A question/problem about Arrival...

aberry89aberry89 California
I am going ask about a personal problem I had with the ending. The plot is masterful, and nothing about the way the story is told is a problem. My query is the concept of choice, after she has the new understand of time. She can now see her life and actions all at once, she knows all that will be in her future. But by the end of the film, she is the only one with that FULL understanding. Which brings me to her daughter and her friend turned husband. She knows she will have a child that will live a short life, and on the brink of adulthood will suffer and die. If this was a CERTAINTY - beyond her ability to choose against, if this had and will always play out in space and time no matter what. Fine. Beautiful. Life is all things, good, bad, inevitable. But, without everyone having this full understand, she made a pre determined choice for her daughter and husband.

If my mother, right before I was about to die, told me that she saw all this was going to happen, knew my future suffering and choose let those things play out. I would be furious. I would hate that someone choose that for me. My point is - did she have any power to choose after her revelation?? I know, even if she married someone else, had a different child - bad things could still happen to that timeline too. But the way time works in this movie, it seems your fate is set, but maybe not??? Does she see all possible outcomes of her life with different partners, different careers - is she all knowing? Again - not really a complaint, just a philosophical black hole I got myself into after watching this. HELP
“No time to squabble Troy, for Greendale on THREE! One, two- Jeff, every second counts. For Greendale on TWO! One-"
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Comments

  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    I kind of had a similar issue at the end  of the film, although maybe from a different perspective? I am not sure she had a choice about the events that happened to her, rather she started to perceive time the way the aliens did, in some kind of non-linear fashion, so she sees and even experiences things out of order, which gave her insights other people had, but also gave her blind spots, right? When she's speaking to the Chinese minister he seems to remember something she did that she doesn't remember doing, but that had a big impact on world events, and he reminds her, and then she does it. I think her only choice was whether or not to accept it or come to peace with it. But my concern was why she would choose to do things she could control herself from doing, like telling Ian about the daughter's fate when she was so small, when he lives time linearly and wouldn't have to deal with it for a really long time. What was the point of that? And did she know he would leave when she did it or had she not seen/lived that part of the future yet?

    Another concern I have with the film is- what now? Is Louise going to be the only person on earth who experiences time this way? What purpose does it serve these aliens to give her this "gift" if they will need help in 3000 years yet she's a mortal human who will die long before then? The film only shows her experiencing her own life out of order, not seeing all the way forward and backward throughout time. Or is she going to teach it to other people and then what? I guess if I am going to live 20 years longer than someone else I could tell them about what happens 20 years after they die, and build a patchwork of info that way. But I just felt like "huh" after the film ended.
    Be a human, not a machine.

    Angie Kritenbrink
    akritenbrink on most social media

  • JoshuaHeterJoshuaHeter Omaha, NE
    edited February 26
    Well, 2 things...

    Many people would have been furious that their mother made that choice, knowing that their life would be short and painful, but I imagine other people would say they were happy just to experience life as long as they got to. For what it's worth, there did seem to be at least some joy in the little girl's life in spite of / before the disease. We didn't see what the daughter thought or even if she found out of Louise's foreknowledge (right?). Then again, if Louise can see into the future, she should be able to see if her daughter would be furious or content with her choice. With that in mind...

    Here's the bigger problem with a deterministic universe (and I *think* that's what is implied??) and having someone inside / subject to that universe who has full knowledge of how it would play out... nothing Louise does is (truly) a free choice. She couldn't have acted (or believed, or felt) other than what she did. Is it rational to be mad at Louise if she couldn't have acted differently? It doesn't seem so. That said, if you're the daughter and you find yourself furious (again, if the universe is deterministic), then could you *not* be furious?

    All that to say... I did love the film, paradoxes and all.
    Melonusk
  • edited February 26
    So in my opinion most people didn't really get a fundamental aspect of this movie, including Jim & A. Ron in their podcast of it, and think the plot doesn't work because of that. 

    This movie could have just as appropriately been called Acceptance. You have to accept what the non-linear time perception really means. The very concept of fate or free will wouldn't even make sense to aliens that witness our past present and future as the same thing with no real distinction. 

    To think that seeing the future as pre-determined means that it lacks free will is still thinking of time in a linear way instead of something that just already is, equally with the past and present. 

