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BIG_DADDY
05-22-2006, 10:45 AM
Free will - you only think you have it


"WE MUST believe in free will, we have no choice," the novelist Isaac Bashevis Singer once said. He might as well have said, "We must believe in quantum mechanics, we have no choice," if two new studies are anything to go by.

Early last month, a Nobel laureate physicist finished polishing up his theory that a deeper, deterministic reality underlies the apparent uncertainty of quantum mechanics. A week after he announced it, two eminent mathematicians showed that the theory has profound implications beyond physics: abandoning the uncertainty of quantum physics means we must give up the cherished notion that we have free will. The mathematicians believe the physicist is wrong.

“Abandoning the uncertainty of quantum physics means we must give up the cherished notion that we have free will”"It's striking that we have one of the greatest scientists of our generation pitted against two of the world's greatest mathematicians," says Hans Halvorson, a philosopher of physics at Princeton University.

Quantum mechanics is widely accepted by physicists, but is full of apparent paradoxes, which made Einstein deeply uncomfortable and have never been resolved. For instance, you cannot ask what the spin of a particle was before you made an observation of it - quantum mechanics says the spin was undetermined. And you cannot predict the outcome of an experiment; you can only estimate the probability of getting a certain result.

"Quantum mechanics works wonderfully well, but it's not complete," says Gerard 't Hooft of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, who won the Nobel prize for physics in 1999 for laying the mathematical foundations for the standard model of particle physics. One major reason why many physicists, including 't Hooft, yearn for a deeper view of reality than quantum mechanics can offer is their failure so far to unite quantum theory with general relativity and its description of gravity, despite enormous effort. "A radical change is needed," says 't Hooft.

For more than a decade now, 't Hooft has been working on the idea that there is a hidden layer of reality at scales smaller than the so-called Planck length of 10-35 metres. 't Hooft has developed a mathematical model to support this notion. At this deeper level, he says, we cannot talk of particles or waves to describe reality, so he defines entities called "states" that have energy. In his model, these states behave predictably according to deterministic laws, so it is theoretically possible to keep tabs on them.

However, the calculations show that individual states can be tracked for only about 10-43 seconds, after which many states coalesce into one final state, which is what creates the quantum mechanical uncertainty. Our measurements illuminate these final states, but because the prior information is lost, we can't recreate their precise history.

While 't Hooft's initial theory explained most quantum mechanical oddities, such as the impossibility of precisely measuring both the location and momentum of a particle, it had a major stumbling block - the states could end up with negative energy, which is physically impossible. Now, 't Hooft has worked out a solution that overcomes this problem, preventing the states from having negative energy (www.arxiv.org/quant-ph/0604008). "It was an obnoxious difficulty," he says. "But having solved it I am more and more convinced that this is the right approach."

Essentially, 't Hooft is saying that while particles in quantum mechanics seem to behave unpredictably, if we could track the underlying states, we can predict the behaviour of particles.

Others are impressed. "This is a very beautiful theory that tells us about the world on the smallest scales," says physicist Willem de Muynck at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. "But these are scales that current experiments cannot reach, so if anything the theory is before its time."

As enticing as 't Hooft's theory may be to physicists, it has an unexpected and potentially frightful consequence for the rest of us. Mathematicians John Conway and Simon Kochen, both at Princeton University, say that any deterministic theory underlying quantum mechanics robs us of our free will.

"When you choose to eat the chocolate cake or the plain one, are you really free to decide?" asks Conway. In other words, could someone who has been tracking all the particle interactions in the universe predict with perfect accuracy the cake you will pick? The answer, it seems, depends on whether quantum mechanics' inherent uncertainty is the correct description of reality or 't Hooft is right in saying that beneath that uncertainty there is a deterministic order.

Conway and Kochen explored the implications of 't Hooft's theory by looking at what happens when you measure the spin of a particle. Spin is always measured along three perpendicular axes. For a spherical particle, the particular axes that you choose and the order in which you carry out the measurements are up to you. But are your choices a matter of free will, or are they predetermined?

What the mathematicians proved is this: if you have the slightest freedom to choose the axes and order of measurement, then particles everywhere must also have the same degree of freedom. That means they can behave unpredictably. However, if particles have no freedom, as implied by 't Hooft's theory, the mathematicians proved that you have no real say in the choice of axes and order of measurement. In other words, deterministic particles put an end to free will (www.arxiv.org/quant-ph/0604079).

Arguments about free will are as old as philosophy itself, and ever since quantum mechanics was proposed people have attempted to connect free will to the indeterminacy at the heart of this theory. "We're proud because this is the first solid proof relating these issues," says Conway.

