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I have to agree with the author, this is a young research area. Which in itself irks me as the question of "we control how our future will turn out or things occur randomly" has been around forever. So why do we have so little research on the subject?


I've been back and forth on this question down at the personal level. Having been forced into the roman catholic religion from birth and taught that God will take care of me if I pray long and hard enough. I was against the free-willers and thought they were playing with fire by not giving God his just due. Surely when we get to heaven they will not be allowed into heaven for this omission.


Older now and no longer a believer in organized religion. I no longer believe in an almighty, someone who knows when we'll take our every breath, who knows our every thought, and every decision were going to make.


Today I feel that we are on our own, BUT there is some kind of connection between us. Call it a living universe, call it a computer program, but somehow, someway I feel we are connected. The information at the quantum level is so tight with Quantum Non-locality having a difference at a distance. We are made of star dust. Have no evidence for this but it's what feels right to me. I believe the soul has to be part of, and stand for something.

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...I believe the soul has to be part of, and stand for something.
Have you read the chapter by Aristotle called "On the Soul" ? He equates the soul as "actuality of a natural body having life potentiality in it" Note the importance of the dialectic...soul is part of all living entities, and it stands for the emergent phenomenon of potential becoming actual, i.e., of non-living elements coming to be a living entity. Now, there is only one non-living substance that is found in all living entities on earth and that would be the nucleic acids, and of the set of such acids only RNA is present in ALL forms of life. Thus, I suggest that the soul "is" the RNA molecule and what it stands for is the continued existence of life itself given its vital role in protein synthesis. Consider this thought experiment. Eliminate all RNA molecules from the universe. What is the outcome ? Life cannot exist without its RNA soul. The mystics would have us believe the soul is spirit, I reject.
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I have to agree with the author, this is a young research area.

I disagree.


Though I’ve not read the full paper, the subject of the Tom Stafford’s BBC article, Rigoni, Kühn, Sartori and Brass’s experiment ("Inducing Disbelief in Free Will Alters Brain Correlates of Preconscious Motor Preparation:The Brain Minds Whether We Believe in Free Will or Not", Psychological Science May 2011 vol. 22 no. 5 613-618), reminds me a lot of the famous 1963 Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures. Both involved test subjects being relieved of responsibility for their actions by an authority figure in the form of the person administering the experiment. In the case of the Milgram experiment, this was verbal prodding that administer a faked shock to fake test subject was essential to the success of the experiment. In the case of the Rigoni et all experiment, it this was reading a Francis Crick’s 1994 The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul that argues against the classical notion of free will.


Although Rigoni’s methods are more rigorous, the act of an authority figure relieving the subject of responsibility and the effect being measures more subtle (response time in Rigoni’s case, a emotionally stressful decision in Milgram’s), I think the effect in both cases is due to the subject essentially concluding “I won’t be held responsible for my actions”. The underlying psychological mechanisms are similar, I think, to those that allow people to relax and “go with the flow” in performing activities ranging from motor tasks like skiing to processing paperwork to evict destitute people from their homes.


I found a slightly more detailed account of Rigoni et al’s experiment in “Disbelieving Free Will Makes Brain Less Free” (Wired May 2011).


Not surprisingly for psychology experiments, neither experiment seems to me to really be about the deep question of free will, but rather about the psychology of feelings of inhibition, responsibility, etc.

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I'd love to think that I have free will. However, after a good bit of consideration, my personality drives my choices. Avoiding the subject of personal responsibility for my actions for a bit here...


Who I am: I love machines and what they can do, especially quality machinery. Aviation is a wonderful place for me to be.

What I am capable of: Anything an intelligent man can do.


I'll waste time "fixing" things such as my car and airplane (and, yes, my boss' airplanes) , and making them right. While completely ignoring the endeavors that could make me a business owner, an entrepreneur or an inventor. For example, I'd love to be involved in manufacturing, as a business owner. But, I choose to spend my time at other tasks. In fact, it seems I have no choice.


As hard as I try, I cannot deviate too far from my core "likes and loves".


My free will is limited to what type of nice car I want to purchase, or which brand/model of airplane/motorcycle/boat/bicycle is my next.


Recognizing this, I am making an effort to change my direction. I'm finding it exceedingly difficult.

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Free Will:


If you're a Determinist like Einstein you can think of the world as a giant 4-D Pool Game.


The Big Bang was the opening break and each subatomic particle has been traveling along the one and only trajectory that it could travel every since.


Did some atoms head off on trajectories that would cause them to assemble into complex structures, structures complex enough to become self aware?


No matter. Each atom did the only thing that it could given the starting parameters. Each atom in a brain is still doing nothing but proceeding along that same inevitable trajectory that it has been locked into since the Big Bang.


Now Non-Determinists chime in. All their arguments can be summed up with the idea that there are Random Number Generators built into the Universe.


So what if there are?


An Actor following a pre-written script does not have Free Will. Rolling the dice occasionally and choosing which of several alternate scripts he follows—like those silly Role-Playing books that were big in the '80s does not equate to Free Will for your Actor.


Yet we are told that we do have Free Will and we will be called into Judgement Someday.


In a strictly Deterministic Universe, folks have no more control—ultimately—over how they turn out than a Resistor coming off an Assembly line does.


We test Resistors and the ones that aren't within tolerance are cast to one side and discarded.


A God might have some use for certain types of human beings. He might test them for tolerances and discard the ones that weren't usable.


But it beggars the imagination to imagine Creating and Inserting Immortal Souls into Resistors so the one's that aren't within + or - 5% can suffer Eternal Agony. What real purpose would that serve?


So IF we have Free Will and IF we're to be held Accountable for our Choices—Our Free Will must be based on something outside of the Material Universe AND totally Inconceivable and Beyond Human Logic or Reasoning.




Men, or other Material Beings, can only predict the outcome of some event, when it is Constrained to happen a certain way.


It is Tautological, that if it happened the only possible way that IT COULD happen, then there was no choice...


Whereas if there were true choices to be made—choices that were not pre-selected or forced in some way—then there is no way to accurately predict the outcome.


But this is a limitation of Humans and Human Logic.


God, if he is truly Omnipotent, must exist outside the constraints of Human Logic or even what beyond Humans can Fully Concieve.


Even if we do have Free Will and even if there are Random Number Generators built into the Universe an Omnipotent God might still know how the whole thing would turn out in the end.




Saxon Violence

Edited by SaxonViolence
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