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True2Ourselves Forums   > Community Topics > Christianity & Science  > The Science of Free Will

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Old 02-23-2009, 07:44 PM
Mark's Avatar
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Default The Science of Free Will

There is a very interesting correlation between science & religion... it has to do with free will. If the Universe worked solely on predictable mathematical models, then there would be no room for free will. For example, if you rewind the clock back to the early Universe and somehow knew the exact position of every particle and the exact forces acting on those particles, then theoretically, you would be able to extrapolate the future of everything with 100% certainty - including life.

From a scientific perspective, we are simply part of the Universe... and everything in the Universe is controlled solely by "natural laws" ... however, our actions are not limited to the effects of natural forces - we have the unique ability to choose. So the question, therefore, is where does that ability come from? If the mechanics of the Universe work solely on predictable forces, then how does one account for free will? The answer to this question is truly amazing - and some scientists consider it a real connection between science & religion.

Let's talk about the Uncertainty Principle. The uncertainty principle is a phrase used in quantum physics (study of characteristics of subatomic particles) that tells us the Universe is governed not by "certainty" - but "probability." In other words, we can never say for certain what will happen - only what will "probably" happen. The frame work for the entire Universe revolves around this concept (probability - not certainty). In short, if it weren't for this uncertainty principle, we would be unable to choose... we would not have free will.

Our free will guides our actions - it allows us to choose good over evil... in a sense, we are designed to be governed by our will (the uncertainty principle gives us the ability to freely choose). The uncertainty principle is tied to the entire Universe (not just us). Therefore, one could argue that the Universe itself is designed to be governed/controlled by a "divine" will. Our will controls our actions - God's will controls everything else... that's how it was designed!

*Here's a snippet from an interesting article that talks about the Uncertainty Principle and its correlation with religion:


Last edited by Mark : 02-25-2009 at 05:53 PM. Reason: grammar mistake
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  #2  
Old 02-23-2009, 09:09 PM
antonio
 
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Default Re: The Science of Free Will

Dear Mark--you wrote
Quote:
however, our actions are not limited to the effects of natural forces - we have the unique ability to choose. So the question, therefore, is where does that ability come from? If the mechanics of the Universe works solely on predictable forces, then how does one account for free will?
Allow me to offer a counter statement that dissolves the account of "free will" For two reasons, there is no such thing as free will. In exercising the will, we have a range of choices, supposedly. But:::

1. "Free will is predetermined just as much as "natural forces. If we knew all the pre-existing events, our physiology, biology, serotonin uptake, psychology, ad infinitum of the circumstances that influence us, we would also know what choice anyone would make at a particular time, just as we would know how natural events would play out. "Free Will" is not free at all, but like everything, predetermined? Just as you said, if one knew everything, then one would know what choice another would make under a set of circumstances.
Can we ever know then? If we can't then how can we say there is free will?

2.Also. Further, there really is no free will if all the available choices are determined for us. That is, your father takes you out for ice cream, He tells you can have either vanilla, strawberry or chocolate because that's what the drug store he is going to, has. He refuses to go another block to 31 Flavors for pineapple coconut, which you love. Free choice? Yes, you can choose from what someone else has chosen but not from your own list. It's l For example, you're being chased by a gang of armed hoodlums. you come to a cliff. You have two choice go over the cliff or don't go over the cliff. But what if you could create an additional list of choices from flying, to the power to Zap the armed hoodlums?
It's like your freedom to choose from a menu at the Starlight Cafe but not being allowed to go to another cafe to peruse their menu.

So, we can never say we have free will. And even if we want to deny the uncertainty as set out in 1.(supra) we still can only choose from someone else' s list.
Werner Heisenberg is wrong. The uncertainties of quantum mechanics is a function of our own limitations. All those tiny quantum are part of God and He knows what He is doing. Everything is the result of cause and effect...EXCEPT grace.

antonio


------am i out on a limb or what???????
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  #3  
Old 02-23-2009, 10:29 PM
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Default Re: The Science of Free Will

Antonio, with all due respect, it's a little short sighted to say Werner Heisenberg is wrong about this... the Uncertainty Principle is a very well understood scientific phenomenon. Read up on it: The Uncertainty Principle (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

*Also I suggest reading up on the super position principle: Superposition principle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Even if we know every single variable, we can not determine the outcome with "certainty" (only probability)... and this is not because we do not posses the means to measure a system properly - it has to do with the nature of the Universe itself i.e. certain events are truly random. This not a "Mark theory" ... this is well understood science. There are truly random events (that's the underlying principle of quantum physics i.e. "statistical probabilities").

