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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well, sure, Juame. I get that. Choice can't be proven just like God can't. Neither can be disproven though.

The possibility's there.

The creator theory absolutely makes sense as the start of the universe! but... there's no proof? no reason to believe it exists...

sure... a soul can choose a body or something knowing how it would react throughout it's life, but where's the need for that hypothesis? everything is explained fine by soft determinalism.
How comes so many people write my name 'Juame'?

there's no proof? no reason to believe it exists...

Did I ever make a positive claim that free will exists? As far as I know there's not even a definition of free will everyone would agree upon.

a soul can choose a body or something knowing how it would react throughout it's life, but where's the need for that hypothesis?

I'm not sure I understand you. I see my thought processes as the product of chemical reactions in the cells my body is made of, as well as all sorts of past experiences that are imprinted within it. This is a fact, not an hypothesis, and the sum of these parts is what I use to call "myself". Where is the soul/body dichotomy here?

To me it seems it's rather the free will deniers who are the dualists here, and who make the hypothesis there's a distinct self (soul, if you prefer), which they see as an agent bound by external factors like genes or experience (and thus without free will). To paraphrase Laplace, "I don't need that hypothesis."
Nate: Where does this "free will" arise? Is its exercise the result of fully caused neurological response to stimuli, past and present?

"How could we treat the problem of free will as a neurobiological problem?" -- John Searle

just... for the sake of time, since some of us are at college with abymally slow internet for an hr long youtube video, could you paraphrase the points?

I haven't heard a good response to determinism yet. I'd like to if there is.
Heh. Sorry but actually I couldn't - I've a hard time deciphering spoken English. I'm only superficially familiar with Searle's views on free will, I sort of expected you folks could paraphrase this video for me ;-)
oh ok. maybe nate can because I don't have internet fast enough to load a video that long until I get home in 3 days
Thanks, Jaume. I'm going to watch it.
While I completely agree with your conclusion, Glen, I do have a quibble that I believe is at the bottom of this discussion (and many, many others!)

Let's say the universe was completely lifeless. If we dropped in to this universe with sophisticated computers we could calculate with reasonable certainty the outcome of any cause as long as we knew all the information required in advance. A hydrogen atom would not change trajectory by itself - we could track its course time and time again.

I don't think that this "thought experiment" is closely examined enough of the time.

If this was close to being reasonable, let alone true, we would have made much more progress on the N-Body Problem in physics. Or, from a different view, why haven't computers solved the chess-playing problem. They have gotten very good but not be tracing out all the branches of the playing tree but by adopting shortcuts and heuristics that allow play to happen in less than seemingly infinite time. Chess is a game of perfect information. There is always a best move (or best moves)--we just can't find them all.

I think your description of chaos theory is misleading also. From the Wiki again: Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for chaotic systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general.[1] This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future dynamics are fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved. In other words, the deterministic nature of these systems does not make them predictable. This behavior is known as deterministic chaos, or simply chaos.

What this is getting at is that although something may be deterministic, we are incapable of using that information to predict the dynamics of the system over time. I think that the amount of calculation required to do even a little bit of the work exceeds most available computer time and hardware.

In short, the universe is its own computer, if you will. There is no encoding or compression of the successive states of nature that doesn't lose information. In fact, one of the definition of a random sequence is a sequence of digits that cannot be compressed because there is no redundancy to use. Another definition is that any program to create the sequence of digits is no shorter than the actual sequence itself.

For those who think I'm talking through my hat, here's a challenge: Reproduce this in 4-dimensions (3D space + time). Computer simulation allowed. But it must be a reproduction, not something like it. If the video does not give you enough information, feel free to use a real fire breather so you can monitor breath, fuel mixtures, etc. and then reproduce.

What does this have to do with Free Will?

I think Free Will lives in some of the entities that are making up a galactic equivalent of one flame breath. If the deterministic path they are following is so chaotic that it cannot be predicted, even by themselves, they are exercising what some are calling Free Will.
What would a Free Will system (FWS) look like, and how would it differ from a deterministic one?

One way I imagine a a FWS would differ is in random groupings. Every action in a FWS should have some random chance of occurring completely apart from any causation. As a result, we should see odd things, like people choosing to eat nails and trying the pound cooked spaghetti into paper mache boards, instead we see a lot of inductive reasoning and direct causation. The world appears to be too rational if agents were given free hand to choose any action possible at every moment.

Additionally, does 'free will' mean free of causation per se, since almost every, if not every, action is rooted in some form of inductive/deductive reduction of information and I would wager most actions are abductions based on a myriad of pieces of information and wholly dependent.
Glenn Sogge: While I completely agree with your conclusion, Glen, I do have a quibble that I believe is at the bottom of this discussion

Strangely, it's the opposite for me: I agree with your post, but I do have a quibble with your conclusion.

I think Free Will lives in some of the entities that are making up a galactic equivalent of one flame breath.

That doesn't seem very "freewilly" to me. If I had to use a similar analogy, I'd say free will lives in the undecidable gaps revealed by Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem.
What this is getting at is that although something may be deterministic, we are incapable of using that information to predict the dynamics of the system over time. I think that the amount of calculation required to do even a little bit of the work exceeds most available computer time and hardware.

Agreed. Determinism is of limited use for prediction.
Just because you have the name for a unicorn, does not mean it exists. I think that "free will" is a social construct. The notion of free will has a strong social context. Humans are learning creatures. Accountability pushes us towards acceptable behavior. Awareness of future effect can be a large causal factor. So, where I put my awareness, is socially manipulated through the concept of free will. If I am taught that I am fully accountable for the results of my actions, that is included in the causal mix. I think free will is a social meme, which directs our attention to our "choices" in social matters and pushes the local social mindset, whether it be political or religious.

It would be nice to see a movement away from "free will" to an understanding of how we learn.

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