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Has determinism ever bothered you?

  1. Nov 30, 2004 #1
    Does the whole free will uncertainty bother anyone? I like talking about it and I would like to have free will but have any of you ever been bothered by the possibility of not having free will? This has never bothered me and I don't think it ever will. For what reason, I don't know... Maybe because I feel free.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 30, 2004 #2
    well of course you feel free because there isnt someone sitting over you with a poker telling you what to do. you arent in shackles or a cage. you think you are free to make up your own mind.

    it doesnt bother me because i've grown with this. the realization of it is just kind of a shock for some people because, your entire life, you're told you're free to make your own decisions. but after learning this, you look back in your life and try to think up a situation where this doesnt apply and you really cant. or at least, i cant. i've challenged my friends and family to think up situations where this doesnt apply and they cant either. you just have to accept it i guess...
  4. Dec 1, 2004 #3
    If determinism is true then no one is responsible for their actions. People who murder, rape or pillage are just as innocent as anyone else because they have no control over their own actions.

    Personally I don't believe in determinism. At least not in the sense that all acts are predetermined. Now I do believe in another type of determinism. For example, it's been determined that we will have a free will and we have absolutely no control over that. So we have no free will to stop having free will. :biggrin:

    Believing in determinism can be a bad thing. For one thing, if a person believes that everything is predetermined then a person could go out and do anything at all imaginable and not feel the least bit guilty about it. After all, it must have been predetermined right? In other words, it wasn't really their free choice to do whatever they did.

    I personally don't believe that. I believe that people can genuinely choose how they will live out their lives.

    Besides, I thought that with the discovery of quantum randomness indeterminism was the "in" thing. :approve:

    Why would anyone believe in determinism? Didn't that go out with Newton's clockwork universe?
  5. Dec 1, 2004 #4
    It is difficult to have an omnipotent, omniscient God without determinism. Obviously such a God knows and has decided how everything will be in the future. Also, if you don't believe in determinism, how can you be absolutely sure of a life after death, just judgement and heaven?

    On the other hand, if you belive in determinism and God, why has he decided that there should be evil and unhappiness in the world?

    On the other, a world not deterministic seems to imply randomness. If evil act are due to randomness, how anyone be responsible?

    There are many interpretations that allows determinism.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpretations_of_quantum_mechanics
  6. Dec 1, 2004 #5


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    It has never bothered me either, and for a similar reason: if you believe you are free, you are.
    Just because he can decide how everything will be doesn't mean he has. Most religions these days aren't even deterministic, despite how a great many people see it. Freewill is an essential part of Christianity, for example.
  7. Dec 1, 2004 #6
    God does not escape responsibility by being passive and voluntarily giving up omnipotence and omniscience. Either God lies to himself or he knows that he is at least allowing the possiblity of evil. And passively allowing the possibility of evil is not much better than actively causing evil, when one has the choice of totally preventing it. And saying that God accepts evil because free will is more important will not work:
  8. Dec 1, 2004 #7


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    Yes, that is the catch - nevertheless, that is what many religions teach. You choose the pessimistic way of looking at it (there can be no evil without freewill) and religion teaches the optomistic (there can be no good without freewill - and evil is punished later). Both are really two sides of the same coin though and both support the concept of freewill.

    Also, we've been talking about religious determinism - scientific determinism works the same way.
  9. Dec 1, 2004 #8
    The philosophy of Forrest Gump

    In the movie "Forrest Gump" he ask the question of free wiil or determinism and at the end, the idiot Gump comes to the conclusion that there must be a little bit of both and I wonder about the wisdom of the movie. I agree with the other postings that if determinism is true than we are not responsible for our actions (at least in the eyes of God). Determinism would remove all meaning to life since we aould be "robots of the cosmos". If this is the case I can go out and kill 15 people in a strip mall and blame it on God because after all that is his plan. If one doesn't believe in God they could blame it on the cause and effect action of the universe.
    On the other hand, if one has complete free will I should be able to live forever if I choose and walk through mountains at my choice so maybe Old Forrest has a point there.
    You are correct the whole damn issue of free will and determinism gives me a headache. Asprin Please!!!
  10. Dec 1, 2004 #9
    And yet they will go to jail.. why? Because the act of jailing offenders will influence other pre-offenders to not offend, the offender to not re-offend, or simply remove him/her to protect society.

