EPIPHANY!!! If the laws of nature control EVERYTHING, Free will is IMPOSSIBLE

galaxy_universe-normalPhoto courtesy NASA

Sometimes you try to explain something, and the best way to get your position across evades you seemingly forever. Then, sometimes, you experience an epiphany!  I think the refutation of free will presented in the title of this diary will finally convince free will believers that human free will is completely impossible. Unless someone would care to argue that WE ARE the laws of nature, we must acknowledge that they control us, and not we they.

Free will is the belief that we are not puppets, and that what we do is truly up to us. If absolutely everything that happens is controlled by the laws of nature, absolutely nothing we do is controlled by us.

This article has been cross-posted at Daily Kos as 13. EPIPHANY!!! If the laws of nature control EVERYTHING, Free will is IMPOSSIBLE (poll).

 

Free Will and I.Q. – Mine and Yours

FullSizeRender_1About twenty-five years ago, I was asked to take an I.Q. test, and earned a score of 143. That number placed me in the 99.64th percentile of the overall population.

I live in White Plains, New York, a small city in Westchester County, just north of New York City. In 2014, White Plains, the birthplace of Facebook founder and C.E.O., Mark Zuckerberg, was ranked by the real estate firm Movoto as the third best place to live in New York State. And, in case you’re interested, the nine other places within the top ten were also in Westchester. Take that Big Apple! But, hey, that’s neither here nor there, right?

Let’s put my I.Q. ranking in perspective. White Plains has a population of about 58,000, which means that about 208 of my neighbors have an I.Q. equal to, or higher than, mine. In Manhattan, with a 2014 population somewhat over one and one half million, (1,636,268 to be exact) about 5,885 residents have an I.Q. equal to, or higher than, mine.

You might think that, Westchester County and Manhattan being home to some of the most educated and successful people in the world, there are probably many more residents who rank 143 or higher on the I.Q. But you’d probably be wrong.

That’s because, for example, the average lawyer and college professor has an I.Q. that ranges between about 98, (100 being average for all people) and 133. Doctors, the highest-scoring of any occupational group, fare somewhat better, ranging between 106 and 133.

Ph.D.s in the hard sciences (math, physics, etc.) score between 94 and 133, and those in the social sciences, like economics and psychology, score between 94 and 126. And, if you think students at Ivy League colleges have much higher I.Q. scores, consider that the most prestigious learning institution in the world is Harvard University, and its students have been determined to have a mean I.Q. of 128. Last but not least, the average philosophy professor appears to have an I.Q. of about 125.

So, as interesting as you might, or might not, find all this, why does any of it matter?

Well, let’s begin with why it matters to me. In 2010, I launched a campaign to move the issue of free will from academia to the public spotlight. Five years, dozens of Meetup events, two books, two TV shows, a podcast, a website and this blog later, while the refutation of free will has made its debut onto the cover of three popular science magazines, New Scientist, Scientific American: Mind, and BBC Focus, many of the people within those very educated groups I above categorized by I.Q. still believe we humans have a free will. They accept evolution and climate change, but the quantum leap to acknowledging that free will is nothing but an illusion is still far too intimidating for them. Or is it?

Over the last five years, I’ve wondered a lot about why so many ostensibly bright people continue to cling to such a primitive belief. I thought that maybe whoever advised us to not expect someone to understand something that their job would prefer they not understand was right. I thought that maybe it was all a matter of politics. Want to keep yourself in good standing with the college where you teach philosophy, or psychology, or neuroscience? Please keep your understanding about the illusory nature of free will to yourself…thank you.

But as I pondered those I.Q numbers above, and the bright and successful people who earned them, a different answer came. As unbelievable as this all is to me, it’s becoming more and more clear that our world’s intellectuals are not all that intelligent, well, at least as reflected by their I.Q. scores.

How else can one explain their inability to grasp the very simple and powerful logic that if everything that happens has a cause, the causal regression behind every human action renders the prospect of a free will categorically impossible? What else explains why some of those academics, whose critical analysis skills are so weak that they buy into the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics, and actually believe that some events in our universe are actually uncaused, have yet to realize that for an uncaused human action to be caused by a free will is a completely contradictory, and mistaken, assertion?

