Free Choice vs. Determinism

A clever cynic once said: We must believe in free will. We have no choice.

Do we have free choice or is everything in our lives predetermined? Am I wired like a machine — programmed and predictable, or can I change the course of my destiny? That is the big, age old question that has sparked many debates, research and countering arguments.

In 1814, French philosopher, mathematician and scientist Pierre-Simon Laplace stated what has come to be known as causal determinism — that if there was an intellect (coined Laplace’s Demon) that was able to know all the data of the past and present, he would be able to predict everything in the future because at the end of the day everything is a process of cause and effect, action and reaction. The only problem is that we don’t have all the data. This theory would seem to negate the concept of free will – everything is predetermined, we just don’t have all the information to see the results.

The discovery of quantum mechanics in the 20th century, which presented an indeterministic model of the (microscopic) universe, essentially undid the premise of causal determinism. Heisneberg’s Uncertainty Principle states that we cannot simultaneously determine both the position and velocity of a particle, not due to lack of data, but due to the fundamental nature of quantum probability. This proves that it’s not just a lack of proper data that keeps us from determining our future, but it truly is indeterministic.

But there are still many questions swirling around the idea of free will. As creatures of habit, shaped and conditioned by many influences, do we really have free will? How do we know that we aren’t like any animal, simply following our natural instincts and predilections?

Please join Rabbi Simon Jacobson in this important discussion and discover the roots of this debate and how it reflects the very way we look at ourselves. Are we random creatures, or do our lives have purpose? Are we puppets on a string, or are we free people with control over our choices? Do you and your decisions matter? Is your life headed somewhere? Explore inner dimensions of yourself and learn that you can choose to choose — that you indeed have the freedom to choose your future, and you have more control over your actions, and power to determine your destiny, than you ever knew!

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