Daily GUIDE-ance:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Free Will

When I was young and impressionable, I read a quote from the scifi writer Phillip Jose Farmer (who lived in Peoria IL, poor devil) that impressioned me.

At the time I was interested (mind you I am like 14-15 at the time) in the idea that everything could be predicted. I didn't have any kind of background in physics at that age, but it made intutive sense that if you had enough information about the start of the universe and were smart enough, you could work out everything that was going to happen. Collisions, rebounds, recombinations of matter etc- the universe as one big billiard table. I think I got the initial inspiration for this line of thought from The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy- Deep Thought- the supercomputer that designed the Earth- had a line about how it was so smart that when it was first activated it started with 'I think therefore I am' got as far as deducing the existance of rice pudding and income tax before anyone could hit the off button. Fascinating idea, espcially at 14. Could that really be done? I wondered.

Well it offended my sensiblities, because I did not like the idea that I could be fully predicted like that. So it was a fascinating AND annoying idea- and that combination of traits is pretty much all me, so I thought it out for quite a while and pretty thoroly.

I was pretty sure that I was not just a meat robot. This conviction was partly backed up at church but also annoying undermined there, as some churchfolk said that God actually could and in fact had charted my every move beforehand. That had annoyed me as far back as I can remember.

I have a memory of me at about age 9 randomly hurling my bike down the porch steps once, just because it seemed like something that God would never have been able to forsee and I wanted to prove a point. Afterwards, as I was picking my bike back up, I think I realized that He might have anticipated the train of thought that lead me to shoving my bike down the stairs, and so I set my mind to thinking of something even more random to do.

I certainly didn't, and still don't, feel much like what I imagine a meat robot would feel like.

Anyhow. The Phillip Jose Farmer quote. It was something like this:

“I believe people have freewill, but don’t use it very much.”

That makes one schmee of a lot of sense.

Lately I have found it fascinating and… lets go with annoying again, although the truth is, annoying isn’t nearly a loud enough of a word… fascinating and annoying, the lengths to which people will go to avoid having to using their freewill. Some folk- the type A, eternally constipated ones esp- love to make lists and live their life by what they Must Do. Every hour and minute accounted for, planned and- this is the key bit- excused and no longer their responsibility! Their minute to minute choices neatly excised from their life. They would like life to be a fully automated ride in the passenger seat, the only choice ever made is the initial one to get on the bus. They want an instruction manual for every instance and eventuality. These people disgust me frankly. I used to be one of them, I am afraid. Thank God, He threw me curve ball after curveball though, until I finally realized the point. .

Life is not about being in a groove or a rut. Death- that’s all about being in a rut. The inanimate universe- where everything is just cause and effect, cosmic billiard balls smashing around, boring old (but awesome if you understand it) Newtonian physics- that’s what I call a rut. That’s what everyone calls it actually. I mean literally in Websters- the definition of animate vs inanimate- the animate makes choices. Some things act and some things are only acted apon.

There are some seriously inanimate people out there.

There really is a strong case for the meat robot theory. By default, that's all we are. But we can chose to be more.