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God's Sovereignty or Human Free Will?


Spirituality & Religious Beliefs Contemplate your place and purpose in the universe.

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Old 16th October 2017, 7:16 PM   #16
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I am a Calvinist universalist. I believe God saved everyone through the work of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection. Everyone goes to heaven in my view and there is no hell.
I would like to learn more about the Presbyterian Church. Does this mean you don't believe God chooses only certain people to get into heaven? I love the Puritans and just read a book on Anne Hutchinson that delved into Puritan beliefs on predestination, and I want to learn more.
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Old 16th October 2017, 9:30 PM   #17
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I would like to learn more about the Presbyterian Church. Does this mean you don't believe God chooses only certain people to get into heaven? I love the Puritans and just read a book on Anne Hutchinson that delved into Puritan beliefs on predestination, and I want to learn more.
I believe all humanity are God's elect for salvation. Yes God chooses. It's all according to the counsel of His will and everyone is included. It's not of those who work or who are willing but God willing to pour out mercy on all.
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Old 17th October 2017, 11:31 PM   #18
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I also believe it is part of God's sovereign plan for everyone to have different beliefs. Therefore if you believe in free will then God predestined you to have that belief and see the world the way you do. I don't believe we can see things a certain way until God wants us to see it. It's all for a higher purpose.

I say why not? If God exists then we don't belong to ourselves. We are subordinate to Him and He can do what He wants with us. We're just guests here on planet Earth. We had nothing to do with creation in the beginning. I wasn't there and I don't recall God ever consulting with me first before creating the solar system. Humans are just a tiny tiny fraction of the universe and therefore it's not all about us bending to our whims and desires.

So I have no problem with God overriding human will and hardening and softening hearts as He sees fit for different purposes. I would even go so far to say that God made me weak at this point of my life to show me that I'm really nothing without Him. Like the apostle Paul I rejoice in my weaknesses because those weaknesses will keep me dependent on The Lord.

The Lord's ways seem foolish to our world system. The world system says go to work on yourself and improve yourself. I have come to the conclusion that self improvement is a bunch of BS. People try through new years resolutions but most of the time it does not stick. 2 weeks later they fall bacj into old habits. It's nothing but arrogance. The weaknesses we have God put there on purpose for a reason.

God uses weak people all the time throughout history even in Old Testament stories. It's only through weakness that I learn about the grace of God. How can I learn grace and see my need for grace if I'm strong all the time? If I'm strong all the time then it won't take long for pride to set in and then I won't have compassion on others who struggle with addictions. I'd be tempted to point the finger and judge. If not for the grace of God I would be worse off than I am now. Free grace, sovereign grace, amazing grace.

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Old 18th October 2017, 12:11 AM   #19
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I believe all humanity are God's elect for salvation. Yes God chooses. It's all according to the counsel of His will and everyone is included. It's not of those who work or who are willing but God willing to pour out mercy on all.
So...according to your beliefs, everybody goes to heaven?

Do we need to believe your beliefs to go to heaven?

I am truly curious. I've never heard this. The Bible does not say everyone goes to heaven.

I think the question of free will vs predetermination is only applicable for theists. Because the real question it is asking is: if everything we are doing is predetermined, then God already knows who goes to heaven and who doesn't. And the other sticky wicket is: how can we really have free will if God is all-knowing...wouldn't he technically KNOW what we are about to do next, thus nullifying our actual choice?

Some might say that Him just knowing what we will do doesn't mean it's not our free will. But I would argue otherwise. If our future is already set, then we only THINK we are choosing.

In general...IF there is a god...IF God does exist (I am currently having an existential crisis about this)...then I've always believed we ARE supposed to act. The entire book of James talks about proving our faith by actions. That may not specifically translate to your question, but I don't believe God wants us to sit back on our laurels and expect Him to handle everything.

