How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Michael Hannigan Your Own Question

Michael Hannigan
Michael Hannigan, Internet Researcher
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 7988
Experience:  Extensive experience in research and problem solving.
Type Your Question Here...
Michael Hannigan is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

does god have free will?

Customer Question

does god have free will?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  replied 2 years ago.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

Hello. I can assist you with your question.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

Of course, this can be answered many ways.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

So what I can offer you is an opinion.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

Human descriptions, particularly related to human psychology and human traits cannot be applied to something beyond our comprehension.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

Humans are an evolved species, but they are a species. We often see things in ourselves that we think are unique to us, and then often later find out that they are not.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

This demonstrates how little we know about other species on our planet. While from a religious standpoint, most would say my dog does not have free will, I don't see how that could even be reasoned. He gets up and walks away when he wants to. When he gets angry because I'm teasing him, he sometimes has the urge to snap at me and he restrains that behavior because he knows I'll punch him in the head.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

So the first problem is that the definition of free will is subjective.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

But beyond that, what is God?

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

Is it a guy with a beard and a robe?

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

What race is "he".

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

Or is the "he" and "it".

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

Personally, I've always been most comfortable with the understanding that there are so many things in the universe that we don't understand, that what we consider to be "god", by definition, would have to be even more incomprehensible than those things. So the only thing I understand about "God" is that my mind has not evolved to the point where I can even conceive what it is.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

Therefore, assigning something as basic as "free will" to this concept of god is not logical.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

At least with that concept of god.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

There are those, however, who take literally the idea that humans were made in "His" image, and would argue that the answer to your question is much more simple. Based on us being made literally in "His" image would mean "He" shares all of our traits, is basically a divine human, and would dictate that he would have to have free will as we define it.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

I don't subscribe to that - even though I was brought up as a Catholic in Catholic school, I find that concept to be OK for children, blindly believing something that doesn't make sense - even silly - is letting the fantastic brain we have been given, which is capable of extraordinarily complex critical thinking, go unused.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

One last thought. Scientists this month discovered the Higgs Boson Particle - something we knew had to exist for our prevailing theories on physics to be valid.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

And this particle is so important to physics as we know it - adding mass to every particle in the universe, since all other particles - electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks - have no mass of their own(technically - although what we are generally taught in school factors IN this particle, which is why we are conditioned to think particles have their own mass and also why if this particle didn't exist, would uproot mainstream phyisics). This particle has regularly been referred to as the "God Particle". Is it? Or is it an example of how abstract to us, yet real, this "God" is?

Customer:

hi, i understand what you mean, the question as i phrased it is a bit vague. What I mean when i use the term 'god' is an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent being in the traditional christian sense. it doesn't really matter what christian denomination that would be, as long as it's a god that's said to have created humans with free will.

Customer:

it is my hypothesis that that what little free will humans possess, and i don't believe they possess much at all, depends on how much knowledge they have. the more knowledge they have the more options they can draw on to make an informed decision. This makes them freer than if they had less knowledge.


 

Customer:

if god has absolute knowledge then surely that means he has absolute freedom. he knows how every decision he makes will play out in reality before he makes it, so he knows which is the best decision to make.


that means this world, in spite of its misery and suffering, must be the best of all possible worlds to achieve whatever it god wants to achieve.

Customer:

if this is true then he can't have absolute free will because he has been limited to only this one option. some alternative options must be permanenty beyond his capability. this means he can't know everything and he can't do everything. that means he can't be all powerful.


this also shows that no matter how much knowledge humans aquire in the future they will never aquire complete free will. that means humans can never become perfect. if god is imperfectable, in this respect, then neither are humans.

Customer:

i realise i'm only an amatuer when it comes to this kind of deep philosophical/theological question, but i'd be interested to know if my logic is sound.


 

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

Everything you are saying is logical.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

But since we are not all-knowing, we cannot know all options that are available to god. I would assume that ALL options would be, and if this is the case, making humans that are not perfect would be a deliberate choice. It seems unconscionable that this god would make such a choice. If "he" is all powerful, we can conclude he is not all loving.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

I think the point you have made here is that the Christian view of "God" is not logical, and therefore unlikely to be the correct view.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

correction - correct as in consistent with logic.

Customer:

You're right. he must have chosen to make the first humans imperfect before he gave them free will, because if they were perfect they wouldn't have chosen to disobey him. so they were aleady tainted with 'original sin' before the 'original sin' is supposed to have happened.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

Right.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

I'm impressed with your reasoning and your grasp of pure logic.

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

Please remember to rate my level of service, and I've enjoyed our chat so far. If you have any followup questions, I'd be happy to work with you any time! You can open a question with me directly at any time here: http://www.justanswer.com/computer/expert-answers/

XXXXX XXXXXnigan :

And also put my name in the subject to make sure it get's to me.

Customer:

The second part of my reply didn't get sent off yesterday when i pressed 'reply'. What i went on to say after the 'original sin' stuff was this, i'm not all concerned, for the purposes of my question' about gods unfairness. ijust wanted to know from a pure logic standpoint whether it is possible for god, or anyone for that matter, to have free will.

