Friday, November 6, 2009

Free Will

Having recently read Richard Dawkins excellent book The God Delusion and then finding the Scientific American article on free will (Found here) I find myself doing some thinking on the concept of free will. Human experience leads us to believe that we are in control of our actions, desires, and above all which choices we make. I have begun to wonder about if this is true. While I would like to think that the choices I have made are truly mine; it does seem that science has no way to tell me this is true. What in our brains makes humans able to choose for ourselves? It seems to me that from a materialistic point of view our decisions are nothing more than cause and effect. A stimuli leads our brains to trigger a function which causes us to act in accordance to past experience. This leaves the concept of free will as a figment of the mind. A happy coincidence so to speak. We feel that we are really effecting our lives and making our own decisions, why should this be true? Does some outside force give us supernatural abilities to supplant what our brains do? Is the mysterious soul where the seat of our choices lies? If the soul is where free will enters the equation then it can effect the physical realm therefore it can not be incorporeal. If that is the case then we should be able to subject it to testing, although science thus far has shown no evidence of this effervescent soul. As much as I hate to think it, after all I like to think I am in charge of my own path just like anyone else, science has shown me no reason for this to be true. All in all however, despite the lack of scientific evidence for free will, I find myself agnostic about it. I am inclined to believe humans have free will, even if it is just a figment of imagination, and as such I think there is a chance for science to agree with my assessment if only we could design an experiment to show it.

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