My World View – Free Will

There are a lot of people who talk about free will. Theists say that we have free will and use this to explain why there is evil in the world, why their Satan is left loose on the world, why Jesus was murdered, why we must choose their faith. There are a few people who will argue that we do not have free will, or more subtly that we only appear to have free will.

My view is this, we do have free will. If you wish, you can choose to stop reading right now. That is a choice, an exercise of free will. If by saying that I have triggered in your brain the mechanisms which will cause you to read the rest anyway we might say that you don’t really have free will. So lets imagine we can look at the things that might have just happened in your brain, shall we?

1 – you already read so far

2 – you had made preliminary decisions about whether the writing was interesting or not

At this point we might say that you have already made the decision to read the whole post – or not read it all.  Was that really a decision then to finish reading once questioned if you would? Yes, but you had made the decision to read the entire post before being asked if  you would or not. Were you conscious of that decision? No? Well, you made it, why were you not conscious of making that decision? Did someone else make it for you? Did quantum mechanics kick in and make you decide to not do things you don’t like doing in the first place? Hey, all that sounds complicate, right? Well lets see what we can find out about that.

There is no good single spot to get the low-down on thinking about free will but Wikipedia gives you a great spot to start reading from as it always does. Everyone has a common sense understanding of it, but those that write about it go quite a bit deeper to get beyond the common sense version of it. From the Wikipedia article you can see that there are many views on free will. Certainly more views than you might want to try on if you found yourself bored one weekend.

I can still remember asking why, why, why to my parents and anyone that would listen to me ask the same question over and over again. Once my mother sent me along with a man (uncle?) as he went to repair someone’s stereo/turntable. He was a patient man and answered my why’s until I had no more, or at least did not know how to ask any more of them. I was 5 years old, maybe 6. I understood little of the answers but did understand that they were ‘real’ answers. So I tried to remember them. I still do. I still ask why.  On the question of free will, you might well ask why…

Ian Pollock gives a nice run down of some recent arguments about free will. There is a lot of talk about J.Coyne and here and of course there is Sam Harris’ take on free will that we don’t have.

Though Sam Harris has come closer than the others I disagree with just about everybody. Welcome to the machine, the meat machine.

Come on, tell us what you really think!

We human apes are machines, meat machines. The business of our brain is to make decisions. Decisions about everything. What is safe to eat, what is not, what is dangerous (we’re weak on that one) and what is not. When to duck out of the way, when to stand our ground. An immense ocean of decisions every day, every minute. We make them so fast that we don’t have time to think about them. If we had to make conscious decisions about everything we see or hear as we drive a car it would be crippling. Try it, watch someone else while they drive and try to figure out how many decisions they are making per second. You won’t be able to keep up.

So, if you can’t keep up with their decisions, how do they? That is the ‘why’ question of free will. Lets go ahead and consider the machine between our ears.  Do you imagine that it has only a single core processor? If you said yes, you’re wrong. Even though you think of your mind/brain as a single thing it is made up of many processes. When have you ever had to think about making your hear beat, or concentrate on what is in the edges of your peripheral vision? The reason that you won’t remember is that these things happen without explicit consent or command from your consciousness process, that part you normally think of as your mind. Jill Bolte-Taylor has an incredible story.

She is a brain scientist who suffered a huge stroke and tells what happened. Half her brain shut down and with half gone she did not lose conscious thought, but did lose time sequencing to all the sensory inputs. She explains all this in her book and we can only conclude that more than one processor is running in our brains.

Yep, our brains are a group of processors, a machine. Some parts analyze various parts of our visual sensory input some parts keep your heart beating and so on.

What does all that gibberish mean?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Harris argues that if our conscious process does not make the choice then we do not have free will. This is flat out wrong. He is not paying attention to how our actual brain works.

As Jill Bolte-Taylor explains, if you shut down some of the parts of the brain catastrophically, we do not stop making decisions. We simply have more trouble doing so. This means decisions are not made outside the brain as if we are puppets or have no choices. We make decisions based on all the processes happening in our brains at any given instant. We also cannot claim that this world is a simulation and thus we have no free will because the loss of brain function does not stop decision making, only our ability to make good decisions. Follow along now. If this universe were a simulation, the simulation did not stop her from making decisions when her stroke happened, just her ability to make them. Decision making is done inside the brain. Okay, you might argue that this does not refute a simulation. There are also other reasons to refute a simulation, but they are long. The world is not likely to be as it is if this were a simulation that was programmed to give us such a keen sense of self identity and agency, and we would not understand why we have made the decisions that we have.

What’s the point already.

We do have free will, but it is based on the multiple processes in our brains. Something which has not been discussed by modern philosophers or ancient ones. It has not been considered how multiple process systems make decisions, and what exactly this does to free will.

We do have free will and in the investigation of it we will find what exactly it means to think of ourselves as meat machines. This machine between our ears makes us human apes a little bit different than other animals… just the same, we are as we perceive. That is to say that we perceive ourselves as a single agent with free will. That agency is based on the interactions of several processes and we can measure the communications between them. Such times and delays are the cost of making decisions. They are the cost of free will. Decisions are not made instantly but by careful analysis of all the sensory input we have along side analysis of the previous information that we’ve stored up. These things take time… but the delay does not indicate that we do not have free will.

The deeper philosophical arguments were made before any thought that we are not alone in our heads. There are many processes here, not just one. This makes a huge difference in how to interpret thought and feeling and action. I do not believe that any argument against free will has merit.

Of course you are welcome to prove me wrong… leave a comment, thanks.

  1. Okay, I’ll bite.

    I am of the mindset that, what we call, free will, is just another mechanical process.

    Before I assume I understand what you mean by free will, let me ask you this:

    Do you think that a multiprocessing super computer, like IBM’s new Watson, that played on jeopardy, has free will?

    I’m assuming your answer is no.

    Based on that assumption, I would conclude that you accept that man has free will because you don’t believe that there is a physically mechanical process to man’s decision making ability.

    If you accept this statement as true, Then, what you are calling, free will is based on what is “unknown” about man, and is subject to disproof as we learn more about man.

    In case I’m not understand you, let me ask you this:

    If you find out that man’s decision making ability is scientifically predictable, and can be broken down into physical process, like that of a computer, will you, then, call it free will?

  2. bitman9000,
    That is a truly good question. Thanks. Let me see if I can explain this. The word free in free will implies necessarily free agency. That is agency that is not controlled by another being or external process etc.

    If it is found that what humans believe to be free will is simply the emergent status of ‘mechanical’ processes, I will still consider it free will/free agency until and unless that agency is shown to be controlled by an external force/being/process.

