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Eoin

Determinism

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Peace everyone,

 

It is my belief that we do not have free will in the classical interpretation of the term.

 

My lack of belief in free will applies to everything. I do not believe I have a choice over whether I buy Coke or Pepsi or just drink water, I do not believe I have a choice over what time I go to bed at, how I treat people. I don't beleieve I have a choice over whether I go to university or which one I choose to go to, what religion I believe in or don't believe in etc.

 

The basis for this is reasonably simple. Any decision I make is based upon my brains response to certain simuli, this can be purely genetic or be purely based on past experiences or somewhere inbetween.

 

I'll deal first with one of the most common mis-arguments concerning free will.

If I decide to have a bowl of cereal then it is probably because I am hungry. I could "decide" for various reasons not to eat a bowl of cereal. For example I might be fasting for religious reasons, however this should not be confused with free will! If I am fasting for religious reasons, then I need to examine why I am religious because that is the reason I am fasting. I might be religious because e.g. my mother may have died of cancer and I am trying to keep alive her memory by convincing myself she is alive in heaven. If this were the case then I fast because I am religious, I'm religious because my mother died of cancer, I had no control over my mother dying of cancer so therefore my decision to fast is not free will. (This is a simplified version of events, there could be literally thousands of reasons why I might be religious, however the important thing to note is that eventually when it comes down to it, I have no control over any of these reasons.)

 

Having discussed this issue with religious sorts before I've heard all the counter-arguments. The most common is for whoever I'm talking with, to start hitting the table with their fist and say, "Look - I have free will, I can hit this table because I have free will to do it."

 

Not so, the person in question hits the table because they are trying to prove the existance of free will, they want to prove the existance of free will because they do not wish to see something they have believed in their whole life proven wrong - They do not wish to see something they have believed in their whole life proven wrong because humans naturally want to believe that the way they live their life is correct. The fact that humans naturally want to believe that the way they live their life is correct, is outwith the control of the person beating the table, the person beating the table therefore is not demonstrating free will.

 

The reason I have posted in this section is because if we do not have free will, as I believe, then Allah is a pretty evil chap! If we don't have free will over the choices we make on earth then some people are pre-destined for hell and there is nothing they can do about it, likewise some people are destined for heaven and there is nothing they can do about it.

 

Eoin

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Guest amani

Peace!

 

even though our lives are predestined..we still have free will.

 

 

 

some of our circumstances are forced on us, and and we have no choice in it, such as the day when a person is born, the colour of his skin and eyes, and when he will die. All of these are matters over which people have no control, rather they happen to them by force. Given that these are matters in which people have no choice, they do not have anything to do with Paradise or Hell, torment or blessing.

 

But some actions are the subject of choice, such as whether to believe or disbelieve, or worldly matters such as choosing what to eat or drink, and where to live.

 

There is nothing of that nature which is entirely outside the will and decree of Allaah

 

 

Belief in the divine will and decree is one of the pillars of faith. The Muslim’s faith cannot be valid unless he accepts that everything comes from Allaah. The Quran states (interpretation of the meaning):

 

“Verily, We have created all things with Qadar (Divine Preordainments of all things before their creation as written in the Book of Decrees Al-Lawh Al-Mahfooz)â€

 

[ 54:49]

 

 

The heart of the matter is that Allaah possesses the attributes of knowledge, power and will.

 

Based on that, if people who do deeds want to do them, whether they are sins or acts of obedience, then Allaah inevitably knows that, indeed He knew that in eternity past, before He even created the universe.

 

Then after He knew it, He wrote it with Him, then when they wanted to do it, He willed that they should do so. If He did not will that, then they would not do it. He is All-Powerful, and He is the Creator of people’s deeds because He is the Creator of the human beings who do them.

 

So all the deeds of mankind are written with Allaah, because Allaah has prior knowledge of them. This does not mean that Allaah compels people to do what they do, rather they have freedom of choice with regard to their deeds

 

 

But their actions are not compelled by Allaah, for Allaah does not force His slaves to do anything

 

also for more (www.)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_63.175.194.25/index.php?ln=eng&ds=qa&lv=browse&QR=20806&dgn=4"]click here to read 'is a mans pre destined or does he have freedom of will?'[/url]

 

 

hopefully this will all explain that we do have free will :D

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Peace Amani and thank you for the researched response, :D

 

I understand your point of view, however I disagree with it, your argument is fine for you but as a non-Muslim I cannot accept it because it doesn't provide evidence that we have free will. Perhaps by example I could explain my point better. You said:

 

But some actions are the subject of choice, such as whether to believe or disbelieve, or worldly matters such as choosing what to eat or drink, and where to live.

 

I believe that we don't have any choice over any of these things. I'll take the most menial example as it's the least likely to cause upset, i.e. what to eat and drink.

 

I believe numerous factors are involved which will cause us to select what we eat or drink, none of which we have any control over. If we desire to eat a certain type of food or drink we do so for several reasons including but not limited to: Advertising for a product, price of the product or brand loyalty to a product, personal taste preferences. None of these we have any control over, therefore which products we choose to eat or drink we have no choice over.