Kochen and Conway stress that their theorem doesn't disprove 't Hooft's theory. It simply states that if his theory is true, our actions cannot be free. And they admit that there's no way for us to tell. "Our lives could be like the second showing of a movie - all actions play out as though they are free, but that freedom is an illusion," says Kochen.

“Our lives would be like the second showing of a movie, playing out as though we are free, but freedom is an illusion”Since the mathematicians believe that we have free will, it follows for them that 't Hooft's theory must be wrong. "We have to believe in free will to do anything," says Conway. "I believe I am free to drink this cup of coffee, or throw it across the room. I believe I am free in choosing to have this conversation."

Halvorson says the debate really boils down to a matter of personal taste. "Kochen and Conway can't tolerate the idea that our future may already be settled," he says, "but people like 't Hooft and Einstein find the notion that the universe can't be completely described by physics just as disturbing."

For philosophers, both arguments can be troubling. "Quantum randomness as the basis of free will doesn't really give us control over our actions," says Tim Maudlin, a philosopher of physics at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. "We're either deterministic machines, or we're random machines. That's not much of a choice."

Halvorson, however, welcomes the work by 't Hooft, Conway and Kochen. "Philosophy has separated itself from science for far too long," he says. "There are very important questions to be asked about free will, and maybe physics can answer them."

Reaper16
05-22-2006, 11:56 AM
I always found pretty interesting how free will is incompatible with traditional definitions of God, i.e., omniscience and omnipotence.

Clint in Wichita
05-22-2006, 12:05 PM
Yes, we really have free will.

JBucc
05-22-2006, 12:06 PM
"I didn't mean to kill him judge, it was my particles, they made me do it"

greg63
05-22-2006, 12:08 PM
Yes, we really have free will.

That is my inclination as well.

StcChief
05-22-2006, 12:11 PM
Someone has to prove otherwise....I will keep exercising my Free will.

jidar
05-22-2006, 12:14 PM
Yes, we really have free will.


I knew you were going to say that.

BIG_DADDY
05-22-2006, 12:15 PM
Yes, we really have free will.

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that's clear-
I will choose Free Will.

Ebolapox
05-22-2006, 12:20 PM
You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that's clear-
I will choose Free Will.

heh heh...big daddy=halfcan :p

Mr. Kotter
05-22-2006, 12:20 PM
Free Willy? Hell no, PETA freaks.....kill the damn whale!

Heh. :)

As for a real answer: Yes. We do, despite the lame excuses so many of us come up with.

Bearcat
05-22-2006, 12:23 PM
So.... could someone explain how they linked the two theories together?

When you choose to eat the chocolate cake or the plain one, are you really free to decide?" asks Conway. In other words, could someone who has been tracking all the particle interactions in the universe predict with perfect accuracy the cake you will pick? The answer, it seems, depends on whether quantum mechanics' inherent uncertainty is the correct description of reality or 't Hooft is right in saying that beneath that uncertainty there is a deterministic order.

Huh? So, not being able to predict which cake the person is going to eat really means we have no free will to choose on our own? :spock:

What the mathematicians proved is this: if you have the slightest freedom to choose the axes and order of measurement, then particles everywhere must also have the same degree of freedom. That means they can behave unpredictably. However, if particles have no freedom, as implied by 't Hooft's theory, the mathematicians proved that you have no real say in the choice of axes and order of measurement. In other words, deterministic particles put an end to free will (www.arxiv.org/quant-ph/0604079). (http://www.arxiv.org/quant-ph/0604079).)

Making a hypothesis on one particle means all particles have to have the same assumptions? Um, no... In your test they may have the same assumptions, but I still have no idea what that has to do with determining free will?

"We're proud because this is the first solid proof relating these issues," says Conway.

:banghead:

luv
05-22-2006, 12:26 PM
I always found pretty interesting how free will is incompatible with traditional definitions of God, i.e., omniscience and omnipotence.
How so? He doesn't force us to do anything. He may be everywhere and know everything, but that doesn't mean he's controlling our minds.

Anyway, I definitely think we have free will.I chose to sleep in until noon, I will choose what to wear today, what to have for lunch, and I will choose to go to work.

jidar
05-22-2006, 12:36 PM
So.... could someone explain how they linked the two theories together?



Huh? So, not being able to predict which cake the person is going to eat really means we have no free will to choose on our own? :spock:


No. You've got it precisely backwards.