Well, maybe one mystery’s finally solved. But what will it take for our academic elites to understand and accept that free will is – that is must be – an illusion? Considering that they lack the brainpower to arrive at this understanding for themselves – and, this too is a deep mystery – what we will probably need to do now is wait for some of their leaders, like the Nobel laureates among them whose I.Q.s tend to hover around 150, to consider the matter important enough to warrant their publicly putting their cards on the table about this.

And, what might lead these creams of the various academic crops to do this? Hmmm…for the answer to that one, you’ll have to read my most recent book on the topic, Free Will: Its Refutation, Societal Cost and Role in Climate Change Denial.

Happy exploring, and have the happiest of holidays!

Judeo-Christianity Refutes Free Will

Within Judaism and Christianity, there has been division and controversy regarding whether we humans have a free will. Of the three main Jewish sects, the leading one, the Pharisees, invoking the Talmudic statement “All is in the hands of God except the fear of God,” concluded that God decides all matters for us, such as where we live, whom we marry, and what kind of job we have. They concluded that humans are free only with regard to our moral decisions.

While the Sadducees believed that humans have a free will, the third Jewish sect, the Essenes, who scholars believe influenced the thoughts of Jesus, concluded that everything that happens is God’s will, and completely rejected the notion.

Within Christianity, while many denominations believe in free will, Calvin and Luther, who ushered in the Protestant Reformation, sided with the Essenes in soundly rejecting free will.

God’s fundamental attributes of omnipotence, omniscience and infallibility create an insurmountable problem for the notion of free will, and both Old and New Testament passages ascribed to God, Isaiah, Jesus and others argue against human autonomy. While much of the Bible is vague and contradictory regarding free will, Paul, writing in Romans, presents the matter in such a clear and direct way that his conclusion that we humans do not have a free will is impervious to a different interpretation.

To see how Judaeo-Christianity refutes free will, let’s begin with God’s omnipotence, or the idea that God is all-powerful. This premise inescapably reflects the understanding that what God wants to happen must happen, and that what God does not want to happen cannot happen. So, it’s easy to see how all we humans think, feel, say and do is up to God, and not up to us. Some claim that God can negate his omnipotence in order to grant us a free will, however God’s sovereign control is generally accepted to be limited by his nature. For example, if God is omnibenevolent, or all-good, monotheists generally agree that God’s omnipotence does not extend to an ability for him to do evil. Similarly, God cannot contradict his logical nature, and, for example, make one plus one equal 207. So, if logically, God cannot both remain all-powerful and cede his power to our free will, we must conclude that because he is all-powerful, humans cannot have a free will.

Also, God’s omniscience, or knowledge of everything, when considered alongside his attribute of infallibility, or inability to make a mistake, makes free will impossible. For example, if God knew 1,000 years ago all you would think, feel, and do today, you have no choice but to act in exact accordance with that foreknowledge. If you deviated even slightly from what God knew you would do today, you would contradict God’s infallibility. You would be showing God to have been wrong. So, there is no way you can act freely of what God knew 1,000 years ago that you would do.

And if we look to the Bible’s Old Testament, we find that various verses argue against free will. In Exodus 4:11, God himself says:

Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?

King David, in Psalm 37:23 is also clear:

The steps of a man are established by the Lord

And in Psalm 65:4, David thanks God for what God chooses:

Blessed is the man You choose, And cause to approach You.

In verse 63:13 of his book, Isaiah asks God:

O Lord, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?

And in Lamentations, Jeremiah asks:

Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?

These verses suggest that what we say, hear, see and choose do is up to God, and not us. The New Testament is even more explicit in arguing against the notion of free will.

In verse 6:44 of the gospel of John, Jesus himself says:

No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him.

In three letters ascribed to him, the Apostle Paul holds this same position that what we do is God’s will, and not our own.

In Philippians 2:13, he writes:

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

And in Ephesians 1:5 he is even more explicit in defending the Christian doctrine that God preordains all that we do:

He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.

It is in his letter to the Romans, verses 7:15 through 21, that Paul asserts his most clear and direct challenge to the notion of free will. He writes:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

So, we have God, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jesus, John and Paul all clearly asserting that what we do is up to God, and not up to us or a free will. In fact, neither the term free will, nor it’s doctrine, is to be found anywhere in the Bible, Augustine of Hippo having coined the phrase, and fully developed the concept, in 380 A.D. Furthermore, blasphemy is defined as a human claiming powers attributed solely to God. To the extent that certain sects and denominations within Judaism and Christianity continue to preach and believe in a human free will that contradicts God’s omnipotence and omniscience, they are practicing blasphemy.

