Assuming that the word 'god' refers to the 'creator of everything' and is 'perfect' (the majority of definitions) then the existence of 'free will' (if it does, indeed, exist) precludes the existence of such a god.

If I have free will, it stands to reason that I am able to apply it to creating something that did not exist before as a direct result of the unfettered choices I have made within the non-confines of that free will (In other words, a god would not have had any control of those choices and, therefore, also have no authorship of the creative result.)

Therefore, I would have created something that was not created by god.

Therefore, everything would not have been created by god.

Therefore, god would not exist as defined, i.e. creator of everything.

Therefore, god can only exist if there is no free will.

Therefore, if there were a god, there could be no sin (imperfection), since everything would be his doing.


**** addendum


This is a fascinating discussion of 'free will' - but much misses the irony of my point - in that it poses an argument in favor of atheism based on a standard argument used by Abrahamic believers - that god created everything - except he didn't. Actually, they are stuck with a tremendous paradox we, as atheists, are not. Because, if god created free will - he made it possible and, therefore, certain, that some things are NOT of his creation - but if he didn't create free will, then he is pre-damning many people to hell (which JW's and Calvinists sort of agree on.)

Of course, as an atheist, if there is no real random number (a no-cause cause), we also have a problem because that suggests (albeit on a chaos theory level) that everything is still pretermined by a hyper-complex multi-chain of causality and, in a way, suggests a 'Master Plan' of sorts (albeit it without an actual 'Master' behind it.).

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But a fully aware and sentient being would have to process more information than the universe itself contains (the universe as data, plus a bit of software). So to me, this full awareness you're talking about is not unachievable because of our own human limits, but because of a logical impossibility.

Right you are. Laplace's demon.

But where's the free will?
Not entirely true. You could break the numbers down into codes, much as you can compress computer files. Thus you could keep track of more particles than you have connectors in your everything-computer.

Unfortunately this would mean that even if you started knowing the velocity and position of every single particle in the universe, you would immediately start to lag behind events - your predictions would not be able to keep up with actual events.

So either you need a spare universe, or a spare eternity.
Matt: Not entirely true. You could break the numbers down into codes, much as you can compress computer files. Thus you could keep track of more particles than you have connectors in your everything-computer.

But if you can't analyze a complete snapshot of the universe at any given point without uncompressing the whole data, it isn't an everything computer anymore, only an everything storage medium with a limited processor.
Well, my point was actually that our freedom to choose between the options available at any given time is real and does represent our freedom of choice. That is, free will. The main problem is that for most actions we undertake every day the time window is so narrow that our decision-making processes escape awareness and remain the province of subconscious processes, much like breathing. But they are still the result of the freedom of choice that we possess at any given time, since even the regions of the brain that govern processes that escape conscious scrutiny are us.

Put it this way. You're hanging around uni, obsessing about the damn assignment due tomorrow and not paying attention to what happens around you. Yet you walk down the hallway dodging people, walking past their backpacks cluttering the hallway and go as far as to walk up to the vending machine and - among the gazillion products inside it - you pick one without realising it, until you "wake up," already in the elevator, holding a disgusting excuse for a fruit salad and realising you don't really remember buying it in the first place. And yes, all this happened to me, so I know for a fact it can happen :D

You - I - could have picked a different product, and overcome all those obstacles walking left, right, even over them. There were loads of variables involved at each point of the way and that required your brain to ponder data and act accordingly. Free will is not an illusion, the real illusion is that we can be aware of all the data that is being processed by our brain. Awareness is limited and the reason for that is that conscious responses to stimuli take incredibly longer - in neurological terms - than subconsious thinking, so awareness won't kick in unless it is not necessary or if it is going to be a liability.
look at it this way, Fabio. not even your thoughts and decisions are free will.

every thought, no matter how random, is linked to your last stimulus.

Ex: today at dinner I was talking to my friend about how addicted he is to coffee. i took that thought and as I was formulating what to talk about, I connected coffee... addicting...cigarrettes...marijuana... not legal... conversation topic...
then we talked about the legalization of weed.

Everything that you think of is linked to your environment; every thought linked to the one coming before it. Want to think of something random? there was still a stimulus. You read the word 'random' and then tried to rack your mind for a random thought. That random thought likely has cognative links to your previous experiences when you were called to be random or may even follow the same "ladder" process.

Every action. every choice. period. is determinded by the psychology that brought you there: the genes and the experiences. If free will exists, it is in something supernatural or abstract like the soul. There is no proof of free will. You pretty much have to take it on "faith." WE can trace every single thought to another. You don't suddenly wake up one morning spontaneously atheist.

