Swans Commentary » swans.com March 12, 2007  



Whose Free Will?


by Carol Warner Christen





(Swans - March 12, 2007)   We are told that in the beginning after humanity was created, some angels became very unhappy that God bestowed free will onto men and women but not on angels. The angels never realized that they did not face a matter-infested reality in the third dimension. Since angels are of the fourth or higher dimensions as non-corporeal beings, there was no matter to thwart their actions or movements; and yet, to some, it did matter. Two archangels fought a battle and Michael won; Lucifer lost. Lucifer and his minions were sent to the lowest frequency of visual light -- red -- to live in its hellish garishness.

God, however, did not hold it against Lucifer because together they conspired to test Job later. Hell is only the appearance of flames; there is no matter to sustain flames unless the interior of red giants is where they went. That won't work either. The Red Giant stars are, and do, matter in this dimension. We know angels do not have free will. They have been consigned to a determinality, if I may coin the word. They do not live or die in the third dimension -- ours -- because they just are, possibly photonic, as are our souls because every vision we have is photonic and stored as light. The physicists say our psyches cannot be any less than fourth dimensional; they are not explained by three dimensions (points, lines, planes creating our cubic world) either.

We humans know what free will is because it belongs to everyone who is bigger, older, stronger, better, nicer, sweeter, more correct, heavily armed, our boss, our spouse, and, especially, our father, whether he art in heaven or here. To whom does it matter that "free will is freedom of decision or of choice between alternatives?" Perhaps it is "the freedom of will to choose a course of action without external coercion but in accordance with the ideals or moral outlook of the individual," such as me? Free will is "the doctrine that people have such freedom" as "opposed to determinism." "Determinism is a doctrine that everything, especially one's choice of action, is determined by a sequence of causes independent of one's will." (1)

As I understand what I wrote above, it is as if free will is a state of many large, unhampered actions between anarchy and authoritarianism; while determinism is living in a monarchy, a family, an occupation, a totalitarian political scheme, or a prison confined to small personal actions, such as obeying the guard's orders. Chaos, outside of either, would be a war zone, earthquake, flood, tornado, or hurricane because free will would be random at best, death a most probable outcome and undetermined.

The United States of America began as a prison colony to free the monarchy in England from maintaining giant stone structures to house all its rebels and criminals. Those rebels freely began to propagate and build their own houses overseen by British officials. The rebels fed themselves and soon chafed at their lack of free will to acquire land and prosper without paying the Crown taxes. The Crown dropped off slaves, taking goods and resources home to the British Isles. The Crown alone had free will subject only to the Magna Carta backed by British soldiers. Ordinary persons had the writ of habeas corpus in case accusations became prison sentences without a hearing. Free will was, and is, relative to actions, not definitions.

The Crown taxed tea; my ancestor threw the tea into Boston Harbor. The revolution began with the aim to oust the British, which eventually happened. The United States was born in war choosing to keep slavery in its warmer areas. After reorganization, democracy (of sorts) was born, elections held, and people freely elected to various offices. Each person was able to acquire property, build, farm, buy, sell, and live except for the slaves; bonded servants bought their freedom eventually.

Choices were made using free will. Legislatures began voting on laws to limit free will whenever there was serious conflict. It would not do to break laws made by men's free will. There was no free will for women for 143 more years and it's still dicey. Slaves were freed 142 years ago and, even today, their descendents' free will is too often limited to the ghetto, certain professions, and poverty. Jail for blacks today is out of proportion to other persons in prison and is caused by legal determinism; a totally unwarranted disdain for their persons due to racial injustice. God created humanity and humanity's earthly wanderings created race based on sunshine and vitamin D. Another set of forgotten facts used by the determined to keep each race in its own ghetto for fun and profit inimical to those on the wrong end of prejudice. With this background out in the open, we can discuss free will as we think we know it.

When I was twenty-nine years old with five small children one year apart, I flung myself down on my bed and asked to know why I was so rotten inside. I was suddenly facing a rounded opening at the end of a tube. On the other side was a living, moving Blueness -- blue and violet are the most active forms of visible light -- with tiny white lights far into it; it filled my whole vision. It looked alive for all intents and purposes. It was, at minimum, the Deity that "looked" at me without eyes or any features at all; I knew that a Totality was there "looking" back at me into me. I asked what to do. The thought came as clearly as any other speech, "You have free will." That was it.

I peeked out of the opening so see what might be on either side. On each side were more openings. I "knew" that they belonged to my children, family members, other humans, all the mammals. Another thought "came out of the Blue:" "When you die, you will come back through here to stay or return as you will as may the others." I looked once more across that wondrous blue space at the "white stars" -- other windows far away -- and felt as if that were the way extra-sensory perceptions come to us from others, here or there. I woke up here. Never in all my life have I seen a blue to match the depth and beauty of that Blue, that wonderful energetic Blue.

One of my daughters in 1985 asked what I had seen. I looked at her, and she jumped backwards saying she could see it, too, in my eyes. I have never belonged to a church since that moment; religions are too three-dimensional for me. The spiritual is enough. What I saw had no human features, no demands, just fulfillment of my humanity and my right to free will. I am unable and unwilling to forget it.