Making a hypothesis on one particle means all particles have to have the same assumptions? Um, no... In your test they may have the same assumptions, but I still have no idea what that has to do with determining free will?

It's like this. Physics can predict motion and interaction between all objects. If you roll a ball on a billiards table and it hits other balls, if you know the details about the speed/mass/friction of all of the parts involved (balls, table, air resistance, etc.. etc..) then you can predict exactly what happens prior to rolling the ball. You will know where every ball moves to and exactly how the whole thing ends up. This is a simple thing to understand.

Now if you take that same thinking, and combine that with the realization that we are all just tiny bits of matter in an ether, like balls on a billiards table, you realize that this means we should be able to predict everything that ever happens anywhere. The idea is that all motion and chemical interactions follow the laws of physics, including the chemical interaction in our brains that leads to our behavior, thusly all things are predictable and nobody has any free will.

It's a nasty thing of course, nobody wants to concede that free will is an impossibility. So how does free will even happen? That is the question.

The thing that quatum did was input uncertainty into the equation. Just the very existance of uncertainty gives us an out for free will because if particles sometimes behave in an irrational manner, then perhaps people can think in an irrational manner and thusly this is where free will comes from.

Now we get to the article in question. We have this scientist who is saying that the apparent uncertainly we are seeing in Quantum isn't actually uncertain at all and that instead there are certain rules governing even that, and if this is true then once again all things are predictable and we have lost free will. Hrmph.

I'd rather like to think we have free will myself.

jidar
05-22-2006, 12:37 PM
How so? He doesn't force us to do anything. He may be everywhere and know everything, but that doesn't mean he's controlling our minds.

Anyway, I definitely think we have free will.I chose to sleep in until noon, I will choose what to wear today, what to have for lunch, and I will choose to go to work.

If you know everything that is going to happen (as god supposedly does) , then nobody can change what is going to happen, and thusly there is no free will.

At least that is the argument.

I'm curious to know if there is actually something in scripture that says gods knows everything that will happen.

luv
05-22-2006, 12:45 PM
If you know everything that is going to happen (as god supposedly does) , then nobody can change what is going to happen, and thusly there is no free will.

At least that is the argument.

I'm curious to know if there is actually something in scripture that says gods knows everything that will happen.
Look it up. :)

Katipan
05-22-2006, 12:48 PM
I not trying to just shit on this thread when I say... gosh, I couldn't possibly care less.

Whether a bunch of Mathematicians, or God, or any combination of the two already know what I'm going to do with my life isn't really going to alter what I'm doing.

Hey, then I don't even have to take responsibility for anything. I can blame the universe.

Awesome.

thepascalblaze
05-22-2006, 12:52 PM
Physics can only answer this question if things are determined and rational. What if the foundation of reality, be it the quantum level or the level of 'states' proposed in this article, is irrational, that is, self-cotradictory? A physicist might say "then it couldn't exist." That would reveal his faith in science. Science is a method that depends on reality following the rules of logic, and clearly, a lot, even most, of it does. Einstein had faith that everything could be described in reason. That is why he was so distuurbed by discoveries at the quantum level. His faith was shaken.
There is an assumption in this atricle worth noting: free will is a function at the quantum level. Maybe so. This is, however, a part of a much older debate conerning conciosness and matter, the ideal vs. the real. Some philosophers propose dualism: both cociuosness and matter coexist to form reality. Some say its all conciousness: matter is an illusion. With the advances in neuroscience there has been a serious growing voice in philosophy of mind called eliminative materialist. They say its all matter and conciousness is an illusion. With the bathwater they throw out all notions of belief as well as free will.
The class I took on this subject made me feel like a flipping coin. I really could switch back and forth on this. I would believe the EM side for a while and then come back to my original position; the unclear either dual or ideal side. I changed my mind over and over for fifteen weeks. I still can see both sides and have thought about this for years. Eventually I settled with this...
We see the world through conciousness, whether that conciousness is real or an illusion inducing function of matter or not. All science is a function of this conciouness. While this conciousness can be irrational, the social endeavor of science tries to be as rational as possible. If the conciuosness can be irrational, and is wholey a function of matter, matter can exist in an experiencable irrational form, conciousness itself, in this line of thinking, proves that. If matter can be irrational, well, science can not possibly ever know, by its own definition of knowledge, the whole universe.
If reality had any elements of irrationality, it would make it really hard to explain, since language has the same underlying principle as logic, non-contradiction. It would lead to thousands of years of the brightest minds attempting to explain life with endless debate and no explanation would be beyond the a range of attack from other logical perspectives...oh wait, that is what history says has happened and this discussion says is happening.
This is what is meant by Lao Tze's Tao te Ching, A book of poems. The first thing it says is 'the true tao( or way ) cannot be spoken. This is how good art, poetry music, whatever medium, can approach communicating things, feelings, emotions that rational speach struggles with. They can be contradictory and confusing on the surface, they can say two things at once, they can be contradictory at heart. Music is a multi-voiced medium. It can come at things from different angles simulteniously. Plato wrote in dialogue form to get at ineffable ideas, forms.
Science is a woderful endeavor, but it is a process and a process only. By being defined as a process, and defining what it considers to be true by that process, it is is limited to the parts of reality that a.) can be experienced by more than one person, and b.) those experences of rational events. It cannot prove or disprove whether all of the universe is within its own scope. Some scientists believe it can, but that is simply their faith.

