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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


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.

A New Free Will Exploration/Debate Forum!

Calling all free will believers, skeptics, and impossibilists!

You are hereby formally invited to join my TV show’s new co-host, Chandler Klebs, and me, George Ortega, on a forum we have just created exclusively to discuss free will belief, and it’s implications. It’s called George and Chandler on Free Will.

We want to become the “Not Even a Flicker of Free Will” alternative to the Flickers of Freedom site that is largely populated by academics who believe that they have a free will, and seem not very interested in engaging in any kind of meaningful online debate about the matter that might possibly disavow them of that pervasive and pernicious illusion.

Our new forum has a unique feature of allowing only two-sentence responses to the thread introduction and subsequent posts. Here’s how it works, as explained on the forum’s “sticky” post:

Feel free to join Chandler and me in our discussions, but understand that posts must be no longer than two sentences While you’re free to join any and all of our discussions, only one post at a time is allowed per thread, until the post is responded to by another participant,(that’s what no multiposting means).

1) You can post more than one message at a time, one immediately after the other, if you’re addressing separate statements by separate previous posters.

2) Quoting a previous poster is allowed, and is not counted as a separate sentence.

3) Use of semi-colon double sentences is allowed, within reason.

4) You can post using more than two sentences if you’re starting a new thread, but even then, lean toward the concise.

The author of any post longer than two sentences will first be notified by the Admin, or the post will be removed, at the Admin’s discretion. (I’ll try to contact you first).

Why this rule?
Anyone who has followed, or taken part in, free will discussions knows that often participants (especially free will-defenders) will resort to extended, overlong, assertions and explanations, presumably under the mistaken notion that additional words will somehow strengthen their argument. Much more often than not, this type of obfuscation only confuses, or diverts, the discussion.

We’ve just recently begun to explore the subject of free will, and it’s implications. Here is a list of the discussion threads we’ve chosen, (well,.. the universe compelled us to choose) to start with;

Why Do Ostensibly Intelligent Scholars Believe in Free Will?

How Free Will Belief Causes Denial

Free Will Belief and Abortion

How Free Will Belief Causes Fear

How Free Will Belief Causes Arrogance

The Free Will Belief Form of Fatalism

Free Will Belief and Life Having Meaning

Free Will and the Difference Between Choice and Free Choice

Definitions and Refutations of Free Will

Free Will and Animals

Why is it More Harmful than Not to Believe in Free Will?

How Do Compatibilists Re-Define Free Will in Defending it?

How Does Free Will Belief Cause Climate Change Denial?

Why Doesn’t Libertarian Free Will Make Sense?

The universe, or God for those theists among us, plans to have us introduce as many new threads as it takes to cover all of the many factors and questions that relate to the matter of human will, and to the debate over whether or not we humans have a free will (spoiler alert: we don’t!). Again, feel free (pun totally intended) to create a new thread, or join one of our ongoing discussions. Here’s the forum’s registration page. Chandler and I look forward to exploring everything about the question of free will with you!

Belief in Free Will, Fear of God’s Wrath, and Climate Change

One of the biggest reasons most people are incapable of accepting the simple logic that because everything has a cause, free is an illusion is that if we humans are not fundamentally responsible for what we do, that means that God must be. For atheists, who disbelieve in the historical God, and who see the universe as a collection of mass-energy moving aimlessly through space, and lacking consciousness and purpose, this reason is conveniently sidestepped; how can one rationally blame this “thing” of a universe for anything? For those of us who believe in God, or a higher power, or a conscious and purposeful universe, (personally I’m a Pantheist in the sense that I hold God and the universe to be synonymous) such a sidestepping is less possible.

There is, in fact, much more to it than that. Most of us are conditioned from a very early age to believe that if we anger God, we are setting ourselves up for punishment not just in this life, but possibly for an eternity to come after we die. While many of us, as adults, have outgrown, or reconciled, or simply refused to believe in, an omni-benevolent, or all-good, God that could condemn anyone to an eternity of suffering, we find it somewhat harder to let go of the fear that God will nonetheless punish us in this lifetime for the wrongs we do.

Our problem here is that we have been conditioned, whether directly or implicitly, to believe that holding God to be less than all-good is a profound evil. So, in order to evade God’s expected wrath, we subvert, or even quell, our reason in a manner like those victims of the Spanish Inquisition must often have, for the purpose of avoiding merciless torture, completely over-ridden their reason and beliefs, and proclaimed their agreement with whatever their well-meaning, yet truly deranged, tormentors demanded they believe.

