It came as no surprise when I realized that I lived in a world controlled by inertia. This realization came about in a conversation last week when one of my friends commented that ninety-five percent of his behavior was driven by his unconscious. To which another of my friends piped up, oh no it’s more like ninety-nine percent, to which I added my contribution. For me it is very close to one-hundred percent. I then explained that my conscious self is less than a second long, and all the rest of my being is driven by forces outside of my current consciousness. That I, and my current moment of free will, is driven by a lifetime of seconds of free-will conscious decisions, and even though each second has been forgotten, its actions of the moment made the habit it functioned within a little stronger. It is like a single unit of matter influences every other unit of matter in the universe, even if its influence is too minute to measure, we can calculate its influence. These former aspects of my free will had some influence on my current moment of consciousness and free will, but there are other factors that are more important in their own way.
Normally, we don’t think about the Fundamental Forces of our universe, strong interaction, electromagnetic force, weak force, and gravity, gravitational force, but they do control our behavior in ways that we have only a tiny directive control of their gross behaviors. That is we can move nominal size objects at our choice, but we have essentially no control over the Universe itself, as it does over us. It is a motiveless force and is inertia in its most absolute form. Much the same can be said for our body’s DNA. It has been shown by various experiments to control roughly half of our behavior. We do have some directive control over each moment, but the inertia of our DNA directs most of what we do. Then come those things in combination with our personal experiences, to form an inertia from our childhood experiences which greatly influences the free-will decisions we make as adults. These experiences were formed into habits by how we chose to respond in the moment to what happened, but that now resides within us as the inertia of our habits. Then comes the variety of stimulation that comes to us in our living moment that influences our behaviors that are themselves the inertia of a multitude of influences themselves. To those multitude of virtually independent inertias we add our free will of the moment, and yet even this is dependent on the random fluctuations of our senses, and the distractions around us at the moment.
When we consider the number of influences on our free will, and of the obvious power of each of these forces, it becomes surprising that we have any personal control of our own destiny. Obviously, we do have considerable control, because each of these other influences is consistent and predictable. Of course when we look at those influences we should realize that the scope of our free will is very small, and behave responsibly within our personal powers.
To put a number to this way of defining free will, a person 80 years old would have experienced 2,524,608,000 seconds of potential free will decision making. Thus in addition to all of the other dilutions of our free-will choices there is that huge personal constraining of our ongoing decision making by our previous decision making.
(Julian year is defined as exactly 31,557,600 seconds (365.25 days of 86400 seconds) times 80 years equals 2,524,608,000 seconds)