One day, my husband bought me a blown-glass Klein bottle that represents the fourth dimension, albeit not the rest of the Universe's ten dimensions. There was the "tunnel"; it is within me and you. I am sure it is where we spend our dreamtimes at night, learning, seeing, playing, and knowing. My entire being feels secure with that gift of In-sight.

In the beginning paragraph, the discussion began with free will and determinism. The Elegant Universe says:

In other words, if at some instant you know the positions and velocities of every particle in the universe, you can use Newton's laws of motion to determine -- at least in principle -- their positions and velocities at any other prior or future time. From this perspective, any and all occurrences, from the formation of the sun to the crucifixion of Christ, to the motion of your eyes across this word, strictly follow from the precise positions and velocities of the particulate ingredients of the universe, a moment after the big bang. This rigid lock-step view of the unfolding universe raises all sorts of perplexing philosophical dilemmas surrounding the question of free will, but its import was substantially diminished by the discovery of quantum mechanics. We have seen that Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle undercuts Laplacian determinism because we fundamentally cannot know the precise positions and velocities of the constituents of the universe. Instead, these classical properties are replaced by quantum wave functions, which tell us only the probability that any given particle is here or there, or that it has this or that velocity.

The downfall of Laplace's vision, however, does not leave the concept of determinism in total ruins. Wave functions...evolve in time according to precise mathematical rules, such as the Schrödinger equation (the one about the cat)...This informs us that quantum determinism replaces Laplace's classical determinism: Knowledge of the wave functions of all of the fundamental ingredients of the universe at some moment in time allows a "vast enough" intelligence (beyond our human intelligence) to determine the wave functions at any prior or future time... (2)

That is not the entire story but enough to say that free will is where we humans exist. Why? Because, much as we wish to make the universe strictly determined, we can't, we don't know enough, and we never will except, perhaps, in the realm of physics. If you read about string theory, you will understand that the universe is multi-dimensional and can, on occasion, tie itself into knots. Its Planck-sized strings are very tiny and they vibrate and never stop changing time and space. Here we are lucky to have some semblance of stability, we think.

So, in complete contradiction to the universe, our inner selves, and what we know of science, we only allow some humans to choose our directions. It often seems as if we have yet to leave the desert when God told us what to do or the Middle Ages when religious institutions instructed us. We have a constitutional republic, loosely, a democracy. We say things such as, "I had no choice; the devil made me do it; I am the Decider." (3)

God gave Adam and Eve free will, as we know. When they refused to work for Him, he closed His garden to them. He didn't forbid them to choose; He didn't jail them; He didn't force them into slavery; He didn't start a war and throw bolts of lightning at them; He simply said, "Don't come back." And, then, God left. God proved, at least, to believe in free will. (It's in the Bible, any version.)

We, humans, however, do not believe in free will, except for some whose willfulness is backed by the force of armies, of traitors, of back stabbers, and of excessive funds. Since the willful have needs so important to them that they will kill, maim, enslave, steal, disrupt even the earth, to have their ways with those who trust, have integrity, respect, peace, truthfulness, our planet is losing its ability to recover from human depredations all based on the ancient seven deadly sins. Those who choose greed, envy, lust, and so on, steal from the poor to give to the rich, which is the antithesis of religious writings, rearranging free will to suit them.

We need to rethink the premises because after 230 years as a growing, prosperous country, we are now becoming something else. We are poorer. The wealth of the People goes for wars of empire. I didn't vote for that, did you?

Remember: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Is 230 years just long enough for entropy to settle over a country and disintegrate it? Entropy is the second law of thermodynamics: (paraphrased) everything falls into a state of maximum disorder. Our production of stuff is stifling us and the planet; the oceans are the final dumps for our disorder and our poisonous concoctions.

The gods of commerce and incorporation just might need to be tossed out of Eden long enough for the People to put some sanity and free will back into life at a much slower human pace. I like our automobile but not enough to spend my life within it. The freeways are arteries carrying noxious, gassy, expensive streams of people in pods while the grasses and trees and life along the freeways die slowly or quickly.

We have benzene fumes in Oregon along all the roads; we moved from Portland when the noise in our yard reached 75 decibels, day and night. How much space is left for 7,000,000,000 people to build mega-houses? I know they're not all living in the United States; but, they admire us. We will lose if we encourage ourselves and others to pave everything over and seed it with grass and pesticides. Why? The over-bearing free will of advertisers leaves no room in the mind or the mind's eye for other choices, for free will. Consumer is their word; citizen is mine. This is why the news morphed into media and journalists never give us good information as citizens because they work for corporations, not the Fourth Estate.

Who was born on this planet to be in thrall to merchants? If they tone down their greed, we might all get along. We might even invent ourselves out of our dilemmas given some time to think.