Here's one example that a professor gave us back in the days of engineering classes... he said think of the ignition system of an internal combustion car motor... as the piston approaches top dead center, a predefined sequence of events are put into place that guarantee a given result (the spark which ignites the fuel). In a typical car motor, this happens 1000's of times per minute. Now imagine all the cars running in world at the same time - all sending a spark to ignite fuel ... we're talking trillions of sparks every minute. However, every now and then, (even in a perfect system) a spark plug will fail to ignite... and there is absolutely no way to predict with "certainty" when or why this happens i.e. the "Uncertainty Principle."

In short, the there are "truly random" events - the impossible is possible. In the quantum world (the glue of everything) there is true unpredictability. Our very minds operate on principles associated with quantum mechanics. Therefore, "free will" is a fact - our actions can not be predicted with certainty... it's a law that was written into the very fibers of our existence.

It's true that you can create scenarios where we are not free to choose. However, the ultimate purpose for free will is to choose God... and there are no scenarios that you can create that takes away that ability. It doesn't matter where you are or what you are doing - we'll always have the ability to freely choose (or reject) God.

Last edited by Mark : 02-23-2009 at 10:37 PM.
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  #4  
Old 02-23-2009, 10:54 PM
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Default Re: The Science of Free Will

Who has know the mind of Lord to instruct him? Verse from bible. It the bible tell that God knows the end from the beginning wouldn't we suppose with that same mega

power control all circumstance. Indeed the Lord is Lord of all circumstances. He control all red light and all the green lights and yellow light and he puts all colors together and

he gets white light. If we try to put all colors together we get gray and black. The question is why is it that we fear that we don't have free moral agency and dominion if

we are in the care of loving, caring creator who put everything into clockwork motion? Why can't we trust God to that length? Why do we fear to be controlled for our own

good? May you be blessed. Amen.

Pancho

JLOTW
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  #5  
Old 02-23-2009, 10:56 PM
antonio
 
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Default Re: The Science of Free Will

Dear mark--I've read what you cite. Your discussion makes a big leap from the theoretical to an actual event. It is misleading to say things happen randomly with an example of the "spark plugs firing" and ignore your stated premise that if we new everything from first cause we would also know a later effect When we observe the firing of the spark plug, no matter how carefully we observe, we never know all the preceding causes, we don't even know the chain of cause/effect for the last 100 years. Whereas the chain goes back billions and trillions. So your comparing apples and oranges.
As to randomness in physics, are you and Werner taking the position we have reached the end of knowledge of the entire field of physics? If not, then isn't it possible to conclude that what appears today as random will tomorrow just be another effect. I'm sure your aware of particles acting differently when they observed vs when they are not observed. Doesn't that phenomenon and all it's implications present an infinite potential for particle behavior?

As to free will, you conclude without discussion or reason. I am willing to wager that we can fly to Tibet and find a new born infant and I will predict that she will never choose God nor will she choose to reject Him--such choices are not on her "menu."
My distant relatives in Hong Kong have a belief I cant understand. It deals with spirits and some kind of reincarnation (not Buddhism) The older ones have no knowledge of our God. They neither reject or accept--again the choices aren't on their menu.

I'm confident God takes care of all these mysteries and I am also confident that while some effects may seem random to us, nothing is outside God's knowledge.
antonio

Last edited by antonio : 02-23-2009 at 11:09 PM. Reason: spelling
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  #6  
Old 02-23-2009, 11:02 PM
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Default Re: The Science of Free Will

Very intresting knowledge here Mark. Thank you for posting this.
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  #7  
Old 02-24-2009, 08:19 AM
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Default Re: The Science of Free Will

Antonio,

I didn't want to turn this thread into an argument. I am not an expert in Quantum mechanics, however, I've heard experts talk about quantum theory. In case you did not read that article I posted in my first thread, I will quote an important snippet here:

Unfortunately many textbooks, even at the university level, say that the uncertainty is a result of our human limitations, and the fact that our experiments cannot make measurements that are sufficiently precise. This is not true! Uncertainty is a real feature of the quantum world, and this is what makes the quantum world run in accordance with the rules of probability.

