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The Atemporal Determinism and Freewill paradox

  1. Oct 21, 2005 #1
    In the physical universe sequential time exists and is directional in that locally cause always precedes effect and that the past always precedes the present which always precedes the future. We experience time sequentially in that the future moment becomes the present moment which becomes the past We live, at least in effect if not actually, on a 3 dimensional plane that travels in one direction along the temporal axis so that we experience only Now with both the future and the past forever beyond our reach and experience. The past is forever lost to us with only memories of it left to us and the future is forever unknowable. We can make predictions about future events based on the past and present circumstances but these predictions can only be verified when it becomes the present. Time is also known to be relative to an observer and the relative velocity of the observed in that the faster the observed moves away from the observer then slower times appears to the observer to pass for the observer.

    If we assume that the physical universe is a part of, but not all of, a subset of reality, there is that which is not of the physical universe. There is ample evidence that this is true. It is, however, not scientific evidence as science deals only with the physical universe. That there is a universe that is not physical is dealt with by Philosophy, namely Metaphysics, beyond Physics.

    One of the commonly reported attributes of the of this metaphysical universe is that it is atemporal, i.e. timeless, eternal, in which there is only the present moment or as I refer to it as the One Eternal Moment. In this case eternal means without beginning and without ending. The past, present and future coexist in this one moment and are equally real in that the past was, is and always will be; the present always was, is and always will be; and, the future always was, is, and always will be.

    It is often concluded that since the past, present and future coexist and are real in the moment then the future must already be known and determined. This is Atemporal Determinism and often associated with religion specifically Judaism and Eastern religions and philosophies and also with revelation and enlightenment.

    In the Christian traditions, however, a paradox arises in that God granted us Freewill. Freewill is excluded in all forms of Determinism. How could we exercise freewill, defined here as the ability to choose between real alternatives without, free of, outside forces, compulsion or divine intervention, when the future is already known and has therefore been determined, exists and is real?

    This is a real problem for me philosophically because I know that the One Eternal Moment is real and I also know that reality is indeterministic and that Freewill exists and is real. I suppose that I should say that I believe or think that I know, but that is really saying the same thing isn't it? How can I rationalize or justify these two seemingly mutually exclusive paradigms? Well, being schizoid helps. I use two analogies to help me think about it.

    I think of atemporal reality existing as a big reel of film in which we are normally able to see and experience a little bit of it one frame at a time sequentially while the god head sees, experiences and knows the entire contents of the whole reel all at one time, atemporally, the eternal moment.

    The second analogy is that I am both a father and a grandfather and remember well my children and grandchildren learning to walk. I knew that they were going to fall and that sometimes when they fell they would get hurt. Yet I let them try and learn. When they fell and hurt themselves I would pick them up, hold and comfort them and when they were ready and strong enough to try again I would set them down to try again knowing that they were going to fall again and again until they learned to walk on there own. Then later it was the same when they were learning to ride a bike, drive a car, date and eventually get married and have children of their own.

    I knew that life is full of falls, pain and heartache. Yet I allowed my children to learn to walk, ride etc. because the only alternative was to attempt to keep them infants, totally dependant and crippled. It is the only way that they could learn, experience life for themselves and grow up to be strong people in their own right, standing on their own two feet.

    Could this be what the god head does. He knows what the future holds. He knows what has, is, and will be; yet, he lets us live, experience and learn as well as freely choose on our own. He already knows how and what we will choose and experience, where we will go wrong and right, where we will suffer pain and heartache, even death as a consequence of our choices. Yet to intervene, to make the world deterministic would keep us as infants, not allowing us to learn and grow and experience life ourselves. To make it merely an illusion or delusion would be no better.
    What would be the point? I strongly doubt that any rational, sane godhead would be nothing more than a voyeur, a sadistic one at that. This is one reason why Christians think of God as Our Father, knowing that this is but one aspect of God.

    There is a difference knowing and determining, between knowledge and determinism.
    Knowing is passive, letting it be, letting it happen. Whereas Determinism has a connotation
    of control, intervention, lack of choice, of Freewill. Yes the future exists and is known. Our lives, our free choices are already contained within that existing future. The results of every roll of dice is already known to the god head but it is not determined. God does play dice; but, he doesn't cheat. He knows; but, he does not intervene in the natuaral course of events except where necessary.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 22, 2005 #2
    very good Royce...

