A deep thought occurred to me the other day when someone less educated then myself got on my nerves. Do people truly have free will? I'm not entirely sure if this is fitting for the site, but I can tie it into religion ans science in a few moments, bear with me.

When someone makes a decision, what determines that thought? What made me type what I just typed? In theory, everything I think, decide to do, act upon, and so on, is all predetermined, to an extent. The extent I speak of is this; the moment right before someone makes a decisions, the brain is about to take into play a ton of variables, then come to a conclusion for that decision. It can't be altered, and even before you actual make that decision, it's predefined before it's completed, again, this could be only split seconds. Although "predetermined" as I'll use loosely, nobody can predict it, it's not like a fortune telling ability, it's simply set in stone, at least moments before the decision is made.

Let's say a boy at the age of 10 gets picked on at the park by a bully. He then has to "decide" what to do; does he hit the bully back? Does he wait until he gets pushed a few more times? Does he think to himself that he should run? Whatever it is he chooses, it's already been decided, at least at that split second moment before the thought process even starts. He doesn't know what he'll do yet, but It's all a large formula of how he was raised, what he's seen, what people told him, the possibility of a similar situation in the past, what he ate that day, how is his mood on this day, so on. Now you may say, his mood is a variable, true, and not true. That mood, is determined by the decisions made, or acts upon him, which he then responded to in a "predefined" way. It's as if every single thing we say, do, and think, is already made up for us, to this short extent, but indeed to an extent none the less. If the kid hits the bully, he was always going to, no amount of recreating the scenario will change that, it's just how it was going to turn out.

If someone flames this topic, I will act upon that flaming in a "predefined" way. I'm already programed to react how I will, I can't change that. From what I know, from the way I think, it's all who I am, but there is no free will, because every bit of thought I do is not my own, it's a compilation of my life events and how I reacted, which was all decided for me beforehand, starting from my first "decision".

Let's take a look at hatred, and touch on religion. We all dislike stupid people, ignorant people, and people who refuse to change, even when evidence is thrown in front of them. Ever argued with someone, had straight proof you were right, but they wouldn't change? It's not their fault they can't, they're acting upon the situation the way they always will, the way every event in their life prior to that moment has led them to do. Everything from the test in 3rd grade, the father yelling about it, to the great present they got for Christmas the year before, and the sandwich they ate that morning. Every event upon us decides how we'll act in the future, and we can't change that.

If you say, "okay, knowing this, I'm going to do the opposite of whatever I would normally do" That exact thought, and the decision you made to do the opposite, that too has already been decided. The kind of person you are, due to prior events, is what made you decide to rebel. Your prior live events decided you would act that way to that situation. You can't decide anything.

If someone hits you in the face, you can't change that, you also can't change how you'll react to it. On this line of thought, our very lives are predetermined, even though random. It's complicated, and hard to explain, but if you follow me at all, you'll see how this could drive one insane. Now let's suppose that right as your hit, someone comes from behind, picks you up, and stands up for you. Awesome, you're probably not going to strike back, the situation is handled, you'll take a new approach to the situation. Well, although that person is an outside source, and altering what would happen, your still programmed to react to the new situation as you would any other, in the same sense, you can't escape how you'll react to anything.

To further this, the typing of this by me, is not my choice. I can claim it a choice, and I can close the window right now before submitting it, but doing so is only a reaction based on my prior events, which are also based on prior events, all going down to the day of my birth, and perhaps my genetics. In a sense, it's almost like organized chaos. Nobody knows what will happen to me, but there is in fact something that will happen, and when it does, I have no say in how I react to it, nor could it have been any different.

On that note, I ask for everyone to consider this. The next time you find someone annoying, or think you hate someone, or feel like someone is an idiot for their beliefs, or lack of, remember that it's not their choice, every thought they'll ever make is predetermined, they can't act any other way than is already laid out for them, to an extent. People such as ourselves can coach them, and train them in new ways, but if they don't except, that's just how they are, they're not choosing to be that way, weather themselves or you think they are or not. I believe with an understanding of the above, we can see how we're all equal in a sense, nobody is superior, nobody is worse, we're all as equally unimportant, or important, whichever you choose to believe, it doesn't matter, again, it's not like you have a choice in which you pick :)

Any thoughts? Contributions? Articles/Videos on the matter? I'm interested to see what others have to say, from any point of view possible. I don't really take a definite side on this, I'm more interested in seeing both, and any evidence either side has to offer. I'm open to altering anything I don't know, since this is not a 100% thought in my mind, I do not know it, thus I'm open to bend either way, with proper persuasion.

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Your question is leading; are you suggesting I believe in a "soul"? The answer is no. But yes, I do believe there's more to a person than matter and energy. That something is called "the mind", and scientists are busy studying it. Though it may be simplified to a "matter and energy" composition, that doesn't explain its entire function or capacity.

I'm not saying that the outcome isn't influenced by matter and energy. Obviously we all react to matter and energy. But you seem to be oversimplifying the human experience. The mixture of hydrogen and oxygen will always create water (H2O); that is a predetermined outcome. Neither hydrogen nor oxygen has a consciousness, though, and will never decide not to become H2O if mixed. Humans and other animals are not something you can classify in such simple formulas.

