Anhad Kashyap

Business Process Reengineering Consultant, Alcatel Lucent

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Is the Creation Predetermined or Random ?

So far I was moving with a notion that “the creation is pre determined”. Which means everything is destined or we can say every inertial space time frame is predetermined. While having a discussion with Sumat Nanda, a close friend and co-worker, I happened to remember a book which I had read in my childhood. This book was a part of “Give Yourself Goosebumps” series by R. L. Stine. Though I do not remember the name of the book, nor do remember the story, what I remember is the way in which the entire sequence in the book was programmed. At the end of each incident, the reader was asked to make choices and for a particular choice, it used to be mentioned, read the following page to know what happens when you make this choice. And then I jumped here and there in the book, made different choices, some choices led to death and some led to different incidents. We can call it the butterfly effect in a way. So this book prompted me to try and explore a possibility of the future being partially predetermined. Let us talk of the Goosebumps book. Now from the reader’s perspective, the inertial frame is the book and the reader is free to make choices. Of every choice, there would exist one true state and all other would be realities. All readers who read the book may have experiences in a different sequence but would be confined to the knowledge content in this inertial frame. So this book is predetermined but the reader has to make choices i.e. free will. But the question in this case is “How free is our free will?” The knowledge content is predetermined with an intention that all the readers get the same amount of knowledge by the end of the book but our free will here is allowed only to flow within the inertial frame. The message or the core idea to be transmitted to readers is fixed and then the entire book in reverse engineered which ensures that all the readers carry the same content with a feeling of freedom while reading. SO CREATION IS PREDETERMINED OR PROGRAMMED ?

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    Jun 10 2012: Everything is predetermined but not in some spiritual or religious way. If you were able to follow every atom in the world you could fast forward their movements and see the future or reverse them and see the past. But since you're birth you're subjected to events which fill your relatively empty brain and you develop a personality derived from your surroundings and potentially epigenetic personality traits. So you've got people who choose different paths in a book but they were always going to choose those paths. We have an illusion of free will, our choices aren't based on on the spot decisions but what we have stored in our sub conscious.
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      Jun 11 2012: So since your personal creation you were always going to write the previous statement , read my reply and think on a possible answer?

      I must say that I can't see the logic in thinking this way. It seems locked in a narrow schema way of thinking.

      Imagine I travel to a country that has malaria and am bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus. I then go to the local doctor for treatment, whilst there a boy realises my nationality, he starts a converse which results in a desire to become a doctor who discovers a cure 15 years after i have passed away. After treatment i am hit by a car whilst crossing the road and killed. The randomness of the culmination of events are astronomical.

      Another random act would be the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs! Giving rise to mammals as a sentient race (and it's worth thinking on the possibility that even though there may be millions of sentient life forms out there, we may be the only ones mammalian based, because of that randomness)....once again the randomness is astronomical.

      The universe started out rather simple but has grown ever complex and will continue in its complexity for billions of years to come. The only thing set in stone is that at some point far off into the future this universe will cease to exist. What is not set in stone is whether there will be sentient beings who will have the technology to traverse the multi-verse, thereby truly outgrowing the natural environment in which it was created.

      I respect your opinion and am certainly not suggesting you are wrong, I have a differing one.
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        Jun 11 2012: I can see where you're coming from it's almost like an irreducible complexity argument, about the asteroid, I think (though impossible) as Stephen Hawking does, that if you could go to the big band and calculate every single particle's momentum, angle of velocity, just everything about it really, given a big enough computer you could then fast forwards these events by typing in all the data so that you now how every single particle in existence data. From this you could see the earth forming by speeding up a simulation. They've already done this but in a much cruder form and just added in the laws of physics and the amount of matter in the universe.
        The sheer randomness point, although highly unlikely as you say astronomically improbable, after 13 billion years and a universe this big the improbable happens quite a lot lol.
        I hope I've explained the whole being able to predict the future thing ok, it's essentially like this in a nutshell, follow the H atoms that form the sun, watch it explode, (still just using calculations from all the particles etc) then calculate the gas cloud it will form, see the individual atoms forming earth, see which individual amino acids will join to start abiogenesis, fast forward 4 billion years of constantly following every particle in the universe and you should be able to work out who'll be hit by a car where and when.
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          Jun 11 2012: Thank you for replying,
          I must say that my current knowledge doesn't allow me to grasp that theory in enough detail to get where natural progression of particle complexity can control creatures of free will, who by nature create ever more complex variations. I would love to get a better understanding because I find the prospect more than fascinating. Can you elude further or point me in a good direction to start?
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        Jun 11 2012: Hi Robert, could you define free will, as there are many meanings people use today. The idea of us having free will is challenged on quite a few fronts, in the sense that it isn't solely our conscious selves thinking and then doing. E.g your heart and every bodily function we do, we don't think about them and our sub conscious controls them. Similarly it has been observed in brain scans etc, that before we move or even consciously begin to wonder whether we'll move or not, our sub conscious has already decided if we'll move or not and this happens seconds before our conscious selves SEEM to make a decision when really we've just caught up with the sub conscious.