 

In previous debates I've had on this issue people say things like, "If I see advertising for Pepsi I choose not to drink it because of the advertising, therefore I have free will." I believe the opposite is true, if you refuse to buy something because of its advertising then you refuse to buy it out of a principle. That principle you have obviously formed from somewhere, perhaps you dislike capitalism and the advertising that goes with it, if you dislike capitalism and advertising there must be a cause for this dislike, this dislike could be caused by your belief that capitalism is unfair, your morals that determine what you believe is unfair may be taken from your parents/documentaries on television/friends etc., you have no choice over who your parents are/what get shown on television/who you happen to become friends with and therefore eventually you have no choice over where your moral values come from. As you have no choice where your moral values come from you therefore have no choice over your belief that advertising is wrong, you therefore have not made a "choice" to buy Pepsi or not, you are merely a product of everything that has happened to you during your life and your genetic makeup.

 

That is my point of view,

 

Eoin

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Accordingly, Eion, your point of view comes from many factors that you have no control over regardless of whether it is true or not, right?

 

Your point of view, for example, may be becouse you do not want to take responsibility of your actions, no matter what they were - you just want to say "it's not my fault, I cant help but do that".

 

Going back to the theoretical religious person and his mother that died of cancer. That person did not find himself compelled to believe in heaven in order to be sure she is alive there. He could belive in hindusim and belive her soul has been incarnated (I think that is what its called). Or he can lose faith and belive in the worthlessness of the world and everything, or he can believe in magic and try to get her back to life....etc. He has a lot of things to CHOOSE from.

 

You would say that this particular choice came from past expeirences and education. But assume this person had a twin brother that was with him ALL THE TIME, you know how twins are. Does that mean his twin brother will have the same belief he does becouse he has been through the exact same experiences in life? Just look at twins, you can see that despite the similarities they actually each have a different way to preceive life. Now you can say that this is becouse each one has a different brain and the brain he got is not one that he can choose. Well do you really have any solid proof that says that your brain actually affects you beliefs? If such a breakthrough has happend then very little publicity has been given to it.

 

It is true that a great deal of your ideas and belifs along with your morals and values and accordingly your choices come from the past expeirences of your life, but how can you be so sure that you are not able choose despite that? What is your evidence that the chap that chose not to drink pepsi did not have a choice? what is your proof that he was forced to make that choice? Your argument is that he was FORCED to make that choice becouse he hates capitalism and he was forced to hate capitalism becouse he believes its not fair and he was forced to belive that due to his life experiences which he had no control over...... so, how is he forced? what is it that forced him to have the first beleif the first time? you can give me a long chain of actions that lead to this point. O.K., I agree with you but still, at the very first point: did he not have a choice to act differently?

 

The answer is more likely: yes he did. When he was one day old and he was hungry, he had a choice to cry or not to cry. You would say that he had no choice becouse if he didnt he would starve. Or you can say he has no choice becouse he doesnt know better. to the first one I would say but he doesnt know that does he? and to the second I would say: aha, that means knowledge would give you a choice wouldnt it?

 

I'm not going to pretend that I can give you some solid proof that you are wrong becouse I am sure I cant, but you are not giving me solid waterproof evidence either.

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Peace Mahawi,

 

Accordingly, Eion, your point of view comes from many factors that you have no control over regardless of whether it is true or not, right?

 

Correct, I believe that my opinions have been caused by everything hereditary and through my life experience.

 

Your point of view, for example, may be becouse you do not want to take responsibility of your actions, no matter what they were - you just want to say "it's not my fault, I cant help but do that".

 

Hmm maybe, I don't think so though, I've not made any serious blunders in my life and feel in myself that everything is going well. I graduate from uni this year, I believe I have an excellent chance of getting a good job afterwards, have a great relationship with my parents and I'm having a really good time socially. I therefore don't think that using the free will argument to avoid responsibility for my actions is likely as it removes all credit for everything I've achieved in my life. If I was to psychoanalyse myself I would say this belief I hold is probably because I get an odd kind of pleasure out of arguing - particularly when I know what I say cannot be proven incorrect, I like philosophy and have therefore read into the 200 year debate over free will, if I were being entirely honest I'm skeptical of religion due to everything that has happened to me during my life and this debate goes a long way to questioning the fundamentals of almost all organized religions. I imagine that must come close to why I think the way I do, though I admit it has no bearing on whether free will actually exists or not, it's merely an explanation of why I believe I think this way.

 

Continued...

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Going back to the theoretical religious person and his mother that died of cancer. That person did not find himself compelled to believe in heaven in order to be sure she is alive there. He could belive in hindusim and belive her soul has been incarnated (I think that is what its called). Or he can lose faith and belive in the worthlessness of the world and everything, or he can believe in magic and try to get her back to life....etc. He has a lot of things to CHOOSE from.