    ...you just paraphrased the parable of Adam and Eve

    live in an atemporal predetermined state of godliness or accept the choice of freewill embodied in the fruit...

    ...in that instance lucifer was acting entirely in God's will for secretly God didn't wish to have another race of subservient near perfect angels who didn't know any better but to worship him

    God wanted a race who would evolve to a state of equality with him...

    ...and so we will
  4. Oct 22, 2005 #3
    Thank you. That's quite a leap from atemporal determinism to the Adam and Eve parable then to Lucifer.

    I wouldn't have put it quite those words but agree with all that you said except for a view words. I doubt that God does or wants anything secretly. I also believe that Lucifer always acts according to God will.

    Neither a plow shear nor a sword can be made without repeated heating and hammering.
  5. Oct 23, 2005 #4
    Not so. Compatibilism is the belief that free will is compatible with determinism.
    It all depends on what one means by “free will”.
    Forces “outside” of what? Where is the boundary between “outside” and “inside”?
    Is this boundary fixed for all time?
    How do you “know” this?
    How do you “know” this?
    I think you have put your finger on one of the reasons why many people believe in God – as a father substitute – and I do not mean this with any disrespect.
    In other words, is determined.
    In other words, is determined.
    This contradicts your previous statements.
    How can something be “already contained within that existing future” yet “not determined”?
    Either “tomorrow’s events are already fixed” or they are not.
    Which is it?
    With respect,
  6. Oct 23, 2005 #5
    I consider Determinism and Comptibilism to be two different philosophies
    I suppose you would call this paper one of compatiblism. I wouldn't because as I tried to point out I think that there is a difference between being known and being determined or deterministic.

    Outside of self, other than self will.

    So long as there is a self that has freewill the boundary is fixed.

    Meditation, revelation, enlightenment. Recalling what I have always known. Call it what you will

    I disagree with your choice of phrase "father substitute" the fatherly aspect of God is but one of the attributes attributed to the god head.

    No, not determined. Determined has a connotation of force, compulsion, intervention, lack of freedom or choice,
    Known on the other hand is passive with no force, compulsion or intervention.

    It depends on your meaning of determined. To me, as I have said here and the original post of this thread, "determined" and "known" have different meanings and different implications.
  7. Oct 23, 2005 #6
    of course this is all hypothetical and based on a parable :wink:

    but don't you think secretly God wanted Adam and Eve to eat the fruit otherwise he wouldn't have made the choice of free will available...

    ...or that God does things in secret which we have yet to find out

    and yeah lucifer reminds me of slugworth working for wonka keeping secrets from charlie as a test of his character...

    ...Do you think you could remove God from the parable and just have a moral choice with consequences of actions or inactions ???
  8. Oct 23, 2005 #7
    dubmugga, I think that this line is too religious to depate hear at PF and if we do the thread will be locked down. My answer to all is , No.
  9. Oct 24, 2005 #8
    You may disagree with this, if so what do you consider Compatibilism to be?
    Your original statement was “free will is excluded in all forms of determinism”
    Compatibilism is the thesis that “free will is compatible with determinism”
    Surely both statements cannot be true?
    Which one would you say is false?
    Doesn’t the “self” learn by acquiring new information and knowledge as the agent grows and develops? Surely this new information then becomes part of the self, therefore the boundaries of the self are changing with time?
    OK. With respect, one should then strictly say that “one believes that one knows” (sorry if it seems like nit-picking, but “to know” is a very confusing an emotive verb – it could mean “to know infallibly”, which is not what I think you mean here).
    I did say quite clearly “one of the reasons” – I did not say the only reason. Therefore I believe we agree.
    Thought experiment
    If I know infallibly on November 5th that the following statement is true :
    “Royce has an egg for breakfast on November 6th “
    Is it then possible for Royce to choose not to have an egg for breakfast on November 6th?
    If you mean what I think you mean by free will, then it must be possible for you to choose not to have an egg for breakfast on November 6th. But if you do this, then the statement “Royce has an egg for breakfast on November 6th “ is false, which means that my “infallible knowledge” on November 5th was not in fact infallible.
    What do you think?
    With respect
  10. Oct 24, 2005 #9
    If compatibilism is a form of determinism then my statement is false. However, if Compatibilism is not a form of determinism then my statement is true. Take your choice. You have the freewill to make up your own mind.
    It doesn't matter the point is totally insignificant anyway as are your comments about it.

