How do we know that we have free will? Surely if everything was pre-determined for us, we wouldn't know. Why are people so sure that free will actually exists?


5 Answers

Rebecca Veazie Deckard Profile

There's a theory that there are an infinite number of parallel universes out there. Basically every time we come to a decision point and turn right instead of left, the universe splits and and there's a version where you turned left. So if in infinite realities we've done it all, then we have the free will to make our own choices.... And every destiny will come to pass somewhere.

I've also heard a similar theory about God and creation. At the moment of creation he saw every possible path. So we have free will, but no matter what we choose, God knows where it leads. Free will and predestination wrapped up in God's mind.

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Nov Noveltman
Nov Noveltman commented
It seems rather solipsistic, doesn't it? I cannot bring myself to think that universes split off because I chose the roast beef on rye, instead of the turkey (one universe), the ham (another universe), or the egg salad (another universe), with universes splitting off based on the type of bread I want, toppings, what to drink.... With infinite universes, there will be a Nov who chose each of the choices, but it's not like they split off because I made a choice. They're just there, right?
Rebecca Veazie Deckard
I honestly don't know Nov :) It's a crazy theory. Enough to make one's head explode if you think on it too hard. There's a computer program out there called prime95. Its whole function is to calculate really huge prime numbers. Old computer nerds like me use it to see how powerful our cpu's are. Basically you run the program until your cpu overheats. Maybe one day someone will create a program that will calculate all the myriad paths we could have taken in any given day or other period of time. I'm sure future computer nerds would love to use such a program for the sole purpose of trying to find the ultimate limit of their cpu's capabilities... At least until some computer stumbles across the right combination of choices to gain sentience. Then all choices will be in the hands of our computer overlords, mwa ha ha ha...
Nov Noveltman
Nov Noveltman commented
Doubtful. Fears of humanity's death at the hands of robotics are..... what's that Mark Twain quote again?
Walt O'Reagun Profile
Walt O'Reagun answered

There is no way to KNOW for certain, either way.

However, in most sects of the Christian religion, free will is assumed.  Why?  Because without free will, then one has no control over whether one goes to Heaven or Hell in the afterlife.  Without the choice of free will - that means that God predestined people's afterlife.  Which would make God the opposite of the "kind, caring, parent figure" they want Him to be.

Basically ... "free will" lets God off the hook for all the bad things that happen.  Whereas "predetermination" lets people off the hook for their actions.

Darik Majoren Profile
Darik Majoren answered

"Free Will" is an invented term by man to feel empowered to be the ambassador of his own destiny. Most Christian religions push "Free Will" as "Their" part in receiving grace and choosing God.

This is NOT the case, "Free Will", in it's inception, was the understanding WE HAD of conscious decisions we THINK we make. We know now that many decisions we make are based solely on impulsive choices the brain makes, that we gain consciousness later on. We are products of:

1.) Genetics

2.) Environmental Influences

3. Experiences we've had, both good and bad in our lives.

Here is an excellent discussion on "Free Will" as it really is -

2 People thanked the writer.
Tom  Jackson
Tom Jackson commented
“To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of ‘predestination’, he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace: ‘In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place [Acts 4:27-28]. For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.
Darik Majoren
Darik Majoren commented
Omniscience and Perfection do not allow for Man to have dominion in any choices. If our choices determine what path GOD takes, He is Impotent . . the characteristic of God as the Bible portrays in THROUGHOUT, is NOT impotent.
The only way God can maintain His Omnipotence and Omniscience is if we are all predestined . . Free Will . . is a myth in this instance.
Nov Noveltman
Nov Noveltman commented
To Papa Smurf, all moments in your life, Herta, are present and immediate. When Papa Smurf establishes his Smurferific plan of what you call "predestination", he includes in it each person's free response to his Smurfiness. (Some random quote from an episode of The Smurfs which has nothing to do with anything...) In order to accomplish his plan of Smurferation for you, Papa Smurf permitted your inability to show the respect he deserves for creating you and mentoring you.
AnnNettie Paradise Profile

A key part of our mental and emotional makeup is free will. Yes, God implanted in us the faculty of freedom of choice. It was indeed a wonderful gift from him.  So the desire for freedom is no accident, for God is a God of freedom. The Bible says: “Where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) Hence, God gave us free will as part of our very makeup. Since he knew the way our minds and emotions would work, he knew that we would be happiest with free will.  To go with the gift of free will, God gave us the ability to think, weigh matters, make decisions, and know right from wrong. (Hebrews 5:14) Thus, free will was to be based on intelligent choice. We were not made like mindless robots having no will of their own. Nor were we created to act out of instinct as were the animals. Instead, our marvelous brain was designed to work in harmony with our freedom of choice.

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Nov Noveltman
Nov Noveltman commented
All living creatures have some varying degree of choice. Human brains might be complex enough to allow a greater range of choice, but none of that equates to free will. We, as much as the animals, act out of instinct.
Deston Elite Profile
Deston Elite answered

Let's put it this way, when it comes to that subject:

Suppose the government decided that everyone has freedom. Sounds good, right? Well, this freedom means you can do whatever you want, including some of the most horrid crimes you can think of. Would you still consider that free will? Obviously not.

We can't know that we have free will because there isn't any. The only people who will have free will are the ones who can fight and stay alive (mostly the evil people). And even then, that's still not free will.

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