    Everyone has made dumb or irrational choices in their life and think back with the classic, "what was I thinking?" line. Even with the benefit of full hindsight we will never know what led us to make some choices. Nevertheless they were choices made of our own free will even if we don't understand why. So just imagine trying to make sense out of choices you haven't even made yet.

    You can't 'alter the future' because seeing the future simply witnessing what's playing out as a result of the choices you will end up making. You won't have had any less free will in those future choices as you had in your past ones. She comes to accept this in the very last scene of the movie when he asks if she wants to have a baby. 

    Maybe there are infinite other multiverses of this happening for all the other instances of the varying choices made, but it doesn't matter, the one you see is the one you're in, even if you don't understand why you're going to make the choices you will, as you don't understand why you've made some choices in the past.


    TheEconomistkatethefarmer

  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    Do we think Louise can see the whole future? Or do we think she experiences life in a kind of time jumble?
    Be a human, not a machine.

    Angie Kritenbrink
    akritenbrink on most social media

  • She sees her whole life. And she was teaching the language to others. I don't know how governments would allow that to happen.
    Think about how having people out in the world that knew everything that was going to happen in there lifetime. Gambling is done, sports are done, elections are known years before they happen. The human way of life will be changed forever and the way we live now will be unrecognizable in a generation or two.
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    edited February 26
    But she seemed confused and didn't know that she had called the Chinese minister when he brought it up to her, and he told her what she said, and then we see her say it in the next scene (or actually scenes that are intercut together). Or am I misinterpreting that?

    Why would she be allowed to teach it? Maybe they see it as a tool, or maybe not everyone who learns it can see time forward and backward like she and the aliens can. Maybe she was only teaching it to a select group of people.
    Be a human, not a machine.

    Angie Kritenbrink
    akritenbrink on most social media

  • aberry89aberry89 California
    oh man, started this thread to make the ending more clear, now I am more confused than ever!  LOL  I guess there isnt really an answer to my question, just differnet ways of interpreting the ending. 

    Thanks for all the takes though guys, very interesting to read...

    akritenbrinkCoryJoshuaHeterghm3
    “No time to squabble Troy, for Greendale on THREE! One, two- Jeff, every second counts. For Greendale on TWO! One-"
  • But she seemed confused and didn't know that she had called the Chinese minister when he brought it up to her, and he told her what she said, and then we see her say it in the next scene (or actually scenes that are intercut together). Or am I misinterpreting that?


    Why would she be allowed to teach it? Maybe they see it as a tool, or maybe not everyone who learns it can see time forward and backward like she and the aliens can. Maybe she was only teaching it to a select group of people.
    She didn't "know" at the time when she called the CM, it wasn't until after that she was able to connect the dots. So in essence she was "catching" up with something she "already did". Whenever you deal with this sort of time manipulation things will get sticky.

    As far as the ending, some will see it as selfish (forcing both her future husband and child through the pain/death. Of course would all of the moments up until that time "make it worth it". Do you prevent someone from living because you know they are going to die a painful death? She could have decided not to follow through with the relationship, but she didn't. If we are dealing with multiple universes where every decision we could make has already been made, people may question if we really have "free will" or does free will only relate to which predetermined path we take.
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    She didn't seem confused during the call. She seemed confused during the conversation with him at the opera or wherever they were.
    Be a human, not a machine.

    Angie Kritenbrink
    akritenbrink on most social media

  • TheEconomistTheEconomist Chattanooga, TN

    She didn't seem confused during the call. She seemed confused during the conversation with him at the opera or wherever they were.

    It's because she's just beginning to fully comprehend the alien language and their perception of time.

    I agree with @ghm3 that people keep imposing a linear Construct to time when instead things just are. I assume Louise knows she has to just accept things like having a daughter, splitting up with Ian, otherwise if she never has the zero sum game conversation with her daughter she'll never get a reverse insight into the situation.

    With this alien language it's more like your life has already been lived and is on DVD. All you can do now is choose what scene you want to experience in your consciousness once you master the language. So it's no longer about choice it's merely about experience.