        A very simple example which really only covers a tiny portion of selective thinking, say you're brought up in a family who like cake every Friday, you love cake, you love all sorts of cake because you've been raised in an environment where you're subject to cake, well now say you go to a restaurant and it comes to dessert and (for now say you haven't been subjected to food advertising ever) you've got a choice between chocolate fudge cake or honeycomb ice cream, you're going to pick the cake. Not full proof I know but it gets a little bit of the message across.
        As to us creating even more complexity and variations. I'd say it's all down to evolution, imagine the first ape to use a sharp stick to fish, master of engineering at his/ her time, though now we've evolved and so has our mental capacity. I see it like saving a game and then when you come back to play it's like the start of a new generation. The new generation builds on what the previous one created and were able to think of, so now this sets mental evolution in place, they in turn come up with something even more complex which relates to what the previous generation has already made and this cycle continues forever. It explains how we get from throwing stones to making guns and from wooden canoes to cruise ships, this help at all?
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          Jun 11 2012: Thank you for your reply Stewart,

          This is turning into a debate and I do love a good friendly debate :)

          Your reply unfortunately for me has not made things clearer as I feel it has reopened areas of semantic based discussion. I am more than happy to reply and continue to discuss different view long as you are open to this. If however you intended to only give me further information to the enevitable predetermination of matter in the sense of ...wait...wait, wow I think I just got what you are referring to. Isn't it amazing how info sits and stews in ones brain, causing new structures of understanding.

          So is this it: you are saying mathematically there is a finite amount of possibilities that any particle within this universe is capable of befor total annihilation of its existence. As those possibilities become more complex, the permutations of the later constructs would become less complex due to particles forming grouping/ sharing characteristics of a timeline. Therefore, if one could see the outcome of every possible combination of timelined matter then it would be possible to predict large scale events using permutations of possible outcomes?

          If I have it right, then I am still not convinced...sorry :)

          Even though this can lead to the assumption that everything is predetermined it really only proves the fact there is a limit to everything.

          The fact that we are presented with a myriad of possible permutationable choices doesn't change the fact that we chose one of those permutations, ( and we are talking millions of possible permutation per hour of existence) doing so equates to free will...since anyone of them may result in a very different ending.

          So what is free will?
          A possible description could be: A calculated decision process leading towards a desired outcome:- "the ability to make informed choices between predetermined past events against examined outcomes of future events of predetermined possibilities."

          A little clunky I admit
    • Timo X

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      Jun 12 2012: "If you were able to follow every atom in the world you could fast forward their movements and see the future or reverse them and see the past."
      I don't think this is right. Murray Gell-Mann explains it very well, see from 4:40 until 5:50 at

      Of course, randomness doesn't save free will.
    • Jun 12 2012: I think your interpretation of pre-destination in the universe would be correct if it was not for our relatively recent discoveries in quantum mechanics. Even Albert Einstein held a similar view until his death because he could not, or did not want to, grasp the total unpredictability of atomic and subatomic particles due to the Uncertainty Principle and the implications this concept had on his worldview.
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        Jun 12 2012: yea it's merely an idea lots of holes in it and then as soon as you add quantum mechanics you add another giant hole to it, but it's worth pondering
  • Jun 10 2012: You apply what you read in a human authored book to the entire Cosmos. That is a huge extrapolation, maybe? To date I have not met or ever heard of any human being enjoying omniscience; therefore, I assume all authors offer their comments from partial knowledge, which then is only opinion.

    You have a reasonable question. The topic has been handled how many times in different ways on TED? I like to think evolution is real and is creation in slooooooooow motion! So far no one has ever proved there is no Cosmic mind, one at a far higher level than human capabilities. Is there an absolute and replete deduction that proves no person predetermined a model for life in this entire Cosmos? When deduction has run its course and people are unable to offer absolute answers, then it makes good sense, at least to me, to say, "Well, OK, I accept other possibilities."

