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#44577 - Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:03 PM Latest "study": Is there free will?  
Joined: Apr 2001
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Pilgrim Offline
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Pilgrim  Offline

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Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,293
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April 26, 2010

NEWS FEATURE

Researchers probe whether ‘free will’ exists

By Amy Green
Religion News Service


ORLANDO, Fla.—Are people really responsible for all the things they do? Do they have what theologians call God-given free will to choose between right and wrong?

Those questions are at the heart of a four-year research project underway at Florida State University that aims to determine whether, and how, free will exists.

Funded by a $4.4 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the project will gather together scientists, philosophers and theologians around the question of what factors—free will, genetics, environment, God or something else—lead us to do all the things we do.

Gathering evidence for it one way or another, it’s quite possible, said Alfred Mele, a professor of philosophy at Florida State who will lead the project. Scientists have been looking for evidence for and against free will since the early `80s.

The debate however, is much older. For instance: Do humans, through their own freely chosen actions and decisions, determine whether they will go to heaven or hell? Does an omniscient God already know how things will turn out in the end? Does God given humans the free choice to turn away?

In the early 1980s, neuroscientist Benjamin Libet conducted an experiment that found subjects’ brains registered the decision to flex their wrists roughly 300 milliseconds before the subjects themselves became aware of their decision to do it. Libet concluded conscious free will never is involved in producing a decision, and you can see how there’s a quick road from there to `there actually is no free will,’ Mele said.

The research led some to believe that brain processes traceable to genetic and environmental factors, and not free will, determine our decisions. Others think that while people might not be immediately aware of the decisions our brains make, they still possess the free will to veto these decisions.

But Mele, the author of two books and more than 170 articles on the concept of free will, doesn’t discount the more common definition of free will—one used by the courts in determining guilt and premeditation.

There really is nothing more to it than sanely, rationally assessing reasons and then deciding on the basis of those reasons, as long as nobody is pushing you around or forcing you, he said. In that view of free will, it’s pretty obvious there is free will.

The Big Questions in Free Will research project will devote $3.4 million for projects around the world to explore the concept of free will from scientific, philosophical and theological perspectives.

Scientists will look for evidence proving or disproving whether free will exists. Philosophers and theologians, meanwhile, will seek a better definition of the concept, helping scientists to know precisely what evidence they are looking for, Mele said.

While it is perhaps difficult to reconcile concepts such as fate and destiny with free will, it is possible for an omniscient God to coexist with the idea of free will, said Kevin Timpe, an associate professor of philosophy at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho.

There is a difference between knowing what someone is going to do and causing them to do it, said Timpe, author of Free Will: Sourcehood and Its Alternatives. I know what my wife is going to order when I take her to certain restaurants just because I know her very well. But I also think my wife is freely choosing to order.

What if researchers discover free will does not exist? Two studies portend a troubled future, Mele said. One found its subjects cheated more when they believed they were not responsible for their own decisions; another found subjects’ behavior growing more aggressive when their belief in free will was suspended.

Norman Geisler, the author of 70 books including several on free will, said the idea that free will does not exist is incompatible with the Bible and the doctrine of original sin, which refers to the sin inherited from Adam and Eve’s transgressions in the Garden of Eden.

If Adam’s decision was not made freely, then that presumably makes God responsible for evil in the world.

The Bible constantly affirms that man is free, that he can choose his destiny, that he’s morally responsible, said Geisler, whose books include Chosen But Free. To say that we are pre-determined is to blame God for our choices. Secondly if all our actions are pre-determined, then why doesn’t God save everyone? Because if he can save everyone apart from their free will and he if really loves everyone then he would.


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simul iustus et peccator

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#44580 - Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:31 PM Re: Latest "study": Is there free will? [Re: Pilgrim]  
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 12
CustosFariAnima Offline
Plebeian
CustosFariAnima  Offline
Plebeian

Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 12
United States
Hi Pilgrim,

Thanks for this article! Where did you source it from please?


Thanks!


~Fay

"Our greatest fear is that we will forget how God has led us in the past."—New Amplified Pilgrim’s Progress
#44581 - Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:25 AM Re: Latest "study": Is there free will? [Re: CustosFariAnima]  
Joined: Apr 2001
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Pilgrim Offline
Head Honcho
Pilgrim  Offline

Head Honcho

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,293
NH, USA
Fay,

A pastor sent it to me via e-mail, doubtless knowing I would get an initial laugh out of it and then lament that the unregenerate of this world, both in and out of the Church don't have a clue. rolleyes2

I believe the original source, after consulting [Linked Image] was Religion News Service.

Admittedly, I did a small modification to the article by simply making the name of Norman Geisler's horrid book, Chosen But Free a hot link that when clicked would take you to a great book review by James Harrison; found on The Highway website that exposes Geisler and his myriad heresies.

[Linked Image]


[Linked Image]

simul iustus et peccator

[Linked Image]
#44582 - Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:42 PM Re: Latest "study": Is there free will? [Re: Pilgrim]  
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 12
CustosFariAnima Offline
Plebeian
CustosFariAnima  Offline
Plebeian

Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 12
United States
Pilgrim,

Thanks for the source; thanks for passing it on...appreciated it. Guess I could of just LIU'd it on my own, instead of asking you blush -- But thanks! And thanks again for the article! It re-called to my mind Jonathan Edward's sermon on biblical election. thanks

Quote
A pastor sent it to me via e-mail, doubtless knowing I would get an initial laugh out of it and then lament that the unregenerate of this world, both in and out of the Church don't have a clue. rolleyes2


Respectfully, I'm glad the pastor did, as the article excited me to copy and save it (hope you don't mind) for an article I'm planning to write soon (off computer; not implying the-highway forum) after I finish course exams, for it ties so concisely to the subjects in current study.

Thanks for the "Chosen But Free?" article reference too. Went there, read it...I really need to research more into Geisler's heresies and literary works though, thank you.

I noticed your Cheshire Cat, and I must confess after reading your posted Researchers probe whether ‘free will’ exists article I thought, well sure, if the humanist literary department so contrives "reconciliation" of biblical creation to Neo-Darwinistic chaos then, "yikes my eyes!" this "free will" issue so investigated by many unregenerate (maybe trifle radical?) class of experts warrants really not so dilemma the sudden falling down a hole front page news report after all, since rationally graced, Bible believing Christians KNOW that they are only chasing fruitlessly for the wrong “right theoretically ideal” white rabbit once again, with unsatisfactory results; for how can a wrong-right rabbit rationally occupy the missing chair at the humanist GOP theorem table when such “ideal” characters like Mad Hatter, March Hare and Co. sit to advocate? I mean, would YOU trust a March Hare who pours tea through his broken teacup? nope

einstein



~Fay

"Our greatest fear is that we will forget how God has led us in the past."—New Amplified Pilgrim’s Progress
#44596 - Sun May 02, 2010 5:13 PM Re: Latest "study": Is there free will? [Re: Pilgrim]  
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 969
Peter Offline
Old Hand
Peter  Offline
Old Hand

Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 969
USA
What makes me think they aren't going to consult those theologians that don't hold to libertarian free will? scratchchin


Peter

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. Augustine of Hippo

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