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)
  2. no

    6 vote(s)
  1. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    I apologise if my previous choice of phrase confused you, but I did try to explain above what I meant.
    There are two things at play: omniscience and control.
    Control doesn't necessary imply omniscience, but omniscience implies control.
    I.e. wherever you have a system that allows omniscience, there is control of the elements of that system.

    Gotcha. That makes sense now.

    Omniscience is not the only element at-play. Though we cannot peer into the Black Box, we can deduce at least one component that must be in there - some element of control - and no, it does not matter, for the sake of the logic, what form that control might take.

    I think I've grokked what you've been saying, yes?
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    I've never forgotten that past discussion about free will in a deterministic universe. It's taken me years to process, a few seconds a month here and there, but I 've finally come around to what you guys were trying to tell me.

    I was arguing a "No True Scotsman" fallacy:

    OK, sure, I have "small f" free will - I can choose chocolate, strawberry or vanilla ice cream, but in a deterministic universe, my choice was determined by the arrangement of the molecules in my synapses, which as determined from the dawn of time. But that's not 'big F' Free Will!

    I was inadvertently arguing for a flavour of Free Will that I considered only valid if it could transcend the properties of the physical universe - i.e., as you guys said: supernatural - though I did not see that implication at the time.

    free will is not supernatural: I can choose as I like within the bounds of the physics of the universe.

    So, the original question was Does determinism rule out free will?

    I guess the answer is: it rules out (a supposed) Free Will, but does not rule out free will. free will is bound by the properties of a deterministic universe.


    And apparently, we do live in a deterministic universe:

    "...a core precept of both classical and quantum physics—that, in principle, the state of a system at one point in time should determine its value at any other time. Specifically, in quantum mechanics the state of the system is encoded by its wave function. The evolution of the wave function is determined by a unitary operator, and unitarity implies that the wave function at any instant of time can be used to determine the wave function either in the past or the future." the black holes evaporate,therefore information has been lost.

    In principle, the state of the system that contains 'me' at the moment of having chosen chocolate ice cream can be rolled backwards in time to recreate the universe we knew before I made my choice.

    It also means that, in principle, if we have sufficient knowledge of the state of the system while I am looking at three tubs of ice cream, we can roll the system forward and determine which flavour I will choose.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2023
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  5. Baldeee Valued Senior Member


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    I'm not sure it is saying we live in a deterministic universe, though.
    Quantum mechanics, and thus the universe, is understood to be probabilistic in nature.
    I.e. indeterministic.
    The state of a quantum system is described by a wavefunction, which evolves deterministically, as said in the article.
    However, when the wavefunction collapses (i.e. at measurement) then it does so probabilistically (indeterministically).
    (I'm sure this understanding of QM is long out of date, though, at least in explanation if not result).
    This article only talks about the evolution of wavefunctions, not the eventual collapse and the measurement of the observables, which is where the indeterminism arises.

    There is some philosophical notion that the entire multiverse is governed by an overall wavefunction, and is thus deterministic as a whole, but I'm not up to speed on that, and rather falls down at the individual universe level.
    If the universe as a whole, rather than just wavefunctions, are not only deterministic but time-reversible, then yes.
    But that's a big IF.
    Two interactions might result in exactly the same output, so reversing it might introduce probability / indeterminism.
    As an analogy, there are many ways to sum two numbers to get 5 as the output, but if given the output of 5, would you know which sum was used to achieve it?
    That's true for any deterministic system.
    Being able to reverse it to go back in time to see what happened would only be possible for be a subset of such systems.
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  7. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    The term "free will" has all sorts of historical baggage appended to it from a variety of invented language games, and some of those fuzzy resonances might concern it only applying to rational agents. That might be the only potential scruple about directly assigning FW to a dinosaur. (Which is to say, in the context of today's "inclusiveness", one of those language games could jump out of the woodwork and demand that its idiosyncrasies to be respected in today's collectivist utopian yearning for radically equal representation.)

    But other than that, dinosaurs were synonymously autonomous -- the origin of their own behavior and choices. The internal organs, circulatory and nervous systems, etc -- were fully functional and not simply otiose appearances.

    Dinosaurs were self-governing, and each species simply adhering to the quasi-predictable constraints of its own biological programming was certainly not possession by an external agency. It is not contradictory to volition to adhere to one's own regulatory preferences. (A dominating degree of randomness is antithetical to reasoning, motivation, and organization.)

    In a naturalistic worldview, organisms have no prior-in-rank immaterial identity attributed to them. Thus, an individual ankylosaurus had no "I could have been a baryonyx or a cycad" options. It couldn't alternatively be a different animal or a plant since that would negate it ever existing to begin with.

