Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Brief History of Free Will

And punctuation mistakes. Making that up, too.
Rather than doing actual research, I'm just going to make this up.

If free will exists, then I get to do that. Make this up, that is.

If free will does not exist, then I apparently have no choice but to just make it up.

So. It always felt a lot like we had free will when we still thought we had free will. I mean, there was no question. Right or left. Up or down. Do a bad thing, don't do a bad thing. Or a good thing. Eat this, don't eat that. Go here, go there. 

My brain (speaking metaphorically about all brains) felt very much as though it was faced with decisions all the time and got to make up its own mind, since it was, in fact, a mind.

But then Newton came along and discovered that the universe worked according to laws and rules and regulations. All the time. Never stopped. Never took time off for a vacay. No coffee breaks or weekends at the beach.

And this meant that everything worked according to the laws. All the time.

And the laws had always been there. Since the universe was infinitely old and large and all of that.

You and me and everything and everyone are made of tiny little particles that work according to the laws. All the time.

Pretty soon, some smart guys said to themselves, huh. THAT'S interesting.

Because what that means is that since our brains are made of little particles that work according to the rules all the time, then ...

What we THINK is a free will decision is actually just something that the particles did. The laws had been working forever, making all the particles in the universe do stuff, and eventually, some of the particles ended up in my brain making me say something stupid to this really hot girl in high school instead of something smooth and smart and urbane and debonair which would have in turn made all of her brain particles want to run off with me and pursue connubial bliss and live happily ever after.

So. All caps coming.


Good to know. Sort of.

To review. Since the universe has always been there and the laws have always been there, then there's no free will. Ever. Never. Not possible. Not gonna happen.

And oh btw, we also don't need God to explain how things work, since the laws make everything work and the laws had always been there so we didn't need God to start the game, get the ball rolling, blow the whistle, wave the flag. The game was eternal, had always been the game.

So the smart guys said to themselves, huh. Sweet. No God. So we can do whatever we want. And no free will. So it's not our fault. The particles made me do it. Niiiiice.

There was one tiny little teensy weensy hardly-worth-mentioning problem.

Ahem. The universe had not always been there. Neither had the laws. Everything had a starting point.


Here's where we are, then.

We THOUGHT we didn't have free will because the universe was infinitely large and old and the laws had always been there making us do things that we THOUGHT was free will but wasn't and history was an infinitely long string of laws making particles do stuff that included all the stuff that we were each doing that we THOUGHT was stuff we decided to do but didn't really.

But this was entirely totally absolutely dependent on the universe and the laws being infinitely old.

But. They aren't.

Which means that the universe and the laws used to not be here. At all.

So since we used the infinite universe to get rid of both God and free will, then since the universe isn't infinite, then the possibility that both God and free will exist, um, exists. It's possible. Not definite. But definitely possible.

You probably didn't know that's how we got rid of both God and free will. 'Tis, though. We sorta forgot that.

Then when Big Bang showed up (thanks, Albert), all of sudden things got complicated. Science didn't even like Big Bang (Albert didn't even like Big Bang) because it meant that we would have to start talking about God and religion and going to church or temple or mosque or Mecca or Jerusalem or Rome or Tokyo (Tokyo?) and cleaning up our acts naughtiness-wise and

nobody really wanted to do that.

But it all worked out because religious people didn't like Big Bang either because (science was right) they're idiots. With apologies to religious people. OK, not really.

In fairness to religious people, we should probably mention why they didn't like Big Bang. They believe that God instantaneously created the universe out of nothing, but Big Bang Theory says that the universe suddenly popped into being out of nothing.

You can see the problem.

Yeah, me neither. I just don't get it.

Anyway. So. Free will might be back. That's not the movie about the whale, btw. Which, btw, my British friends think the title of which is hysterical.

To sum up. Free will (and God) went away because of the infinite universe, and they came back maybe because it's not infinite. Time-wise, that is. Space-wise, we'll never know.

And I'm out of time. But not space. Ha. Hysterical.

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