Ok, so… this is the blog post that I was half way through writing earlier! This time, I’ll try not to lose it …
The first thing is, I’ve been listening to “Love” by the Beatles recently (it arrived on Monday). I’ve been very impressed. The tracks have all been re-worked by George and Giles Martin. Some of them have been done a lot more subtly than others — ‘Yesterday’, for example, sounds almost exactly the same as the original. Some of them I really like what they’ve done though. I have to say, I’ve really been enjoying listening to it! Although I think some Beatles ‘purists’ might not like the messing around with the tracks, I think it’s been done very much in the spirit of the Beatles and they’ve done a really good job.
Anyway. The other thing I wanted to mention is really kind of random, but it’s just something I’ve been thinking about a bit recently… do we really have free will? Scott Adams has mentioned this on the Dilbert Blog quite a few times… he seems to think that we don’t. And, would you believe it, I think he may have a point.
I believe that on a biological level, us humans are basically machines. Highly complicated and intricate, mind, but nevertheless machines* With a machine (such as a computer), if you give it the same input you will receive the same output. Machines are not random. What I’m trying to say is… if (in another life) there was another me with exactly the same DNA, circumstances, experiences (etc) as me — would the new me make exactly the same choices that I have done?
Is our behaviour predictable — just on a highly, highly complex level? It’s an interesting question.
Of course, if people don’t have free will… that leads to all sorts of problems. How can people be held morally accountable if there is no free will? And a whole host of other things… how can God hold people responsible for not worshipping him if all they are doing is what they are ‘programmed’ to do? (How can I even know there is a God, I might just be ‘programmed’ in a certain way!)
I think my answer to that at the moment would have to be something like… even if our responses are ‘pre-programmed’, we don’t know what those pre-programmed responses are. They are far too complex for us to predict, so to all intents and purposes people have at least the illusion of free will. Of course, being highly complex machines, we may even be able to change what our ‘pre-programmed’ responses might be. We are beginning to see advances in the field of computer science where computer programs can actually modify themselves. Of course, it will be a long time before this is actually usable, but still, it’s a possibility.
Also, it might shed some light on a few things in the Bible, for example this passage in Matthew. How did Jesus know that the other cities would have believed had the same miracles been performed in them? Well, aside from the obvious answer (he was God!) — maybe it was something to do with the fact which humans have predictable responses which only God is intelligent enough to be able to comprehend [it should be noted that the Bible does not explicitly mention ‘free will’ – although, of course, it does not explicitly mention the trinity either…]. Of course, that just brings up more questions…
Aaaaanyway. Enough of me. What do you think?
* Of course, as a Christian I also believe that we are more than the sum of our parts. But let’s not get into that now 🙂
P.S. – apologies for the philosophical nature of this post. Normal service will be resumed as soon as we have figured out what is normal anyway.