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  #1  
Old Aug 25, '08, 7:41 pm
Camron Camron is offline
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Default Can Free-Will and Determinism Co-Exist?

I think they can. In fact, I'm almost positive they do. And I would like to read others thoughts on this matter.

In my own opinion it seems to me that there are many things which are pre-determined, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquakes for example. We had no control over these disasters and nothing that we would have tried could have stopped them from happening either.

On the other hand, however, we do appear to have control over how we will react to these kinds of disasters, such as those who sought to aid those who needed relief. I can also think of those who risked their lives to save others within this same disaster too.

It seems to me that the physical mechanisms of nature are indeed fixed and pre-determined whereas the spiritual choices we make are not entirely pre-determined by these external factors (even if these external factors force us to make a choice one way or another). We have no choice but to choose. And even if we have decided not to choose we still have made a choice.

In short, the free-will of a person seems to be free only insofar as they are able to choose how to react to the given pre-determined situation they are faced with.

Does this make sense?

If so, does this not indicate that free-will and determinism can indeed co-exist together?
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  #2  
Old Aug 26, '08, 5:38 am
Camron Camron is offline
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Default Re: Can Free-Will and Determinism Co-Exist?

One concept that I had in mind regarding this co-existence of free-will and determinism was the idea of the wave-particle duality found in physics and chemistry. This duality is based on the observation that all matter and energy exhibits both wave-like and particle-like properties. The duality arises due to the inadequacy of classical concepts like "particle" and "wave" in fully describing the behavior of small-scale objects.

There are those who absolutely insist that the duality is not a duality and insist that light is either only a wave (as Carver Mead proposes) or else only a particle (such as Richard Feynman proposes). To this it seems to me that many are attempting to force a false dichotomy when insisting the light is either a wave or a particle.

Another concept that I had in mind (regarding this co-existence of free-will and determinism) was the idea that our development needed to be either based on “natural” factors or else “nurturing” factors. Again, in a way that is similar to the wave-duality debates noted above, there are those who absolutely insist that the duality is not a duality and insist that our biological development is either based on only “Nature” or else only “Nurture”. Again, according to best research currently available, it appears to be both at the same time. So, again, considering the research available, it seems to me that many are attempting to force a false dichotomy when insisting that our biological development is either totally based on nature or else totally based on nurture.

This, in my opinion, comes to the whole theological debate between God’s Omnipotence and God’s Omniscience. As with the two examples noted above, these supposed proofs that some skeptics offer (which insist that God behave either one way or the other) appear to be attempting to force a false dichotomy when there really isn’t one. Both are happening at the same time.

In looking toward the reconciliation of free-will and determinism within the theological spectrum, it seems to be that many physical events are pre-determined, such as the planets orbiting the sun, or the rise and fall of the mountain ranges over exceptionally long geological periods, or tress growing in the forest. These things are pre-determined and we generally have no control over their happenings.

Having said this, the smaller the scale of the natural pre-determined events, the more we do indeed seem to appear to have some control over them. While humanity could not conceivably stop the planets from orbiting the sun, it is conceivable that humanity could indeed obliterate a mountain range within a relatively short period of time with enough explosives, and humanity can indeed uproots trees in any given forest and do with them as they please-- whether replanting them, or using them for firewood or lumber, or simply destroying them for no good reason at all.

My point with this is that the closer the scale of the pre-determined event is to the size that humanity can manage the more humanity has some degree of control over its fate and outcome. This seems to parallel to some degree that wave-particle duality noted above, where, depending on the different size scales, certain actions can or cannot be determined.

The super large events in this universe appear to be entirely out of our control and entirely pre-determined whereas the smaller scale events in the universe appear to be relatively within our control and capable of being somewhat affected by the free-will of a human consciousness.
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  #3  
Old Aug 26, '08, 6:57 pm
Camron Camron is offline
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Default Re: Can Free-Will and Determinism Co-Exist?

Oh well...seems like there's not much response. I guess I'll leave this with the serenity prayer traditionally attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr. It seems to address this concept of free-will and determinism co-existing very well...