Of No Free Will, Consciousness and the Paranormal Nature of our Puppeteer

As we strengthen our understanding that free will is an illusion – that because both causality and acausality render it impossible, free will must be an illusion – questions naturally arise from this realization. If what we think, feel, and do is not fundamentally up to us, how do we describe, and what properties do we attribute to, our puppeteer? If we humans are only pragmatically responsible for our moral acts, and are more properly identified as their most proximate causes, is it accurate to hold our puppeteer morally responsible for them? And what of the nature of consciousness? If our consciousness is not truly our own, can we properly attribute this property to our puppeteer? Let’s now set the premises for our exploration, and then examine the implications and conclusions they invite.

We begin by describing our puppeteer as whatever created the Big Bang that set in motion the causal chain of events behind every event thereafter, including every human act. Causality is the process by which our reality evolves, but this physical and logical law doesn’t fully describe what is actually doing the causing. Before progressing, we must pause to acknowledge an understanding that seems to defy our reasoning abilities. Reason tells us that the cause of the Big Bang must itself have been caused, and that cause must also have been caused, and we are naturally left bewildered by the logical conclusion that the causal chain of pre-Big Bang universal events must regress eternally into the past. In other words, logically, we can never arrive at a causal point that we would identify as the beginning, and fundamental cause, of everything. Because of this seemingly insoluble conundrum, we will simply assume as a working premise that whatever created the Big Bang can be contextually described as the fundamental cause, and, just as an author of a book can be described as possessing the concepts that are expressed in the work, whatever caused the Big Bang can be said to possess the concepts expressed in the phenomena it gave rise to.

Now we can move on to the nature of consciousness. Although there are over twenty different definitions of consciousness in psychology, the most generally accepted working definition is that consciousness is awareness. Taking a non-dualistic perspective, since reality is reducible to the quantum particles and forces that make up the universe, we must also conclude that consciousness is a physical property. This naturally invites the question; can we describe what created the Big Bang as having consciousness? Logically, it seems we must.

Now, for a more complete understanding of the nature of this universal consciousness, we turn to the two most fundamental mysteries of quantum mechanics – the double-slit experiment and quantum entanglement. In the double-slit experiment, single particles apparently know in advance the trajectories of particles to follow. Otherwise how could we explain the interference pattern gradually emerging as single particles are fired one at a time at the surface on which the pattern is found? So, it seems precognition is a fundamental property of elementary particles. From that conclusion, and reminding ourselves that consciousness is a physical property, we can presume that consciousness has precognizant properties.

The other great mystery of quantum mechanics, quantum entanglement, reveals that particles at a distance theoretically as far apart as opposite edges of our known universe share information at a rate thousands of times faster than the speed of light – in effect, instantaneously. Change the particle property known as spin to “up” of one entangled particle, and its partner’s spin will change to “down.” Change the spin of this second particle back to “up,” and its partner, the first particle, will change its spin to “down.” This is not theory; it is a scientific, empirically demonstrable, fact that is actually giving rise to a new generation of quantum computers that can teleport information at speeds exceeding the speed of light. One brief note: Einstein’s Relativity prohibits particles from accelerating from below to above the speed of light. It does not prohibit particles from consistently traveling at speeds beyond the speed of light, which is what happens in quantum entanglement. So, we must now conclude that consciousness, again reminding ourselves that it is comprised of mass-energy, as we believe is everything else in our physical universe, has the property of teleportation.

So, what does all of this tell us about the nature and attributes of the puppeteer responsible for all of our human feelings, thoughts and actions? Merriam-Webster defines paranormal as what is “very strange and not able to be explained by what scientists know about nature and the world.” All of this seems very clearly to tell us that this puppeteer does indeed have a consciousness that can both unaccountably know the future, as in the paranormal phenomenon we term clairvoyant precognition, and can unaccountably transmit information across vast distances in space, as in the paranormal phenomenon we term clairvoyant telepathy. Who’d have thought that the pre-Big Bang universe that we can describe as the puppeteer behind all we humans do is both conscious and paranormally clairvoyant in its properties?