As a practical suggestion, most women DO prefer the man to show a little initiative...we tend to find passivity a bit unattractive. So if you don't make any changes, you may have a self-fulfilling prophecy on your hands.
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Old 18th October 2017, 4:41 AM   #20
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So...according to your beliefs, everybody goes to heaven? Do we need to believe your beliefs to go to heaven? I am truly curious. I've never heard this. The Bible does not say everyone goes to heaven.
I agree. Especially as the O.P stated he is a Christian. I think I would struggle to find a single quote in the bible or any Christian text that supports this view. In fact pretty much the entire bible speaks to the exact opposite. EG: Mat 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven"

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If everything we are doing is predetermined, then God already knows who goes to heaven and who doesn't. And the other sticky wicket is: how can we really have free will if God is all-knowing...wouldn't he technically KNOW what we are about to do next, thus nullifying our actual choice?

Some might say that Him just knowing what we will do doesn't mean it's not our free will. But I would argue otherwise. If our future is already set, then we only THINK we are choosing.
I'm not sure if you are a father or work with Children but I think Parent \ Child is really the easiest analogy when looking at God relationship with our free will. They do refer to him as God the father A child - lets say 5-6 years old does have a degree of free will - but the father understands they haven't developed the ability to use it responsibly yet. So he watches over the child and he learns their nature and their habits. Through his observations he knows how the child will react under specific conditions. There isn't really anything supernatural about this ability - its simply watching their patterns of behaviour. If you grant God exists and has supernatural abilities then this is kind of ability is pretty basic. Nothing otherworldly about it.

The father then tries to teach the child how to use free will correctly and enhance their nature and understanding by giving them lessons then observing to see if the child understands and follow the lessons he provides. Early on a father is quite tolerant and forgiving when teaching. He won't serverly punish the child for making small mistakes. As they grow older and show they understand a specific lesson - if they then willfully disregard the lesson - they are punished. This is primarily for their own protection and well being. Restrictions such as grounding - or removal of rights are enforced to modify the child's behavior and teach them to use their free will in the right manner.

So does a child not have free will because a parent teaches and molds their behavior in a specific way ? Of course they still do to an extent - but parent tries to modify their nature - the way they consciously choose to use their free will so hopefully that free will is enhanced by the experiences and teachings from the parents. As we grow and become more able to use that free will responsibly - the parents reduce their active intervention and allow us to live our lives as we see fit.

This is how I see the relationship with God and our own free will. We are given free will and the ability to choose how to live - what a glorious opportunity. But if he sees a weakness emerging or us going down an unwise path - he may intervene or line up lessons to test us - knowing full well we will fail them and have to deal with the negative consequences. This is a corrective action and the bible says it's a good thing if this is happening to you. If you see children getting away with murder what does that usually indicate about the parental oversight and the care the parents have shown in their upbringing ?

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, or lose heart when He rebukes you. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastises everyone He receives as a son. Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?"

If you live in perfect accordance with the golden law .... then you are completely free to do what ever you wish within that framework. Make music, write, act, become and engineer - whatever. Indeed instead of punishment if you are able to align your will to work in conjunction with the law you get rewards. Because how else would a father treat a child who makes him proud ?

Last edited by Justanaverageguy; 18th October 2017 at 7:23 AM..
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Old 18th October 2017, 8:15 PM   #21
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So...according to your beliefs, everybody goes to heaven?

Do we need to believe your beliefs to go to heaven?

I am truly curious. I've never heard this. The Bible does not say everyone goes to heaven.

I think the question of free will vs predetermination is only applicable for theists. Because the real question it is asking is: if everything we are doing is predetermined, then God already knows who goes to heaven and who doesn't. And the other sticky wicket is: how can we really have free will if God is all-knowing...wouldn't he technically KNOW what we are about to do next, thus nullifying our actual choice?

Some might say that Him just knowing what we will do doesn't mean it's not our free will. But I would argue otherwise. If our future is already set, then we only THINK we are choosing.

In general...IF there is a god...IF God does exist (I am currently having an existential crisis about this)...then I've always believed we ARE supposed to act. The entire book of James talks about proving our faith by actions. That may not specifically translate to your question, but I don't believe God wants us to sit back on our laurels and expect Him to handle everything.

As a practical suggestion, most women DO prefer the man to show a little initiative...we tend to find passivity a bit unattractive. So if you don't make any changes, you may have a self-fulfilling prophecy on your hands.