    There is still self and that which is not self or outside of self. My statement stands, so log as there is a self the boundary between self and outside of self stands and is fixed. That both self and outside self are evolving and changing has nothing to do with the boundary.

    I do wish that you would read the posts before making comments I said;
    "I suppose that I should say that I believe or think that I know,"

    Again read the post. The term that I disagreed with was "father substitute"
    God is not a father substitute but the Heavenly Father in most Christian belief systems.

    Thought experiment
    If I know infallibly on November 5th that the following statement is true :
    “Royce has an egg for breakfast on November 6th “
    Is it then possible for Royce to choose not to have an egg for breakfast on November 6th?
    If you mean what I think you mean by free will, then it must be possible for you to choose not to have an egg for breakfast on November 6th. But if you do this, then the statement “Royce has an egg for breakfast on November 6th “ is false, which means that my “infallible knowledge” on November 5th was not in fact infallible.
    What do you think?
    With respect

    By the terms of hard or firm determinism then, no, I would not have a choice and I would be compelled by fate or whatever to have an egg. However under atemporal indeterminism such a statements could not be true. The statement that you could make is that you know infallibly that I will choose to have an egg. If the statement were true then I would indeed choose to have an egg. Do you see the difference? Its not all that hard. Its just a different way of looking at it.
  11. Oct 24, 2005 #10
    Help me out here, please.
    Let us assume atemporal determinism.
    Are you saying that under atemporal determinism is it not possible for me to know infallibly on November 5th that the following statement is true : “Royce has an egg for breakfast on November 6th “?

  12. Oct 24, 2005 #11
    No I'm not say that that at all. If you were God or received a vision from God
    you would know and could rightfully say that I have and egg for breakfast on Nov. 6Th.

    The point is, why do I have that egg. Was it because it was already known, determined; therefore, I was compelled to have that egg; or, was it because of cause and effect that I was force to have that egg because of previous causes; or, was it because I, as an agent of free will, freely choose to have that egg and you as God or as a seer knew that I chose to have an egg and indeed did actually have it?
  13. Oct 25, 2005 #12
    Can we explore that last possibility?

    Let us assume that at 09:00 on November 5th it is possible for an entity (call the entity God if you wish, but for the sake of this debate it need not be God) to "know infallibly" that the following statement is true : "Royce has an egg for breakfast on November 6th".

    Are you saying that, from that moment (09:00 on November 5th) on, Royce has the freedom to choose whether or not he will have an egg for breakfast on November 6th?

    If this is not what you are saying, can you explain in more detail?



    (I guess what we are getting at here is "is epistemic determinism true or false?")
  14. Oct 25, 2005 #13
    In atemporal determinism it is eternally known that I will have an egg for breakfast on Nov. 6Th. The atemporal entity(s) that would know this would eternally know it not just on 09:00 November 5Th. For them such a temporal term is meaningless. Presumably, they would also know that the reason that I have an egg then is that I choose to.

    The logical necessity that the entity would know this eternally is that there is only the eternal moment and all that is and all that happens is in that eternal moments. It follows then that all is eternal. Trying to go from temporal to atemporal is virtually impossible for us temporal beings. No matter how hard we try we keeping slipping back into temporal thinking and views. Our languages don't help any ether. Necessarily we can use only the present tense to speak of anything and everything is and happens.