    Exercising its autonomy in the environment at the very least began with the hatching of the ankylosaurus. Other factors over the course of billions of years determining that it would be an ankylosaurus were irrelevant, since (again) the ankylosaurus would not exist if it was anything else (it had no identity prior-in-rank to the advent of its particular physical brain/body).
  8. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    An intriguing angle of looking at it.
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Yes, I now understand that's what you meant. It's not what I understood before, though.

    You agree that extracting meaning from language is not a one-to-one process, yes? You can appreciate that people sometimes get a meaning other than what was intended by a certain set of words? I'm sure you do and you can.
    You Americans tend to assume that it is up to the rest of the world to "catch up" with you. Maybe from time to time you could try learning a little about the rest of the world. Just a thought.
    I didn't realise that discussions of determinism were off limits for you. But in effect you said that omniscience implies determinism, didn't you?
    Why do you impute bad motives to me? It sounds like you're upset about something, and I'm not sure it's about this discussion.

    If I got something wrong about the imcompatibilist position, I'd like to know what it was. I understand that you don't want to talk about it, so I guess I'll stay ignorant for now. Either that, or maybe I didn't actually get anything wrong about it. We'll never find out, I suppose. Which is a shame.
    I'm not worried about that. Thank you for your concern.
    Good move. If a conversation here is making you upset, there's no reason you need to continue it. Walking away can be the best thing to do, sometimes.
  10. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    And here we are, you now understanding what was written.
    You were mistaken, and now you’re not.
    So what exactly is the issue?
    Who are you talking to now?
    I can’t and don’t speak for “you Americans” but in this case, you are now caught up, are you not?
    You now understand what was meant?
    So, again, what’s the issue?
    If you want to make a point about what you perceive of “You Americans” then there’s probably a better place for it than in a conversation with a non-American.
    Is that addressed to me, or to “You Americans”?
    As a thought, though, it’s rather pointless, as you not only seem to have no idea who you’re conversing with but also it is based solely on someone using the phrase “caught up”.
    The issue here, therefore, seems to lie with you, rather than anyone else.
    I didn’t expect you to know, which is why I told you then, so that you would know.
    And now you do.
    Given all the efforts at correction in the previous thread on the matter, you are still misrepresenting.
    To me that smacks of deliberation; either wilful unwillingness to take the corrections on board, or to stoke a fire.
    But if you say it’s not deliberate, okay, I’ll take that into consideration.
    I’m disappointed, James R, that you have turned this discussion to matters of determinism v freewill, as that is not a discussion I wish to rehash, as already mentioned.
    I’m further disappointed that you still misrepresent the incompatibilist position.
    Both of those are about this discussion.
    So now you can be sure.
    You were told in the previous thread when last you got it wrong.
    You therefore should know.
    Yet you continue to not know.
    So telling you again will be fruitless.
    If you want to be reminded, go to the previous thread.
    I’m not particularly upset, James R, although there is some disappointment, as mentioned above.
    Mostly it’s because I don’t want to waste my time rehashing the same thing as can be found in that other thread.
    And given your earlier post it is clear that that is where it was headed.
  11. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Well, that was all a bit snarky, again.
    I would like to apologise to any American readers. Clearly this isn't an American problem, and I was wrong to assume that it was.
    My mistake, again, it seems.

    You certainly did say that omniscience implies control. You and I had a brief discussion about that. But control isn't deterministic? I'm puzzled, but ... whatever.
    So you allege, without referring to anything specific. Seems like poor form to me.
    You don't think accusing me of wilful misrepresentation, without even pointing to a specific example of my misrepresentating something, is an attempt to stoke a fire? Let's not be hypocritical, now.
    This discussion wasn't started by me. The topic is, apparently, "Do we have freewill? Is is biblical?"

    You posted some stuff. I commented. You replied. I replied to you. And so on and so forth. This is normal for a discussion forum.

    If you don't want to have a conversation about free will, that's perfectly fine. But to jump into somebody else's thread and make a big point of saying you don't want to discuss certain aspects of the topic seems a little strange to me. Why are you posting in this thread at all?
    Well, there are lots of threads and I have a busy life. Is there any particular post I ought to look at, where I was corrected? Got a link? Or am I supposed to go searching for something that might not be there? Which thread are you referring to?
    I get it. You don't want to make the effort. It's fine. We can leave it at this, I suppose.
    Glad to hear you're not particularly upset. Sorry to hear you're a little upset.