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

Amen.
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  #4  
Old Aug 27, '08, 6:28 am
tobias tobias is offline
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Default Re: Can Free-Will and Determinism Co-Exist?

I see no neccessary contradiction between free choice of the will and determinism as pertains to the movement of inanimate or unintelligent matter. However, a determined 'free' will is an oxymoron.

I think we need to add some factors to your premise. Lets focus again on the tsunamis of '04. It was freedom of will that had many people vacationing at places affected by these events, so their outcome was directly associated with the free choices made. In addition to this, many who lived in the areas affected did not retreat to higher ground after the first initial wave which was smaller. The will to immediately assess the damage put them back in harm's way.
My point being, that our free choices may or may not place us in paths of what may or may not be determined movements of matter.
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  #5  
Old Aug 27, '08, 7:17 am
Camron Camron is offline
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Question Re: Can Free-Will and Determinism Co-Exist?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tobias View Post
I see no neccessary contradiction between free choice of the will and determinism as pertains to the movement of inanimate or unintelligent matter. However, a determined 'free' will is an oxymoron.
I agree with you that there is no real contraction.

But there are definitely events in our lives that are pre-determined (such as when we are born, who our parents are, etc.) that we have no control over.

So I do not see why some pre-determined free will choices are necessarily an oxymoron. It's like saying that we have no real freedom when taking a multiple choice test, just because the possible answers are "pre-determined" ahead of time.

Let’s say we’re on a road with two paths before us. The roads are pre-determined and, to some extent, so are our choices regarding what we can do concerning the two roads.

We can choose not to go down either road (and turn around and go back), or we can choose to sit there (and not make any definitive choice regarding which road we will go -- either back or forward), or we can actually choose to go down either road (which is again a decision based on our choices).

And, of course, using our imagination, there are multiple other possible choices we could make concerning the two roads. But I think you see what I’m referring to.

In this sense, we really are making choices-- in a way simlar to a multiple choice test. But the limited amount of choices that we can make is pre-determined by the circumstances that we encounter in this life.

It seems to me that, in this sense, this is how God pre-determines the paths that we should walk in, as Ephesians 2 seems to allude to when it say we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Quote:
I think we need to add some factors to your premise. Lets focus again on the tsunamis of '04. It was freedom of will that had many people vacationing at places affected by these events, so their outcome was directly associated with the free choices made.
I agree. But there were also many pre-determined factors which were involved in the choices that the vacationers made in order to arrive at these places too.

Quote:
In addition to this, many who lived in the areas affected did not retreat to higher ground after the first initial wave which was smaller. The will to immediately assess the damage put them back in harm's way.
True. And these examples are indeed true choices being made based on the knowledge of pre-determined events. I suppose even past events based on previous choices by others would now be considered "pre-determined" in our "present sense" because it happened well before we could even influence their past choices.

So, again, there seems to be no real way to totally separate the whole idea of free-will and determinism. The two appear to be co-existing, working in tandem at the same time in relation to each other.

Again, it seems to me that those who insist for the either/or proposition are attempting to force a false dichotomy, much like the examples I gave regarding the debates about particle-wave duality and nature/nurture arguments noted above.

That's my opinion anyway.

Quote:
My point being, that our free choices may or may not place us in paths of what may or may not be determined movements of matter.
No doubt and I partially agree with you.

Again, I do believe that people really are making choices. I do believe that people really do have a free-will. Free-will does exist.

I am only stressing that some seem to be down-playing pre-determined factors when discussing this whole line of reasoning. It’s not oxymoronic to say that we are all making choices based on pre-determined factors. It’s simply the truth of how it happens. Both really are happening at the same time.

Consequently, one could go further with the idea of choices in regards to pre-determined factors. We obviously do not have any choice regarding when we are born or who are parents are. These are pre-determined by factors we have no control over.

But what of the child murdered in the womb by abortion for example? What choice do they have? Is not their tragic fate pre-determined by external factors they have absolutely no control over?
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  #6  
Old Aug 27, '08, 9:56 am
tobias tobias is offline
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Default Re: Can Free-Will and Determinism Co-Exist?

