have no relevance to the issue, and not clarifying what you mean by "choice" or "freewill". Saying there are 2 types of something you haven't adequately defined doesn't get you much further, either.
    While not explaining what it means to make a choice, or what freewill means. All your explanations simply shift the issue from "choice" to "choose". That's a matter of linguistics, not semantics.
    Yet you haven't explained what you mean by "choice", at least not without referrence to "choose" or "chosen" - i.e. a vacuuous explanation.
    Let's cut the rest and you start there: what do you mean by "choice"... and don't say "the act of choosing". What do you actually mean by the word. Do you mean the conscious ability to weigh up two options and concluse on one? Do you mean pick from a range of genuine alternatives? Do you mean to simply react to stimuli? What do you mean? Until you actually explain what you mean, your use of the word is problematic, as it assumes that everyone reading it will understand it, at least philosophically and with regard freewill, in the same manner. That is not an assumption you should be making when it is at the core of the discussion.
     
  8. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    While "freewill" entails or subsumes a capacity for choice or decision-making, the broader idea accordingly can't rest on that narrower component alone (vaguely akin to equating a piston to an internal combustion engine).

    As a result, you can certainly find popular views that would non-specifically deny something like slime mold as having FW (like below), at least at an elevated level.

    That falls out of the concept of freewill having such a diverse amount of historical baggage appended to it by non-harmonious, rival sources. So that it's always going to be weighed down by such trappings and be a swirling debris of futility in terms of resolving it in a consensus way (100% satisfaction across the board).

    To escape the potpourri of past baggage, one might drop FW for other terms like autonomy, volition, etc. But when in Rome, the social climate inevitably drags outsiders toward speaking in local parlance...

    https://archive.philosophersmag.com/do-animals-have-free-will/

    Do animals have free will? Probably, the answer to that question would be agreed by most people to be a fairly obvious “no.” The concept of free will is traditionally bound up with such things as our capacity to choose our own values, the sorts of lives we want to lead, the sorts of people we want to be, etc. and it seems obvious that no non-human animal lives the kind of life which could make sense of the attribution to it of such powers as these. But in thinking about free will, it is essential, nevertheless, to consider the capacities of animals. Even if animals cannot be said to have full-blown free will, animal powers of various sorts provide a kind of essential underpinning for free will which philosophers who focus too exclusively on the human phenomenon are forever in danger of ignoring. And these simpler capacities are interesting enough to raise many philosophical issues all by themselves; indeed, I would argue that they raise the most discussed problem in this area of philosophy all by themselves.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-11998687

    The free will that humans enjoy is similar to that exercised by animals as simple as flies, a scientist has said. The idea may simply require "free will" to be redefined, but tests show that animal behaviour is neither completely constrained nor completely free. The paper, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests animals always have a range of options available to them. "Choices" actually fit a complex probability but, at least in humans, are perceived as conscious decisions.

    https://www.quantamagazine.org/slime-molds-remember-but-do-they-learn-20180709/

    Even more intriguingly, and perhaps controversially, research by Dussutour and others suggests that slime molds can transfer their acquired memories from cell to cell, said František Baluška, a plant cell biologist at the University of Bonn. “This is extremely exciting for our understanding of much larger organisms such as animals, humans and plants.”

    https://www.nature.com/articles/nature.2012.11811

    Single-celled amoebae can remember, make decisions and anticipate change, urging scientists to rethink intelligent behavior.
    _
     
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  9. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    See, you want me to state that choice can only be made by a brained organism. But I am not at all convinced that a brain is required for the system to be able to exhibit a preference based on specific cellular abilities such as equilibrium or relaxation from tension, i.e. satisfaction.

    With the slime mold, I demonstrated that brainless organisms can have preferences and make choices based on conditioned (informed) cellular memories rather than neural memories. Can anyone here say for sure that neural consciousness is an absolute requirement for making choices? Do you know? If you do why do you not offer it for consideration?

    With the Venus Fly Trap, I demonstrated that they can count and only the disturbance of 2 trigger hairs within a short time can cause the trap to close. This is an evolved ability to prevent the plant from wasting precious energy on say a single raindrop disturbing a trigger hair and the plant needing several hours to reopen its leaves.

    IOW is there a choice made between 2 different causal events ? A single event is experienced but does not trigger a reaction, a chronology of 2 causal events within a specific time does trigger a reaction. This involves "counting"! Can a cell count?

    So, if this is not decision making, where is the difference between a plant's or a slime mold's response different than the response of a brained organism?
    If it is all determined by the results of "intentional systems" (Dennett) where is the line?

    Does homeostasis depend on choice?

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    https://www.bettermovement.org/blog/2017/the-intentional-stance
    TODD HARGROVEAPRIL 20, 2017
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2023
  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    You have not demonstrated that those rise to the level "preferences" or "choices".