    What is interesting is if your consciousness can transcend linear time what about mortal bodies? Could you endlessly relive the happiest moments of your life in your consciousness while your body still functions? Are our bodies trapped in linear time while our minds can experience the entirety of our lifespan?
    Metaphysical debate ahead.
    ghm3
  • aberry89aberry89 California
    Wandering through this thread like...

    image
    Hatorian
    “No time to squabble Troy, for Greendale on THREE! One, two- Jeff, every second counts. For Greendale on TWO! One-"
  • JoshuaHeterJoshuaHeter Omaha, NE
    edited February 27
    @ghm3

    I've never understood this point. What do you mean when you say that some are imposing a linear construct to time? Are you equating a linear construct to the A Theory of time (where the present is all that is real, the past is no longer real and the future is mere potentiality)? The point that I raised about a 'deterministic universe' is (I think) compatible with both the A Theory of time as well as the B Theory (which claims that the past, present and future are all equally really - 'now' like 'here' is subjective).

    If by 'linear', you just mean something like 'ordered in a sequence' then that is compatible either theory and with a lot of what people have said here.
  • @JoshuaHeter Pretty much all criticism I've heard is really just about not liking her choices, that she should have made different/better choices because she knew future. This criticism is assuming she has the opportunity to alter the future she is seeing. I'm saying that she can't "change her future" because her visions are always just showing her what happens as a result of whatever choices she ends up making, even if she doesn't understand why she makes those choices up until the instant she does, or maybe never understands them, just as we all have made choices in the past that we still do not understand. 
    voodoorat

  • aberry89aberry89 California
    ghm3 said:

    @JoshuaHeter Pretty much all criticism I've heard is really just about not liking her choices, that she should have made different/better choices because she knew future. This criticism is assuming she has the opportunity to alter the future she is seeing. I'm saying that she can't "change her future" because her visions are always just showing her what happens as a result of whatever choices she ends up making, even if she doesn't understand why she makes those choices up until the instant she does, or maybe never understands them, just as we all have made choices in the past that we still do not understand. 



    I feel if like that was the case, they did not make that clear in the writing. I would have been ALL in on the movie if that unmovable fate was clear, but it just wasn't - so those choices she makes still bother me. 

    “No time to squabble Troy, for Greendale on THREE! One, two- Jeff, every second counts. For Greendale on TWO! One-"
  • edited February 27
    I mean, it does become problematic the more you think about it, just like all time travel movies.  If I can see that I die by getting hit by a bus in Kansas City and decide I will never set foot in Kansas City, it turns out I was abducted and brought to Kansas City (but this is something I could or could not also see?).  I guess it's knowing your fate but being on railroad tracks as far as changing it.  
  • JoshuaHeterJoshuaHeter Omaha, NE
    edited February 27
    @ghm3

    Yeah, that's right. The notions of credit and blame (or at least, our common sense understanding of credit and blame) are kind of nonsense if the universe is deterministic, or if time is as it is described in the B Theory.

    What sense does it make to be angry at Louise for her "choice" if she couldn't have acted otherwise? However, if the daughter of Louise angry at / blames her, it's equally irrational to criticize her for her anger because she couldn't feel otherwise - she couldn't *not* be angry.
  • @aberry89  True they don't spell this out in the movie, but plenty of movies are intentionally vague. And (as I interpret it) Louise herself doesn't really understand this until the last scene. And so after that (chronologically), in all the previously shown flash-forward scenes of her with her child, she has this acceptance and understanding that her choices will lead to the visions she's had.

    But again, this is not fate. Fate is the idea of your life playing out beyond your control, that you have no choice. This ability she gains to see her future doesn't remove her free will or somehow expose the lack of its existence, it just reveals what her choices are/will lead to, and she has no more ability to alter her future choices as she does her past ones. But they are her choices made of her own free will,


    @JoshuaHeter Yeah the whole thing about being angry at one another for her choices may be valid, but ultimately irrelevant. Ian was obviously angry enough at her to leave her when she tells him, which she already knew would happen before they even got together, but obviously couldn't help it and eventually did at some point. Plus, by this point she already accepted knowing and eventually making choices that would lead to this. 



  • I haven't read the short story that the movie is based on but apparently in the original story Louise doesn't have a choice but in the film she does -

    http://www.moviesonline.ca/2016/11/eric-heisserer-interview-the-arrival/http://www.moviesonline.ca/2016/11/eric-heisserer-interview-the-arrival/

    Question: There’s a theme in the film of is it better to have lived your life in a certain way even if you already knew the outcome and how it would play out. Was that already in the short story?