    Maybe we'll talk again in some future thread.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2023
  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    That's actually a more important line than you might realize. We'll have to set it aside for another day, but extracting meaning other than what was intended can sometimes seem like an argumentative surrogate. Colloquially, it can almost seem deliberate, except it would be such a fool's mission for someone to actually do so, and thus unlikely. In the end, it remains a mystery, but if it really is a natural thing, then people, and at large, not just here, need to recalibrate their expectations of each other.

    But it's true, some people's reading comprehension seems like a puzzle. At large, sure it is something we can see among the wannabe mavericks of social media, like the expatriate lawyer, congresional spouse, and former news CEO who would appear to make a decent living by getting it wrong and pitching fits.

    There was an occasion last year↗ when I needed to cite a dictionary in order to clarify my use of the word, "about"; the critique can feel nearly petty, except my usage on that occasion was ambiguous precisely as criticized. It's one I need to remember, especially as part of the style derives from trying to figure out how to forestall simplistic petty faqing. Still, it was a pretty straightforward example.

    There is another version we see in politics, juristics, public relations, and internet argument, in which one responds to an argument by saying, "Do you mean [____]?" and then posits a straw man of their own making in order to answer that, instead. Sometimes, with that trick, the underlying pretense of confusion just isn't believable, but even still, believability does not inherently mean genuine confusion; there comes a point at which, fine, people can believe what they're seeing, but it doesn't speak well of the ostensibly confused.

    There are, of course, myriad manners of confusion to consider, but, right, another discussion.

    (For the record, Baldeee's use of the phrase, "you have", is very similar to the ambiguity of how I used the word, "about". Here's the twist, though: I am already aware that James R sometimes shows confusion regarding the word, "you"; Baldeee might not have known.)


    It becomes more important to observe that your version of knowing isn't really knowing.

    So, Crow and Eagle are fighting over a baby. Okay, not really, especially because a baby isn't hard or substantial enough to achieve the effect, but ... oh, hey, I guess wee don't need a bird with something inexplicable in its mouth to fall in front of the train in order to cause an unexpected derailment. Two bits of good news out of Anacortes: Only the engine fuel spilled, and it wasn't Norfolk Southern, this time. Oh, wait, that latter isn't good news.

    If you're on a train heading down a track with no switches, then you know exactly where the train is going, and this knowledge of the path and the journey doesn't give you any special power over the train itself, that "knowledge" is not knowledge. Ceteris paribus, sure, you can expect a relationship between track, course, and destination, but as Burlington Northern just learned, all else is not necessarily equal. It's one thing that something is wrong with the track, but if you already know this, and can account for it, we might wonder why the hell the train is on that track. Moreover, compared to the question of free will, and regardless of track condition or other factors that might dispute what you think you know, we might also suggest the free will of having boarded that train in the first place is worth considering.

    Is it an electric train? What if a battery, or some component of the power system, catches fire? Sure, the schematic suggests everything ought to work, but it's almost impossible, at this level of generality, to know which component of the electrical system will fail.

    (If you're on a 737 Max with no access to the autopilot ... er, never mind.)​

    Just out of curiosity: Are you able to at least consider the idea of the universe as a single event?

    Or is that simply an impossible context to ask of you?

    It could be that where you and I might dispute about free will is a marginal question of precision. As long as the math works out, the result we have is the only outcome that was ever truly possible. And within those margins, there is something we might perceive as resembling free will, but in that case I find myself wondering whether lemon sorbet actually exists.
  13. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    I was not.
    For the purpose of analogy it was fine, such that the knowledge expressed was accepted as "really knowing".
    I.e. there was an unwritten assumption that there were no external incidents, no derailments, no birds crashing into the train.
    Just the train moving along its set path, even in accordance with the timetable (rare that that might be where I'm from).
    If by marginal question of precision you mean what we are aware of compared to not aware of, i.e. the vastly inferior precision of reality that we are consciously aware of, then I would agree.
    Using the distinction DaveC426913 offered, FreeWill, where the maths works out and there are no genuine alternatives, and freewill being based on what we are aware of, the lack knowledge.
    If that is not what you mean then further clarification would be welcome.
  14. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    You're apologising to them for insulting them... by continuing to insult them?
    To insult as you did on the back of a comment about you now being "all caught up" remains a mystery, though.
    Maybe you'd like to explain that?
    As I see it, you lacked understanding of what I meant, whether due to ambiguity on my part or otherwise, and now you are not.
    Hence you are, by whatever means, whether you wish to accept the choice of language or not, all caught up.
    There is nothing there to have insulted either an entire nation or even an individual as you did.
    Why should control be deterministic?
    A deterministic system is a controlled system, but why should the reverse be true?
    Is that not the fallacy of confirming the antecedent?
    A deterministic system is one where wherever you have input A you will always get output B.
    And where you have input B you will always get output C.
    A controlled system need not have such consistency in ouput to input.
    One day input A may lead to ouput B, and on another day, at the whim of whatever is in control, input A may lead to output Z.
    Control but no determinism.
    To provide the specifics, again, would be to continue that discussion.
    Do I need to say again that I have no desire to rehash that?
    I am sure you know the thread and discussion to which I refer, and it's not difficult to find if you need reminder.
    I have no wish to rehash the same discussion here.
    It is.
    Unfortunately that is but more misrepresentation by you.
    Have I not been having a conversation with DaveC426913 on that very subject in this thread?
    Yet more misrepresentation.
    If it is not wilful then your lack of awareness that you do it so often is perhaps even greater cause for concern.
    That is something I will need to bear in mind in any future conversation with you.