    Even if we exist in a simulation and we are separate little programs which have free agency within the simulation I will maintain that we have free will. The simulation is not a real problem. I cannot decide when stars go super nova, and this is right. The rules of the game (life) are the rules. None of the rules show that I do not have free will.

    How would I know if some external process is controlling me? I don’t, and no one else does either. Unless and until someone shows that an external process/entity/being is controlling my decisions the simplest most viable answer is that I do have free agency. Even if the ‘I’ in that is the by product of many processes working together – an emergent property of processes not designed to give me free will on purpose.

    Cogito ergo sum. If I can think and make a decision, without proof that I did not I cannot add complexity to a situation that does not require it for a satisfactory explanation.

    Science may indeed find that consciousness is simply a mental process… I’m happy with that and will continue to see my self as a free agent in the world until someone shows that this is not true. In short, I am happy to be a meat machine. It bothers me not in the least.

    • You stated:

      “If it is found that what humans believe to be free will is simply the emergent status of ‘mechanical’ processes, I will still consider it free will/free agency until and unless that agency is shown to be controlled by an external force/being/process.”

      Would a person have free will if he/she is put in prison or enslaved?

      • A very good question. Does free will remain free when imprisoned? Does it exist inside a box?

        It should be argued that it does exist even if the said will has very limited ability to effect that will. The universe can in some ways be considered a box. We who have free will do not have the ability to effect our will outside the parameters of the universe we live in. Additionally this speaks to the question of whether Stephen Hawking has the same free will as an able bodied person? I will argue that he does even though he is a prisoner of his body.

        Taken to the logical extreme, can a robot or AI have free will? Yes.

        An odd aside: if it is argued successfully that the USA is alive, then it too can and does have free will.

        Another example, maybe. In the Matrix movies, did the characters in the matrix have free will or did the humans plugged in to be those characters have free will? What do you think?

        • I’m still trying to get a grip on what “free will” is to you.

          Based on what you’re saying, I’m thinking, first there is “will.” Then there is the degree of freedom or restriction to that “will”.

          So to say that one has free will is only to acknowledge that there is some degree of freedom to that individual’s will and does not address what that “will” is free from or free to do, as that will likely change, for that individual, from one circumstance to the next.

          As long as you can identify “will” and, some degree of, freedom to act, then you can say that there is “free will.”

          Before I go too far, does this relate to how you see will?

          • bitman9000,
            Cogito ergo sum. I exist because I think. Because I think I make decisions. My decisions are independent of external control, my will or ability to decide is free of external control. Thinking defines essence of existence, when I exist at the will of something or someone else I do not have free will. If the thoughts/decisions I have are my own, I have free will. The decision to act is free will without requirement for the ability to act. The decision to love requires no action.

            Hopefully this makes a bit more sense. Hawking has free will yet he cannot act on it. A prisoner has free will even if they cannot act on it. I make the decision whether I believe in gods or ghosts, it is not given to me by an external agent. I have free will.

  3. I agree with you. It does not bother me to be a meat machine either.

    I think that all human animation (actually all animation) is the result of imbalanced energy forces returning to balance. Like a rock falling down the side of a mountain, when all forces are balanced, the animation stops.

    • If you read my post on the ‘big splash’ you’ll see that I’ve laid down a kind of foundation to further state that time is nothing more than the effect of energy dispersing inside of space to an equilibrium. That all matter is some chaotic form of this energy echoing back and forth between the dimensions. It’s life cycle is long enough that our observance of it is not a very good vantage point to observe it.

      I am but a blip in time, a swirl of energy that stopped to be me for some brief time. I am inseparable from chaotic energy that created me, and I will die before it wanes to equilibrium. I am… and it is good. The universe as we know it is not a creation, but an accident, a thing… that is trying it’s best to not exist.

  4. It is true to say, is it not, that every thing a person does is caused other by genes or environment?

    Let me assume that’s true and you can tell me if my premise is flawed.

    It is also true that every moment only ever happens once. I think this is important.

    I am in a situation to make a decision constantly. And each decision is made on the basis of my genes and my experience.

    If you could know everything about me, everything about a) my personality and b) the factors that influence me, I believe you could predict what I will do, every single time.

    I think that is true for everybody.

    And since each decision happens only once, it is always the only decision that person could have made.

    We have a paradox. We make decisions freely, but we are incapable of making any other decisions than the ones we will make.

    You can decide if you think that means we have free will. I think we do.

    • Well, if we lay out some assumptions:

      1 – We can know the current and past states of every quark, gluon, string etc.
      2 – We have a model and method to accurately predict the next or future state of every quark, gluon, string etc.
      3 – We can map the state of quarks, gluons, strings etc. within the brain to know what will happen next, what will be it’s next state

      It may be possible to predict the outcome of a decision, but this requires a 4th assumption; that the energy of the universe decays in a predictable manner.

      I do not believe that the four assumptions are or could be true. It necessarily requires more energy than is being measured to measure the energy. There the paradox crashes because you begin to deal with more energy than is available. If we live in a simulation, it might be possible for the manager of that simulation to know, but it is yet to be shown the we live in a simulation.

      All things being what they are, some things are unknowable. This uncertainty means that we cannot predict future events or actions and thus maintain free will to effect them within the level of play that we exist in the decay of the energy of the universe.

      Even if one or more of the assumptions can be true, the others make the proposition on the whole impossible from the strata in which we exist in the decay of the energy of the universe.

      Further, without doing the calculations, if the decay of the energy of the universe is predictable, it is not free will at stake, but pre-determinism. If the decay is predictable, then all actions are already predicted – even if we are unable to measure or know them. In my opinion that implies much more than loss of free will. It negates morality, purpose, meaning, and to some extent existence itself. We would be no more alive than the people in a painting.

      Of course, I cannot state with certainty that this is not true.

      All things being what they are, given what we can know, cogito ergo sum – we have free will.

      • I am out of my depth on the stuff about quarks and energy, which may undermine my entire argument. But I don’t think it does.

        At a given point in time, and given a specific set of stimuli, I can only react in one way, because I am me. If I reacted differently, I would be someone else. What I do in any given situation is “the way Jonny Scaramanga acts in x situation.”

        I believe that when anybody makes a choice, it’s the only choice they can make.

        • Technically, if making a different choice would make you someone else, how can you be sure you are yourself right now? If something can go wrong it will go wrong at the worst possible time. If by choosing differently you would be someone else, then you are most likely someone else and don’t know it.

          If viewed from the right time perspective, you made that choice not because it is the only one but because you made it before you could think about it. There are several perspectives that would allow that you can’t make any choice other than what you will choose because this is an echo we live, like the slow motion replay of what was existence.

