http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/2 ... 52628.html
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Are people really responsible for all the things they do? Do they have what theologians call God-given "free will" to choose between right and wrong? Those questions are at the heart of a four-year research project underway at Florida State University that aims to determine whether, and how, free will exists. Funded by a $4.4 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the project will gather together scientists, philosophers and theologians around the question of what factors -- free will, genetics, environment, God or something else -- lead us to do all the things we do. (...)
The debate however, is much older. For instance: Do humans, through their own freely chosen actions and decisions, determine whether they will go to heaven or hell? Does an omniscient God already know how things will turn out in the end? Does God given humans the free choice to turn away? In the early 1980s, neuroscientist Benjamin Libet conducted an experiment that found subjects' brains registered the decision to flex their wrists roughly 300 milliseconds before the subjects themselves became aware of their decision to do it. Libet concluded "conscious free will never is involved in producing a decision, and you can see how there's a quick road from there to 'there actually is no free will,"' Mele said.
The research led some to believe that brain processes traceable to genetic and environmental factors, and not free will, determine our decisions. Others think that while people might not be immediately aware of the decisions our brains make, they still possess the free will to veto these decisions. But Mele, the author of two books and more than 170 articles on the concept of free will, doesn't discount the more common definition of free will -- one used by the courts in determining guilt and premeditation. "There really is nothing more to it than sanely, rationally assessing reasons and then deciding on the basis of those reasons, as long as nobody is pushing you around or forcing you," he said. "In that view of free will, it's pretty obvious there is free will." (...)
While it is perhaps difficult to reconcile concepts such as fate and destiny with free will, it is possible for an omniscient God to coexist with the idea of free will, said Kevin Timpe, an associate professor of philosophy at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho. "There is a difference between knowing what someone is going to do and causing them to do it," said Timpe, author of "Free Will: Sourcehood and Its Alternatives." "I know what my wife is going to order when I take her to certain restaurants just because I know her very well. But I also think my wife is freely choosing to order."
What if researchers discover free will does not exist? Two studies portend a troubled future, Mele said. One found its subjects cheated more when they believed they were not responsible for their own decisions; another found subjects' behavior growing more aggressive when their belief in free will was suspended.
The article ends stressing that the Original Sin implies Free Will because ''If Adam's decision was not made freely, then that presumably makes God responsible for evil in the world.'' -Thing is that neither Adam or Eve could differentiate right from wrong before eating the forbidden fruit...
A comment by 'Thinkster':
''I think the definition of what constitutes "free will" will be the most difficult issue before these investigators, and I doubt they will be able to come to a definition that can be tested. The infinite regression of definitions will peter out to a self-referential statement of what constitutes free will that mirrors what we already have, and we can’t test it because it requires we prove the negative – that free will doesn’t exist. This seems to lead to reductio ad absurdum – the fact that we choose to study free will itself implies that we have free will. Or doesn’t it?''