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Free will

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Introduction

Definitionally, free will is an independent choice or a voluntary decision. Philosophically, free will is the doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces. This topic is frequently discussed in biblical circles, scientific arguments and concepts to apologetics and even the very formation of the world and how life came to be. The choice of free will has been tossed around philosophically as inconsistent and contrary to God himself. However, biblical scholars insist the choice of free will not only exists but was instituted in us by God’s grace. Philosophy neither proves or disproves this topic, though it has been debated for many years. Philosophers are still trying to figure out the meaning of this topic and debate. Free Will has been determined in this way: " A capacity to have done otherwise." Now, exactly what that means is open to interpretation but before getting into that, think about what exactly it is being stated/debated. If a group of people were gathered and asked what exactly they thought free will was, it is unlikely they would even know where to begin. Free Will is a concept all people think they know until asked to give a response about what it is. People argue tirelessly regarding the problem, but only because they do not like whatever the answer provided is. So what is the problem with Free Will?

For Free Will

This picture gives an overview of the free will topic

Free Will is a complex subject and as stated before, is widely debated. Though some philosophers doubt the existence of the entity entirely. Sam Harris, a Determinist against the existence of free will says this: "Free will is an illusion." Our wills are simply not of our own making. Thoughts and intentions emerge from background causes of which we are unaware and over which we exert no conscious control. We do not have the freedom we think we have. Free will is actually more than an illusion (or less), in that it cannot be made conceptually coherent. Either our wills are determined by prior causes and we are not responsible for them, or they are the product of chance and we are not responsible for them." [1] Determinists determine that since we are unable to pick our genes, past, and who we are, basically stating that a person is only free if we get to choose those things. No one has proven or will prove that the every-day choices we make are the result of past events and traumas. Obviously, if you were hit by a car you would be more paranoid when checking both ways before crossing the street, but stopping to tie your shoe 6 years ago would not determine you to choose oatmeal over a bagel today. [2] Because that is not what free will is about or what it means. Free will tells us that we have the choice in who we follow, who we let guide our life, and who we choose to respect. Choosing between apple flavored gum and mango flavored gum is not free will and not what God enstated in us to have. We cannot choose not to breathe or we die. However, we can choose how we breathe. We can breathe quickly, slowly, staggered or not at all. There are no reasons that motivate certain actions, but that we are free to choose what our mind focusses on.

Anti-Free Will

How Free Will is an illusion

" Christianity would be helpless without the idea of Free Will, and Free Will would be helpless without incongruity" -Kedar Joshi. Free Will. One of the bedrock claims of Christianity. Spiritually speaking, people have the right to choose their own way based on morals, impulses, and desires. [3] Christianity itself is the choice to freely love, worship, follow, and devote themselves to God. If Free Will does not exist, that would mean our salvation is not up to us. If we can not truly choose Jesus Christ, our salvation rests in his hands, not our own, and we would be helpless and powerless to change our fates. The problem is if the vast majority of people are going to hell, then that means God meant to send them to hell to be tortured for all eternity; which is overwhelmingly cruel. This would also say God is responsible for all evil in humanity. Though most people will say the words " I choose to believe in _____", you can not simply just believe in it. You cannot just out of nowhere believe that alligators are holding the world up by their tails, go ahead and try. You cannot, you would need some form of proof to support such an absurd claim. People can not also choose to love someone. If someone were to picture someone they found physically and emotionally unattractive, simply believing they were deeply in love with them is impossible. Same goes for the belief of God or another chosen deity. Even the "choice" to do good or evil is polluted by certain instincts. A mother could choose to toss her baby into the sea but it goes against the motherly instinct to protect their child. Often times, the "right" choice is the choice common sense points to. The argument that God gave us free will as a gift is unsettling, to say the least. If he had not the world would be in absolute chaos so why is it something to brag about that we have the common sense not to perform heinous deeds? [4]

Predestination

Determinism in a nutshell

Determinists believe that no action we make is entirely free. Everything that has happened before and that is happening now is dictated by an unbreakable chain of events. Most Determinists believe in a motion called Reductionism. Reductionism states that "the practice of analyzing and describing a complex phenomenon in terms of phenomena that are held to represent a simpler or more fundamental level, especially when this is said to provide a sufficient explanation." The Physical world is deterministic. When a baseball bat cracks against a baseball, the baseball will fly through the air. Most people think that they are free to choose to hit said baseball or not but that is also deterministic, not liberty. [5] Choosing to hit a baseball or not is a mental state, which is tied to brain states. Brain states are biological states which make the state physical, which has already been said; the physical world is deterministic. Also, from a scientific standpoint, why would we assume that we were free anyway? Why would we determine that we are any different than any other thing in the entire universe? Admittedly, determinists can not pinpoint the exact link between cause, action, temperament, and desire, but they can isolate them. If someone knew enough about the five factors, cause, action, temperament, and desire, they would be able to know enough about what is happening inside the brain to give a physical answer. People can "choose" to behave a certain way, but the choice would still be determined. A person could make a choice to be happy or sad in order to fir their "character" but it would still be determined and not a free option. Any way you choose to act has already been determined by a past event that make up you and who you are or claim to be. [6]

Video

This video explains the Free Will problem, why it exists, and why it is challenged.

References

  1. Harris, Sam. Sam Harris The Information Philosopher. Web. Written April, 1967.
  2. Krueger, Joachim. Joachim Krueger Five Arguments For Free Will. Web. Posted 11 March, 2018.
  3. Cave, Stephen. Stephen Cave Free Will exists and is measurable. Web. Posted 10 June, 2016.
  4. Hewett C W M. C W M Hewett The Great Debate. Web. Posted July 2006.
  5. McLeod Saul. Saul Mcleod The Great Debate. Web. Published May 2013.
  6. Ram. Ram Determinism Vs Free Will '. Web. Last Modified 14, December 2013.

[1] [2] [3]

[4]
  1. Harris, Sam. Sam Harris The Information Philosopher. Web. Written April, 1967.
  2. Krueger, Joachim. Joachim Krueger Five Arguments For Free Will. Web. Posted 11 March, 2018.
  3. Cave, Stephen. Stephen Cave Free Will exists and is measurable. Web. Posted 10 June, 2016.
  4. McLeod Saul. Saul Mcleod The Great Debate. Web. Published May 2013.