Video: Do we have free will?

posted at 2:41 pm on October 8, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

I haven’t had an opportunity to link to the excellent Prager University videos, produced by my friend and Salem colleague Dennis Prager, which like his radio show are intriguing, intelligent, provocative, and very meaningful.  Today’s, however, strikes a particular chord with me — and relates to another interesting story from Newsweek, which I’ll get to in a moment.  In today’s release, theologian Frank Pastore tackles the question of free will, and what it means for how we view the world.  That has deep implications not just for our interior lives, but also for our view of the role of government and the individual:

Western civilization and American jurisprudence are built on the embrace of free will — and the concept of personal responsibility for choice and consequences.  The concept of free will requires also a respect for personal liberty and the proper role of the individual as the presumed expert on his own choices.  If we dismiss that and insist that we are nothing but a collection of learned reactions to stimuli, then no one can be fully responsible for their own actions.  That leads to the impulse to have individual choice removed by government, and the belief that elites have to make choices for us, as people can’t be trusted to resist the Pavlovian outcomes of stimuli sets.  We see this impulse play out in nanny-state agendas that ban Happy Meal toys because parents can’t be trusted to say “No” to their children, and so on.  And if free will truly doesn’t exist, then those policies would make some sort of sense — except, of course, identifying the elites who could possibly be trusted to make choices for themselves, let alone for others.

If free will does exist, though, it implies that humans have a consciousness that rises above the physical, as Frank Pastore argues here.  It implies, although does not necessarily prove in the scientific sense, that non-physical consciousness comes from a greater consciousness outside of the physical world.  Coincidentally, Newsweek offers a look at a unique experience from neurosurgeon Eben Alexander, who nearly died from a rare E. coli infection that completely shut down his cerebral cortex — and sent him on a remarkable journey:

There is no scientific explanation for the fact that while my body lay in coma, my mind—my conscious, inner self—was alive and well. While the neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity by the bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe: a dimension I’d never dreamed existed and which the old, pre-coma me would have been more than happy to explain was a simple impossibility.

But that dimension—in rough outline, the same one described by countless subjects of near-death experiences and other mystical states—is there. It exists, and what I saw and learned there has placed me quite literally in a new world: a world where we are much more than our brains and bodies, and where death is not the end of consciousness but rather a chapter in a vast, and incalculably positive, journey.

I’m not the first person to have discovered evidence that consciousness exists beyond the body. Brief, wonderful glimpses of this realm are as old as human history. But as far as I know, no one before me has ever traveled to this dimension (a) while their cortex was completely shut down, and (b) while their body was under minute medical observation, as mine was for the full seven days of my coma.

All the chief arguments against near-death experiences suggest that these experiences are the results of minimal, transient, or partial malfunctioning of the cortex. My near-death experience, however, took place not while my cortex was malfunctioning, but while it was simply off. This is clear from the severity and duration of my meningitis, and from the global cortical involvement documented by CT scans and neurological examinations. According to current medical understanding of the brain and mind, there is absolutely no way that I could have experienced even a dim and limited consciousness during my time in the coma, much less the hyper-vivid and completely coherent odyssey I underwent.

Alexander provides a very clear account of his experience:

For most of my journey, someone else was with me. A woman. She was young, and I remember what she looked like in complete detail. She had high cheekbones and deep-blue eyes. Golden brown tresses framed her lovely face. When first I saw her, we were riding along together on an intricately patterned surface, which after a moment I recognized as the wing of a butterfly. In fact, millions of butterflies were all around us—vast fluttering waves of them, dipping down into the woods and coming back up around us again. It was a river of life and color, moving through the air. The woman’s outfit was simple, like a peasant’s, but its colors—powder blue, indigo, and pastel orange-peach—had the same overwhelming, super-vivid aliveness that everything else had. She looked at me with a look that, if you saw it for five seconds, would make your whole life up to that point worth living, no matter what had happened in it so far. It was not a romantic look. It was not a look of friendship. It was a look that was somehow beyond all these, beyond all the different compartments of love we have down here on earth. It was something higher, holding all those other kinds of love within itself while at the same time being much bigger than all of them.