          I personally view the philosophies of the universe as possibly containing several perspectives as true. Time being the effect of energy decaying to equilibrium across space. Our possible choices are limited in as much as they cannot add energy to the universe nor reverse the effect of the previous decay process. We can’t travel faster than light, and soon not even light will be able to travel that fast. On the outer edges of known space it may well be moving slower than it should already.

          If this can be shown to be true, it argues against the simulation theory. After making a choice it can be said in hindsight it was the only choice you could make. I don’t think that is the case before it happens, It’s all a bit confusing until seen from the exact perspective that makes it look simple.

          • Either I don’t understand your first paragraph properly or it is total nonsense.

            Your second paragraph is not necessarily true; lots of decisions are made with the decider having plenty of time to consider them first.

            I suspect that you may be using science-y sounding stuff to make philosophical points the science can’t (yet) support. It’s all fascinating, mind. Now my head hurts.

            • Philosophy and theoretical astrophysics are not the same thing but each may have an impact on the other. Where time can be shown to vary or be explained by astrophysics it necessarily affects philosophy and so on.

              If time is the effect of energy decaying to equilibrium across the universe, then if you can be outside that field of energy/space, time does not exist in the same respect for you. From this perspective time is flattened until all that the in-space/energy you do in your life is either forever displayed all at once or the you inside the energy/space field will appear to flicker on and off and jumping around as if you can’t stand still. In both cases you will appear to have made the choice before knowing about it, and not knowing about it after you made the choice. Make sense? To someone outside the energ/space bubble, all that you do appears to them not in the order that it does to you.

              Theoretical physics must soon reconcile the constants which are used to make the math work out for special and general relativity. The holy grail of physics is ‘the theory of everything’ which should do the trick. Right now the model allows for time travel if you have infinite energy or can fold space etc. I just personally think the model of the universe is inconsistent with the problems and the math. Something has to change and that is what made me think of the big splash post I wrote.

              Problematically,, I feel that there is far more to learn about the dimensions proposed by string theory, for in these will lie the path to time travel and faster than light travel… IMO.

              I’m sure that cleared everything up for you on a Monday morning. Right?

              • So, to summarise, you are speculating, and so am I. Good. You have given me much to read up on for that mystical day in the future when I have time.

                • ROFLMAO
                  “They” promised me that same thing when I got older. They keep telling me ‘when you get older’ …. I’m starting to think that mystical day is what started the original thoughts of heaven.

  5. You know i really think that we think sometimes a little too much about things that really we should not be be worrying about.

    As well as us as humankind thinks its so important that we go in to space and explore and still make questions and just keep searching for time and all eternity for the answers.There will always be questions to ask but we must as humankind come up with a societal answer before time runs out.We are here and only exist maybe 100 years old if your lucky.
    And then are you willing to risk dying here to this earth and think so proudful that really we are getting no guidance in the end??.And we are here on this tiny blue rock called Earth to figure out the meaning in life.And then one day die and what if it was in our face the entire time.

    Wouldnt we feel totally stupid and what a horrible day to realize we wasted all those years on nothing when the answer was always in front of us we just refused to see it because we are too smart for God or be able to put faith in a God.

    Does it make sense to have faith in God? Is it possible to release all our fears and failures into God’s hands? There are times in our lives when the road ahead seems uncertain; when the answers we desperately seek are elusive. As long as we depend on our own understanding and reasoning, our faith will waiver.

    God’s ways are incomprehensible: “‘My thoughts are completely different from yours,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine . . . my ways [are] higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8–9). We are so precious to God that His highest thoughts are about us; they can’t be counted (Psalm 139:17–18).

    For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names. Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish.”
    Psalm 49:10-12

    I refuse to lie in fear.As any agnostic or atheist lies each day of their existence.They lull the people into a false sense of security
    Fear of Death.And the unknown and all the great mysteries.

    All the goodness they had naturally implanted in them by their Creator, which they have discovered in some measure by concentrated effort they scarcely keep with great vigilance of mind; and whatever they find they have acquired through application with God’s grace they do not leave to their heirs because of the unfairness of worldly wealth; all the skills they acquire in life one by one they lose in like manner at the end of this life as their spirit is given up.”

    Or will that person die with all his temporal hopes spent or dashed, little if anything to show for his life, and nothing to satisfy the longing in his soul for the Truth…,

    I choose this day. Today to know that i no longer am searching.And my journey has just begun.I see clearly now as if i was seeing through a dirty window for years.And so goes my ballad of the Christian Warrior 🙂

    • Did anyone make it through all that?

      • I made it through it.

        • @myatheistlife Thanks for that; you made me realise how rude my previous comment was.

          @themoderndaynomads: I don’t live every day in fear. And in any case, the truth may be harsh. Whether or not the world would be better with God has no bearing on his existence. In my case, I don’t feel that the absence of a God or an afterlife makes my life meaningless. It just means I have to do something to make it meaningful.

          Like myatheistlife, I was a bit put off by the Scripture quotations.

    • Let me start by saying that quoting scripture to me is not a good way to start. I hope they didn’t tell you that quoting scripture is the best way to get your message across to atheists and anti-theists. If they did, they were wrong.

      You ask if it would feel stupid to spend life and then find you had chosen a wrong belief. It’s a shame that when you die you will simply be dead. Otherwise you could let us know what it feels like to have made the wrong choice and wasted all your years. This argument does nothing to show the validity of your choice. This is Pascal’s wager – go look it up. It is refuted thousands of times on the internet.

      Further, I do not need your imaginary god. I face my fears and failures on my own. The same way I face my joys and successes. I do not need help from your imaginary friend for either of them.

      Your god’s ways are NOT incomprehensible. You yourself claim to understand them. Since you now claim that you cannot comprehend your god’s ways, how do you know that your god is not Satan playing tricks on you?

      I do not face each day with fear. You have absolutely no understanding of atheism or agnosticism. Your god does not exist, yet you make assertions of certain knowledge about the origina and nature of the universe and of gods which do not exist in this universe and cannot be known. Your knowledge is a lie given to you by others. You call it faith, and I call it foolish.

      The grandmother of the brother-in-law of the second cousin to the uncle of the butcher who cut meat for the Einstein family is now long gone. Do you think she had anything to show for her life now that it is done? Do you know her name? What makes you think that believing in imaginary friends will give you more from life than her? When your life is done you’ll have exactly as much to remember or be remembered. No one will know you and you will be gone. Having useless faith in the unknowable and unproven invisible sky daddy will not prolong your time nor cast your existence into another.

