Freewill or Predetermined

Created on Wednesday, 6 March 2013 20.26

For thousands of years, the question has lingered in our mind: Do we have free will, or are our actions predetermined? There are three possible choices; namely, we enjoy complete ‘Free will’, or, every action is predermined, or some combination of the two. The choice of neither being true does not seem logical, because, in the absence of both free will and predeterminance, only chaos would reign. Since our Universe presents at least some order, this cannot be the case.

Between free will and predeterminance, there are strong arguments to be made for both sides, but there are several weaknesses in the hypotheses, as well. For instance, free will for every organism to influence the universe would imply that there would be no untoward experiences for anyone. This is not true in our universe, unfortunately. It is also possible that the free will of two organisms can conflict, resulting in less effect on the universe.

The universe does not seem to be totally predetermined, either, since individual actions seem to be able to change the course of history. One could argue, of course, that even these rogue actions were predetermined, but that thought process leads to fatalism.

We have failed, then, to come to a final understanding with either group. What if it is a combination of the two? If it is a combination, then to what extent do we have free will? What is predetermined? Who exerts control over events?

Scientists call this the Big Bang, which set events to flow in the forward direction and in turn to make ‘time’ move in the forward direction. At the very instant of Big Bang there was absolute ‘order’ in whatever caused the Big Bang. But from then on there is a constant movement towards disorderliness or chaotic nature of all things. The Universe is set to move from a lower entropy state to higher entropy states. Higher entropy states mean more disorder, this flow of direction cannot be reversed. This is the reason it takes more effort to bring order to our life than to let it sink into disorder. While trying to maintain lower entropy levels, we take the energy from the Universe which in turn makes the Universe move towards even higher entropies elsewhere.

So can we say that we have free will to maintain lower entropy levels? To answer this, we need to look into the Copenhagen Interpretation, which is one of the earliest and most commonly taught interpretations of quantum mechanics. It says that quantum mechanics principles cannot yield a description of an objective reality. It means that until anything is observed all things exists only as many states of possibilities or potentials. According to the interpretation, the act of measurement or observation causes the set of probabilities to immediately and randomly assume only one of the possible values. Can we imagine that all things in the Universe exist as only possibilities? In a way, this leads directly to the ‘Schrödinger’s Cat Thought Experiment’, where a cat, trapped in a box where a deadly vial of radioactive material could leak at any time, from a quantum mechanical, probabilistic point-of-view, is both alive and dead with a 50:50 chance. Extending this concept, can we say that if we do not know ‘a thing’ that ‘thing’ does not exist in reality but exists only as several possible states waiting to be manifested? So can we say that the observation causes manifestation into singular events in space and time?

Based on these, we can infer that it is predetermined that all things exist as only possibilities until our mind, through ‘free will’, manifests and collapses all the possibilities into a single event in an irreversible direction due to the increasing entropy of the Universe. So if you train your mind to manifest only things that you want, you can still do it! If a tree falls in a forest and no one around, then it did not make any noise. In fact, the tree itself might not have existed!

[Personal Notes from Swami Krishnanda Maharaj's discourses Divine Life Society ]




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