Without using any words, she spoke to me. The message went through me like a wind, and I instantly understood that it was true. I knew so in the same way that I knew that the world around us was real—was not some fantasy, passing and insubstantial.

The message had three parts, and if I had to translate them into earthly language, I’d say they ran something like this:

“You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.”

“You have nothing to fear.”

“There is nothing you can do wrong.” …

Later, when I was back, I found a quotation by the 17th-century Christian poet Henry Vaughan that came close to describing this magical place, this vast, inky-black core that was the home of the Divine itself.

“There is, some say, in God a deep but dazzling darkness …”

That was it exactly: an inky darkness that was also full to brimming with light.

Be sure to read it all.  Frankly, I was a little surprised to see this in Newsweek. That in itself might be an example that free will exists.

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Comment pages: 1 2

The Democrats want government out of your bedroom … but in every other room in your home and all over your property.

aunursa on October 8, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Be sure to read it all. Frankly, I was a little surprised to see this in Newsweek. That in itself might be an example that free will exists.

that is a really neat story. I discussed it with a physician and friend of mine this morning who witnessed a near death experience in the OR–an experience that really moved him in his faith. I’m interested in getting that book–it’s going to be released around 23 OCT and you can preorder via amazon for $11.

great post ed.

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Impossible to prove one way or the other.

The point is moot.

Pablo Honey on October 8, 2012 at 2:47 PM

The Democrats want government out of your bedroom … but in every other room in your home and all over your property.

aunursa on October 8, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Based on their rhetoric this cycle I think your bedroom is where they want to set up shop! Of course, they always end up governing out of the loo.

WeekendAtBernankes on October 8, 2012 at 2:53 PM

In human freedom in the philosophical sense I am definitely a disbeliever. Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity. Schopenhauer’s saying, that “a man can do as he will, but not will as he will,” has been an inspiration to me since my youth up, and a continual consolation and unfailing well-spring of patience in the face of the hardships of life, my own and others’. This feeling mercifully mitigates the sense of responsibility which so easily becomes paralyzing, and it prevents us from taking ourselves and other people too seriously; it conduces to a view of life in which humor, above all, has its due place.

Albert Einstein in “Mein Weltbild” (1931)

VorDaj on October 8, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Lots of liberals are into new age crap. Kinda strange Ed seems to be arguing that they don’t believe in a higher consciousness.

red_herring on October 8, 2012 at 2:53 PM

I don’t care about consciousness as much as I do care about conscience–particularly that religious conscience that the Godless left is trying to deprive me of using. I need see no more from them than that to know they are straight from Hades with their agenda. Killing God’s innocent humans, perverting sex, spreading envy and making deceit equal to truth, tells me more than what I care to see. Unfortunately, half the nation has exercised their free will to invite them to continue their immoral destruction of America,
Free will distorted is what the left calls “choice” to slaughter life.

Don L on October 8, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Oldest story of mankind. Adam and Eve.

John the Libertarian on October 8, 2012 at 2:57 PM

For most of my journey, someone else was with me. A woman. She was young, and I remember what she looked like in complete detail. She had high cheekbones and deep-blue eyes.

OMG his companion was Elizabeth Warren! :)

Seriously, cool article, Ed.

jwolf on October 8, 2012 at 3:01 PM

“You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.”

“You have nothing to fear.”

“There is nothing you can do wrong.” …

nice story. Story.

1 is true
2 is not
3 is very much wrong

astonerii on October 8, 2012 at 3:03 PM

The Democrats want government out of your bedroom … but in every other room in your home and all over your property.

aunursa on October 8, 2012 at 2:46 PM

The Dems want government to pick up the pieces of all the destruction that results from their morally corrupted bedroom–whether it’s generations of fatherless children, the spread of HIV, the destruction of life itself as inconvenience,the breaking up of a marriage etc.

As if society has no cost or responsibility to the byproduct of unrestrained passion.

There’s a reason the communists chose to destroy our culture before our economy–the latter is done for them after they succeed at the first.