Bearcat
05-22-2006, 12:56 PM
It's like this. Physics can predict motion and interaction between all objects. If you roll a ball on a billiards table and it hits other balls, if you know the details about the speed/mass/friction of all of the parts involved (balls, table, air resistance, etc.. etc..) then you can predict exactly what happens prior to rolling the ball. You will know where every ball moves to and exactly how the whole thing ends up. This is a simple thing to understand.

Now if you take that same thinking, and combine that with the realization that we are all just tiny bits of matter in an ether, like balls on a billiards table, you realize that this means we should be able to predict everything that ever happens anywhere. The idea is that all motion and chemical interactions follow the laws of physics, including the chemical interaction in our brains that leads to our behavior, thusly all things are predictable and nobody has any free will.

It's a nasty thing of course, nobody wants to concede that free will is an impossibility. So how does free will even happen? That is the question.

The thing that quatum did was input uncertainty into the equation. Just the very existance of uncertainty gives us an out for free will because if particles sometimes behave in an irrational manner, then perhaps people can think in an irrational manner and thusly this is where free will comes from.

Now we get to the article in question. We have this scientist who is saying that the apparent uncertainly we are seeing in Quantum isn't actually uncertain at all and that instead there are certain rules governing even that, and if this is true then once again all things are predictable and we have lost free will. Hrmph.

I'd rather like to think we have free will myself.

Thank you.. much easier to understand.

Still don't agree though, because you're predicting that if the ball is rolled at x speed, y distance, etc; then all of these things will happen. You're not predicting how the ball will be rolled, you're predicting what happens when the ball is rolled under very specific conditions.

After thinking about it a few minutes, I kind of see the point.... chemical interactions are based on things not in your control -- personality, upbringing, conditioning, etc -- and if that urge is strong enough, you're going to go to sleep. Therefore, even your most conscience decisions are based around previous actions, emotions, etc. Hmm....

trndobrd
05-22-2006, 12:59 PM
No Rush reference from Mcan?

Chieficus
05-22-2006, 01:26 PM
If you know everything that is going to happen (as god supposedly does) , then nobody can change what is going to happen, and thusly there is no free will.

At least that is the argument.

I'm curious to know if there is actually something in scripture that says gods knows everything that will happen.

Below is a link to an article on God's omniscience that contains a brief theological discussion, a plethora of Scripture references, and a brief dicussion on four view points of "divine foreknowledge."

http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article.asp?id=238

If you're looking for a verse in the Bible that says: "God foreknows everything," you'll be hard pressed to find it. Especially since the majority of the uses of "foreknow" have more to do with personal relationship and not temporality. Yet the weight of scriptural evidence together clearly supports the notion.

Especially in the passages that speak of God predestining everything that happens. Everything that happens He ordained to happen, and since He ordained everything to happen, He knows it will happen (Isaiah 16:8-11 and Ephesians 1:3-14 are two of my favorite verses on that).

Of course that notion would betray the fact that I don't believe in free will, at least not in the libertarian stance that it is often understood in.

jidar
05-22-2006, 01:35 PM
Of course that notion would betray the fact that I don't believe in free will, at least not in the libertarian stance that it is often understood in.

actually I was leaning towards you not believing the scripture, which will be my route.

Mr. Kotter
05-22-2006, 01:35 PM
Below is a link to an article on God's omniscience that contains a brief theological discussion, a plethora of Scripture references, and a brief dicussion on four view points of "divine foreknowledge."

http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article.asp?id=238

If you're looking for a verse in the Bible that says: "God foreknows everything," you'll be hard pressed to find it. Especially since the majority of the uses of "foreknow" have more to do with personal relationship and not temporality. Yet the weight of scriptural evidence together clearly supports the notion.

