The problem of free will concerns the domain of humanity’s possible evolution. If, on the one hand, we are constrained to whatever decree science imposes, our direction and goal must be fixed. This has rankled just about everyone, however, since it precludes any essential benefit to thinking at all.
On the other hand, if humans are completely free to choose, it requires that we accept the world we inhabit as entirely a product of human choice. Whatever design might pertain to the world is confined to those systems lacking choice, and generally the argument runs that whatever has come into being since man’s fall from Edenistic bliss is now enmired in that fall.
If the world as we known it is the process of human decision, where is Divine Will? If we say one must be content with the Will of God, to what does this apply? However many people may agree with that sentiment, very few are found willing to accept particular events, if they do not accord with that inexplicable sense of God’s Will that people seem universally to possess. Whatever appears to be virtuous, or expected as a good outcome, this is God’s Will; but the truly despicable, evil cruelties of the world, these are man’s alone.
There is, however, a non-linear view of events in which it is plain that both conditions obtain: That every action borne of choice reflects free will, while every action accords with the will of God. I call it “multilinear” to reflect the situation it describes.
Determinism results from considering – independently of any moral or theological ideas – the simple fact that every effect is preceded by a cause. This is projected into the formula that every cause might be followed by a single effect. Chained together, it becomes necessary that all futures effects are caused by causes anterior to those effects. Thus is all past and future mapped out, and free will ostensibly fades away.
However, while undeniable that every effect is preceded by a single cause, is it true that every cause can have only one effect? Already in the theory of quantum coherence we have found repeatable evidence that a single cause may have multiple simultaneous effects, until interference from an external system causes a collapse of those possibilities into one outcome.
This evidence describes a situation in which a single cause may have a set number of possible effects, multiplied throughout the domain of subatomic interactions to provide for a finite, yet innumerable number of possible futures. It is not possible, furthermore, to induce an effect which is not possible from a given cause at a given moment, upholding the scientific requirement that every effect be proceeded by a cause for which that effect is a possible outcome.
How the agency of human will is related to the brain we do not know, but if we say that this relationship involves selection among mutually possible outcomes – which are selected between by some heretofore unknown agency – then we have a model which allows for free will within a system of determined outcomes, albeit the quantity of possible outcomes is sufficiently large to defy conception.
For those with a taste for teleology, let us say further that whatever pattern has been laid down to cause the orderliness of the world, and the rising up of conscious beings capable of such a “selective will” as to choose among possible futures, that this pattern is equally present in all of those possibilities, since their number is determinable in their finity from the initial moment of the pattern’s inception. There is no method available for the computation, but by assuming that each cause leads to a finite number of possible effects, we presume that the universe of all possible effects followed by their effects, etc., remains a quantity that while impossibly large is yet numerable.
This numerability of the set of possible futures implies a pre-ordained set of possibles, the exact shape of which considers the entire set, and not merely the single track which human choice has selected from among this incalculably dense forest. Yet the forest is not a desert, or an ocean; we are cutting our way through a pre-known geography, and the set of possible exits at any time is beyond the force of will to evade.
To use a plainer analogy, consider the presentation of meals in a cafeteria. Although we each make a choice according to our individual preference, and although the set of possible combinations is rather large, in the end we are not choosing outside of the set of possibilities initially chosen for us by the cafeteria staff. For our part, we are choosing, according to our will, whatever suits us; for their part, we are choosing, according to their will, from among the set of choices presented to us. There is no outcome that can exceed the possibilities allowed for, and in this sense our choice is foreknown – if by foreknowledge one includes a knowledge of each possible outcome simultaneously. Only the linearity of human minds might find such a conception difficult.
Thus we have reached a situation in which foreknowledge does not determine choice, and yet choice cannot escape that foreknowledge, since all available choices exist within the scope of the ordained pattern. The atoms of a river may jostle and bounce, but the river’s bed has fore-ordained the course. Whether one of those drops strives for the surface, or sinks to the depths, they will all reach the same sea – some collecting on the bottom, some moving out with the current toward greater depths.
Now if we call all events God’s will, we mean that teleologically speaking, no event can exist which does not reflect the fore-ordained pattern of human life. We also allow human will, which is active within this pattern, but cannot choose beyond it. And we admit the principle of determinism, in a multilinear fashion, by allowing each cause to have multiple events, which are chosen among by the function of coherence, the result of selective interference by effects external to the cause.
In this assessment, it would be better to say that human’s have selective will; it is not entirely free. It cannot contravene the Will expressed in the pattern, which to us is absolute, inviolate. We are determined insofar as the Primal Will determines our possibilities, and we are free insofar as these possibilities exist, unimaginably broad. We are not ships, sailing upon an unlimited sea; rather, we are wayfarers on a marked land, seeking a path to lead us to such shores.