Thursday, September 3, 2009

Round 1: Free Will -VS- Foreknowledge

Now here's a question: how can foreknowledge and free will exist at the same time?

If you know for sure that someone will choose X, than that someone is not free to choose anything but X! How is that free? It obviously cannot be free, since that person had no other choice! On the other hand, if that person chooses Y, then you were wrong about the future, and foreknowledge is reduced to guesswork!

That is the dilemma. I don't claim to have the answer. But, I do have an idea that sounds like a plausible possibility to me. I think that it's quite possible for foreknowledge and free will to co-exist peacefully. How can this be? Before I begin, let me first say this: Foreknowledge is knowledge and is not guesswork, it cannot be wrong. That is a given.

And now: Foreknowledge and FreeWill step into the ring - both look formidable - Who will win this historic battle??

I Spy the Future:
Now, I'd like to point out that it is possible to know something without causing it. I know that my mom called me several minutes ago. She called me of her own free volition, and I did not cause that. We all understand that. Now suppose I read a book, and then I read it again. I know how the characters are going to respond to each other, but I did not cause them to act in that way. Finally, suppose that I time travel to the future, and find out that in 2050, a guy named Brick Williams, who lives across the country will rob First National Bank. After that, I travel back in time, and continue living my life as usual. I know that Brick will rob that bank. Brick robs the bank. Then I think about it, and realize that even though I knew he would rob that bank, I did not cause him to rob that bank. Knowledge and causality are completely separate.

If a Being could see through time into the future, or if a Being was outside of time, that Being could know everything without causing any of it. Come to think of it, I once had a friend who often had foreboding dreams about the future that came true 100% of the time. One time, she dreamed that I was going to get into a car accident, and then next day, first thing in the morning, I got into a car accident! I don't think I would like to be able to see bad things happen in the future, and then be powerless to stop them from happening... But clearly even if she had knowledge, she did not cause me to be in that accident. Once again, knowledge and causality are completely separate. You cause it, and I know it. Or, I cause it, and you know it.

Secondly, I'd like to say that you cannot know something for sure if it is truly random. Is there anything truly random, is that sense of the word? However, you can know something that only appears to be random, but actually is determined. For instance, people learn to roll a dice to get the number they want. People write programs to pick a "random" number. There is not a 30% chance that it will rain tonight; no, there are very specific environmental factors that determine for sure whether it will or will not rain, but people don't measure all of those factors exactly. In the same way, it is easy to understand a Being could know the future actions of any being if we think that the actions of the being are determined and not random.

I would put forward that every human action is determined. Every animal's actions are determined also. Even God's actions are determined. But who or what determines all that? Some atheists are determinists and believe that everything is scientifically determined by some past, distance, and inanimate force. Some psychologists believe that a person's environment absolutely determines who that person becomes and what that person chooses to do: that the person is helpful to choose otherwise. Are our lives really determined by science and environment? I would say no. I believe that God determines His own actions. I also believe that animals determine their own actions. I believe that humans also determine their own choices. Every choice is determined. It is easy to understand, then, that a Being could look into the future and see, for sure, what will happen. But if our actions are determined, then how are we free? Because our choices are self-determined, and therefore we have free will and act as a free agent. (See previous note about The Bondage Of The Will) We choose for ourselves what to determine to choose to do. [As a side note - I am not saying that we can determine to do anything. We cannot choose to fly or to save ourselves. I'm only saying that everything that we do choose is determined by us. I determined to write this blog]

Let me say again that in this blog, I am not trying to prove that the world works this way. I am only trying to say that it could work this way. I am not trying to prove that foreknowledge and free will co-exist, but merely that it is possible that they could both exist and not contradict each other. We could freely determine our own actions, and another Being could, in the past, be able to look into the future and observe (without determining) our determined future actions.

FreeWill and Foreknowledge shake hands, leave the ring, and sit down together as friends...

Be here for Round 2!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment