Author Topic: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...  (Read 10593 times)

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Offline mhaberling

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OK, Im laying down some back information... I came to this thought a couple of days ago, this has nothing to do with my faith and actually has its roots in the discussion of a computer simulated universe.

This Idea assumes no God... I don't want any discussion about God.. Any questions I get about God wil be answered with a redirection to the OP.(I still put this in general religious because it involves the implications of lack of religion, if that is wrong I apologize, still new here)

Ok then, lets get to it...

The universe was created in the big bang, or some other process that we don't know about, doesn't really matter. Then hydrogen made stars which made more and more elements, And any ways we end up here, earth. Life is spontaneously created and now humanity flourishes. That is all fine and dandy. However, there is no natural way to create a random event. f you drop a dice the exact same way onto the exact same surface from the exact same height it will always give you the same value. Random does not exist in nature, it is a purely human concept that more refers to our inability to predict. This then implies that every thing that has ever happened is the effect of previous events. There is no chance. The entirety of human history is defined by how the big bang went of and how the hydrogen came together into the original stars. Every thought you are currently happening has no meaning it is simply a chemical reaction and a result of previous events. So this brings us to free will, every action you have and will take has been predetermined by nature. You can try and break that by doing something random, but you are unable it is simply action and reaction. We cannot change the future, because the future is already been determined.

So in conclusion I would contend that in a Godless universe there is no free will...
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin

Offline Nick

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2012, 02:48:20 PM »
Your concept of what a free will is is what is getting in your way.  With no god why worry about a free will.  You are here, alive, living a life for a period of time, then you are gone.  You make the best of what you got.  I make decisions based on what knowledge I have.  That's about it.  Does not have to be any deeper than that.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

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Offline shnozzola

Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2012, 02:51:31 PM »
So in conclusion I would contend that in a Godless universe there is no free will...

This topic comes up now and again.  Plethora had a thoughtful post here:

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,22045.msg491978.html#msg491978
“The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something."  ~ T. H. White
  The real holy trinity:  onion, celery, and bell pepper ~  all Cajun Chefs

Offline mhaberling

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2012, 03:17:29 PM »
Your concept of what a free will is is what is getting in your way.  With no god why worry about a free will.  You are here, alive, living a life for a period of time, then you are gone.  You make the best of what you got.  I make decisions based on what knowledge I have.  That's about it.  Does not have to be any deeper than that.
Define alive without freewill... are we not just a strange conglomerate of chemical reactions...

edit: woooo!!! three yellow squares!!!!
« Last Edit: December 26, 2012, 03:20:46 PM by mhaberling »
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin

Online jaimehlers

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2012, 04:07:58 PM »
The universe may be a deterministic system, but that doesn't mean random chance doesn't exist, or that you can determine the exact path the future will take in advance.  For example, Heisenburg's uncertainty principle shows that you can affect an electron's position by measuring its momentum, and vice versa.  That's because electrons are so small that the act of observing them causes a change in their position or momentum, depending on whether you're measuring their momentum or position.  There's a well-known experiment where you shoot electrons at a double-slit in a screen and then see what pattern they form; if you don't observe the electrons going through the slit, they generate a standard wave interference pattern (meaning the electrons are seemingly interfering with themselves), but if you do, the pattern changes to one generated by particles.  Furthermore, if you delay the observation (i.e., by using a removable detector screen), you can cause a retroactive change from a wave pattern to a particle one, and if you make it possible to destroy the measurement of which slit the electron goes through, you can cause a second retroactive change, from a particle pattern to a wave one.

Here's something interesting to think about.  Let's say you have two people, essentially identical, except one believes that free will somehow exists, and the other believes that it doesn't.  The two people will act differently based on whether they believe in free will or not.  Furthermore, if they later change their minds (in other words, make themselves believe the opposite of what they believed before), it will change their behavior.  To make the point even clearer, if you had a third person who had never heard of free will, they'd act in a completely different way than the other two - but once they heard of it, depending on whether it was "free will exists" or "free will doesn't exist", it would instantly change their behavior from then on.

In other words, yes, I believe it's possible to change your own behavior by making yourself change what you believe.  I don't know whether that would actually be considered free will, but I do know that it's close enough to count for me.

