Are we born with free will or at some point in our lives we are given free will?

Posted: November 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

We are born with free will, but it is not infinite. Our will is limited by physics, our environment, our abilities, etc. I may have the will to defy gravity, but gravity will always win. I may have the will to be an opera star, but if I am tone deaf, I’ll starve. Free will just means we are able to make choices within certain boundaries. Even when we can exercise our free will, we cannot always control the consequences—good or bad—of our choices.

I disagree that the existence of an omniscient God negates our free will. It is not true that “where there is foreknowledge, there can be no free will.” It could just as easily be argued that “if there are no ‘do-overs’, there is no free will.” If we are “stuck” with our choices, the future simply becomes the past that hasn’t happened yet!

It also doesn’t matter what you “believe”. I submit that if free will exists, it exists whether you believe it does or not; conversely, if it doesn’t exist, it doesn’t matter if you believe it does. Regardless, everyone lives as though it does exist!

I had an atheist/Objectivist friend once and we were discussing free will. I asked him if the mind was the same as the brain or were they separate. He was adamant that they were the same; to accept a mind apart from a physical brain would be tantamount to admitting that “something” existed outside the physical realm. Heresy! Ayn Rand would roll over in her grave!

So I asked him about our actions, our choices. He said that “every action is preceded by a thought (except for the autonomous nervous system, of course). If I move my hand, it is because my mind is telling it to move. Signals are being sent from my brain through my nerves down my arm to my hand and it moves.”

“Awesome! So what causes the thought?”

“A series of neurochemical reactions in the brain; like a chain reaction.”*

Image result for neurochemical changes

“So, it’s like dominoes.”

“Exactly.”

“So, your ‘will’ pushes the ‘first’ domino?”

“Uhh…yes…”

“Then your ‘will’ is just another domino. If it’s all a purely physical construct, there are simply an infinite number of dominoes, but your SELF, your WILL doesn’t exist in infinity. Your will must exist outside the physical or it’s just another stage in the neurochemical reaction that ‘causes’ your choices, which are not really choices because you can’t be causing them. Your like a machine, a computer.”

“Well, I guess so…”

“Then there is no free will.”

The next day, I saw him. He said that he had to change his mind, that he was not just a machine or a computer, but…he would have to think about it before he could come up with a better solution.

(“Every thought you have causes neurochemical changes…” How Your Thoughts Change Your Brain, Cells, And Genes – The Best Brain Possible, my reference, not his. If it is a thought that causes the neurochemical change, then the thought must occur outside that physical process! As to the question, What comes first, the neurochemical event or the thought, the theories are all over the map!)

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