 

You would say that this particular choice came from past expeirences and education. But assume this person had a twin brother that was with him ALL THE TIME, you know how twins are. Does that mean his twin brother will have the same belief he does becouse he has been through the exact same experiences in life? Just look at twins, you can see that despite the similarities they actually each have a different way to preceive life. Now you can say that this is becouse each one has a different brain and the brain he got is not one that he can choose. Well do you really have any solid proof that says that your brain actually affects you beliefs? If such a breakthrough has happend then very little publicity has been given to it.

 

Your question is, would a pair of identicle twins (genetically identicle), who were with each other all the time and therefore shared all life experiences together, think and act exactly the same? The answer is no because they cannot ever live the same life and have exactly the same experiences. By very virtue that these pair have to interact with each other all the time, they will have to develop different personalities, one will likely become the dominant while the other will become more passive. If it were possible for these pair to grow up independantly of each other in exactly the same circumstances then yes I believe they would be close to if not identicle in every respect. (There still exists tiny differences between identicle twins.)

 

Though your point about ones brain influencing behaviour wasn't really relevant to the twin analogy it is a point I would draw your attention to. Ones brain does indeed influence behaviour and ultimately ones beliefs. For a simple example you will no doubt have heard of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is a condition which affects children, mainly boys and causes them to be irritable, aggressive, easily bored and generally hyperactive. If these children are not treated (and indeed some cannot be treated) they will not be able to pay attention in school, will not watch informative documentaries on television, will not be able to involve themselves in rational debates and ultimately as a result of their condition all of their beliefs become largely tainted by an inability to concentrate and process information. This is just a simple and direct example of how ones brain/general neurology can affect ones beliefs.

 

Continued...

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It is true that a great deal of your ideas and belifs along with your morals and values and accordingly your choices come from the past expeirences of your life, but how can you be so sure that you are not able choose despite that? What is your evidence that the chap that chose not to drink pepsi did not have a choice? what is your proof that he was forced to make that choice? Your argument is that he was FORCED to make that choice becouse he hates capitalism and he was forced to hate capitalism becouse he believes its not fair and he was forced to belive that due to his life experiences which he had no control over...... so, how is he forced? what is it that forced him to have the first beleif the first time? you can give me a long chain of actions that lead to this point. O.K., I agree with you but still, at the very first point: did he not have a choice to act differently?

 

To paraphrase what you said, nobody has a choice over what their morals are, therefore nobody has control over what they want to do, but how can I prove that somebody cannot do something that they do not want to do? (I do not use the word 'want' literally, if somebody has a gun to their head and is asked to hand over all of their money, they do not 'want' to hand over their money but will do because they 'want' to live more than they 'want' to keep their money.)

 

To answer your question I will have to give an example from my own life. My aunt died a couple of months back and during the car journey to the funeral I was discussing the same question of free will with my mother. She said that my uncle had asked her on the phone if she would lead the singing of hymns at the funeral to which she had agreed. She argued that she didn't want to lead the singing of the hymns - which involves standing at the front of the church in front of a few hundred people, and because she didn't want to lead the singing but was going to anyway that she was exercising her free will. The mistake my mother made is in confusing want, and "want". Everything that my mother is hereditarily and through life experience caused her to sing at the funeral, she may have not felt she wanted to sing in front of that many people, but there was no way given her morals (which she has no control over) that she could refuse the request of a man who had just lost his wife. (My uncle)

 

My mother had no control over the fact she felt sympathy for my uncle, she had no control over the guilt she would have felt if she refused his request, she therefore had no free will over her decision to sing at the funeral, in spite of the fact she was doing something she felt she did not want to do.

 

I gave this example from my own life so that I can in turn ask you to provide me with an example from your own life, no matter how trivial, of an occasion in which you have done something which you did not "want" to do. (Please note the inverted comma's)

 

(Continued...)

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O.K., I agree with you but still, at the very first point: did he not have a choice to act differently?

 

I think this quote about determinism will help you understand my perspective.

 

Determinism is the belief that every action is the sum of causes and that given those causes it is impossible that the event could not occur.

 

I therefore say that no, in no circumstance in the history of time has anybody had a 'choice' to act in a different manner than they have done as they have no control over what causes them to act in the way that they do.

 

The answer is more likely: yes he did. When he was one day old and he was hungry, he had a choice to cry or not to cry. You would say that he had no choice becouse if he didnt he would starve. Or you can say he has no choice becouse he doesnt know better. to the first one I would say but he doesnt know that does he? and to the second I would say: aha, that means knowledge would give you a choice wouldnt it?

 

I'm sorry I don't understand what you are saying here? You are asking me why an old hungry person might cry?

 

I'm not going to pretend that I can give you some solid proof that you are wrong becouse I am sure I cant, but you are not giving me solid waterproof evidence either.

 

I would then have to say that logically the burden of proof is upon you to prove the existance of free will. There is no logical or scientific basis for believing that free will exists, there is a compelling argument to suggest that our actions are pre-determined. I don't mind if you continue to disagree with my point of view as I don't believe either of us have free will over what we believe anyway! :D

 

Eoin

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Peace Eoin!

