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Our Actions Are Predetermined

  1. Dec 11, 2003 #1
    The big bang created every particle in existance. The movement of these particles was dictated by the big bang. They moved and collided with one-another based on their original vectors, and created new vectors and new particles. On the large scale, galaxies were formed, and they interacted with one-another based on the physical laws set forth. Following the big bang, more and more variables were created (variables meaning a particle, or molecule or solar system...anything in existance), but they can all be traced back to the big bang by looking at the preceding variable, and the one before it, and before it, etc. You can follow the movement of matter and energy all the way down to the creation of earth and the dawn of human civilization. At this point there are billions of different variables in existance, earth and everything on it being a few of those, and all of those billions of variables are colliding to make new ones.

    To put this into context: we are here as a result of our parents, their parents before them etc. We have the talents we do, due to our genetic makeup, places we have been, things we have done etc. These were all due to preceding variables. We think the thoughts we do, because of a combined number of variables preceding the thoughts. Think about it like nuclear fission: one particle goes to make 2 more. Each of those make 2 more etc. but each one can be traced back to the original particle by looking at the previous fission. Does this not seem to dictate that all events have unfolded in a mathematical way, defined by the big bang? Does this not also seem to dictate that the future must follow this same complex mathematical equation? Therefore, are all things not predetermined?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 12, 2003 #2
    Yes in a way things are predetermined.

    However, living things have the special innate ability to think and choose and with this variable involved, it is possible to alter the predetermined future.

    However, I said things are predetermined in a way because many living things with the innate ability to think does not realise that ability in their lifetime and so they follow set paths determined by the pre-variables.

    Well its damn difficult to change the future anyway because so many factors are involved.

    Interesting question you have there.
     
  4. Dec 12, 2003 #3
    Well, you make a good point, Oblivion. But, what about the Uncertainty principle? If we are speaking in purely scientific terms, as per current theory on the subject, there were no completely determined actions, on the part of fundamental particles, at the moment of the big bang (nor have there been since).
     
  5. Dec 14, 2003 #4
    These are nothing but the cold, dark, intellectual reasonings which occur during winter. But what happens when the sun reemerges in the spring, and we begin to "feel" a renewed vitality in all that life has to offer? Are we bound by determinism at this point?

    Indeed, there's quite a contrast between the two states, and yet it's the very contrast that exists between the way we think and the way we feel ... Where our thoughts have a sense of orderliness and determinism about them, and our feelings can become quite volitile, indeed.

    So, is there some way that we can strike an accord between the two? Or, do we continute to insist that it must be one or the other?
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2003
  6. Dec 14, 2003 #5
    Of course you could say that "In Augutst 14, 2045, at 4:12:24 eastern time the moon will be in position x" due to several calculations, but what if some lunatic decides to blow up the moon? Are you saying that there would be some way, if you could compute the huge amount of variables in the entire universe that you could predict the actions of all humans? Are you saying that due to the movement of particles released during the big bang that a dog chased it's own tail?
     
  7. Dec 14, 2003 #6
    In short, yes. We could never see the infinite variables, nor could we predict how they will interact, but things all already have a set path. Even these people with the innate ability to think past this, as you call it, would only be reinforcing it, as this ability was gained through the endless mathematical proceedure that rules the universe. think of it this way, If I were to roll five balls on a pool table, the way they would interact is determined by their speed, acceleration, and vector. we could predict the outcome, but only with a complete understanding of all forces and objects involved. the universe is much the same, only with a near infinite number of balls, working under laws that we do not fully understand. so yes, if someone nuked the moon, and this threw your equation, it was not because the world was not predetermined, it is just because you did not account for the man pointing his homemade nuke at the moon.
     
  8. Dec 14, 2003 #7
    What if you subscribe to the many worlds theory?
     
  9. Dec 14, 2003 #8
    Damnit, some mod needs to move this to the skepticism/debunking forum, I know there's a good reason why all our actions aren't predetermined by the inertia of some particles 15 billion years ago, and I'm sure someone can think of some way to prove it.

    It makes logical sense to me, but there's some part of my brain that just rejects it totally.
     
  10. Dec 15, 2003 #9
    Consciousness ... It doesn't exist in the past or in the future, but in the present. And this is where we decide how we're going to get on with the rest of our lives.

    Life is always being reborn, and with each "conscious moment" comes a new beginning.

    It's just like they say, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life."
     
  11. Dec 15, 2003 #10
    Again I ask, what about Uncertainty? Quantum Mechanics requires the Uncertainty principle, and that principle allows for some cases of pure randomness...ergo, you could (in principle) calculate everything in the Universe to a very good level of accuracy, and thus make predictions that are almost always accurate; but you could never (not even in principle) calculate, to a complete level of accuracy, the behavior of subatomic particles (in fact, the more precise you try to measure one aspect, the less precise your measurements will be on another aspect), and thus there's always the chance (note: "chance"; probability...which is undetermined) that the guy did send a nuke up toward the moon, but the nuke disappeared and reappeared on Mars (the chances are unbelievably negligible, but they exist).
     