But truth is truth. As I wrote in my recent book, Free Will: Its Refutation, Societal Cost and Role in Climate Change Denial;

Refuting free will is straightforward: (a) Everything is caused; (b) Human thoughts are caused; (c) The antecedent causes to human thoughts regress to before the person’s birth; (d) Therefore human thoughts are not fundamentally attributable to a human free will. Some free will defenses assume that demonstrating that human behavior is not fundamentally deterministic might provide an opening for free will, however, choices arising from indeterministic, or uncaused, processes cannot rationally be attributed to anything, including humans. The prospect has emerged that other mechanisms that are described as neither deterministic nor indeterministic, and can be labeled causa sui, (self-caused) or ex nihilo, (out of nothing) may be where a free will resides. However, as Strawson (1994) explains, it has not been shown how a self-caused mechanism allows for free will, and the same can be said for free will arising ex nihilo.

In other words, there exists no action mechanism that rationally or scientifically explains or defends the notion of free will, and the powerful simplicity of this conclusion could not be clearer. Yet many who read the above will refuse to believe it, probably because at a very young age, they were taught that in order to avoid Divine punishment, and earn a place in Heaven, one had better not blame God for anything. One had better adopt and integrate the fiction of a free will that flies in the face of even Biblical pronouncements regarding God’s omniscience, or complete knowledge, and of God’s omnipotence, or complete power. Certainly, if God knows what we will do before we do it, and if God is all-powerful, there is no way that anything we do can, in any fundamental way, be up to us; it must be up to God.

But what if God is now requiring that we understand, and accept, the truth of his complete sovereignty and power over us, and ascribe to Him authorship of all that happens here on Earth? What if He is requiring that, just as we outgrew the Creationism myth in favor of Evolution, we now collectively outgrow this myth of human autonomy we refer to as free will? More to the point, what if He is, upon threat of punishment of the most severe and lasting kind, is actually demanding we evolve beyond the belief in free will?

As unfair as it most rationally and certainly is for God to punish us humans for holding on to a belief that God himself placed, and keeps, in us, this is the surreal reality we now face with regard to our belief in free will, and its relation to climate change denial. You see, as I explain in my book, our belief in free will is causing a substantial percentage of a public climate change denial that, if it continues much longer, will much more likely than not result in an end to the human civilization we have worked so hard, and suffered so much, to create. And as recent climate change research is revealing more robustly, such a collapse is much more likely to occur within a few decades rather than a few centuries.

So, humanity is in quite a quandary regarding our nonsensical, in a very real way extorted, belief in free will. We either abandon it relatively quickly, or pay a price far higher than any of us can likely imagine. We either see God as the author of both good and evil – according to Isaiah 45:7, God Himself proclaims this, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” – or God may visit upon us an evil unlike any other our planet has yet witnessed.

By now, you’re probably wondering about the validity of this free will belief – climate change denial connection. Rather than keep you wondering, here’s the section of my book that addresses the rationale, and presents the research, supporting the theory;

Free will belief also contributes to climate change denial. A correlate to free will belief is that humans are fundamentally, as distinct from pragmatically, responsible for their actions. Pew Research Center (2014) reported that Americans ranked global warming near the bottom of Presidential and Congressional priorities for the years 2009 through 2014, and that only 44 percent of Americans currently believe there is solid evidence the phenomenon exists and is anthropogenic. Seeking a partial explanation for this indifference and denial, Crompton and Kasser (2010) cited evidence that individuals overcome guilt about global warming by denying their actions, refusing to care, and shifting the blame to others. In her study of Norwegian villagers relatively well informed about climate change, Norgaard (2009) found that individuals reported feeling guilty about over-consuming resources and “being a bad person.” (p. 32). Guilt is a self-attribution that requires a belief in free will. Because it is more difficult to rationally feel guilty about behavior over which one believes one has no control, guilt-induced climate change denial is fueled by free will belief.

Individuals whose self-identity is threatened by climate change information reduce the threat by redefining or dismissing the information. Gecas and Burke (1995) suggested that the need to preserve a positive self-concept leads individuals to avoid or selectively accept threatening information, and to work hard to not change their identity. Norgaard (2009) found that individuals re-define situations that threaten self-identity, and Baumeister (1998) reported that individuals dismiss such information. Because positive self-identity is largely predicated on a favorable evaluation of one’s personal morality, and the personal morality construct is dependent on the idea of free will, identity-based redefinition and dismissal of climate change information is also attributable to free will belief.

