Friday, October 1, 2010

Will Free Will Free Anyone?

What is free will?  It is basically the justification given for anything nasty that god chooses not to stop.
Why does god let the evil murder the innocent?  Free will.  How can evil exist at all?  Free will.

So what exactly is free will?  It is supposedly the independent power of an individual  to choose his or her own actions independently, not even god can change these choices.

But what determines, then, how we choose?  Is it simply random?  That isn't very satisfying, and it calls into question the justice of god in punishing anyone for their choices.
Is it deterministic?  In that case, is not god responsible for the actions of anyone that he created?  Or, if god is not, is it just arbitrary how the deterministic algorithms are first made?  Now we're back to random.

The problem is, there are only 2 logical possibilities behind any choice:
1) The choice is made after consideration of a set of criteria, in other words, algorithmically.
2) The choice is not made algorithmically, cannot be determined in any way, and therefore is random.

Here we have "determined" and "not determined," and neither is much like the free will that we'd like to use to defend god and make ourselves something special.
I admit, of course, that choices can be quite complex, but I submit that even  the most complicated choices are made up of dozens of minute little decisions that ultimately must fall into the two categories outlined above.

So in every case, our actions are a concatenation of random whims and logical execution of preexisting algorithms.  How are we ever truly responsibly for our own actions in this case?  Algorithms that are controlled by someone (ie god) are ultimately that person's (god's) fault.  Algorithms that are formed by random sequences of events NOT under any being's control, as well as truly random decisions, are the fault of no one.

Can you make a choice without randomly selecting OR appealing to some preexisting line of reasoning?  If so, by what method do you make said choice?  If you figure out a way, please let me know.

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of the atheist's plea on judgement day: "Gee God I did the very best with the cognitive faculties you endowed me with and I made the best, seemingly most logical choices possible given the evidence, support and understanding you provided. I became an atheist, but I don't understand why I am in trouble given I only did what I could with the tools you gave me."