These facts (the above referenced notes) were researched by a very accomplished engineering professor (who asked to remain anonymous for this particular discussion).

If you disagree with the theories of modern science in regards to quantum mechanics, then your argument is not with me - it's with the scientific community.

Any person can realize this phenomenon (uncertainty) is real by simply exploring their own psyche - "randomly" choosing thoughts & using your imagination to create "random" images - all a product of free will.

The scenarios you mention simply limit a person's choices due to 'lack of knowledge' - however, they still have free will. For example, if a person is being assaulted, another person can always choose to help (given they are physically capable). People have the ability to choose good over evil... what you're talking about in your scenarios is something completely different i.e. lack of knowledge and/or physical barriers that force a certain action (a reflex, for example).

Antonio... on one end of the spectrum, you disagree with modern science (quantum mechanics)... and on the other end of the spectrum, you disagree with the teachings of our faith (free will). I don't want to argue about this anymore because I don't see any common ground.

Beauty1, Thanks for the compliment - very much appreciated!
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  #8  
Old 02-24-2009, 10:31 AM
antonio
 
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Default Re: The Science of Free Will

Mark--Certainly, your not serious. Have I said something that offended you. there is nothing wrong with an argument certainly unless you mean out of all the definitions you select, "a quarrel; a dispute"
Quote:
argument-definition
1. A discussion in which disagreement is expressed; a debate.
2. A quarrel; a dispute.
3. Archaic. A reason or matter for dispute or contention: “sheath'd their swords for lack of argument” (Shakespeare).
2.
1. A course of reasoning aimed at demonstrating truth or falsehood: presented a careful argument for extraterrestrial life.
2. A fact or statement put forth as proof or evidence; a reason: The current low mortgage rates are an argument for buying a house now.
3. A set of statements in which one follows logically as a conclusion from the others.
3.
1. A summary or short statement of the plot or subject of a literary work.
2. A topic; a subject: “You and love are still my argument” (Shakespeare).
4. Logic. The minor premise in a syllogism.
5. Mathematics.
1. An independent variable of a function.
2. The angle of a complex number measured from the positive horizontal axis.
6. Computer Science. A value used to evaluate a procedure or subroutine.
7. Linguistics. In generative grammar, any of various positions occupied by a noun phrase in a sentence.
See, there is so much about "argument" which is good ...and it is that abundance of good that I intended. I thought my footnote acknowledging I was "out on a limb" gave sufficient clarification and some needed humor.
The common ground for any discussion is Reason and Logic and that is all I used. My only intended personal opinion was "I'm confident God takes care of all these mysteries and I am also confident that while some effects may seem random to us, nothing is outside God's knowledge." Do you perceive something radical here?
When one who wants to talk about something as heady as quantum mechanics and then proclaims the ultimate purpose of anything without logic or reason, I assume it was meant as a joke. Are you being serious here? The basic philosophical positions on the problem of free will has involved all the great philosophers dealing with 1. Is determinism true? and
2. Does free will exist?(Determinism is roughly defined as the view that all current and future events are causally necessitated by past events combined with the laws of nature-as you said. ) Certainly, can't we here take a stab at it?:
blessings

Let me finally remind you that none other than Albert Einstein, who believed that randomness is a reflection of our ignorance of some fundamental property of reality, is in agreement with my remarks. Einstein engaged in debates for many years on this subject.
antonio

Last edited by antonio : 02-24-2009 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 02-24-2009, 11:23 AM
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Default Re: The Science of Free Will

Antonio,

I understand debate can be healthy... however, I had two points I wanted to make with my post:

1. Quantum Physics states true randomness (not simply error by measurement - which does occur).

Again, this is not simply "my own personal perspective" ... it's widely accepted science. I cited notes that support that claim. If you disagree with the claims of modern quantum mechanics, then that's your decision. However, that is not your field of study and you have no basis to make such claims other than your personal feelings.

