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Absolute Freewill

By Nanook - Posted on 14 November 2010

[Nanook is talking with Father Vincent. Nanook is italic type.]

"So, are you ready to dig into the concept of FREE WILL?”

"I thought we concluded yesterday that it couldn’t possibly make sense.”

"What we concluded yesterday was that, from a logical perspective, the concept of man having FREE WILL could NOT explain EVIL. Now, I want to talk about the concept of free will by itself. That is, what does free will mean in a material world?”

"Ah. I see. What does it mean if we leave the religious connection to evil out of the question.”

"Precisely! Because, free will is actually a very big question in philosophy and society all by itself. So, let’s throw out the mystery of faith defense and just explore free will in a logical fashion. We may have to look at the supernatural side to get some perspective, but that’s not our goal.”

"OK. I’m game. Go for it.”

Definition of free will

"First, let’s try to define free will in an absolute form. Take a shot at that.”

"OK. I would first break it up into two words: free and will.

The word WILL, to me, implies the working of a conscious mind. In George’s form, this is an A1 or higher conscious being.”

"Hold on. I thought yesterday we connected free will to the A2 level?”

"We did. But remember I gave the example of my dog having free will? Remember I said I wouldn’t punish him for misbehaving? So, my point is, I think the A2 level comes into the picture in relation to sin, punishment and evil because sin requires SELF AWARENESS. But an A1 can still have free will.”

"Neat! Neat! So, the concept of consciousness, or WILL, can be treated differently IN REGARD TO PUNISHMENT depending on what awareness level the will is operating at?”

"Hmmm . . . I didn’t know that’s what I was thinking about, but I guess it makes sense. And maybe that means that A3’s can be held to higher standards than A2’s, which can be held to higher standards than A1’s. And, maybe this principle should be applied, not only to people with A2 or A3 brains, but to anyone who takes a job or social role requiring those levels.”

"YES! This is neat. Keep going.”

"The word WILL actually means a consciousness. That is, in a creature, to use your term, it is a process that is able to perceive the world around it. But, I think the word WILL also implies that the creature makes DECISIONS based on CURRENT PERCEPTIONS and a MEMORIZED HISTORY and then DIRECTS ACTION taken by itself or another.”

Free implies decisions without outside interference

"OK. I think this is a good start. Now take a shot at the word FREE.”

"This is actually a lot harder. A simple statement would be that the creature making the decisions and taking action can do so without outside interference.”

“Actually, this is a very good start. But, you’re right. This word is a lot tougher. It seems simple to most people. But the philosophy is tricky. Let’s start this word out with the dictionary.”

“Free will: voluntary, FREE from restraints or compulsions or any antecedent conditions; freedom of decision.

Free: not under control of another or some arbitrary power.”

“Ayn Rand adds: freedom is choices. That is, in a free situation, you also have to have more than one choice to choose from, and you have to have the ability to choose one or more of them. In a religious sense, the question merely revolves around whether the gods do or do not impose their will upon human decisions. If they do, man is not free. If they don’t, then man is free. In this simplified context, freedom and freewill are easy to picture as concepts.”

"By simplified, you probably mean Single Sentence Logic.”

“Precisely! Now let’s explore the complications.

Limitations on any supernatural beings

Let me pose some questions related to how free will works with God. Bertrand Russell raised this question.”

“If God knew in advance the sins of which man would be guilty, He was clearly responsible for all the consequences of those sins when He decided to create man.”

"Hmmm . . . This is another one of those conflicts related to God being all-knowing.”

“Precisely! What Russell is saying is that if God was all-knowing, he could have avoided the problem in many ways. For example, He could have made man differently so, even with free will, he wasn’t prone to evil. But the concept of free will even constrains God in even a more basic way. John Randal said,”

“… if there is such a thing as moral responsibility, then there must be freewill. If there is freewill, then God cannot be omnipotent because for freewill to exist, God must be blind to the future, because it has not yet been determined.”

“That is, if there is freewill, then God cannot be all-knowing. For freewill to exist, God must be blind to the future. If man is free to decided at some point in the future to freely take some action, then God cannot know what that action will be ahead of time. If God knew what action would be taken ahead of time, then man would not be free to choose any action, only that action.”

"And how, again, does the Church answer this?”

“Simple. It’s a mystery of faith.


But while the Catholic Church might say this, it is not accepted by many other Christians. This was a major issue, referred to as ‘predetermination’ or PREDESTINATION, that separated Christians during the Protestant Reformation and still separates many denominations in the Protestant religion. The logical choice for ‘predestination’ believers is to assume that God IS all-powerful and all-knowing. In that case, he planned out the whole unfolding of the universe, which includes every step of man’s life. I.E. man’s life is predetermined.”

"So, how, in that case, do they explain evil? I mean, with this approach, God would have determined ahead of time that some people would be good and others bad. And, if everything was predetermined, then man has no free will. So, how can man be punished?”

“Hey. I didn’t say Protestants had logical answers for their positions either. They have their own ‘mystery of faith’ school.”

"So, we’ve come to another significant conclusion: that ABSOLUTE FREE WILL can not exist and be consistent with cause and effect.”