Intelligent Design Naturalism

Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins on free will

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They think it’s an illusion, of course. Dawkins recommends Daniel Dennett on the subject but Dennett also thinks that consciousness is an illusion. Michael Egnor would say, if your proposition is that consciousness is an illusion, then you don’t have a proposition.

So, question: If free will is an illusion, does that mean that the person who claims to believe that is not really free to believe it?

See also: Mind Matters News offers a number of articles on free will by neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Egnor including

Can physics prove there is no free will? No, but it can make physicists incoherent when they write about free will. It’s hilarious. Sabine Hossenfelder misses the irony that she insists that people “change their minds” by accepting her assertion that they… can’t change their minds.

Does “alien hand syndrome” show that we don’t really have free will? One woman’s left hand seemed to have a mind of its own. Did it? Alien hand syndrome doesn’t mean that free will is not real. In fact, it clarifies exactly what free will is and what it isn’t.

But is determinism true? Does science show that we fated to want whatever we want? Modern science—both theoretical and experimental—strongly supports the reality of free will.

How can mere products of nature have free will? Materialists don’t like the outcome of their philosophy but twisting logic won’t change it

Does brain stimulation research challenge free will? If we can be forced to want something, is the will still free?

Is free will a dangerous myth? The denial of free will is a much more dangerous myth

Also: Do quasars provide evidence for free will? Possibly. They certainly rule out experimenter interference.

and

Can free will even be an illusion? Michael Egnor reiterates the freeing implications of quantum indeterminacy

Also, by Baylor University’s Robert J. Marks: Quantum randomness gives nature free will Whether or not quantum randomness explains how our brains work, it may help us create unbreakable encryption codes

Hat tip: Ken Francis, co-author with Theodore Dalrymple of The Terror of Existence: From Ecclesiastes to Theatre of the Absurd

19 Replies to “Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins on free will

  1. 1
    mike1962 says:

    If there was no free will, we wouldn’t have the concept of free will.

  2. 2
    AaronS1978 says:

    @1
    Such a remarkably uneducated comment filled with way too much common sense

    Geeezzzz

    Under determinism we can only know things That we interact with and exist

    Gosh

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    Like everyone else here, I have the experience of exercising free will and that experience is different from what I experience in a dream, say.
    So, I think it is misleading to call it an illusion.

    On the other hand, I don’t think there is any way to privilege our “present moment” over those of, say, George Washington in 1780 or King Henry VII of England in 1480 or Japanese Emperor Antoku in 1280. The only difference seems to be that we here in our present have information about the time that lies between our now and those past nows that those past people did not have. One inference is that in 2380, for example, there will be people for whom our unknown future is settled history. This implies a block universe in which all possible times exist at once, where all histories, including future histories have already happened. But, if that is the case, what happens to free will?

    Perhaps it would help to start with if we could come to some agreement about what is meant by “free will”. Is it the capacity to choose between two or more options where the choice is not determined by preceding influences or preconditions? But, unless we decide by the toss of a coin or some equivalent process that we cannot influence, our decisions must be influenced by past experiences and physical antecedents since we cannot detach ourselves from our own histories. So do we have absolute free will or is it more a question of the extent to which our choices are determined?

  4. 4
    martin_r says:

    … two Darwinian clowns (where is Jerry Coyne? )

    anyway, look at this 2 minutes-video, it is from an older Darwinian debate with Dawkins, Krauss, Venter and the other Darwinians …

    Look at this excellent circus performance !

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXrYhINutuI

  5. 5
    martin_r says:

    and, here is another excellent Darwinian circus performance (featuring R Dawkins):

    only 2 minutes, don’t miss:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoncJBrrdQ8

  6. 6
    BobRyan says:

    Seversky

    Free will is the ability to make decisions beyond nature. Nature does not allow for laws against murder, since one animal cannot murder another animal. Humans are the only ones capable of murdering another human. A potential murderer uses free will to determine the course of action the will either lead to loss of human life or prevention of the loss of human life. There is no morality in nature, but humans are separated from nature, which is why there are laws. Without free will, laws would be meaningless.

  7. 7
    vividbleau says:

    “Perhaps it would help to start with if we could come to some agreement about what is meant by “free will””

    I agree.

    I agree with the late RC Sproul definition, to paraphrase ,free will is the freedom to choose what we MOST want to choose at the time the choice is made given the options available to us at that time.

    “So do we have absolute free will or is it more a question of the extent to which our choices are determined?”

    If our choices are self determined then they are not free from ourself.

    Vivid

  8. 8
    Truthfreedom says:

    @AaronS1968

    Under determinism we can only know things that we interact with and exist.

