Does Free Will Really Exist?
Most religious traditions teach that human beings have agency – that their choices matter – but also that there are greater spiritual forces at work that impact or even determine the course of events or the ultimate outcome. To what extent does divine will (or fate or karma etc.) limit human agency? Does free will really exist?
What do you really believe?
Susan K. Perry
Philosophers, neuroscientists, and atheists tend to agree that free will is just an illusion, but they don't always agree on what that means for moral responsibility. Shouldn't we all be running wild?
Getting to the right question took a while. It was a grand process. For some one who is insatiably curious and loves to dive headlong into any subject that stirs my interest (rarely do I find something that doesn’t), the whole idea of “free will” sent me on a merry chase. The debate about whether [Read More...]
The question of free will versus fate is a philosophical question that cannot be answered with complete certainty. But the overwhelming evidence shows we are better off assuming we do have free will and conducting our lives accordingly.
There is, currently, a Patheos-wide discussion regarding people’s beliefs about free will. Many brain scientists deny the existence of such a thing as free will. They correctly observe that the impulse to act emerges from the lower brain between .3 – 1.5 seconds before we even become aware of the impulse. The implication is that most of our actions are guided by [Read More...]
"Does Free Will Really Exist?"
Human religions have always been built upon foundations of the best available science of the time. Sometimes that science said that the middle earth sat in a large tree. Sometimes science said the earth sat on a turtle’s back. Ezekiel knew that the earth had four corners and was held up by pillars–heavens above, Sheol [Read More...]
Over the ages, the question of whether we have free will has engaged, confronted, and puzzled philosophers probably more than any other issue, and untold numbers of papers, conferences, books and debates have been expended on tackling it. It is no surprise that so much philosophical ink has been spilled on this question, because it is in a sense the question upon which all other questions depend.
James F. McGrath
I guess I just wasn’t predestined to be a Calvinist. It isn’t that I didn’t try. In my teens, I encountered some very staunch Calvinists who persuaded me that God didn’t simply foreknow everything, but foreordained it. Nothing was outside of God’s sovereignty, nor could anything thwart the divine will. But however much I thought [Read More...]
One of the biggest questions in religion is whether what happens to us is in our control or not. Are we destined for a particular outcome or can we influence our future? Hinduism teaches an interesting blend of fate and free will. There is a lot that is bound up in fate. The moment of [Read More...]
Patheos is hosting a symposium on the question “Do we have free will?” — one the classic questions of philosophy, psychology, and the humanities in general, a question rich in religious significance and theological implications, a ridiculous question. I’ll take a shot at it. My reply is very simple, albeit perhaps deceiving in its point [Read More...]