Intelligent Design Mind Naturalism

Can we choose not to believe in free will?

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The Open Door, William Henry Fox Talbot (British, Dorset 1800–1877 Lacock), Salted paper print from paper negative
the open door/William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877)

From Peter Gooding at The Conversation:

A recent study showed that it is possible to diminish people’s belief in free will by simply making them read a science article suggesting that everything is predetermined. This made the participants’ less willing to donate to charitable causes (compared to a control group). This was only observed in non-religious participants, however.

It may therefore be unsurprising that some studies have shown that people who believe in free will are more likely to have positive life outcomes – such as happiness, academic success and better work performance . However, the relationship between free will belief and life outcomes may be complex so this association is still debated.

People using a philosophical definition and classical physics may argue convincingly against the existence of free will. However, they may want to note that modern physics does not necessarily agree that free will is impossible.

Ultimately, whether free will exists or not may depend on your definition. If you wish to deny its existence, you should do so responsibly by first defining the concepts clearly. And be aware that this may affect your life a lot more than you think. More.

The main effect of a general decline of belief in the existence of free will would be acceptance of totalitarian government, on the grounds that freedom is not real. Self-indulgence may seem real (think Brave New World) but not authentic moral choice.

Maybe John Milton got the current debate among naturalists about free will right back in the 17th century. He showed the devils debating free will down in hell:

Others apart sat on a hill retired,
In thoughts more elevate, and reasoned high
Of Providence, Foreknowledge, Will, and Fate—
Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute—
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.

Because… fat lot of good free will without virtue did them.

See also: Free will is compatible with physics The laws of physics don’t rule out free will? But that is just a well for the laws of physics because, if Dennett is right and consciousness is an illusion, then the “laws of physics” probably are too. The concept of evidence has been rendered powerless.

Neuroscientist: Free will is an illusion but we should believe we have it

Neuroscientist debunks hype about no free will, etc.

Random evolution somehow creates responsibility? That’s an astonishing statement, really, and shows the bankruptcy of naturalist culture. Obviously, if everything is completely random there is no “we” to take responsibility, nothing to take responsibility for, and no possibility of doing so. Or reason for it.

GP, Mike Pence and Free Will 

At Physics Central: How human beings can have free will as complex, purely physical systems

Do the defects of real numbers open the door to free will in physics?

and

How can we believe in naturalism if we have no choice?

One Reply to “Can we choose not to believe in free will?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    as to the comment from the article:

    “If you wish to deny its (free will’s) existence, you should do so responsibly by first defining the concepts clearly.”

    And yet free will is pervasive throughout the process of “defining the concepts clearly”. As this following article that UD contributor tarmaras linked to yesterday stated, “Now we have done all the reducing we know how to do today, and we are (still) faced with the problem of how to order an unordered set of objects. This ordering itself needs a method which cannot be decided rationally, and must be chosen. Once you choose that method in ordering, you can see that at each successive level of reduction you must make similar choices.”

    A Dilemma for Reductionism – Ashish Dalela
    Excerpt: The reductionist reduces free will to rationality. The rationalist then reduces reasoning to computing. The computer scientist then reduces computing to a logical machine, which the physicist reduces to atoms and molecules, which a mathematician reduces to a mathematical theory (about Hilbert Spaces), which reduces to the idea of functions, which reduces to an ordered set of numbers. Now we have done all the reducing we know how to do today, and we are (still) faced with the problem of how to order an unordered set of objects. This ordering itself needs a method which cannot be decided rationally, and must be chosen. Once you choose that method in ordering, you can see that at each successive level of reduction you must make similar choices.
    You meet your destiny on the road you take to avoid it.
    The dilemma of reductionism is the choice between a bottomless pit and the Axiom of Choice. If you are going to choose a bottomless pit, you not only have a lot of explaining left to do, but also that you are not being self-consistent: you are making a choice but denying that one is possible. If instead you are going to choose the Axiom of Choice, at least you are logically consistent because your action only affirms that choices are possible.
    The key point is that if you want to be entirely rational, then you must axiomatize choice. If, however, you deny choice, then you are not only left with a bottomless pit, you are also logically irrational.
    I’m still not insisting that free will is true! I’m only saying that if we are going to be rational about it, then we must accept free will as a unique, fundamental, and irreducible concept.”
    https://www.ashishdalela.com/2015/11/12/do-we-have-free-will/

    Moreover, it is interesting to point out that ‘the problem of how to order an unordered set of objects’ shows up in quantum mechanics. Specifically, in regards to (quantum) contextuality we find that, in the quantum world, the property that you discover through measurement is not the property that the system actually had prior to the measurement process. What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation.,,, and,,, Measurement outcomes depend on all the other measurements that are performed – the full context of the experiment.
    Contextuality means that quantum measurements can not be thought of as simply revealing some pre-existing properties of the system under study.

    Contextuality is ‘magic ingredient’ for quantum computing – June 11, 2012
    Excerpt: Contextuality was first recognized as a feature of quantum theory almost 50 years ago. The theory showed that it was impossible to explain measurements on quantum systems in the same way as classical systems.
    In the classical world, measurements simply reveal properties that the system had, such as colour, prior to the measurement. In the quantum world, the property that you discover through measurement is not the property that the system actually had prior to the measurement process. What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation.
    Imagine turning over a playing card. It will be either a red suit or a black suit – a two-outcome measurement. Now imagine nine playing cards laid out in a grid with three rows and three columns. Quantum mechanics predicts something that seems contradictory – there must be an even number of red cards in every row and an odd number of red cards in every column. Try to draw a grid that obeys these rules and you will find it impossible. It’s because quantum measurements cannot be interpreted as merely revealing a pre-existing property in the same way that flipping a card reveals a red or black suit.
    Measurement outcomes depend on all the other measurements that are performed – the full context of the experiment.
    Contextuality means that quantum measurements can not be thought of as simply revealing some pre-existing properties of the system under study. That’s part of the weirdness of quantum mechanics.
    http://phys.org/news/2014-06-w.....antum.html

    And as Anton Zeilinger states in the following video, “what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”

    “The Kochen-Speckter Theorem talks about properties of one system only. So we know that we cannot assume – to put it precisely, we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement. Not always. I mean in a certain cases. So in a sense, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
    Anton Zeilinger –
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video (7:17 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4C5pq7W5yRM#t=437

    Thus the ‘axiom of choice’ is found to be built into quantum mechanics at a very foundational level and reveals itself through, as Ashish Dalela found in his line of reasoning, how we choose our ‘method of ordering’.

    And although free will is often thought of as allowing someone to choose between a veritable infinity of options, in a theistic view of reality that veritable infinity of options all boils down to just two options. Eternal life, (infinity if you will), with God, or Eternal life, (infinity again if you will), without God. C.S. states it as such:

    “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

    And exactly as would be expected on the Christian view of reality, we find two very different eternities in reality. An ‘infinitely destructive’ eternity associated with General Relativity and a extremely orderly eternity associated with Special Relativity:

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QDy1Soolo

    Verse:

    Revelation 3:20
    Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

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