The answer to your question do you have to believe what I believe to go to heaven? No. Even atheists are saved and going to heaven. The Bible does teach in many New Testament epistles like Paul's writings that we are saved by grace and not by works. Jesus did everything necessary to make us fit for heaven. Romans chapter 5 and 1 Corinthians chapter 15, Ephesians and Colossians and Titus and 1 and 2nd Timothy are all good books to read about our salvation by grace alone through the faith of Christ alone.

In Romans 5 there is a comparison between Adam and Christ. Just as original sin came upon all people through the disobedience of Adam and all were made sinners so also by the obedience of Christ all are justified and made righteous. Both condemnation and justification were imputed to us by someone else not by anything we did.

The difference between the gospel vs. all the religions of the world is this: All religions have 1 common denominator and that is people are trying to work their way to heaven, climb up to God and sweat to death spiritually speaking doing it. The gospel on the other hand declares that God reached down to humanity through the person and work of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection. He died for the sins of the whole world 1 John 2:2, John 1:29. He was raised for our justification. We get to go to heaven not because we did enough good things in this life to earn it but because of Jesus' perfect obedience and faith. No religions of the world teach that. The message of free grace gospel is not popular and not widely accepted because our natural mind is drunk on pride. Our pride in us wants something to brag about before God about why we should be allowed into heaven but someone else shouldn't. We're all equally in the same boat as guilty sinners and either everyone makes it to heaven or none of us have any hope of getting in.

God's ways of extending mercy and forgiveness are higher than human ways. Human patience and mercy and grace has a threshold. God's mercy endures forever. Salvation is a free gift. We cannot pay it back. In this world we have to work for everything but not when it comes to relationship to God and His kingdom. I think when we get to heaven we're all in for surprises as to how God could let someone like Hitler in.
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Old 18th October 2017, 8:35 PM   #22
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I think the worst crime/sin committed in human history was the murder of the Son of God. When Jesus' persecutors beat Him, mocked Him, cursed Him and crucified Him He had supernatural power to call down fire from heaven to fight them off if He wanted to. Instead He prayed for His enemies. He prayed that Father God would forgive them for they know not what they do. Jesus and the Father are one so I believe God granted that prayer request.

Jesus is the embodiment of grace in the flesh. Only a holy gracious God in human form could display the kind of grace He did towards His persecutors. He still loved them. If it was you and I we would have tried to fight back. We fall short of perfect love everyday in actions and deeds but Jesus didn't. Pure love is supernatural and much higher than basic humanitarian love.

My point is if God did forgive the sins of those who crucified His Son then how much more would He forgive us today who were not even there to have an opportunity to crucify His Son? The world looks at you as stupid if you were to display the kind of love toward your persecutors that Jesus did. Well I remember reading in 1 or 2 Corinthians that God's wisdom is foolishness to this world.
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Old 19th October 2017, 9:05 AM   #23
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So I think the difference in interpretation here is you believe that the bible says forgiveness is granted to all automatically regardless of their actions or beliefs. Regardless of whether they repent or indeed whether they even ask for forgiveness in the first place. Kind of like a blanket automatic free pass on anything and everything you do in this life. When you die - hey it doesn't matter - here you go here is your pass into heaven.

Honestly what sort of god would actually do that ? It doesn't make any logical sense and it isn't supported by anything in spiritual teachings anywhere. Christian or otherwise.

I would say that based on what the bible says my interpretation is that forgiveness is "available" to all regardless of what sin they have committed. Not that it is given to all automatically. Available is the key word. There are very specific requirements attached in order to receive it. Firstly you have to acknowledge your sin - and ask for forgiveness. Then you have to actively repent. Kind of a interesting catch right - you can't just say - all good Jesus has got this. You have to actively acknowledge the wrongness in your own actions then also actively work to rectify them. Without that you get nothing and Jesus states as much explicitly numerous times. There isn't really a grey area.

Read Luke 13 which covers this directly. Jesus covers how once a persons sin reaches a certain level - death is inevitable and warns against believing your sin hasn't reached this level. Essentially don’t think that others calamities mean that some people are sinners in need of repentance and others aren’t and don't. He states explicitly "Unless you repent, you too will all perish." He then goes on to explain his role as savior using the metaphor of a fig tree in a vinyard. Sinful people being an "unproductive" fig tree. Jesus being the caretaker of the vineyard who looks after it for the owner - aka God.

