Determinism has been a topic in Western religious debates for as long as theology has been a field of study. The argument stems from the paradox between an omniscient (all-knowing) higher being, generally termed “God”, and the perceived or religiously supported concept of human free will. A simple argument that resolves the paradox explains it by way of a perceivable, but not immutable, “tree” of branching choices at which each junction a human is free to decide between any number of options, even though the entire web is comprehended by the omniscient figure. A noncompatibilist argument is that “because God knows your action necessarily before it is performed, it must be that you have no free will in performing the action,” with much simplification on my part.
This argument may fall apart, however, if experiments come to show that human choice is predictable — and they have, at least in a simple sense. As I referenced in an earlier post, fMRI devices coupled with complex software can and has predicted a choice between left and right hand most of the time, and flavors of the familiar psychology experiment colloquially known as “Pavlov’s Dogs” can be applied to humans to make their choices more predictable. Of course, simply predicting behavior is nothing new: when presented with a simple, logical game in which there is a clear outcome with associated reward, the vast majority of capable people will solve the game to receive the reward. Predictable, but hardly evidence against free will.
The argument I will make is that being humanly capable of predicting another human’s actions accidentally and potentially necessarily (as a biological byproduct of reading the brain) ensures that person will carry through the predicted action, and their free will is moot from the instant of the prediction.
If you want some further reading on an argument on compatibilism between an omniscient God and human free will, look for:
Nartey, Emmanuel. “Omniscience, Free Will, and Religious Belief.” Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy, vol. 21, no. 2, Sept. 2016, pp. 135-155. EBSCOhost, doi:10.5840/forphil201621210.
Human-Based Determinism by Eric is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.