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Question about free will 
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Post Question about free will
Would it be logically possible for an omnipotent Creator to create Beings that always freely chooses good?


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Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:10 pm
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Post Re: Question about free will
ant wrote:
Would it be logically possible for an omnipotent Creator to create Beings that always freely chooses good?

Hi Ant. What an interesting fellow you are!

What is good? The Stoics held that what ever happens is always good by definition. If we don't agree with the Stoics, we need another definition of good, such as conducive to human flourishing.

Freedom involves the power to choose actions that are destructive and harmful and bad, things we routinely castigate as evil.

The flip side of freedom is responsibility. If you make a decision of your own free will, you are responsible for that decision and its consequences. While ever people make decisions based on partial information, they will freely make bad decisions.

'Logical possibility' is not just an arbitrary matter for speculation, but really should be framed within the laws of physics operating in our universe. It is not imaginable that entities could always possess perfect information for ever.

Despite all that, I think that our world is perfectible. It might take ten thousand years, but it is conceivable that we could evolve to eradicate evil from the earth.


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Post Re: Question about free will
An omnipotent god creating a consistently good person is the same kind of paradox question you find with “could an omnipotent god create a rock too heavy to lift.”

Incidentally, a rock too heavy to lift is a relic of old thinking which demonstrates my point about new gods conceived by our generation are exponentially more powerful than the gods of our ancestors, even when those old gods are claimed to be all powerful.

unraveling-the-supernatural-t11308-30.html

(my first post on this thread addresses that)

But in any event, the problem lies with the word omnipotent. A thing which cannot exist because the very definition is paradoxical. If it is powerful enough to do anything at all then it can create something more powerful than itself, which means it isn’t the ultimate level of power. The problem is not in our understanding of the world, but in the word we are using: omnipotent.

There are also problems with the usual understanding of free will, especially paired with omniscience.

First, our will is not free. The state of our minds in this instant is a direct consequence of the state of our minds in the instant immediately preceding, and those states are all contingent on our environment and the ever-lasting domino effect of existence. There is a certain cone of possibilities which we are unable to escape. For us, currently, no choice could be made and acted upon which would put any one of us on Neptune. That is a limit of possibilities which restricts our free will. We are likewise already restricted from total free will in our inability to inflict our will on the external world. Total free will would be equivalent to god’s own powers of omnipotence. If an omnipotent god could grant us with any powers he chose then he could certainly let us control the world with our minds. If god did create us then he has already curtailed our will to prevent us from, say, killing people with our minds.

That is an evil which we are fundamentally denied. He could have allowed us that option and tested our goodness against our powers to kill with our minds, but he denied us that ability, and therefore is already interfering and setting the parameters of what moral choices we are even capable of entertaining. So “free will” must be put into quotations.

In the same light there are those among us now who have never seriously entertained the idea of killing somebody else. And yet that option is as open to them as it is to anybody. They are not prevented from participating in great evil any more than anyone else, yet they never would. So if god made that the base line of our moral standing then people would still have “free will” and there would be a huge reduction of great evil in the world.

God is choosing the amount of evil we are able to inflict because he sets the parameters of our abilities and that directly impacts what is within the realm of “free will”.

What’s more, our will is dependant on our bodies. Our brains, specifically, and especially. People with brain damage are fundamentally altered, people with brain tumors, or even intoxication directly affect our mental capacity, and the expression of our will. To that extent, our will is not free because it is dependant on a physical object which can be perturbed without our consent.

Drugs can make us negligent, or amiable, so called truth serums, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, disease are all capable of changing the function of our minds and in so doing curtail what is available in the realm of “free will”. Our “free will” in other words is pre-determined physiologically. And more deeply than that, on a quantum level. With a sufficiently powerful computer and sensory data a computer could simulate every decision you could make. Though we do not have the computing powers available to us to predict these things that doesn’t alter the fact that everything is a causal relationship, and that includes the decisions you think you are making.

Setting aside these problems, if we determined that free will were really possible, without the quotation marks, then an omniscient god makes any decision we would make inconsequential in any event. For an omniscient god would know the outcome of any decision we might make from the beginning of its own creation, long before we exist and could therefore, and WOULD therefore orchestrate events so that every decision is exactly as that omniscient god wants it to be, and our free will would therefore reacquire the quotation marks.

In other words, there is no surprising an omniscient god. Did an omniscient god need to test Abraham to see if he would murder his child? No. Because he’s omniscient. The only people who learned anything in that scenario are Abraham and his child. First, that Abraham was so deluded that he would murder his child, and second that his child needed to get the hell away from Abraham before he had a vivid dream where god tells him to peel his child like an orange and wear his face to family meetings. Abraham would do that if he thought god wanted him to do it.

