I like this question because people have such a difficult time agreeing to agree on definitions. The most basic question of all, "What is Free Will" never gets hashed out so that people can discuss it on common terms. So I'm more interested now in just how to define it.

It's extremely difficult for people to imagine their own non-existence (whether before birth or after death), and perhaps the only way that an existing mind can contemplate itself is to imagine perpetual existence. Eternal Soul. After all, even the concept of time cannot exist without a mind to conceive it. 

I'm convinced that the spiritual definition of it is just a self-serving delusion; the concept itself is just an emergent property (or Result) of a present mind. The question itself is meaningless in a scientific sense (as in what's one divided by zero), and only meaningful in a spiritual sense (as in how can I not have a soul). Hope I haven't speculated too much here already. The simple question(s) again that it comes down to is...

--What exactly is Free Will?

--Maybe there will always be two definitions, scientific vs. spiritual? Result vs. Cause?

Views: 114

Comment by Pope Beanie on August 9, 2013 at 5:05pm

Loss of Control Increases Belief in Precognition and Belief in Prec...

(Sounds like placebo affect to me. I'm surprised they didn't mention that.)


Every year thousands of dollars are spent on psychics who claim to “know” the future. The present research questions why, despite no evidence that humans are able to psychically predict the future, do people persist in holding irrational beliefs about precognition? We argue that believing the future is predictable increases one’s own perceived ability to exert control over future events. As a result, belief in precognition should be particularly strong when people most desire control–that is, when they lack it. In Experiment 1 (N = 87), people who were experimentally induced to feel low in control reported greater belief in precognition than people who felt high in control. Experiment 2 (N = 53) investigated whether belief in precognition increases perceived control. Consistent with this notion, providing scientific evidence that precognition is possible increased feelings of control relative to providing scientific evidence that precognition was not possible. Experiment 3 (N = 132) revealed that when control is low, believing in precognition helps people to feel in control once more. Prediction therefore acts as a compensatory mechanism in times of low control. The present research provides new insights into the psychological functions of seemingly irrational beliefs, like belief in psychic abilities.



The present research has shown that beliefs about psychic predictability can provide the psychological system with a compensatory boost in perceived control. We found that people were drawn to predictability when they experienced loss of control–even to the extent of endorsing seemingly irrational beliefs about precognition. We propose, therefore, that these kinds of beliefs are not an unreasonable response to control deprivation. Indeed, to the extent that belief in precognition increases perceived control, people could be described as becoming functionally irrational by holding this or related beliefs when control is threatened.

On a practical note, our findings help to explain why interest in the predictive arts is highest in times of threat and uncertainty [12][17]. It is at these moments that individuals most feel the need to control the course of their lives. Belief in precognition meets this need by enabling people to feel that the future is predictable, and can therefore be controlled. Regardless of whether precognitive abilities actually exist, therefore, belief in their existence serves an important psychological function of boosting perceived control in times of uncertainty.

Comment by Rocky john on August 9, 2013 at 6:47pm

I prefer to look at this from the other direction. We have something. Exactly what this something is i cannot say. Now to have any hope of discussing this we need to give it a name. And "free will" seems like a good of a name for it as any , as well we may quibble over exactly how to define it in words atleast everybody understands the underlying experience of it.

These are just two  thoughts i have been pondering on the subject of free will

1- We must be careful of reductionism. You cant reduce what chocolate tastes like or how it feels to fall in love to quantum mechanics. There is information which only exists as part of a whole pattern. But even if we take reductionism as valid it has a glaring problem , for while we can reduce consciousness to chemistry, where there seems there is no place for free will, we can also reduce chemistry to quantum mechanics. And quantum mechanics not only knocks predeterminism out cold, it also kicks it in the head a few times for good measure. And now since we know predeterminism and quantum mechanics dont mix then just how can we say that the emergent behavior we call "free will " definitly does not occupy a similiar sphere of existence where there is also no such thing as predeterminism?

2- If there is no such thing as free will then how do we scale events which give us even less than no  "free will". For example  I feel there is a difference between me becoming addicted to heroine of my own "free will " and me being forcefully injected with it untill i become addicted to it. But now if there is no such thing as "free will" then does the latter  situation  count as negative no "free will"?Then also  if we have no "free will" and we grant that negative no "free will " is nonsensical  then does that honestly mean these two situations are functionally identical.


You need to be a member of Think Atheist to add comments!

Join Think Atheist

© 2020   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service