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Do we have free will?

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From Prager University, here. From transcript of audio:

Now, if all you are is a brain, an exhaustively physical system of neurons and synapses, then there’s no “you” that’s gonna be making a “choice” at all. Your thought processes are basically just a complex series of colliding electron-dominos crashing into one another. It’s just physical cause and effect, right — something that can be exhaustively understood in terms of physics and chemistry? There’s no “you” that’s an agent that’s deliberating, or choosing, or exercising free will.

And that’s why, if you are just a brain, you cannot have free will. You would just be a physical machine — a very complex but programmed computer.

But, if you’re something more than your brain — if you’re the thing that has the brain — then, when I ask you “Where do you want to go for lunch?,” you’re going to start deliberating — you’re going to be weighing your taste preferences, the commute time, perhaps even counting calories. You’d be weighing various reasons to choose one place over another. You wouldn’t be caused to think about any of these things. You would choose to think about these things, and you could stop anytime you wanted to.

So, what we have here, therefore, are two different types of things: an immaterial mind and the material brain. You are the thing that has the brain — you are not your brain.

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

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Comments
Mung, Let us assume that aliens created life on Earth. Let us also assume that aliens did not require an intelligent designer. The chain of events that led to life on Earth then did not require ID which is completely contrary to the claims of ID. Can someone answer me what would be the CSI of alien beings intelligent enough to create life on Earth? Is that CSI higher or lower than ours? If the aliens' CSI is higher than ours, are they more or are they less improbable than we are? Why does Dembski's improbability argument not factor into the existence of alien lifeforms?Carpathian
June 23, 2015
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-Box
June 20, 2015
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Carpathian: This means Dembski’s improbability argument is meaningless since an intelligent designer is not required as a first cause. That doesn't change the facts on the ground.
ID proponents believe science should be conducted objectively, without regard to the implications of its findings. This is particularly necessary in origins science because of its historical (and thus very subjective) nature, and because it is a science that unavoidably impacts religion. Positive evidence of design in living systems consists of the semantic, meaningful or functional nature of biological information, the lack of any known law that can explain the sequence of symbols that carry the “messages,” and statistical and experimental evidence that tends to rule out chance as a plausible explanation. Other evidence challenges the adequacy of natural or material causes to explain both the origin and diversity of life.
Mung
June 20, 2015
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Carpathian:
This means Dembski’s improbability argument is meaningless since an intelligent designer is not required as a first cause.
Only if true. Big if. Also Donald Johnson says that Dembski's probability argument is meaningless as your position doesn't even deserve a place at that table. You seem to want to abandon science and jump straight to ultimate causes. Is that out of ignorance or do you have an agenda?Virgil Cain
June 20, 2015
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Mung:
Carpathian: This means that the first link in the chain of events that led to life on Earth did not require ID. Mung: So? The living organisms we do know of have features that appear to be designed.
This means Dembski's improbability argument is meaningless since an intelligent designer is not required as a first cause.Carpathian
June 20, 2015
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Carpathian: This means that the first link in the chain of events that led to life on Earth did not require ID. Yes, you finally get it. You were equivocating over the term "life" as if the life on earth is the only possible kind of life. This means that the first link in the chain of events that led to life on Earth did not require ID. So? The living organisms we do know of have features that appear to be designed.Mung
June 20, 2015
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Mung:
Even if aliens somehow evolved from space dust and designed features of living things found here on earth, it just doesn’t follow that those features were not designed or that the design inference would be false.
What you're saying is that you accept that life's first cause, i.e. the aliens, were not necessarily intelligently designed. This means that the first link in the chain of events that led to life on Earth did not require ID.Carpathian
June 20, 2015
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Mung:
Carpathian, you are among the absolute last people on earth I’d go to to find out what ID is about or says.
See the following...
Mung: Not that you’ll pay any more attention to this than anything else I’ve ever written, but ID does not claim that life was designed. ID is about certain features of living things.
Carpathian: Of course ID claims that life is designed!
