Do we actually have free will?

IlluminatingBikr

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This is kind of deep, and I'm not sure you will understand what I am saying, but I'm going to give it a try.

I am currently taking biology at school right now. We talk about how cells work, and about all of the different parts. The way we talk about them, it seems they are intelligent, but basically they are just chemical reactions... like a computer program that has its limits and operating parameters.

I know people can decide things for themselves, and have the ability to say no. But aren't we just a bunch of chemicals and atoms that all follow certain laws?

Say you are going for a joy ride, and you can either turn left or right. Neither going to the left, nor the right, has any implications that are different than the other. So here you can "decide" which way you will turn. But your brain is wired in a such a way, that it outputs either the left or right. And is that really your free will, or is it somewhat predetermined?

Aside:
Say your playing pool, and you are an absolutely brilliant physicist. You have a robot hitting the ball for you. If you can account for all the variables (frictions, weights, wind speed, forces, etc.) you can tell the robot exactly how to hit the cue ball, and everything that happens after that is predetermined.

Say god is the physicist with his robot. God hits the cue ball, and everything else from then on is set to happen.

So do you get what I am saying? Do you think that we have free will, or things are more a chain of events?
 

Ken_McE

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If we were just running along on rails like a train, what would be the point of awareness? Instinct would be all we'd need.

It's like the problem of what is light. Is it a particle or a wave? We have piles of theory and observation, but at a deep level we do not understand what is going on. We don't know enough about consciousness or will to answer either way.
 

theepdinker

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I believe we have the ability to choose to do as we please.

Social training, personal experiences & knowing the difference between right and wrong will be factored into the choice.
As will whether the outcome of a given option is unacceptable to the decision maker.

Theepdinker
 

J_Oei

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Oh, no!!! Echoes of my past Systematic Theology teachers ringing in my head! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/banghead.gif

Sovereignty of God vs. Accountability of Man
I could probably expound on this for the next year, but it comes down to a simple question:

Who is responsible for a man's sin?
If God has 'wired' a person to perform a certain action ( or if he has no free will, or God has ordained it ) the action clearly is not the person's fault. Ergo, he cannot be held culpable for his sin.

Since the Bible is *very* clear that you are accountable for your sins, you must me a "free moral agent" to be able to held morally responsible.

Read Jonathan Edwards/RC Sproul for the Sovereignty side
and Hodges/Geisler for the other. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/Christo_pull_hair.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/Christo_pull_hair.gif
 

DarkLight

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I think an easy answer to this is McDonalds, some days you pull into the drive through, some days you don't.

If you were hard wired you would pull in to one every day, or never..


YOU MAKE the choice to go.

Free will is what separates man from the beasts.

Among other things.
 

roguesoul

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We have the illusion of choice. Our brain chemistry, genetics and how we were raised among other factors such as our personal circumstances and laws imposed upon us etc... predispose us to act the way we do as individuals.

Turning left or right at that fork in the road is not a black-or- white choice.

You can change your own reality but only in the context of other peoples choices for their reality and how those choices have an influence you.

I would say yes we have free will.
 

matt_j

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Well our actions are predictable due to rules and regulations of the society we live in. Also it is expected of you to behave certain way. Yes you have a free will to walk around naked but you would not do it because it will not be proper and you will get arrested. On the basic level we make basic choices sort of by the way of an autopilot stuff where for example we will choose the shortest and the same route over and over again. Nothing stops you from taking a longer way home but why?

I guess sometimes your choices are made out of convenience, sometimes because of the rules and other time because you want to fit in. You playing pool have one object in mind and that is to get the ball into the pocket and win. Why waste a shot and go crazy? But assume for a second that you don't know the object of the game. What would you do than?

We have free will but we also have obligations that bound us. We are all free yet imprisoned by our own inventions and conveniences.
 

