A reader's question answered.
"How can Free Will and Determinism coexist? Surely they are mutually exclusive? How can we have Free Will if all that happens is determined from the start of the Universe and the commencement of Space-time?
Is Soft Determinism is only compatible with Free Will? If you are a Hard Determinist, you need to explain to me and to the other readers how Adam could be held responsible for his sin if he had no choice in the matter?" - Anonymous
Thanks for your question
My thinking on this subject is somewhat unusual, in that although I am a Compatibilist, (which would lead you to think that I am a Soft Determinist) I am in fact also a Hard Determinist who rejects Kant. In my mind I see no contradiction between Free Will and Determinism; even a metaphysical determinism.
Let me explain:
Let us imagine the very first microsecond (1) of the Big Bang and ask ourselves the question "what entirely influences and are the causal factors of the second microsecond (2) after the Big Bang"?
The answer must be that it is the happenings of (1) that are the causal factors for all that happens in the (2) What else can it be? There is nothing within that tiny Universe that can have any affect whatsoever on (2) other than (1).
By logical progression (2) must cause all that happens in (3) and so on for approximately fourteen and a half billion years until you reach the microsecond (x) in which you are reading this word in my article.
What caused all that happened throughout the entire Universe during (x)? Obviously the answer must be all that happened throughout the entire Universe during (w) which was the previous microsecond to (x). Likewise (y) must be caused by (x) and so on by progression until the final heat death of our Universe in trillions or gazillions of years time.
That is how I view Determinism. Everything is determined or pre-ordained, not by a Creator (who I consider to be superfluous) but by what preceded it. Or to put it another way, history creates the future. It has to. What else can create the future other than the past? Even if we were to insert "God" into the equation, he would still be governed by his past, so that bit of quackery achieves nothing.
But that is also how I view time. Time is the progression of one thing to the next. That is what Determinism is. I hold that they are one and the same thing. Moreover, because time is a fourth dimension to Space-time, then Determinism, being the same thing, can also be considered as the forth dimension of our Universe. (Ignoring for now the possible extra dimensions.)
Just as the scale (distance) of the first three dimensions of Space-time are awesome (incredibly large numbers), so time (Determinism) is also awesome (incredibly large numbers) in its scale and distance. Because it is so huge, we have to move through time (Determinism) at a huge speed to get anywhere at all. The maths (Einstein's General Relativity) tells us that we must move through time (Determinism) at the Cosmological Constant (the speed of light).
That is why time slows for us (relative to a static observer) when we simultaneously move through one or more of the other dimensions. Nothing can exceed the speed of light because time cannot reverse. So our time has to attenuate (slow) to allow movement in the other dimensions to prevent us moving through all four dimensions at the same time faster than the Cosmological Constant (speed of light).
Therefore time (Determinism) is like a roll of old fashioned 35mm film that we move through with the passage of time at approximately the speed of light, or slightly slower, but not faster. So we are moving through time (Determinism) at a phenomenal speed, but because it is so awesome in size we don't feel the great velocity of our passage through time. To us it appears to be slow. But it is not. We just don't sense the huge speed of our passage through time (Determinism.)
At this point you will be anxious to ask me "If time (Determinism) is like a roll of film which is complete, like solid object, from the beginning to the end, (which is what I do believe) then how come the exercise of our Free Will does not alter the contents of the film and create chaos?
The answer to that question is that although we genuinely have the ability to choose (for example to choose Red or Green curtains) and that is an exercise of our Free Will, that choice is entirely controlled by our past. We choose freely, but that freedom is a product of what came before.
We choose either Red or Green curtains as a result of our genetic inheritance combined with our entire environmental experiences since birth. All of that great mass of data causes us to choose either Red or Green curtains and that choice is a genuinely free choice; even though there is only one possible choice. Time (Determinism) "knows" in advance the choice that we are going to make, just like an Electron "knows" where it is going even though it simultaneously takes all of the other possible routes to the target (which oddly enough it does).
Therefore I conclude that both Hard Determinism and Free Will are not only compatible, but they are inexorably locked together in the same way that time (Determinism) is in lockstep with the other three dimensions of our Universe and possible extra dimensions as well.
The only other way to look at it would be to propose that our Free Will is a fifth dimension of Space-time. But for now I will leave that idea for future consideration. I'm not sure on that one. If it were true, humanity would be part of the fifth dimension and that might explain our apparently Anthropomorphic Universe. We might even be a fifth dimension of Space-Time. We might be the purpose of the Universe. But that hypothesis has nothing to do with the tribal God of the Hebrew nation, or Christadelphian superstition and tradition.
Against the background that I have described above, the Adam myth of the Bible becomes a logical impossibility. Adam had Free Will; but his choice to eat, or not to eat, was entirely controlled by the genetic code given to him by God and by his environmental experiences since his creation from the dust of the Earth. Adam's life was part of the Time/Determinism continuum which in turn was a forth dimension of Space-Time.
God would have known in advance the outcome of the Garden of Eden project and acted to head off disaster, evil, suffering and death by altering the contents and happenings of the first microsecond of Creation to make things work out OK. His inaction demonstrates that he is not a beneficent God. As that contradicts the claims made elsewhere in the Bible about his moral characteristics, you end up with a conclusion that the hypothetical God does not exist. Or if he does exist; he is evil; because he created evil.
Hope this helps.