“A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil? “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”


Doesn't really sound like a blanket free pass does it ? Also doesn't sound like you can get away with laziness or simply relying on him to do things for you. He offers more of a second chance. An opportunity to correct your actions and actively work to bear the right type of fruit.
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Old 19th October 2017, 10:03 AM   #24
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So I think the difference in interpretation here is you believe that the bible says forgiveness is granted to all automatically regardless of their actions or beliefs. Regardless of whether they repent or indeed whether they even ask for forgiveness in the first place. Kind just like a blanket automatic free pass on anything and everything you do in this life. When you die - hey it doesn't matter - here you go here is your pass into heaven.

Honestly what sort of god would actually do that ? It doesn't make any logical sense and it isn't supported by anything in spiritual teachings anywhere. Christian or otherwise.

I would say that based on what the bible says my interpretation is that forgiveness is "available" to all regardless of what sin they have committed. Not that it is given to all automatically. Available is the key word. There are very specific requirements attached in order to receive it. Firstly you have to acknowledge your sin - and ask for forgiveness. Then you have to actively repent. Kind of a interesting catch right - you can't just say - all good Jesus has got this. You have to actively acknowledge the wrongness in your own actions then also actively work to rectify them. Without that you get nothing and Jesus states as much explicitly numerous times. There isn't really a grey area.

Read Luke 13 which covers this directly. He covers how once a persons sin reaches a certain level - death is inevitable and warns against believing your sin hasn't reached this level. He states explicitly "Unless you repent, you too will all perish." He then went on to explain his role as savior using the metaphor of a fig tree in a vinyard. Sinful people being an "unproductive" fig tree - Jesus being the caretaker of the vineyard who looks after it for the owner - God.

“A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil? “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”


Doesn't really sound like a blanket free pass does it ? Also doesn't sound like you can get away with laziness or simply relying on him to do things for you. He offers more of a second chance. An opportunity to correct your actions and actively work to bear the right type of fruit.

In Mathew 5 Jesus taught His disciples to forgive their enemies, do good to those who persecute them so they can be like their Father in heaven. He never said forgive them only if they change their ways. If He tells them to forgive and do good without expectation that their enemies will change then how much more is God going to forgive. I think God practices what He preaches or else He would be a hypocrite. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. His earthly ministry was about being the expression of the Father's love and grace.

Your interpretation is not about grace at all but a probationary period. Grace is not a behavioral improvement agreement. God doesn't relate to us the same way a probation officer relates to an ex convict released from prison.

No I don't believe anyone has a free pass to do anything in life. Just because all are saved does not mean we are protected from the earthly consequences of our actions. If a person robs a bank obviously there is no free pass because they will go to jail even though God has forgiven them. God instituted human government in Romans chapter 13 for the purpose of keeping evil in check. There's no free pass. It's pretty difficult to get away with murder today with our technology. It's not that difficult for investigators to find out who committed the murder.

If a husband commits adultery God already forgave that sin at the cross but there's a good chance his wife won't forgive him and ruin him in divorce court. If I commit gluttony and eat too many sweets I'll probably get diabetes. There's no free pass there. That doesn't mean God hasn't forgiven me for eating more than my body needs. A drunk driver is going to lose all kinds of privileges and financial costs but he's forgiven by God.

I don't think the knowledge that all are going to heaven is going to breed more laziness and carelessness than what is already there. Regardless of what anyone believes about spirituality or the afterlife or whether we believe God has conditions on forgiveness or not what we do know and what is universally self evident is that as long as we live in this world we have to deal with a society everyday who is not going to be nearly as forgiving as God is. That is not a free pass. You and I might live a long life like 100 years. Do I really want to live a lifestyle that damages the trust factor in my relationship to society? No. There's no free pass. I'm still going to heaven but if I don't live responsibly I'm going to bring pain on myself until I get there.

Love is conditional in all human relationships. The gospel does not address human relationships but rather unconditional love in relationship to God.

