Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Friday, July 02, 2010

An odd aspect to free will

If we have free will, then we have something that has several unusual attributes.

One feature of free will is that it separates the possibility of something from the probability of it.

We normally think that if something is possible then there's a probability we could give to it happening. For instance, if there's a chance that something will happen at every moment, then eventually it will happen over an infinite length of time. So given an eternity a computer randomly putting letters together will assemble the complete works of Shakespeare, by accident (maybe after 10 to the power of a googolplex years, but eventually...)

Let's apply this thinking to free will and see what happens. Suppose that God made everyone live forever, in comfort and safety, on a planet like Earth.

If we have free will, and have the resources to build a lot of things, then it should be possible for all of us to decide to build a mountain out of books in every year of that eternity.

But does everyone have to build a mountain out of books in an eternity? If we have free will, then you'd have to say no. Because if we have free will, then in each year in that eternity we must be able to reject that idea. So maybe a lot of people won't ever build the book mountain, regardless of how much time passes.

Just because it's possible for everyone to make a book mountain doesn't mean everyone will eventually do so over an eternity given true free will. So with free will a possibility can always exist with zero probability of it happening, given the determination never to do it.

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Blogger Anna said...

Hey Will,
Thanks for explaining things so clearly and humbly. It never comes across as academic or esoteric or superior, but nevertheless is reasoned and well supported.

Keep it up! Hope you don't mind me referring people to your blog from time to time. I can't word explanations that well.

See you soon!

Blogger Will G said...

Thanks Anna!


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