    See, it is trivial to assemble a simple mechanical (non-living) system that accomplishes much the same level of what you might call "choice".

    Here is a demonstration of a maze being "solved" by surprisingly simple chemicals (oleic acid, potassium hydroxide and HCl).


    So, that raises the question of your idea of "choice", to-wit: never mind a brain, does your personal definition of "choice" even require a living creature? (No.)

    Again, this can be set up on a work bench with a few springs and levers.

    Would you say such a contraption can "count"?

    If this counts as "the ability to count" this "ability to count" is quite a ubiquitous - and therefore trivial - phenomenon in the universe.

    I could set this up with, like, 2 simple liquids.
    Add 1 drop of liquid to another, nothing happens; add a second drop, something happens!
    Can these liquids "count"? Are they "making decisions"?

    (Of course not.)
     
  11. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Self-awareness isn't necessary for efficient function. In fact, self-awareness may even cause internal conflict.
    IMO no, only functionality.
    Ahhh.. there it is. Penrose proposes that the collapse of a quantum wave function creates an instant of consciousness.

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    Yes, it is all designs (patterns), but patterns can be self -forming and do not need a designer.
    Witness a fractal:

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    The designer of these patterns is evolution by natural selection for mathematical functional efficiency".

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    Insects designed this pattern

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    https://www.voidvisuals.com/fractal-patterns/

    I have a lot of problems with that concept.

    a) if God is enfolded in spacetime, it is not static but dynamic and changeable.
    b) if God already knows the future, can it change it?
    c) if God needs no memory how does it permanently store memory of things that no longer exist.
    d) if God is responsible for everything, how can terrible things happen such as a supernova that wipes out an entire solar system including all living things that may inhabit all orbiting planets.
    Why have a God that allows destruction of it's own creations?
     
  12. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

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    Are they not just following the dictates of physics?

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  13. geordief Valued Senior Member

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    Does that mean anything?
    Are you anthropomorphising "physics" as if "it" was a thing ordering things (ie itself

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    ) around?
    Physics is the human study of patterns in external behaviours and is always playing catch up

    Even if we accept there are universal patterns of physical behaviour the jury is still out as to whether these are permanent or if they can change ,evolve or even (just my bold idea) suddenly change when noone is looking

    Unless the validity or not of the question in this thread has some real life consequences we are all free to riff on how it makes us feel.

    Praise the lord for philosophy .If it didn't exist we would have to invent it!
     
  14. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

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    • So a person undergoing a fMRI
    • is asked to think sad thoughts
    • how does the thought manifest itself
    • or does the operator assign.the colours
    Quite the opposite

    Physics is a branch of science concerned with the nature and properties of matter and interactions between them

    If a certain mix produces a certain result my understanding is that the same mix will always produce same result

    Always

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  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Here are the words of the researcher:
    Choice of healthy diet?
    As you said your maze example is truly trivial chemistry and does not in any way compare to the multiple tasks the slime mold can perform.
    Chemistry happens, but nowhere near any comparison with living systems. And how do you build in a timer? A computer? Both the plant and the slime mold respond to timed intervals and the slime mold can even anticipate a conditioned timed interval.
    Also, slime molds leave "do not enter" markers to places they have previously searched.
    Nowhere near any comparison with living systems. all living organisms have intra-cellular and inter-cellular communication and respond to a variety of sensory experiences such as smell, light, touch, and sound and can walk (pseudopodia).
    https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/slime-mold-smart-brainless-cognition/


    It appears that whereas simple brainless organisms may not be able to appreciate a Rembrandt painting or a Shakespeare sonnet, they do display preferences and logical survival behaviors, which is not surprising, being that the slime mold split off from a common ancestor before animals split from plants and have an evolutionary advantage over most other unicellular organisms such as bacteria, that can talk to each other or the paramecium that can already swim and navigate obstacles.

    It seems that early Eukaryotic (and even some Prokaryotic) cells already possessed proto-sensory communication abilities that evolved into the extraordinary sensory receptors and neural processing abilities of modern species.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2023
  16. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    18,897
    You describe an event, and marvel that a slime mold can do it.
    I point out that the same event can occur with mere simple chemicals.
    The inescapable conclusion is that that event is not an admirable achievement by slime molds. After all it's quite basic - it can be done by mere chemicals.

    Any yet, the right combination of chemicals can do the same thing without all that unnecessary stuff.
    Living things are clearly inefficient, since they need a bunch of stuff that a mere combination of simple chemicals do not need.

    It's a little like you marvelling that "critter X can metabolize iron! Isn't that cool?"
    Big deal. So can oxygen. Produces rust as a byproduct. A pretty basic feature of the universe.
     