I agree with your logic, but at each point it is not a predetermination of the action of the free will, which was my meaning of oxymoronic. A predetermined set of choices does not cause a predetermined action of the will, but merely limits the possible outcomes.
So I don't think we're disagreeing.
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  #7  
Old Aug 28, '08, 2:34 am
Camron Camron is offline
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Default Re: Can Free-Will and Determinism Co-Exist?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tobias View Post
I agree with your logic, but at each point it is not a predetermination of the action of the free will, which was my meaning of oxymoronic.
But has God not determined the course of our steps in advance?

As Proverbs 16:9 says...

Quote:
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.
Quote:
A predetermined set of choices does not cause a predetermined action of the will, but merely limits the possible outcomes.
I agree. So then why are so many sayng that free-will and determinism cannot co-exist?

Quote:
So I don't think we're disagreeing.
I think we have agreement too.

It's just seems that some appear to be saying that God deliberately creates some with the specific intent to damn them, which I seriously disagree with. They can't seem to accept that God can indeed create people and guide them to salvation even as others shipwreck their own salvation entirely of their own will.
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  #8  
Old Aug 28, '08, 6:17 am
tobias tobias is offline
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Default Re: Can Free-Will and Determinism Co-Exist?

Determinism usually means that ultimately our movement of the will is predestined by God.
To me this means that a deterministic framework is no different than Calvinism- double predestination; the saved were made to be saved and the damned were made to be damned.
If however we mean by determinism that events and circumstances are predestined to happen in 1 neccessary way, then there is no infringment on libertarian free will.
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  #9  
Old Aug 28, '08, 10:11 pm
Camron Camron is offline
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Thumbs up Re: Can Free-Will and Determinism Co-Exist?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tobias View Post
Determinism usually means that ultimately our movement of the will is predestined by God.
True. But I think that the term "determined” has been kind of hi-jacked by the modern philosophies of those who feel the need to force others to think that they have no control over their circumstances. The problem with their assertion is that we clearly do have some control even though we are not totally in control.

Quote:
To me this means that a deterministic framework is no different than Calvinism- double predestination; the saved were made to be saved and the damned were made to be damned.
And I think that we're in agreement that this kind of double-predestination is indeed a devilish doctrine fabricated by small little warped minds that have nothing better to do with their time than attempt to rob others of their hope of salvation by trying to convince them that they are already predestined to be damned-- so why bother?

It's not exactly the same. But it seems similar to a Christian counter-part of a semi-Hindu caste system.

Having said that, could it still not be said that God has fairly determined our steps with justice in this temporal life to the point that we only have one of two options, either Heaven or Hell?

God determines other things in this life too.

For example, the Bible says in Acts 17:26 that from one man He made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. This is a fairly involved process when one stops to think of God guiding and directing all of human civilization toward the one ultimate goal for or against Christ. Certainly, if this indeed the case, then it seems that, again, we would not be able to thwart God’s determined actions to set the times and the exact places where they should live. This to me seems to be a good example of a Biblical determinism that is wholly fair.

Likewise, that Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:38 that God gives things a body as He has determined. To each kind of seed He gives its own body. Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. So, again, if God determined these things in advance, even in the case of theistic evolution, it would again seem as if God has deliberately set these things into motion (and also guided them) so that they will be as He wills them to be.

Or, as Exodus 4:11 states with God boldly talking to Moses…

Quote:
The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ?
No. I don't think this is the same as the contemporary concepts of determinism.

So while certain neuroscientists would certainly balk at this concept, it does remain a fact that we have free choices to make within a specific frame-work of God's design. And while I think it would be grossly unfair to the point of being anti-Christian to say that God creates specific individuals for the sole purpose of going to Hell, it remains a consistent fact within solid Catholic thought that God created certain individuals knowing full well in advance that they will throw themselves into the abyss by rejecting His Divine Love.