 

It is very simply a matter of perception and the way you have been brought up. You consider everything in the perspective of what you see and feel, in that you are a slave of what goes on around you.

 

A Muslim on the other hand, believes in the existence of Allah :D who he/she cannot see, feel, hear,etc. The focus of everything that a Muslim does is based on his/her desire to please the Creator. Thus, he/she has a free will, which he/she exercises in order to please Him.

 

I shall give you a very good example. Ramadhan start on Tuesday. Every Muslim will fast from before dawn unto dusk. Even if the Muslim is extremely hungry or thirsty, he/she will not drink or eat anything even in private. Why? Because he/she has exercised his/her free will to fast and will not break that obligation for a natural desire to eat or drink. Another major test is when a person goes on Hajj. For five days he/she leaves the worldly pursuits to perofrm the various acts that constitute the Hajj. Believe me, it is one of the most difficult test of human endurance. But, you will find even old people performing it out of their free will. Nobody or nothing is compelling them to do it. But they are as zealous the youngsters, if not more.

 

Peace out.

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Peace Aburafay, I shall attempt to address your points as well as I am able.

 

A Muslim on the other hand, believes in the existence of Allah who he/she cannot see, feel, hear,etc. The focus of everything that a Muslim does is based on his/her desire to please the Creator. Thus, he/she has a free will, which he/she exercises in order to please Him.

 

To understand my point of view I think it is important to consider the argument more fully. I read greatfully your example about pious Muslim's fasting in order to fulfill their obligation to the entity they call the Creator, Allah.

 

From my perspective the people, young and old that you mention, endure this hardship in order that they please God. You refer to this self-induced hardship as, 'free will'. My argument with this point is that I do not believe these people have a choice over how devoutly they believe in God, therefore they have no choice over whether they fast during Ramadan or not. In my opinion peoples belief in God can have very different causes, whether those be personal ones like the desire to believe a loved ones soul still exists in heaven, because they cannot bring themselves to accept that they are not a 'special' creature, because everybody else is doing it, because they were brought up that way and have never questioned what they believe in etc.

 

As I demonstrated in my previous posts in this topic, I believe that anything that might be considered a 'decision' in life comes down to a set of causes that have resulted in that 'decision'. As those causes are eventually outwith the control of the individual, then so is the 'decision' itself in my eyes is outwith the control of the individual.

 

Eoin

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Peace Eoin!

 

Peace Aburafay, I shall attempt to address your points as well as I am able.

To understand my point of view I think it is important to consider the argument more fully. I read greatfully your example about pious Muslim's fasting in order to fulfill their obligation to the entity they call the Creator, Allah.

 

I call Him the Creator as you and I visualise Him with different names, but accept the Creator as a common denominator.

 

From my perspective the people, young and old that you mention, endure this hardship in order that they please God. You refer to this self-induced hardship as, 'free will'.

 

First of all, the obligations of fasting and Hajj are not self-imposed. They are dictates of the Entity we try to please. To follow or not is a matter of free will. There are many who don't, as a choice from their free will. There is no compulsion.

 

My argument with this point is that I do not believe these people have a choice over how devoutly they believe in God, therefore they have no choice over whether they fast during Ramadan or not.

 

You call it an argument, but you do not present any basis for your point of view. As I have mentioned above, it is a matter of choice and free will as many people I know do not fast. Devoutness comes from knowledge. The more knowledge you gain, the more you understand about the existence of the Creator, and the more you want to please Him. Lack of knowledge brings the opposite effect as the ignorant basks in his/her everyday life and does not know of the Creator in front of whom he/she will appear on the Day of Judgement.

 

(Continued)

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(concluded)

 

In my opinion peoples belief in God can have very different causes, whether those be personal ones like the desire to believe a loved ones soul still exists in heaven, because they cannot bring themselves to accept that they are not a 'special' creature, because everybody else is doing it, because they were brought up that way and have never questioned what they believe in etc.

 

I think I have made it abundantly clear that it is a matter of choice and free will to mould ones life to please Allah. If one does not, there is no compulsion. Loved ones being in heaven is a belief in the west, and does not exist in the Divine Religions. Anybody who believess in the Day of Judgement neccessarily believes that the soul of the dead person cannot be in heaven or hell befor ethat day. Also, there are people who have been born and raised by pious and God-fearing parents, but they do not accept piety due to some external influence that may be stronger than the parents guidance, and vice versa.

 

As I demonstrated in my previous posts in this topic, I believe that anything that might be considered a 'decision' in life comes down to a set of causes that have resulted in that 'decision'. As those causes are eventually outwith the control of the individual, then so is the 'decision' itself in my eyes is outwith the control of the individual.

 

The decision for me is solely to please Allah :D, and indeed this is the sole reason for all Muslims who understand the meaning of the basic beliefs included in the proclamation "I witness that there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is His Messenger". Causes other than those are non-existent to a Muslim worth the name.