Here's another quote from wikipedia.org on the subject:

"According to several standard interpretations of quantum mechanics, microscopic phenomena are objectively random. That is, in an experiment where all causally relevant parameters are controlled, there will still be some aspects of the outcome which vary randomly. An example of such an experiment is placing a single unstable atom in a controlled environment; it cannot be predicted how long it will take for the atom to decay; only the probability of decay within a given time can be calculated.[3] Thus quantum mechanics does not specify the outcome of individual experiments but only the probabilities."



2. The connection between free will and the Uncertainty Principle.

Again, this was not my "personal discovery"... I suppose it's debatable, but not really... at least in the context I was putting it.

In order to have free will, the physical properties of the Universe would have to be designed in such a way to make that possible. Quantum mechanics suggest that they are. The ability to make choices based on our will power can not be explained solely by the effects of "natural forces." Our God-given "free will" allows us to choose right over wrong. I agree that some times people do not know what that is (right/wrong), however, they still have the ability to "choose" within them.

If you don't believe in free will (which I really can't figure out your position in that regard), then that's your decision... but I fail to see the point of debating something so obvious as free will.
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Old 02-24-2009, 01:08 PM
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Default Re: The Science of Free Will

Oh man, I shouldn't participate.. but I just can't help but notice things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark View Post
There is a very interesting correlation between science & religion... it has to do with free will. If the Universe worked solely on predictable mathematical models, then there would be no room for free will.
(I believe it is safe to assume that everyone collectively agrees that God exists, for the sake of argument)

So you say that if the universe worked soley on predictable mathematical models, then there would be no room for free will. Hmmm... Doesn't God 100% predict everything that happens within the scope of the universe? I mean he can't help but predict and foresee every minute thing that happens, right? So the validity of the Uncertainity principle exists soley within our own minds, doesn't it?

So the uncertainity principle is merely a realization of our limitation..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark View Post
For example, if you rewind the clock back to the early Universe and somehow knew the exact position of every particle and the exact forces acting on those particles, then theoretically, you would be able to extrapolate the future of everything with 100% certainty - including life.
That's God!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark View Post
From a scientific perspective, we are simply part of the Universe... and everything in the Universe is controlled solely by "natural laws" ... however, our actions are not limited to the effects of natural forces - we have the unique ability to choose.
Yes, in our minds we have the ability to choose, but not in a way that decides our future. See, we live within a universe created by a being that already knows our path, so our "choices" only represent different steps of God's predetermined plan.

The uncertainty principle, then, only applies to the limited human logic (as, of course, it is a man-made concept).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark View Post
So the question, therefore, is where does that ability come from? If the mechanics of the Universe works solely on predictable forces, then how does one account for free will?
From God's perspective, the mechanics of the universe work soley on predictable forces... So tell me, how does one account for free will? From God's perspective, we don't really have free will, as the uncertainty prinicple doesn't apply to his perspective on mankind. Perhaps free will is only something conjured up in our own limited minds...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark View Post
Let's talk about the Uncertainty Principle. The uncertainty principle is a phrase used in quantum physics (study of characteristics of subatomic particles) that tells us the Universe is governed not by "certainty" - but "probability." In other words, we can never say for certain what will happen - only what will "probably" happen. The frame work for the entire Universe revolves around this concept (probability - not certainty). In short, if it weren't for this uncertainty principle, we would be unable to choose... we would not have free will.
I agree. The uncertainty principle only exists in the confines of this universe. But since the uncertainty principle doesn't manifest itself in God's perspective, then God doesn't recognize the existence of free will (rather let's man assume there is free will).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark View Post
Our free will guides our actions - it allows us to choose good over evil... in a sense, we are designed to be governed by our will (the uncertainty principle gives us the ability to freely choose). The uncertainty principle is tied to the entire Universe (not just us). Therefore, one could argue that the Universe itself is designed to be governed/controlled by a "divine" will. Our will controls our actions - God's will controls everything else... that's how it was designed!
So explain how the uncertainty principle exists in a universe governed and controlled by a being not limited to the uncertainty principle. Perhaps what is uncertainty in our minds is certainty in God's.. What we view as choice is what God views as an action he already determined to happen.

Maybe you agree that the uncertainity principle doesn't exist from God's foreknowing perspective. If that's the case, we have something in common

I know you don't intend to argue, but you should at least explain how free will, the uncertainty principle, and God's predictive knowledge all tie in.

Looking forward to your response!

Last edited by Mikronman : 02-24-2009 at 01:23 PM.
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