    HEISSERER: The short story was far more rigid about determinism. Ted’s message within the short story was to embrace the inevitable. It didn’t give Louise a choice in the matter and it just let her be at home with that. I got very rebellious and said, "Well Ted, that’s not going to work for me in the film. Sorry. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to change the core of this." He’s been game. If he secretly hates me on some form like, "I can’t believe he changed this," then so be it. But, I wanted to make it a profound statement that she still chose to have Hannah, despite knowing what was going to happen in her life. It’s a very small moment in the film, but it means so much to me. It’s when she talks about how Hannah is unstoppable because of her poetry and her swimming trophies and all of that. She’s talking about Hannah’s contribution to the world and how that affects other people, and the fact that if she chooses not to have Hannah, will the world be a lesser place? How many people will she not have been able to affect. It’s not a selfish thing. It’s very much she needs to make sure that this contribution exists.
    TheEconomist
  • @aberry89

    Please allow me to further confuse you. You're question lines up with the theological debate within Christianity about free will. Are humans irresistibly predestined to be saved (and therefore also predestined to be damned) or is there an element of free choice in salvation? Some people belive that if God knows everything that will happen then he necessarily predestines it to happen and free will is an illusion. 

    Thomas Aquinas gave a fairly decent argument against this. If you need something to fall asleep to you can read it here: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1083.htm

    Here's a much simpler explanation that a priest told me. Everything, including you, is made of atoms. You can break anything down into the atoms that it's made of, and you can break those atoms down into even smaller parts. You don't just exist in physical space. You also exist in time, and your existence in time can be broken down in similar pieces. There is a present, past, and future you. There's also a unique version of you that exists at any given moment. God isn't a human being he lives outside of time and space. So we could say that when it comes to time God can he past, present, and future self all at once. His relationship with time can't be broken down into smaller pieces. He just is who he is all at once all the time. Hopefully that wasn't too shitty of an explanation lol. 

    So basically this is how I think the Aliens view time. For them any free choice they make is the choice they were always going to make. And I don't they separate the past and the future from the present. Basically Thomas Aquinas would say "Don't be so hard on Amy Adams." It's not that she can see the future and decides that she is ok with everything that happens, rather she has just as much control over her future as you or me. She just has a different way of relating to it. 
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    To be honest, I've kind of resigned myself to the idea that we don't have free will as we think of it now.  We're all complicated bio-chemical machines that take in stimulus and react in a way governed by our biology and then rationalize these decisions after we've made them.  Perhaps that's what life is like as a fifth dimensional being, just rotating time like a cube trying to rationalize and live with things that are happening and will happen.  Just endlessly turning and being like WTF until you reach acceptance.

    Intelligent life arose from chaos and chance put in motion and ordered by elemental rules such as gravity and electromagnetism.  It wouldn't blow my mind to find out that intelligent life has no more choice in how it behaves in day to day action than the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies have in avoiding their collision in about 4 billion years.

    /rustcohle
    Underwood
  • @A_Ron_Hubbard Agreed. I'm not religious anymore. So it's really hard for me to see how free will could be a thing. It's just something we eperience.
  • To be honest, I've kind of resigned myself to the idea that we don't have free will as we think of it now.  We're all complicated bio-chemical machines that take in stimulus and react in a way governed by our biology and then rationalize these decisions after we've made them.  Perhaps that's what life is like as a fifth dimensional being, just rotating time like a cube trying to rationalize and live with things that are happening and will happen.  Just endlessly turning and being like WTF until you reach acceptance.


    Intelligent life arose from chaos and chance put in motion and ordered by elemental rules such as gravity and electromagnetism.  It wouldn't blow my mind to find out that intelligent life has no more choice in how it behaves in day to day action than the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies have in avoiding their collision in about 4 billion years.

    /rustcohle
    AKA you don't have a choice NOT to listen to BM
    Yeah? Well, y'know... that's just like uh... your opinion, man.
  • JoshuaHeterJoshuaHeter Omaha, NE
    So, allow me to stick up for the 'other side' here.

    First, let me say that I'm perfectly open to the determinist picture of the world - it's not uncommon that I think "Yeah, perhaps I don't have free will. Perhaps all my actions are predetermined." That said, it's worth pointing out a few things.

    First, It doesn't seem that there are any great arguments in favor of determinism. All such arguments seem like they have at least one premise (i.e. assumption) that is 'ad hoc' or worse... question begging.