    The term "epistemic determinism" has know meaning to me. Can you explain?
  15. Oct 25, 2005 #14
    Presumably it would not be possible for the atemporal entity to impart that knowledge to you? Would this be a correct assumption?
    (why? if the entity DID impart that knowledge to you, on Nov 5th, you would then know yourself that you would have an egg for breakfast the following morning - in which case would you then still be able to choose not to have an egg for breakfast on the 6th?)
    Could the atemporal entity impart that knowledge to anyone else on the 5th? For example, to your neighbour? Then your neighbour would know (infallibly) on Nov 5th that you would have an egg for breakfast on Nov 6th. In that case, would you still be able to choose not to have an egg for breakfast on Nov 6th?
    Does that mean that communication between temporal beings and atemporal beings is impossible?
    Yes, a post of mine some while back gives a brief intro :

    see also

    Last edited: Oct 25, 2005
  16. Oct 25, 2005 #15
    You are setting up a logical contradiction. - If it is known that I have an egg then how can it be known that I will not have an egg. The situation does not compel, force or cause me to have an egg or not. The knowledge that I will choose or not choose to have an egg will be whatever really happens regardless of how many logical loops and contradictions you try to hide in the description. Are you trying to be cleaver or are you really that confused?

    It is not the so called fore-knowledge that forces or limits the issue or choice it is the actual (to us, the eventual) choice that determines the knowledge which is atemporal just as the event itself is. It is not foreknowledge. It is knowledge of what is happening in the moment.

    You are insisting (knowingly or not) to put the cart before the horse; trying to make the knowledge to be the cause and determining factor of the event rather than the knowledge being the result of the event. It doesn't work that way, not even in the temporal physical word.

    This is not true reasoning, but trying to force the logic to conform to your deterministic mind set and trying, operantly at least, to trap me into admitting that you are correct or that the situations is deterministic. I consider this dishonest or at least not sincere reasoning or discussion.
  17. Oct 28, 2005 #16
    I am asking reasonable and polite questions in an attempt to understand some of the implications of what you are suggesting, and you seem to be avoiding answering them by resorting to personal attack and insults. Shame on you, Royce. Perhaps you are the one who is confused?
    By the way, clever is spelled c-l-e-v-e-r.
    I am not suggesting that foreknowledge forces anything – you are reading things into my questions which are not there. I am trying to understand your ideas by asking questions about them. You seem to think this is an attack on you personally, and your reaction is to irrationally insult me and accuse me of entrapment, dishonesty, insincerity, etc
    Can you simply answer the polite and reasonable questions that I put in my previous post, instead of trying to be clever by attacking imagined arguments which are not there, and throwing out insults in a kind of emotional knee-jerk defence? If all you wish to do is to play the silly game of “I will avoid your questions at all costs” then this discussion is a waste of time.

    I’ll try the questions again :

    Presumably it would not be possible for the atemporal entity to impart that knowledge to you? Would this be a correct assumption?

    Could the atemporal entity impart that knowledge to anyone else on the 5th? For example, to your neighbour?

    Then your neighbour would know (infallibly) on Nov 5th that you would have an egg for breakfast on Nov 6th. In that case, would you still be able to choose not to have an egg for breakfast on Nov 6th?

    Can you / will you answer them now, or will you resort once again to evasion and petty insults?

    With respect

  18. Oct 28, 2005 #17
    I don't know. If the atemporal entity is God then I think that he would be able to.

    Again, I don't know.

    Again this is a logical contradiction. Yes I would be able to choose not to have and egg for breakfast on Nov, 6th; but, then my neighbor would not have known (infallibly or not) on Nov. 5th or any other time that I would have and egg for breakfast on Nov. 6th.

    I have answered them as best I can. I was not intentionally insulting you or avoiding the questions. I could not and still don't believe that you set up a contradictory, impossible situation by accident or out of ignorance. That is why I asked if you were trying to be clever or were you confused. If apologies are due then I apologize. Don't be so sensitive. There is nothing personal here. I have found that people get most indignant when they are accused of doing exactly that which they are actually doing.

    Part of the problem with your scenario is that you are mixing an atemporal situation with a temporal situation. Nov 5th and Nov 6th have no atemporal meaning and occur in the same moment that I decide to have the egg so there can be no contradiction. The knowledge that I have or don't choose to have and egg occur in the same moment as the choice. It is a simultaneous observation not a prediction.
  19. Oct 28, 2005 #18
    What you guys seem to be talking about is Hawking's Consistent Histories theorem.

    If some atemporal entity observes you having an egg on the 6th and tells you you will do so on the 5th, then the 'you' he observed on the 6th had already been told on the 5th. There is no difference between the 'you' that will eat the egg on the 6th and the 'you' that is eating the egg on the 6th. This is where your argument is lacking: you are missing the point that the entity telling you on the 5th does not change anything.

