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 also do not think it could be scientifically falsifiable: how would you determine if something was destined/predestined/eventually had no choice of occurring?
Well, we could know if something was "predestined" (by the laws of nature) to happen if we could predict it before happening. However, that would take enormous amounts of information, because humans are so complex, and could only work in certain situations. For example, it would be insane to try and predict your own future, because the knowledge that you would gain would alter it. This would only work on unsuspecting subjects.
Another problem would be if our minds were affected by quantum randomness, but that's another story.
P.S. So far, there is no indicator that events can't be predicted beforehand within the limitations of quantum randomness. We are predicting weather increasingly better, the orbits of planets and stars, and yes, even human behavior. The more complex the event, the more data we need to acquire in order to predict it more and more accurately.
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.