Try this little thought experiment as you walk around tomorrow: tracing your thoughts. It's a rather cool game for me. Report back what you find.
I'm not disputing the principle of action-reaction in any way, I'm just saying that hard determinism fails to account for the complexity of reality and of all the variables at play in it. Take a physical system, even one dominated by Brownian motion. At the end of the experiment, when you're done tracking the movements of a particle in water, you're inevitably led to see each bend and twist in the particle's trajectory as inevitable, determined by a chain of previous ones, but the fact is that while the experiment is in progress it is virtually impossible to predict the particle's trajectory accounting for all the variables at play.

While it might be argued that the variables at play in our interactions with reality are far less in number - and I'm not really sure how true that is - the same logic applies. Only in retrospect will your actions appear deterministic, but at any point of the way there's an impressive amount of alternative options which require an equal amount of computation and choices. It's the foundation of some of the multiverse theories out there, after all. There's absolutely nothing supernatural or abstract about our angecy in interacting with reality.

I swear I'm as much of a naturalist as one can be. I just don't see naturalism as necessarily leading to strict determinism. Better said, every chain of events will in retrospect appear to have been strictly deterministic and our options at any moment are bound to be restricted by environmental and/or social factors, but the fact that each decision we make is the product of causality doesn't mean that the one way things end up developing in any situation was the only possible one to begin with. Free agency still plays a role.
Better said, every chain of events will in retrospect appear to have been strictly deterministic and our options at any moment are bound to be restricted by environmental and/or social factors, but the fact that each decision we make is the product of causality doesn't mean that the one way things end up developing in any situation was the only possible one to begin with.

I agree with you entirely, Fabio. The key term being in retrospect. I feel fatalism, often conflated with determinism, is predictory. Such an approach to life is pointless, even dangerous, given our limited awareness of all the causal factors in events and behavior. Determinism is useful for understanding what's already happened.

There's absolutely nothing supernatural or abstract about our angecy in interacting with reality.

I don't think you to be a supernaturalist in any way, Fabio, you're much too coherent. But this is where you lose me. You speak of "our agency" as if it were separate from reality. I understand it to be a fully caused and, in turn, causal part of reality.
Umh, I'll try to rephrase. The way I see agency, it is not really an entity, so it cannot be separate from something esle. It is merely our faculty, our capacity, of interacting with reality, which in its turn is our exercise of free will - much of which is entirely subconscious, as I've already pointed out. Of course our choices are bound by the principle of action-reaction, but I don't see the external stimuli we receive to be their cause, at least not the sole one. The stimuli we receive - and our past choices, if related - considerably narrow down the lot of options available to us at any given moment, but I don't think they act as causes themselves. We are the cause of our actions - or, better put, the way we interpret stimuli is, since it affects the way we respond to them.

I think a big part of the problem is one of labelling. Perhaps we should call it restricted will, but I think volition - subconscious or otherwise - does play a big role. We're not just passive observers swept away by the tide of causality.
We are the cause of our actions - or, better put, the way we interpret stimuli is, since it affects the way we respond to them.

When you say "we" are the cause, "you" are the cause, "I" am the cause, I get the sense of a separate uncaused self. If by it you mean a fully caused self, the sum of genetics and experience up until the moment of a given action, where is the freedom?

We're not just passive observers swept away by the tide of causality.

We're only passive to the extent that our genetics and experience cause us to be.

Thanks for the most interesting conversation I've had to date on this subject, Fabio.
Nate: If by it you mean a fully caused self, the sum of genetics and experience up until the moment of a given action, where is the freedom?

My best guess is it's born from self-observation, reflections on reflections, and the 'meta-' prefix. Once you introduce self-references in a world where absolute knowledge is a contradiction, everything is possible and not necessarily reductible to more basic components.

I admit the previous paragraph is as much a product of my gut feelings than rational thought, though :P
yeah, but the problem with that, Juame, is you view yourself based on how the culture around you percieves you. It's inescapable.

Otherwise, there would be no such thing as gender-identity. the way that you view yourself and recognize yourself and observe yourself is highly determined by factors in which you have no choice in. There's no secular proof of any kind of choice.
Johnny: There's no secular proof of any kind of choice.

Depends on how you define the sentient agent making the "choices". I'm not trying to make a case for the existence of free will here, I'm only pointing out a problem I have with free will deniers: specifically, that they all seem to consider the agent as a pure 'self', independent of the underlying hardware and data banks.

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