From Steven Novella at The Ness:
For example, as I said above, even though I am highly aware of what neuroscience has to say about the illusion of free will and decision making, I also recognize that we have to live our life as if we have free will. We do make decisions, and those decisions have moral and ethical implications.
To give yet another example, is there meaning in life? From a purely abstract philosophical perspective, I would have to say no. There is no objective source of meaning. But from a practical point of view I say – humans have a need for meaning, and we can make our own meaning in life. Sure, it’s subjective, but so what? Everything depends on your perspective anyway.
From an objective perspective we are a fleeting grain of dust in a vast universe that does not recognize or care about our brief existence. But from a human perspective, in both time scale and space, we have a great deal of impact on the people around us and our little corner of the world. I choose to focus on the perspective that scales with my life, and not dwell on our ultimate insignificance.
In the same way, while I find the question of free will interesting, I focus on living a moral and ethical life as a free agent. More.
But if free will is an illusion so must the notion that he is living a moral and ethical life be. Mustn’t it?
Note: Reader Ken Francis sends a link to a 2009 vid in which John Searle discusses the concept. Francis comments, “If Naturalism is true, then Searle is right. But the problem is, such a situation results in him being nothing more than a machine made of meat, with noise-waves emanating from the vibration of mucous membrane across the larynx; a carbon android at the mercy of chemistry and environment. The real mystery is: why is a highly intelligent philosopher like Searle not aware of this?” Hewrites bvk to add that, in fairness to Searle, he did say n an unedited version of the vid that comptibilism is a “cop-out.”
See also: Michael Shermer: We can never solve mysteries like consciousness, free will, or God. He’s right but his subsequent analysis is shallow. There is a distinction between a mystery as a problem (that is, how exactly does something happen?) and a mystery as a fact beyond our grasp.
Neuroscientist debunks hype about no free will, etc.
GP, Mike Pence and Free Will
At Physics Central: How human beings can have free will as complex, purely physical systems
Do the defects of real numbers open the door to free will in physics?
How can we believe in naturalism if we have no choice?
8 Replies to “Neuroscientist: Free will is an illusion but we should believe we have it”
“We do make decisions, ….”
Pardon me? No free will? Then how do we make decisions?
Free will does not exist.
Nonsense. If there is no free will, then we have no choice about the way we live our life.
More nonsense. If there is no free will, we do not choose, make no decisions and are, as a consequence, no ethical beings.
So Novella claims he has no free will and that his life has no meaning but ‘he chooses’ to live his life as if he had free will and as if his life had meaning?
Surely the direct contradiction in the logic of his thinking can not be completely lost on him?
Might I suggest that this inability, indeed impossibility, for him to live his life as if he truly had no free will and as if his life truly had no objective meaning, i.e. to live his life as if atheistic materialism were actually true, is actually proof that he is living in a delusion?
In the following article subtitled “When Evolutionary Materialists Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails”, Nancy Pearcey quotes many more leading atheists who honestly admit that it would be impossible for them to live their life as if atheistic materialism were actually true.
This impossibility for Atheists to live consistently within their stated worldview directly undermines their claim that Atheism is true!
Specifically, as the following article points out, if it is impossible for you to live your life consistently as if atheistic materialism were actually true, then atheistic materialism cannot possibly reflect reality as it really is but atheistic materialism must instead be based on a delusion.
As to evidence that supposedly invalidates free will, Novella mentions these following ‘supposed’ evidences in a article he linked to from 2016,,,
Yet free will is not invalidated by preparatory signals and split brains as Novella seems to think:
As to ‘preparatory brain signals’ in particular,,,
In trying to provide actual scientific evidence for their belief that they have no free will, but are just ‘mindless automatons’, atheists will often invoke the experiments of Benjamin Libet from 1983. Yet Libet himself was a strong defender of free will:
In fact Libet himself stated this,,,
Moreover, despite the widespread false belief in Academia that Libet himself supported a ‘deterministic brain’, the experimental work of Libet, that materialists have often invoked to falsely support their belief in a ‘deterministic brain’, has now been reexamined in finer experimental detail and found to be contrary to their deterministic presuppositions:
Moreover, besides ‘veto power’ invalidating Novella’s claim that we are merely deterministic robots with no free will, recent evidence from quantum mechanics has now come into the picture and also invalidated Novella’s deterministic view of reality.
Specifically, Steven Weinberg himself, who is also an atheist, noted that in quantum mechanics, in what is termed ‘the instrumentalist approach’, humans are brought into the laws of physics at the most fundamental level instead of humans being a result of the laws of physics as Darwinists had falsely imagined us to be.
Needless to say, Atheists don’t like the “instrumentalist approach” of quantum mechanics since it, by letting free will into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level, directly undermines the Darwinian worldview from within. Yet, the “instrumentalist approach”, in spite of how atheists may personally feel about it, is experimentally confirmed to be true by contextuality and/or by the Kochen-Speckter Theorem.
In regards to contextuality we find that In the quantum world, the property that you discover through measurement is not the property that the system actually had prior to the measurement process. What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation.,,, and,,, Measurement outcomes depend on all the other measurements that are performed – the full context of the experiment.
Contextuality means that quantum measurements can not be thought of as simply revealing some pre-existing properties of the system under study.
And as Anton Zeilinger states in the following video, “what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
Of note: since our free will choices figure so prominently in how reality is actually found to be constructed in our understanding of quantum mechanics, (i.e. “we are not just passive observers”), I think a Christian perspective on just how important our choices are in this temporal life, in regards to our eternal destiny, is very fitting. Specifically, although free will is often thought of as allowing someone to choose between a veritable infinity of options, in a theistic view of reality that veritable infinity of options all boils down to just two options. Eternal life, (infinity if you will), with God, or Eternal life, (infinity again if you will), without God. C.S. states it as such:
And exactly as would be expected on the Christian view of reality, we find two very different eternities in reality. An ‘infinitely destructive’ eternity associated with General Relativity and a extremely orderly eternity associated with Special Relativity:
One final note, although Novella claims that the meaning we have in our lives is merely subjective, he is wrong. There is VERY powerful evidence from science strongly indicating that our lives do indeed have objective meaning, value, and purpose.
The self-referential incoherence is now undeniable.
Oh please …. there is, obviously, no basis for your distinction between “theoretical” and “practical.” If there is no free will, then there is also no “practical free will.”
Please understand how irrational your position is:
If what we think, believe and do can be traced back to events over which we have no control — events that took place before we were even born, then we cannot vouch — or be responsible — for any of our beliefs and rationality breaks down.
“Our meaning” cannot be ours since it is, like everything else, a consequence of events beyond our control.
To sum it up, this Novella guy is incoherent, bitter and rejecting any criticism:
Other people get confused by “grades” of free will (“how free is our choice”?), but miss the fact that if we have even a grain of free will, then WE DO have free will. It’s as simple as that:
What do you call someone that repeats over and over the same faulty argument and is unwilling to listen to logical counterarguments?
aarceng @ 1: Exactly! How do a/mats miss that point every time?