In an attempt to become more prolific on this blog, I’ve decided to pick a theme for each week and run with it. I’m going to start with a three day post sort of thing, so this shouldn’t be seen as an all-encompassing view on each theme. Enjoy!
I thought, for day two, that it would be good to present an argument for free will that is supportive of it in the spirit of dialogue. Unfortunately, this was harder to do than I initially thought. It appears that the majority of scientists/philosophers/theologians are against the notion of free will. That the notion of free will is so readily critiqued says quite a bit, I think. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t solid arguments for free will either.
I’m going to come about the pro arguments a little differently and highlight two different takes on this to try and get to free will. The first view is one of Dr. Greg Boyd, a pastor and theologian who is most well known for two things; his critique of Christian nationalism (of which his book The Myth of a Christian Nation is the bed rock) and the view I am going to present today called Open Theism (or as he calls it, “the open view of God”). Free will is an essential piece of his theology of openess and the following video sets the foundation pretty clearly, I think.
The second view is one of Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist and populaizer of science. In this video, he critiques (very briefly and perhaps unsatisfactorily) the idea of determinism. I think there are still some nuggets in here, despite it’s short length. The videos and my responses are after the jump.
I think what I really appreciate about Boyd’s approach is that there is a real emphasis on human action and responsibility. One thing that I feel a more deterministic view can lead towards is a type of apathy. “I can’t really change anything, so why try?” I think Boyd’s approach provides some great room to navigate this sphere of responsibility and action, while still holding a healthy respect for certain forces (re: God) that have some capabilities to determine aspects of one’s life. It’s not a perfect theology/ideology, but I think his logic and reasoning is solid and consistent.
As for Kaku’s argument, I think what I’m most drawn to is his argument for uncertainty. Our knowledge is finite and there are numerous factors going into play that can effect what happens a mere second later. I think this leads towards the notion of cause and effect, which has a lot of room for free will and action. If someone performs A action, then B action is a probable result. However, human action is tricky to predict and I think there is a great deal of uncertainty in the universe and our lives. I don’t know if I really get his mirror example, but it sounds cool.
What do you think? Do these arguments help support a notion of free will?