Free will and Omniscience (in Off-topic)
Again, this is not (to start with...) being aimed at a single religion.
Can free will exist alongside an Omniscient creature?
If there exists at least one being in our universe that is Omniscient, does Free will exist? Or are our lives then nothing more than a pre written play, where we act out or parts thinking we make our own choices, ignorant to the fact everything about our lives is already know?
An example. In the next paragraph I will type a single capital letter purely at random. There is no influence on my choice, the letter will be of my own free will.
So far so good. Now, there exists a creature that is omniscient. It has been omniscient for as long as it has been alive. From it's first moment of sentience, it knew everything.
It knew, before I had even created this post, the single capital letter I would type two paragraphs above. It knew this before I was born (let's assume this creature has been alive for a while, at least before I was born...).
With this knowledge of it's, could I have typed any other letter but the U I did? If so, this creature couldn't therefore be omniscient. As it wouldn't have known I'd type a U.
If I couldn't have typed anything but a U, then I have no choice in the matter. I have no choice in anything. No fre will. Whatever I do is already mapped out, I just believe my actions are of my own will as I know no better...
October 15 2005 6:27 PM EDT
Not to be irrelevant but are you talking about Jonathan?
But seriously, for sake of argument/discussion, lets say an all knowing all seeing being exists. I'd like to believe that he/she is like a parent. Creates us and sets us on our way. If you take the Christian view that God created us in his image - I like surprises, I like not knowing what is around the corner. So I'd like to think that if this Being is like me he/she/it would just put us into the world and leave us to do what we do, waiting perhaps to see what it is we choose to do...
I would hate to think that everything is written. If you are are Christian the idea that everything is already written/known kinds of puts the practice of prayer into a sticky area doesn't it? Why ask for God's help if everything is written?
And if everything is written/known already that kind of suggests the Ultimate Being - be it God or whatever - is not actually all powerful - or can he change what's written on a whim?
"Not to be irrelevant but are you talking about Jonathan?"
Unless Jon is all knowing... ;)
October 15 2005 7:10 PM EDT
Well the question sort of closes in on itself from the beginning doesn't it. In order to believe in an Omniscient being we need, by definition, faith in that beings existence. It would be impossible, even for the infinite being, to prove to non-infinite beings that he/she/it is indeed infinite. So he/she/it shows itself, rearranges the world, stops time, does really cool card tricks. So what, it still can't be proven in this world that his/her/it's power is without some limit. We ourselves would have to be able to go beyond that limit which God could not exceed in order to see it.
Now let's move on to free will. This is much more complicated actually but I'll just skip to the end. After all is said and done and the mud slinging stops between the two opposing sides of a philosophical debate, one side has failed to convince the other that there is or is not free will. Why? Well, just like God, one can always fall back on faith or lack of faith in free will. Yet, this still doesn't answer your question does it?
I suppose they seem contradictory enough, but a skilled philosopher could connect the two ideas. The simple view point is that they are nothing more then two sides of the same coin just like say night and day or Ying and Yang. This still requires a lot of hack-and-slash philosophy that Im not prepared to do so Ill just skip to the end on this too.
Another example would be to reach out to the Islamic religion. They believe that we are all drops of water in the same infinite consciousness. The 'lake' or 'pool' of all the individual souls amounts to god. Many gangster terms have Islamic roots, such as the term "little G". The 'G' here actually stands for God. In this belief system we are all little Gods and help to make up the one and only true God. One would not need to stretch the belief system much further in order to allow that a person to have free will and yet let there still be a truly Omniscient being.
However, you should note that a person would require a special outlook on their religion in order to believe in both in my opinion. So if you want confirmation that someone is just stupid, I suppose room for that still exists.
October 15 2005 7:16 PM EDT
I was thinkin it wouldn't be a lot of fun to be the creature that was omniscient. You would know that you had no choice in your actions. Although this would imply some freedom of thought, which the all-knowing deal doesn't seem to include.
I guess the ability to question my own existence makes free will as real as anything else I'll encounter.
For my question, I'm removing faith by asserting that this omniscient being, whatever form it takes, exists.
Knowing this, can we then also claim that individual free will also exists?
Especially ithout knowing of, meeting or being interfered with by this omnisicent being.
If it never interacts with you personally in any way, can you then still have free will?
October 15 2005 7:24 PM EDT
How could a Omniscient being not interfere with the life of any other being?
October 15 2005 7:32 PM EDT
If there is some omniscient creature that knows what you will do before you do it, what difference does that have on your actions? You don't know the consequences of your own actions beforehand, and this omniscient creature certainly isn't about to tell you, therefore the fact that something knows what you will do - and what yours actions will cause - makes no difference at all.
Even if this omniscient creature decided and controlled the actions you would perform, you don't know that your actions are being controlled, therefore it matters not whether or not you have free will - your actions are the same, regardless.
Thus the question of whether or not there exists an omniscient creature is completely irrelevant. Everyone's actions will be exactly the same whether or not there is something that knows, or even controls, our actions.
October 15 2005 7:38 PM EDT
Taking a look at my life and my choices so far - if we don't have free will and there is an omniscient being out there somewhere then my life is proof that God has a sense of humour.....
October 15 2005 7:38 PM EDT
Douglas Adams put it this way: "it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the NON-existence of God. The argument goes like this: 'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, `for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.' `But,' says Man, `The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.' `Oh dear,' says God, `I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly disappears in a puff of logic."
Else in his books: "There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened."
Mael, it's not irrelevant. Think about my example. It make no difference to me whether I think I could have typed any other letter or not.
But could I have typed anything other than a 'U'?