      You have not only wasted your time believing in nothing, but you come here to waste the time of others. I can say that it is a waste. If you read any of my posts or the comments you can see that people are interested in evidence of how things work, how to explain what is. You tell us that such endeavors are a waste and that we should forget all that and simply beileve, as you do, in the fairy tale that you find in your dusty old books.

      I think that Quixotic meanderings do not make a Christian Warrior, but thanks for stopping by to read my blog.

      • Thanks for the reply and your insight and honesty again

        • Good to have you visit. Thanks

  6. The entire concept of “free will” implies that someone/something must have “given” us the “right” to make decisions. Such a concept can only stem from one root: desism. Therefore, I totally reject that term.
    I’ve been working on a book for years in an attempt to show the power of metacognition (for want of a better term). Very simply, metacognition is the ability to think about the way we think. That is, we can truly analyze our own thought processes, which give us the conscious ability to change everything: the way we life, behave, believe, and even think. While many animals have long-term memory, they lack this critical difference in the way their brains work, as evidenced by the fact that not one species, no matter how intelligent, has deliberately changed the way they live for tens of thousands of years (no, not the same as evolution). They still live from instinct. The only animals that have significantly changes their lifestyles were domesticated by Man; they did not choose to be domesticated. There is no “free will” in the spiritual sense. Man simply has a higher functioning capacity in his brain that differentiates us, allowing us to evaluate and then alter our thought processes. Obviously, this gives us the ability to choose — including the abiliity to choose whether or not to believe in a supreme being. That’s not “free will” as a gift from anything or anyone except evolution.

    • I don’t think the term is used commonly to suggest we were given the gift of free will, or I’ve not taken it have that meaning, not even when Sam Harris uses it.

      I agree with you mostly, though I’d like to get your perspective on empathy observed in animals (not human apes). Many species demonstrate empathy which in turn argues for free will in the one who acts on empathy as a motivation. I don’t think that fits with the ‘only act from instinct’ model.

      I think that some animals helped domesticate themselves, such as the dog.The symbiotic relationship between humans and some animals cannot be awarded as a success in domestication only on the part of humans.

      Thanks for commenting

  7. “Jewish philosophy stresses that free will is a product of the intrinsic human soul, using the word neshama (from the Hebrew or .נ.ש.מ meaning “breath”), but the ability to make a free choice is through Yechida (from Hebrew word “yachid”, יחיד, singular), the part of the soul that is united with God, the only being that is not hindered by or dependent on cause and effect (thus, freedom of will does not belong to the realm of the physical reality, and inability of natural philosophy to account for it is expected).

    In Islam the theological issue is not usually how to reconcile free will with God’s foreknowledge, but with God’s “jabr,” or divine commanding power. al-Ash’ari developed an “acquisition” or “dual-agency” form of compatibilism, in which human free will and divine jabr were both asserted, and which became a cornerstone of the dominant Ash’ari position.”
    – Watt, Montgomery. Free-Will and Predestination in Early Islam. Luzac & Co.: London 1948; Wolfson, Harry. The Philosophy of Kalam, Harvard University Press 1976

    In Christianity, this is a major discussion both from religious texts and in Milton’s “Paradise Lost”, as I’m sure you know. While I agree that the term does not have to be religious, it is so ingrained in all monotheisms that I personally associate it with the question of “the soul”, ergo it is inherently a deistic concept, in my opinion. Again, it’s mere semantics, but we need to start somewhere in our attempts at communication.

    As to empathy, I think that’s more of an emotional response than intellectual. However, I don’t disagree at all with animals having that capacity. As I said, many animals are quite intelligent and have long-term memory (Temple Grandin, et alia). I absolutely agree that’s a choice, not “instinct”. But I think it’s based on very short-term considerations and decisions.

    But that’s not what I was referring to at all. What I’m talking about is very long-term decision making.

    I don’t want to regurgitate that entire chapter of my book, but basically animals do not deliberately change the way they live. Dolphins are intelligent enough to herd fish into a closed estuary, guard them, and have food anytime they want. But that would require metacognition—the ability to foresee future food shortages, the conscious decision to do something about it, and then the long-term cooperation of herding and sharing, etc. Why have animals not improved their living conditions—including accommodations, modes of travel, communication, and especially their food gathering techniques—the way humans have?

    As to “cooperation” in domestication, I can’t absolutely speak to that; it goes back hundreds of thousands of years, so who knows what the process was? However, I know that evidence shows it takes two generations at the most for a domesticated animal, including a dog, to revert to instinctual behavior. If the dogs or horses “cooperated” in their domestication, as opposed to merely finding it comfortable and convenient (in addition to having little choice!) once they had been tamed, why would they go back to nature so quickly if released into the wild? While a domesticated animal itself will usually seek to return to its human home if lost, why would the offspring of those animals be perfectly content to live a primitive existence? Wouldn’t there be some sort of “communal memory” of that experience?

    If you wish to read a summary of my thoughts on metacognition, you can do so here.

    • Don, My apologies, this somehow dropped into the spam folder ??? I’ll try to reply to this this afternoon.
      Thanks for commenting.

      • It’s no rush

    • Don,
      I’ll grant you that most in the animal kingdom do not exhibit longer term learning though evolution can make it seem this way. Further that the empathy mentioned might indeed be a shorter term process, something of the here and now and not a directed effort to change the future. I think I’m seeing what you are getting at.

      I think I’ve lost the plot on how this relates to free will (or as has been pointed out to me will without free added). Animals exhibit will in such actions as can be called empathy.

      I think you might have to explain a bit more before I get what you are driving at.

      • MAL, Bitman asked what the difference was between will and “free will”. He also asked if you could have free will if you were in prison. So how does all that relate to humans with metacognition and animals without it?

        Animals make decisions all the time. That is will–the desire to do one thing rather than another (“fight or flight” would be an example of the most basic). However, I don’t think any animals think in terms of “good or evil”. I don’t know, of course, but those are metaphysical concepts that require the ability to evaluate their own thought processes, and to determine a value judgment. An animal can go mad, such as a dog with hydrophobia, and start committing vicious acts for no discernible reason to us. But did that animal consciously “choose” to destroy, to bite, to kill without regard to food or safety/protection? I can’t imagine it.

        But humans have metacognition. We can evaluate decisions on a much higher plane, and therefore make that conscious choice. (Although psychologists say there are sociopaths who do not have that capability in the normal human sense.) That cognitive difference is what gives us “free will”, the ability to go way up Maslow’s hierarchy.

        So, if a person is imprisioned, if they are in slavery, their will–their ability to make basic decisions–may indeed be very limited. Yet their free will is no way impaired. They can choose the way they will react to their situation: the “ballot or the bullet”, blind rage or passive resistance, to hate their captors and seek revenge or forgive them and get on with their lives–if allowed to.

