Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Free Will versus Determinism
A Significant Aspect of Metaphysics
While there may be a macro
determinism calculation going on way above my head, I am incorrigibly addicted
to the concept of Free Will. It is
unseemly to think of each particle in the Standard Model of particles currently
in the stochastic universe as having a fully determined existence, or that one
could possibly determine the next state of the universe, or that one could
somehow calculate what my next decision is going to be from my own current
state. Even I don’t know that for sure until I actually decide my next move.
Plus, I cannot believe that
an all omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omnipresent God either knows or wants to
know what my next move will be, either physically, mentally, emotionally, or
some combination of causes. He knows my current state, and He will know my next
state at some level of precision that He decides upon when it occurs---if He
cares to know! I simply do not believe He either orders or tracks the minute,
micro and macro transitions of everything I am made up of at a given
moment. Similarly, I do not believe He
orders or tracks each and every lifeline and material transition in the
universe on both a micro and macro scale. It may well be that for some groups of things
at some time periods He does order or track every object and their transitions
for some purpose He has in mind, so He focuses on just those objects. Miracles do occur!
I do think of God as the
ultimate playwright and play director, even a Puppet Master, but He can’t
interfere with the actual performances as the play unfolds on the stage, except
in special cases. So indeterminism creeps in as really good actors enter into
their roles with perfection, and within the magical space of a scene or two, or
perhaps a few acts, they become shed of their physical bounds to the Master. How
this happens I do not know; perhaps it occurs when the first actors learn how
to break their ties of their own accord, but the actors do begin to act on
their own---no longer puppets, witness Adam and Eve.
In fact, the play goes on
and on, improvisation becomes paramount as act follows act, and the original script
is long forgotten as new scripts evolve in real time as the actors project the
story line ahead. The manifold themes of life remain to be coped with or
accepted, of course, and the actors continue in character, and most often actually
grow and rise above the imperfections in their characters, or perhaps digress
into the hell of their faults to no good end. They are exercising their free
will. Then, too, old characters fall aside and new characters are added—scene
after scene, act after act, and generation after generation to this very day. God looks on and knows.
The play has been recorded
which allows God to enter at will anywhere in the timeline, forward or backwards, to work His will,
particularly on exceptional occasions, such as to perform what we call miracles.
If you delete God from the
equation, yet demand that determinism is true, you now have no operative agent
that does any form of ordering or tracking.
So the entire concept of
free will or determinism demands that God exists, and that He either grants us
free will, or He ultimately determines our steps. My understanding is that He
implicitly granted us free will in many, many verses of the Bible, and took
great pains to give us commandments and guidelines for living the Christian
life, which we can choose of our own free will to follow or not. So, even as He
may know everything now and in both the past and the future, He keeps hands off
and allows us to exercise our wills and choices, perhaps with the exception of
high interest situations or in the
conduct of His miracles.
My further belief is that
God is capable of operating in many modes, and with many help agents, some of
which confound our logic, making it truly hopeless for us to try to analyze these
modes. The very existence of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit themselves aptly
illustrates this point, as does the Heavenly Host, and the powers of God
---especially omnipotence and omnibenevolent, which, when also addressing the
problem of evil, by our logic are diametrically opposed, but not by His ability.
In the end, I elected to
take Him at His implicit word: we have
free will (sometimes with a little help from above.).