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A 'proof' of God's existence - free will
#1
A 'proof' of God's existence - free will
Just to ground the discussion - I find very little justification to believe in a theistic entity.  However, I do not consider myself an atheist.  At least not yet.  And I continue to search for logical and scientific justification for such belief in the name of intellectual honesty.  I will readily admit to and even argue for atheist-like arguments, and I have been banned from religious forums many times simply because, as I was told, my arguments were depressing the believers.  That being said, there are a few interesting philosophical points that I don;t think atheists can answer.  Here's one:

Consider free will.  No matter how you look at it, I can't for the life of me see how there is ANY possibility free will exists, whether there is a God or not.  Clearly, if you take the deterministic side of things, there is no free will.  But even if you subscribe to Liberatarianism, you STILL have to allow for randomness in your actions.  In other words, even if we agree that there is a 50% chance I eat that cheeseburger, the execution of that choice cannot be mine and mine alone.  WHY did I eat the cheeseburger (if I did so)?  The concept of 'choice' is nothing more than the random selection of certain probabilities.  In other words, there is NO free will.  Randomness does not equal choice.  Determinism does not equal choice.  No free will either way.

The above would widely be considered as points against Theism - and rightly so.  So here is the question then.  If there is no free will, WHY then do we have the ILLUSION of free will?  There is no evolutionary benefit to our minds thinking we act freely.  Procreation of species would not be dependent upon such an illusion.  An automaton would act the way it would act, and would react the way it would react - an internal understanding of WHY it did so is irrelevant.  So WHY then do we BELIEVE we act freely?  Could, perhaps, such illusion be 'provided' by a supernatural being?  Could we thus have a soul that encapsulates this illusion? 

Is this "proof" of a God? Not really - which is why I put the term in quotes in the subject.  But I find the question very interesting.  My own rational musings have led me to consider that the "illusion" of free will is in actuality the FEEDBACK loop of how our decisions affect our future actions.  For example, if I got a stomach ache from eating that cheeseburger, my future probability of eating it would drop to 40%.  This neurological process manifests as 'free will', similar to how transfer of short-term to long-term memory manifests as a dream.

Regardless, I haven't decided yet what the answer is.   I welcome your thoughts.
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#2
RE: A 'proof' of God's existence - free will
Quote:However, I do not consider myself an atheist. At least not yet.

Do you think it's intellectually honest to be "not" an atheist until further examination?
Shouldn't one "be" an atheist until they make up their mind?

If one already carries the baggage of religion, then all bets are off. Their logic circuits are already damaged and no logical discussion can be had.
It always ends up as trolling.
Do you think you may be a troll?
No God, No fear.
Know God, Know fear.
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#3
RE: A 'proof' of God's existence - free will
(April 27, 2020 at 9:58 pm)mrj Wrote: Just to ground the discussion - I find very little justification to believe in a theistic entity.  However, I do not consider myself an atheist.  At least not yet.  And I continue to search for logical and scientific justification for such belief in the name of intellectual honesty.  I will readily admit to and even argue for atheist-like arguments, and I have been banned from religious forums many times simply because, as I was told, my arguments were depressing the believers.  That being said, there are a few interesting philosophical points that I don;t think atheists can answer.  Here's one:

Consider free will.  No matter how you look at it, I can't for the life of me see how there is ANY possibility free will exists, whether there is a God or not.  Clearly, if you take the deterministic side of things, there is no free will.  But even if you subscribe to Liberatarianism, you STILL have to allow for randomness in your actions.  In other words, even if we agree that there is a 50% chance I eat that cheeseburger, the execution of that choice cannot be mine and mine alone.  WHY did I eat the cheeseburger (if I did so)?  The concept of 'choice' is nothing more than the random selection of certain probabilities.  In other words, there is NO free will.  Randomness does not equal choice.  Determinism does not equal choice.  No free will either way.

