Is free will an illusion?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by xdisciplex, Jun 2, 2006.

  1. xdisciplex

    xdisciplex
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    I read something in a magazine. There was a scientist who claims that we have no freedom of choice. When we think we make a decision which is not based on our brain then this is an illusion because everything is decided by the brain and even if we think we decide freely we are basically fooled by our brain because even then our brain made us do it.
    This means that humans are basically slaves to their brain, slaves to hormones and neurotransmitters. He said that they have done studies with humans which could not even more their hand without their brain already having made the decision to move the hand milliseconds before the person decided to move the hand. This would mean that if you think you decide something your brain has already made the decision a few milliseconds before.
    What do you think about this? I think it's ridiculous. This sounds like an excuse that we are not responsible for our deeds. If we have no free will then this means I have absolutely no influence on my deeds and if my brain decides that I'll kill a person tomorrow then I have no way to stop myself. How stupid is this? But this stuff is hyped big time. These debates about free will are pretty popular and a lot of people jump on the "I have no free will" bandwagon and seem to enjoy this thought.

    I have no free will, don't blame me! I didn't want to cheat on my wife, it was my brain. Yes, my brain! Bad brain! Never do this again, did you hear me? I said never do this again!

    :laugh:
     
  2. Brother Bob

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    If it is our brain it is us. me thinks my brain is telling me this scientists is lacking one.
     
  3. xdisciplex

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    I think this is trying to prove that everything is materialistic.
    I think with this stuff they are trying to deny that we have a spirit and that we are basically animals which act upon their brain.
    If we only have a brain to make decisions then this would indeed suck because our brain is carnal, isn't it? It's a part of the flesh. Our brain doesn't care about sin.
     
  4. Brother Bob

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    He that is within you is stronger than he that is in the world and as many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. I think the Spirit leads the brain and if we do evil then our Spirit is evil and if we do good then our Spirit is good. Of course until the fleshly man recieves his change there is a warfare and a struggle but God said His Grace was sufficient to keep us. Agree?
     
  5. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    Xdisciplex: I have no free will, don't blame me!

    HP: I know you are just expressing someone else’s idea here, but such sentiments hit much closer to home than some unknown scientist. Many within the Church today deny that man has a free will. I have heard numerous preachers deny the validity of a free will. Martin Luther denied man possessing a free will as he expressed in his book, The Bondage of the Will.
     
  6. Jim1999

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    Free will, from a theological perspective exists, but must be viewed from a proper perspective. It is enveloped in one of two sphere. It comes under the sovereignty of God, and includes God's permissive will. In this realm man has the will to make decisions, but excludes spiritual decisions. Fallen man lacks the faculty to make spiritual decisions. This only comes about after the touch of God in regeneration. Then he can make spiritual decisions.

    On the other hand, the scientist is not far off. There is a direct physical relation between the brain and the rest of one's nervous system. I bang my finger. A message flows to the brain which in turns sends a message to that finger to register the hurt and cause us to say "ouch". The brain, however, is "educated" in the process of growth, so it does not function irrespective of the rest of the "self" of body, soul/spirit. It is a unified function and does not control self.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  7. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Romans 9:19-21

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  8. J. Jump

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    Brother Bob I am certainly hoping you are not saying that the Holy Spirit is evil when we do evil, and then the Holy Spirit is good when we do good.

    I don't think you are and just capitalized the "s" as a mis-type. But even your statement meaning our spirit is evil when we do evil and our spirit is good when we do good in not a Biblical teaching.

    That totally contradicts Scriptural teaching in I John. Not to mention it totally contradicts what you have been saying on several threads about a Christian not acting in that manner if they are truly saved.
     
  9. Brother Bob

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    Guess you were right Heavenly. :thumbs:
     
  10. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Most reformed theologians I know do not believe this. As for Martin Luther, I have never heard that he believed that. Would you show some evidence for this?

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  11. xdisciplex

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    I think what these tests are all about is that they want to have found out that when you say you decide to move your finger then your brain had already made this decision before you actually thought you made it. And this makes them believe that since our brain made a decision before we were aware of it that our brain kind of "controls" us. I guess this also has to do with the question what we are and who we are. These people will say that everything we are, our personality and everything is simply our brain. If you kill the brain you kill the person. And this denies that humans have a spirit which is able to control the brain because as a christian you do not have to follow your carnal instincts you can also say no.
    But they are trying to make it look as if everything we are is just our brain and our personality,our feelings and everything is based on hormones and chemicals and this makes us look like robots or more advanced animals which are still totally dependant on their brain.

    But the problem is that there are certain brain damages where a certain area of the brain is damaged and this causes a person which might have been totally normal before to suddenly become criminal or to totally change their personality. My brother once came to me with this argument trying to prove that we do not have a conscience from God because he said that if a person has a brain damage then she might suddenly start to become criminal because of this brain damage. Other people have a brain damage and suddenly lose all restrictions and lose their feeling of shame. I read about this. Now the problem is how can this be explained? When we have a conscience from God which is not based on our brain then even a person with a brain damage which causes the person to become criminal should still know that stealing is bad. :confused:
    And what about the responsibility? Is a person which becomes criminal because of a brain damage responsible for it?
     