Customer:

i phrased the question as "does god have free will" because i was interested as to whether that might offer a solution to the problem. it was a sort of thought experiment using 'god' in a metaphorical sense. i don't believe the question only makes sense if you're talking about a god with human attributes. you could define him/her/it as everthing that is (a pantheistic god).


if you do define him as a being with human attributes then the obvious way to answer the question, i suppose, is to ask the question "do humans have free will?" once you've answered that you've killed two birds with one stone. maybe that's the question i should have asked.

Customer:

the way i have often seen religious people solve the problem of free will is by resorting to quantum physics. they say that because there is uncertainty at the subatomic level that somehow leaves space for free will to exist. i'm not convinced by this arguement. i don't see how quantum indeterminacy causes us to be free. it seems like the equivelent of saying randomness causes us to have free will.


The other way that I've heard the question answered by theists is that because we have an immaterial soul it is outside the the mechanistic laws that govern the material world. this seems to me like the quantum indeterminacy arguement rephrased in religious language.

Customer:

A question that seems to relate to this free will question is 'if god created the universe, then who created god?'. I asked a jehovahs witness this question once and they replied that "god doesn't have a cause he has always existed just like physicists say energy has always existed."

Customer:

I don't think that is what physicists say, but the logic behind that statement is that god is an uncaused event. This is how many people justify the belief that they have free will. they believe that their freedom is an uncaused event. it's just something that happens. " i don't know why i did what i did but i did it because i wanted to therefore it must have been of my own free will".

Customer:
Michael Hannigan, Internet Researcher
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 7988
Experience: Extensive experience in research and problem solving.
Michael Hannigan and 79 other General Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi, I didn't get the answer to last reply to you that i sent. i don't know what happened. i was told to rate your performance so far and i did and i left a tip and then the full payment of £26.00 went through as well for some reason. but i didn't get an answer to my third reply. i don't know whether you left one or not.
Expert:  Michael Hannigan replied 1 year ago.
Normally, we are supposed to provide only one answer per question. That being said, I don't have insight into your account information, so that would be a question for customer service. I think we could have this discussion for an eternity, and I thoroughly enjoy the engagement.

I'm glad you mentioned quantum physics. I disagree however, that physics in any respect is considered in religion. The mere fact that a probability curve collapses when the event occurs (or more specifically, when it is observed) doesn't demonstrate, in any way, that we have control of the outcome. In fact, it implies just the opposite - that regardless of the degree of control we perceive ourselves as having, there's a non-zero chance that before you get my response, you'll disappear from your computer and appear on on Mars. However unlikely, the probability is non-zero. Meaning that indeed, all possibilities do exist from a quantum perspective. Based on this alone, our world is not deterministic, therefore a certain outcome cannot be guaranteed through a given set of conditions, even if we had complete control over every aspect of those conditions.

An uncaused event itself is not logical - or at least it is beyond our comprehension. We can conceive of the very moment after the "big bang" began, but not the moment of, because, since we cannot remove ourselves from what we are observing (the universe), we cannot observe it completely.

An uncaused event cannot be proven. It would require an understanding the entire causal chain of the universe and showing the event in question to be detached from that chain. And this is where religion exists. Religion's hierarchical structure requires things to exist that are not logical. This guarantees that followers will have to seek help from those who claim to be more able to grasp these concepts... maybe even have the logic to understand them that the follower doesn't possess. This construct, of course, is very simple and purely human.

I'm not clear about your implication that the question itself is not about god or religion.

With the religious concepts you have expressed, quantum uncertainty allowing for free will, or the "immaterial soul" are simplistic and by their nature require deviation from logic. What is this "immaterial soul"? Whatever it is, it must be accounted for or at least allowed for in physics. Are they talking about dark matter, dark energy? gravitons? Higgs-Bosons? I suppose each of those could satisfy the definition of an "immaterial soul'. Maybe anti-matter? So at one point, souls could have been dark energy. That, to humans, would have been "immeterial". Until we discovered it to exist. If souls were dark energy, they must have changed to something else when we discovered dark energy. Maybe souls were then made out of Higgs-Boson Particles because even after we theorized it decades ago, we didn't know if it existed (until July 4 of this year). If that's the case, what did "immaterial souls" become on July 4? The point I'm making is that "immeterial" is defined by humans based on what we don't know yet. It's a filler for the gaps we have in physics. Gaps that are already accounted for in physics but which we may not yet have discovered or gained an understanding of. Religion relies entirely on concepts that cannot be proven with human logic. The concepts change to keep them that way as our ability to grasp things expands and gets closer to the previously unproven.

Mike
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thankyou very much for your answer. You are someone who has exactly the level of expertise i was looking for. I agree that this kind of debate could have gone on for ever. That's why i wanted to wrap it up because i was felt i was getting a bit out of my depth.


It's easy for me to ask these deep questions but it's another thing trying to understand the answers i get to them.