    Second, and alone this doesn't mean much, but, it really does *feel* like we have free will. It really does *seem as if* we have control over whether (for instance) we make a post, or delete it instead.

    Lastly, all of our moral concepts seem to require that our actions are not determined. You think that so and so shouldn't have done such and such? Well, to say that someone should have acted other than they did seems to imply that they had the *power* or *ability* to act differently than how they acted. I doubt that Bald Move will refrain from making moral judgments (concerning the characters they cover). But, what does it mean to say that a person should have done X if it was impossible for them to have done X?
  • @JoshuaHeter the only problem with the last part is that it goes under the assumption that your moral values are the "correct"/"only" ones. Just because our paths/decisions are "predetermined" doesn't stop people from having different values/morals/path than you. The "what if" is the "should have", even if that person couldn't chose any differently. just because they can't/couldn't make a decision wouldn't stop someone people from discussing what if the chose differently or they should have done xyz.

    What does fee will "feel like" if we've never trullh had it or experienced it? If the illusion of free will is "close enough" will people ever really try challenging it?

    Lack of free will doesn't necessarily mean lack of diversity or opinion.
  • JoshuaHeterJoshuaHeter Omaha, NE
    I don't think my last argument assumed that my moral beliefs are the only correct ones. It *does* assume that *in principle* morals / moral beliefs can be wrong, or irrational. But, that applies to me just as much as anyone else.

    Suppose someone with Tourette's Syndrome is making a very mild but somewhat noticeable disturbance with little noises or ticks at a somber occasion (maybe a funeral or something). Suppose also that another person in attendance makes a moral judgment about the Tourette's sufferer: "He should be quiet; it's wrong to be making such a disruption!"

    It's not just that the moral judgment is wrong here, it's that it doesn't make sense! The general idea here can be expressed a number of different ways - you can't be judged for that which is outside of your control. That is - it's *irrational* to morally judge a person for that which is outside of his control. "Ought implies can". That is, if it really is true that you ought to do something, that entails that have the ability to do it. Because of this, in the Tourette's example, if the person making the moral judgment later learned of the Tourette's sufferer's condition, he should retract his judgment (and he may even feel a little embarrassed).

    So, if we have no free will whatsoever; if all of our actions are predetermined, then it is irrational (and incorrect) to judge any of our actions as right or wrong, good or bad. That might not be a convincing argument that we *do* have free will, but it's a good reason to think that we'll at least almost certainly continue pretending that we do (assuming we don't).
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    Does not having freewill in a micro sense mean there aren't any macro effects from the decisions we make as a population?  How we choose to punish "decisions", surely go back into the cosmic machine and influence future "decisions".  Ie, stiff jail time, execution, etc go into the biomechanical soup of our consciousness and influence the future decisions that we'll make in the next instant of time. 

    I've been reading a lot about compatiblism these past two weeks.  I don't have a good enough grasp to explain it to anyone yet, but it's pretty fascinating that there is already a large robust body of work that has been done with this concept
  • JoshuaHeterJoshuaHeter Omaha, NE
    edited March 21
    So, if we don't have any free will or genuine agency, then it seems wrong or misguided to punish anyone just because that's what they "deserve" - it's hard to say what "deserve" would mean without freedom. But, there would still be reasons to punish - deterrence, rehabilitation (something we aren't great at in the U.S.), and what not. It's hard to have these conversations without begging any questions, because it's almost like someone is saying "So, you see, there would still be reason to *choose* to punish people..."

    Here's my understanding of compatibilism. Speaking as if I were a compatibilist: Free will and determinism are compatible and if you think that sounds contradictory, that's because you're thinking of 'free will' wrong. If you think free will and determinism aren't compatible, you're probably thinking of free will like a libertarian (note: not the political viewpoint). According to libertarian free will, what it means to have free will is the ability to do otherwise. So, when you're at the gas station in front of the wall of soda choices, if you freely choose to buy the Coke, it's still true that you could've bought the Pepsi (or bought nothing at all). If you buy the Coke you weren't (pre)determined to do so. The universe (or at least your place in it) can turn out a number of different ways based merely on your will.