    If you read this thread through you will see that I was having a good discussion with DaveC426913, on the question of omniscience and freewill.
    You then came in and it was clear my conversation with you was heading to determinism v freewill, and not remain on the matter of omniscience.
    I informed you that this was not where I wanted to go, as I did not want to rehash the same discussion as a previous thread on the matter.
    I therefore informed that I would not be replying to you on the matter, rather than simply ignore your post entirely.
    Are you all caught up now?
    To have a discussion when the topic is such that I find it interesting to do so.
    How about you?
    As and when the topic digresses from that, as it did with your manoeuver to determinism, I do not want to partake, as I told you.
    I am not stopping you from continuing a discussion on determinism, if that is what you wish to do.
    This is how conversations in threads go, is it not?
    Yes, I could have simply opted to ignore your post, but I chose to inform you that I won't be discussing the matter with you further, and for reasons given.
    I'm sure if you do a search on freewill and deterministic universe and you'll find the thread easily enough.
    No, I don't want to make the effort.
    It's just not worth it.
    It won't change anything.
    Even in this one if you're not simply rehashing matters from the previous thread that I have informed you I won't engage with you on.
  15. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    I'm joining this thread somewhat late ,

    For me to have true free for me implies no-one else can. What is the point of me using my freewill to organise the universe in the exact configuration I want and someone else reconfigures the universe the was they want?

    Hence one god, no more. One god (who, according to con artist religion) say a particular animal all have will have free will

    This "all will have free will" coming from a god who created the universe with unchangeable physics

    Do not unchangeable physics rule out free will?

    I'm rambling

    Must be coffee moment

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  16. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Wait, what? That is a bizarre definition of free will.

    You stack two building blocks one on top of the other. I knock them down.
    Are you saying you don't have free will because I changed what you built??
  17. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    Yes. In essence your free will eliminated my free will to arrange the blocks how I wanted them AND FOR THEM TO REMAIN ARRANGED AS SUCH

    What, as a society, we try to arrange is an agreed free will (the old live and let live)