    The those who act to jail them, will be influenced by this fact to do the jailing.. and you can see you should never think too much about this..
  11. Dec 2, 2004 #10
    The simple answer is that we have limited free will just as we have limited choices.
    If God is good and created goo in the universe; and, there is free will then evil must exist as there can be no free will without choice. Our choices are good or evil.
    If we have free will then we are responsible for our choices and as we benifit from good choices we suffer from bad, evil, choices.
    While in creating good God created the possiblity of evil the fact that some of us choose evil is our responsiblity not Gods.
    How else can we learn and grow?
    If all is good and there is no choice then the universe is deterministic.
    What then is the point of it all if we are simply destined to play out our given rolls and die with no choices, no responsibility for our choices or actions?
    That isn't life, It isn't even theater.
    It's like playing a game of cards with a stacked deck. We already know what the out come is. It never changes. It never can change. Just the same old rerun over and over again. Why?
    I cannot believe in an illogical, perverse, cruel, psychotic God.
  12. Dec 2, 2004 #11
    i strongly believe that we as humans have God given free will. this is so we can freely find God and believe in his awesome power. i also believe that He has set a divine path for us. He gives us a choice weather or not to follow it, but within us, our inutition (God within) leads us on that path. that divine path is not something to be constrained to, for it is the rightous path for that individual in that will make he/she the most content and peaceful.
  13. Dec 3, 2004 #12


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    Welcome to Headache City!

    Define random as "uncaused". Give an example of a random event.
  14. Dec 3, 2004 #13
    but look at that as it is...if you dont follow that path you go to hell....so of course you're going to believe it.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2004
  15. Dec 3, 2004 #14
    what is your reasoning behind the assumption that you will go to hell if you don't follow your divine path? yes you can still go to heaven if you stray away from it. that doesn't forbid you from believe in God, you just won't be as content as you would be if you followed the path.

    ex: maybe God is telling you to move to chicago, but you move to atlanta instead because all of your family lives there and chicago is forgin to you. well..maybe in chicago you would have made a new friend whom you invest in and become very succussful.

    choosing to move to atlanta won't send you to hell, you just would not receive the good fortune that God would have granted you.
  16. Dec 3, 2004 #15
    I won't comment on god, but I will put my own theory into this.
    I imagine it works something like this; determinism exists, but a little different than people might imagine.

    Imagine 2 balls, floating in space. They have no consciousness, as thus they do not move, they stand still all the time.
    But suddenly, they get a consciousness, and ball A moves into ball B, and since determinism exists, ball B rolls backwards, then it stops.

    The consciousness itself is too complex to have a level of determinism, so two levels emerge, the quantum level and the higher level.
    The higher level controls where the quantum world takes them.
    Basically what I'm saying is, consciousness is an entity in itself, and therefore it is fully responsible for what it does, even in a deterministic world.

    You have to see the consciousness as a seperate whole entity, not just a collection of electrons following determinism, because to us, it's not.
  17. Dec 4, 2004 #16


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    Is consciousness limited in how it can interact with the physical world? When operating in the physical world, does consciousness have to obey the laws of physics?
  18. Dec 4, 2004 #17
    It does, but the thing is there are so many interactions that make up a consciousness that it's unbearably hard to determine anything.
    And also you have to see it from OUR point of view, in that, are you ale to look into the future? Do you feel like a slave to determinism?
    I dont at least.
  19. Dec 4, 2004 #18
    the christian religion tells you that if you dont follow god you go to hell....i presonally dont even follow christianity or god for that matter because i dont believe in either of them...

    how is it that god would tell you to move to another city?i thought following god was just following the religion you are in....in christianity abiding by the ten commandments and participating in the 7 sacraments are following god...are they not? im pretty sure that moving to a different city will not affect your relationship with god.
  20. Mar 27, 2005 #19
    The concept of Free Will has been thrown back and forth in this thread, but I haven't seen anyone give a clear and unambiguous definition of what they mean by Free Will. Without an agreed definition it's pretty pointless debating whether Free Will exists or not.

    Would anyone care to try defining it?

    MF :smile:
  21. Mar 29, 2005 #20
    Quantum indeterminism has nothing to do with free will.

    The assumption that determinism is true does not mean that no-one is responsible for their actions, this is a common "fatalistic" argument used to argue against a belief in determinism.

    My actions today determine what happens tomorrow, and if I am a thinking, conscious being then I am responsible for my actions, EVEN IF THE FUTURE IS PRE-DETERMINED, because the "I" that is making the decisions is part of that pre-determination. Even though the future is determined it is still dependent on the actions of the present.

    Think of Aristotle's famous example of the sea-battle to take place tomorrow between two fleets led by admirals A and B, the result of which will leave one admiral victorious. Assuming the law of the excluded middle, then it is the case today that either A will win tomorrow, or A will lose tomorrow. Does this mean that the outcome tomorrow is not dependent on the actions of A and B today? No, of course not. The outcome is maybe determined, and maybe it is the case that admiral A will win, but that does not mean that admiral A can relax and not worry about the battle, because the outcome of the battle depends on his actions today,and there is no way that he can know in advance whether he will win or not. So whether the future is determined or not, admiral A MUST still behave as if the future was under his control and as if he has free will, because no matter what happens, the future depends on his actions today.

    MF :smile:

    My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.William James
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