This is tangentially related to a topic often (far too often) discussed on this blog. I am one of those rare souls who both believes the claim of the determinists, that all material things could be predicted by a sufficiently advanced intelligence if he had complete information about everything in the universe, and the claim of the indeterminists, that men have free will.
Of course, I must confess that part of my reason for believing the claim of the determinists is that Mentor of Arisia, the super intelligent brain creature organizing all human history and eugenics in the space opera GALACTIC PATROL by E.E. Doc Smith would not be able to create his Visualization of the Cosmic All if determinism were incorrect. And I always wanted to visualize the Cosmic All, just as much as I wanted to breed human beings like dogs and bring forth the Kwisatz Haderach, also called the Grey Lensmen, gifted with psionic superpowers — what red blooded all American boy does not?
And, without free will, how could the Grey Lensman force his lens-amplified psychic willpower with the grinding, trenchant, acute, razor-sharp yet penetrating, spectacular mind-numbing force, driven by all the power and scope of a highly trained brain and indefatigable willpower, needed to pierce the desperately held thought-shield of Gharlane of Eddore and obliterate that fearsome wight forthwith, by pure mental effort alone?
Note to the humor impaired. That was a joke. My reason for affirming determinism is that it is a necessary presupposition for the physical sciences.
It is for this same reason I reject the Bell interpretation of Quantum Mechanics and accept the Einstein interpretation. God does not, despite what anyone says, play at dice.
However, belief in free will is a necessary presupposition for the disciplines of law, politics, and ethics. Since the former deals with descriptions of the physical aspects of inanimate bodies reacting to outside forces and the latter with the legal and ethical meaning of human action, I neither see a conflict or any way, even in the most rigid hypothetical, of imagining a conflict. Human action neither obeys nor breaks any physical laws of nature.
Indeed, in the rare cases where a physical cause (such as the chemical action of a drug or a trauma to the brain makes a man act irrationally, that is, without the ability to control his own actions) is determined to be the cause of what seemed at first to be an action of the free will, we place the event in the category of determined physical actions and we do not analyze it in terms of ethical categories.
In order to say that my free will and prophetic foresight of my actions are mutually incompatible, we have to say that free will grows the more my unpredictability grows, but diminished the more predictable my actions are. By this definition, an honest man who give you his sworn word to do something he can be trusted and relied upon to do has less free will than a liar or a madman, someone who does not give his word or who cannot give his word. But we all know that a madman does not have free will: that is why, as a matter of law, we do not punish the insane for their actions. They cannot control their actions. They are not free.
What makes the assertion that my free will and prophetic foresight of my actions are mutually incompatible even more doubtful is the difference between pagan prophecy and Jewish prophecy. When Oedipus was told by the Oracle that his fate was to murder his father and marry his mother, his and their attempts to escape that fate ironically brought it about.
On the other hand, when Jonah told the evil men of Nineveh that God would destroy the city if they did not repent, they repented and escaped destruction.
Jewish prophecy is a message given to men who can change the future so that they will change the future. Pagan prophecy is a mockery told to men so that men will become aware of the chains and bars of fate, which no one, not even the gods, can escape.
The philosophical debates about determinism are even more absurd that tales of pagan prophecy. The pagan oracles claimed (perhaps with some truth) to be able to tell the future. The philosophical debates are based on a hypothetical ability for oracles in centuries yet unborn, after science has mapped the position of every thought in every man’s head and every position of every atom in the universe, to make predictions. The pagans at least attempted to predict the future; the determinist philosophers are arguing about predictions that cannot be made, and even if they could be made, are not going to be made until the superscience of Mentor of Arisia learns how to create a Visualization of the Cosmic All sufficiently accurate to predict all reality.