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Did you ever think that on going back to a choice made in the past

  1. Nov 24, 2006 #1
    Did you ever think that on going back to a choice made in the past and choosing the opposite, the results to your life would have been different ? Somewhere in your life can you pinpoint an event which defined you and your destiny depending on which path you chose to follow ?

    Or in spite of said choice, do you think things would have turned out pretty much exactly the same now and that where you are and who you are were pretty much calculated as an extrapolation of probabilites with any choice you made merely being an uncertainty factor with little relevence in the overall outcome ?

    That is too say, you would have made another choice later on which would enact the same type of event leading to who and where you are now anyway ? Bear in mind your 'fate' as it were is so intertwined with others that any choice you made, to have any lasting effect, would need to have the appropriate choices made by a whole host of others to change an event.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 24, 2006 #2


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    In 1966 I left grad school and looked for work. I eventually was offered two jobs, one as a statistician with the federal government, and one as a programmer-analyst with a manufacturing company. Basically torn, I finally chose the programming job. At the company I shared an office with a fellow whose wife had gone to college with a certain young lady, who was coming down from Chicago to visit them and needed a date for the department manager's Christmas party. I volunteered sight unseen, and that's how I met my wife. All the rest of my life has been conditioned by that. For example I am writing this post on my son's computer. Had I not met Mary Ann, had I gone to work for the government, my llife would have been completely differently conditioned - different wife or no wife, different children or no children, whatever.

    I have never been able to explain to myself just why I chose the one job rather than the other.
  4. Nov 24, 2006 #3
    If you had chose the other job do you not think it possible that you would have met your wife under different circumstances had the same child and ended up being and doing exactly what you are now given that you don't believe in free will anyway ?
  5. Jun 24, 2007 #4
    I bet you know now SA and would love to answer but can't...

    ...oh well any other takers ???

    I would have loved to know what you thought of this too...

    predetermining the collapse/
  6. Jun 28, 2007 #5
    I read this from your link:

    "Everything is now and You are here!!!

    That only leaves one other option if it were not true. You are not here and everything is not now, meaning you are dead !"

    Everything is now and you are here has two parts: everything is now; you are here. There are three options for this to be false not one option. The logical equivalence drawn is also wrong it should read that it is not the case that you are here or it is not the case that everything is now. I can accept that it is not the case you are here can be interpreted as you are not here. I can not accept that it is not the case that everything is now can be interpreted as everything is not now. I would expect an interpretation along the lines of something is not now along with a justification. I also do not accept the meaning of death as stated.

    I do think that your questions are interesting but this link you suggested has made me think twice about responding to them. (It could be that it is determined that I do not respond to them or I am determined not to respond to them.)
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2007
  7. Jun 29, 2007 #6
    what i meant was. If you werent here now in the physical sense, then for all intents and purposes you would be dead to the rest of us that are here and now (shades of schrodingers cat with the universe being the box?)

    Perhaps though regarding your dilemma. In an alternate universe another you has already answered another me or in a future universe you have already answered you just don't know it yet but will eventually...or not

    I guess the point was to just ask the questions and see what people thought, not neccessarily what they know can be proven and to give voice to my thoughts.

    Thanx for answering though and i would like to hear more about your meaning of death.
  8. Jun 29, 2007 #7
    My impression here is that you are using the term somewhat out of context.
    Predestination is a religious term, the implication being, as you mention, that fate is involved, or rather, that a 'conscious' godlike decision has been made about what you are going to be and do. But you're also framing the discussion with regards to 'probabilities' and the question of determinism. These are really separate discussions.
  9. Jun 29, 2007 #8
    Not really. If god is the multiverse which has an intelligence principle built into it, then at the time of your conception it has already calculated a high probablity of what and who you will be so then really i'm talking about the same thing.

    I'm more about unifying concepts into a single discussion. Right or wrong it doesnt really matter. Its the discussion which is important, at least in this lifetime.

    It's our choice whether we wish to participate but somewhere someplace it may be possible that we chose the opposite and even so it is possible using an uncertainty principle built into the system we inhabit that the multiverse can get it wrong and does.
  10. Jun 29, 2007 #9
    But that is NOT what is generally understood to be predestination. Its not about calculating probability, multiverse or not. Its about a 'god', whatever nature you want to give to that word, 'making it happen' through influence etc.... Your example is simply not predestination.

    Fate also, is an 'unavoidable' end result, but it doesn't necessarily require a conscious instigator. Its not 'probable', its not likely, or subject to uncertainty, its unavoidable, no matter what you do.

    Destiny, requires that the person who has a destiny be actively involved in fulfilling that destiny. In some cases it can be synonymous with fate, but not always.

    Determinism and probability rely on observable cause and effect. The mind of even a multiverse god is not observable.

    If the discussion is really important, then you need to more clearly define your terms, not jumble them all together. Otherwise you're just going to end up with no one understanding what you are trying to say.

    Again, 'getting it wrong', is simply not what predestination is about. If you want to make up your own definitions for words, thats fine, philosophers do it all the time, but its really more likely to confuse people than stimulate discussion.
  11. Jun 29, 2007 #10
    Its fairly obvious you understand what i'm saying but prefer to quibble over semantics, thats fine. Try swapping predestination for predetermining and i hope that works out better for you.