    The idea of Original Purpose, intent, planning, and vast Enterprise seems reasonable given human inability to explain all things. And it seems really nice to think of a unique fragment of the Spirit of the Original One living within us, as some say, the Indwelling Spirit. Isn't that nice to consider and that this Spirit loves us? Helps us? Guides those who choose to listen and ask for help in all things of life?

    This vast enterprise is too large for us lowly humans to imagine or comprehend. We have had vast amounts of confusion about unseen Realities over many thousands of years. What purely human being has a right to say we have correctly understood all things and that our religious authority documents are final?

    Keep asking questions!

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      Jun 10 2012: There are three kinds of systems: the largest system or the MACRO SYSTEM and the smallest system or the MICRO SYSTEM and then those systems with which we deal in our day to day lives, the MESO SYSTEMS or INTERMEDIATE SYSTEMS. Considering the entire cosmos to be the inertial frame, MESO and MICRO systems are part of the larger system but at different hierarchies. Therefore systems are hierarchical. There is always symmetry in the way systems function, may it be the book which I was reading.
  • Jul 7 2012: To attain the answer we must remove as many variable as possible.

    First we must understand everything that our body does are mere electrical signal being passed from one item to the other and interpreted by our brain.

    Second gain a firm grasp of what time is in relation to three-dimensional space. (to which I have a discussion with math equation that support the new theory and welcome other who want to discuss time)

    Third we must accept that every second we have a choice of either choose to believe our current thought which are based on past experienced or choose accept that everything is good and look for new references that justifies these ideas.

    We must remember our body is a sponge and absorbs everything in its environment. This includes the views of the people around you so every-time you allow some to speak against your belief you allow them to drip water in an area you do not support eventually that water will form into a stalagmite and become apart of you.
    This simple concept can be good or bad and must be continually monitored. If you surround yourself with good eventually you become good and same for opposite notion.

    Remember whatever you truly believe your brain will interpret the world to make that belief accurate sorting through all inputted sensory data to justify that defining belief. To overcome your subconscious and bad data referenced (abuse, trauma neglect) you must act as if things are already change and start thinking that way...

    So yes things are predetermined and programmed but the choice is yours.
    And the choice is the key to your question.

    You can choose to let life be predetermined for you from you programmed societal/global definition.


    You can choose to predetermine you life through reprogrammed expectations of social/global requirements/standard that you want to live by.

    This simple fact will negate any argument that I have while i may influence someone just enough the discuss/arguement will wear me down.

    The choice urs
  • Jun 25 2012: Please consider this as a naive view: I prefer to look at the question from a different angle. When we ask such questions about free will, we forget to ask 'within which frame?'. If we drop a ball in a train, the observer in the train and a stationary observer will see different motions of the dropping ball. It does not make sense to ask which motion is the 'correct' one; both are correct within different reference frames. Just like that, people feel that they have free will when they observe their actions from 'inside' because they can change the course of the events, however an outside and very competent observer will know the course of the events even if it is directed by the choice of the humans. Both are correct based on the selection of the reference frame just like the dropped ball motion observed from inside and outside of the train.
  • Jun 15 2012: Hello Anhad.

    This debate has lasted centuries, and probably will go on for more centuries. How could it be concluded?

    I suggest this approach:

    Could it ever be scientifically determined that everything in the universe is predestined? What experiment could determine this?

    I think that if we can conclude, and all agree, that construction of such an experiment is impossible, then we can conclude and agree that this debate will continue forever.
  • Jun 13 2012: There are questions that cannot logically be asked but which seem reasonable because of limits to understanding or knowledge. Consider what a traveler a thousand years ago might have wondered: does the earth go on forever or does it at some point come to an end of some kind? We can see what someone who had assumed the earth to be flat could not, namely that the answer is neither.

    Is it possible that your question is of that kind? Cosmologists such as Max Tegmark speculate that the universe is infinite. He explains that this would mean that at some vast distance away, there would be another copy of "you", and in fact there would be an infinite number of "yous" in existence. And there is the idea of parallel universes, again infinite in number. In all of these, every possible different decision "you" could make at every single moment in "your" life is made. Every possible thing that could have happened to "you" - and to everything else - has happened. If such an incomprehensible reality is the case, what would it even mean to ask whether "you" had free will or if everything was predetermined?
  • Jun 11 2012: "Creation" - I'd prefer to call it "What Is going on"- is clearly (or clearly enough for me) an eternal (but obviously not 'timely' in a relativistic sense) energy producing and patterning process that is both random AND 'predetermined' - i.e. "predetermined" as in being constrained by 'platonic' patterning possibilities/impossibilities (some of which we do or can know).
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    Jun 10 2012: What do you mean by creation?
    It seems like you are talking about the universe and our lives in it.
    Big assumption to say the universe was created.
    No one really knows if it was or wasn't.

