Free Will is an illusion

Conclusion: There is no such thing as “free will.”

Premise #1: In our universe, no event happens without cause. The movement of every particle can be traced to a cause. Likewise the transfer of every nanojoule of energy can be traced to a cause.

Premise #2: The human brain functions under these same laws.

Consider - In the next thousand years, assuming we live that long, humans will create the ultimate computer (please spare me the reasons for technical impossibility: there is ample time in this example to overcome them; plus this is a thought exercise). This computer will be capable of “modeling” the entire universe. Let’s take this computer and link it up to some piece of matter (okay, fine - a piece of fairy cake), from which it can extrapolate the existance of the whole universe, down to the last subatomic particle 20 billion lightyears away.

Now, our computer will be able to deduce all of history. It can see “where” everything is situated now, and can figure out “where” everything was one nanosecond ago…ad infinitum.

Conversely, our computer can deduct where everything will be one nanosecond in the future…ad infinitum. (The 2nd law of thermodynamics and quantum physics, of course, will both be factored into these predictions.)

Human action will not be exempt from prediction. Our brains are made up of matter and energy, which is subject to the same physics as the rest of the universe. The computer can tell us what we are going to do as individuals; the decisions we will make and the actions we will take.

There is no room for free will in this equation.

…Unless you believe in ghosts or souls (which I do not). This whole argument is pretty much void for the religious types out there.

So. Anyone got any good arguments against Newton (even though he didn’t take it to this logical extreme)? Or shall I just buy into my amateur philosopher crap and thus be forced to renounce my agnosticism?

Don’t sell yourself short. Any “will” would still require a cause, even in “souls,” even in God.

If your OP is true, and free will exists, it would seem to point to the existence of a ‘God’

That’s “god”. And it would seem to point to the existence of some supernatural element, which doesn’t imply gods specifically.

Revenant Threshold I said it would seem to point to… not that there is a ‘God’, but yes it could be some other element that science could never explain.

If you can’t tell whether you have free will or not, then it doesn’t matter whether you have it or not.
Answering the question won’t help you. You still reach for food when you’re hungry, whether by choice or destiny disguised as choice. Doesn’t matter.
Like guessing how the world will end, fire or ice, it’s fun to think about but the answer won’t change anything we do.

So prove that free will exists. Prove it even CAN exist logically.

I don’t think it creates an easier ride for arguments in favour of freewill, but I believe the above premise is false. As I understand it, some of the things that happen at subatomic and quantum levels don’t need a cause; they just happen, or not (or a superposition of both happening and not happening at the same time).

Furthermore, if everything can be traced back to a cause, that would mean there is no origin of causes; no point at which the first thing happened - i.e. the universe has existed since eternity past.

Actually the point I was trying to make was that you seemed to be saying that it implies the existence of a “God” - God being the name used to describe the Christian god. From your last post though it seems like you might capatalise the word when referring to any gods, though. Could you please clarify?

More on topic, I don’t think “…that science could never explain” is a fair understanding. Certainly it could be that. But it could also be something we don’t understand due to a lack of knowledge, that in the future we might uncover. Of course, the problem here is that Randy’s argument is not just a scientific one, but a logical one. It’s possible there’s a flaw in the logic rather than the science, and i’m sure many people will come in soon to point out such flaws (if they haven’t I will, but for now I need sleep :stuck_out_tongue: ).

Also the main point you’re making seems to be “Aha, this must therefore point to the existence of some supernatural element”, which only works if the argument is correct but free will does exist, as you say. If free will doesn’t exist, then it doesn’t imply gods (and it specifically implies that the god known as God doesn’t exist, among others).

Sorry, but the computer postulated in the OP isn’t just technically impossible, it’s theoretically impossible for multiple reasons.

The thing is though, that even if people ultimately really don’t have free will, it doesn’t matter. We have no real alternative but to act as though we do. Given that the brain probably works sorta like a neural network, with it’s extreme complexity (in the mathematical sense of the word), it probably will never be possible to describe human behavior in mechanistic terms. We can’t even predict weather pefectly and that’s probably orders of magnitude less complicated than a human brain and mind. We could probably model a concious human brain (though some like Penrose doubt even that), but to actually explain why someone thinks and acts exactly as they do, like in the sense of decompiling a program, is beyond human comprehension.

So we’re left with human behavior being as unknowably random in cause as a throw of the dice. The ultimate irony is that if humans are running some sort of personality program, the only way to access this ultimate operating system seems to be in terms of moral belief: morality and religion seem to be the best “higher level language” we have for human behavior.

We’ve done this before, and recently at that.

Refutation 1: In our universe, there has only been one event and no prior cause exists. Or, rather, the division of our ~15-billion-year-old universe into separate “events” is a mental convenience and an illusion. It’s an illusion we find useful, but don’t get too carried away. Every “event” is a subdivision of the whole. As Alan Watts says, the preceding “event” no more causes the “event” that follows than the head of a cat entering the living room “causes” the cat’s tail.

And from Premise #2:

Nope. Can’t even model the weather. Didn’t you read your Chaos theory? In order to model the entire universe, the computer would have to be as complex as the universe it is modeling, which quickly becomes a recursiveness problem if nothing else.

Determinism’s an illusion. The universe is here on purpose.

Randy, meet Spinoza.

He’s someone you should get to know.

Also, consider that if this is true, you had no choice but to start this thread; you had no real creative control over the choice of words used to express your argument against free will; you are sitting there thinking you disagree with people about free will - only it’s not you thinking at all, it’s just something the universe happens to be doing right now.

You will either answer me on this, or you will not, but the words will not be chosen by you; they couldn’t have been anything other than whatever they are.

Well, you aren’t getting any argument from me. I completely agree. Though I might argue that it’s irrelevant, except maybe with regards to how we treat others, such as violent criminals.

That’s all.

Newtonian mechanics, simply, are not how the universe works.
Now, I’m not even going to try to figure out how quantum mechanical subatomic effects might alter your machine, but I’m pretty sure they will.
Anyone care to figure it out?

So how does this fail to result in some kind of bleak fatalism? If we have no free will - why bother trying to do anything? It’s not as if you can change anything.

What about half a nanosecond? Half of that?

E-Sabbath, it doesn’t. Adding randomness to the equation does’t add free will any more than Chaos Theory informs the issue. In both cases they mean that we cannot determine what will be but do not alter the fact that one event follows another and is in fact determined by previous events even if those previous events include random fluctuations.

The answer has been given: if free will is an illusion, it is a necessary illusion, so who cares?

One way quantum stuff could be a meaningful part of the picture is if all possible outcomes happen at once, and we, the observers, collapse events into their real form (including those events that form our choices). That doesn’t explain what we are though.

I normally capitalize the word ‘God’ (with quotation marks) when referring to a single ‘god’, and the word gods or ‘gods’ when referring to multiple ‘gods’ I usually reserve God for the Christian God (no quotation marks). In this case the statement that the OP made does not necessary point to the Christain God, but doesn’t rule Him out either.

Barring flaws in the OP’s logic, I was considering future science, not present science ability, and speculating about that.

I am tired too but we seem to agree with this.