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#18958 - 03/15/07 09:35 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: terrytnewzealand]
redewenur Offline
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Originally Posted By: terrytnewzealand
His idea was that the decisions we make at any moment are almost totally determined by our genes and our upbringing.

I'd hesitate to argue with someone who's probably a geneticist, but I would say 'influenced by' rather than 'determined by'. Education, day to day experiences, and environment must also be taken into account.

Be that as it may, I think that looking at the fundamentals of the question is less speculative, i.e. is free will possible or impossible, according to the known laws of physics? Stephen Hawking appears to suggest that it is. I'm sure, however, that I've read something somewhere to the effect that the basis of his contention has been superseded.
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#18961 - 03/15/07 06:03 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
DA Morgan Offline
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I'm width redewenur on this one. I think our genetic heritage predisposes us to specific starting blueprints.

But there seems little or on question that environment, parental, cultural, etc. builds upon that blueprint.

If we were just a product of a genetic inheritance we'd be sorely equipped to deal with reality in an uncertain world. Today's saber toothed kitty-cats come with smiles and a attache case.
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#18970 - 03/16/07 01:30 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: DA Morgan]
terrytnewzealand Offline
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Rede and DA. Note I said, "and our upbringing."

Within that I include "environment, parental, cultural, etc." and "Education, day to day experiences, and environment". Of course we are a product of these and our genetic makeup. But, to some extent, how they affect us is in turn determined by our genetic makeup. I'm not saying I agree with the guy who spoke on the radio (well, maybe I do) but he argued that the combination pretty much determines how we react to situations. Interesting topic for discussion.


Edited by terrytnewzealand (03/16/07 01:32 AM)

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#18984 - 03/16/07 10:02 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: terrytnewzealand]
redewenur Offline
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OK, Terry, then we we're saying the same thing. What the idea amounts to then, is that even if the laws of physics allow free will, our thoughts and actions are to some extent 'programmed'. To what extent is another matter. It seems that the guy on the radio thought it close to 100%. Maybe he's right. I have a feeling that chaos theory would have something to say about it, but I'm shooting in the dark.
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#18987 - 03/16/07 11:41 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
DA Morgan Offline
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I'm not sure about chaos theory ... would need some time to think about it ... but I think we can definitely state, without fear of contradiction, that you can never swim in the same river twice.

Such is the nature of reality.
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#18988 - 03/16/07 03:57 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: DA Morgan]
redewenur Offline
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Yes, allegedly from Heraclitus, ?You can never step into the same river twice?, and a variant by one of his disciples: ?You cannot step into the same river even once" - but we may be getting into deep water <g>

While we're with philosphers:-

I wouldn't want to get into Erwin Schr?dinger's view of consciousness here, but some might be interested to google for info about it. Here's a snippet:

"...inconceiveable as it seems to ordinary reason, you ? and all other conscious beings as such ? are all in all. Hence, this life of yours... is, in a certain sense, the whole..."

Very interesting. Even if one disagrees, it's worth considering how a powerful mind, trained and proficient in modern age science, could arrive at such a viewpoint.

As I've implied elsewhere, I think he was on the right track. I await the science that either proves or disproves it.
_____

Re: Free wilI, I wrote: "I have a feeling that chaos theory would have something to say about it"

OK, try this:

http://mh.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/28/2/78

(Scroll down to 'CHAOS THEORY AND FREE WILL')

'...Complexity theory does not therefore solve the problem of free will in a deterministic universe, unless what we are worried about is not that our decisions are caused, but that they are predictable.

The attempt to solve the free will problem through complexity theory has some parallels with earlier attempts to solve the problem through the indeterminacy of quantum mechanics and the randomness of some quantum events. If there is true randomness in quantum events, and if quantum events are effective parts of the causal chains leading to decisions, then these decisions are not causally determined and unpredictable. This does, however, not give us the kind of free will that we want. Instead of having our decisions determined by inflexible causal chains, we now have them determined by random quantum events. There is still no room for the uncaused, but clearly not random agency that we seem to experience when we make decisions with our free will.

In the same way free will is not saved by being the result of complex causal chains, instead of simple ones. There would still be nothing free about it.'
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#18989 - 03/16/07 05:04 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
DA Morgan Offline
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Thanks for the link.

The problem with free will is that it get remarkably close to theology and philosophy ... subjects related to faith not science.

It appears an unsolvable paradox in that if you ignore my post and don't read it ... was that a question of will or was it preordained? What if you read it and don't respond? Was it by choice? What if you respond ... what words will you use to respond?

It is very close to contemplating what would happen if you took a time machine back to before you were born and murdered your parents.

Seemingly so much valueless nonsense.

But yet, I will grant, enjoyable in a philosophical context.

I knew I was going to say that. ;-)
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#18991 - 03/16/07 05:25 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: DA Morgan]
redewenur Offline
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I don't see a paradox, DA. It's either free will or it's not. Either the 'choice' is real or it's illusory. Even if it is illusory, we still experience it as real. The point with chaos theory is that it deals only with the measure of unpredictability in mental/physiological processes, and has no bearing whatsoever on the free will debate.