Don L on October 8, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Spinoza says that if a stone which has been projected through the air, had consciousness, it would believe that it was moving of its own free will. I add this only, that the stone would be right. The impulse given it is for the stone what the motive is for me, and what in the case of the stone appears as cohesion, gravitation, rigidity, is in its inner nature the same as that which I recognize in myself as will, and what the stone also, if knowledge were given to it, would recognize as will.
- Schopenhauer

VorDaj on October 8, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Impossible to prove one way or the other.

The point is moot.

Pablo Honey on October 8, 2012 at 2:47 PM

.
“Severely vacuums” to be an atheist.

listens2glenn on October 8, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Excellent video! Thank you for pointing it out!

dominigan on October 8, 2012 at 3:05 PM

In Christian ethics … animals are seen as mere things. They can therefore be used for vivisection, hunting, coarsing, bull-fights and horse-races and can be whipped to death as they struggle along with their heavy carts of stone. Shame on such a morality that fails to recognize the eternal essence that exists in every living thing and shines forth with inscrutable significance from all eyes that see the sun.
- Schopenhauer

VorDaj on October 8, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Dude, dreams aren’t real. And neither is Obama.

faraway on October 8, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Another interesting question is about self-awareness. With computers, it is uncertain whether the mythical computer HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey could ever actually be created. How do you create self-awareness in computers? There doesn’t seem to be any clue what type of programming techniques to use to try to achieve computer self-awareness, and there doesn’t seem to be even any plausible speculation about what to do. Most people think that self-awareness is just a function of complexity. If a machine got complex enough, it would inevitably become self-aware, right? But in fact the computer would still be just executing dumb code. A 750 page book is no smarter than a 75 page book (and certainly a 2500 page health bill is no smarter than a 1 page repeal bill!!!), and the Space Shuttle is no more self-aware than a tricycle. Now a study of a very brain-damaged man who was still self-aware concludes that human self-awareness is diffused throughout the brain, that there is no “self-awareness center.” I’m not sure what all this means, but it’s interesting.

anotherJoe on October 8, 2012 at 3:07 PM

ts of liberals are into new age crap. Kinda strange Ed seems to be arguing that they don’t believe in a higher consciousness.
red_herring on October 8, 2012 at 2:53 PM

This article had nothing to do with consciousness. To the contrary, the man was unconscious and had no conscious bran activity going on at all.

tommyboy on October 8, 2012 at 3:09 PM

Liberals aren’t self-aware

faraway on October 8, 2012 at 3:11 PM

In Christian ethics … animals are seen as mere things. They can therefore be used for vivisection, hunting, coarsing, bull-fights and horse-races and can be whipped to death as they struggle along with their heavy carts of stone. Shame on such a morality that fails to recognize the eternal essence that exists in every living thing and shines forth with inscrutable significance from all eyes that see the sun.
– Schopenhauer
VorDaj on October 8, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Schopenhaur obviously knew nothing about Christian ethics.

tommyboy on October 8, 2012 at 3:11 PM

great post ed.

ted c on October 8, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Indeed. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” ~Shakespeare

Slainte on October 8, 2012 at 3:11 PM

VorDaj on October 8, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Funny, but I do not recall much of that at all in the Bible… Certainly not the beating of an animal under burden to death. Trying to recall any bull fights in the bible, I read it through fully more than a few times and have read it partially innumerable times.

Hacks like you enjoy using false statements and half truths.

astonerii on October 8, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Hubby and I have ‘free will’. We will make our ‘free will’ to vote for R&R Nov.6! The ‘free will’ we hope by our vote will help others with ‘free will’ on everything in their life here in the US!

The ‘free will’ way of life will be sol here in the US, IMO, if bho is re-elected. You can see how bad things have gotten in the four years of bho on ‘free will’?
L

letget on October 8, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Impossible to prove one way or the other.
The point is moot.
Pablo Honey on October 8, 2012 at 2:47 PM

That statment makes absolutely no sense in the context of this article. The mans empirical experience provides very strong proof that human self awareness transcends the physical.

tommyboy on October 8, 2012 at 3:13 PM

Ed Morrissey’s twin

Greek Fire on October 8, 2012 at 3:14 PM

It’s free will that allows me to skip over all of tommyboy’s posts.

