Hey Unseen. I elaborate in a reply below on how I see it.
I read this a long time ago and didn't get it. Now, just reading the first paragraph in that link makes enough sense to me to explain our conundrum! It's all about imprecision and differences in our most basic definitions.
So now the only question (to me) is why people hang on so tightly to their preferred definitions, other than a need they feel to negate other definitions.
Sure you can define free will into existence. You just need to ignore the facts. If you like the definitional ploy, it's easy enough to define God into existence with ideas like "God is everything" or "God is the mind of which every mind is but an instance." Stick to the facts of how nature works, and we are not free. Once again I pose the problem that the word "will" is basically meaningless anyway.
At any rate, it's pointless to create a definition that flies in the face of how the language is actually used by most people.
I'm willing to loosen up the definition of spirituality, soul, free will, and so on if it keeps a dialog going with theists. I feel that we'll eventually be able to use concepts like these in atheist conversations, instead of denying them outright. Abrupt conversation enders (like "it's just an illusion") are like denying the word love from romantics. I mean come on, even love is an illusion, right? Unless you allow it to include an audience broader than atheists.
I'm not saying that you should always feel the same about this as I, and I'm sure you don't. However, forgive me for finding more ways to communicate than just via the standardized, legacy language etched in static/dogmatic exposition, like stone.
See, I just can't shake the realization that we wouldn't even be here at ThinkAtheist, unless there were a significant population of theists in the first place.
The only definition worth talking about is the one in current use. Deviate from that and you're just talking to yourself.
Tooshay. I shall take my leaves now.
I don't think it is true. I also do not think it could be scientifically falsifiable: how would you determine if something was destined/predestined/eventually had no choice of occurring?
Let's be clear about something. In order for something (e.g., free will) to be falsifiable, it has to make sense in the first place. Free will is meaningless mumbo-jumbo. It appears to mean that, if there is determinism operating everywhere else, there is one exceptional place where miracles happen that allow people to make choices independent of determinism. The problem with miracles is that, by their nature, they just happen without explanation.
Hi, Isaac. I believe that we are indeed complex systems. Chaos theory includes the element of infinite variability. That's how every snowflake and fingerprint can be unique. So is the occurrence of every human individual, including indistinguishable twins or conceivably clones. I don't believe that any 2 clouds or blades of grass or goldfish or fire ants or sparrows are actually identical either. Neither are any 2 examples of things off an assembly line, from seemingly identical cars to T-shirts to soft drink cups to computers. I think each passing second, day, decade and century is a unique event as well. A tree is a tree and a dog is a dog and a person is a person. We may lump things together in our perception, but infinite variability permeates all, everything in flux, and we are of such a degree of complexity, so far beyond predictable wind up toys, that people always have the potential to approach anything from an innumerable array of variables. Within certain very wide and complex parameters, I think that is free will. I think the notion of quantifying a completely predictable clockwork reality is delusion born of arrogance.
No two pieces of popcorn are alike is what I always like to say.
Anyway, your argument amounts to basically this: the complexity of things prevents us from analyzing and understanding the determinism which is there, and that this is where free will hides. In our ignorance. But in the gross everyday (non quantum) world, as far as we know, every process we can analyze reveals deterministic physical laws. The complexity of analyzing some things in no way implies "freedom" elsewhere.
We would never make a claim that a non-human process is somehow exempt from known physical laws simply due to the difficulty of analysis. The introduction of a human mind doesn't really change things so that free will magically appears.
The biggest problem with free will is that it's a muddy concept to start with. If you try to work up any kind of rigorous definition of it, I'm pretty sure you'll find the concept evaporating into meaninglessness.
Valid point. I thought about what I had said there later and felt that I did not follow through with it enough, applying those general concepts in nature to human nature. Doing so may still not make a difference to you. It sounds kind of like you are saying that if we are a product of nature, a result of the Big Bang and of evolution, then all that we are and experience is kind of a grandiose parlor trick. That despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage. My feeling is that a deterministic perception might liken a person to a rat in a maze, actually. There is one set of travel and twists and turns that will lead the rat to, for example, a food reward. I feel like, by comparison, the maze a human consciousness occupies is one with countless possible goals and possible routes beyond number as well. In addition I think that these are always varying at least to some degree from one instant to the next. I feel as though to the extent that we consciously endeavor to shape the course ahead, to the extent that we consciously do so as individuals, that we do not follow a simple preordained course. So to you that may still mean that we are rats in mazes. I feel like it has an element of autonomy and self determination though. Even the rat in the simple maze is vastly more complex and in flux than the fairly inviolable circumstances set before it, but the rat itself on its own has, I think, a great measure of autonomy as well.