Those who climb to the top of whatever heap they chose are entitled to feel important and successful. They are not, however, entitled to free will while denying it to the rest of us, whom they refuse to respect. Even the Deity respects us, just not those who love the tyranny of power and money. Many of them are contemptuous and double-dealing, buying and selling others below the top. Some people will actually kill for them to prevent free will. We have hired private armies to act in our behalf without swearing allegiance to our laws; these are killers. They swarm all over the world for us; their pay is far above our soldiers' pay and we, the People, pay both of them to kill.

We write laws to allow free will to operate in general, but forbid allowing harm to any one else. That is fair to pay for what you do to harm, one way or another. What is not fair is to claim others don't know as much so "we have to destroy the village to save it." (4) The logic is pathetic; we used it in Vietnam.

Does anyone notice the devastation of Iraq, of Afghanistan? We want to forbid people who do not follow the determinism of the United States' Executive Branch or the new muscular Christianity to live on the planet. We push aside people who have lived for centuries in one place and wisely used their resources. We want to mine or poison or steal from them and we do. One man's free will is another's death...immortalized in 1996, when 60 Minutes asked then-UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright about the death toll of 500,000 children. She responded: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it." (5)

In this morning's paper, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said in the Iraqi Green Zone to American troops and American Embassy officials to be patient because they are engaged in a "noble cause." "When you see Iraqis toiling and squabbling and struggling," she said, "remember, it's not easy to build a democracy." But she also said the Bush administration doesn't have unlimited patience. "The United States is investing a great deal, most especially the lives of our men and women in uniform, and the American people want to see results and aren't prepared to wait forever," she said. (6)

We can easily see that Secretary Rice has no more understanding of free will and determinism than Madeleine Albright did. The word "noble" denotes the determinism and since the United States isn't going "to wait forever," the Iraqis have no free will whatsoever. I also am interested in this investment in the "lives of our men and women in uniform" idea. How does playing with death create an investment in life when the entire war is for oil wealth? Whose free will is being enhanced and whose free will down-graded to determinism?

Choose determinism and you choose the death of many innocent humans. Choose free will and you honor all being. Choose wisely and we will all prosper. Choose to rape, pillage, and steal; your choice is barbaric.

Remember, People, free will gave us a wonderful country to establish justice within. Free will gives us a chance to provide for domestic tranquility. Free will gives us a Constitution under our command to determine our use of free will by law. Free will gives us the common defense; it cannot give us security, nationally or personally, in a vibratory universe. Our inventions scared us so much that the world's security is in jeopardy from us, not others, not yet.

Free will gives us a chance to promote the general welfare; general means all our citizens are entitled to it by benefit of using our taxes wisely to enable us to prosper generally, not specifically for the wealthy to horde more wealth at our expense. Free will wanted and requires us to form a more perfect union. The point where greed, envy, and entropy coalesced into the present poverty and loss of jobs for the middle class became deterministic will. Free will asked that we secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. We gave that part up. Why? What mess of potage was sold to us in lieu of liberty? We know it was corporate persons-in-law and the capitalistic strangulation of the world's trade.

Because of entropy, we need a national housecleaning. We need to clean out and clear up the wordy, horrible laws we have enacted to deny ourselves our own free will to live and love and be. The jails are filled with humans caught by some insufferable laws. We are so deterministic that we still believe in death as punishment because we became deterministic a few years ago and reinstituted the barbaric.

Secrecy must not operate in the public sphere because it determines that we cannot know the truth or what to change freely. Secrecy hides the secrets of those who wish to determine what exists opposed to those of us who believe in freedom and liberty. It is the peak of nonsense to pay those who govern us by fair elections to hide what they do under secrecy edicts. That is their will be done, not ours. We could start with the cleaning this spring and begin to toss out 230 years of accumulating national bullshit. We could start with the truth and put the rest in the trash bin of history lest we forget -- again! (7) (8)

What's it to be: free will or determinism by dictatorial means? "Do as I say, not as I do," my father said. That's determinism. To do as he did is free will. I don't think he wanted me to have it, woman that I am.



1.  Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition. The World Publishing Company, New York and Cleveland, 1970, pp. 384, 557.  (back)

2.  Green, Brian. The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. Vintage Books, New York, 1999, 2003, p. 341.  (back)

3.  Attributed to an officer of the US Army during the Vietnam War after the village of Mei Lai was destroyed to save it.  (back)

4.  Google 961,000 for "I had no choice"; 279,000 for "The devil made me do it."; "I am the decider. I decide what is best." -- George W. Bush. Wednesday, January 10, 2007.  (back)

5.  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/2520/  (back)

6.  "Americans Won't Wait Forever Rice Says In Green Zone," The Oregonian, 2/18/07, written by Louise Roug of the LA Times and The Washington Post.  (back)

7.  Frankfurt, Harry G. On Bullshit, Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford, 2005.  (back)

8.  Frankfurt, Harry G. On Truth, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006.  (back)


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About the Author

Carol Warner Christen: Woman born 1939, twice married, five children, 7 grandchildren; own a goat farm, rural Oregon after years in Chicago area and Ohio; Associate of Arts, Chicago Art Institute (1 year); artist, editor, mechanical design drafting supervisor; owned two computer companies before anyone had a computer; activist; antiwar; human.



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Published March 12, 2007