free will does not exist.
this notion is not an exercise in semantics – rather – it is an exercise in recognizing the real-time limitations of our existence in the spacetime continuum.
logically speaking, because all we have at hand, at any given time, is the present – then any choice presented to us – and any decision made by us – is merely the sum of a collaboration of past events – minus the present. the instant a decision is made, the present re-calibrates itself based upon an updated collaboration of past events, this time including the most recent event. this happens in infinitely rapid succession – with one present ever-springing into the next; all circumstances at hand an unchangeable sum of past circumstances.
if you were thirsty one minute ago but at present time you are drinking water, this does not serve as a function of free will, rather, your present situation is merely a product of past circumstances.
this analogy can be given for any conceivable circumstance. if you ‘chose’ to go left in a labyrinth, it is not because you ‘chose left’ – the notion itself loses its meaning the instant you begin going left. the notion of ‘going left’ simply has to be, because it is. there is no more right. there is only you, going left. the idea behind having ‘chosen’ left with your free will relies *solely* on the notion that there is another ‘you’ still waiting to decide which direction to go at the left-right fork in the labyrinth, and yet another ‘you’ that, in fact, chose to go right. this isn’t so.
basic quantum mechanics shows us that all particle-waves go all conceivable paths to a destination. but it is the act of measuring the particle-waves that give them their most probable location. because we as humans are nothing more than rapid-fire measuring machines – we are ever-defining our location simply by being. we can’t go ‘all conceivable paths to a destination’ because, by definition, we can only measure one. therefore, only one exists. the act of measuring ‘left’ makes the ‘choice’ of ‘right’ nonexistent – even at the moment in time where you ‘could have’ gone right.
everything that’s happened since the big bang *has* to have happened because here we are, a sum of all interactions and and circumstances, breathing.
you’re reading this. i wrote it. i’ll go work construction when i’m finished. you’ll do your thing when you’re finished. saturn stays in its orbit. the colossal andromeda galaxy effortlessly drifts toward the milky way.
if you consider the term ‘free will’ to represent the simple notion of ‘existing’ in the ‘present,’ well, then, we agree. but don’t be fooled by the grand illusion of choice. we’re just not that special.
Although we are both determinists, I am going to disagree with a few of your points.
First, this is indeed an exercise in semantics. You are defining free will in a very specific way and your argument relies on that definition.
Second, I think your discussion of quantum effects goes a little astray. Quantum physics does not apply on the macroscopic scale, so it does not apply to whole people in a meaningful way.
Even so, quantum physics does allow for random events, so your statement that “everything that’s happened since the big bang has to have happened” is oversimplistic. Also, because of the uncertainty principle and chaos theory, it should be impossible to predict future choices with rigor, so free will may effectively exist even if it does not exist in an absolute sense.
But as a refutation of those who see free will as some kind of proof for the existence of a soul, I think you hit the nail on the head.