The above would widely be considered as points against Theism - and rightly so.  So here is the question then.  If there is no free will, WHY then do we have the ILLUSION of free will?  There is no evolutionary benefit to our minds thinking we act freely.  Procreation of species would not be dependent upon such an illusion.  An automaton would act the way it would act, and would react the way it would react - an internal understanding of WHY it did so is irrelevant.  So WHY then do we BELIEVE we act freely?  Could, perhaps, such illusion be 'provided' by a supernatural being?  Could we thus have a soul that encapsulates this illusion? 

Is this "proof" of a God? Not really - which is why I put the term in quotes in the subject.  But I find the question very interesting.  My own rational musings have led me to consider that the "illusion" of free will is in actuality the FEEDBACK loop of how our decisions affect our future actions.  For example, if I got a stomach ache from eating that cheeseburger, my future probability of eating it would drop to 40%.  This neurological process manifests as 'free will', similar to how transfer of short-term to long-term memory manifests as a dream.

Regardless, I haven't decided yet what the answer is.   I welcome your thoughts.

If God did not exist, there could be no free will since everything would determined by natural processes that started at the beginning of the Universe.  If the Universe could be rewound and set in motion at the same point once again it would unfold in exactly the same way every single time.  So no matter what I do I will always do what I have been predetermined to do.  I could try to somehow work against it but of course that was predetermined as well. 

Because God created the Universe, and God is transcendent of the material world, He can give His creatures the ability to make meaningful choices.  Their behavior is no longer solely determined by the initial conditions of the Universe, because God is also influencing their behavior.  If they are predetermined by the Universe to like vanilla ice cream for instance, God can influence them in such a way as to prefer chocolate ice cream. 

Human beings also have a spiritual nature which transcends material reality because they possess a soul and a spirit.  These are additional influences which feed into the choices that they make.  They are influenced not just by the material world, but also the spiritual world and the creatures in it.  So, human behavior could never be predicted by material science only.  Even if you knew and understood everything about the initial conditions of the Universe you would still be unable to accurately predict human behavior.
~Jesus didn't come to make bad people good.  He came to make dead people alive~
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#4
RE: A 'proof' of God's existence - free will
At work.

Two very interesting posts. I thank you both mr j and cleansed.

In regards to the matter of 'Free will'? As a simple lay man I'm still learning about the concept and at the moment actually have no idea as to whether such a thing 'Is' or 'Is not' or if there should be a completely different question asksd.

As for cleansed assertion that (Paraphrasing) "Reality is running on rails"

I disagree because we 'Know' there exist things within reality that are completely random and non deterministic.

Quantum interactions being one such example. We definitely know that Uranium falls apart in a cascade of succeding elements untill Lead left/the result.

(I often quip that if Uranium transformed into Gold, there'd be a fekton more reactors built Tongue )

Now at no point in such decay can it be said or pointed too as to which atoms specifically nor exactly when such a splitting will happen.

Justt that, after 'X' amount of time. Half of the Uranium atoms will have 'Decayed' into the next 'Smaller 'element.

If some one more knowledgeable would like to refresh my ageing memory in regards to 'Brownian motion' that would be a treat.

Hope my ramblings suffice.

Cheers.
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#5
RE: A 'proof' of God's existence - free will
(April 27, 2020 at 9:58 pm)mrj Wrote:   If there is no free will, WHY then do we have the ILLUSION of free will? 
Maybe we don't.  We notice that we select and actualize.  You were mentioning before that you were aware of other things™ which might have forced some given outcome, and if you're aware of that, then there either is no illusion, or it's not a very compelling illusion.
(April 28, 2020 at 2:14 am)cleansed Wrote: If God did not exist, there could be no free will since everything would determined by natural processes that started at the beginning of the Universe.  If the Universe could be rewound and set in motion at the same point once again it would unfold in exactly the same way every single time.  So no matter what I do I will always do what I have been predetermined to do.  I could try to somehow work against it but of course that was predetermined as well. 
That would be fatalist universe. It's certainly true that in a fatalist universe you would either have not free will..or it wouldn't matter to outcomes if you did. The same may be true in the real universe as well, lol. Additionally, if it's true, then it's true regardless of the existence of any gods.