Virgil Cain: ID is about the design of life AND the universe- see “The Privileged Planet” and “Signs of Intelligence”.
You appear to be the odd man out Mung.Carpathian
June 20, 2015
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Carpathian's problem (well, one of them at least) is that he thinks all life must be the same. But ID could care less what he thinks about that. There's nothing in ID that says that aliens could not have designed aspects of the biological life we all know and love. There's nothing in ID that says that alien life must display the same features that lead us to infer that some features of living things AS WE KNOW THEM are designed. Even if aliens somehow evolved from space dust and designed features of living things found here on earth, it just doesn't follow that those features were not designed or that the design inference would be false.Mung
June 19, 2015
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Carpathian:
While an alien designer may be possible, it’s existence is at least as improbable as ours.
Non-sequitur. What next- the square root of Tuesday is blue?
Since the improbability of life is what is driving ID...
We disagree with Mung. No one should ever go to you to find out about ID.Virgil Cain
June 19, 2015
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Carpathian, you are among the absolute last people on earth I'd go to to find out what ID is about or says.Mung
June 19, 2015
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Virgil Cain:
Carpathian- Concerning life on earth it is very possible to have an ET designer. And SOP requires that we take it one step at a time- proximate as opposed to ultimate.
While an alien designer may be possible, it's existence is at least as improbable as ours. Since the improbability of life is what is driving ID, then the improbability of an alien life-form must be considered at the same time, otherwise we are no closer to an answer than we were without the additional alien life.Carpathian
June 19, 2015
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Carpathian- Concerning life on earth it is very possible to have an ET designer. And SOP requires that we take it one step at a time- proximate as opposed to ultimate.Virgil Cain
June 19, 2015
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Carpathian:
If the universe was designed, who else could have?
Q
ID is about the design of life.
ID is about the design of life AND the universe- see "The Privileged Planet" and "Signs of Intelligence".Virgil Cain
June 19, 2015
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Mung:
Not that you’ll pay any more attention to this than anything else I’ve ever written, but ID does not claim that life was designed. ID is about certain features of living things.
Of course ID claims that life is designed! Kairosfocus constantly brings up the improbability of replicators needing to be designed. He is talking about the origins of life here and mentions it often. ID is about the design of life.Carpathian
June 19, 2015
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Silver Asiatic:
If alien life forms created life on earth, then we know that no material processes on earth created life.
ID's argument is that life is improbable without intelligent design. Adding alien lifeforms does not change that improbability argument. It also does nothing to diminish the argument that life did not require a designer. We would be in the same position in this debate with alien designers that we find ourselves in now, i.e. was alien life improbable? Adding aliens does not solve the question of improbability that exists now in regards to our own origins. Aliens must be as improbable and designed as we are otherwise they are proof that we don't need a designer ourselves.Carpathian
June 19, 2015
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Carpathian, the point seems lost on you that your "logic" is not logical. The point seems to be lost on you that we are talking about the “ID” designer of life, not any other after-the-fact designers. This sentence doesn't even make sense. Aliens cannot be the designer of life that ID claims was responsible for the origin and design of life. This sentence makes no sense. If life is impossible without a designer as the cause, then how could you have living aliens existing before they designed life? You're equivocating. Claiming that living aliens designed life would be a paradox. No it wouldn't. Claiming that their existence did not require a designer would be evidence that no designer is required for life. No one is making such a claim. Not that you'll pay any more attention to this than anything else I've ever written, but ID does not claim that life was designed. ID is about certain features of living things. This is a separate question from what it is that makes something alive.Mung
June 19, 2015
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Carpathian
But their existence would be proof that life itself is not improbable and could exist without an intelligent designer of any type.
It depends. Their existence could be proof that life is even more improbable than we thought. There could be beings with even more sophistication, complexity and intelligence that we can imagine - far beyond what natural processes could create. The challenge remains - show how blind, unintelligent processes can produce sophisticated, intelligent life. That task doesn't necessarily get easier if we find alien life.
Why would their non-designed existence be accepted but not ours?