Lynx_Arc

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Sometime I think we don't have free will, but rather EXPENSIVE will as our desires to do as we wish impact others wills to the point it sometimes doesn't give them a chance to excersize theirs successfully. My take on God vs Man in the free will department is this: God gives us maximum free will within the confines of his plan for us and everyone on here. He is in control of our lives more when we ask for it and less or nearly none at all when we essentially do not want him to. If you do not believe in a soul or spirit then free will is a tough thing to figure out as instinct ends up taking precedence over will. Those that believe beyond the physical body realm have an easier time to accept us having a will and religion kicks in to explain it,...... or your free will in accepting the precepts of a religions explanation of free will.
 

Kiessling

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Aaron ... a good question, and I doubt it will be answered here since countless generations of philosophers failed.

But ... does it really matter?

bernhard
 

Pydpiper

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[ QUOTE ]
Sub_Umbra said:
I tried to stop myself from posting on this thread -- but I couldn't.

[/ QUOTE ]
That makes two of us..
 

McGizmo

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If I may,
Think of yourself swimming in a gigantic river that is moving much faster than you can swim. You can swim or not swim and in any direction you choose. Should you make contact with any islands or the shore, much of this will be dependent on the swimming you have done. From an areial view, your movement of choice relative to the movement caused by the currents you are in may appear to be of little significance. At some point, the river will become a waterfall, a ride we can anticipate, accept as inevitable, but not really know what happens. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

At another level, I would say that our will is not free but comes at a cost both to ourselves and others. We should use it wisely.

At yet another level, ( /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/nana.gif ), free will is predicated on the time-space continuium and the notion that there is a "future" time in which we can direct our course in reaching. I suspect that some of the quantum physicisists may tell us that from some point of reference our lives are frozen from beginning to end for all eternity and yet from some other point of reference the next 10 seconds will never come. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon15.gif

Now, you have asked a question that many have asked. I would propose that mans mind and certainly that which we take as rational human thought is incapable of omnisicience as well as fathoming anything that is not some sort of dichotomy and yet we are told by mathmaticians and I think folks of the spiritual that there are significant singularities and real, non dualities; a oneness as it were. There is much that is real that we can not perceive or ken. I think we are capable of posing legitimate questions of which legitimate answers will never be known to us; at least in our conscious and "alive" state. I suggest that your question is one of these.

My qualifications are 52 years, on planet, blind and clueless; admittedly defficient. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon15.gif
 

LightChucker

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(OK, because I have put a lot of thought into this type of question over my lifetime, I am going to nibble on this one just a little bit.)

Aaron,

Years ago, I struggled with this same problem; that is, cells simply react to chemical stimuli, so life must be more-or-less a mechanical thing. Based on what they were teaching us back then (sounds like they are still doing it), that was the only conclusion I could come to, but then I did some research on my own. I discovered a few things that they were leaving out of the lesson material. Here is just one of many questions I went searching for:

Teacher: why is it that once a cell has died we can't "jump-start it" back to life again?

After all, automobile engines work that way. If you deprive a "living" engine of fuel or oxygen or electric current, it will "die". Not to worry, all we have to do is provide some fuel and give it a spin, and back to life it comes -a "mechanical resurrection"! That is a good example of the type of chemical reaction you were speaking of when you said, "The way we talk about them, it seems they are intelligent, but basically they are just chemical reactions..." If this were true of life, we should be able to resurrect a cell once it has died.

For example, imagine taking one living cell from any living thing, or even a single-celled-life-form – such as an amoeba. Deprive it of something simple that it needs to continue living – food, oxygen, or whatever; just don't do it any physical harm. (That is, don't smash it with a hammer.) We want all those little parts in good working order just like with the automobile engine.

Now imagine that once the cell has died, you examine it under a microscope just to make sure that all its little parts are still there and still in tact. If life was simply a chemical reaction, we should be able to re-supply that which we withheld before – maybe even give it a little jolt of electric current – and all its little parts should start working again. I mean, after all, here we have all those parts in perfect working order, so we should be able to resurrect it the way we resurrected the automobile engine.