Free Will, Weight Gain and Cruelty

Since launching my April 2010 Manhattan Meetup group in order to move the exploration of free will from academia where it languished in obscurity to the public spotlight, and to create a buzz among people about free will being nothing more than an illusion, my associates and I have worked hard to craft strategies to best deliver our message. As we’ve discovered over these last five years, although most of us clearly understand and appreciate the logic behind why free will is impossible, many are not yet able to overcome the motivated reasoning that, as science writer Chris Mooney explains in his book The Republican Brain, compels them to dismiss even the most unequivocal evidence refuting free will in favor of their personal, emotion-based belief. In other words, many people remain emotionally incapable of accepting this admittedly challenging truth that we human beings do not have a free will until they are given a powerful reason to reject their personal biases, and the logic and evidence surrounding the matter.

It seems the compelling motive to help people overcome their resistance to accepting the true nature of human will is finally at hand; and this development was not accomplished by accident or pure luck. Several months ago, my colleagues and I created a podcast called Free Will, Science and Religion. Although we publish our episodes at a rate of at least three each week through YouTube and iTunes, they haven’t yet received the kind of attention we had initially expected. But soon after we started the project, it dawned on us that these podcasts represented far more than another vehicle through which to popularize the refutation of free will. We realized that our discussions were becoming very effective means for brainstorming perplexing questions such as

a) Why are some doctoral level academics, even those who have written books on the topic, incapable of appreciating the inescapable conclusion that both causality and acausality (sometimes referred to as randomness and probabilistic behavior) equally make free will impossible, and that, in fact, no action mechanism has ever been proposed to explain how a human will operating free of factors outside of its control is even conceptually possible?

b) What does the public need to hear that will enable them to overcome their emotional need to believe they have a free will?

It was during our podcast recorded on Saturday evening, July 25, that a very powerful answer to this second question came to us. The podcast was hosted by Chandler Klebs, who is the executive producer of our series, and cohosted by David Joseph and me. At Chandler’s suggestion, we began to explore the unfairness and cruelty behind so many overweight and obese people being blamed by others, and even blaming themselves, for their weight gain, and for their failure to lose that weight. We understood that although genetic factors, like glandular conditions, are at times the cause of this sustained weight gain, environmental factors were clearly far more to blame for this weight gain. After all, here in the United States, during the 1940s and 50s, many more people were slender than are now.

To Chandler’s credit, (well, not fundamentally, of course, since he does lack a free will) what motivated him to propose this topic was his compassion and concern for the welfare and happiness of others. This empathy is not uncharacteristic of Chandler; he has devoted most of his adult life to championing the rights those of us who are vulnerable to abuse by others, and often also by society at large.

So, as we were exploring how unfair and irrational it is that overweight and obese people are almost ubiquitously blamed for what the consensus in medicine now considers a medical condition, an epiphany came to us. We realized that overweightness is not just an excellent way of demonstrating why we humans do not have a free will, which was a major part of our original intent for the episode. During the course of the half-hour discussion, we came to realize that overweightness and obesity were, in fact, the message we had been searching for during the last few years that would finally enable society to understand that no, we do not have a free will, and that our getting this answer right is not inconsequential; getting this right matters profoundly to many of us. We now had our message. And, at the very end of the podcast, David, with his characteristic keen wit, provided us the title of this game-changing episode; The No Free Will Diet!

We desperately needed to find a compelling personal reason for people to care about the question of whether we humans have a free will, and, more importantly, to side with those of us, including Darwin, Freud, and Einstein, who understand free will to be nothing more than an unscientific, irrational, delusion. Chandler was quick to point out that two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and we soon thereafter realized that these majority of Americans are perfect allies in our goal to have the public understand the true nature of human will.

Overweight and obese Americans suffer terribly from the stigma and cruelty associated with these conditions. They are tired of being blamed for a condition over which they clearly do not have control. Many of them believe they have a free will, and deeply blame themselves for being too weak-willed, or too gluttonous, or simply too irresponsible, to maintain a healthy weight. I think you’re beginning to see how our world’s overweight and obese population has far more reason than do most of us for overcoming this pervasive myth of free will, and for demanding that others also do so.

And so, now that, thanks to Chandler, we finally have a very powerful message by which to motivate people to overcome the self-serving reasons that prevent them from seeing the clear logic behind free will being an illusion, and gives them a strong self-serving reason to finally see and appreciate that logic, expect us to stay focused on this message like a laser.