Offline Nick

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2012, 04:16:58 PM »
But that is what we are.  A collection of chemical reactions in our brains.  That is why some people get  dementia, etc.  Our personalities...all of it is chemical based.  That guy who shot those kids in Conn apparently had a chemical imbalance.  I had a buddy who fell of a building during construction.  HIt his head on the beam and ground.  Lucky to be alive.  His personality changes.  He is not the same person he was.  Our wiring is special...mess with it and who knows.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

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Offline 3sigma

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2012, 05:03:13 PM »
However, there is no natural way to create a random event. f you drop a dice the exact same way onto the exact same surface from the exact same height it will always give you the same value. Random does not exist in nature, it is a purely human concept that more refers to our inability to predict.

That just isn’t true. As jaimehlers noted, quantum uncertainty creates randomness in nature. The molecules in the air around you are bouncing off each other randomly due to quantum effects. A reverse-biased transistor will generate random events due to quantum tunnelling of electrons through the band gap. One of the most effective random event generators is nuclear decay. I remember years ago being shown radioactive tubes in Ericsson telephone exchange equipment that were used to randomly select routes for calls. There are even quantum random number generator services available on the Internet.

There is randomness in nature so the argument against free will you make in your OP is based on a false premise.
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. – David Hume 1711–1776

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2012, 05:06:18 PM »
We may have free will. Most of us like to think we do, but there have been atheists here who think we do not. So clearly it isn't a given.


Does a deer have free will? It is born, it eats plants and it dies. Either naturally, or through hunting or predation. The same applies to bees and newts and gnus and naked mole rats. And if we, as humans, are just animals, maybe we don't have it either.


Or maybe our brains, which allow us to see more alternatives than less brainy critters, give us what we define as free will. I, for instance, can just walk right across a busy road without looking both ways and take my chances. But as a critter able to learn that the dead bodies of other species littering the side of the road are caused by their not understanding the danger and/or the process of getting to the other side, I can offer myself at least two choices. Go ahead and cross the street and ignore the traffic and hope for the best, or, you know, look both ways, take in the information my brain can process about speed, distance, my own abilities, weather, light levels, what I'm carrying and myriad other variables and see if I an increase my chances.


So perhaps we don't have free will, but I'm guessing we are at least able at times to create situations where the choice is ours, something that the deer and the antelope can't quite do. And most of us label that free will. Even if it isn't.


You sure get into trouble with us over definitions, don't you.  :)
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2012, 06:08:59 PM »
Choices we make for our survival.....are they free will?

 For the most part we don't work,we don't eat. By work I don't only mean punching a clock for the man,before the materialistic world came along,communities of like minded people worked together for the greater good of the community. Choice and free-will are they the same thing?

 We also have laws,break the law,for the most part receive punishment for it. The law keeps people scared enough not to exercise free-will as you may define it....then there is the definition of it,what exactly is your definition?

 Give someone free-will and then punish them for using it is hardly freedom.
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2012, 07:51:19 PM »
So in conclusion I would contend that in a Godless universe there is no free will...

I agree with your conclusion for the reasons you give, except to say that there are random events but these, being random and tiny, do not affect the will.

There is, in fact, no free will; there is merely massively complex and incalculable determinism - in fact, it is so complex and incalculable that the illusion of free will may as well be free will... but it isn't
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline mhaberling

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2012, 09:28:17 PM »
However, there is no natural way to create a random event. f you drop a dice the exact same way onto the exact same surface from the exact same height it will always give you the same value. Random does not exist in nature, it is a purely human concept that more refers to our inability to predict.

That just isn’t true. As jaimehlers noted, quantum uncertainty creates randomness in nature. The molecules in the air around you are bouncing off each other randomly due to quantum effects. A reverse-biased transistor will generate random events due to quantum tunnelling of electrons through the band gap. One of the most effective random event generators is nuclear decay. I remember years ago being shown radioactive tubes in Ericsson telephone exchange equipment that were used to randomly select routes for calls. There are even quantum random number generator services available on the Internet.

There is randomness in nature so the argument against free will you make in your OP is based on a false premise.

You are confusing random and not able to predict, because we can't detect the cause does not mean that there isn't one..
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin

Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2012, 09:43:28 PM »
Mh,explain what that has to do with if there is free-will....if there is a big guy steering this cosmic ship through  the galaxy is he the master in your opinion,leaving no action free,as he is the cause as I think you are implying?
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Offline mhaberling

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2012, 09:59:23 PM »
12 monkeys, your going to have to state that differently, because I really have no idea what your asking...
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin

Offline JeffPT

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2012, 10:19:34 PM »
I agree with Graybeard. There is no free Will, just infinitely complex determinism.
Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as the events that will just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible to assert. NDT

Offline The Gawd

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2012, 09:13:58 AM »
People are thinking too in depth on this one.