    I really don't see the value in creating 2 discussions with 2 separate terms of reference to essentially describe the same thing. Wouldn't that confuse people even more ?

    And I'm really not comfortable discussing the mind of god suffice to say I believe it allows itself the possibility for things to go wrong or to evolve in such a way as was least predicted. God/the multiverse is not certain about outcomes

    If determinism and probability rely on observable cause and effect and we see the effect but not the first cause, then it's not really observable what the true effects are in the wider context of a multiverse given that initial conditions would produce a different effect. Much like the opposite choice being made in alternate universi, we have no way of observing those effects. Sure we can counterfactualise but at a best guess there is stil the possibilty of being wrong and that is jus in a 'once removed choice'. As those opposite choices accumulate it becomes chaos and the butterfly effect but not really cos the choices though infinite in effect are limited and calculable, just not by us.

    Out of confusion comes the stimulating discussion for if everyone were ordered in their thinking and a general consensus of opinion prevailed, what would there be to discuss ? Everyone would be in agreement and that would be boring as i imagine god if omniscient would be, hence an uncertainty principle exists. Nothing is truly predestined or predetermined while we have the free will to choose.
  12. Jun 30, 2007 #11
    Coming to an understanding about what 'relevant words' actually mean, is the first order of business in any philosophical discussion. It is not just semantics.

    And no, I don't understand what you are saying, it sounds like the convoluted pseudo-philosophical spirituality you'd see in one of those matrix movies.

    You're using way to many conflicting and vaguely defined concepts. I'm trying to figure what you are saying, but you're jumping around too much.

    If you want to talk philosophy, I'm game, but I don't read minds. I can see 3-5 very long threads of conversation in almost every post you've made here, but you're not sticking with one topic long enough to actually explore it, something I'm happy to do.

    As an example of what I'm saying. Predestination and determinism are very different concepts. Thats not semantics. They aren't the same thing. And quite a few philosophers have argued there is no conflict between freewill and determinism, in fact they say that they are linked: You can't make a choice unless there is cause and effect, otherwise your actions would involve random effects, thus no freedom to really choose anything.

    Theologians also argue about whether "god's plan" (any god you choose) is compatible with freewill.... they've been doing it for centuries.

    So mixing this stuff together IS confusing....
  13. Jun 30, 2007 #12
    Fair enough JD. Perhaps then you would do me the honour of listing how determinism and predestination can be equated as being the same concept ???
  14. Jun 30, 2007 #13
    Why would I do that? They are not the same. And I never said they were.

    'Predestination' involves a godthing defining and taking an active conscious part in 'destiny'. 'Determinism' is simply about causation, and really its irrelevant if you believe in predestination.... or if you believe in 'fate', since nothing you do can change what is fated or predestined. Its decreed or inevitable, not really caused.

    This is what I'm talking about, you're mixing terms together, again.
  15. Jun 30, 2007 #14
    nah sorry JD i just don't buy that...

    ...of course anything predetermined is caused. Its caused by the godlike thing which acts in the form of the multiverse and determinism. Having opposite choices branch off to cause different effects in alternate universe means nothing is truly predestined though it may seem like it in our universe.
  16. Jun 30, 2007 #15
    You're not even reading what I wrote. I'm wasting no more time with you.
  17. Jul 1, 2007 #16
    aww don't be like that JD. Of course I'm reading what you wrote. I just think you're wrong is all. Heres a dictionary definition of both words


    1. previous determination as if by destiny or fate
    2. (theology) being determined in advance; especially the doctrine
    that God has foreordained every event throughout eternity
    (including the final salvation of mankind)

    de·ter·min·ism (d-tûrm-nzm)

    The philosophical doctrine that every event, act, and decision
    is the inevitable consequence of antecedents, such as genetic
    and environmental influences, that are independent of the human will.

    ...that to me sounds like the same concept.

    Whats funny though is. You can choose to do something or not but the effects of both choices in the branching timelines of alternate universes, will both happen. The free will part then is, we get to choose what will happen to us in this timeline.
  18. Sep 23, 2009 #17
    Re: Predestination

    In my opinion, I believe that the choice you made is the only possible choice you could have made. If you think about it, since the beginning of time everything has been reacting predictably and as a result of physics. Physics dictates everything that happens, so how could you possibly have made a different choice? you made the choice because something in your brain thought something as a result of something else as a result of something else as a result of something else etc... We are given the illusion of choice but in reality everything we think and do is just a reaction to an action. There is only one possible state of the universe because in order for it to be different one would have to change the laws that govern it. Since the universe is governed by laws, how could it ever be any other way?
  19. Sep 24, 2009 #18
    Re: Predestination

    That's the same as saying - god exists, we are puppets on strings, counterfactual definetness is wrong and everything is an illusion. Science implicitly and explicitly successfully treats the Universe as a machine, I wonder if people would start ending their lives when they start to really believe that they have no control over absolutely anything.
  20. Oct 11, 2009 #19
    Re: Predestination

    It depends on what kind of laws the universe is governed by, deterministic laws or probabilistic laws. If it is deterministic laws, then you are right, however if it is probabilistic laws, then it could have happened differently.
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