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Free will

  1. Oct 27, 2004 #1
    hmnn so I got into an argument the other day about wether or not we have free will, and I came up with if you believe we have free will, we would have to deny that there is an omnipotent omnicient God.

    assume there is a God and there is no dobut, (please don't be stupid and start arguing abouit the exsistence of God, this isn't about that) so just assume he does exsist

    and all knowing all mighty God knows all our actions before we make them, so God could get on his God computer and print out the "script" of anyones life, so he could look at the script and go, bob will come to a fork in the road and turn left, so are we merely actors following the script, playing out our roles in the "play of life" and if we were, we really have no choice, we are just following the script... gives a new meaning to "All the World's a Stage. ...and the men and women merely players"

    also then there's miss cleo who claims that she can "read" the "script"
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 28, 2004 #2
    Hmm, I don't think so. Does simply knowing the outcome preclude choice?

    First of all I don't think you can assume the existance of God without also accepting the Bible (ok, unless another Religion's God) and the Bible explains that we have choice yet God is all-knowing.

    Being mortal creatures that are confined within the limits of time it's very hard for us to understand how a choice can truly be made with the outcome known, but I believe that it can be. Philosophers have struggled with this for centuries; it's not like I'm gonna stumble on a massive revelation and lay it all out for ya in one thread. :)
  4. Oct 28, 2004 #3
    A simple answer to me would be that God knows all POSSIBILITIES. And then, knowing the laws of physics, chemistry, psychology etc he can predict us with complete accuracy, and thus he knows all PROBABILITIES.

    Super-simple example: You're cat's hungry. You put a bowl of cat food on the floor. You know the cat can either choose to eat, or choose not to eat. You know the cat's hungry and will choose to eat, but that doesn't mean the cat didn't choose. You never forced the cat to eat, never took away it's choice, you just knew in advance that it would choose to eat.

    I'll tell ya one thing, if I knew everything, I'd get pretty darn bored... I'd end up having to pass the time by creating worlds full of people who didn't listen to me.....
  5. Oct 28, 2004 #4
    Isn't that what happened??

    Big world of difference tween knowing all probabilities and experiencing those probabilities.

    olde drunk
  6. Oct 28, 2004 #5
    The paradox.

    hmmm... We are so anthropocentric that we believe God has endowed us with the brain compacity to understand his true nature and omnipotence. Form a panentheistic point of view, God's nature is both fixed and constantly evolving. His nature is beyond our understanding; it's paradoxical. I think as imperfect beings, we should accept our ignorance regarding our ability to understand paradoxes. In the human reality, contradiction is a fallacy. In total reality, contradiction is sensical and works. This is a physics forum, people should know that.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2004
  7. Oct 28, 2004 #6


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    You absolutely can assume the existence of God without also accepting the Bible. We are not talking about God in the Christian sense, or in the sense of any religion's definition of God. (In fact, such religious discussion is not hosted on Physics Forums.) 'God' here is meant only in the philosophical sense of a posulated being that has certain properties (usually including omniscience and omnipotence).
  8. Oct 28, 2004 #7
    So there's no place to actually talk about religion on the forum, despite so many questions about the nature of God and the possibility of his existance? Given God is central to all religion, I would think it pretty applicable - though possibly not in this area of the forum.

    About your point, without a frame of reference (any frame of reference) I don't think you'll get anywhere because it would be hard enough to even define what God is. Now, we could talk about various defined gods, (Christian, Greek Mythology, Roman Mythology, etc.) and at least you have a starting point and from there you can discuss the nature of that god vs the nature of the universe, nature of human beings, etc. But something as loosely defined as "a being with properties of omniscience and omnipotence" provides very little basis upon which to form conclusions, in my opinion. And further to that, without having an ideology to tie the discussion back to, how would any of the conclusions that were formed have any applicability in the world in which we live?
  9. Oct 28, 2004 #8


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    Well that's just it - its religion itself that we won't discuss here. Obviously, threads like this have religous implications, but theriddler is right that the question of whether God exists doesn't really have any relevance here: we can, indeed assume he exists for the sake of a discussion of freewill and leave the specifics of religion out of it.

    Anyway, I think you have the answer. To put it another way, does watching a movie and then telling someone else how it ends mean you wrote the script? Of course not. The existence of an omipotent, omniscient god does not necessarily preclude freewill (since he's omnipotent, he could, of course, rescind freewill).
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2004
  10. Oct 28, 2004 #9
    I guess it will just take time to learn where the line is between discussing "religious implications" and "religion itself." Sure for this particular discussion we can make an assumption (albeit one that I feel pretty much makes the discussion irrelevant) but could we start another discussion with the assumption that the Mars God of War exists, or that the Christian God exists? I'm obviously new here so please have patience while I'm learning the forum rules...
  11. Oct 28, 2004 #10
    I have no authority here, but if you want to discuss a christian god, go to a christian website; hindu to a hindu site, etc.....

    regardless of which god or no god you accept, think out side that box and expand the subject being discussed.

    are we simply characters in a book, play, psycho-drama that have been allowed to run free into the universe????? do we have to follow the script? OR, can we ad-lib?