        • Don,
          I hold the position that we have free will and that morality is subjective. We get confused because so many hold similar value systems that it might be objective, and thus good or evil. I do not support any idea that there is good and evil.

          Don’t chisel this onto tablets just yet, but it seems to me that a more complex machine with which to make decisions will have more complex methods for doing so. The larger your capacity to think/plan the more chess moves you can think through. I think chess applies here nicely. The less capacity you have to think ahead and what all the possible moves are, the less sophisticated your move will be. It might well be that we human apes simply developed one trick that gives us more capacity for planning and so our behavior is perceived as different than in animals when it is the same but with more complexity. Did that make sense?

          To complete the analogy, other animals are bad chess players while human apes are good chess players. The differences between them is not a soul or such, but thought capacity. The more complex thought capacity the more varied our responses can be, and thus, as you say, we can change our long term behavior/strategies for survival…. or as Bitman9000 says to change our stress management strategies.

          Still don’t start carving that out as my final answer. It seems to make sense to me at this moment.

          Thank you again for contributing so much in these discussions.

          • I posed my thoughts on morality, ethics, etc., in the “What is Truth?” articles. It seems we’re pretty close on that. Yes, our free will is a complex thing, but I still put a value judgment on “good” vs “evil” in terms of having made a decision to be destructive or to be constructive, as far as we can. Obviously, there are mitigating circumstances to everything, which we have to weigh. But motivation remains paramount, IMALTHO.

            • Is choosing destructive vs constructive any different than simply viewing the existence of others as useful to us or not useful? The (con/de)structive choice assumes a notion of right/wrong based on the well being of others that need not be present to choose those same actions.

              That is, empathy and reciprocity are essentially selfish actions and not morally good actions.

              • To me, there’s a huge difference. And you keep using “morally”, where I am ammoral. I think most “moral” precepts see it exactly the way you do, i.e., seflishly, related to what useful or not useful to the group. Semantically, we seem to be very far apart.

                • I use the terms I do because I’m trying to not assert that there are objective values. That is that I do not believe we can look to an objective set of values to judge others. We either judge them and their actions as morally good or morally bad. You can replace morally with the word ethically.

                  There are many that think President Obama is morally bad. Does this make him ‘evil’ or morally bad in some objective way?

                  • I’m gonna go on a ledge with this statement but “There is no self initiated action that has nothing to do with self [stress management]/[energy balance]. Go ahead and give me one, I can take it :-).

                    I understand ethics to be the system of values “within” a person and morals the be the system of values generally agreed upon “between” people. Ideally, the very stable morals become laws.

                    From the perspective of self, morality is ultimately about managing self stress (benefiting self), through actions that are also perceived to be generally beneficial to the other individuals in a group.

                    furthermore, if a moral (indirectly selfish) act is not perceived to be of greater ultimate benefit to self than a comparable but directly selfish, act, then the moral act will not be taken over the directly selfish act.

                    In order for the self to support the group, the self has to perceive that what’s useful to the group is ultimately more useful to the self than what the self could accomplish, acting without the group.

                    All, self initiated, acts are ultimately perceived to be constructive to self stress management. There is no such thing as a self-initiated act that is perceived to be destructive to overall self stress management.

                    I think constructive and destructive acts are independent of whether or not a person is useful. Any person or thing that is not useful to self, self will not act on. In order for self to act on something, it must either be useful or threatening. Even if someone is considered useful, self may still commit a relatively destructive act on him/her to effect a constructive outcome. The idea of tough love comes under this heading.

                    The concept of objectivity is a little illusive. Every statement, made, is subject to the perspective of it’s author. An objective statement is a subjective statement with a scope of consideration that is acceptably inclusive to all parties concerned.

                    Basically my point here is that selfishness is built into every act made by self. It is the “degree” of selfishness, or more specifically the degree of non-inclusion of consideration for the benefit of others, in an act made by self, that is the concern.

                  • I stated:
                    “In order for the self to support the group, the self has to perceive that what’s useful to the group is ultimately more useful to the self than what the self could accomplish, acting without the group.”

                    In order for the self to support the group, the self has to perceive that what’s useful “to the self” “through the group” is ultimately more useful to the self than what the self could accomplish, acting without the group.

                    • I absolutely agree with this. All actions are selfish. Suppression of selfishness though, presents a problem not answered clearly. This is true especially in the case of sacrificing one’s own life to further that of another. I am guessing it can be argued that the other life was thought more important than the one which sacrificed itself, thought his delves into group dynamics more than self.

                    • Self sacrifice still falls in-line with self stress management. The idea here is that the pain that this person believes he/she would bare, having not sacrificed him or herself, is greater than the pain involved in making such a sacrifice.

                      It’s about taking the lesser of two painful experiences.

                    • Which would indicate that discomfort or pain is both an abstract and a physical construct.

                    • All pain ends up in the mind. I think the physical is a construction of perception, made by the mind for bringing order to experiential input.

  8. myatheistlife :

    “I exist because I think..

    I have watched a TED Talk, where cognitive science students would direct magnetic impulses to a certain area of a person’s brain and, with repeated results, make the person more or less likely to punish or forgive a another for committing a particular act.

    Would this be closer to affecting the persons free will ability?

    • I’m not sure I understand the question. I’ll guess at what you meant and answer.

      This external control does not remove free will but impairs the ability to make decisions. In as much as it is used here to affect particular decisions. This is similar to selectively removing air from one tire to cause a car to steer in one direction rather than another for a time but not changing the ability of the car to drive normally.

      In line with the meat machine thought, this TED video shows how we learn decision competencies. Our brains suffer similar types of performance difficulties when they are damaged. This does not remove free will, it only impacts the ability to make decisions which are congruent to “”normal”” decision making processes in other human brains.

      Affecting the ability of a brain to make decisions through external means verifies (not scientifically I suppose) that we either are all controlled from external means in the very same ways all the time or we are all not controlled via external agency. The more likely in that case is that we are not controlled externally. Further that decision making is done in the brain and not some external component (soul) that is not affected by the physical world, that that could be argued against.

      If we are all controlled from an external source, this video indicates that it would be detectable. Such has not been detected, ergo free will remains in the decision making ability of the human brain, the meat machine.

      Does that work?

  9. Are you saying that will is neither the ability to make decisions nor the ability to act on such decisions but the ability to choose to act on the decisions made?

    • I guess I was confusing. Free will, in a nut shell, is the ability to make decisions. Cogito ergo sum, the essence of life, its essential part. I think, therefore ‘I’ am…

      It does not matter the form of the body or framework which contains the machine that is me, that does the thinking.

