Thursday, July 30, 2009

Free will

After a discussion with a friend about Nostradamus, I realized that the existence of prophets conflicts with the idea of free will: if the future is written in such a way that we can make definite predictions years ahead of time, then the choices of people can mean nothing...they are thus not free. Perhaps this is true, but I find it interesting that Christianity (and probably other religions) has free will as a basic axiom, and yet prophets are a common and fill an important component of the faith!


  1. Free will also goes out the window with the claim that God is omniscient, since this includes knowledge of the future!

  2. Actually, omniscience alone does not immediately preclude free will. If we have a true random system, such as a quantum system, then omniscient would have to mean knowing all that is knowable. This would be knowing the detailed probabilities of trajectories of all particles, but wouldn't even in principle include the knowing of all of the actual trajectories.

    Now, I doubt that most Christians would support this definition of omniscience, but then again most Christians don't understand quantum indeterminacy. :)