    Except the darwinian clowns (lol martin_r, please let me borrow the concept!), who always escape the clutches of evolution:

    – we are all “programmed” by evolution to have the “permanent illusion” of free will, except the darwinian clowns who always escape the programming and are our saviors/ oracles/ prophets
    – we are all “programmed” by evolution to believe in “false” Gods, except the darwinian clowns who always escape the programming and are our saviors/ oracles/ prophets
    – we are all programmed by evolution to have the “persistent illusion” of design in nature, except the darwinian clowns who always escape the programming and are our saviors/ oracles/ prophets

    Guess that evolution and its “billions of billions of years” are not very good programmers after all.
    https://wmbriggs.com/post/25658/

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    TF, it is worse than that. Knowledge — in the soft form sense — is warranted, credibly true (and so, reliable) belief. If we are not significantly, rationally, responsibly free, knowledge evaporates. If we are not significantly free, we are neither rational nor responsible and our sense that we are is a grand, pervasive delusion that utterly discredits our consciousness and associated perceptions. Where, there is logic of being import, as a computational substrate . . . including brain tissue etc . . . is a dynamic-stochastic system, under mechanical necessity and/or blind chance, no better than its computer organisation and programming. That is, we are up against the hard edge of GIGO. If we are free enough to do reliable physics and math, we are free, period. So, the positions being advocated are self-referentially incoherent. KF

  10. 10
    Orlando Braga says:

    Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins defend the idea of “Epiphenomenalism” — the idea that there’s no such thing as “consciousness” that is independent from matter.

    Karl Popper showed us that Epiphenomenalism makes no sense if it follows its own presuppositions: if my ideas cannot exist without a physical support, i.e., if my ideas are uniquely products of the brain, and thus, are products of the chemistry processed in my brain — then it would not even be possible to discuss the issue regarding “Epiphenomenalism”: this theory (Epiphenomenalism) may not have any possibility to be true, because the eventual evidences that we make out of it are also pure chemistry; and if somebody defends a theory that is contrary to Epiphenomenalism, then he/she should also be correct, as his/her chemistry led him/her to a different conclusion.

    Karl Popper calls this logical trap the “physical determinism nightmare”.

  11. 11
    News says:

    Note: “Richard Dennett” should be Daniel Dennett. Apologies, now corrected.

  12. 12
    Truthfreedom says:

    @Seversky

    This implies a block universe in which all possible times exist at once, where all histories, including future histories have already happened.

    Lololol. Clap, clap, clap! My dear Sev, you just have DEMOLISHED EVOLUTION.

    “Of course, also in a block-time universe, there is no evolution as such since the future course of biology is already set.
    The outcome of an evolution will be a horse or a petunia because it is already so set in the block universe and it cannot be otherwise.
    Yet the same people who use the Minkowski model to deny free will never think to use it to deny evolution.
    The very idea that the course of development of species is already fixed is hateful to them.
    So, they will entertain these contraries simultaneously in their head at the same time in a stunning feat of cognititve dissonance.”

    Ye Olde Statiscian (YOS), comment #3
    https://wmbriggs.com/post/23135/

    So much for “randomness”/ “unpredicted outcomes” (including H. sapiens).

    🙂

  13. 13
    martin_r says:

    Truthfreedom

    indeed, these two guys are very entertaining Darwinian clowns (feel free to use this term as often as you need)

    … of course, there are many others Darwinian clowns – The Grand Darwinian Circus…

    Make sure you watch the 2 minutes-video i posted above, the best Darwinian circus performance i have seen … Dawkins got humiliated (in a public debate) by his good Darwinian friend Craig Venter…

    This short video perfectly illustrates the Grand Darwinian Circus:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXrYhINutuI

  14. 14
    BobRyan says:

    I believe it was Professor Hawking who said something along the lines of never having come across anyone, including the most staunch predeterminists, who did not look both ways before crossing a street. Why look for traffic at all? If one is predetermined to get hit by a car, then it is going to happen regardless of looking for traffic.

  15. 15
    john_a_designer says:

    If there is no free will then no one can change their beliefs or opinions. So what’s the point in engaging in an argument? Obviously the denial of free will is not only self-refuting, it’s absurd.

  16. 16
    Truthfreedom says:

    John_a_designer,

    If there is no free will then no one can change their beliefs or opinions. So what’s the point in engaging in an argument?

    I believe they (evos/ materialists) think that information is passively transferred using our “material bodies”. (Ideas = neurochemicals that actívate our vocal chords and are sent via air-waves to other brains).
    Or something similar. We are the “vessels” of ideas. We are unconsciously programmed and we re-program other “bodies”.
    Non-sense of the highest order.
    That is (I think) why they say we are biological automatons.

    Please some evo correct me if I am wrong.

  17. 17
    john_a_designer says:

    If there is no such thing as free will then there is no basis for any kind morality because “ought implies can.” How can we expect anyone to be morally responsible when no one really has any kind of real moral choice to begin with?

  18. 18
    Truthfreedom says:

    John_a_designer,

    That is why Seversky et al. (atheists/ evos) make no sense. They are so outraged because Christians are not morally perfect human beings while at the same time they (atheists/ evos) acknowledge that we are all automatons programmed via evolution (“natural selection”) to obey our neurochemistry, to which we are slaves.
    Meaning that they (atheists/ evos) did NOT chose to be atheists. Certain parts of their brains made the decision and after that, they created a ‘self’ because, you know, neurons do not like to feel lonely and then they create ‘illusory selves’ just in case. To share with them the joy of being an atheist.

    You know: “it is no good for the neurons to be alone. They will make themselves a helper.” (Darwinian Genesis, 2:18)

  19. 19
    Truthfreedom says:

    ___

    We do have free will and we do experience illusions. It is we who come to decisions like “This is real,” or “That was an illusion.” The point is that there is a we, an us, an I or me that must exist for illusions to obtain.

    And

    Denying (an act of choice!) free will because one doesn’t like morality does seem to be the new opium of intellectuals.

    Free Will Can Not Be An Illusion
    https://wmbriggs.com/post/12186/

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