Quote:
If however we mean by determinism that events and circumstances are predestined to happen in 1 necessary way, then there is no infringement on libertarian free will.
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding libertarian free will.

Could you briefly explain your position a bit more?
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  #10  
Old Aug 29, '08, 3:22 pm
ERose ERose is offline
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Default Re: Can Free-Will and Determinism Co-Exist?

Here is my 2 cents on the subject:

Yes they do exist together especially in human beings and maybe even some or most animals. All physical things are under determinism or cause and effect. All spiritual beings are under free-will as we understand it. As such since we human beings are both physical and spiritual we have free will but we also must deal with determinism as well. Two point to show what I mean: Joe looks up at the moon and decides he wants to go there. But he cannot. The intention is there (aka free will) but the physical means is not there. So it is determined that Joe will not go to the moon. 2nd example: Joe becomes ill and discovers that the illness is a genetic defect inherited from his grandfather. Joe does not want to get sick and wants to not be sick (free will) but becomes sick anyway (determinism).

As such we human beings until we are changed into beings where our spiritual side is greater than our physical side as promised after the day of judgement must deal with determinism of the physical universe.
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Old Aug 29, '08, 4:38 pm
bogeydogg bogeydogg is offline
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Default Re: Can Free-Will and Determinism Co-Exist?

Calvin said that predestination and/or double predestination should not be considered as a stand alone doctrine but rather a human attempt to understand why some would reject the overwhelming majesty of the free offer of grace. Calvin determined that every man cannot accept the offer of grace unless God empowers him to do so. In this he was joined by Luther who I think over stressed the teachings of Augustine concerning free will and Divine Providence.

I think both were wrong.

I believe that God offers grace to all men and that decision and the offering of said grace are completely the unconditional decision of a holy God to offer grace to an undeserving and fallen creature. However, and Augustine said this too, I do not think God violates free will to save men. If a man accepts the free offer of grace then he believes and obeys and God is glorified in His mercy. If a man rejects the free offer of grace then he is damned and God is glorified in His justice when He righteously throws that man into Hell. Either way God is glorified.

More to follow on Providence.
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Old Aug 29, '08, 5:42 pm
bogeydogg bogeydogg is offline
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Default Re: Can Free-Will and Determinism Co-Exist?

I think what this thread is on about concerning 'determinism' and 'free will' is really a question of Providence.

Providence does not mean that God causes (as in to provide the outcome of) everything that happens. Rather the word is and anglicization of two latin words. 1. Pro- before or ahead of. 2. Vidi- vision. You know, 'veni vidi vici'. So Providence has to do with God's foreseeing whatsoever will come to pass.

According to this foreknowledge, God ordains everything that will be. However, ordination is not causal either. Ordination is God's decree of what will be ordinary. For example, when man fell in the Garden, God cursed the ground because of man's sin. It is for this reason that things like tsunamis occur. They do not occur because of a mechanistic causal predetermination of them, but because God has declared that because of men's sin, such things will occur because of the perversion of the natural order due to sin.

However, this is not determinism.

Determinism, I am pretty sure, comes from a sect of Greek Philosophers called the Stoics who believed that all things in the world were controlled by the fates. (As in fatalism.) Stoics believed that all life was predetermined and that man was subject to whatever came his way and that his will had no influence at all upon his circumstances. Therefore, they reasoned, man must instead stoically accept his fate and not complain about it.

By the way, this is one of the two philosophies specifically rebuked in Scripture, the other being Epicureanism.

So, I think, we can see that free will and determinism are contradictory, however free will and God's providence are not.
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Old Aug 29, '08, 5:58 pm
bogeydogg bogeydogg is offline
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Default Re: Can Free-Will and Determinism Co-Exist?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tobias View Post
Determinism usually means that ultimately our movement of the will is predestined by God.
To me this means that a deterministic framework is no different than Calvinism- double predestination; the saved were made to be saved and the damned were made to be damned.
If however we mean by determinism that events and circumstances are predestined to happen in 1 neccessary way, then there is no infringment on libertarian free will.
As I understand it, doesn't libertarian free will mean that a man makes his decisions from a position of neutrality?

