Living As If It Were True

Various branches of the sciences, especially evolutionary biology and neuroscience, converge on the idea that as humans we have no free will. I often wonder if what they mean is that all acts and choices are conditioned. It's clear that nothing exists independent of anything else and that our acts and choices surface from a never ending stream of influence. Indeed, theologians and philosophers of old argued that only "God" could create an act independent of prior influence. This theological conception of the "prime mover" is analogous to the Big Bang theory.

But let's accept that there is no free will, period. No acts of our own choosing. Try going through a day without making decisions. Even if these decisions are somehow illusory, and perhaps they are, you still have to make them, and believe in them; stand by them and build on them; and act as if they were real and true. Ask anyone who decided to go to the gym when they didn't want to. So the argument for the absence of free will is in this sense a distinction without a difference. To be sure, the biologists have decided that it's crucial that they convince us to change our minds about this important matter. And I would think that many of them chose their field of their own "free will."


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