NapaConservative on October 8, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Do we have free will?

Ask again in November

faraway on October 8, 2012 at 3:17 PM

That statment makes absolutely no sense in the context of this article. The mans empirical experience provides very strong proof that human self awareness transcends the physical.

tommyboy on October 8, 2012 at 3:13 PM

So they were physically able to measure what he saw and verify that his statement is the truth? The only thing they can prove is his cortex was shut down, not that he had anything happen in his brain during that time.

astonerii on October 8, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Do we have free will?

Of course. 47% of us didn’t vote for Obama in 2008 in spite of a propaganda campaign that would have made Stalin blush.

Marxism is for dummies on October 8, 2012 at 3:19 PM

I will choose a path thats clear…I will choose freewill

analog kid on October 8, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Of course. 47% of us didn’t vote for Obama in 2008 in spite of a propaganda campaign that would have made Stalin blush.

Marxism is for dummies on October 8, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Actually 40% of the total voting elegible population did not even vote at all. So, 68% did not vote for Obama.

astonerii on October 8, 2012 at 3:21 PM

Rejection of Free Will and thus embracing a Deterministic view also leads to the rejection of moral responsibility.

This was the card Clarence Darrow played during the trial of Leopold and Loeb. The environment beyond their control formed them and thus they were not morally responsible for their actions.

Not surprising that many Liberals also embrace Determinism and assume that nature made them the superior overseers.

willardcsmith on October 8, 2012 at 3:27 PM

That statment makes absolutely no sense in the context of this article. The mans empirical experience provides very strong proof that human self awareness transcends the physical.

tommyboy on October 8, 2012 at 3:13 PM

Without the physical there is no self-awareness. Self-awareness is a property of the physical, it isn’t a separate entity.

Pablo Honey on October 8, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Of course. 47% of us didn’t vote for Obama in 2008 in spite of a propaganda campaign that would have made Stalin blush.

Marxism is for dummies on October 8, 2012 at 3:19 PM

.
Actually 40% of the total voting elegible population did not even vote at all. So, 68% did not vote for Obama.

astonerii on October 8, 2012 at 3:21 PM

.
You had to bring that up . . . : (

listens2glenn on October 8, 2012 at 3:28 PM

So to the skeptics, what do you do with Jesus Christ?

Starlink on October 8, 2012 at 3:24 PM

Same thing that we do with Zeus and Thor.

Pablo Honey on October 8, 2012 at 3:29 PM

tommyboy on October 8, 2012 at 3:13 PM

.
Without the physical there is no self-awareness. Self-awareness is a property of the physical, it isn’t a separate entity.

Pablo Honey on October 8, 2012 at 3:28 PM

.
Like I said up above:

“Severely vacuums” to be an atheist.

listens2glenn on October 8, 2012 at 3:04 PM

listens2glenn on October 8, 2012 at 3:29 PM

My mother is one of the kindest, most loving creatures on earth. She has always had an affinity for butterflies. We used to collect monarch eggs and caterpillars from milkweed plants and she’d have chrysalises in various stages on sticks and plants in the sunny window of her house eventally hatching into butterflies. After their wings dried, she would gently catch and release them outside. As she descends into the darkness of Alzheimer’s and eventually death, I sincerely hope she rides on a butterfly wing as she passes over. Nothing would make me happier.

Free will, sure, it exists and is precious but as we are seeing, it can also be taken away when we are too weak or disheartened to fight for it.

Fallon on October 8, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Be sure to read it all. Frankly, I was a little surprised to see this in Newsweek. That in itself might be an example that free will exists.

Funny, because I would conclude the opposite — that it’s an example that divine providence, not free will, guides all things.

The Rogue Tomato on October 8, 2012 at 3:32 PM

She had high cheekbones and deep-blue eyes.

A Cherokee from Massachusetts?

wb-33777 on October 8, 2012 at 3:33 PM

what do you do with Jesus Christ?

Starlink on October 8, 2012 at 3:24 PM

.
Same thing that we do with Zeus and Thor.