    IMHO, all possibilities or probabilities exist as a potential experience. I have the freewill to actualize the experience that i want. If the viewer can influence a QT event, just think what power the doer/creator of the event exerts.

    are we co-creators with the limited freewill of a closed system???? (we can only chose those options that comply with the accepted laws of physicality)

    olde drunk
  12. Oct 28, 2004 #11
    what if creation is a byproduct of consciousness? "i think therefore It is" whatever "it" may be. but then i suppose we'd have to define consciousness.
    how about "free thought"? i like it.
    in that event, free will is a product of consciousness.. "i think therefore i choose" to remove free will, you'd have to remove consciousness, remove thinking.

    "Great minds think alike." - anon
    "If everybody's thinking alike, somebody isn't thinking." - anon
  13. Oct 28, 2004 #12
    It seems to me that you'd have to exist before you could think. So existance could not be a by-product of consciousness. Plus rocks, exist and dont think. And I'd argue that insects and animals lack consciousness too.

    I do agree with the 2nd part, that free will is a product of consciousness. Something motivated by free actions (like artwork maybe) I think would only ever be produced by sentient, conscious beings.
  14. Oct 29, 2004 #13
    well i personally won't argue that insects are conscious, but i'm sure somebody out there thinks so. but that's neither here nor there. what i was suggesting is that my reality exists because I am conscious. that by altering my consiousness, i can alter my reality. something along the lines of a cosmic placebo. because "God" is conscious, i exist through his consciousness. a PERFECT illustration of this would be the book "Man of Two Worlds" by Frank and Brian Herbert. The book depicts an alien race (Dreens) capable of creating universes through simple conscious effort. but if the dreen who created a universe dies, that universe he created disappears because his consciousness is not there to keep it alive any more.

    it's a similar concept to hindu beliefs in Shiva's cosmic dream.
  15. Oct 30, 2004 #14
    I think humans are so wrapped up in being more powerful than other animals, that we completely disregard the option that they could have worked things out as well. Animals are concious, we see this in our pets decided affection. as animal brains are made up differently to humans, to use a hypocritical term, they could be thinking on a different level, understand things more simply, and work out, not theories as such, but ideas and use there ideas or assumptions predominantly in every day life.
  16. Oct 30, 2004 #15
    I think there is a fine line between reality and normality. We presume that because what happens to us is so normal, that it must be real. What is normality? What is reality?
  17. Oct 31, 2004 #16
    well there's some interesting studies going on with porpoises and dolphins being intelligent, but i think for now it's safe to assume that we have one thing over the rest of the animal kingdom. Love. your dog loves you because you feed it. same with your cat. in the end with animals all their "devotion" and "affection" is based upon "this guy feeds me". not so with humanity. we have the capacity to love without reason. to feel devotion without rationality. you learn about all sorts of bad cases of this when you study psychology, but i've met dozens of couples who've created the most fantastic lives together from the same feelings. in the end i think it's our capacity for love that makes us human.

    now as far as reality goes.... read simulacra and simulation by jean baudrillard. or watch the matrix. or meditate. whatever you choose, it's all an illusion anyway. so said einstein ;)
  18. Oct 31, 2004 #17
    If I were omniscient and omnipotent i would exercise my free will and choose not to get involved in any of my creations evolution, in much the same way as a parent i choose not to vicariously live through my children
  19. Nov 2, 2004 #18
    you don't really know, you gather your evidence, and you infer that the cat's is going to eat, and those infrences can get you up to a 99% accuracy, but with God, he would know things to a 100% accuracy, he would know the course of your life even before you were born, so he knew all the coure of you life before you were born, so are you just followign this pre known course under the preception of free will?
  20. Nov 2, 2004 #19
    i forget who it was that said it.....it may have been marx....but to be honest i cant tell you....who said that humans have no free will. everything is reliant on another thing. things around you are what influence you to do something. ultimately, the decisions you make are those you make, not because you have free will but because you are influenced by things around you.

    ex./ you are sitting at a desk and see a pen there. you decide to play with the pen. that decision was influenced because the pen was there. had the pen not been there then you wouldn't have even thought of playing with it.

    p.s.~i'll find out the exact quote and who said it when i can find my book!
  21. Nov 3, 2004 #20
    so what's the point in living? certainly an omnipotent and omniscient god could think of something better to do with his time than write a script like this world. knowing everything in advance would get so boring mundane, what point would there be in preplanned universe? while we're stating opinions i make it mine that any god would use his/her/its omnipotence to forget a few things just to make his own life interesting

    "It has occurred to me more than once that holy boredom is good and sufficient reason for the invention of free will." - Frank Herbert, God Emperor of Dune
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