      If that body cannot act on the decisions I make it does not stop me making them and thus does not impair my free will in making them. In this, Hawking has free will, as do prisoners etc. Movies such as Avatar and The Matrix have explored situations where I in ‘I am’ is expressed through a different body/presentation. There are those that would liken such different presentations to the soul controlling the brain/mind of a human. I think there is no method to prove an external controlling agent, but in the case of these situations the ‘I’ is not in the presentation so it would be argued that such external control is the ‘I’ and not simply controlling another ‘I’ from an external position. This situation is simply an extension of the mind into another presentation.

      Hope that makes sense of it.


  10. You said:

    “Free will, in a nut shell, is the ability to make decisions”.

    How does this differ from just will?

    Will you define will first, then define free will?

    I’m not just asking arbitrary questions to waist your time. I need these definitions from you to build a logical argument based on your presentation of free will.

    • My spidy-senses detect a incompati-ballistic discussion incoming.

      In my other posts you will find that I fancy the idea that the big bang was not quite as described and that the astronomical constants are something I feel need explanation. The theory of everything, I suspect, will be more than a marginal adjustment to general relativity.

      While it seems logical that matter is a state of energy, and that all such interactions such as the dissipation of energy across space toward equilibrium should have a predictable nature if we knew what space was and could understand that time is the effect of that dissipation. My calculations are probably completely wrong, but this makes sense to me. In this, if we can predict the patterns and interactions of the energy dissipation then it should seem to follow that the universe is deterministic and thus free will does not exist.

      I hold that because I can think, the molecules which make that part of me that does think behave in patterns which are under my control, my thoughts are causing change in the universe on some small localized level. In this I am and I will, I have free will. The I that I am is imprisoned in the interaction of the energy dissipation, but I retain free will, regardless of my ability to effect action outside a very limited bubble. The butterfly effect (stretched over time) is something that I do think occurs.

      It is said that as many as one out of 200 men alive today are descendants of Genghis Khan. Had he died early, the world would be different in non-trivial ways, or could be. The movie ‘Pay It Forward’ is an example of a thought effecting change in the universe. Einstein supposedly was looking at a clock when his theory of relativity occurred
      to him… another thought that effected change in the universe. It is thought alone that creates effects in the universe. Not in the manner that it does not exist unless we think it, but in the manner that the very molecules which move in the process of the thought that I am affect others, and in turn yet others, in a chain reaction that does determine to some extent how the universe unfolds. The universe would undoubtedly continue to unfold had no life ever formed. That life did form necessarily causes change in the universe and how it unfolds. As it unfolds all that energy will interact and react. In the nooks and crannies of those interactions arose life. That life necessarily affects the interactions. Our thoughts themselves affect the interactions, for they are part of the unfolding of the universe, not simply a predetermined echo of the dissipation of energy.

      I am not a determinist, though I can see where one might hold that position. For the reasons stated, I do not. With that said, I’m very open to discussion.

      • Comon Now!………what tha?!……:-D.. Your spidy-senses are killing me.

        I’m not trying to make you repeat yourself over and over. I get the just of what you’re saying and I’m going to try to address it but I think we’re going to have to do the back and forth thing in small increments in effort to step through the logic of if. I think you’ve already read my post on “Need, Want and The Way You Feel.” I break down my own ideas the same way that I’m trying to do here and I have to do it this way if I’m going to consider adopting it into my own way of thinking. That’s why I asked you about the difference between will and free will.

        I believe will is just another sequence of events of that deterministic process that you speak of and free will is a way of making it sound like it’s not just another sequence of said process, which can turn out to be quite the pink elephant in the room if it’s discomforting to find that what it means to be a meat machine is that our lives are that painting you were talking about or that they are just playing out like a movie strip.

        But given that I do not believe in free will, I have no real definition for it so I’m asking for yours and how it differs from just plain old will.

        If I can’t define things the way you do, at least for the sake of argument, then we can’t really have a logical discussion.

        • In the limited set of possibilities of deterministic decay and non-deterministic decay (a universe sans gods and demons) the definition of free will and will unmodified would seem the same, I’ll give you that, where will means self directed thought.

          And one step further and posit that one of the several dimension would be such that viewing the decay is deterministic, but not from within the dimensions we inhabit. That is the decay is not deterministic across all dimensions. That is, given that a deterministic decay as you believe it to be looks no different than a non-deterministic decay I cannot argue for order, even if you think it is ordered. To me, determinism implies controlled and planned origin. Not to argue from ignorance, but can you explain why it does or does not imply ordered and controlled origin? Yes, it is an honest question. There are zero people in my daily life with which I could have such a conversation.

          I’m okay with meat machine, but the evidence as I have found it does not lead me to understand the universe as a kind of snow globe on a shelf in a kid’s room somewhere. Deterministic origin does not seem to match with either the big bang or my own big splash ideas, yet seems fairly in-line with theistic ideologies. Can you enlighten me?

          I still think the universe is non-deterministic… BUT I’m willing to hear the argument and persuasion for such.

  11. You stated (1):
    “Deterministic origin does not seem to match with either the big bang or my own big splash ideas, yet seems fairly in-line with theistic ideologies.”

    My response (1):
    I believe the opposite is true. I don’t know about the “origin” of determinism but the “process” of determinism makes a lot of sense to me as something that would happen after the big bang. I have not read up on your big splash theory but judging by the name, determinism would apply their as well.

    First you have an event (i.e. big bang/splash) then the energy moves about afterwards, mechanically like that of a firework or pool table. There is only one way that the energy will move and that is the way that it does move.

    I actually think that your idea of free will is more like a new type of spirituality that is more relaxed than organized religion. Given that disproof of free will would (according to you) require knowledge of it’s un-accessible and near un-debatable origin, free will, then, has properties resembling that of god, freeing you up to write about the goodness of free will like people write about the goodness of god in their bibles.

    End response (1)

    You stated (2):
    “To me, determinism implies controlled and planned origin. Not to argue from ignorance, but can you explain why it does or does not imply ordered and controlled origin?”

    My response (2):
    Every time you think about the ultimate origin as being panned/controlled, then you have not reached the ultimate origin and must consider the origin of the universe of the planner/controller.

    If you’re not concerned about the origin of a universe from which our universe came into existence, but just whether, or not, I think it’s planned/controlled, given that it is deterministic, I say it could be either way. It does not have to be planned/controlled though.

    I think our awareness (or at least my awareness) barely barely scratches the surface of the complexity of what there is to be aware of in all of existence.