(April 28, 2020 at 3:38 am)Peebo-Thuhlu Wrote: In regards to the matter of 'Free will'? As a simple lay man I'm still learning about the concept and at the moment actually have no idea as to whether such a thing 'Is' or 'Is not' or if there should be a completely different question asksd.

It's that one, there at the end, IMO.  Free will is a component of our superstitions - folk stories about what we are and how we work...and whatever factual effect we might be referring to when we use the term, that's still a thing.

The flashing lights are real even if pixies aren't.



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#6
RE: A 'proof' of God's existence - free will
(April 28, 2020 at 12:14 am)ignoramus Wrote:
Quote:However, I do not consider myself an atheist.  At least not yet.

Do you think it's intellectually honest to be "not" an atheist until further examination?
Shouldn't one "be" an atheist until they make up their mind?

If one already carries the baggage of religion, then all bets are off. Their logic circuits are already damaged and no logical discussion can be had.
It always ends up as trolling.
Do you think you may be a troll?

> Shouldn't one "be" an atheist until they make up their mind?

Of course - but some of use were indoctrinated into a religion as children and have deal with such baggage.  I am definitely not a troll.  
I spent 10 years at Catholic school and was raised by a very religious mother.  I owe it to myself to examine all avenues.
As I said at first, most people would already consider me an atheist.  In fact, I bet in any other forum I *would* be an atheist.


I think the OP is at least a reasonable and logical question.  Why do we have the ILLUSION of free will?  Perhaps you think free will is real.  I can't see that.  So such an illusion could be provided by a 'divine' spark, no?  I'm not saying it is - but nearly every theist "proof" I have seen can be refuted.  I came up with this one myself.  
If I posted this in a religious forum, I'd get a bunch of rambling kumbya come-back-to-us useless responses.
So...what do you think?
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#7
RE: A 'proof' of God's existence - free will
If you can't see that free will is real, then you possess no such illusion.

Is it more likely that some other human being has a wholly unknown experience or perception, unknown to you..or that they express a common perception in the language of their indoctrination?



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#8
RE: A 'proof' of God's existence - free will
(April 28, 2020 at 2:14 am)cleansed Wrote:
(April 27, 2020 at 9:58 pm)mrj Wrote: Regardless, I haven't decided yet what the answer is.   I welcome your thoughts.

If God did not exist, there could be no free will since everything would determined by natural processes that started at the beginning of the Universe.  If the Universe could be rewound and set in motion at the same point once again it would unfold in exactly the same way every single time.  So no matter what I do I will always do what I have been predetermined to do.  I could try to somehow work against it but of course that was predetermined as well. 

Because God created the Universe, and God is transcendent of the material world, He can give His creatures the ability to make meaningful choices.  Their behavior is no longer solely determined by the initial conditions of the Universe, because God is also influencing their behavior.  If they are predetermined by the Universe to like vanilla ice cream for instance, God can influence them in such a way as to prefer chocolate ice cream. 

Human beings also have a spiritual nature which transcends material reality because they possess a soul and a spirit.  These are additional influences which feed into the choices that they make.  They are influenced not just by the material world, but also the spiritual world and the creatures in it.  So, human behavior could never be predicted by material science only.  Even if you knew and understood everything about the initial conditions of the Universe you would still be unable to accurately predict human behavior.

This is a typical religious response.  We have free will because God gave us free will, even though all evidence, logic, and intuition conflicts with such a statement.  Besides, the notion that God is omniscient is incompatible with free will in any way.  Even ideas such as God having 'middle' knowledge and knowledge of all possibilities including that which will happen make no sense.  Many modern theologians dispense with God being omniscient - it just can't be reconciled.

Regardless, saying God 'gives us the ability to make meaningful choices' is an assertion with no underlying rationale, much less proof. If so, HOW do we make such decisions? How do we change the current deterministic course of events in a willful way?  No answer.  Because you can't.  Even those who claim there is randomness at the quantum level cannot resolve this, because it is STILL randomness.  Execution of some probability is not willful action.  