And god never did want him to do it. He only wanted to force those people through that horrible ordeal. Why? To force Abraham’s decision to go exactly how god knew it would. And to force that event into the timeline so that later decisions would have that one as a backdrop. That is how an omniscient god negates free will, and how everything a free-acting agent does under the supervision of an omniscient god is nothing but playing out a script.

In the real world we are faced with a similar dilemma. Our decisions exist in a cone of possibility. That cone travels with us and things eventually pass outside of the cone of possibility based on the environment and previous events.

So it isn’t really true to say that anything is possible.

I might have been an Olympic athlete had I made different choices as a youth. But now I’m 32, I have a job, and I have a family. Being a serious Olympic athlete, though not impossible, is well outside the realm of likelyhood at this point and is on the verge of passing beyond the event horizon of my cone of choices. And in actuality, it already is past any reasonable sub-group of choices. It still exists as a choice. I could quit my job, leave my family and start training for the Olympics. But it isn’t a viable choice according to my past behavior and my current environment. So while it is a choice available to me in absolute terms, it just isn’t going to happen. Is it therefore really part of my options? How could I choose to do what I will not choose to do?

In order for me to do something that drastic something would have to fundamentally change about me that alters the variables I must weigh to make such a choice. It would change me to such an extent that the “me” who is typing this would hardly recognize the agent which made that choice to be the SAME “me”. That would be the choice of some “other”. Possibly one with brain damage, or who had suffered some dramatic episode which entirely re-routes what I value.


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Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.

Have you tried that? Looking for answers?
Or have you been content to be terrified of a thing you know nothing about?

Is this the virtue of faith? To never change your mind: especially when you should?

Young Earth Creationists take offense at the idea that we have a common heritage with other animals. Why is being the descendant of a mud golem any better?


Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:36 pm
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Post Re: Question about free will
Quote:
Hi Ant. What an interesting fellow you are!


Why?


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“For it is owing to their wonder that men both now begin to and at first began to philosophize; they wondered originally at the obvious difficulties, then advanced little by little and stated difficulties about the greater matters, e.g. about the phenomena of the moon and those of the sun and of the stars, and about the genesis of the universe. And a man who is puzzled and wonders thinks himself ignorant” (Metaphysics, 350 BC)


Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:26 pm
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Post Re: Question about free will
ant wrote:
Quote:
Hi Ant. What an interesting fellow you are!


Why?


Few people have the audacity and interest to start a thread on such a large metaphysical topic as free will and determinism.

We have an omnipresent and omnipotent ruler of our universe, known as the laws of physics.

The laws of physics are universally constant and true throughout the whole of reality and admit of no denial of their power.

The idea of a God who disobeys the laws of physics is impious in the extreme. Such a supernatural entity is logically impossible and should really be excluded from sensible consideration as a vile heresy against scientific wisdom.

We do not know if the laws of physics fully determine events in the future. There may be a radical indeterminacy at quantum level that means human freedom of choice is real and not illusory.

Even if there is an actual ultimate quantum determinacy, we cannot know it, and so must live as if we are fully free and personally responsible for our decisions. Jean-Paul Sartre's paradoxical existential line remains completely valid, that we are condemned to be free.


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Mar 29, 2012 4:22 pm
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Post Re: Question about free will
Quote:
Few people have the audacity and interest to start a thread on such a large metaphysical topic as free will and determinism.


You are being condescending


Quote:
We have an omnipresent and omnipotent ruler of our universe, known as the laws of physics.


You may need to update yourself in relation to the latest theories of the laws of physics.
The laws of physics may vary throughout the universe. So, they would not be omnipresent and omnipotent as you say.


Quote:
The laws of physics are universally constant and true throughout the whole of reality and admit of no denial of their power.


Se above. Also, laws are not powerful. They are simply laws.

Quote:
The idea of a God who disobeys the laws of physics is impious in the extreme. Such a supernatural entity is logically impossible and should really be excluded from sensible consideration as a vile heresy against scientific wisdom.


I have not indicated that God can "disobey" laws like some naughty child.
If could transcends natural law, then there would be nothing naughty about a being that operates both within and without the laws of physics.
You might as well ask me if God can create a stone to heavy for him to lift.

Quote:
Even if there is an actual ultimate quantum determinacy, we cannot know it, and so must live as if we are fully free and personally responsible for our decisions. Jean-Paul Sartre's paradoxical existential line remains completely valid, that we are condemned to be free.