We have choices based upon our surroundings... for example Cain didnt choose to shoot Abel because he had no pistol. f that myth were to occur today it very well may end up quite different. The very possibility of having a pistol these days affects our choices.

George Washington couldnt choose to have McDonalds for lunch. I cant choose to hunt wooly mammoths. People in California cant choose to shop at Jewel-Osco. Our available choices proves free will.

Offline Nick

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2012, 09:22:11 AM »
I can't have a twinkie...wait, I would not want one of those anyhow.  Free will.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

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Online Azdgari

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #16 on: December 27, 2012, 01:04:25 PM »
Our available choices proves free will.

Depends on what you mean by it.  In what sense were the "available" choices not taken, actually available?  Our minds were not disposed to pick those choices.  They were doomed not to be picked.
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #17 on: December 27, 2012, 01:04:54 PM »
People are thinking too in depth on this one.
I don't think so.

Quote
We have choices based upon our surroundings...

No, we only appear to have choices based upon our surroundings.

When you last went into town, it was probably busy. There was that occasion when you brushed past someone. Lets say that the person was 50 years old. For 50 years, their life had been leading them to the very point at which you brushed past them and your whole life took you to that point. You never planned this and neither did they.

Are you saying that every decision that you and the other person took inevitably led to that point?

And if it was inevitable, and it must have been because it happened, (i) why did you use your free will to get to that point?

Or was it that, if I had had all the possible data on both of you, I could have said that on such-and-such a day, at such-and-such a time, in such-and-such a place, you two will brush against each other?

I could certainly say that if I knew that you and the other person had a doctor's appointment at the same doctors office within 5 minutes of each other - where's the real difference between 5 minutes and 50 years, other than the amount of data?

(ii) or are you saying that sometimes you do not use your free will? If that is the case, what are you using? I suggest you are using "What feels right" and "What feels right" means you are acting in accordance with all the experience, ability and faculties that you have and, as those are unique to you, you are on auto-pilot and have no meaningful choice in anything but because you sometimes think about things and come to a conclusion, you think you have decided something - but the decision was inevitable.

Free will is not there. It is just a tempting illusion.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2012, 01:13:11 PM by Graybeard »
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #18 on: December 27, 2012, 01:08:40 PM »
12 monkeys, your going to have to state that differently, because I really have no idea what your asking...
Is your life being steered by the big guy (God),leaving everything pre-determined,and the illusion of free-will is there,but not really. God knows what you are going to do.....thus no free-will,only illusion of it.
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Offline mhaberling

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2012, 02:10:04 PM »
12 monkeys, your going to have to state that differently, because I really have no idea what your asking...
Is your life being steered by the big guy (God),leaving everything pre-determined,and the illusion of free-will is there,but not really. God knows what you are going to do.....thus no free-will,only illusion of it.

Still don't understand this thread assumes no god... Please read op
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2012, 03:05:38 PM »
There may not be free will, in the strictest sense. One of the ideas being floated around by astrophysicists is that there may be an infinite number of universes. However, there are not an infinite number ways for universes to vary


. Which would mean that right now an infinite number of me's are typing these same words an infinite number of times. And another infinite number of me's are typing slightly different words right now. Wise ones I hope. I've always wanted to be infinitely smarter.


But as I've said before, that's the nice thing about infinity. There is so much of it.


If there is a god (which I know is not a part of this discussion except I don't see how one can keep him out if we are using his non-existence as a basis for the discussion) then there is no free will either, because all he offers is a choice of two things. When free will is predefined as free to do one thing or otherwise perish, then it isn't free either way. Actually I could have kept god out of the discussion if I had free will.


So god or no god, there may indeed be no free will. If there isn't, we may not be free to find out.



Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline 3sigma

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2012, 04:31:19 PM »
You are confusing random and not able to predict, because we can't detect the cause does not mean that there isn't one..

Random doesn’t mean happening without a cause; it means happening without method (some systematic procedure) or conscious decision. Random means unpredictable. Random events occur in nature and your everyday life.

Free will means the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion. How is your ability to make a choice curtailed in any practical sense in a godless universe? I can choose what to eat for lunch tomorrow. I can even change my mind about that. Yes, people can argue that the choice is an illusion—that the outcome of any particular choice is just the culmination of a long chain of previous events—but if you want to argue that then the term ‘free will’ is essentially meaningless and there is no point in even having this conversation.

