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Choice or circumstance...?

18 July 2014, 18:15
So this is an idea that has been in my head for a long time, and I would love to get people's views on this - especially biologist (preferably neuro). I have put this idea together based on the knowledge I have acquired over my life.

This is kind of a nature versus nurture query, but slightly different, so here goes...

So basically my understanding is that we are all just a collection of atoms in some profound way that allows us to work as living, breathing and thinking beings. Now, this is where I need help, we are beings that make decisions and any movements based on electronic impulses sent from our brain to different parts of our bodies - for example, you move your hand by your brain telling you which muscles to tense (this is a simplistic way of explaining it, but you get my drift). Now this is where I am leading - if we are controlled by electronic impulses from a central system, how different are we from robots?

If you think about it this way, we are born, and given DNA from our parents - this provides the building blocks for our physical ability, and the mental capacity to be developed - in other words, setting up our hardware that will then be programmed. Now the programming comes in from experiences over our life time. Starting with our parents influence and then the mixed bag of friends, enemies, school teachers, etc. that we encounter on a day to day basis. So in effect we are a collection of our abilities and our past experiences.

Now this brings me to my next point... if we are just a collection of experiences driven by electronic pulses from a central system, then how aware and at fault are we for our decisions. And I believe that we are all part of a system that is travelling along a course that it will always travel along - that is to say, that if we had enough information, then we could map this path. Now I'm not a believer in God, so I don't believe that there is someone pulling the strings, but I think that the big bang (or whatever) set in motion a train of events that will take place - i.e. without any choice.

Now we may believe we have "choice" in any matter, and yes, you do - should I wear the black shirt or the white shirt - but without knowing it, you have kind of decided based on the path of your life and the programming of your brain.

And I feel this leads to all parts of life - even the bad. How at fault is a child that is told their whole life that a certain type of person is a monster and must be stopped at all costs. What decision did they really make before they were born into this world. Now I'm not saying this is right, and people like this need to be removed from society because of the damage they may do... but I do think at times they didn't really have a choice.

My true belief is that I am happy people doing whatever it is that makes them happy - having 10 cats, doing drugs, whatever - as long as what the person is doing does not affect other people's ability to be happy...

I know I'm rambling on a bit and have probably been a bit all over the place, but would love to get some views on this. Also, please don't turn this into a religious debate, that is not the purpose. Chow!
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