I do not entirely disagree with the above

Thanks :)


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“So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind!” (Ecclesiastes 2:17)


“For it is owing to their wonder that men both now begin to and at first began to philosophize; they wondered originally at the obvious difficulties, then advanced little by little and stated difficulties about the greater matters, e.g. about the phenomena of the moon and those of the sun and of the stars, and about the genesis of the universe. And a man who is puzzled and wonders thinks himself ignorant” (Metaphysics, 350 BC)


Last edited by ant on Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:53 am, edited 3 times in total.



Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:51 am
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Post Re: Question about free will
Quote:
Ant:

You may need to update yourself in relation to the latest theories of the laws of physics.
The laws of physics may vary throughout the universe. So, they would not be omnipresent and omnipotent as you say.


This would be huge news, Ant. In what sense has invariance been overturned? Specifics please.


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In the absence of God, I found Man.
-Guillermo Del Torro

Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.

Have you tried that? Looking for answers?
Or have you been content to be terrified of a thing you know nothing about?

Is this the virtue of faith? To never change your mind: especially when you should?

Young Earth Creationists take offense at the idea that we have a common heritage with other animals. Why is being the descendant of a mud golem any better?


Wed Apr 04, 2012 2:53 pm
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Post Re: Question about free will
ant wrote:
Quote:"Few people have the audacity and interest to start a thread on such a large metaphysical topic as free will and determinism." You are being condescending.
No, far from being condescending, I am being honest. I really welcome you raising this topic as it is among the most interesting and deep questions in philosophy.
Quote:
Quote:"We have an omnipresent and omnipotent ruler of our universe, known as the laws of physics." You may need to update yourself in relation to the latest theories of the laws of physics.The laws of physics may vary throughout the universe. So, they would not be omnipresent and omnipotent as you say.
See Johnson's comment. The laws of physics are invariant.
Quote:
Quote: "The laws of physics are universally constant and true throughout the whole of reality and admit of no denial of their power." See above. Also, laws are not powerful. They are simply laws.
The law of gravity holds the earth in orbit around the sun. That is power. The law of relativity, with the universal constants, provides the universal structure of our anthropic universe to establish the conditions of possibility for life to exist. That is powerful. The law of evolution describes all biological reproduction. Nothing ever happens that contradicts the laws of physics.

Watch out for the lightning bolt ant. :)
Quote:
Quote:"The idea of a God who disobeys the laws of physics is impious in the extreme. Such a supernatural entity is logically impossible and should really be excluded from sensible consideration as a vile heresy against scientific wisdom." I have not indicated that God can "disobey" laws like some naughty child. If [God] could transcend natural law, then there would be nothing naughty about a being that operates both within and without the laws of physics. You might as well ask me if God can create a stone to heavy for him to lift.
The fact is that nothing transcends natural law, as shown by the incoherence of postulating disobedience to them. Anyone who claims that God transcends natural law is wrong and unethical, guilty of using imaginary fantasy in place of observed evidence.


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Post Re: Question about free will
johnson1010 wrote:
Quote:
Ant:

You may need to update yourself in relation to the latest theories of the laws of physics.
The laws of physics may vary throughout the universe. So, they would not be omnipresent and omnipotent as you say.


This would be huge news, Ant. In what sense has invariance been overturned? Specifics please.


Type in google "Laws of physics may vary" and read as it relates to one of the universal constants - what was once believe to be "universal" but now is under question.
It is not a difficult thing to search for.

Also, how are you able to determine with certainty that the speed of light remains constant between point a on earth and point b, a billion miles away?
Please tell me how that is determined with certainty.
Let's not make any faith inductive leaps here, now. Tell me how yours and science's observational powers are that omnipotent. Thanks


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Wed Apr 04, 2012 4:17 pm
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Post Re: Question about free will
ant wrote:
johnson1010 wrote:
Quote:
Ant: You may need to update yourself in relation to the latest theories of the laws of physics. The laws of physics may vary throughout the universe. So, they would not be omnipresent and omnipotent as you say.
This would be huge news, Ant. In what sense has invariance been overturned? Specifics please.

Type in google "Laws of physics may vary" and read as it relates to one of the universal constants - what was once believe to be "universal" but now is under question. It is not a difficult thing to search for. Also, how are you able to determine with certainty that the speed of light remains constant between point a on earth and point b, a billion miles away? Please tell me how that is determined with certainty. Let's not make any faith inductive leaps here, now. Tell me how yours and science's observational powers are that omnipotent. Thanks


Hi Ant. It is a question of balance of probabilities.

A. Universe is consistent: all real evidence and logic agrees.

versus

B. Universe is inconsistent: no evidence supports, except for wishful thinking by religious fantasists.

You pick. I agree that A requires what you call an inductive faith leap, in the axiomatic assumption that the universe exists as we see it. But compare that to the leap required by B, in which the political fantasies of the early church are dignified as evidence, even though they conflict with all scientific observation. Science is not omnipotent, but the laws of nature are.


