I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. There is no way that we can have free will. I do believe that we have an illusion of free will, but nothing more than an illusion. With adequate physical determinism as well as quantum randomness as underlying attributes of our universe, there is simply no room to compatibilize a concept of free will. It seems to me that the majority of people trying to hang on to this free will dream are those people who have religious beliefs which depend on its existence. Even if mounds of evidence that negate free will are right in front of them, they continue to ignore it for the purposes of maintaining their religious identity. In all fairness, I did the same thing when I was a Christian in the past. After all, free will is the bread and butter of any religion involving some ridiculous precept of good and evil, reward and punishment, right and wrong, etc. If you negate free will, the religion as it currently stands goes down the toilet.
If people are merely products of their genes and environment, then we have no choice but to do what we’ve been programmed to do by our parents, teachers, ministers, politicians, television shows, books, etc. We may feel that we’re doing what we want to do, but if our wants are mediated by our position in a causal chain (where we were born, where we grew up, who our parents were, how we were raised, our experiences, etc.), then we had no choice but to want what we were programmed to want.
Anyone that says that quantum uncertainty provides some wiggle room for free will is also sorely mistaken. Our uncertainty in the quantum realm relies on two possibilities (or a mixture of the two): either everything in the quantum realm is 100% determined but appears to be random to us, or everything in the quantum realm is random. In either case, it is out of our control. So once again, there is no room for free will.
The fact that our faculties of reason and logic depend on causality and thus determinism, illustrates why one must abandon these very faculties if they are to preserve a belief in free will. The trouble is that even many religious followers that believe in free will are explicitly using reason and logic in their everyday lives (just not all of the time). Even if they are reading scripture, they no doubt reflect on what they’ve read, and analyze it in one way or another with the mental faculties they possess. How they reconcile this paradox is beyond me (I think it was mainly “reason” that nudged me over the religious fence years ago).
I manage to appreciate the beauty in the universe, as well as the fact that I’m able to have a human experience filled with love. I am able to find purpose in life and do not think that it is all meaningless, despite my acceptance of illusionism. I didn’t even have a choice but to write this post. Poop! I had no choice but to write “Poop!” even though it may seem incredibly irrelevant to this topic. I felt that I had a choice, but whatever I decide to do or not do is a result of mental decision making based on what I’ve been taught (consciously or unconsciously). I may even delete something I write because my programmed decision making prompts me to do so for whatever the reason. Is chocolate my favorite ice cream flavor? Or is it vanilla? Do I have a choice here? Nope. It’s chocolate. Does anyone have a choice over their likes and dislikes? If not, then why do people think that their opinions, values or actions are any different. Any opinion or value you have is a result of something or someone else, even if you forget that fact during your actions.
I am a product of my genes and environment. I am a link in a causal chain and/or a result of chance. Bring on the causes and the chance baby! It’s all a part of life. Peace and love!