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A test of wills
02-05-2010, 09:38 AM (This post was last modified: 02-05-2010 10:13 AM by Stereophonic.)
Post: #1
A test of wills
Suppose there are two people. Person "P1" has genuine free will to choose among whatever options are available to him at any moment. Person "P2" does not actually possess free will, but rather is preprogrammed to follow a particular course of action and no deviation from that course is ever possible. Let us suppose that both P1 and P2 each have the same intuitive sense that they really do possess free will.

Also suppose that there is a God who can see the future choices of free individuals with absolute certainty. At the beginning of each day God hands P1 and P2 a sealed envelope which they are to open only at the end of the day. At the end of each day, when they open the envelope, they each find a letter that describes every single thought and action that they did during that day. Every last detail is recorded accurately.

Now after one month of these letters, let's suppose that God tells P1 and P2 that one of them has free will, and the other one does not. Would either of them--or would any person who knows either of them--be able to say with certainty which one has free will, and which one does not? Please explain.

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02-09-2010, 12:33 PM
Post: #2
RE: A test of wills
No. How could they?
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02-18-2010, 02:46 PM
Post: #3
RE: A test of wills
May be P1 because
He will not open the envelope to be sure that god says the truth
Because he will just know that Allah does
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02-18-2010, 03:26 PM (This post was last modified: 02-18-2010 03:27 PM by Stereophonic.)
Post: #4
RE: A test of wills
(02-18-2010 02:46 PM)muslim girl Wrote:  ...He will not open the envelope...

An original and creative answer, though not necessarily adhering to the parameters of the given hypothetical--and in these respects it is reminiscent of Captain Kirk's handling of the Kobayashi Maru scenario...

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02-18-2010, 03:57 PM (This post was last modified: 02-18-2010 03:59 PM by clarence clutterbuck.)
Post: #5
RE: A test of wills
I think free will, although a popular concept in religious thinking, is an illusion, with every individual's will really being the result of a complex interplay between genetic inheritance and environmental influence. This is why religious adherence is largely a question of geography of one's birth location.

We are all probably complex automatons going about our daily lives with the self important notion that our attitudes and actions are the result of freewill.

Under the terms of your thought experiment, I think P1 would represent a hitherto unknown kind of human, with unique reasoning capabilities. I wonder what he'd make of the "God" character..
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02-18-2010, 04:36 PM
Post: #6
RE: A test of wills
(02-18-2010 03:57 PM)clarence clutterbuck Wrote:  ...We are all probably complex automatons going about our daily lives with the self important notion that our attitudes and actions are the result of freewill...

Although what you describe here is the best we could expect if indeed there were no God, it is at the same time the single biggest reason why we need God in order to be the human beings that we intuitively, if not "self-importantly," believe ourselves to be--human beings capable of real love, real volition, real purpose.

Since what passes for science and logic and reason--i.e., the whizzing to and fro of electrons in our brains--can achieve nothing better than a stalemate regarding the existence/nonexistence of God, the most fruitful choice, the most human choice, is to hope and to believe in God's existence and God's love.

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02-18-2010, 06:17 PM
Post: #7
RE: A test of wills
stereophonic Wrote:Although what you describe here is the best we could expect if indeed there were no God, it is at the same time the single biggest reason why we need God in order to be the human beings that we intuitively, if not "self-importantly," believe ourselves to be--human beings capable of real love, real volition, real purpose.

Love, volition and purpose are human emotional and psychological attributes that exist without the need for a God entity to justify them.

Quote:Since what passes for science and logic and reason--i.e., the whizzing to and fro of electrons in our brains--can achieve nothing better than a stalemate regarding the existence/nonexistence of God, the most fruitful choice, the most human choice, is to hope and to believe in God's existence and God's love.

The stalemate situation of not knowing in the absence of evidence is acceptable to my mind, rather than choosing to believe in a God because it is emotionally satisfying.
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02-18-2010, 07:41 PM
Post: #8
RE: A test of wills
Although I agree with Clarence's post regarding freewill being an illusion, (the crux of this being the ever forward marching nature of our perception of events, eg 'time') my answer to the original question would have to be 'neither of them do'

The inevitable consequence of an omniscient being is determinism. Knowing with certainty what will happen precludes any possible change. If there is no possibility for change, there is no 'freewill', only a set path to be played out.
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02-18-2010, 08:17 PM (This post was last modified: 02-18-2010 08:18 PM by Stereophonic.)
Post: #9
RE: A test of wills
(02-18-2010 06:17 PM)clarence clutterbuck Wrote:  ...Love, volition and purpose are human emotional and psychological attributes that exist without the need for a God entity to justify them...

Without free will, we have only the hollow illusion of love, volition, purpose, and accountability. We do not have--to quote the old Coca-cola slogan--the real thing that all of us intuitively believe we do have.
(02-18-2010 07:41 PM)satans_serrated_edge Wrote:  ...The inevitable consequence of an omniscient being is determinism. Knowing with certainty what will happen precludes any possible change. If there is no possibility for change, there is no 'freewill', only a set path to be played out.

Very accurately and eloquently stated.

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02-18-2010, 11:05 PM
Post: #10
RE: A test of wills
For those who have had the apparently rare experience of the world as "maya" or illusion, there is no such thing as "free will". This happened to me in my original religious conversion experience which was going through three days of non-stop synchronicity experiences. By the third day, I "knew" the Script each of us and the whole world is following well enough that I could predict what words would come out of my family and friends' mouths before they said it. At least this was my memory of it shortly after "coming down" (I was running a slight fever from an unknown lymph system infection but my mind was definitely in a different place from "normal" or even any drug intoxicated state I was familiar with (a full veteran of the psychedelic '60's).
While most Bible readers fail to catch this it is in Psalms and shows that somewhere along the line some people knew about the unreality of reality:
Reality is the dream we awaken from when we leave our material bodies for the World to Come.

Psalm 139:16

"Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them."
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