The mere act of finding alien life does not mean their life wasn't also designed. It moves the problem of the ultimate cause of all life in the universe back a step. Anything dependent on the universe for existence cannot be the cause of the universe to exist. You've claimed that ID is not science because the designer would have to be supernatural. But what we mean by "nature" is that which exists in space and time, in the known universe (all the physical reality that we know of). So, any claim of a multiverse is pointing to something "beyond nature" -- its something outside of the universe. But the origin of the universe is accepted by many to be scientific research. ID would be science in the same way.
If they too had to be designed, then they are not the cause of life and yet that is the question we are trying to answer.
There are different questions that ID answers. One would be the cause or origin and development of life on earth. That's the life we can observe scientifically. If alien life forms created life on earth, then we know that no material processes on earth created life. This doesn't answer what the origin of alien life is, but it does prove ID correct. The life that we observe on earth is the product of intelligent design. In this case, alien intelligence. ID would then have to move to the next question -- is the origin and existence of alien life evidence of intelligent design? Even without observing aliens, there would need to be some answer as to the origin of any aliens. That's the same as questions about the origin of the universe, or the origin of matter and physical forces. ID looks at those arguments also. The universe itself shows evidence of having been designed by intelligence.Silver Asiatic
June 19, 2015
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Silver Asiatic:
Again, we can’t evaluate the origin of alien life scientifically. But it’s enough to know that intelligence was required to design life as we know it, and that intelligence could come from aliens, if such beings existed.
But their existence would be proof that life itself is not improbable and could exist without an intelligent designer of any type. Why would their non-designed existence be accepted but not ours? If they too had to be designed, then they are not the cause of life and yet that is the question we are trying to answer.Carpathian
June 19, 2015
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Carpathian
Aliens cannot be the designer of life that ID claims was responsible for the origin and design of life.
ID does not claim that a specific designer was responsible for the origin of life. Instead, ID shows that there is evidence of design in the origin of life. The question of who the designer was is a separate issue, not part of ID.
If life is impossible without a designer as the cause, then how could you have living aliens existing before they designed life?
That's a metaphysical question, not science. ID can only say that the life we observe scientifically now, here on earth, could not have arisen without a designer. ID cannot make scientific claims about aliens which have not been observed. It's enough, however, to recognize that it's possible that some sort of alien life could have designed life on earth. To evaluate the origin of that alien life, we would have to observe it.
Claiming that their existence did not require a designer would be evidence that no designer is required for life.
Again, we can't evaluate the origin of alien life scientifically. But it's enough to know that intelligence was required to design life as we know it, and that intelligence could come from aliens, if such beings existed.Silver Asiatic
June 19, 2015
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Virgil Cain:
That is incorrect. The book “The Privileged Planet” is about the design of the universe and our place in it. It does not posit God did it.
If the universe was designed, who else could have? Is God subordinate to the designer of the universe? Did the designer of the universe create God?Carpathian
June 19, 2015
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Mung:
Mung: Carpathian, it seems the point was completely lost on you. Sometimes I wonder why I bother. Carpathian: Aliens cannot be the designers of life if they themselves are alive.
The point seems to be lost on you that we are talking about the "ID" designer of life, not any other after-the-fact designers. Aliens cannot be the designer of life that ID claims was responsible for the origin and design of life. If life is impossible without a designer as the cause, then how could you have living aliens existing before they designed life? Claiming that living aliens designed life would be a paradox. Claiming that their existence did not require a designer would be evidence that no designer is required for life.Carpathian
June 19, 2015
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Carpathian:
In ID, the “designer” has only created life while in creationism, the “designer” has created the entire universe.
That is incorrect. The book "The Privileged Planet" is about the design of the universe and our place in it. It does not posit God did it.Virgil Cain
June 17, 2015
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Carpathian, it seems the point was completely lost on you. Sometimes I wonder why I bother. Aliens cannot be the designers of life if they themselves are alive. By that same "reasoning" then, humans cannot be the designers of life if they themselves are alive My question to you is rather simple. Why then are humans trying to design life? Do they just not know better? And why are you here arguing with us rather than out there warning all those misguided humans that they are on a fool's errand?Mung
June 17, 2015