Free will is, of course, more than simply a matter of interest to the religious. At the same time, the physics of our universe either allows it or it doesn't. To date, we don't know which. Maybe we'll never know - but for me, it's very much a matter for science.
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#18992 - 03/16/07 05:57 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
DA Morgan Offline
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redewenur wrote:
"Either the 'choice' is real or it's illusory."

But how can you tell because as you say:

"Even if it is illusory, we still experience it as real."

One of the biggest criticisms of Chaos Theory has been whether it is science. In other words can it meet the test of predictability and repeatability. I think it can but there are a lot of very intelligent people who are not as convinced.

If Chaos Theory is still, somewhat, controversial then free-will must be even more so. Because, at least with our current level of sophistication, we have no means of measuring anything objective about it.

I knew I was going to say that too. ;-)
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#18997 - 03/16/07 08:46 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: DA Morgan]
redewenur Offline
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DA wrote:

But how can you tell because as you say: "Even if it is illusory, we still experience it as real."


- subjective experience is not the required proof; what is required is objective proof, just as you would require objective proof for the existence of God. That's as far as the similarity goes, though. Whereas 'God' is a metaphysical concept/being (depending on your view), free will is a different kind of case. As I see it, it's purely a question of physics, and case for or against can, in principal, be argued on the basis observations of the physical universe. Presently, of course, the case cannot be proven either way, but I think it's only a mattter of time - a long time maybe, but as I said, in principal, not impossible.
_____

The point about chaotic systems is that, although they are unpredictable, they are still causal. So Chaos Theory has nothing new to say about free will. It turns out to be irrelevant. So, the controversy over Chaos Theory is equally irrelevant.

I knew you was going to say that too ;-)
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#19011 - 03/17/07 01:52 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
DA Morgan Offline
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The one huge advantage "free will" has over god is that the concept transcends a single theological point of view.

When Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindu, and Animist discuss it ... they at least agree on what it is. Not whether it exists, mind you, but on what it is.

That is more than we can say for their mindless discussions of dog.
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#19016 - 03/17/07 05:09 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: DA Morgan]
redewenur Offline
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DA wrote:
"When Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindu, and Animist discuss it ... they at least agree on what it is. Not whether it exists, mind you, but on what it is."

Yes, that's the religious thorn in the side of science, isn't it. It's not character of the individual Christian (for example). That's very often impeccable. It's the subversion of their reason to dogma of the institution, and the dependence on an inflexible model of the universe as part of that dogma - the rest is history.
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#19017 - 03/17/07 05:26 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: DA Morgan]
Ellis Offline
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Whilst I agree that freewill and predestination are absolutely opposites, I feel that both concepts are human constructs or perhaps rules, to explain the behaviour of their gods. Christians are able to explain the "bad" things by saying we have freewill so it's our fault not God's. A religion that preaches predestination says virtually the the opposite with the same fervour. The bad things happen because in a previous life, or in this one, you did something so dreadful that now you are to be punished. This is a particularly nasty point of view because, where christianity has great trouble explaining things like childhood cancer or horrible fates suffered by babies too young to punished for any sin, the answer can be that the dreadful diseaseas is because of earlier behaviour, either in an earlier life (as in reincarnation) or in this one- pure revenge by fierce god.

I find both views quite abhorrent, as do many other people, so the christian faith at least, has been keen recently to emphasise the God of Love, and to back off on the consequence of stressing the existence of freewill. Doctrinal teaching explains that we must pray to God as he knows what is best for us and we should do his will, not our own. This is still a prayer today, though the consequences of backsliding are not as literally damning as before (after all no one any longer believes in Hell do they?)

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#19021 - 03/17/07 08:53 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: Ellis]
redewenur Offline
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Hi, Ellis. A few remarks on that:

"Whilst I agree that freewill and predestination are absolutely opposites, I feel that both concepts are human constructs or perhaps rules"

- If both were nothing but human inventions, what alternative would remain for reality? Can it be anything but a case of one or the other?

"Christians are able to explain the "bad" things by saying we have freewill so it's our fault not God's"

- If by 'bad things' you mean any volitional action that can be considered morally/ethically negative, then it's a view shared by atheists.

"A religion that preaches predestination says virtually the the opposite with the same fervour. The bad things happen because in a previous life, or in this one, you did something so dreadful that now you are to be punished"

- I take it that you're referring to the eastern religions that support the notion of 'karma'. This is a special case of 'cause and effect' which is exclusively related to morality, and I agree, it can propagate the most horrendous ideas in the minds of its adherents. As an example, I once overheard the remark of a nurse working on a psycho-geriatric ward, in which many of the poor patients were enduring a living nightmare. She said that they deserved it, as they wouldn't be suffering if they hadn't been wicked in a previous life. The belief in karma also encourages an apathetic disposition; in this case, one doesn't hear, "It's God's will", but instead, "It's karma".

The scientific debate concerning determinism does not deal with such metaphysics as karma (moral cause and effect). It concerns only the mechanics of the physical universe.