I'm trying to improve my basic knowledge of quantum physics at the moment by reading Q.E.D by Richard Feynman.


I agree with you completley that Religion relies entirely on concepts that cannot be proven with human logic. The god concept is like an like one of those visual paradoxs by Escher. I thinks that is what 'god' is, a metaphor that helps people to visualize infinity, and that is maybe the reason for its long-term appeal.


Another book I'm reading at the moment is 'The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How irrationality makes us happy, healthy, and sane' by Matthew Hutson. His thesis is that we are all subject to 'magical thinking' because of the way our brains have evolved. He says this irrational way of thinking gave us an edge when it came to survival. At the end of the book he says " Whether magic exists or not, magical thinking got us to where we are, and for better or worse, it will take us to where we are going. We could no sooner escape it than we could escape consciousness".


 

Expert:  Michael Hannigan replied 1 year ago.
It was a pleasure. I am going to check out the Hutson book. It sounds very interesting - and this type of thought in mainstream society seems quite rare.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not an authority on this sort of thing - I am not a professional physicist, philosopher, or theologin. Nor am I particularly well read on the philosophical side of this discussion... mostly for the reason you mention - it's very difficult to understand someone else's answer to these complex questions because they are on the edge of what we are capable of understanding. Assuming that "edge" of comprehension is at least slightly different for each human, a true understanding of the answers has to originate from within. That doesn't mean we can't learn from what others have come to understand or theorize, but as you are doing, we process it critically.

That's why I started out by telling you I can only give you my opinion - while *I* think my philosophies on such matters are profound, they have no foundation in "traditional" philosphy (of which I am aware). But I suspect many of the ongoing conclusions I make/discover are ones that have been made several times by others, even if by a different path. Some of the things I say may be mainstream philosphy, while other things I say may sound crazy.

Quantum physics is an absolutely mind-blowing subject, as is physics in general. I think just understanding that physics and thoughts on matters such as "god" are not mutually exclusive is a significant achievement.

I'm absolutely fascinated by your openness and insightfulness. It's very uncommon to have the opportunity to have a two-way conversation on something like this, and i've really enjoyed it.

I'll go back to trying to figure out if math is a system that we've invented that has many possible alternatives, or if it is an absolute that we are discovering. Is math simply the perfect representation of physics, or something we use to describe it. I've been stuck on that one for a couple of decades!

Mike

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
< Last | Next >
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
  • This expert is wonderful. They truly know what they are talking about, and they actually care about you. They really helped put my nerves at ease. Thank you so much!!!! Alex Los Angeles, CA
  • Thank you for all your help. It is nice to know that this service is here for people like myself, who need answers fast and are not sure who to consult. GP Hesperia, CA
  • I couldn't be more satisfied! This is the site I will always come to when I need a second opinion. Justin Kernersville, NC
  • Just let me say that this encounter has been entirely professional and most helpful. I liked that I could ask additional questions and get answered in a very short turn around. Esther Woodstock, NY
  • Thank you so much for taking your time and knowledge to support my concerns. Not only did you answer my questions, you even took it a step further with replying with more pertinent information I needed to know. Robin Elkton, Maryland
  • He answered my question promptly and gave me accurate, detailed information. If all of your experts are half as good, you have a great thing going here. Diane Dallas, TX
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Ron

    ASE Certified Technician

    Satisfied Customers:

    21182
    23 years with Ford specializing in drivability and electrical and AC. Ford certs and ASE Certs
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/FO/fordguy4u/2011-12-17_222940_HPIM1257.64x64.JPG Ron's Avatar

    Ron

    ASE Certified Technician

    Satisfied Customers:

    21182
    23 years with Ford specializing in drivability and electrical and AC. Ford certs and ASE Certs
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/lyeung1/2010-07-25_032152_tn_IMG_0241.JPG Dr. Y.'s Avatar

    Dr. Y.

    Urologist

    Satisfied Customers:

    18388
    I am fellowship trained specializing in general urology and reconstructive urology.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/docjohn174/2008-12-13_170143_johnask.jpg John's Avatar

    John

    Home Appliance Technician

    Satisfied Customers:

    13453
    Appliance repair business owner for over 43 years.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/MU/multistatelaw/2011-11-27_173951_Tinaglamourshotworkglow102011.64x64.jpg Tina's Avatar

    Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    8489
    JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/dermdoc19/2010-09-30_160749_Photo_122807_015.JPG dermdoc19's Avatar

    dermdoc19

    Dermatologist

    Satisfied Customers:

    3847
    30 years practice in general and cosmetic dermatology
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/BI/birddoctor/2012-6-22_173214_birddoctor.64x64.png Dr. Pat's Avatar

    Dr. Pat

    Bird Veterinarian

    Satisfied Customers:

    3384
    25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RY/rydergar/2012-6-6_192240_IMG0328.64x64.JPG Dr. Gary's Avatar

    Dr. Gary

    Cat Veterinarian

    Satisfied Customers:

    3299
    DVM, Emergency Veterinarian, BS (Physiology)