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Old 09-08-2008, 06:34 PM   #1
regular.joe
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Joe's musing about free will and God.

I've been mulling for some time now about this topic. This topic has surfaced in a couple of different forums. Now, I know that there are many dwellers here who think that belief in God is a bit passe, and obsolete in this day and age. I have no real quarrel with these dwellers, their belief, or non-belief is really none of my business. But, like I said, I've been mulling on this topic for quite a bit now. I would like to submit that perhaps free will is not possible with out God, or if you will a Universal Intelligence. I am going to imagine for a moment a universe without God. A universe of determination and logic. A universe where enough information, observed and squeezed out of nature will bring about all the understanding and knowledge about it's workings. We are products of that universe. The electrons and particles that make up our very thoughts in our brains, the chemical stew that houses our memories and ideas. These processes can all be traced back to a beginning. That is the rub, because if this is the case, what we majestically call our free will is really just a process of the universe, brought about by a chemical catalyst. No vaunted free thinking here. In fact, if that is the case, then the black marks I'm "causing" to be typed on the screen, connected to these so called "thoughts" in my brain are really not freely thought about by "me" at all. Just a series in a long series of chemical and atomic interactions, easily understood, by who I'm not currently sure.

I've decided to brave the sometimes treacherous critical analysis of the Cellar dwellers, and throw my idea out on the table for discussion. This is not necessarily a belief of mine this idea of free will that I'm discussing, just an idea that's been rolling around my brain for a couple of weeks now.

I fully expect that within 100 posts Radar and TW will be arguing about the U.S. Constitution and George Bush.
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Old 09-08-2008, 08:02 PM   #2
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If free will is just an illusion of chemical processes, then why would a God be required at all? Is God required to make vinegar and baking soda bubble up?
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Old 09-08-2008, 08:38 PM   #3
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A hundred posts - hell W.h.i.p set the over/under at 25
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Old 09-08-2008, 09:09 PM   #4
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No God would of necessity be required; and no God would of necessity be eliminated.
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Old 09-08-2008, 10:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elspode View Post
If free will is just an illusion of chemical processes, then why would a God be required at all? Is God required to make vinegar and baking soda bubble up?
Because free will would be quite a bit beyond the process.
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Old 09-08-2008, 10:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by regular.joe View Post
...
We are products of that universe. The electrons and particles that make up our very thoughts in our brains, the chemical stew that houses our memories and ideas. These processes can all be traced back to a beginning. That is the rub, because if this is the case, what we majestically call our free will is really just a process of the universe, brought about by a chemical catalyst.
...
If we agree with every logical step leading to this conclusion, then how can we disagree with the conclusion???

If the only thing against an idea is that we don't like it, then there's nothing against it. A calculator doesn't tell me what I feel like 3,789 times 45,731 should be. The ATM machine doesn't tell me how much money I'd like to have in my account.

But you've thrown in an X factor. God will free us from this deterministic universe. How?

With a Universal Intelligence. I like that phrase.

I believe that God is a universal intelligence--that is, the sum total of all the organization of all the matter and energy that makes up everything.

Just like our computers appears to perform sophisticated tasks, that are really just many, many simple calculations happening very fast and in a super-organized fashion; just like our own bodies are collections of many, many cells and hosted microorganisms, working together to create the appearance and function of a single being; God is like that. But including EVERYTHING.

In this way of understanding, God is the sum total off all the deterministic, Newtonian interactions between particles, all the pre-determined, set in stone, can't be changed chemical reactions, all the non-magical things that are happening in a specific way that is simply too complicated for us to understand; and when you add it all up, there is an emergence, the creation of a massive pattern that acts like an intelligence. God is just...everything. And since everything behaves a certain way, you get a certain God.

Of course he appears supernatural to us; but all that really means is that he is way beyond what we can understand. That isn't really saying much, because we're pretty insignificant. It doesn't make him magic, and it doesn't give him magical properties or abilities. It just means he operates way beyond our ability to comprehend.