Is that what you mean?

A certain double-predestinarianism would most certainly be deterministic, no in fact I think it would be fatalism plain and simple. As far as some going to Hell because of predestination, what about this?

God elects to save a fallen people, but not in "You, you and you... but not you," sort of way, but rather by an internal agreement within the Godhead. That is, "I know they will fall , but I will save them anyway." So election is internal and not external.

In order to make man aware of salvation God clearly reveals Himself through Creation as well as by divine grace, i. e. Romans 1 where the Apostle Paul flatly declares that all men know God but refuse to worship Him as God.

So God declares to save and gives grace to all men that they may be saved or damned according to their own free will, and God (here comes the predestination which the Bible very clearly does teach) decides that He will not act positively toward those who reject grace, but instead allows them to condemn themselves.

So.

If God does not intervene to save those who reject Him, which He can do because after all He is God, and God knows perfectly beforehand who will refuse grace, does not God's knowledge coupled with man's free will decision to damn himself not effectively predestine some people for Hell? And if so, do not those who are predestined for Hell still determine for themselves where they will spend eternity without God having created them to be damned?
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Old Aug 30, '08, 9:44 am
Camron Camron is offline
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Default Re: Can Free-Will and Determinism Co-Exist?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ERose View Post
Here is my 2 cents on the subject:

Yes they do exist together especially in human beings and maybe even some or most animals. All physical things are under determinism or cause and effect. All spiritual beings are under free-will as we understand it. As such since we human beings are both physical and spiritual we have free will but we also must deal with determinism as well. Two point to show what I mean: Joe looks up at the moon and decides he wants to go there. But he cannot. The intention is there (aka free will) but the physical means is not there. So it is determined that Joe will not go to the moon. 2nd example: Joe becomes ill and discovers that the illness is a genetic defect inherited from his grandfather. Joe does not want to get sick and wants to not be sick (free will) but becomes sick anyway (determinism).

As such we human beings until we are changed into beings where our spiritual side is greater than our physical side as promised after the day of judgement must deal with determinism of the physical universe.
I'm fairly well in agreement with this and see no reason to object, with the condition that God does not test us beyond what we can handle.
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Old Aug 30, '08, 9:49 am
Camron Camron is offline
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Question The Finer Distinction Between Providence and Determinism?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bogeydogg View Post
I think what this thread is on about concerning 'determinism' and 'free will' is really a question of Providence.

Providence does not mean that God causes (as in to provide the outcome of) everything that happens. Rather the word is and anglicization of two latin words. 1. Pro- before or ahead of. 2. Vidi- vision. You know, 'veni vidi vici'. So Providence has to do with God's foreseeing whatsoever will come to pass.

According to this foreknowledge, God ordains everything that will be. However, ordination is not causal either. Ordination is God's decree of what will be ordinary. For example, when man fell in the Garden, God cursed the ground because of man's sin. It is for this reason that things like tsunamis occur. They do not occur because of a mechanistic causal predetermination of them, but because God has declared that because of men's sin, such things will occur because of the perversion of the natural order due to sin.

However, this is not determinism.

Determinism, I am pretty sure, comes from a sect of Greek Philosophers called the Stoics who believed that all things in the world were controlled by the fates. (As in fatalism.) Stoics believed that all life was predetermined and that man was subject to whatever came his way and that his will had no influence at all upon his circumstances. Therefore, they reasoned, man must instead stoically accept his fate and not complain about it.

By the way, this is one of the two philosophies specifically rebuked in Scripture, the other being Epicureanism.

So, I think, we can see that free will and determinism are contradictory, however free will and God's providence are not.

To be honest there doesn't seem to be much difference, since Providence does appear, in my opinion, to be causal too. Indeed, if God has provided the necessary Providence to enable something to happen could it not be said that He caused it to happen, albeit providentially?

Again, even after reading your others posts too, I currently see no funadamental difference. Perhaps you could explain this more clearly?
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