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#19034 - 03/17/07 06:17 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
DA Morgan Offline
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redewenur wrote:
"- If both were nothing but human inventions, what alternative would remain for reality? Can it be anything but a case of one or the other?"

I'm with Ellis on this and I think he is correct. I think there very clearly is an alternative and that alternative is to stay away from absolutes.

We have the ability to make, within the context of what we know, decisions. I can choose to type UPPER CASE or not. There is no more evidence that would support the belief that my doing so was predetermined or the work of an invisible purple rhinoceros than there is proof that an invisible purple rhinoceros exists. Call that free will if you wish.

But it is not absolutist free will. I can not live to be 250 years old. No matter how much I may wish it.
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#19056 - 03/17/07 11:33 PM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: DA Morgan]
redewenur Offline
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DA wrote:

"I think there very clearly is an alternative and that alternative is to stay away from absolutes"

When there are only two logical possibilities, I don't accept 'stay away from absolutes' as a third, simply because at this moment in history the answer is unavailable. You may do so, that's your prerogative.

"There is no more evidence that would support the belief that my doing so was predetermined or the work of an invisible purple rhinoceros than there is proof that an invisible purple rhinoceros exists"

- Correct, there is no conclusive evidence either way for determinism/indeterminism; but in this case, your invisible purple rhinoceros is irrelevant - determinism does not require a creator (or an ipr)

"But it is not absolutist free will. I can not live to be 250 years old. No matter how much I may wish it"

- Indeed. No one suggested otherwise.
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#19057 - 03/18/07 12:28 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: redewenur]
Ellis Offline
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Does "karma" not have a whiff of divinity about it, or at least the supernatural. After all the "punishment" comes as a result of the behaviour, so it must have a causative agent surely. Whether this is a god or an irresistible force of Nature would be open to debate.

I also think I muddled up predestination and reincarnation a bit. Reincarnation has to ackowledge predestination, but predestination would be "God's plan for us"-- a concept alive and well to many christians.

I do not believe in freewill or predestination as a concept because to me they appear to be part of the relgious construct that permeates every level of our lives without our recognising it is so. I think that it is possible to have reality without needing either--because to have either it is necessary to acknowledge the 'administrator' of such planning (ie what are we rebelling against?) I don't believe that such an entity exists. No god, no karma and no pesky rhinocerous!! Just Earth and its inhabitants making the best of it as they can, as part of the larger cosmos. I think such concepts as freewill or predestination help some of us to deal with reality- as we negotiate chaos.


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#19066 - 03/18/07 06:31 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: Ellis]
DA Morgan Offline
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Redewenur:
I wasn't trying trying to dodge the issue. Let me state my
position more clearly.

1. Predetermination ... the outcome is predetermined by
a deity or a deterministic universe (we aren't in one).

2. Free will ... we have full and complete freedom to do
as we wish (of course so does the saber toothed cat
around the bend).

3. The alternative ... we have the ability to make limited
decisions within a predetermined framework. I can UPPER
cAsE aLL i WANT!

Limited decisions is not what most mean when invoking the
concept of free will.

===========================================================

Ellis:
Karma is just a way for those that should, metaphorically
speaking, pick up an AK47. It is used by people who perceive
injustice and prefer to not confront it but rather comfort
themselves in the assumed evening of the scales at some point
in the future.

I prefer the likes of George Washington, Patrick Henry, and
Lech Walesa. As Edmund Burke said:

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

And appeals to karma are "doing nothing."
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#19070 - 03/18/07 09:56 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: Ellis]
redewenur Offline
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Posts: 1840
Ellis.
"I think that it is possible to have reality without needing either--because to have either it is necessary to acknowledge the 'administrator' of such planning"

- I reject the idea that, in either case, it's necessary to have an 'administrator', or a 'planner', for the same reason that I reject the idea that the existence of the universe implies a creator.

"Does "karma" not have a whiff of divinity about it, or at least the supernatural"

It originated, as far as I know (which, isn't a lot) in the philosophy expounded in the Vedas of ancient India, possibly as long as 4500yrs ago. It has no apparent connection with divinities, but it's distinctly supernatural.

Just for the record, I agree that karma is ipr material.
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#19072 - 03/18/07 10:11 AM Re: KNOCK Revs and Religion. Give it your best sho [Re: DA Morgan]
redewenur Offline
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Posts: 1840
DA.

"1. Predetermination ... the outcome is predetermined by
a deity or a deterministic universe (we aren't in one)."

Disagree. Predetermination has no necessary connection with the existence of a deity. (And we may be in one).

"2. Free will ... we have full and complete freedom to do
as we wish (of course so does the saber toothed cat
around the bend)."

Disagree. We would still be bound by the laws of physics (so there would be no sabre toothed cat around the bend).

"3. The alternative ... we have the ability to make limited
decisions within a predetermined framework. I can UPPER
cAsE aLL i WANT!"

By 'predetermined framework', I take it that you mean a framework consisting of factors including genes and environment influences and so on, as discussed previously.

True, if the universe is indeterminate.
False, if the universe is determinate.

Re: karma - I agree <g>
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