  12. Brother Bob

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    J Jump;
    You are right about the capitalization JJ but dead wrong about it being Scripture for I was talking and if you look you will see the spirit we are being led by is either a Good Spirit or and evil spirit. The following is just some of the Scriptures. I learned a long time ago to no say it is not scripture until I made sure and then maybe I just can't find it. I have quoted something I heard for years and really thought it was Scripture to find out it was not and also made the same mistake you just made and said it was not Scripture when in fact it was.


    Luke, chapter 8
    "2": And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,

    Nehemiah, chapter 9
    "20": Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst.

    I didn't think I needed to say it but those led by the evil spirit is the unsaved and those led by the Good Spirit (as many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.) are the saved. Amen,

    And thanks for calling my hand on the capitalization.
     
    #12 Brother Bob, Jun 2, 2006
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  13. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    Jim: Free will, from a theological perspective exists, but must be viewed from a proper perspective. It is enveloped in one of two sphere. It comes under the sovereignty of God, and includes God's permissive will. In this realm man has the will to make decisions, but excludes spiritual decisions. Fallen man lacks the faculty to make spiritual decisions. This only comes about after the touch of God in regeneration. Then he can make spiritual decisions.

    HP: Jim, your free will is no free will at all. You are espousing freedom to do, but not freedom to will. That is mere sophistic argumentation. The relationship that is sustained between the will and the doing is that of necessity, not freedom. Man can ‘only do as one wills.’

    Man is either free to form an intent, or he is not. Free will can only be predicated of a will being able to form an intent where contrary choice exists. Free will can only be predicated of the actual forming of the intents antecedent to the doing, not in the doing itself. You cannot say he has a free will yet he lacks the abilities to form a moral intent. Again, that is mere sophistry.

    Free will surrounds the notion of contrary choice. If man cannot do anything other than what he does under the very same set of circumstances, the will cannot be said to be free. You have excluded spiritual decisions. In doing so you are denying freedom of our will and any part whatsoever in relationship to our destiny. I can think of no decisions that are more vital or important than spiritual decisions. What good is any decision if in fact those concerning my eternal destiny are made apart from my will? You have landed directly into the maelstrom of necessitated fatalism. When you deny our will as having anything to do with our spiritual decisions, you also make God the author of the sinners predestination of the damned. If fallen man lacks the faculties to make spiritual decisions, you destroy all moral accountability and all just praise or blame for any subsequent intents and actions.

    These are true statements that we of necessity should consider in any and all discussions of free will. These issues cut to the chase, and simplify all the theological and philosophical jargon, and reduce the argument to understandable terms. If there is only one possible subsequent for a given antecedent, the matter is one of necessity, and not freedom. If there are two or more possible consequents for any given antecedent, the matter is said to be that of freedom. For instance. If one is standing close to a cliff, and someone comes from behind and forcefully overpowers the individual so as to eliminate any other possible consequent other than the man falling off the cliff, no freedom on the part of the man falling can be predicated. It is a matter of necessity. On the other hand, if the man running up from behind can either choose to shove the man off the cliff or stop and pull the man away from danger, that man is said to be able to exercise freedom of choice. Again freedom can only be predicated where for any given antecedent, there is more than one possible consequent. Any talk of freedom where there is only one possible consequent for any given antecedent, as in the case where you said that fallen man cannot make any spiritual decisions, to speak of freedom for that man in those circumstances is a mere sophism. There is no freedom where power, both in natural ability as well as possibility of contrary choice, does not exist.
     
  14. AV

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    Logic is an illusion then.

    I think these guys are humorous. The are telling us that our thoughts are only chemical reactions in our brains, but the fact that they are telling us this shows us that they do not believe it. That they would try to convince anyone of anything assumes that people can think freely and arrive at a conclusion, namely to believe them.
    Plus if what he states is true there is no reason to think he really knows it. Because it would only be a certain chemical reaction in his brain and he could never know if it was true in the "real world", whatever that would be.
    Not to mention their assumption that logic is not a physical entity subject to randomness. Nor that it is universal and invarient, thus the assumed logical argument he is presenting to other people. He simply takes it for granted that logic is immaterial, universal, and invarient while his material, particular and randomly controlled brain can use it (logic).
    I believe that God takes the wise in their own craftiness, professing (professors) themselves to wise they became fools.
    AV
     