It took me a long time to answer that one. Take your time. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thinking.gif

Chuck
 

McGizmo

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Chuck,
Not only do I think there is some "spark" of life but also an independent system of energy, the spirit or soul or identity that is also integrated with a living life form. I believe the system can run without this identity present and this is sometimes seen in very ill or injured folks as well possibly in some infants (real thin ice here). It may be that some cases of SID's is due to no "I" ever taking posession. This is an innocent aside comment that is poorly articulated and could well lead this thread to the underground! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon15.gif Regardless, how the system works or of what it may be compromised, is there free will?

Now that I am out there, I think God is the antithisis of entropy and I can't imagine anyone looking at life and procreation and birth of a plant, animal, insect or human and not considering the fact that there is something well beyond simple or complex chemical reactions (which I believe leave the system in a less organized structure).

If I may use an analogy, a rat may learn all it needs to know about its maze or our dog may learn all he needs to know about our house and where the food is and where the doors are and how to navigate even if blindness were to occur but neither the rat or the dog know how the maze or house were constructed, how to change them or even question their construct or existance. I firmly believe we are similarly limited and the limitations themselves preclude us from awareness beyond.
 

DarkLight

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I dont think we are limited as you say.

I believe most of us are self-limiting in one way or another or several.

The natural man cannot understand the spiritual world, those things are foolishness to him.
 

IlluminatingBikr

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Kiessling,

No, it doesn't really matter. That's not the point though. Does it really matter if it rains tomorrow or not? No, but I still check the weather channel every now and then.

LightChucker,

You bring up a very intriguing point that I had not previously thought of. It gives me hope that there is more than what I am seeing.

We are born with DNA. From then on, the people around us alter who we are, as well as our own DNA. Your DNA does not directly define who we are, but rather what we are. I believe though, that DNA can, indirectly, define who we are.

And the way other people act too, is partly because of their DNA.

The other part is what has happened to you in your life. Big things, like losing a parent, being molested, abused, etc., make huge marks on who you are. But even smaller things too I believe, can make marks on who you are, but they are smaller.

So besides DNA and personal experiences (which I think is a ripple from DNA), what defines our thoughts, our actions, and us?

If you do something that isn't "mainstream" or what we seem to be the logical course of action, it is probably because of your DNA or personal experience.

I cannot alter my DNA, and nor can I my actions. Even if I could alter my DNA, I have to wonder if my DNA, and the influences on me, would determine if I would take that window of opportunity or not.

Perhaps what makes life different than machinery, is the DNA and the actions that it brings. If you are out of operation for a period of time (dead), you cannot be brought back to life, that could be possibly because of a problem in the cycle of life. Your memories are forgotten, and thus what makes you "alive" is gone.


I'm not really saying anybody is right or wrong here, or that things happen in a certain way. I am only trying to share my thoughts with you, in that the hope you will share yours with me, so I can think about this further. This topic intrigues me, and brings about a lot of questions. One of which is should people be held accountable for their actions, or are they just a result of their DNA/personal experiences. To that I must say yes, we should hold them accountable, in the hopes of altering who they are and their personal experiences, so that that person will conform with we others define as proper behavior.
 

McGizmo

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Darklight,
Agreed that we are self limiting for reasons of self preservation but these limits are "movable". As to a capacity to perceive beyond our perceptions, certainly tools of science have given us perceptions that we could not have otherwise. The limits of science are to some extent based on the limits of those who pursue science and the tools made as a result. Is kurlian (sp) photography still accepted to some extent or was it debunked? If still "allowed" it may shed some light on this discussion. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

edited for some typing errors; the spelling ones are beyond me.
 

LightChucker

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[ QUOTE ]
McGizmo said:
...I think God is the antithisis of entropy

[/ QUOTE ]

Don, I absolutely agree with you. Furthermore, I like the concise way that you said it.

As I understand it, the universe is in a constant state of decay, and it is always moving toward disorder (entropy). This means that left alone, all energy in the universe will eventually "burn up and blow away". That also means that to achieve any higher state of order would require a large infusion of energy. (Think about how much energy it requires to produce a seed.) Even the simplest form of life must have required an incredible amount of energy to create.

Chuck
 
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