 

Peace out

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Peace Aburafay, :D

 

I would ask that you re-read your following statements:

 

First of all, the obligations of fasting and Hajj are not self-imposed. They are dictates of the Entity we try to please. To follow or not is a matter of free will. There are many who don't, as a choice from their free will. There is no compulsion.

 

Also, there are people who have been born and raised by pious and God-fearing parents, but they do not accept piety due to some external influence that may be stronger than the parents guidance, and vice versa.

 

Why do you believe the faithful who fulfill the obligations of fasting and Hajj have a "choice" over whether they fulfill these obligations, while those people with God-fearing parents that refuse to believe in the Creator have had their "choice" moulded by, "some external influence"? Is it not the case that those that fast or attend Hajj have also had their "choice" shaped by some external influence? (I include everything as an external influence, such as parents, friends, the weather, taste buds etc.)

 

If everybody's choices are 'influenced' then where exactly does free will come into play?

 

I look forward to your response,

Eoin

Edited by Eoin

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According to Islam, surely no-one has any choice: they choose to do what god has already decided they will do. Unbelievers are unbelievers because god has closed their eyes and will remain so unless god opens their eyes. Believers are only believers through god's decision before the universe was made.

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Peace Eoin! :D

 

This to me seems like a very interesting debate indeed!

 

The reason I have posted in this section is because if we do not have free will, as I believe, then Allah is a pretty evil chap!

 

I suspect you're using this theory of determinism out of fear of the punishment of Hell, no? :D

 

 

In Islam, we believe in Divine Decree(Fate) and Freedom of Will. It is believed that they work together, but this reality is beyond the comprehension of man.

 

We read in the Glorious Qur'an:

 

"But ye shall not will except as Allah Wills,- the Cherisher of the Worlds." (Qur'an 81:29))

 

But we also read:

 

"...Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people Until they change it themselves (with their own souls)..."(Qur'an 13:11)

 

To some, this may seem contradictory. But God reveals that,

 

"Nay, they reject that of which they have no comprehensive knowledge"(Qur'an 10:39)

 

So I guess you can call me a "Compatibilist". A Compatibilist is someone who accepts both Free Will and Pre-Destination. I believe Free Will is a product of the intrinsic human soul. Anyway, Eoin's claim is that we as human beings have no choice whatsoever over our thoughts, deeds or even beliefs! Simply because, according to Eoin, they were somehow pre-determined by things which have occured in the past.

 

You say,

 

If I decide to have a bowl of cereal then it is probably because I am hungry.

 

So, because there is a reason to everything we do, we must have no Free Will. How absurd! This makes no sense, I must say.

 

I could "decide" for various reasons not to eat a bowl of cereal. For example I might be fasting for religious reasons, however this should not be confused with free will! If I am fasting for religious reasons, then I need to examine why I am religious because that is the reason I am fasting. I might be religious because e.g. my mother may have died of cancer and I am trying to keep alive her memory by convincing myself she is alive in heaven. If this were the case then I fast because I am religious, I'm religious because my mother died of cancer, I had no control over my mother dying of cancer so therefore my decision to fast is not free will.

 

Correct, you had no control over your mother dying of cancer, but you are not coerced to make the decision to fast. That fact that we are almost never coerced to make decisions refutes the idea that ALL of our actions were inevitably determined by past occurances.

 

I agree that certain things we do are in fact pre-determined, and we have no control over them at all. Many of our choices may have been externally influenced, but how does this negate the notion of a Free Will? Again, we are not compelled to make the choice(s). In fact, we can choose to decide differently, whether we are satisfied with the decision or not.

 

Continued on next page...

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Continued from last page...

 

As I have previously stated, it is not logical to assume that we don't any Free Will, since almost none of our actions are coerced on us.

 

 

Let us make a comparison of the brain of the human and the brain of, let's say, the wasp. I will now describe the mechanical behaviour of the digger wasp. This insect follows a series of genetically programmed steps in preparing for egg laying. If an experimenter interrupts one of these steps the wasp will repeat that step again. For an animal like a wasp, this process of repeating the same behavior can go on indefinitely, the wasp never seeming to notice what is going on.

 

This is the type of mindless, pre-determined behavior that humans can actually avoid. Given the chance to repeat some futile behavior endlessly, people can notice the futility of it, and by an act of pure Free Will, do something else. Again, this is just an example of how the human brain isn't coerced to make it's decisions.

 

 

I now have the choice: whether to believe in Allah and worship Him, or to disbelieve in Him. He has shown us the Two Highways. If I choose to believe, it is because I want to believe. A reason for this might be that His existence is so manifest, that it is better to believe. A reason to disbelieve might be because I don't agree with some of His Commandments(Allah forbid). However, none of these reasons negate the fact the my the choice I made was not done out of Free Will.

