Returning to That Free Will Thing

Blog neighbor Jewish Atheist in a “interview/meme” offers this:

Q7. What’s your favorite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?

Without God, I can’t see how we have free will. It appears that we have free will, therefore God must exist. Curiously, nobody seems to make this argument except me, on Opposite Day.

My refutation is that we actually don’t have free will. This has disturbing implications, which I have not yet come to terms with.

Not to stab the theistic argument in the foot, but there are a few short remarks I’d like to make here, some of which I’ve touched on before, but perhaps restatement will bring out some interesting details and conversation:

  • A deterministic universe exhibits simple free will in the following way. Consider a baby (classical relativistic) universe/close system which consists of a experimental  Feigenbaum mapping (google it), tuned past simple period doubling and to the onset of the chaos. In this situation, the mapping acts as a bit shift, xn+1 = Fraction(2 * xn). Initial conditions become amplified by a factor of two every iteration. However, soon over time the Planck distance will intervene, that is the bit shift will probe distances unspecifiable in the initial system, for to specify the system to that accuracy would require probing length scales/energies which would form a black hole … and thus cannot be specified. The system will not “fail” but will exhibit free will, that is the system is “free” and unconstrained by initial (unsettable/undefinable) conditions to take whatever value it wishes. In fact, ever after that point, the system is “free”.
  • Suggesting that initial conditions of our universe sets the behavior today, besides the difficulty/impossibility of setting those conditions suffers from a dimensional problem. If the Universe is D+1 dimensional (D=3+1 or 10 … doesn’t matter for this argument), then the “boundary” at T=0 is D a D-dimensional phase space. To line up the bank shot so that Beethoven will, while deaf, compose the Ninth Symphony (or whatever other work of art you find transcendent or inspired genius) that requires setting the conditions and a space (the evolving Universe) of dimension D+1. Fine tuning/accuracy is required to “finesse” the evolution on a large, if not infinite, time axis.
  • Another issue facing the fine tuning hypothesis, is the current “best understanding” physics gives about the early Universe, to whit inflation. Small quantum (or thermal) fluctuations present at the onset of the inflationary regime (when space-time is “e-folding” or exponentially expanding) are largely flattened out, those fluctuations survive as galaxies and galaxy clusters today, and form the large scale structure of the visible universe. Setting up the Beethoven bank shot has to survive inflation.
  • One way additional way to isolate the free will problem, is genius. That is, I contend genius requires free will. Genius exists. Therefore free will does. To counter that, one must explain how genius can exist without free will. JA, repeatedly contends, without proof, that free will cannot exist in a deterministic system, I disagree. However, on my side I contend that genius, especially as demonstrated in “transcendent” art, cannot exist without free will. The “bank shot” for a deterministic system to create it is too far fetched.

For myself, I would contend free will does not require God. Semiotic content in the Universe however does. If our words have meaning, God exists. 🙂

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