new age spirituality

finding purpose in infinite reality

The Most Important Question Ever Asked

abracad, · Categories: purpose, science and spirituality

What's the Deal with Free Will?

Whether or not we have free will is (arguably) the most significant question we ask about ourselves and the reality we inhabit. It is synonymous with: is (our) existence meaningful? (or just an accidental curiosity of indifferent fate?)

What is Free Will?

In a deterministic universe every event is the result of its causes, and in turn acts as causes to following events. There is no place for free will.

However, science suggests that at its most fundamental level nature is not deterministic. It is governed by quantum mechanics which, to the best of current knowledge, means that fundamental particles behave randomly. But because there are so many of them, on aggregate they average out to appear deterministic. But randomness is not free will.

Free will is the ability to act as a first cause, ie in some way that is not the result of preceding events. It implies that this will / initial cause is meaningful, acting in accord with some greater purpose (that may change over time and in light of experience). Free will suggests the likelihood of some part of reality beyond the material realm and laws of physics.

Evidence Supporting - and Possible Mechanism of - Free Will

Why Believe in Free Will?

Consider a version of Pascal's Wager speculating on the merits / de-merits of belief in free will.

In the case there is no free will, there is nothing to speculate on. I am writing this, and you reading it due to inescapable fate. Similarly for any thoughts passing through your mind, these too are pre-determined and beyond your control. There is no place for belief or action one way or the other.

But in the case that there is free will, and there is a genuine choice of whether to believe and act on it or otherwise, then clearly it is rational to believe free will exists and to act accordingly, ie to seek to optimize your own life / existence in your chosen way. And this is what all human beings and human societies appear to do.


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