 

Say, "The truth is from your Lord": Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it): for the wrong-doers We have prepared a Fire whose (smoke and flames), like the walls and roof of a tent, will hem them in: if they implore relief they will be granted water like melted brass, that will scald their faces, how dreadful the drink! How uncomfortable a couch to recline on! (Qur'an 18:29)

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Peace Yousuf and thank you for the response :D

 

I suspect you're using this theory of determinism out of fear of the punishment of Hell, no? :D

 

I suspect the opposite applies to you? :D

 

Anyway, Eoin's claim is that we as human beings have no choice whatsoever over our thoughts, deeds or even beliefs! Simply because, according to Eoin, they were somehow pre-determined by things which have occured in the past.

 

Good summary :D

 

Correct, one has no control over ones mother dying of cancer, but one is not coerced to make the decision to fast.

 

I would make a semantic point here, that I do not believe that we are coerced to do anything. I believe that we have the illusion of choice over our actions but that there is only ever one 'decision' we are ever going to make.

 

I agree that certain things we do are in fact pre-determined, and we have no control over them at all. Many of our choices may have been externally influenced, but how does this negate the notion of a Free Will? Again, we are not compelled to make the choice(s). In fact, we can choose to decide differently, whether we are satisfied with the decision or not.

 

You say many of our choices may have been externally influenced yet maintain we have free will, to me this is contradictory. You say:

 

..we can choose to decide differently, whether we are satisfied with the decision or not.

 

If you choose to 'decide' differently then you also make what you consider another 'choice' for a reason you consider more important. If a person acts in a manner that is not based on any reason then that person is acting randomly. If humans behave randomly then they are not exercising 'Free Will' either! A person will make every decision based on their hereditary genetics and the environment in which they have existed since they were born.

 

For example. If I go into a shop I have a choice of buying a bottle of Pepsi or a bottle of Fruit Juice. Fruit Juice is cheaper, it quenches my thirst better, it is healthier and I want to be healthy while I prefer the taste of fruit juice. At the same time I have a moral objection to the way Pepsi exploits 3rd world workers and seek to avoid Pepsi wherever possible.

 

By the logic of free will I have the ability to buy Pepsi anyway in spite of the above. I would have no reason for buying Pepsi, but because I have free will I have the innate ability to buy it anyway.

 

To which of course I would say rubbish. No person in those circumstances would buy Pepsi because they have no reason to buy Pepsi that outweighs the the reasons that they will buy fruit juice. That person with those views in that shop, was never going to do anything other than buy fruit juice, because reasons outwith their control, have determined exactly what they were going to do.

 

(Continued...)

Edited by Eoin

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I have never taken any 'decision' in my entire life that I haven't done without a reason or set of reasons. At the time I may not be fully aware of the reasons for which I make a 'decision', however just because my actions may be subconscious or instinctive does not mean that those actions occur without reason. There are evolutionary and psychological reasons for my instinctive and subconscious actions, which can be studied and understood.

 

Let us make a comparison of the brain of the human and the brain of, let's say, the wasp. I will now describe the mechanical behaviour of the digger wasp. This insect follows a series of genetically programmed steps in preparing for egg laying. If an experimenter interrupts one of these steps the wasp will repeat that step again. For an animal like a wasp, this process of repeating the same behavior can go on indefinitely, the wasp never seeming to notice what is going on.

 

This is the type of mindless, pre-determined behavior that humans can actually avoid. Given the chance to repeat some futile behavior endlessly, people can notice the futility of it, and by an act of pure Free Will, do something else. Again, this is just an example of how the human brain isn't coerced to make it's decisions.

 

How is adapting to ones environment Free Will? What you point out does not demonstrate to me Free Will, it demonstrates to me that the human brain is capable of processing more information than the Digger Wasp, which is hardly the greatest revelation you could make.

 

I would point out that more complex species such as primates are also able to adapt their behaviour according to changing circumstances. A fly will keep burning itself on a lightbulb until it dies. However shock a chimpanzee with electricity every time he tries to pick up a banana and he will learn to stop trying to pick it up. Does that mean that Chimpanzees are exercising "Act(s) of pure Free Will" merely by adapting to external stimuli? Of course not, they are acting, like we do, entirely on everything that they have inherited genetically and what they have learnt during their lives for a reason. The Digger Wasp doesn't have the physical ability to 'learn' as primates and humans do, however it too behaves as it does for a reason.

 

I now have the choice: whether to believe in Allah and worship Him, or to disbelieve in Him. He has shown us the Two Highways. If I choose to believe, it is because I want to believe. A reason for this might be that His existence is so manifest, that it is better to believe. A reason to disbelieve might be because I don't agree with some of His Commandments(Allah forbid). However, none of these reasons negate the fact the my the choice I made was not done out of Free Will.

 

I don't want to impose any of my beliefs on you, as I'm sure the reverse is true. However I do not think there is any way you can find fault with my beliefs on behaviour!

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Peace Eoin, and thank you for replying as well.

 

I suspect the opposite applies to you? :D

 

Trust me, I'm quite firm in my Beliefs. Your beliefs, however, seem to be ever-changing. :D

 

I do not believe that we are coerced to do anything. I believe that we have the illusion of choice over our actions but that there is only ever one 'decision' we are ever going to make.