I realize you're not "implying that we're capable of determining the exact outcome". I simply disagree that the outcome is "predetermined based on the properties of the universe". I suppose I didn't do a good enough job explaining why.

I agree that our decisions are highly influenced by all of the universal properties and our life experience, but the variable of "will" is not unaccounted for. That's the point here. We have a "will" while other elemental properties and lower life forms do not. It is influenced but not bound by other variables.
Evolution is not "creative". It is random and not determined. I'm surprised you would even make that statement. Although we're able to see patterns, what I've understood Dawkins to be saying is that the fact that elephants have shorter tusks these days is not because of a creative or determined process. Humans have hunted all the elephants with the propensity to grow longer tusks and therefore they are unable to pass along those long-tusk genes. The only reason any trait gets passed along is because it survives, not necessarily because it is an advantageous or "better" trait. It can be and tends to be.

The problem in humans, right now, is that we've gained this "free will" and a whole range of emotions that influence the outcome of evolution. In fact, I would say we influence evolution more than it influences us. Before our higher consciousness emerged, better traits were passed along because survival required those traits. Even merely having poor eye sight would've gotten you killed early on. Now, we have glasses and survive despite the fact this undesirable trait continues to get passed along. Evolution has nothing to do with progress and everything to do with mutations, some of which seem better than others.

The fact that we use our free will to survive isn't surprising; of course, because of this "predetermined" survival instinct, we create things to help us survive despite our physical inadequacies. But it is our creativity at work in this case, not evolution's... because evolution is not creative. If it were, we would call it... God.

I don't think it's impossible for there to be inventors in alternate universes, or that there wouldn't be objects similar to light bulbs. "Need" may be one of these variables that would influence the invention of the light bulb. Based on this need, it is probable a light-emitting source would be invented, but its production is a choice. But wouldn't you say other animals need light just as badly as humans? Why haven't they created a light source? Well, because they eventually adapted. Our minds are what have evolved, in contrast to other animals. It is our tool. But, like any other trait, it can shrink if we stop using it. We stopped using our tail, so we no longer have one.

This is such a broad topic. I can't even begin to get down all the thoughts in my head about it. I simply disagree for many reasons I actually don't feel like writing down at the moment. "Predictions" can be accurate, but they can be dead wrong, too. And they frequently are. Humans are not mathematical formulas. We're not simply matter and energy. I believe we have free will and that it's a product of our development.
P.S. I at least feel like I know our thoughts are not predetermined simply because I changed my mind; I was once a devout Christian and am now atheist. Despite my upbringing, despite the "experiences with God" I had, despite my family and culture and self-induced indoctrination... here I am. For all those reasons that I cannot sum up here, I should be a Christian. Anyone would've predicted it. And no, I don't believe the mind is "magical" I don't know why that's the alternative.
I understand what you're saying, and don't feel you're trying to add a sense of magic to this, but think of this.

I think we can all agree that "changing your mind", is in fact a decision. How people react to things varies, and always will. your situation of switching isn't uncommon at all, in fact, it's rather common to hear of. There are a number of possibilities that made you change, I'll list a few.

First off, perhaps the very act of your parents trying to make you one religion, made you eager enough to disobey them and search elsewhere. Unlikely, not judging you, simply saying the option exists.

Secondly, you were raised well, became intelligent, and intelligent life forms think, and think deeply. Most of us here share a few common attributes, being intelligent is one of them, regardless of how we apply it. When you get smart, you question things, when you question Christianity of all things, you find false solutions and dead ends. You simply were raised to be an intelligent person, and took it upon yourself to confirm your religion, and in doing so, found it wasn't what you were looking for. Again, not saying this is it, but I find that one very likely.

Curiosity is a common attribute in human life. For whatever reason(s), you may have become a curious person. You can apply that curiosity to exploring behind your house in the woods when you're 10, or you can apply it to your religion, at 10, 20, or even 50, it doesn't matter. You may have been simply sparked with curiosity, and why not apply it to religion? It's contreversal, everyone debates it at some point, I see no reason why being curious about other religions wouldn't lead you to checking them out. Teaming this up with idea one (because again, you're clearly intelligent above most to an extent), it's not that hard for me to see how one would get curious, be intelligent, then end up where you are now.

These are just three explanations, and there are many others. Fully breaking them down, how one gets there, and how perhaps you got there (if one of the three applies to you) is a large task, but it's safe to say that there is in fact a path, weather we figure it out or not. If none of the above apply, another like the above with equal reasoning does exist. All I'm trying to say is this, your main piece of evidence in your PS is that you were once Christian, were raised Christian, and are now not, I think if you really sit down, read what I just shared, and think about it, you'll see how that really isn't your best piece of evidence. I'm not saying your argument becomes completely invalid, I'm simply saying that your above piece of evidence should be taken away, and you should rethink your approach.
I don't think it should be taken away. I didn't use it because it's an original story. The whole reason I chose it is because it's common for people to change their minds. It may not add to my argument, but it doesn't take away from it, either. This is an example of making a choice or exercising my free-will.