    So to be told you will eat an egg on the 6th means you, on the 6th, knew that you were expected to eat the egg but did so anyway - otherwise the situation would not arise. So you can't know you will eat the egg on the 6th and then not eat it (you can be given incorrect or misleading information though). This isn't so much a case of lack of free will - more a limitation upon the circumstances under which this hypothetical atemporal entity will give you prior knowledge: only those circumstances under which you will choose to do what you were told you would do.

    And since we are contrary, curious folk, you can predict from this that such an entity, even if it existed, would not be able to provide such foresight with any accuracy. That is, an honest, omniscient, atemporal entity will probably keep his or her trap shut.
  20. Oct 28, 2005 #19
    EHI, The point is that there are no such things as predictions or fore-knowledge in the atemporal reality. As I pointed out above in my last post,
    The event and knowledge are simultaneous in the One Moment. Whether I choose to have an egg or not is an observation of reality as it occurs. Informing us of that knowledge before it happens in our temporal realm, if it can actually happen, in principle, it is made possible only because of the transition from atemporal where the past, present and future all exist in the same moment, to our temporal realm where they are separated and we only experience the present moment.

    Time even in the physical universe is relative and effect can appear to proceed cause from one observer to another if their time cones are tilted due to gravity.
  21. Oct 29, 2005 #20
    Free will doesn't always determine events even if it does exist. Royce could be tricked into eating an egg for breakfast, or eat one while sleep walking, or be force fed an egg for breakfast by his children, or choose not to have an egg and then forget himself, or eat an egg in his egg sandwhich without making the connection etc...
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2005
  22. Oct 29, 2005 #21
    events preced other events and have a direct bearing on each subsequent event...

    ...a best case scenario would be that the universe/omniscient entity or whatever has already calculated the probability of whether you will eat that egg on the 6th from the time of your conception to 99.9% recurring

    free will means you can choose not to in which case someone else will definitely eat that egg cos in the grand scheme of things it matters little who eats the egg as along as someone did...

    ...besides i think the omniscient entity has that random uncertainty factor in it's knowledge that it put there just to keep things interesting for itself otherwise being omniscient and omnipotent would be extermely boring especially if you were atemporal as well

    chaos has a sense of humour and it's called order...
  23. Nov 1, 2005 #22
    In the physical universe with space time, yes; however, in the atemporal or timeless realm of reality, no. There is no precedence or subsequence. Everything happens in the one eternal moment.

    I know that it is hard to get our minds to think only in the present tense, in the moment as we are temporal beings. Our language, our thinking and everything see observe and experience is in sequential time. Try suspending your temporal thinking as you suspend your beliefs while reading a book or watching a movie. In the atemporal realm there is only NOW and all that has happened, is happening and will happen is happening in that NOW.

    The universal consciousness/omniscient entity doesn't have to calculate anything. He/She/It experiences, knows all that has, does and will happen.
    Whatever happens with this now proverbial egg has already happened, been observed and experiences and is known. It is already contained in what we would call the future history of the physical universe.

    I agree completely.

    Well put.
  24. Nov 1, 2005 #23
    I was addressing the implications for free will when:
    Not true, I'd say. If event A is seen to precede event B in one frame, but event B precedes event A in another, then in a third frame they can be observed simultaneously. No event can be the cause or effect of another when the events are observed simultaneously in such a frame, therefore it is not the cause or effect in any other frame.
  25. Nov 1, 2005 #24
    "The Nature of Space and Time" by Hawking and Penrose also I think addressed in "A Brief History of Time" by Hawking. Time is relative to the observer. What locally is a normal cause-effect event can be seen by another observer as simultaneous or by another as being reversed in time where effect precedes cause.
  26. Nov 1, 2005 #25
    No - like I said, if two events can be seen as simultaneous in a given frame (which means one can precede the other in another frame, and vice versa in yet another) then the one event cannot be the cause or the effect of the other.

    This is because whatever the chosen frame, the observed spatial separation between the events will always be too great for information to pass from one event to other in the observed time difference.

    Any event A that causes event B cannot be observed in any frame to be simultaneous with event B. This is called locality.
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