It occurred to me that an interesting test of free will would test the "will". I propose this test.

Believe, for an entire day, in God.

I have these questions after you have completed the test:
Can you do it?
How is this test flawed?
What, if anything, does it prove?
How would you modify the test?
What other questions should we be asking about this test?

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To me this is a tactic used by believers to try to 'prove' that even though they allegedly didn't believe, god proved himself. I hate just calling people liars, but I do think this is a lie (and one I've heard many times before) so they can attempt to relate to sway the godless. Frankly, it's an insult to my intelligence to think that I would be mentally weak enough to think that because they were 'in my shoes' and found god to be real I would as well. If you begin an experiment with the intent of a forecasted outcome regardless of facts, you end up only finding the intended outcome.

Besides that I thought that loving invisi-dad didn't forgive denying him, if only for a week.
it would take more than that(hibernating in a shell method) to "reprogram" a person as most if not all of us experienced

Faith. For something so (ostensibly) important, it seems to be glossed over or taken for granted. What exactly is faith? My observations and experience tells me that faith is the willfull suspension of disbelief. There is no bridge between reason and faith; you have to leap. Faith simply can't be arrived at through logical reason. Faith is a personal position - not an objective conclusion.

What about doubt? How can you have faith without doubt? That is blind faith (perhaps all faith is blind). If we humans are special for any reason, it is because of our minds. Why would God bestow this great gift upon his special creatures only to require that we don't use it to "know" him? Indeed, without doubt, there is no meaning, need or purpose for faith . . . is there?
No way can I go a whole day believing in god. :D Or a whole second. Should have asked me this in my occultist days when the suspension of and the taking on of belief at will were part and parcel to who I was. Those days are gone. :D
The test, IMO, is flawed because it asks to hold a belief as true that one is convinced is not. In other words you're simply asking a person to lie to themselves.

Instead, how about testing the will with something that "can" be done but requires engaging the will to do it... like not smoking for an entire day (for a +pack a day smoker). Such a thing requires "nothing but" will, if will can be considered brute resolve.

But it does not test for "free" will as in making choices independent of previous causes. Your suggestion to do so would be an obvious cause if someone took you up on the idea.
simply asking a person to lie to themselves

Agreed, but it raises a couple of points.

1) If free will exists at all, it is limited, we can not lie to ourselves about our beliefs.
2) If free will does not exist, how can people lie to themselves about smoking?

On your last point; why does free will have to be independent of previous causes? If free will exist then I am free to choose to respond to your post or not. It blows my mind to think of any system where responding to you independent of you having posted is possible.

I guess it is obvious that I think the dichotomy between free will / no free will is false.
On your last point; why does free will have to be independent of previous causes?

Ah, I can see we have different concepts of what free will is. You view free will as a perceived choice. I see free will as a choice free of extenuating causes.

Put your finger on any point in time to keep it still, and rewind events backwards from there and you cannot find an event that wasn't the result of previous causes. To me, decoupling from those causes would allow a free act, but how can such a thing be done?

I cannot conceive of an uncaused event. Every event is the result of previous cause. Every decision any of us makes is represented by the range of events that affect us, from external circumstances to neurological misfirings.

Wherever we are in time is a direct result of the past. So far, it is inescapable. And let's face it, you would never have responded to me in exactly the way you did if I had never entered this thread.

But if you really think free will is by the force of choice, light a torch and see how long you can hold your hand just over the flames. (Just joking of course!)
So, holding your hand in a flame is free will to you? Seems like a limited concept.
That made no sense. It's like you read nothing but the last sentence (which, to me, clearly has nothing to do with free will).

But you are right, it would be a limited concept...

don't blame me..... blame some prior event. You cannot say it is like me to do something. You have to say It is like some prior event don't you? Since I really cannot choose to be any particular way.

I guess I stopped reading before I got to the (Just joking of course!). My mind went to ways that I could in fact hold my hand in a flame and it struck me as limited in scope.

To the rest of the argument I have to say 'of course' I get how time works. But, I maintain that the branching networks in our brains are causal agents. We create and alter the flow of causal events around us, change their direction, stop them in their tracts. And yes, if that little neuron had not generated that little pulse of electricity it would not have happened, but it did. It is no doubt we are machines, but at times brilliant and brave and wonderful machines we are. As far as we know, unique in the universe.

Call me an old romantic but I believe that when we create beauty we've raised our bar a bit and delve in the province of gods.

My principle area of inquiry at the moment is just how the brain does all the things that it does. it is very mechanistic and strictly subjected to those causes you hold to. If we were discussing the mind of another great ape somewhere I'd have no problem with your description. There is just something indefinably different about our minds.
"..when we create beauty we've raised our bar a bit and delve in the province of gods."

"There is just something indefinably different about our minds."

I think you've tipped your hand. The soul, perhaps? The homunculus?

I think the biggest reason for doubting free will is the law of causality: "every material effect must have an adequate antecedent cause". This is, perhaps, THE most fundamental law of nature. It is so self-evidently true, we can understand why many people see a conflict between free will and determinism.

I believe the problem lies in how one defines free will. As far as I know, conventional wisdom views free will as a conscious process or effort: an act of volition or will-power. Such a definition paints free will as a source instead of an effect . . . and by so doing, implies a "ghost in the machine". Such a definition is bound to fail.

I believe free will is a product or effect of the interaction between the human brain and the world around us (causality). In other words, free will is created by this interaction. The interaction leads us to act in accordance with our goals . . . our plans. This is all explained fully in the essay: Free Will Explained.


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