We will be revisiting overweightness and obesity as the compelling personal reason by which humanity can finally squarely face free will, and admit that the notion is nothing but an illusion, again and again during upcoming episodes of this podcast. And expect cohost ‘Trick Slattery to soon amplify this powerful message on his blog, Breaking the Free Will Illusion, and cohost Nick Vale, whose every-Wednesday-at-11pm Manhattan live call-in TV show Free Will? reaches a potential audience of half a million viewers, to feature the message on his show. I will also be devoting entire episodes to this theme on my weekly White Plains, New York TV show Exploring the Illusion of Free Will, as well as posting a series of follow-up articles on this blog.

American philosopher John Searle, who happens to be ranked 13th among post-1900 philosophers cited most frequently in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, is quoted in Susan Blackmore’s 2005 book Conversations on Consciousness as having said that for free will to be finally acknowledged by our world as an illusion would represent “a bigger revolution in our thinking than Einstein, or Copernicus, or Galileo, or Newton, or Darwin – it would alter our whole conception of our relation to the universe.” Yes, that’s how big this is!

There is a time for ideas to come, and sometimes a time for them to go. Our human belief in free will is nearing the end of its reign. As I pointed out in my recent book Free Will: Its Refutation, Societal Cost and Role in Climate Change Denial, our belief in free will causes much more harm than good across domains that span far beyond cruelty and unfairness to the overweight and obese among us. Expect more and more free will believers to abandon that sinking ship during these coming years, as yet another catalyst to humans abusing other humans falls to the truth, and a compelling message, thanks in large part to the compassion and sharp intellect of Chandler Klebs.

Human Lack of Free Will Demonstrates Universal Consciousness and Intelligence

Free-Will-Consciousness-IntSome claim the universe is neither conscious nor intelligent. However, by making use of the understanding that free will is an illusion, we can demonstrate that the universe must, in fact, be intelligent, and hence, also conscious. Following is the argument, expressed as propositional premises and conclusions.

_________________________

Lack of Free Will and Fundamental Moral Responsibility

P1. Lacking free will means our moral acts are not fundamentally morally attributable to us.

P2. This is so because our nature and nurture caused, and fully explain, our moral acts.

P3. But we cannot hold nature and nurture fundamentally morally responsible either because they both have causes that precede them, and these causes can be described generally as the universe causally evolving, and governed by its physical laws.

C: So, unless we were to suggest that there is no such thing as fundamentally attributable morality, we would have to most fundamentally attribute all moral acts to the universe at the Big Bang event, or to whatever caused the Big Bang.

Now let’s apply this reasoned argument to intelligence.

_________________________

Lack of Free Will and Universal Intelligence

P1. Lacking free will means our intelligent acts are not fundamentally attributable to us.

P2. This is so because our nature and nurture caused, and fully explain, our intelligent acts.

P3. But we cannot fundamentally attribute these intelligent acts to nature and nurture because they both have causes that precede them, and these causes can be described generally as the universe causally evolving, and governed by its physical laws.

C: So, unless we were to suggest that there is no such thing as a fundamentally attributable intelligent act, we would have to most fundamentally attribute all intelligent acts to the universe at the Big Bang event, or to whatever caused the Big Bang.

Yes, these causal chains may lead us to an infinite regress wherein we may never get to the point where either a moral or intelligent act is most fundamentally caused, but we must nonetheless acknowledge that this eternally regressing universe would be the fundamental cause of the morality and intelligence we, as humans, express.

George Ortega on Free Will at Michael Donovan’s Walking Home Podcast

#30 GEORGE ORTEGA

Last Wednesday I had the privilege and pleasure of being a guest on Michael’s podcast, Walking Home!

Quotes from his site:

MICHAEL DONOVAN is a prolific multi-disciplined creative visionary…His work has appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, Playboy, L’Officiel, Ginza, Vision, and Wonderland. Clients include Interscope, Sony, The Pierre Hotel and Gap.

Author and visionary, George Ortega has a clear message for us:  Free Will is an Illusion.

Every choice you’ve made was not yours and you’re acting out a performance designed before you were born. Every decision you make has been pre-determined. In today’s episode of Walking Home, George helps me understand this way of thinking.

Tonight we examine this concept and try to understand how we create art, how we function as a society, how religion and atheism fit in to this paradigm, how important gratitude is in this scheme and more. George has ideas on how business could save the environment, how we can all take part, and how it is already the plan laid out in front of us.

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