So, I'm not even sure God has a free will, but it sure as hell isn't necessary for us to have one. We wouldn't even know the difference if we did.
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Old 09-08-2008, 10:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by regular.joe View Post
Because free will would be quite a bit beyond the process.
I think you vastly underestimate the process, and vastly overestimate what it takes to create the appearance of a free will.
What nature, or God if you prefer, is able to create is so much greater than what is required just to build a robot that thinks it can make decisions.
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There's a level of facility that everyone needs to accomplish, and from there
it's a matter of deciding for yourself how important ultra-facility is to your
expression. ... I found, like Joseph Campbell said, if you just follow whatever
gives you a little joy or excitement or awe, then you're on the right track.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Terry Bozzio
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Old 09-08-2008, 11:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flint View Post
What nature, or God if you prefer, is able to create is so much greater than what is required just to build a robot that thinks it can make decisions.
We don't even know yet what complexity is required for step one, "a robot that thinks", let alone step two, a robot that conceives of itself having self-determination, but doesn't.
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Old 09-08-2008, 11:13 PM   #9
Flint
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Correct, we don't know those things.
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There's a level of facility that everyone needs to accomplish, and from there
it's a matter of deciding for yourself how important ultra-facility is to your
expression. ... I found, like Joseph Campbell said, if you just follow whatever
gives you a little joy or excitement or awe, then you're on the right track.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Terry Bozzio
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Old 09-09-2008, 12:01 AM   #10
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How interesting I should see this thread tonight.

I probably shouldn't answer because my brain is fried. This was my 1st day of classes and OMG I was already loaded with homework. I think I've read 20 textbook pages, I've taken an online quiz and written a 2-page essay. All since 8 p.m.

But anyhow...that essay required reading something I'd never before heard of called The Book of Showings. This is a 15th century document by Julian of Norwich, who was voluntarily chained in a cell at a church and allegedly had visions from God. Interesting.

So what Julian said was that God is not manipulated by prayer, but if God wants us to receive something, he puts it into our head so we pray for it. I guess then we think we wanted it all along, right? So if I pray for good weather next weekend, and it happens, maybe God wanted me to have good weather for whatever I was doing, and I might not have thought to ask Him unless he wanted me to think He gave it to me because I asked.

Dammit, this is confusing.
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Old 09-09-2008, 01:11 AM   #11
Aliantha
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It's not confusing. It means that God isn't manipulated by prayer. It means God manipulates pray-ers. Therefor, there's no free willy in heaven.
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Old 09-11-2008, 05:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elspode View Post
If free will is just an illusion of chemical processes, then why would a God be required at all? Is God required to make vinegar and baking soda bubble up?
Free will modified by chemical processes.
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Old 09-13-2008, 12:25 AM   #13
Ruminator
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Quote:
In this way of understanding, God is the sum total off all the deterministic, Newtonian interactions between particles, all the pre-determined, set in stone, can't be changed chemical reactions, all the non-magical things that are happening in a specific way that is simply too complicated for us to understand; and when you add it all up, there is an emergence, the creation of a massive pattern that acts like an intelligence. God is just...everything. And since everything behaves a certain way, you get a certain God.
Quote:
So, I'm not even sure God has a free will
I agree Flint, with your Fatalist definition of reality and "God", S/He wouldn't have a free will.
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Old 09-13-2008, 01:10 AM   #14
Flint
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More like determinism than fatalism; but the important thing is that the machinery of the universe is so many billions of times more complex than we will ever be able to understand that we never need to worry about simple, low-level subroutines like human free will.

Do you know why optical illusions work? Because our brains are designed to assume. We aren't reliable witnesses to our own experience. The proportions of a baby's face causes a release of oxytocin. It doesn't mean that babies aren't cute, just because we know this. It isn't a threat to our humanity to admit that we are simply another part of the physical universe.

And I don't find it disrespectful to God to say that he's just the program running on a giant, universe-sized computer. In a definition of the universe inclusive enough to include the so-called supernatural (actually just parts of nature yet to be understood by our own pea-sized human brains), I can't imagine any other definition of God that wouldn't be a major downgrade. Either he's EVERYTHING or he's just another bureaucrat.
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******************
There's a level of facility that everyone needs to accomplish, and from there
it's a matter of deciding for yourself how important ultra-facility is to your
expression. ... I found, like Joseph Campbell said, if you just follow whatever
gives you a little joy or excitement or awe, then you're on the right track.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Terry Bozzio

Last edited by Flint; 09-13-2008 at 01:18 AM.
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Old 09-13-2008, 11:00 AM   #15
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Either he's EVERYTHING or he's just another bureaucrat.
Excellent post, excellent ending Flintos.
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