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Post Re: Question about free will
Quote:
Hi Ant. It is a question of balance of probabilities.

A. Universe is consistent: all real evidence and logic agrees.

versus

B. Universe is inconsistent: no evidence supports, except for wishful thinking by religious fantasists.


Robert,

You are setting up a False Choice
You are a deeper thinker than this.


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“For it is owing to their wonder that men both now begin to and at first began to philosophize; they wondered originally at the obvious difficulties, then advanced little by little and stated difficulties about the greater matters, e.g. about the phenomena of the moon and those of the sun and of the stars, and about the genesis of the universe. And a man who is puzzled and wonders thinks himself ignorant” (Metaphysics, 350 BC)


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Post Re: Question about free will
ant wrote:
Also, how are you able to determine with certainty that the speed of light remains constant between point a on earth and point b, a billion miles away?
Please tell me how that is determined with certainty.
Let's not make any faith inductive leaps here, now. Tell me how yours and science's observational powers are that omnipotent. Thanks


You are putting the burden of proof in the wrong place -- you could just as easily ask, how can you prove that water is still liquid in every part of the ocean? Science has a framework to understand why the speed of light remains constant a billion miles away. Scientists will be rightly skeptical about any theory that suggests otherwise, but if there is enough evidence and theoretical progress, they will change their minds.

That's why claiming some kind of equivalence between science and religion in terms of faith is completely misleading. I'm not sure if that's your intention or not.



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Post Re: Question about free will
Quote:
That's why claiming some kind of equivalence between science and religion in terms of faith is completely misleading. I'm not sure if that's your intention or not.


Actually, that is clearly the intent of those that continue to argue that science refutes religion. They are both different realms of thought. Scientism = the absolute source of knowledge.

If someone feels they can speak on behalf of science and claim that there is most certainly no god, they automatically should carry the burden of proof, since they are making the claim.

Science reaches into a metaphysical realm when it boldly claims an intelligence beyond our observation/measurement/comprehension does not exist.
Too many armchair scientists take liberties that true science never would take in the first place.


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“So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind!” (Ecclesiastes 2:17)


“For it is owing to their wonder that men both now begin to and at first began to philosophize; they wondered originally at the obvious difficulties, then advanced little by little and stated difficulties about the greater matters, e.g. about the phenomena of the moon and those of the sun and of the stars, and about the genesis of the universe. And a man who is puzzled and wonders thinks himself ignorant” (Metaphysics, 350 BC)


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Post Re: Question about free will
ant wrote:
If someone feels they can speak on behalf of science and claim that there is most certainly no god, they automatically should carry the burden of proof, since they are making the claim.


You are attacking a strawman in most cases. Even Dawkins admits he is agnostic if you really want to stress absolute certainty.

You can't say that my favorite deity, the Giant Sock Puppet in the Sky, doesn't exist. But most people would be fairly comfortable taking a strong position on his nonexistence. I see little difference when talking about God, especially when you're talking about a very specific manifestation of God. And that is what 99% of believers are talking about.



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Post Re: Question about free will
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.


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MurdockThe Glass Bead Game: A Novel by Hermann HesseA Devil's Chaplain by Richard DawkinsThe Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph CampbellThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainThe Moral Landscape by Sam HarrisThe Decameron by Giovanni BoccaccioThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Grand Design by Stephen HawkingThe Evolution of God by Robert WrightThe Tin Drum by Gunter GrassGood Omens by Neil GaimanPredictably Irrational by Dan ArielyThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki MurakamiALONE: Orphaned on the Ocean by Richard Logan & Tere Duperrault FassbenderDon Quixote by Miguel De CervantesMusicophilia by Oliver SacksDiary of a Madman and Other Stories by Nikolai GogolThe Passion of the Western Mind by Richard TarnasThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Genius of the Beast by Howard BloomAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Empire of Illusion by Chris HedgesThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner The Extended Phenotype by Richard DawkinsSmoke and Mirrors by Neil GaimanThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsWhen Good Thinking Goes Bad by Todd C. RinioloHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiAmerican Gods: A Novel by Neil GaimanPrimates and Philosophers by Frans de WaalThe Enormous Room by E.E. CummingsThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGod Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama Paradise Lost by John Milton Bad Money by Kevin PhillipsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettGodless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan BarkerThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Limits of Power by Andrew BacevichLolita by Vladimir NabokovOrlando by Virginia Woolf On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton50 reasons people give for believing in a god by Guy P. HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

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