    The compatibilist says that this understanding of free will is incorrect. According to the compatibilist, all events are pre-determined (even the events in which you act), and there is only one way for your life to turn out, but all that it means to have free will is that (often enough) your desires produce your actions - you do what you want. So, there is only one way for your life / the universe to turn out, but sometimes you did what you had a desire to do, and that's all that it means to have free will. According to the compatibilist, freedom isn't *the ability to do otherwise* it's *the matching of your desires with your actions*. So, looking back at your "choice" of the Coke. If you wanted the Coke more than the Pepsi (or than refraining from getting anything at all), and you got the Coke, then that was an act of free will (according to the compatibilist).

    Compatibilism is sometimes called "Soft Determinism" because it's still determinism, but it comes with an understanding / definition of free will that is "compatible" with it.

    Now, how this affects our understanding of the justice system, or morality... it doesn't seem like it should be any different than just straight forward determinism. If compatibilism is true, then if you freely choose to murder someone, then yes you did what you wanted to do, but you couldn't have done otherwise, you didn't choose to have the desire to murder,, and it doesn't seem like you have any *genuine* agency or control over how your desire to murder affects your action of murdering.
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    I'm not much of a philosopher, so let it be known that I don't really think that much about these concepts in an intellectual context. But when I think about "humans and free will" this is where my mind goes. Because of a condition I have (PMDD) I have done a lot of thinking about and mindful practice in terms of what I choose to do and what I do out of instinct. When PMDD hits, my instincts are often wrong, but I am less inhibited about acting out on them. So I have sort of two sides of myself, that are both me, but one is more reactive/impulsive whereas one is more in control. The important part of this is that through mindful practice I can be in control even when I am in the more reactive frame of mind. It doesn't feel good, it's actually draining and difficult, but it's possible, and the outcomes feel better than when I lose control. I've also seen lots of people struggle through serious problems like addiction and make different choices along the way to either make their lives better or worse. You feel sometimes like you are out of control but there is always a point you can control to turn your outcome in a different direction. So I think that means free will is a thing and that humans do exercise it. 

    I also think for one to believe in determinism, we do have to believe in some higher power, or accept the pathways in our brains that have been formed by our exposure to religion- at least that's where those ideas of an omnipotent force come from. So when people start talking about a scientific basis for determinism (or really a lot of different philosophical constructs), I feel like they are just using science to replace God in the same equation. But science can't replace God, or gods, or religion- they are two different things with two different intellectual frameworks underpinning them. I don't think science seeks to replace God, in fact. I think religion seeks to quiet science but science doesn't feel the same way. Religion says: Don't look over there. Trust us on faith. Science says: Let's take a look and rule out all other possibilities, and after months and years of work we might possibly find some partial answers. In the meantime let's go out for beer and tacos.  

    There's my philosophical statement for the year, lol. 

    English major and atheist, Angie
    Be a human, not a machine.

    Angie Kritenbrink
    akritenbrink on most social media

  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    @JoshuaHeter - yeah, that seems accurate.  I'm thinking of it in this way.  Free Will means I'm free to have whatever desires and wishes that I want.  Determinism means that I'm not going to get most of that fulfilled, and it's just as likely to die completely unfulfilled as it is to die completely fulfilled, and at either end of the spectrum that chances aren't good.  I'm taking it as a challenge to live in the moment and not be too preoccupied with undo guilt from looking back or undo worry from looking forward.

    I do think it's a bit of a more universal Pascal's wager, and what Jim would probably say about this.  Unless you're 100% certain that you're living in a deterministic universe, you should live as if you're not.
    JoshuaHeter
  • JoshuaHeterJoshuaHeter Omaha, NE
    @akritenbrink

    FWIW, I think there are those who are determinists for religious reasons and those who are determinists for completely secular reasons.

    So, (for instance) there are certain branches of Christianity that teach that literally everything that happens is a product of God's unchanging will. So, there is only one way for the history of the Universe to turn out and it is literally determined by the way God wants it to be. Of course, there are other branches of Christianity that teach that we *do* have free will and that God doesn't determine anything. But, that's a different story.

    However, there are also many atheists (e.g. Sam Harris) who think that we don't have free will because materialism is true. If materialism is true (i.e. the view that the physical world is all that exists), then a human being, a person is just a complex arrangement of atoms; as Aron put it, we're all just complex 'bio-mechanical machines'. If that's the case, then everything we think, say, and do is just the product of the laws of nature. We feel a certain way, and do certain things not because we have any sort of agency, or free will, but because of the chemistry in our brains (and that's it).
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