Do humans have free will?

by Realist 32 Replies latest jw friends

  • Realist

    Hello everyone,

    i would like to know who of you thinks that humans have a free will and who thinks humans do rather work like a very complex computer.

    in my opinion free will is an illusion generated by our brain....what do you think?

  • Gamaliel

    I decided I wouldn't answer this email until I flipped a coin. If it was heads I would answer it. If it was tails I wouldn't. It was tails, but I decided to answer it anyway. So, I can't tell yet if I have free will.


  • funkyderek

    From Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary:

    Free-will n

    A chip, in floating down a stream,
    Indulged a gratifying dream:

    "All things on earth but only I
    Are bound by stern necessity-

    "Are moved this way or that, their course
    Determined by some outer force.

    "The helpless boughs upon the trees
    Confess the suasion of the breeze.

    "The stone where it was placed remains
    Till loosened by the frost or rains.

    "The animals go here and there,
    As circumstances may declare.

    "The influence they cannot see
    Is clearly visible to me.

    "Yet all believe they're governed still
    By nothing but their sovereign will.

    "Deluded fools! I-I alone
    Obey no forces but my own.

    "Without or sail or oar, I glide
    At pleasure to the ocean's tide.

    "No pow'r shall stay me till I lave
    My body in the salt sea wave."

    Just then an eddy's gentle strength,
    By hardly half a finger's length,

    His chipship drew aside. Said he:
    "'Tis far indeed to reach the sea."

    Now more and more, behold him swerve
    Along the eddy's outer curve.

    He says: "My joy in swimming's o'er:
    I'm half inclined to go ashore."

    As still he sweeps along his arc,
    He adds: "The day is growing dark,

    "But still there's time to reach, no doubt,
    The point for which I first set out."

    The circle was completed quite.
    "Right here," he said. "I'll pass the night."

    Nor ever once that chip suspected
    That aught but he his course deflected.

    Free-will, O mortals is a dream:
    Ye all are ships upon a stream.

  • joannadandy


    Fate is a load of poop!

  • logansrun

    Ah, the free will question! Personally, I think we do not really, fully understand what a completely "free" will would be. If you decide to eat chocolate ice-cream was that free will, or did you have to pick chocolate because you had the volition to do so based on a complex series of behavioral and bio-chemical processes? If you, at the last minute, decide not to have chocolate to prove me wrong, that still is not free will -- your desire (which you cannot control, in the end) to prove me wrong by choosing some other flavor overruled your desire for the chocolate -- your choice was not free. It's an agonizingly complex thought that could be argued ad infinitum -- and has been!

    Overall, whether we truly have free will or not is really rather irrelevant -- it doesn't change the fact that it feels as if we have free will. As some philosopher once said, if a theory has no practical application whatsoever, and cannnot be proven one way or another, it is pointless to think about.

    So much more could be said...


    (I do not believe in fatalism, though. I do not believe we are pre-destined to a certain fate)

  • blondie

    I think the illusion of complete free-will and the Heisenberg principle have a lot in common. "The more precisely the POSITION is determined,
    less precisely the MOMENTUM is known" Blondie (There are too many factors affecting "free will" Just when you think you have your choice figured out, the factors change))

  • logansrun

    Addendum to my post:

    I should point out that there is a difference between fatalism and determinism.

    Fatalism is the belief that we are pre-destined to act in a certain way and have a particular fate decided from on high. Since I think there is a very low probablity for the existence of divine beings or a meta-phyical "new-age" realm, I think fatalism is rubbish.

    Determinism simply states that every action we make is due to processes and a life-history not under our control. Every action we execute can be traced to a particular cause, which, in turn, can be linked to another cause and on and on. The philosopher Baruch de Spinoza wrote much on this school of thought (the one I lean to believe in).


  • Gamaliel

    I think the best treatise on Free Will I ever read was "What is Man?" by Mark Twain. He turns philosophy into a conversation, a lot like Socratic dialogue, but his wit lets him drive home much more difficult points than the one that Plato attempted.

    PS: I'm sure it's all over the Net but the first link I found was:


  • Francois

    Humans have relative free will.

    For those who believe in the existence of God, the individual's determination to do the will of God constitutes the only possible gift that an indiviual evolutionary creature can make to God, that is, the free will choice to do the will of God is the only possible gift which has any meaning that we can make to God.

    He really isn't interested in foreskins, burnt offerings, wave offerings, or any other kind of animal or vegetable offering. Neither gold, silver, diamonds, rubies, etc. Nor virgins, prostitutes, old men, middle-aged women nor any other human sacrifice. And he does not find the smell of burning animal flesh and fat a "restful odor."

    But when an evolutionary creature reaches that level of spiritual awareness, development, and maturity that it realizes that he/she can make a gift to God of its free will choice to the doing of the will of God, that is the supreme and only gift a human can make to God. In effect, that human who has so dedicated his free will choice to doing the will of God, becomes the personified will of God in the Universe.

    And no, I can't prove it. And you can't disprove it. It's my usual two cents.


  • Realist


    hmmm...not sureif this constitutes an act of truly free will.


    logansrun is right...there is a difference between determinism and fatalism. fatalism involves the influence of a higher beeing...a rediculous idea imo. determinism however states that we make decisions based on our mind set (which is the result of genetic disposition as well as the influence of the environment).


    hmmmm i think you lost me there what is the similarity between the heisenberg principle and free will?


    thanks for the nice poem!


    i like that philosophy a lot. but does it require free will to accomplish the purpose of the evolutionary process? if so i am afraid the idea is pointless since free will does not exist.


    i pretty much agree with everything you said....with the exception that i think it is interesting to discuss the topic

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