 

Notice the contradiction? If we have the 'illusion of choice over our actions but that there is only ever one decision we are ever going to make', then indeed, we are coerced to make that decision.

 

You say many of our choices may have been externally influenced yet maintain we have free will, to me this is contradictory

 

Many of our choices may have been caused by previous events, but those events only assign certain probabilities to our choice. (e.g. a 30% chance she will do act A, a 70% chance she will not).

 

 

A person will make every decision based on their hereditary genetics and the environment in which they have existed since they were born.

 

I was born and raised in a very un-Islamic environment, yet I seem to make very Islamic decisions in my life. I have not genetically inherited my Faith or Beliefs, as you would have it. I simply read the Qur'an and I realized Truth, even though it went against everything I had previously believed in. I was completely transformed.

 

No person in those circumstances would buy Pepsi because they have no reason to buy Pepsi that outweighs the the reasons that they will buy fruit juice. That person with those views in that shop, was never going to do anything other than buy fruit juice, because reasons outwith their control, have determined exactly what they were going to do.

 

How so? What if the person wants to try the new flavour of Pepsi for the first time? He has better reasons not to, but yet he chooses the Pepsi.

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How is adapting to ones environment Free Will? What you point out does not demonstrate to me Free Will, it demonstrates to me that the human brain is capable of processing more information than the Digger Wasp, which is hardly the greatest revelation you could make...however shock a chimpanzee with electricity every time he tries to pick up a banana and he will learn to stop trying to pick it up. Does that mean that Chimpanzees are exercising "Act(s) of pure Free Will" merely by adapting to external stimuli? Of course not, they are acting, like we do, entirely on everything that they have inherited genetically and what they have learnt during their lives for a reason.

 

I'm a Creationist and you're an Evolutionist. We view the human being differently. I perceive the mind of man to have been Intelligently Designed by the Divine, and I disagree with you that man has simply adapted to his environment, as has the primate. This is the difference between man, the Creator's agent on Earth, and the animal.

 

...I'm sure the reverse is true. However I do not think there is any way you can find fault with my beliefs on behaviour!

 

Like I've said, God has shown you the Two Highways, one leading to Heaven, the other to Hell. Unlike other created beings, you've been given the ability to select either one. When the unbeliever is asked why he rejected Faith on the Day of Reckoning, I doubt that God will be pleased with the theory of determinism for an answer.

 

I, therefore, do not think Allah the Exalted is an "evil chap", as you would have it. On the contrary, He is Most Just and wants us to be guided to Him. It is no one but Satan who deceives man regarding his Creator.

 

What about moral responsibility? Do you realize what would happen if everyone had a determistic point of view? The result would be nothing but chaos! If I have no control over my choices, then I shouldn't be held accountable for my sins/crimes. Hey, what's the point of removing Saddam Hussein from power, or going after Bin Laden if the poor guys are just victims of determinism? :D

 

"...But none will grasp the Message but men of understanding."(Qur'an, Surah 2: Ayah 269)

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Peace Yousuf,

 

Trust me, I'm quite firm in my Beliefs. Your beliefs, however, seem to be ever-changing. :D

 

Being somewhere between an atheist and an agnostic my beliefs are indeed subject to change depending on new things I learn!

 

Notice the contradiction? If we have the 'illusion of choice over our actions but that there is only ever one decision we are ever going to make', then indeed, we are coerced to make that decision.

 

Coercion is defined as, "the act of compelling by force of authority." The implication of the word is that somebody is making people behave in a certain way. As I said my point is semantic, though the spirit of the word is correct, it implies something that determinism does not which is why I prefer to say that, "we have the illusion of choice over our actions but that there is only ever one decision we are ever going to make".

 

 

Many of our choices may have been caused by previous events, but those events only assign certain probabilities to our choice. (e.g. a 30% chance she will do act A, a 70% chance she will not).

 

This is the unprovable counter-argument. I believe that we are no more than an organic computer. If we knew the precise manner in which our brains operate and had access to all information being interpreted by that brain then I believe we could accurately predict the way every human being and animal would behave in every circumstance. By saying that reasons only assign a certain probability to our behaving in a certain manner, one alludes to saying that we are something other than a biological computer, a claim which is entirely unprovable. One might feasibly add that my claims are equally unprovable in the present day, however since I am denying the existance of something (Free Will) rather than claiming that something does exist (Free Will) then the burden of proof lies with you to prove that it does exist, which it is impossible to do.

 

(Continued...)

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I was born and raised in a very un-Islamic environment, yet I seem to make very Islamic decisions in my life. I have not genetically inherited my Faith or Beliefs, as you would have it. I simply read the Qur'an and I realized Truth, even though it went against everything I had previously believed in. I was completely transformed.

 

I don't say that anybody inherits their beliefs, your beliefs are in my opinion shaped by everything that has happened to you in your life and everything that you are genetically. I don't know the reasons that you are a Muslim and knowing little or nothing of your life it would be ignorant of me to comment.

