Free Will makes NYT
Interesting article here. Then discussed further here. Scott Adams also has yet another post on this topic here.
To get an idea of where these articles are coming from here's a few pertinent quotes.
"A bevy of experiments in recent years suggest that the conscious mind is like a monkey riding a tiger of subconscious decisions and actions in progress, frantically making up stories about being in control."
“If people freak at evolution, etc.,... how much more will they freak if scientists and philosophers tell them they are nothing more than sophisticated meat machines, and is that conclusion now clearly warranted or is it premature?”j
"According to deep mathematical principles, they say, even machines can become too complicated to predict their own behavior and would labor under the delusion of free will."
"Dr. Wegner said he thought that exposing free will as an illusion would have little effect on people’s lives or on their feelings of self-worth. Most of them would remain in denial. 'It’s an illusion, but it’s a very persistent illusion; it keeps coming back,” he said, comparing it to a magician’s trick that has been seen again and again. “Even though you know it’s a trick, you get fooled every time. The feelings just don’t go away.'"
"Dr. Silberstein,... noted that every physical system that has been investigated has turned out to be either deterministic or random. “Both are bad news for free will,” he said. So if human actions can’t be caused and aren’t random, he said, “It must be — what — some weird magical power?” People who believe already that humans are magic will have no problem with that."
I'd have to say if the supernatural is ruled out, I am forced to agree. For any serious scientist with a priori denial of the supernatural the idea of free will must go by the wayside. This is no surprise to me. What does surprise me is when I talk to some of my atheist friends who affirm the truth of their free will yet deny the possibility of the supernatural. If at some point information surfaces that effectively disproves the possibility of the supernatural, I will be first in line to sign up to the theory of our supposed lack of free will. I don't see how we can have it any other way.
The naturalist would say we are comprised of mindless chemicals which are the source of every thought we think and every impulse we feel. By extension that would also have to encompass every 'choice' we think we are making. The very idea that you are 'yourself' is an illusion. The idea that you have control of your body is an illusion.
This raises a question. For most, the idea that we do not have free will would require us to fundamentally change how we view reality. From our birth we have been taught that we are responsible for our actions. We are told we can make good decisions and bad decisions. We are told we are responsible for our actions. If it is indeed true that we do not have free will, what do we do with the entirety of our up-bringing that has embedded in us the idea that we do? This is not just a problem for the theist. Any thoughtful Atheist who is taking the time to read this should consider the implications of this mindset. If we have no free will, everything you believe to be true is pure illusion. You are an illusion.
I have to admit, as a theist, that's a pretty tough pill for me to swallow. I would have to fundamentally change they way I view the world to accept this idea.
A parallel situation occurs for the atheist with regards to the resurrection as articulated here by Matt:
The resurrection, on the other hand, assuming that Jesus went from death to life because he was the son of God, is completely alien to my experience of the world to date, given that on every other witnessed occasion the dead stay dead. Accepting its truth would require me to fundamentally change the way I think about the world - raising the required evidence to an extremely high-level. Even the evidence of my own eyes (which are prone to mistakes) wouldn't be enough.
It's as if Matt is stating exactly my feelings, only I feel them towards the notion that we have no free will.
Though I'm sure there are other options the discussion we have been having so far leads me to this decision: Is is more likely that my life experience has been correct and that we do have free will, thus opening the door to the supernatural. Or is it more likely that my entire life is an illusion and what we can see and test in this universe truly is the whole show.
To accept my problem above we must accept that free will = supernatural. Some will disagree with me. I'd like to hear why.
It would seem that the naturalistic wold view can do nothing but devalue us, whereas Christianity affirms our worth and explains it's reality. I don't mean that to be petty name calling. I mean it simply for what it is. Naturalism affirms there is no God, no objective morality, no objective beauty, love is just chemistry and our free will is an illusion.
I have a hard time with that. I also have a hard time with the possibility that miracles exist. I've never seen an overt "heavens being opened in front of me" kind of miracle. However, just because I have never seen one says nothing of it's possibility. I want to believe that I have free will. I want to believe that love is real and more than 'just' chemicals. I want my life to have meaning, worth and value. From everything I've learned to date Christianity preserves these longings that we all have better than any other system out there.