Crompton and Kasser (2010) recommended the practice of mindfulness, described as “a non-judgmental awareness of one’s experiences,” (p. 26) for one to manage environmental threats to identity, and referenced Brown and Kasser (2005), who found that the practice is empirically associated with positive environmental behavior. Mindfulness practice cultivates through meditation and intent the same attitude of non-judgment that disbelief in free will cultivates through rational assessment. As one deepens one’s understanding of the implications of free will being an illusion, it becomes increasingly difficult to rationally blame others and oneself for held attitudes and expressed behaviors. Freeing oneself of assumed fundamental moral responsibility with its often paralyzing sense of accountability may make it easier to more positively respond to climate change through an empowering attitude of genuine concern.

Kellstedt, Zahran, and Vedlitz (2008) found that helplessness also induced climate change denial. This mechanism is insidious in that the better informed individuals are about climate change, the more helpless they tend to feel, and the greater their need to deny the threat. Individuals value the feeling of efficacy free will belief can foster. Free will belief likely conditions individuals to maintain a sense of fundamental efficacy and, notwithstanding its illusory nature, avoid or deny circumstances that threaten the attitude. Overcoming free will belief may allow individuals to better accept their fundamental, as distinct from pragmatic, helplessness, and thereby reduce their need to deny climate change. While overcoming free will belief would not be easy, humanity may find this fundamental restructuring of human psychology useful. As the world experiences increased climate change impacts, guilt, blame and helplessness may increase, and induce greater denial in a downward spiral. While there are other causes of climate change denial, free will belief-based denial may render humanity psychologically less capable of confronting them.

As it seems quite wrong for me to present this information, and then ask you to buy my brief, extensively referenced, 56-page scholarly work explaining exactly why free will is an illusion, here are two links from which you can download the pdf of the entire book. If you’re a member of Meetup, you can download it for free from here, and if you’re not, you can download it for free from here.

I suppose this places free will defenders in a huge moral dilemma. They can continue to defend the notion, and be held, at least in part, accountable for our world succumbing to climate change (yes, while not actually blaming them, as per the free will belief, our world would nonetheless hold them accountable in order to discourage others from allowing their fears and self-serving beliefs to over-ride their reason, and respect for our best science.) One last, very important, point. There does exist a logical, although perhaps not completely satisfying, way of absolving even God of the evil in this world. If time extends beyond the Big Bang, and regresses eternally into the past, then we never actually reach a decision point that we could identify as being morally responsible for what is to follow. What we will have arrived at through this reasoning is a completely blameless world, which might prove a very helpful perspective.

Book Cover FINAL

The Free Will Debate Pecking Order

It’s interesting how academics on both sides of the issue take the liberty of borrowing my ideas. Well, as the guy who in a matter of a few short years brought the free will debate from academia, where it languished in obscurity for centuries, to the public spotlight, I can understand their implicit appreciation of the established pecking order, and feel honored.

Example One:

On December 2, 2010, I published my revolutionary public work Exploring the Illusion of Free Will. Here’s a link to the second edition, published June 20, 2013.

Now here’s an academic book Gregg Caruso of Corning College published on July 5th, 2013 titled Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility. Hmmmm. Wonder where he got the idea for his title?

Example Two:

On April 15, 2014 I published my revolutionary scholarly work Free Will: Its Refutation, Societal Cost and Role in Climate Change DenialNow here’s a photo of the book’s cover:

Book Cover FINAL

Nice, right! Well, what do you know? Flickers of Freedom, although they would hardly admit it, the blog for academic believers in free will — Ouch! —  just came up with a new banner for their website. Notice the resemblance?

Academia; still clearly behind the curve on this very important debate. But thank you guys for at least inexplicitly acknowledging the established pecking order here. I assure you in all modestly, sans free will as I remain, my achievements in this area more technically, and essentially, belong to the universe.

Here’s my official website  Exploring the Illusion of Free Will

Here’s a YouTube link to over 150 episodes of my pioneering TV series.

George Ortega







Psychology student implicates free will belief in climate change denial

Book Cover FINALDoes free will belief pose a major threat to humanity’s future by amplifying climate change denial? George Ortega, a student at Empire State College, and director of an organization called A Happier World, has constructed a counter-intuitive, but scientifically robust, argument that it does. He has just published a potentially game-changing scholarly work that explains how much of the public denial of climate change that has stymied global efforts to effectively address the crisis is directly attributable to our belief in free will.

