Do We Have A Choice?

Excerpt from the book, What Is Really Good?

Destiny and Free Will
There has been a millennia long running debate on man's free will verses destiny. It has been argued that man's free will is an illusion and that fate, destiny, or God’s plan can not be escaped. It has also been argued that man has absolute free will and can control his destiny.

A major supporting argument for man having the ability to forge his own fate is the nature verses nurture example. This deals with what influences the lives of mankind more:
• Nature - natural circumstances such as the genetic make up of people, preprogrammed instincts and characteristics passed down by DNA through ancestral lineage
• Nurture - as in environmental influences on people. This includes cultural influence, educational opportunity; basically all learned behavior

It has been proven that what a person is exposed to and adapts to, has a much greater influence over their lives than genetics alone. Therefore free will is what a person learns and applies.

On the other hand, one of the supporting arguments for free will being an illusion is that everything about our life is predetermined. We have no control over our genetic predisposition and over events that happen to us throughout our lives. We can not fully control our environments in the same way that we can’t control our genetic make up. From this, many conclude that we have no free will.

So which is it? Is it all predetermined from the moment we are conceived or do we have a real choice in the matter? The answer is a combination of both.

It is an absolute inarguable fact that we do not choose our genetic make up. It is also true that we do not choose many of the conditions and situations that arise in our lives. This is where acceptance of what is, is useful. We can, however, choose our environment. We can also choose what we allow to influence us. Even if you are incapable of relocating, your very perception and interpretation of it is all the choice you need to change your experience. This has already been illustrated in the first chapter. Two people can have the same situation with totally different experiences.

For more on this and other topics, read What Is Really Good? and stay tuned.


bometernally said...

"Even if you are incapable of relocating, your very perception and interpretation of it is all the choice you need to change your experience." This is true, however, if one is not aware of this,they do not change their experience. And if one is beginning to be aware, it can be very challenging to do until they get in the habit of doing it.

*** said...

I love this particular paradox. I have contemplated it often over the years. My highest perception of this, to date, is that the only thing "predestined' is our 'finding God' - our returning to Source.

The mystical pull of this quest is the underlying determinate of all things superficial that we 'choose' along the way - even while we are unconscious of what's 'real'.

This process can take many lifetimes or I could say 'many deaths' within one endless lifetime. How many deaths we experience will be a result of our interest and then our determination to find Truth.

I agree, cOm, with your keen insight into genetics and environment... these are very real factors for all of us at some point in time. But, during our final appearance in the flesh, our last flight on this 'plane' of being, these more linear perceptions fall away and we consciously 'prepare' (our) spirit for merger with Source. This is the only true... the ultimate destiny.

Symbol said...

Quantum mechanics fortunately gives us a nice escape from determinism. Before they realised that on the scale of the sub-atomic things could only be seen as probable there was a real problem with those that believed in free-will. Namely that even if we could never possess the power to calculate how every particle was going to move, there would still be no room for free will since every particle was following a pre-determined path. These pre-determined paths meant that the future was written in stone.

Then along came Heisenberg and gave us his uncertainty principle, which states that we can never both exactly know a particles location and direction (only it’s probably location and direction) and this save us from determinism (I think few people realise how significant his contribution was in non-scientific terms).

As for the nature vs. nurture argument, that is basically now old hat. Slowly we’re coming to grips with the realisation that they are one and the same thing. For example, evolutionary psychologists now talk about a ‘learning instinct’, which basically means that it is actually part of our instinctual build up. You see, we wrongly supposed for the longest time that instincts are fixed, but we never really took the time to test this assumption. Now, suddenly we’re playing with the idea that though some instincts are fixed, others can be flexible or lead to flexibility.

Culture, in this way, can be seen as an outgrowth of Nature. There is no longer any need to talk about VS in the nature – nurture argument. Instead we can now just put the word ‘and’ in between.

In case you’re not completely convinced about the learning instinct, here’s a fun thought experiment to try out:

There are four cards in front of you with a number on one side and a letter on the other, they are:

R J 2 8

Now which two cards do you have to turn over in order to find if the following is true: ‘If a card has R on one side then it has 2 on the other’

Now, here’s another part of the thought experiment, there are four people in a bar:

Drinking coke Drinking beer 22 16

About the first two you know their drinks, while about the second two you know their age. Now who do you check to find out if anybody under the age of 21 is drinking in the bar?

Chances are good that you found the second exercise far easier than the first (the answer is of course the beer drinker and the 16 year old). The thing is, the experiment is /exactly/ the same as the one above! It’s just worded differently. The reason the first one is difficult is because it’s abstract, while the second one is put in language we can understand and is relevant for us (we’re checking for cheaters, which has always been an important part of our lives).

This seems to suggest that we’re way better at learning some things and solving certain kinds of problems. This, in turn, implies a learning instinct.


PS: I realise I sometimes get a little carried away, apologies for that.

C. Om said...

Bometernally, being aware is half the challenge. Is the glass half full or half empty?

If one is aware and is still not able to change their experience; they can take it one of two ways. They can be upset that they are not able to feel what they like or they can accept it. When you look at it, if one is not upset that they still have an uncomfortable experience; what happens to the discomfort? It becomes diminished or not as important. What you focus on expands.

Thanks for the insightful comment.

C. Om said...

Stream Source, you're absolutely right on. It is really all a process of evolution and we all share the same goal, whether we are conscious of it or not. This is the "good intention" or "God intention" all beings are motivated by.

Genetics and environment are simply more labels that divide how this evolution is occurring. Like you said, "these more linear perceptions fall away and we consciously 'prepare' (our) spirit for merger with Source. This is the only true... the ultimate destiny.

Thanks and blessings SS.

C. Om said...

Symbol, I agree with you completely. Nature and nurture are two ways to approach and label the same kinds of concepts. It is the illusion of opposites once again. Just as science and spirituality once seemed to be opposites and are now proving to be the same.

We are also of the same perspective on quantum mechanics, Heisenberg and how relative his contributions are.

As for the thought experiment; I can't speak for how others may have initially answered, but I found them to be equally easy to answer.

And don't apologize for "getting carried away". Discussion of this nature always brings deeper insight. I appreciate the comment.