  12. Dec 15, 2003 #11
    What I was originally getting at Mentat, is that if you knew every variable in play and the mathematical equation that describes each of them, there would be no more uncertainty, in any aspect. However, due to the fact that we do not know this equation, uncertainty continues to exist in almost every system and every scenario.
     
  13. Dec 15, 2003 #12
    Heh, very interesting. Seems logical too- mostly. What Oblivion is trying to say is that since all physical systems are governed by the laws of physics, if we knew everything about every piece of energy in the universe (at any time in the past) we could predict the entire future into infinity. Naturally we cannot know all of these variables, but the idea he is getting at is that they DO exist and thus everything is preditermined.

    About the arguments set forth that free will can alter this preditermined universe (such as the example with the moon being destroyed)... Living things are made up of particles and energy that is subject to the same laws of physics as the particles and energy in nonliving things. Every thought in an organism's mind, every action it takes, are determined by a pattern of electrons and/or proteins in the organism's brain. Electrons (and proteins, since they are molecules) are subject to the laws of physics- therefore every thought and action that occurs is determined by the dynamics of every other thing in the universe- all the variables. So thoughts and actions are preditermined as well.

    This all seems very logical. However, there is the Uncertainty principle. For those who aren't familiar with it, it essentially says (this is very basic and approximate, but it is the general importance of the principle) that some things are true random. You cannot know the position and velocity of a particle at the same time. This isn't due to any lack of data, such as in dice rolling, it is simply that these variables don't exist, there IS a true element of random. To clarify: If you roll a die on a table, we say the outcome is "random" and subject to the laws of probability. There is a 1/6 probability you will roll a 1, 1/6 that you will roll a 2, 1/6 that you will roll a 3, and so on. However, that is only due to lack of data; if we knew the position, temperature, etc of every atom and every subatomic particle in the table and the die as well as the velocity and angle we threw the die at and the strength of the gravitational field of the earth, we could predict with perfect accuracy the number our roll would come up with. The uncertainty principle isn't like that though. According to it, the outcome truly IS random, truly is unknowable; there are no unknown variables that would render the outcome predictable.

    For this reason (and I'm sure there are other logical arguments, although I am not aware of them) the universe's future cannot be preordained, cannot be predicted. Assuming, of course, that our physics are correct- which they appear to be at the current time.
     
  14. Dec 16, 2003 #13
    This still doesn't work. According to QM, the probability is the reality. Thus, you might get to know every variable, but you could never solve the whole thing, since solving one aspect to a greater level of accuracy lessens the level of accuracy with which you can solve another aspect.
     
  15. Dec 21, 2003 #14
    I've addressed this question many times before:

    The question is essentially phrased like this:
    "If we knew every variable in the universe, we could predict the future, therefore our actions are predetermined".

    I'll keep my answer short and sweet...

    1. I dont see how predicting the future implies all actions are ascribed before they occur (i.e. predetermined).

    2. Humans possess a quality that allows them to make decisions at their own accord (i.e. Free Will).

    3. See Compatibilism. Compatibilism states that given the same inner and outer circumstances, the situation will unfold yielding the same scenario. However, Compatibilism states that it is hypothetically possible that a person will have chosen different given that the inner or outer circumstances were different, this is how determinism and Free Will are compatible.

    4. The "variables" involving the universe around us and cognition are not comparable, the systems involved are not the same. The Laws of Physics are inappropriate for describing Cognition. Your variables suddenly start to take on values that look like questionmarks. So its not even possible to know all the "variables".
     
  16. Dec 23, 2003 #15


    Well, if one can predict the future, then that means that there is a certain way that the future was definitely going to turn out, right?

    How do you know that?

    What are "inner and outer circumstances"? and what happens if someone knows both?

    That's a rather anti-scientific claim. I don't know if that was your intention, but most scientists believe that all physical phenomena can be explained scientifically.
     
  17. Dec 23, 2003 #16
    Maybe he's from the church of scientology. Anyone seen the movie Pi?

    Theres one side of this you could look at. If you say that the future isnt predictable,but god should definatly in his 'infinite wisdom' know 'all' the variables then would he be able to tell what the future holds?

    Psychologically for me i dont have as much of a problem admitting that some higher being might know whats in store but for us to start debating that our mere flesh can comprehend what only god can see...?

    lol doesnt really help the debate, actually makes it worse

    MythioS
     
  18. Jan 1, 2004 #17

    Another God

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    This thread is right where it belongs.

    Quantum Physics doesn't refute Determinism in any way.

    to be determined, or to not be determined is still a philosophical discussion.
     
  19. Jan 2, 2004 #18
    I only mentioned Quantum Physics because Oblivion seemed to think that science could discover a determined nature of the Universe. In the realm of science, the Universe cannot be deterministic. In the realm of philosophy, it can be whatever, and probably is.
     
  20. Jan 2, 2004 #19

    Another God

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    science is within the realm of philosophy
     
  21. Jan 2, 2004 #20
    Philosophy is coming to conclusions through reason. Science is coming to conclusions through observation. Art is coming to conclusions through creativity.
     
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