In the book of Isaiah The Lord says that His thoughts and ways of doing things are not our thoughts and ways of doing things.
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Old 19th October 2017, 10:18 AM   #25
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So my question is simply if you believe that - how do you explain Jesus words ?

How do you explain what he states in Luke 13 - The parable of the fig tree.
How do you explain what he states in Matthew 13 - The Parable of the weeds.

“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear."

I'm just struggling to see how you could have another interpretation after reading that.
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Old 19th October 2017, 10:29 AM   #26
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So my question is simply if you believe that - how do you explain Jesus words ?

How do you explain what he states in Luke 13 - The parable of the fig tree.
How do you explain what he states in Matthew 13 - The Parable of the weeds.

“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear."

I'm just struggling to see how you could have another interpretation after reading that.

This is all a symbolic picture of what happened in the death of Christ on the cross. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There are none righteous. Romans 3:10-24. None seek after God. All of us went through that purging fire when Christ died on the cross and all were made righteous through Him. Fire is a symbol of purging out the evil and unrighteousness. The wicked are therefore no longer wicked when they enter heaven because all their wickedness has been purged. I think you and I and Hitler will be different people when we enter heaven with no selfish inclinations or anything. We have to be perfect to enter heaven and Jesus imputed to us His perfect righteousness as a free gift.

You made a comment earlier about how it wouldn't make logical sense for God to forgive all without a commitment to change. Well then I suppose it didn't make logical sense for Jesus to let His persecutors beat Him and spit on Him and curse Him either but that's what He did. He had power to defend Himself and fight them off but it doesn't make logical sense to us that He didn't use that power. It doesn't seem like His persecutors were repentant at all during that time they were beating Him.

Jesus took the sin of the world upon Himself. He by Himself purged us of all sins. Anything in us that causes evil is taken away before we enter heaven.

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Old 19th October 2017, 11:14 AM   #27
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I think in the context of the bible as a whole it makes perfect sense. Actions have consequences. Sins create an energetic "debt" that has to be paid. As you reap so shall you sow. This is the law that was passed down and it is the law of "karma". What you do to another will come back to you and you will have to bear the same or equivalent consequences to those that you gave out to others.

Going all the way back to the old testament and Genesis this same law was shown in action. Take the story of Abraham which is one many modern Christians have trouble understanding. Abraham's wife was too old to have children - so he had a child with his servant girl Hagar - a boy called Ishmael. Then his wife at a very old age got pregnant and they had a son - Isaac. Abrahams wife became jealous of the servant girls first born son - who would rightfully be the first heir to Abraham. She convinced Abraham to send the boy and the mother away so they didn't get to share in Isaac's inheritance. So he abandoned them and sent them into the desert alone. Horrible uncaring behavior. Shortly after this God called Abraham and demanded that he sacrifice the second son Isaac who he had with his wife.

Why ? Why would god demand such a obscene thing ? Because it is the law of Karma. Abraham abandoned his first son and sent him into the desert. A father abandoning his son. So the energetic wheel turns and the other son must be taken from him to balance this and hand out the same pain he inflicted on Ishmael and his mother. This is paying of the Karmic debt. The message was essentially - your sons death is by your own hand - not mine - you abandoned your first born so now the second which you love will be taken from you.

But god showed mercy - When he is about to kill Isaac the lord intercedes and offers a lamb to sacrifice on Isaacs behalf. This is where the whole concept of the "lamb of god" originates. An innocent being - a sheep - who steps in to pay the karmic debt of another on their behalf. This is so we personally do not have to bear the consequences. This is what forgiving a debt means - the debt does not magically dissapear - God doesn't wave a magic wand - rather it means someone else takes the debt on as their own and agrees to pay it for you.

Thus why Jesus is referred to as "The lamb of God". He plays the exact same role as the sheep in the story of Isaac. Jesus is the one who voluntarily offers to pay the Karmic debt of those he saves - there by taking away the consequences of the sins and allowing eternal life. In order to do this though - only death pays for life. He was required to be tortured and killed. That's why it was necessary that he go through that ordeal - to pay the debt that had accumulated and accumulates still.