    Our entire “deterministic” universe could be the equivalent of a spark between two stones that collided after being blown from the side of a mountain that settled in on itself and ignited one of it’s gas pockets. Outside our universe, nobody planned it, nobody cares, we get a brief moment of existence, and the beat of the creator universe goes on.

    End response (2)

    Some general points:
    I think the concept of chaos just boils down to the lack of knowledge of, or lack of ability to identify, an order of things. So where there is chaos, the order is simply undefined. I have no problem with recognizing things as being undefined until further notice. This is how I see the origin of our universe, it is basically undefined, or more accurately, loosely defined.

    A more significant origin that I keep in mind is the origin of my perspective. All that I deduce about reality is based on what comes into me through my perspective. All that is outside of my perspective is undefined by me. If i deduce that something existed before I did, no matter how much I assert that it is so, it is still a deduction, made by me, based on information that came into me after my perspective came into existence, and as long as I don’t know everything, I am subject to change said assertion based on new information that comes into me at a later time.

    I like to say “Reality is exactly what you honestly think it is.” When you change your mind about reality, then reality is, again, what you honestly think it is. What’s the use of trying to speak in terms of an, undefined, absolute reality that you don’t know of, but by way of your perspective? Without at least implicitly identifying a perspective or point of view, concepts about reality can become illusive and difficult to organize into dependably useful thought. That’s why I was so concerned with how you define things and not just what I could find on wikipedia. I was trying to get your perspective.

    I did a post on “reality” called “An Idea about what reality is.” where I talk more about how I see perspective.

    On freedom of will and thought:
    I feel no more controlled or less free to choose among perceived options, despite the notion of existing in a deterministic universe because, all of my preexisting thoughts and choices exist outside of my perspective. The same would be the case even if I were being, thought, controlled by an entity/alien/person that existed within said deterministic universe with me. It’s actions exist outside of my perspective. So, as far as I’m concerned, I’m doing the thinking and choosing. And I can still call it choice. That type of mechanical process just happens to be what choice is. This doesn’t depress me because of how I see life.

    On life:
    I believe we are just bundles of imbalanced energy that is charged into existence by way of our environment, and we wiggle around as we release that energy and return to balance on the level of physical animation (death).

    The structure or form of atoms, represents another level of energy imbalance. Being that all atomically based matter can be considered to be holographic vibrations, a balancing of energy at this level of atomic holographic vibration would cause matter to cease to exist at all. Of course, human life would end at a level of energy balance well above that of the holographic vibration of atoms.

    I’m showing how the energy balancing analogy doesn’t just apply to life, but it also applies to all material in this deterministic universe that I believe we’re in. But describing life in these terms is like describing a romance novel in terms of grammar.

    The energy balancing act of our universe “bubbles up” to the level of, life based, human thought, as stress management. All of human thought is about stress management of the stimulation of our nervous systems.

    I go into more detail about this in my post entitled:
    “Need, Want and The Way You Feel: An Alternative Perspective”

    The gist of what I’m saying is that what we call thought and will is a result of us being taught to, or deciding to, lay claim to a complex but mechanical process by which our bodies manage and dissipate energy/stress/stimuli coming in from our environment.

    Laying claim to our body’s animation is not the problem. It makes for more efficient communication. It would be better for me to claim ability to move my arm so that you can tell me to move it, as apposed to me not claiming such ability Then you would have to come up with something weird to say like “by whatever means it takes for the arm to be moved, let it move.” Otherwise you would just have to get up and move it yourself. How’s that for lack of efficiency?.

    I think the problem is when we actually believe that any part of our body’s animation originates from the theoretically deduced “I” and does not have it’s origin as coming from the environment of the body.

    Just like computers or robots, all of our animation has it origin, outside of us and we claim ownership of animation/thought/will for simplicity of communication.

    Now that I’m thinking about it, I believe this “possible” error in judgment is where the idea of Ego comes from. The “I” is really just a centralized software interface for intellectual communication with the body.

    BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT!!!!! Let no one think that these ideas about the relationship between the “I,” or mind, and the body is a setup or justification for servitude to anything external to the body. That would be a perversion of logic. It doesn’t work that way.

    Your body, as a whole, cooperates with it’s environment in whatever way that your mind calculates, will result in successful stress management.

    The object of any external controlling force would be to present you with stress that you cannot manage in any other way than to do what it want’s you to do, Thereby helping it manage it’s own stress. That’s that “Problem, Reaction, Solution” stuff.

    However the object of someone, genuinely, asking for you help or cooperation, is to try to balance some of their stress with some of yours. And, ideally, the both of you can benefit from each other.

    Part of all that thinking that you do, in the ultimate aim of managing stress, involves recognizing these types of situations so that what you think will help you manage stress before you start, turns out to be the case when you’re done.

    To answer the question of why we are here is difficult to say. That may just be a loaded question that requires the existence of a creator with a purpose, in order to have an answer. I smell a controlling human in god’s clothing.

    But as far as what we’re doing while we’re here? I think that, as a sub-current to whatever else one is trying to accomplish, ultimately stress management is the name of the game of life.

    These are my thoughts. Shoot ’em up, rep ’em apart, ask all the questions you want. I’m wide open.

    • Bitman,
      That is an awesome comment. I have read it now several times. I think that you and I are more or less on the same page. I will have to mull this over for probably several days/weeks before it settles down in my head.

      I had not thought of the stress management idea, but at first brush it sound plausible. This idea will take the greatest amount of thinking for me.

      Your replies made me laugh. Yes, as far as determinism goes bang/splash would be the same.

      You seem to not argue against will, but that it is no more than a method to manage stress from the environment. I’ve no initial argument against this. It plays against a question that has been on my mind for many months. The meaning of life, as it were, must be useful to all forms of life. The life of an amoeba is quite different from that of a mammal and I am having trouble stretching my meaning for life across that chasm. The stress management seems at first glance to actually do that.

      I think that rationalizing your thoughts with my own will require understanding how (as Don Maker points out) the different strategies in handling environmental stress vary from one life form to another… simplest to most complex.

      I’ll say it again. It will take me time to go over this in my head. I’m still trying to reconcile the life of an amoeba with the trillions of cells which cooperate together (known jointly as me) to survive as life.

      Wow, I’ll stop there and say that it will take much thought. I’m quite surprised and pleasantly so with your answer. I’ll be over to the posts you linked to before the weekend is up.

      Thank you very much for giving much to think about.

      • Okay Many Thanks MyAthiestLife. I’m open to any comments.

        • I’ve already been thinking. Your idea that our universe may in fact exist entirely inside the spark between two rocks meets the same criteria as my splash idea. Namely energy dissipating within a medium of some sort.