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, only 44 percent of Americans believe that climate change is happening, and that it is primarily caused by human activity. In his new book, Free Will: Its Refutation, Societal Cost and Role in Climate Change Denial, Ortega makes a convincing case linking free will belief to climate change denial.

Free will is the belief that we humans are free to act as we please, and can override influences that lie beyond our control, like causality, our heredity and our environment. The free will belief also denotes that we are fundamentally, and not just pragmatically, morally responsible for our actions.

Ortega’s book begins with a devastating physics-based refutation of the free will construct wherein he essentially invokes our a priori understanding that the universe exists and is in constant motion with the undeniable correlate that the causality manifested by momentum means that the law of cause and effect must also be held as a priori knowledge. This argument, applied to human decisions, renders the prospect of a free will scientifically impossible.

After presenting a litany of negative outcomes associated with believing in free will, like increased aggression, anxiety and depression, Ortega describes the belief’s impact on climate change denial. He cites research on why we deny climate change by social scientists like Tim Kasser of Knox College in Tennessee and Kari Norgaard of the University of Oregon, and explains that the guilt that gives rise to much of this denial invariably and directly results from our belief in free will.

The way this works is intriguing, and somewhat complex. Denial is a defense mechanism that people employ unconsciously to overcome unpleasant feelings of guilt about a wrong-doing. In order to feel guilty about a wrong, a person must feel morally responsible for having done the wrong, but it is difficult to rationally feel fundamentally responsible for a wrong not done of one’s own free will.

Usually, a person must first believe they have a free will before they can experience a sense of fundamental responsibility, feel guilty about a wrong, and unconsciously resort to denial as a way of coping with the unpleasantness of the guilt. Therein lies our problem. “Because facing the harsh indictment that we are causing climate change impacts that threaten the lives of billions of people makes us feel guilty, and is so threatening to our self-image,” Ortega says, “far too many of us resort to denial, and refuse to accept that climate change is happening.”

Founded by Ortega in 2011, A Happier World is an organization dedicated to popularizing the refutation of free will, most generally to facilitate a scientific consensus about the true nature of human will, and to help create a global society that, as a result, suffers far less from blame, guilt, arrogance and envy. One of the organization’s major challenges has been to effectively communicate the relevance of the free will question to people’s lives.

Many academics, for example, understand that free will is an illusion. However, most do not sufficiently appreciate the value of that knowledge to our world because they fail to consider the implications of believing verses disbelieving in free will at the personal, societal and global level.

The importance of Ortega’s having discovered the free will belief – climate change denial relationship to A Happier World’s mission can be illustrated by way of a Jewish mythical story. Long ago, God asked all of the peoples of the world, including the ancient Israelites, to accept his Torah, or teachings and law. They all refused. He then suspended a mountain over the Israelite people, and asked them again. Not surprisingly, this time they said yes.

It appears that the link between free will belief and climate change denial has become A Happier World’s “mountain.” Ortega’s theory is a potentially pivotal breakthrough in our understanding of one of the major causes of climate change denial that will prove difficult for our world to dismiss or ignore.

Indeed, it may be that only when we face the fact that free will is nothing more than an illusion will we be able to squarely face the far more urgent and threatening fact that we humans are causing climate change, and begin to meaningfully mitigate and adapt to the crisis.

David Freedman
for A Happier World

The Free Will Puppet Test; An Answer to Compatibilist Obfuscations.

I just realized that there’s a simple way to address much of the confusion that arises when different people, especially academics, use and defend different versions of the term free will. It’s designed especially to tease out what Compatibilists truly believe about the notion, and I call it “The Puppet Test.”

The idea is to ask Compatibilists the following question;  “According to your definition of free will, do we have any more control over what we do than does a puppet?” That simple and straight-forward question should be able to cut through their usual obfuscation and sophistry, and pin them down to addressing the matter as historically defined, and as refuted by Determinists and Impossiblists, (those of us who believe free will is impossible regardless of whether or not the universe is deterministic, meaning governed by the law of cause and effect).

The question that then arises is what percentage of Compatibilists would thereby be forced to concede that, no, we don’t have any more control than does a puppet.

I think this Puppet Test should be considered THE quintessential element of any and every book and paper written on the subject. Failing to including and address it should then be seen as failing to, in any relevant sense, address the matter.