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  18. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    You're being silly.
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  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Seems it's now your turn to misunderstand something. I wonder whether you'll be as harsh on yourself as you are on me.
    Maybe one day you'll figure it out. Good luck with that.
    It's good you see it that way, because as you might recall that's essentially what I said in a post not too far above this one.
    It seems you misunderstood, again. I asked you whether you understand that it is possible for people to misinterpret particular statements. Generously, I also said I assumed you do understand. Now, I'm not so sure you do. While you took a lot of time in your latest post to say not very much, you didn't take any time to address that point.
    I feel that my comment still applies to you, personally. As you might recall, I apologised to the Americans.
    You know what, Baldeee? I'm no longer interested in debating the matter with you. I'll leave you to ponder why that might be.
    Is this another example from you not attempting to stoke a fire, is it?
    It seems unlikely that you and I will be having many long conversations in future. You seem far more interested in having arguments with me, rather than a discussion that might lead to one or both of us learning something new. I'm not sure why that is, all of a sudden.
    Sorry, but I'm not motivated to go on fetch quest for you - especially for something that I suspect isn't there to be found.
    Are we done, then? Or do you want to continue this... whatever this is?
  20. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    I am.
    I have re-read and now realise you did apologise to Americans and withdraw the insult.
    I apologise for misreading and misrepresenting you.
    I am now all caught up on what you said.
    You did.
    It's called clarification on my part.
    You have confirmed that we have the same understanding on the matter to this point.
    Thank you.
    Are you not all caught up?
    I haven't disputed that it's possible.
    You assumed, and your assumption was correct.
    What are you saying I have misunderstood in the above, given that you have confirmed the clarification above, to which this relates.
    Have you not now caught up with the meaning I intended?
    You say you have understood, but if this is not the case, then, sure, I have misunderstood when you said that you now understand.
    Yes, and I apologise again for misreading what you wrote.
    As it applies to me, your insult is vacuuous, given that it doesn't really apply to the situation.
    Telling me to learn a little bit about the rest of the world has zero bearing on whether or not you are now caught up with the intended meaning of what I wrote.
    Me commenting on you being caught up was a statement of fact, irrespective of how it was achieved.
    You saying that you think I ("You Americans") tend to assume it is up to you ("the rest of the world") to catch up is similarly vacuuous, as I happily provide clarification where it is clear there is a misunderstanding.
    As I did with DaveC426913 above.
    That clarification enables someone to catch up to the intended meaning.
    The alternative to the other person not catching up is that we all continue with the unintended meaning, and that is the recipe for going nowhere.
    So in that regard we all assume it is up to the other person to catch up.
    We can certainly assist in them doing so, as I have done.
    So consider your attempt at insult forgotten.
    Because you're out of your depth on the matter?
    But, sure, whatever reason suits you.
    I have already expressed a lack of desire to debate the matter with you, for reasons given, although in this instance it wasn't actually a matter that had been addressed in the other thread.
    It's factually correct, and I showed clearly how you misrepresented me, correcting you.
    Am I not allowed to do that?
    That's okay.
    You're allowed not to respond to me on whatever you want to not respond to me on.
    I'm just making use of the right to reply.
    You're the one who has pushed this... whatever this is.
    I simply expressed a lack of desire not to continue the line of discussion that can be found in that other thread.
    That's always been your prerogative.
    I have no desire on the matter either way, James R.
    If you want to continue, by all means exercise your right of reply.
  21. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    I might be complicating things, but, also, we might as well be playing in the remains of Plato's cave:

    The margins I refer to might also be described as a tolerance.

    In the ice cream question, maybe deciding I'm in the mood for lemon sorbet feels like free will. But, maybe, experientially, that's how it's supposed to feel.

    Where the margin opens up, and something resembling free will appears to be in effect, it might be that none of our decisions about ice cream affect the math so greatly. When we get right down to it, we're talking about some measurable value, and whether the electricity flowing through our brains is preordained by circumstance.

    Consider this website, for instance, and the question of what it's for. To a certain degree, as we fight among ourselves and argue over what is appropriate or not, it just doesn't matter to site ownership what we actually do. In that sense, the purpose of our being here has, for them, some other value. That is, as long as we don't cause the owners too much of a headache, such as legal troubles, they will leave it to us to figure out what goes on, here. And think about it: Database, network security, training AI, marketplace behavioral research, and those are fairly run of the mill possibilities.

    Comparatively, we might wonder at the ice cream question. Compared to bringing law enforcement down on site owners for terrorism, child exploitation, or other serious crimes, we might wonder what any one of us might do that would break the mathematics describing physics, existence, and the Universe. It's kind of like Descartes on conservation: What the cake does cannot exceed the oven. And if the mathematics of the Universe aren't violated by the ice cream resolution, maybe the determinist marker is inevitability about the question itself.

    Consider the religious version: Why didn't God do it differently? Okay, could God have done it differently? Alright, now: What about the Universe? Could physics and spacetime have gone differently? Eventually, we reach a point at which the answer is no. Now, how precise is that? To wit, how important is it to the mathematics describing existence that you be standing there, and James right over there, and me right here, and having brought ourselves someplace where there is no lemon sorbet? Maybe the important nexus is that something exists and is processing information, in which case it doesn't matter to the Universe if the math reflects a decision to eat ice cream or commit mass murder.

    But even at that point, I cannot promise that the math, physics, chemistry, and biology that come together to create our lives and carry our experiences is not utterly deterministic. That is, there is a range in which experience might look and feel like free will, but the scale of determinism↑ can easily exceed our recognition and comprehension. Or↑, as such, there is no guarantee that we could know, perceive, or otherwise easily recognize that determinism.
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  22. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    I think you and I are both all caught up now. It seems like a waste of my time, at least, to continue this ... whatever this is.

    So, I'm out, for now. Enjoy.
  23. davewhite04 Valued Senior Member

    Interesting post. I'm not sure what G-d you pray to, but if he is all knowing then free will is an illusion.

    A topic that has got some fire on here, there must be some truth in it

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