Monday, July 22, 2019

Free will is like magnetism and lightning

Leftist-atheist-evolutionist professor Jerry Coyne writes in Quillette:
... his a
rgument is discursive, confusing, contradictory, and sometimes misleading. ...

And you needn’t believe in pure physical determinism to reject free will. Much of the physical world, and what we deal with in everyday life, does follow the deterministic laws of classical mechanics, but there’s also true indeterminism in quantum mechanics. Yet even if there were quantum effects affecting our actions — and we have no evidence this is the case — that still doesn’t give us the kind of agency we want for free will. We can’t use our will to move electrons. Physical determinism is better described as “naturalism”: the view that the cosmos is completely governed by natural laws, including probabilistic ones like quantum mechanics.
So how does he lift a finger if he cannot use his will to move electrons?

There could be naturalism as well as free will. Perhaps consciousness and free are governed by natural laws, just like everything.

Saying that "the cosmos is completely governed by natural laws, including probabilistic ones" is just nonsense. If your laws are probabilistic, then they are not completely governing what happens. A probability is, by definition, and incomplete and indefinite statement about events.
As the physicist Sean Carroll has pointed out, ditching the laws of physics in the face of mystery is both unparsimonious and unproductive ...

Contracausal free will is the modern equivalent of black plague, magnetism and lightning — enigmatic phenomena that were once thought to defy natural explanation but don’t.
Remember that Carroll believes in the totally unscientific many-world interpretation. It would be better to listen to an astrologer on what is science.

I agree with his comparison of free will to magnetism. They seem mysterious only when they are not better understood.

"Contracausal free will" is just a term Coyne likes to make it sound self-contradictory. I say that he has libertarian free will to lift his finger. I would not call it contracausal, because his will causes his finger to rise, via blood, nerves, chemistry, and other natural processes.
For many reasons, belief in free will resembles belief in gods, including an emotional commitment in the face of no evidence, and the claim that subverting belief in either gods or free will endangers society by promoting nihilism and immorality. But a commitment to truth compels us to examine the evidence for our beliefs, and to avoid accepting illusions simply because they’re beneficial.
These atheists act as if they are making a compelling argument when they say "no evidence".

There is plenty of evidence for free will, just as primitive people had plenty of evidence for lightning.

There is also plenty of evidence for benefits to belief in free will. Just look at the difference between Christianity and Islam.

1 comment:

  1. People who don't believe they have any control over themselves or their lives and feel the universe is a random crap shoot are called nihilists. Despair, self loathing, higher suicide rates... forgive me for not thinking this is an 'enlightened' position.

    Read history, there is quite a bit of precedent of what happens to the cosmopolitan effette. Those who don't believe in free will had better be prepared to have someone else's will imposed upon them.