  15. xdisciplex

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    You can read about it here:

    http://jeromekahn123.tripod.com/spiritualism/id11.html

    http://www.10ac.com/free_wil.htm

    Harvard psychologist Daniel Wegner argues that free will "is a construction ... something the mind builds in order to keep track of what it's doing" -- an idea he explores in detail in his book The Illusion of Conscious Will. Consciousness, he says, frequently "isn't the engine on the train."
    In one of Wegner's experiments, subjects were asked to use a computer mouse to point a cursor at particular icons on a screen. At the same time, they listened to a tape that played a series of words -- some of them corresponding to the icons. In most of the trials, the subject was free to select any of the 50 or so images -- a swan, a car, a tree, and so on.
    But some of the trials were rigged so that the experimenters controlled where the cursor pointed -- forcing it to rest on the image of the swan, for example. If the word "swan" was heard on the tape more than a few seconds before the cursor stopped, or after the cursor stopped, the subject reported that their selection felt "forced," as expected. But if they heard the word "swan" just prior to the selection, they claimed it was their conscious choice. In other words, the subjects believed they were in control, even when they had none whatsoever.
    "We basically created a situation where the person didn't do the action; they didn't even have the thought -- the thought appeared over headphones," explains Wegner. "And yet the combination of the two -- having the thought in mind just as they are forced to stop -- makes them feel like they stopped on it on purpose."
    If our conscious thoughts aren't guiding our actions, then what is? Wegner says unconscious brain processes may be responsible -- processes that trigger both the action and our feeling of "choice" or "will" that accompanies the action. His theory seems to mesh with pioneering studies by psychologist Benjamin Libet, carried out in California in the 1970s. Libet found brain activity could be measured nearly a half-second before a subject moved his arm -- and nearly a half-second before the subject became aware of any conscious decision to initiate the movement. That brain activity, dubbed the "readiness potential," may be the precursor to both events: It may be the sign of an unseen brain process that triggers both the motion of arm and also the subject's "decision" to move it.

    Here in Canada, psychologist Mel Goodale at the University of Western Ontario recently designed a simple experiment that shows our unconscious minds in action. Exploiting a well-known optical illusion, Goodale designed a set of disks whose size was always overestimated or underestimated by his subjects (a disk surrounded by smaller disks, for example, is always seen as being larger than it really is). And yet, when they reached out for each of the disks, the subjects automatically compensated for the illusion, grasping their targets on the first try. The eye had been fooled, but not the hand. The unconscious mind succeeded where the conscious mind had failed.
    Goodale's experiment shows our motor systems can be controlled without troubling the conscious mind; an automatic response is all that is required for certain tasks. And, he says, such a "division of labour" within our brains makes evolutionary sense. "Clearly, in the past, if we only had one chance to throw the spear, or only one chance to grab the branch as we plunged off the cliff, or only one chance to ward off the blow from a competitor -- then we had to get it right that first time," Goodale says. The conscious mind is only brought in when a more sophisticated level of analysis is needed.
     
    #15 xdisciplex, Jun 2, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2006
  16. AV

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    Logic is an illusion then.

    All of these 'researchers' are overlooking the obvious. They use logic. Logic is not in our brain. It isn't a chemical. If it were in my brain then it couldn't be the same as the 'logic' in your brain, since we have different brains. Why then do we expect each other to adhere to laws of logic in our use of argument and proof?
    But if logic is not material then it must be immaterial or abstract and not only in our skulls but somehow outside of ourselves. How do they account for this? They can't and so they don't try. If logic is immaterial and we use logic then some part of us (reasoning faculties) must be immaterial. If logic is a convention, then men can just make up their own laws of logic and there is no point in providing logical 'proof'.
    "avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsley so called"-1 Tim.6:20
    AV
     
  17. BobRyan

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    John 12:32 - God "DRAWS ALL MANKIND" to Himself. God was "IN CHRIST RECONCILING THE WORLD to Himself" 2cor 5.

    This does not "make all mankind" Christians - it merely supernaturally enables all mankind to CHOOSE life if they "will" and provides that "KNOCKING" at the door of every heart (Rev 3) for Christ is the light that coming into the world "enlightens EVERY one of mankind" John 1.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  18. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    Joseph: Would you show some evidence for this?

    HP: Read his book, The Bondage of the Will. That will be all the evidence you ever needed and then some.
     
  19. J. Jump

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    Brother Bob I love it how you cherry pick two verses of Scripture from no telling how many verses in 66 books of the Bible and you make them say that applies to everybody throughout all of history :)

    The Luke verse is talking about a particular woman out of a group of women (not all women) that was possessed by evil spirits. Do you honestly think that all unsaved people are demon possessed?

    Then you pull out an OT verse talking about the good spirit. Brother Bob the Holy Spirit did not indwell men until the NT.

    See this is what cracks me up about you. In your first post you said that a Christian could be led by an evil spirit or a good spirit.

    Now you are saying that if you are led by an evil spirit you are unsaved, but if you are led by the Holy Spirit you are saved. You contradict yourself so much it's getting hard to work through the mess.

    The Bible says that we can either walk by the flesh and we can walk by the Spirit. It is our decision to make on a moment-by-moment basis as a Christian.
     
  20. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Do you believe in original sin, and if so, what does that mean?

    Joseph Botwinick
     

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