  17. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    What event are you talking about . If you jump of a 3 story building you'll hit the ground as hard as a bowling ball.
    You are no more than a bowling ball, it's quite basic, get it?
     
  18. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    I'm not wanting you to do anything other than explain what you mean by "choice", that doesn't just refer to another word of the same root, or to other words that also require explanation (e.g. "make a decision" without actually explaining what it actually means to make a decision, etc).
    You still need to define / explain what you mean by "making choices". Until you do that you just seem to be flapping around the flame.
    A thermostat only takes the sensing of temperature to react. Is that a choice it makes, to react or not? As for counting, I see DaveC has addressed that.
    So what? Do you think the fly trap can decide NOT to close its trap when the appropriate signals are given?
    Whether it counts or not (and I am not accepting that it does) does not mean that there is a choice being made just because it takes 2 events to trigger a reaction. I could program a computer to add one to the displayed number every time the spacebar is pressed within 5 seconds of the previous press. Whether or not you deem the computer to be counting, is the computer choosing to react? Does it choose to add 1 to the displayed number?
    See above. Your definition of "choice" allows for computer programs to choose, or thermostats to choose, whether or not there is counting involved. If that is how you really intend choice to be understood then, okay. Do you think a thermostat can choose?
    I'd say no more than a thermostat's operation depends on it having choice.
     
  19. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    OK. Making choices is selecting that which is most compatible with your existence. If you are mobile it is possible to pursue that goal actively. This is true for all living organisms from bacteria that can strive by practising "quorum sensing" for maximum survival strategies, to fish practising schooling for maximum survival strategies, to people congregating in cities for maximum survival strategies. For them survival choices may have to be instantaneous, such as the "fight or flight" response.
    OTOH, if you are stationary as a plant or tree there is fundamentally no difference except they lead stationary lives but still congregate in the most favorable formation such as a field of flowers for maxium exposure to pollinating insects, to forests that offer shelter to all sorts of contributing organisms such as seed carrying creatures that distribute seeds.
    For those organisms, their communities communicate underground via root formations and exchange of mutually beneficial survival strategies. For them survival choices are slow and may take decades to develop.
    No, thermostats have no survival instinct. They do not need to make choices. They just respond.
    Does a person ever decide not to respond when appropriate under the prevailing circumstances?
    But there is a choice being made. The choice is just not instantaneous as in mobile organisms.
    Consider what would happen if you also installed a survival program in the AI that would give it an option to stay functional or turn off permanently if it reacted inappropriately to external pressures. That could become very dangerous.
    Does it need to choose? Suppose it doesn't function correctly, you would replace it with a new thermostat, no?
    This is why we install warning sensors, such as low-oil pressure warning lights, so that we can choose. Compare a thermostat to a homeostatic device. It is the first step in taking action, much like our own sensors provide information about out environment.
    Then why is homeostasis part of our brain and warns us by "feeling discomfort", such as nausea, pain.
    Does a Mimosa close it's leaves for the fun of it, or in a defensive action because it feels "discomfort"?

    I would hazard a guess that all dynamical systems have a built-in survival strategy that is expressed in self-organizing of "durable patterns " and have them tested of time survival properties by nature itself.

    Can we make an analogy with the emergence and self-organization of patterns that evolve to exist as durable patterns?
    Is it possible that Nature itself has a survival strategy by mathematically selecting those patterns that offer symmetry, balance, and durability? Is "natural selection" akin to the earth's biosphere actively making stochastic survival choices?

    Does choice need to be conscious at all? Can individual choice be another property or expression of stochastic choice?
    https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/689774#
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2023
  20. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    10,305
    So selecting between whether to drink lemonade or orangeade is something that is "most compatible with one's existence"? My point here being that you have named something one might choose for, but you haven't, unfortunately, explained what it is to make a choice. "Selecting" means... what? You may think I'm being pedantic, or trying to be too precise, but I'm trying to get at the heart of what you mean by "choice", or "choosing", or, for that matter, "selecting".
    So now we have choice requiring a survival instinct? So instinct is choice? And why only survival instinct? What about the instinct to just react when a certain thing is sensed? Such as when a thermostat senses a certain temperature?
    All you seem to be doing is throwing around ideas as if they're some whole, but if they are you're not explaining that whole very well.
    People are not fly-traps. Please answer my question. You have exampled fly-traps as not only counting but exhibiting choice. You can't evade a question about fly-traps by responding about whether humans can do it or not.
    What is the choice? Where is the choice being made? How are you defining choice? You keep saying that it exhibits choice but you haven't yet really said what choice is. You're just pointing to things and going "Look! Choice!" You've dismissed a thermostat as having choice, despite similarly reacting to stimuli in an instinctive way, and you seem to have stipulated that only those things with a survival instinct can exhibit choice... can you confirm at least these things?
    Note that you haven't answered my question. You are evading. The question I asked was not about AI, but about the computer program I detailed. Please have the decency to answer.
    You haven't even defined "choice" or what it means "to choose" yet. Are you ever going to?
    ??? What I do is irrelevant as to whether you think a thermostat "chooses" or not. If a fly-trap was defective I would replace that as well. So how I react to a defective thing is irrelevant.
    I'm not talking about whether we can choose, not that you have yet defined or explained what you mean by that word. Please stop answering questions with irrelevancies.
    Whether it is part of our brain or not is irrelevant to whether it is exhibiting choice. Being part of our brain might simply be an input to the part of our brain that deals with our ability (if we actually have one) to exhibit choice. A house with a thermostat is a system that self-regulates the temperature. And you say a thermostat has no choice, but homeostasis within our brain does?
    Can a Mimosa NOT close its leaves under the same conditions?
    And this relates to "choice" how?
    To what end with regard the issue of choice?
    Again, until you start actually explaining what you mean by choice, there is little point in branching out the discussion, as you seem clearly set on doing.
    Again, until you actually bother to explain what you mean by "choice", there is little further to discuss. Moving the discussion to matters of individual v stochastic choice is a can of worms it is pointless opening if you can't be bothered to explain what you mean by choice in the first place.

    If you don't want to actually explain, that's fine, but I likely won't respond to you here until you do.
     
  21. geordief Valued Senior Member

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    2,108
    In large systems that is true statistically but I understand that this may not be the case in quantum systems.

    I am not an expert (or even vaguely knowledgeable) in that area so will defer to anyone who does have any amount of real knowledge in this area.

    I was only really pestering you about the use of words like "dictate" to describe how the "rules" of physics work, as if physics was some kind of a person.

    But I know how hard(impossible?) it is to avoid to use of words normally applied to people to describe inanimate events.
     
  22. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    19,972
    Yes, counting is at least 1 part of the choice making process.
    1 hair disturbed = No.
    2 hairs disturbed within 20 sec = Yes.
    2 hairs disturbed outside 20 sec = No

    Isn't that passively weighing the input data?
    It is evaluating the available data that is part of the overall decision making process, even in brained organisms. The response itself is a decision by the system, even if it is involuntary.
    Conscious choice evolves later as the organism's sensory mechanics increase in complexity and sophistication.

    The data processing itself is electrochemical always, but the sophistication in data processing and response options are graduated in accordance to the complexity of the organisms and it's memory storage capability. i.e. choice and decision making are emergent phenomena and always driven by the organism's physical survival abilities.

    And it starts in single celled organisms in its most rudimentary form, along with the evolution of all the other sensory abilities until the organism acquires self-aware consciousness.

    These questions do not lend to yes or no answers. It all depends on the organisms evolved data processing abilities.

    Choice and decision making abilities are emergent qualities of pattern complexity. (Tegmark)
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2023
  23. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    19,972
    Making a best guess based on available data and accumulated memory.

    It has been demonstrated that a potted Mimosa can be dropped on a soft bed which does not harm the plant but triggers a defensive complete leaf-closing action potential in the plant. This action is energy intensive and it takes a while for the plant to recover. In an experiment this action was repeated several times with the same result.

    But over time the plant's cellular system became conditioned to the disturbance without sustaining injury and the plant actually adjusted its response to this particular action and considered the drop a part of its environmental condition and reacted less and less until the action could be performed without the plant reacting at all. The cellular system had "decided" that the action did not require an energy-wasting defensive response and did no longer react defensively.

    This was not a conscious choice but it was a system decision based on an inherent energy-saving survival response to a mathematical physical differential equation. A very slow fight or flight response. It just would consider the action as a normal state of environmental affairs.

    Then the experiment continued by allowing the plant to rest for a month without subjecting it to dropping to see if it would forget what it had learned.

    The experiment resumed with the original "conditioned" but rested plant and a new unconditioned plant. Both were dropped and the new plant reacted defensively as expected, but the original conditioned plant took the drop in stride and remembered that this particular action was not harmful and it conserved its energy, thereby gaining a survival advantage over the newcomer. Its cellular system had still memorized (knew) and recognized the experience as benign.

    In an even more primitive example, we can use an elastic band as our subject. We can stretch the elastic band 1000 times and each time it returns to its original size, but with age, the band begins to lose its elasticity and begins to fail in returning to its original conformation. It is simply unable to return even if it wanted to.

    This is also what happens with aging systems such as humans. We begin to slow down with age whether we like it or not. This is not a matter of choice. This is not a matter of choice, but a matter of entropy... difference.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2023

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