Which still leads me to WHY do we believe we have free will? What evolutionary benefit is there to thinking my actions are willful when they are not?  The outcome would be the same either way.  Again, I bring up the example of dreaming.  Dreaming is an evolutionary disadvantage.  It requires you to sleep and be defenseless.  Yet we do dream because that is the manifestation of our nerves firing as short-term memory transforms into long-term memory.  So why is deterministic or random (depending on your view) action manifested as the illusion of 'free will'?  I don't have an answer (although I suggested one above).  As such, could such an illusion be provided to us via divine spark?
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#9
RE: A 'proof' of God's existence - free will
(April 27, 2020 at 9:58 pm)mrj Wrote: Just to ground the discussion - I find very little justification to believe in a theistic entity.  However, I do not consider myself an atheist.  At least not yet.  And I continue to search for logical and scientific justification for such belief in the name of intellectual honesty.  I will readily admit to and even argue for atheist-like arguments, and I have been banned from religious forums many times simply because, as I was told, my arguments were depressing the believers.  That being said, there are a few interesting philosophical points that I don;t think atheists can answer.  Here's one:

Consider free will.  No matter how you look at it, I can't for the life of me see how there is ANY possibility free will exists, whether there is a God or not.  Clearly, if you take the deterministic side of things, there is no free will.  But even if you subscribe to Liberatarianism, you STILL have to allow for randomness in your actions.  In other words, even if we agree that there is a 50% chance I eat that cheeseburger, the execution of that choice cannot be mine and mine alone.  WHY did I eat the cheeseburger (if I did so)?  The concept of 'choice' is nothing more than the random selection of certain probabilities.  In other words, there is NO free will.  Randomness does not equal choice.  Determinism does not equal choice.  No free will either way.

The above would widely be considered as points against Theism - and rightly so.  So here is the question then.  If there is no free will, WHY then do we have the ILLUSION of free will?  There is no evolutionary benefit to our minds thinking we act freely.  Procreation of species would not be dependent upon such an illusion.  An automaton would act the way it would act, and would react the way it would react - an internal understanding of WHY it did so is irrelevant.  So WHY then do we BELIEVE we act freely?  Could, perhaps, such illusion be 'provided' by a supernatural being?  Could we thus have a soul that encapsulates this illusion? 

Is this "proof" of a God? Not really - which is why I put the term in quotes in the subject.  But I find the question very interesting.  My own rational musings have led me to consider that the "illusion" of free will is in actuality the FEEDBACK loop of how our decisions affect our future actions.  For example, if I got a stomach ache from eating that cheeseburger, my future probability of eating it would drop to 40%.  This neurological process manifests as 'free will', similar to how transfer of short-term to long-term memory manifests as a dream.

Regardless, I haven't decided yet what the answer is.   I welcome your thoughts.

Thomas Jefferson considered himself a "deist". But so what. There is no evidence for either a "G" specific label "God" or a "g" "god".

The universe is 13.8 billion years old and has trillions of galaxies. The universe is full of violent events such as supernovas, gamma rays, black holes. Our planet is 4 billion years old and has had 5 mass extinction events of which have killed 99% of life. The life left now is only 1%. And in the future humans will go extinct too.  50 million to 60 million humans die from everything you can think of worldwide, on average per year. We die stillborn, childhood famine/disease, and all ages die from natural disasters, disease, crime and war.

These facts don't point to a thoughtful cause at all. These facts merely point to nature happening and humans merely being a blip in all this.
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#10
RE: A 'proof' of God's existence - free will
(April 28, 2020 at 10:19 am)mrj Wrote: Which still leads me to WHY do we believe we have free will?
Yup.
Quote:What evolutionary benefit is there to thinking my actions are willful when they are not? 

There's evolutionary benefit to superstition, privately held or socially organized.

The two things are entirely unrelated. The evolutionary benefit of an imaginary organ or ability is a non starter..but superstition and tradition are not imaginary organs or abilities.



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