 

From observations of my own religious friends I can make several generalizations about why they are religious. Some are because they grew up in difficult circumstances, circumstances that they believe would not have happened to them had their parents followed religious principles. They did not inherit religion, they reacted to what they saw as a lack of it. I know of one guy from my home town who converted to Islam, he had been abused by his step father and since primary school had been in trouble with the police for shoplifting and getting into fights. He obviously found some peace in Islam, perhaps because he found a group of friends that accepted him for who he was rather than what he had done in the past. An exchange student I went out with a few times from the US was Catholic because she had been brought up by very strict parents and her opinions had obviously been shaped by them from an early age. A guy from my flatmates uni course is quite a devout Christian because he has a problem with Paranoia, he feels like the whole world is out to get him and the only relief he gets from that is in church where he feels safe. The son of the owner of the shop accross the road is a Hindu to satisfy his parents, he doesn't really know what religious significance things play but believes in Hinduism as a mark of respect to his dad. As with most things the reason for people following a religious faith is not a single reason like parental influence, it is a culmination of reasons as I'm sure my own beliefs are formed by also.

 

How so? What if the person wants to try the new flavour of Pepsi for the first time? He has better reasons not to, but yet he chooses the Pepsi.

 

I think you misunderstand. If somebody wants to try the new flavour of Pepsi for the first time and the weight of this reason is greater than the reasons he would prefer to buy fruit juice then of course he will buy Pepsi.

 

Essentially the point you have made here is thus:

1. I gave a list of reasons why somebody would prefer to buy fruit juice rather than Pepsi.

2. You say, 'but if this person has a stronger reason to buy Pepsi then he will buy Pepsi'.

 

That is in complete agreement with everything I believe.

 

(Continued...)

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I'm a Creationist and you're an Evolutionist. We view the human being differently. I perceive the mind of man to have been Intelligently Designed by the Divine, and I disagree with you that man has simply adapted to his environment, as has the primate. This is the difference between man, the Creator's agent on Earth, and the animal.

 

This is true, I doubt we'll sort out the Creation/Evolution anytime soon so we don't have much option but to agree to disagree.

 

What about moral responsibility? Do you realize what would happen if everyone had a determistic point of view? The result would be nothing but chaos! If I have no control over my choices, then I shouldn't be held accountable for my sins/crimes. Hey, what's the point of removing Saddam Hussein from power, or going after Bin Laden if the poor guys are just victims of determinism?

 

Moral responsibility is a difficult one alright. However going after Bin Laden or removing Saddam Hussein could still be justified as:

A: A deterrant, and/or

B: To prevent them from carrying out further crimes.

 

The same applies to any criminal element.

 

"...But none will grasp the Message but men of understanding."(Qur'an, Surah 2: Ayah 269)

 

As with most lines it works both ways :D

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Peace

 

What do you think about the following fatwa?

 

Question:

We read in many aayahs of the Qur’aan that Allaah says that He places a veil over the hearts of the kaafirs and a seal over their eyes, and He has made them deaf and blind to the truth. We also know that Allaah does not force anyone into kufr, so how can we understand these aayahs?

 

Answer:

 

Praise be to Allaah.

 

 

Shaykh al-Shanqeeti (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

 

The answer is that Allaah has explained in many verses of His Book those impediments which have been placed on their hearts, ears and eyes, such as seals and veils, have been placed on them as a suitable recompense for their previous kufr and for their disbelieving in the Messengers by choice. So Allaah has turned their hearts away by placing upon them a seal and veils etc, as a punishment for their kufr. Among the aayahs that indicate that is the verse (interpretation of the meaning):

 

“Allaah has set a seal upon their hearts because of their disbeliefâ€

[al-Nisaa’ 4:155]

 

 

This a clear Qur’aanic text which states that their previous kufr is the reason for the seal upon their hearts. And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

 

“So when they turned away (from the path of Allaah), Allaah turned their hearts away (from the Right Path)â€

[al-Saff 61:5]

 

 

This is also a clear indication that the reason why Allaah has turned their hearts away is their initial turning away. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

 

“That is because they believed, and then disbelieved; therefore their hearts are sealed, so they understand notâ€

[al-Munaafiqoon :3]

 

“In their hearts is a disease (of doubt and hypocrisy) and Allaah has increased their diseaseâ€

[al-Baqarah 2:10]

 

“And We shall turn their hearts and their eyes away (from guidance), as they refused to believe therein for the first time, and We shall leave them in their trespass to wander blindlyâ€

[al-An’aam 6:110]

 

“Nay! But on their hearts is the Raan (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earnâ€

[al-Mutaffifeen 83:14]

 

 

and there are other aayahs which speak of the seal on their hearts and say that their being prevented from understanding that which may benefit them is a punishment for their previous kufr.

 

 

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid (www.Islam-qa(contact admin if its a beneficial link))

Edited by muhsinmuttaqi

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This is true, I doubt we'll sort out the Creation/Evolution anytime soon so we don't have much option but to agree to disagree.

 

"Lakum Dīnukum wa liya Dīn."(Q 109:6)

 

(To you be your Way, and to me mine.) :D

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