Especially in the passages that speak of God predestining everything that happens. Everything that happens He ordained to happen, and since He ordained everything to happen, He knows it will happen (Isaiah 16:8-11 and Ephesians 1:3-14 are two of my favorite verses on that).

Of course that notion would betray the fact that I don't believe in free will, at least not in the libertarian stance that it is often understood in.

So, yes or no: do you believe in predestiny?

Chieficus
05-22-2006, 01:43 PM
So, yes or no: do you believe in predestiny?

Yes, I'm a predestinarian. I believe the Bible is true, and when I check a concordance, I can find instance after instance of "predestination" and "elect" and "foreknowledge," but with the exception of two instances in reference to a particular type of offering, I've yet to encounter the notion of "freewill."

Feel a need to add an edit to clarify: The position I hold is known as "Soft-Determinism." Basically, I believe that God is sovereign, we are responsible for our actions, and these two things are compatible. It goes with the notion that those who are in Christ are to work out their salvation in fear and trembling, because it is God who is at work in us (Philippians 2:12&13). That also puts me under the category of: Calvinist, reformed, and a litiney of others (heretic to some... :) )

Mr. Kotter
05-22-2006, 02:08 PM
Yes, I'm a predestinarian. I believe the Bible is true, and when I check a concordance, I can find instance after instance of "predestination" and "elect" and "foreknowledge," but with the exception of two instances in reference to a particular type of offering, I've yet to encounter the notion of "freewill."

Feel a need to add an edit to clarify: The position I hold is known as "Soft-Determinism." Basically, I believe that God is sovereign, we are responsible for our actions, and these two things are compatible. It goes with the notion that those who are in Christ are to work out their salvation in fear and trembling, because it is God who is at work in us (Philippians 2:12&13). That also puts me under the category of: Calvinist, reformed, and a litiney of others (heretic to some... :) )
I wouldn't say "heretic," but I would say that sort of philosophy....leaves those of us who are not immersed in theology and reconciling scripture daily in our lives, in a position that makes an Epicurean approach to life pretty inviting.

Predestiny puts us in the position of, it's like seeing a movie after you already know how it's going to play out, and what the "ending" is.....what's really the point?

Personally, I can't conceive of a God that chooses to entertain himself, with "reruns" of prime time television. :hmmm:

Chieficus
05-22-2006, 02:24 PM
I wouldn't say "heretic," but I would say that sort of philosophy....leaves those of us who are not immersed in theology and reconciling scripture daily in our lives, in a position that makes an Epicurean approach to life pretty inviting.

Predestiny puts us in the position of, it's like seeing a movie after you already know how it's going to play out, and what the "ending" is.....what's really the point?

Personally, I can't conceive of a God that chooses to entertain himself, with "reruns" of prime time television. :hmmm:

The "heretic" reference was more for personal humor--I know people in the church I grew up in who would consider my position to be heretical (but I figure, hey, I have Calvin, Luther, Augustine, Spurgeon, ect. on my side...). The funny thing is, one man I was thinking of in particular was on my ordination council and signed my certificate of ordination... go figure. :)

From the perspecitive I'm coming from, though, it wouldn't be that God popped in a tape and is watching the rerun go... Certainly He knows everything that has happened, everything that is happening, and how everything will play out--yes (He has declared the end from the beginning--comes from my Isaiah reference above); but, He is also intimately involved in space/time history sustaining all things, working His plan (directing history, and so forth), and within that--saving a people for His own possession. The better movie/television analogy (as imperfect as it will be): God is the writer, producer, director, and an actor.

Well, that's all I have to say on this: work beckons.

Frosty
05-22-2006, 02:45 PM
http://www.martinzender.com/free_will_and_the_oh_well_creed.htm

http://www.concordant.org/expohtml/HisAchievement/HisAchievement016.html

(more (http://www.concordant.org/expohtml/HisAchievement/index.html) )

http://bestsmileys.com/mouthzippedshut/2.gif

ChiefaRoo
05-22-2006, 03:09 PM
So.... could someone explain how they linked the two theories together?



Huh? So, not being able to predict which cake the person is going to eat really means we have no free will to choose on our own? :spock:



Making a hypothesis on one particle means all particles have to have the same assumptions? Um, no... In your test they may have the same assumptions, but I still have no idea what that has to do with determining free will?



:banghead:


Maybe the underlying "predictable" particles that govern quantum mechanics are not part of linear time therefore the predictablity doesn't affect free will as it can only be observed after the fact.

Then again maybe cat means dog :)