Sunday, September 23, 2007

It'll work itself out

Welcome to the first in a series of short posts in which I ramble on about various topics that have been concerning me for the past few years. This will be the first time that I've tried to put my thoughts into writing and hopefully you can piece together some kind of idea of the point Im trying to make. Im going to avoid the essay style and just go free flow, so bear with me. Also note, I'm still searching for answers and refinement everywhere I go so if you have any references I am more than open to looking into them. This is all based on my own realm of experiences. Things I do not yet know about can sometimes prove everything wrong. Its still a work in progress.

Free will. For the longest time I was an advocate of free will and couldn't figure out why anyone would believe in fate or destiny. Fate and destiny by definition suggest that we aren't in control of our lives and actions. That everything is building towards some inevitable event. With fate and destiny, there is no freedom. You are being controlled. And for a long time, I just didn't buy it.

Actually, I still don't. Fate and destiny suggest a force outside of our reality that guides our every action. I like the idea of being in control of my actions. And for the most part, I am. I saw the documentary-esque film "What the BLEEP to we know?". It deals with science, and quantum physics, and biology, and such. One thing that always stayed with me was just how much our emotions are controlled by chemicals in our brains. If you are feeling good, its not because you just won the lottery, its because your brain has flooded your body with Serotonin (as well as other chemicals your body likes). Likewise, when you feel bad, its because your brain has shut off this chemical supply to your body. So, why would your brain do that? Self preservation. If something happens that causes this lack of supply, you are more likely to avoid that situation in the future and seek out things that make you feel good. Such as eating, socializing, sex, and sleep. Note that all those things are essential to living (so you can pass on your genes), or at least retaining sanity (which you need to pass on your genes). Your brain is hardwired to seek out the good and avoid the bad. Even if you enjoy cutting yourself, something obviously bad to your health, that is due to chemical imbalances. Now, this all clearly applies to general behavior. But what about every single little action and thought?

Remember from elementary school science that everything in the universe is made of matter. And remember from high school physics that everything in the universe obeys certain laws. So... Your brain = matter = governed by laws. Picture a ball being dropped from a roof. Using simple formulas from high school physics, it would be easy to predict how far up the ball would bounce. But not perfectly. For that, you would need more factors. Wind, densities, minute imperfections in the ball and ground, and others. Assuming you could factor in all these into the equation, you could perfectly predict how far the ball would bounce. So the question becomes, how many factors does it take it accurately predict someone's actions? Factors dealing with every single cell and molecule and electric transaction in your brain. We don't have the technology to do it yet, but the point is that it is a finite number. If you knew enough you could predict anything.

What I've come to consider is the possibility that there is no outside force guiding our every action. However, we're not so free that everything we do or think isn't the result of zillions of equations simply working themselves out naturally. You may ask how I can go on with my life thinking this, and the answer is simple. I just don't think about it all the time.

Caveats: Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) science has yet to come up with The Theory of Everything. A single unifying equation and theory that perfectly explains and combines the strong force, the weak force, gravity, and electromagnetism. The forces of the universe. Einstein dedicated the second half of his life to finding it but failed. With this theory, it would prove that you really could predict anything if you just knew enough factors. Quantum physics is a large hurdle to get over on the way. Particles at the subatomic level don't behave by the same laws that larger bodies do. For example, a single electron is said to occupy every space around a nucleus at the same time, until it is seen. At which time is exists in that one spot. Quantum mechanics books are thick. It'll take some time to figure that one out for myself.

4 comments:

Camille said...

i like where ur going with this and tend to agree with most of the things you said. have you considered the theory that combines free will with a planned path? It says that we will approach situation, like forks in the road, in which we will have to choose a path- react a certain way. That reaction then puts us on that particular path and leads us to the next situation where a response is needed. Obviously these "forks" are infinite in number every day. But in this particular idea- our lives are mapped out like a really complex web that contain every possible scenario and it is us who chooses which path is played out. Our choices, both conscious and subconsious, take us across the web on our little, miniscule thread- totally unaware of the possibilies around us. However, we have to take into account that other peoples paths may cross ours or, in some cases, create or delete them into/out of existence. But then- are those situation accounted for initially? Who's to know...

i loook forward to ur future installments.

Christian said...

I haven't that exact "theory" but I can say that that deals with general decisions. What isn't taken in to account is how those decisions are made. It just assumes that we make the decisions on our own. Which we do, but we don't. I'm not to be dogmatic about this :/

Jimmy said...

to what camille said: like the game of LIFE!

Serotonin- while serotonin levels control anger, aggression, body temperature, mood, sleep, vomiting, sexuality, and appetite, oddly enough if injected directly to the blood it can hurt like a bruise would in that spot. It happens to be a key ingredient in scorpion and wasp venom. The more you know...

andy said...

I like the "path" concept as well as imagery too. And Jimmy's note about serotonin is very interesting too...a pain-saving fact that I read just in time...

Interesting to see you take a big concept, and examine in on a continously smaller and smaller level. Perhaps I'm more used to reading less scientifically-based philosophy articles, which tend to take a big question...and create even bigger questions based on that one.

For my thoughts on this, I suggest watching the "Cup-Game Discussion" in The Second Wind, or reading pages 128-129 in The War Within script. (Too long to post here, but maybe I'll put it on my blog if anyone's interested).

PS: Happy Day of Birth, Christian A. Henderson.