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At Mind Matters News: Does superdeterminism resolve dilemmas around free will?

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The idea seems to be trending in cosmology and it might offer a way out of some dilemmas, according to Michael Egnor:

Superdeterminism is the view that the outcomes of all possibilities — both inanimate nature and the human mind — are “baked in” to nature itself. There are two ways of understanding what that means. The first way is to see nature as a mindless machine running like clockwork without free will. As I’ve said, such a view is incompatible with human reason.

However there is another way to understand how the outcomes of all possibilities in nature are baked into nature itself. This involves the concept of a “block” universe and the Augustinian understanding of nature as a thought in God’s mind.

In general relativity, the universe is understood as a four-dimensional space-time manifold consisting of three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. From this perspective, the passage of time can be understood as a movement through the four space-time dimensions along what physicists call a world-line. The universe itself from its beginning to end can be understood as a four-dimensional block that includes time but is not in time itself. It is in this timeless block that Superdeterminism can be true without denying free will and without viewing the universe as a mindless machine.

Michael Egnor, “Does superdeterminism resolve dilemmas around free will?” at Mind Matters News (December 26, 2021)

Takehome: Michael Egnor: If we lack free will, we have no justification whatsoever to even believe that we lack free will. In a timeless block however, the future exists simultaneously with the past and present — but that does not mean that the future determines the past and present.


Mind Matters News offers a number of articles on free will by neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Egnor including

Can physics prove there is no free will? No, but it can make physicists incoherent when they write about free will. It’s hilarious. Sabine Hossenfelder misses the irony that she insists that people “change their minds” by accepting her assertion that they… can’t change their minds.

Does “alien hand syndrome” show that we don’t really have free will? One woman’s left hand seemed to have a mind of its own. Did it? Alien hand syndrome doesn’t mean that free will is not real. In fact, it clarifies exactly what free will is and what it isn’t.

But is determinism true? Does science show that we fated to want whatever we want? Modern science—both theoretical and experimental—strongly supports the reality of free will.

How can mere products of nature have free will? Materialists don’t like the outcome of their philosophy but twisting logic won’t change it

Does brain stimulation research challenge free will? If we can be forced to want something, is the will still free?

Is free will a dangerous myth? The denial of free will is a much more dangerous myth

Also: Do quasars provide evidence for free will? Possibly. They certainly rule out experimenter interference.

and

Can free will even be an illusion? Michael Egnor reiterates the freeing implications of quantum indeterminacy

Also, by Baylor University’s Robert J. Marks: Quantum randomness gives nature free will Whether or not quantum randomness explains how our brains work, it may help us create unbreakable encryption codes

2 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Does superdeterminism resolve dilemmas around free will?

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    We seem to experience the capacity to exercise free will yet it would be irrational to deny that the nature of the present has been influenced by what has gone before. Our apparent free will does not enable us to change the past.

    The concept of a block universe is an intriguing one in which all possible events co-exist as one block and the passage of time is what we experience as we move through them.

    Think of an old-style movie reel. If you stretch it out all you see is a sequence of static frames. Run it through a projector, however, at 25+ frames per second and you get a smoothly moving image on screen. In this case it’s the film that’s moving but, in principle, you could stretch the film out straight and then run the projector along it and still get a moving image – an impression of time passing.

    Actually, Fred Hoyle touched on this in his SF novel October The First Is Too Late. His question was, if this is the case, who or what is moving through this “timescape” and doing the perceiving?

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    As I stated years ago when Sabine Hossenfelder, and others, first floated the idea of ‘superdetermism’ in response to the closing of the ‘freedom of choice’ loophole by Zeilinger and company, “Welcome to Christianity. Strict Calvinists have been arguing for superdeterminism, and against the reality of free will, for centuries.”

    “Do humans have a free will? Calvinism says “No!”
    Excerpt: Here are some Calvinist quotes about Free will:
    “Free will is nonsense” (Spurgeon, Free Will a Slave, 3).
    “Free will makes man his own savior and his own god” (Tom Ross, Abandoned Truth, 56).
    “The heresy of free will dethrones God and enthrones man. … The ideas of free grace and free will are diametrically opposed. All who are strict advocates of free will are strangers to the grace of the sovereign God” (W. E. Best, Free Grace Versus Free Will, 35, 43).,,,
    https://redeeminggod.com/no-free-will-in-calvinism/

    Of related note, although it is popularly believed in Christian circles that John Calvin rejected free will altogether, the fact of the matter is that John Calvin did not reject free will altogether but he had a nuanced, ‘limited’, view of free will that is not nearly as radical as is often popularly portrayed.

    Free will in theology
    Excerpt: John Calvin ascribed “free will” to all people in the sense that they act “voluntarily, and not by compulsion.”[117] He elaborated his position by allowing “that man has choice and that it is self-determined” and that his actions stem from “his own voluntary choosing.”[118]
    The free will that Calvin ascribed to all people is what Mortimer Adler calls the “natural freedom” of the will. This freedom to will what one desires is inherent in all people.[16]
    Calvin held this kind of inherent/natural[119] free will in disesteem because unless people acquire the freedom to live as they ought by being transformed, they will desire and voluntarily choose to sin. “Man is said to have free will,” wrote Calvin, “because he acts voluntarily, and not by compulsion. This is perfectly true: but why should so small a matter have been dignified with so proud a title?”[120] The glitch in this inherent/natural freedom of the will is that although all people have the “faculty of willing,” by nature they are unavoidably (and yet voluntarily without compulsion) under “the bondage of sin.”[121]
    The kind of free will that Calvin esteems is what Adler calls “acquired freedom” of the will, the freedom/ability[122] “to live as [one] ought.” To possess acquired free will requires a change by which a person acquires a desire to live a life marked by virtuous qualities.[20] As Calvin describes the change required for acquired freedom, the will “must be wholly transformed and renovated.”[123]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will_in_theology#Calvinism

    Like John Calvin, Arminius affirmed total depravity, but Arminius believed that only prevenient grace allowed people to choose salvation:
    Concerning grace and free will, this is what I teach according to the Scriptures and orthodox consent: Free will is unable to begin or to perfect any true and spiritual good, without grace…. This grace [prœvenit] goes before, accompanies, and follows; it excites, assists, operates that we will, and co operates lest we will in vain.[71]
    Prevenient grace is divine grace which precedes human decision. It exists prior to and without reference to anything humans may have done. As humans are corrupted by the effects of sin, prevenient grace allows persons to engage their God-given free will to choose the salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ or to reject that salvific offer.
    Thomas Jay Oord offers perhaps the most cogent free will theology presupposing prevenient grace. What he calls “essential kenosis” says God acts preveniently to give freedom/agency to all creatures. This gift comes from God’s eternal essence, and is therefore necessary. God remains free in choosing how to love, but the fact that God loves and therefore gives freedom/agency to others is a necessary part of what it means to be divine.
    This view is backed in the Bible with verses such as Luke 13:34, NKJV
    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!”
    Here we see Jesus lamenting that He is unable to save Jerusalem as they are not willing. We see that whilst Jesus wants to save Jerusalem He respects their choice to continue on in sin despite His will that they be saved.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will_in_theology#Arminianism

    Does God Control Everything? – Tim Keller – (God’s sovereignty, evil, and our free will, how do they mesh? Short answer? God’s Omniscience!) – video (12:00 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/MDbKCZodtZI?t=727

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