October 15 2005 9:40 PM EDT
GL, my point is this:
Lack of proof of the existence of an omniscient creature is equivalent to having free will.
We can look at it this way:
If you had been able to type something other than "U", does that disprove the existence of an omniscient creature? Does it prove that you have free will?
We can't prove or disprove either of those situations, because we are not omniscient. Since we are not omniscient, we have free will.
That's it! Only the omniscient do not have free will! How could they have any choice in their actions if they only know what they will do?
We on the other hand, do not know the future, therefore we can perform whatever action we want. The fact that there may be something out there that knows what we will do doesn't change the fact that we believe we can choose our actions.
"doesn't change the fact that we believe we can choose our actions. "
Main point. We might think w can choose our own actions, but we are just ignorant and deluding ourselves.
Ignorance does not equal free will.
"If you had been able to type something other than "U", does that disprove the existence of an omniscient creature?"
Yes, both situations cannot exist. Therefore either we have free will, or an omniscient creature exists.
Everything is relative, you typing that U, could have been pre-planned. Yet, you being the one playing out the part have no idea of it, and thus to you it can be "free will."
Nothing is definite in our world, not religion, nor science, and definitely not Monkey Business (politics).
October 16 2005 10:02 AM EDT
whoa now - how did predestination get mixed up with omniscience and free will? That's like buying someone a birthday cake and knowing they'll eat a piece - it is their choice to eat one, but you knew they were going to. Knowing that someone is going to try to dribble the ball to the other end of the basketball court, though they could just throw it out if they felt like it - its a foreknowledge, not necessarily a planning out of your actions. You could type a U, and the being knew you would do that. But if you decide to type a Z instead, well, the being knew you would change your mind and type a Z instead - its like looking back on something in the past, but in reverse. I know what I'm saying may be difficult to comprehend for some, but this is my understanding of how that concept works.
October 16 2005 10:07 AM EDT
"Yes, both situations cannot exist. Therefore either we have free will, or an omniscient creature exists."
Not true, because if an omniscient being exists then you have to know the nature of that being to know if free-will exists. Anyone knowing that something will happen could be considered omniscient, for example, I know my wife loves chocolate, therefore, if I leave a chocolate out on the counter, I am 100% certain that she will eat it. Does that make her choice determined? I would argue no, because she "could" pick it up and throw it in the trash.
Knowing the nature of reality i.e. the laws of the universe in the case of an Omniscient being does not rob man of his free-will unless that Omniscient being removes the choice factor from the equation and uses compulsion upon mankind. I can know that my son will most likely study and get an A on a test, it in no way removes his choices in that situation.
I believe that the Omniscient being knows the minute details to the extent that knowing the future is a by-product but that in no way removes my personal free-will.
One last attempt at explaining my point...
In science we have action and re-action. Imagine if you have a perfect and complete understanding of all scientific laws and processes. You could predict the weather, chemical reactions in human brains, and an infinite amount of other things. Free-will can exist with an Omniscient being in the picture as well.
OB, there a vast difference between having a very good assumption about what might happen in an event, and knowing the outcome to the event years before the event even takes place.
If I had typed a Z, it would have been known before I was born, I wouldn't have been able to type the U no matter how much I thought about it.
As it stands, I didn't type a Z, but a U. Is there any possibility (with the existence of an all knowing creature) that I could have typed anyother letter? No. None. Zero. If that's the case, then surely I have no choice in anything, no matter how free I think I am.
"for example, I know my wife loves chocolate, therefore, if I leave a chocolate out on the counter, I am 100% certain that she will eat it. Does that make her choice determined? I would argue no, because she "could" pick it up and throw it in the trash."
:) Exatly, but you are no all knowing.
"I can know that my son will most likely study and get an A on a test, it in no way removes his choices in that situation."
Most likely... If you knew he would get an A, and know every question with every answer he would write (even before he was born), it moves the option he has to answer any other way.
"Free-will can exist with an Omniscient being in the picture as well."
I can't see how it can. If the history of everything is already mapped before anything even starts, how can it be other than it already will be? How can people not just 'act' the lives that are already known to be in front of them?
Also consider Schrödinger's cat, the oft quoted thought experiment.
The 50/50 outcome is unknown until it is observed.
In my example above, the 1 in 26 outcome of my single letter choice is unknown until observed (I actually post the letter in question).
If an omniscient being exists, the outcome is observed before it even takes place. Therefore there is no choice in the matter.
October 17 2005 9:49 AM EDT
Well, I guess we need to take a step back and define "free-will" or what a "choice" is, because knowing something will happen does not remove the equational pieces that make individual choices in my view.
I suppose so. If it all boils down to an individual level (As long as you think you have any choice in the matter, you do...), my question is probably moot.
I hope we have free will. It would be sad to learn that our actions and everything about us is just a pile of chemical reactions on a sub-sub-sub(etc. etc.)atomic level.
Just think, if everything we do is determined by biological reactions on a level we haven't even begun to fathom inside our brains. We are highly evolved creatures, what other animal has the capacity to learn about itself, to question how it was made, and to learn and experiment with itself even. Furthermore, for us to be able to advance and further our life using our own means to do so proves that we are able to surpass whatever being created us. We are able to command it.
If a omniscient being exists, how would this creature, whatever it is, be able to create something such as us that is able to surpass and even command that omniscient creature. Think about it. If the omniscient creature IS omniscient, then it could not be able to create something that was more omniscient then it already is. To create something better then itself would be an impossibility. Therefore, to have a omniscient being is an impossibility.
(keep in mind I'm generalizing here, and yes I'm aware I glossed over a lot)
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