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Carpathian: In ID, the “designer” has only created life while in creationism, the “designer” has created the entire universe.
ID does not limit its scope to life. And contrary to creationism, ID does not posit a specific designer. For a definition of ID take a look here. Excerpt: The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.Box
June 17, 2015
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Mung:
Carpathian: Aliens cannot be the designers of life if they themselves are alive. Mung: And humans will never be able to design life in the lab, or artificial life.
That is why "fine-tuning" is evidence for creationism, not ID. In ID, the "designer" has only created life while in creationism, the "designer" has created the entire universe.Carpathian
June 17, 2015
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Carpathian #43: What I see instead is different forms of the argument that evolution without a guiding intelligence is very improbable. What I would like to see from the ID side is an argument that stands on its own.
The two go hand in hand: Stephen Meyer, 'Darwin's Doubt', ch.18 :
What natural selection lacks, intelligent design—purposive, goal-directed selection—provides. Rational agents can arrange both matter and symbols with distant goals in mind. They also routinely solve problems of combinatorial inflation. In using language, the human mind routinely “finds” or generates highly improbable linguistic sequences to convey an intended or preconceived idea. In the process of thought, functional objectives precede and constrain the selection of words, sounds, and symbols to generate functional (and meaningful) sequences from a vast ensemble of meaningless alternative possible combinations of sound or symbol.18 Similarly, the construction of complex technological objects and products, such as bridges, circuit boards, engines, and software, results from the application of goal-directed constraints.19 Indeed, in all functionally integrated complex systems where the cause is known by experience or observation, designing engineers or other intelligent agents applied constraints on the possible arrangements of matter to limit possibilities in order to produce improbable forms, sequences, or structures. Rational agents have repeatedly demonstrated the capacity to constrain possible outcomes to actualize improbable but initially unrealized future functions. Repeated experience affirms that intelligent agents (minds) uniquely possess such causal powers. Analysis of the problem of the origin of biological information, therefore, exposes a deficiency in the causal powers of natural selection and other undirected evolutionary mechanisms that corresponds precisely to powers that agents are uniquely known to possess. Intelligent agents have foresight. Such agents can determine or select functional goals before they are physically instantiated. They can devise or select material means to accomplish those ends from among an array of possibilities. They can then actualize those goals in accord with a preconceived design plan or set of functional requirements. Rational agents can constrain combinatorial space with distant information-rich outcomes in mind. The causal powers that natural selection lacks—by definition—are associated with the attributes of consciousness and rationality—with purposive intelligence. Thus, by invoking intelligent design to overcome a vast combinatorial search problem and to explain the origin of new specified information, contemporary advocates of intelligent design are not positing an arbitrary explanatory element unmotivated by a consideration of the evidence. Instead, we posit an entity possessing precisely the causal powers that a key feature of the Cambrian explosion—the explosive increase in specified information—requires as a condition of its production and explanation.
Box
June 17, 2015
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Carpathian
No one has a list of the forces God uses but we can describe nature’s forces and exactly how they relate to each other.
The way forces relate to each other and to various elements in the universe is what we consider fine-tuning. Denton: Nearly everything discovered in the 20th century from biochemistry to cosmology supports the notion [that] ...the cosmos is uniquely fit for carbon-based life [and] the anthropocentric claim that nature is uniquely fit for beings of our biology and physiological design One might aptly paraphrase Hoyle, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with the laws of chemistry and biology towards the specific end of organisms like us.”Silver Asiatic
June 16, 2015
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Carpathian: Aliens cannot be the designers of life if they themselves are alive. And humans will never be able to design life in the lab, or artificial life. And yet they keep trying. Silly people.Mung
June 16, 2015
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Silver Asiatic:
At the same time, you couldn’t exclude all aliens since you don’t know what aliens are capable of.
Aliens cannot be the designers of life if they themselves are alive.
Merely saying “that’s the way nature is” is not different than saying “that’s the way God made it”.
We're not saying "that's the way nature is" as much as "that's what nature does". When it comes to God however, we don't have that same forensic evidence. No one has a list of the forces God uses but we can describe nature's forces and exactly how they relate to each other.Carpathian
June 16, 2015
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