Free Will

Discussions on whether or not we have free will often get heated and go nowhere because each participant in the discussion has a different idea based on idiosyncratic beliefs of what free will means.

Human beings are the most complex entity that we humans know of.  

We are still endeavouring to understand many fundamental aspects of existence such as the nature of matter and energy.  And yet even though we do not understand an atom fully, we want to understand the complexity of a human being which is made of some seven billion-billion-billion atoms, (7 followed by 27 zeros). This is not just a collection of atoms, but innumerable systems, at many levels of complexity created by the atoms, all interacting in innumerable ways. If such complexity does not boggle your mind, you do not understand what is here.

We know that 2 atoms which interact do so because of the intrinsic properties inherent in the atoms.  Thus an atom of oxygen can attach to an atom of carbon to form carbon monoxide. Most of us would not credit these atoms with free will. Somehow in up-scaling the chemistry to much bigger numbers (as in a human being), the question of free-will suddenly arises.

Most of us are conscious enough to be aware of making certain choices. But in the same few seconds, many millions of neural events occur unconsciously. Some of these activities are to support and enable the conscious events, but most of the neural activities precede consciousness; the consciousness of decisions, actions, feelings, and all those qualia that we like to identify as human. The start of a decision as an unconscious activity can be up to 7 seconds before the consciousness of making it.

“Free will” it appears, must happen before consciousness.

The key to understanding the problem of free-will is in becoming aware of the brain’s role in creating reality; a reality so real that most of us most of the time will believe whatever it is that the brain has created.  This includes the belief that we have free-will, are beautiful, intelligent, deserving, or whatever.

Read about it further in Reality Beyond Belief.

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