This is the important part to understand. It is not a free pass - it comes at a price. Every sin adds to the debt that must be paid. Every wrong action an individual commits - increases the debt that they personally owe and which must be answered for. There is only so much he is willing to pay for before he looks and says - he has not shown contrition and is not willing to change his ways and do good. I am foreclosing on this loan which continues to grow larger every passing day.

You're asking someone else to pay for every wrong action you perform - it is not a free line of credit - Jesus attached very specific terms and conditions to his willingness to pay for peoples debt.

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Old 21st October 2017, 1:38 PM   #28
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It seems that it's possible to rewire your brain so to speak.
But can you initiate that by your own free will?

Experiments where people are monitored by brain imaging while they have to make choices (like lifting the right hand vs lifting the left hand) show that decisions are taken in the brain before people became aware of the decision. The subjects were instructed to point out the position of a dot that constantly ran along a circle on a screen in front of them as soon as they 'decided'. The brain imaging showed that the decision was taken up to 5 seconds before the subject became aware of it.

For practical purposes we can say we 'have' free will. More accurately we feel free to decide. In reality, there is no good explanation where we would actually freely author our thoughts. Did you really have a choice to read my response? To reply?
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Old 23rd October 2017, 5:43 AM   #29
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Experiments where people are monitored by brain imaging while they have to make choices (like lifting the right hand vs lifting the left hand) show that decisions are taken in the brain before people became aware of the decision. The subjects were instructed to point out the position of a dot that constantly ran along a circle on a screen in front of them as soon as they 'decided'. The brain imaging showed that the decision was taken up to 5 seconds before the subject became aware of it.

For practical purposes we can say we 'have' free will. More accurately we feel free to decide. In reality, there is no good explanation where we would actually freely author our thoughts. Did you really have a choice to read my response? To reply?
I would say this overlooking how we understand the brain works and the fact it has both conscious - and subconscious layers. From all the literature I have read the brain imaging really does not show "when they make a choice". These scans simply show when the brain begins processing data related to the final choice. There is a great deal of subconscious processing that occurs before any choice is made. Its a waste of time and energy to put these at the fully conscious layer - we wouldn't be able to operate as humans so these are optimized and function below conscious thought at much higher speeds then conscious thoughts allow.

Take pulling out into traffic - your brain is analyzing a myriad of variables without you needing to consciously do so. It evaluates the speed of oncoming traffic, the distance they are away, pedestrians, street signs etc. Your not actively calculating those variables. The brain's subconscious evaluates the right time for you to pull out automatically - and signals this up to top level conscious layer - not as a verbal command "you must pull out now" - but as a feeling - as an emotion.

That's how the subconscious processing layer communicates complex information to the top layer consciousness. You feel it. But you don't always have to act. The same happens in poker - players get a "feeling" for the right move based on the behavior of other players. They aren't fully aware of all the subtle calculations, clues, body language processing that goes into the decision - they just get a feeling for it. Also known as a "gut feeling". So yes the processing for a decision is definitely happening well before we make the final conscious choice. And if your looking at brain scans you can correlate these calculations to the final decision if your doing very simplified binary tests like raising a hand. That however doesn't mean the conscious thinking layer plays no part in the final decision. The subconscious is the calculator - the conscious is the overriding controller and decision maker - it still has the ability to direct things.

So while I would agree that the decision making process and the calculations that go into it start well before we make the final conscious choice - that does not show that we don't have the ability to make a conscious choice.

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Old 23rd October 2017, 2:42 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by umirano View Post
But can you initiate that by your own free will?

Experiments where people are monitored by brain imaging while they have to make choices (like lifting the right hand vs lifting the left hand) show that decisions are taken in the brain before people became aware of the decision. The subjects were instructed to point out the position of a dot that constantly ran along a circle on a screen in front of them as soon as they 'decided'. The brain imaging showed that the decision was taken up to 5 seconds before the subject became aware of it.

For practical purposes we can say we 'have' free will. More accurately we feel free to decide. In reality, there is no good explanation where we would actually freely author our thoughts. Did you really have a choice to read my response? To reply?
That's fascinating and scary. It's scary to think we are just robots that don't really exert control over our actions.
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