I realize you were merely giving hypothetical scenarios for my deconversion; I'll clear some of them up. First of all, I would put "curiosity" and "intelligence", generally, in the same category. So, you only have two points: rebellion and inherited curiosity/intelligence.
I was never rebelling. Ironically, it was my desire to know God better that led to my atheism. I do believe an honest search for truth would inevitably lead to atheism if free will were not involved.

The fact is, I would say my "intelligence" has more to do with genetics than my upbringing. I'll concede those genetics might lend themselves to a predetermined outcome despite my upbringing. However, there are lots of very, very intelligent Christians who never change their mind... who have more of a reason to "disobey" than I did. They may be missing some facts or maybe they just refuse to acknowledge them. A person can have the facts and be in denial about them.

I can't remember the his name, but Dawkins, in The God Delusion, tells the story of a man/scientist who set out to reconcile Christianity with what he knew about science. He decided to cut out all parts of the Bible that contradicted and see what was left. Afterwords, the Bible was almost gone and he had to choose between his belief in God and the evidence of science. It wasn't because of his intelligence that he chose to disregard the evidence; it was because of other factors... perhaps his relationship with his family, or with his perceived idea of futility without a Creator. But he CHOSE to continue to be a Christian even with full knowledge of the facts.

Another blog on this site is a good example: when you're will contradicts natural inclinations, you cannot say the outcome was predetermined. He chose, for a long time, to attempt a "straight" life but eventually came out. Maybe it seems inevitable that he came out, but this is not true since some people never come out. He chose to hide it for various reasons. He decided honesty was what he wanted, though. Despite his circumstances, or the circumstances of others, the point is that they CHOOSE how to deal with them. He attempted to hide it then changed his mind. He risked a lot by being open about it. If it's about survival, this guy just willfully lowered his chances. And yet...

People will always surprise us with their choices.
Are you implying that nothing but spontaneity changed your mind, or can you recall certain factors leading you to stray from Christianity? Even though if it were just seemingly spontaneous, it could be a deterministic outcome based on any number of reasons.

Your premise is that the mind is composed of only matter and energy?

"Though it may be simplified to a "matter and energy" composition..."

Yet something supersedes its composition and allows it to act not in accordance to the laws of the universe that govern all other matter and energy?

"that doesn't explain its entire function or capacity."

You are absolutely correct in saying that merely calling the mind a product of matter and energy does not explain it entirely, of course. Wherein the problem lies however is in saying that somehow this physical entity that is the mind goes on to break free from the bonds of determinism that physics inherently are.

"the variable of "will" is not unaccounted for. That's the point here. We have a "will" while other elemental properties and lower life forms do not. It is influenced but not bound by other variables."

What evidence do you have for this "will"? Where does it come from, what makes it tick?
You completely misread everything I typed.

No, my decision was not spontaneous. There's nothing about what I said that even suggests it was. Decisions can be methodical OR spontaneous but, in this case, it was methodical... but it was NOT predetermined. It could have gone either way.

It is not MY premise that the mind is only composed of matter and energy. That was someone else's. Nor do I claim the mind is independent from that matter and energy. Again, this was not even implied in any of my arguments.

I can't believe you're going to insist that I provoide you proof of will. It's like asking for proof of evolution. It's everywhere but you can choose the misinterpret the evidence. And the person who started this post is the one making a claim and the burden of proof is on him to prove that there is NO will.

If you deny that there is such a thing as "will" then this is where the conversation must end because clearly you have no sense of logic. You've wandered into the realm of philosophy and pose questions as ridiculous as "Can you prove you exist? Are any of us really here or is this a dream?" If that's where the conversation is going, then I'm moving on...
What makes you so sure it could have gone either way?

"I do believe there's more to a person than matter and energy. That something is called "the mind", and scientists are busy studying it. Though it may be simplified to a "matter and energy" composition, that doesn't explain its entire function or capacity."

What exactly is this implying?

If will can be defined as some deciding factor that chooses between two outcomes without a definite cause, then yes I would say that it does not exist.

I'm stating that there is no convincing evidence for the existence of will defined as such, you are asserting that there is. I'm afraid the burden of proof is on you. How could I prove to you that which I see no reason to believe?
I don't want a burden :(

I simply want to spark creative thought, and read into so deep thought into each side, for and against what I said.
Until the probability wave collapses, we are capable of doing all possibilities, ergo freewill is irrelevant; it is the fact that we observe what is possible and take note, that causes the wave to collapse. Just like Schrodinger's cat.
A fairly accurate time of death could be found for the cat based on body temperature and decomposition, illustrating that the cat went from a state of living to a state of death at a specific time. Or if the cat is still alive once the box is opened there is obviously no reason to assume it was at any point not alive.
Even if the decision has been "predetermined" it was still "you" who made the choice to act on it. How is this not free will? (I do not use this term in the religious sense) There will be changes to every scenario you run, no matter how many times you run it, because it isn't the first time it happened. And if nothing else, that is the change.
I do understand the argument, but I think your cumulative experience has predetermined your opinion. But then, maybe that's what you meant in the first place. And that I get, completely. Not sure if I totally agree. But I get it.


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