    While there may be indications that everything could be predicted and in a sense be predetermined if we had enough understanding and computing power..... in a practical human sense it feels like we make our own decisions. I've decided to end my comment now.
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    Jun 10 2012: I think the most important word in your opening discussion thread is the word 'creation' which suggests to me a religious connotation.

    So, if you are asking what self will we as proposed gods creatures have, I would answer with the observation that the Christian bible states that we indeed have free will. If we take that supposed fact at face value or even an idea of partial free will, then the logical answer would be that whatever previous time frame and action was predetermined would be rendered nil and void by any free willed action that any individual made. Given that there has been many individuals since the beginning of religous based creation, each displaying free will and interacting with other like free willed individuials, then entropy could be a more discriptive word to describe the degradation of the predetermined original plan. Of course my answer is based on a Christian religious view, I feel the same answer would be relative to most other religions.

    Personally, I have asked much the same question within the theory of evolution. Given a similair planet in the goldilocks orbit revolving around a veyr similair sun. If evolution follows the same pattern, then isn't it logical that intelligent life on those planets would most likely be reptilian? Considering that mammals rise to fame came about by an unlikely asteroidal collision event. If this is so then that intelligent life would be hundreds of thousands of years in front of ours, if the formation of that particular solar sytem matched our own solar systems formations time frame.
  • Jun 10 2012: I don't think that your conception of predetermination and randomness are correct. "Random" is a simple statement of our lack of capacity to predict something. That does not make a random thing special. Our current systems of understanding have been developed to explain very small systems with very few interacting factors. As soon as you deal with a system which would require equations with even a handful of variables, our current systems fail. Reality would require trillions of variables to deal with most systems, and this is completely outside of our grasp currently. In fact, we have a good deal of proof that the systems we use now can never be expanded to address these types of problems unless there are very, very fundamental advances in our understanding.

    Predetermination does not preclude randomness. A system can be completely deterministic and still exhibit random behavior. In fact, MOST deterministic systems exhibit random behavior. When you flip a coin, there is nothing inherently unpredictable happening. Molecules are interacting in ways that we can model very accurately (but only in an extreme isolation which does not naturally exist in reality), air currents are moving deterministically, etc. There are trillions upon trillions of interacting factors, and all of them display extreme sensitivity to their initial conditions (chaotic behavior, which means that any deviation, no matter how small, in 2 systems will very quickly be amplified to cause the 2 systems to behave in a widely dissimilar manner). Mathematics, as it exists now, cannot address such a system. Its behavior is then 'random' but still entirely 'deterministic' as well.
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      Jun 10 2012: Dustin,
      You have taken random in the wrong sense. My question is simple, does a future exist or not, Is the creation Pre determined or not, do we have free will or have we been programmed ?
      • Jun 10 2012: I think what I was trying to get to was that an entirely deterministic universe does not equate to us being 'programmed'. Randomness, free will, etc are all concepts which only make sense in the context of human beings. If a human being cannot predict something, it is random. If a human being cannot predict themselves, then they have free will. There is no actual difference between a deterministic mind which cannot predict its own future state (which would require predicting the future state of the entire universe) and a 'non-deterministic' mind.

        Whether the future already exists is similarly a concept that falls apart under scrutiny. By definition, the statement is the same as saying 'That which will happen in the future exists now.' By definition, this is a contradiction and nonsensical. If it existed now, it would not meet the definition of 'future'. If the entirety of our universe, spacetime and all, existed somewhere, then that place would necessarily have no concept of time (or space) which would be compatible with our concepts of time or space.

        If you accept the belief that human beings do not have free will and that every 'decision' they make it an entirely inevitable outcome of biochemical processes, it makes no difference. We still exist in a universe where the level of complexity is such that we cannot predict such a system, and there are strong indications that it is fundamentally impossible to ever predict such a system without actually simulating the entire universe... which requires being outside the universe, which violates the definition of universe. Accepting the inverse, that human beings do have free will, leads to the same paradox.