          Further that we human apes have evolved from single cell life and the meaning of ‘life’ then has not changed, rather it is the method of dealing with it that has with regard to mammals and other complex life forms.

          Deductively, any ‘meaning’ of life must necessarily follow from the meaning of life for amoebae. Good and bad have no objective part in it. Survival is good, not surviving is bad would seem to be all that is. Anything else is some complex way of thinking about these two states.

          This does not cover what time is. Without it, existence as we know it does not happen. It seems clearly relative to energy, yet remains in my mind as unexplained or not understood.

          I’ll keep thinking.


          • You said:
            “Survival is good, not surviving is bad would seem to be all that is. Anything else is some complex way of thinking about these two states.”

            I also consider survival to be a function of stress management. Survival is generally considered to be good because our bodies are wired to send pain signals to the brain as they approach death. If the body didn’t do this then we could easily pass into death like the experiment group, opposite the Reavers, in the movie Serenity. Robots would appear more human if we programmed them to try to prevent damage to their bodies like we do.

            Time is like the canvas of our existence. I don’t have much to say about it right now other than that it registers in my mind as an ordered string of thought events.

            • I initially went with “time is the effect of energy decay toward equilibrium across the universe” but this doesn’t really examine the relativity of it. It is not a thing, more an effect or observance. That leads me to “Time is the minimum resolution with which an observer can perceive a change in state of the decay of energy in the universe as it moves toward equilibrium across the universe.”

              That time seems/feels to be sequential and in a direction toward decay, this would (by observation) seem to confirm the suspicion that the energy of the universe is decaying toward equilibrium. If that was not true, I imagine that the sequence of events we perceive normally would appear out of order. A person might be 3 one day, 87 the next, then progress from 3 to 20 beginning the next day etc. Well, it’s a thought anyway.

              • Actually, we may choose to define time in blocks of hours even when we know there are seconds, or even irregular segments like months and still call it time. Perhaps it would be more practical to capture the relativity of energy decay by way of the perceived difference observed.

                Maybe something like this:
                Time is the effect of a difference between moments of observation, perceived as the decay of energy toward a universal equilibrium.

                • This is exactly what I meant. The ability of an observer to observe a change in state of the energy (in decay) is limited to the resolution of observations. If the observer is only able to make momentary observations every 2500 years, the world would look/seem like a vastly different environment, likewise if the rate of observation were faster than the speed of light it would be a universe that barely had motion at all. Light would be the only stuff that seemed to move.

                  We would indeed then appear no more animated than a picture on the wall.

                  • Oh. Ok, I understand now. Thanks.

  12. Hi. How about this idea of free will. It exists, but humans rarely exercise it. Free will is not the same as decisions, but it is a form of a specific type of decision. I base this argument on the survival drive that exists in all life forms from the amoeba on up. I love amoeba’s, they are fascinating to watch as they approach objects in their environment as either food or predator. Humans do the same thing. This is not free will. This is the drive to survive.

    But when a decision is made that is not based on the drive to survive, then I say that is a free will decision. And these occur rarely. For example, if I perceive that someone has hurt me and I choose to ask God to heal their heart and to remove my resentment when most of me wants to give back what I feel I got, then that is a free will decision. It goes against my drive to survive. This is something I’ve been experimenting with for the last few years.

    It started with AA. AA’s program is based on the idea that a higher power can help an alcoholic stop drinking. Since I’d been introduced to the idea of God, I chose the Universe and God (I don’t say “him” because God has no gender) as my higher power. But then I didn’t know where to go from there. I had my “higher power”, but I still wanted to drink so what good did it do me? No good. But my experimental nature kicked in. I decided to see if there really was power available to me in having a higher power. So I started playing a game by accident.

    I was in a situation in my own head that I felt powerless to get out of. I was considerably excited from a stimulating conversation after an AA meeting that morning. My mind was racing while I was traveling to a job. I could not get it to quiet down and I was starting to panic. I tried many different techniques without success. I say that when a body experiences a surge of energy, it does not easily give it up. This comes from the drive to survive. Though I wished to feel calm, I really did not want to give up that energetic feeling. It made me feel “alive” – a word that defines survival.

    Then it dawned on me to see if my higher power could help me get into a better frame of mind. This might have been a “higher” thought from a higher aspect of myself. Or maybe it was just the fun of experimenting. Anyway, I’d prayed before for things without any apparent results so I was not sure what would happen. This time was different though because I was basing my prayer for a quiet mind on my free will choice at that moment. Why do I know this? Because I knew enough about myself to recognize that this was new and different. I felt like a virgin. I only asked for help after I found what I call a “grape size amount of willingness” to be open to God’s help. That grape size willingness was how much free will I could actually connect to. And it was not easy. Most of me was enjoying the roller coaster ride going on in my head. It was exciting to feel my mind race. It was energizing. And as you may have guessed, the prayer worked almost immediately. A calm came over me that amazed me. I was stunned how easy and natural it felt. It was total peace. For a time there was no worry. My body relaxed. I felt liquid. I felt at one. And at that moment I knew there really was a higher power that I had access to, to help me get a better foot hold on my dysfunctional life.

    Most people don’t realize how small free will really is. And I say that God, the creator of the Universe, as a higher power, is at the heart of it. And I also say, that God cannot be found in the bible or any book. God must be independently discovered.

    • Jacqueline … first, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I see that you have a zest for the topic. It is late so I cannot afford to go into depth in reply but I will give you this rain check. I will post this week on the very subject, using your comment as the basis for the post – though there are other readers here who will identify.

      Thank you for your comment. I hope that the reply post is not too slow for your expectations.

  13. thank you MAL for your reply. i have plenty of patience for other people’s time tables. it was fun just trying to find the words to say what your post stimulated in me.

    • Find them you did. It will take me a bit to get the post together – research and all. Thanks.

  14. Hi Mal,
    Here’s a post from my twin sister, Jackie. She’s just started with her own blog. It’s her unique take on “Free Will”

    • Hi MAL, sorry, this is a note to my sister’s reply to you

      Thanks Robs,
      I actually copied my post but with some editing, from a reply on MAL’s site. she said she would try to get a response out to me but is pretty busy right now. it sounds like she has to percolate her ideas first.

      ps: Robs, if you want to answer this you could do it on my site because i feel a little funny writing to you here.

  15. oh
    I just read that she’s already commented on this post and that you said you’d respond back to her shortly. Anyway, there’s the specific post’s site.

  16. Hi MAL,
    this is a fantastic topic and continues to stimulate even though you wrote it quite a while ago. happy thinking and fruitful research to you.

  17. What’s up, I check your new stuff like every week. Your humoristic style is awesome, keep up the good work!

  1. February 11th, 2013

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