The ability to make a choice exists in a godless universe. The one place we can say for sure that it wouldn’t exist is in a universe with an omniscient god.
A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. – David Hume 1711–1776

Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #22 on: December 27, 2012, 07:51:30 PM »
12 monkeys, your going to have to state that differently, because I really have no idea what your asking...
Is your life being steered by the big guy (God),leaving everything pre-determined,and the illusion of free-will is there,but not really. God knows what you are going to do.....thus no free-will,only illusion of it.

Still don't understand this thread assumes no god... Please read op
God or no God,,,,,what does that have to do with a choice you make? If there is a God you will be punished for making free choices against his will. If there is no God,and the choice you make is detrimental to society and its laws,you are punished by fellow humans and dead is dead.
There's no right there's no wrong,there's just popular opinion (Brad Pitt as Jeffery Goines in 12 monkeys)

Offline mhaberling

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #23 on: December 27, 2012, 09:34:25 PM »
12 monkeys, your going to have to state that differently, because I really have no idea what your asking...
Is your life being steered by the big guy (God),leaving everything pre-determined,and the illusion of free-will is there,but not really. God knows what you are going to do.....thus no free-will,only illusion of it.

Still don't understand this thread assumes no god... Please read op
God or no God,,,,,what does that have to do with a choice you make? If there is a God you will be punished for making free choices against his will. If there is no God,and the choice you make is detrimental to society and its laws,you are punished by fellow humans and dead is dead.

Wait, what? read the OP....
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin

Offline The Gawd

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #24 on: December 28, 2012, 03:57:07 AM »
Our available choices proves free will.

Depends on what you mean by it.  In what sense were the "available" choices not taken, actually available?  Our minds were not disposed to pick those choices.  They were doomed not to be picked.
My point is that your decisions cant be predetermined if your future decisions include something that wasnt available at the time of your birth.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #25 on: December 28, 2012, 04:22:11 AM »
So in conclusion I would contend that in a Godless universe there is no free will...

Yup.  Quite right.

Define alive without freewill... are we not just a strange conglomerate of chemical reactions...

Yup.  Quite right again.

.....because we can't detect the cause does not mean that there isn't one..

Also quite right.  And this, for me, answers the "define alive without free will" side of the previous question.  "What happens next", with allowance for potential TRULY random events (if indeed such things exist), IS predetermined, but there is no way we could calculate all the variables to determine what the "what happens next" will be.  And its that lack of prediction that makes life, "life".  We never know what's going to happen next, and that's where the fun is.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline Add Homonym

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #26 on: December 28, 2012, 08:07:25 AM »
It's possible for you to have no free will, even though the universe could be random.

If you are born to an abusive religious parent, you will have a very jaded view of people of their type. You will be highly biased against religious conversion, irrespective of the supposed opportunities you were given to convert to their religion.

Or, put with the original dice idea. You can drop a dice in a way where the result is predictable, or you can find a way to drop it where the result is always unpredictable.

If your realization of something is hampered by your genetics and education/culture, and the only way you can change your mind about something, is to accidentally bump into someone who carries "the truth", then that is not your "free will", but the universe having free will to get at you.
Humans, in general, don't waste any opportunity to be unfathomably stupid - Dr Cynical.

Online Azdgari

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #27 on: December 28, 2012, 08:24:00 AM »
My point is that your decisions cant be predetermined if your future decisions include something that wasnt available at the time of your birth.

Oh.  Well in that case you're just wrong.  Physical determinism has nothing to do with what you're talking about.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A thought on a Godless universe and its implications on free will...
« Reply #28 on: December 28, 2012, 08:33:42 AM »
We have choices based upon our surroundings... for example Cain didnt choose to shoot Abel because he had no pistol. f that myth were to occur today it very well may end up quite different. The very possibility of having a pistol these days affects our choices.

George Washington couldnt choose to have McDonalds for lunch. I cant choose to hunt wooly mammoths. People in California cant choose to shop at Jewel-Osco. Our available choices proves free will.

I don't understand where you're going with this.  I agree with the first pragraph - that our environment will constrain the choices we make (I can't play the flumpethorn until it has been invented), but I don't see how it then follows that a restricted set of choices proves free will.  Or is your point that invention of alternate choices proves free will?  I'd disagree <grin>, but I could see how that argument would go.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?