Pablo Honey on October 8, 2012 at 3:29 PM

.
You’re stuck within your ‘five physical senses’. You refuse to concede that anything else can exist, except atoms and void.

listens2glenn on October 8, 2012 at 3:34 PM

I’m not sure what all this means, but it’s interesting.

anotherJoe on October 8, 2012 at 3:07 PM

I’m with you, Joe. Very interesting.

Great post, Ed.

novaculus on October 8, 2012 at 3:34 PM

You’re stuck within your ‘five physical senses’. You refuse to concede that anything else can exist, except atoms and void.

listens2glenn on October 8, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Dark matter and gravity come to mind. Neither are void or atoms.

Pablo Honey on October 8, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Impossible to prove one way or the other.

The point is moot.

Pablo Honey on October 8, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Which is what most said about the earth revolving around the sun…or that someone could fly, or most everything about you…somewhere, some fool said, “It’s impossible”…it’s your turn.

right2bright on October 8, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Dark matter and gravity come to mind. Neither are void or atoms.

Pablo Honey on October 8, 2012 at 3:36 PM

There is something out there that we cannot see, so we make a conjecture that it is there. We use computer models to predict it is there. We tell you it is there. No problem believing that.

The next one is great. We cannot detect a space medium through which light travels, so it does not exist. We found out there is an increasing red shift in light from further objects. Choice is to have there be a medium through which light travels which might change its frequency very minutely over billions of years, or invent a concept called dark energy. Lets go with dark energy! No problem believing that one.

Funny how people who argue they do not believe in things that require faith believe in all kinds of things that require FAITH.

astonerii on October 8, 2012 at 3:43 PM

In Christian ethics … animals are seen as mere things. They can therefore be used for vivisection, hunting, coarsing, bull-fights and horse-races and can be whipped to death as they struggle along with their heavy carts of stone. Shame on such a morality that fails to recognize the eternal essence that exists in every living thing and shines forth with inscrutable significance from all eyes that see the sun.
- Schopenhauer

VorDaj on October 8, 2012 at 3:05 PM

You obviously don’t have any references to back up what you posted…always amusing to watch children play.

right2bright on October 8, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Well done, Mr. Morrissey. This really reflects the underlying differences between a culture informed by a transcendant worldview and a strictly naturalistic worldview.

Goes a long way to defining what the real differences in the nation at large are.

Cleombrotus on October 8, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Numerous experiments in neuroscience has shown that the conscious mind only becomes aware of decisions after they have been made. This means that questions like guilt and ‘sin’ need serious examination. For those who have the time this presentation is interesting. (The speaker has a PhD in neuroscience.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCofmZlC72g

Annar on October 8, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Dark matter and gravity come to mind. Neither are void or atoms.

Pablo Honey on October 8, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Neither can exist without atoms…Gravity (dark matter) depends on atoms, but atoms do not depend on “gravity”…so to define gravity, you have to have atoms, or it doesn’t exist, so it is not “void” of atoms, it’s because of atoms.

right2bright on October 8, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Impossible to prove one way or the other.
The point is moot.
Pablo Honey on October 8, 2012 at 2:47 PM

We are able to infer. At least the rational are.

Cleombrotus on October 8, 2012 at 3:51 PM

In my last post.

has shown — have shown

Annar on October 8, 2012 at 3:53 PM

right2bright on October 8, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Matter can neither be created or destroyed. Dark energy and normal energy meeting destroys both. Can they explain? Can there be a net negative energy in any place in the universe, big or small? Faith is the domain of the extreme physics. Much of it is likely built on false assumptions made. But they believe!

astonerii on October 8, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Random noise in the perpetually active brain — that the damaged brain has assembled in the only way the brain knows how despite the damage and ongoing interference — with imagery and sound as close to what you are accustomed in your awakened state of consciousness albeit bizarrely distorted and/or fantastical. Put extremely simply — water will flow through damaged pipes and hoses too — some measure just leaks out along its journey — and sometimes some even finds its way back in somewhere along the line and it is ‘reassimilated’.

Talk to people who have had ‘near death experiences’ and/or ‘came back from the dead’ — who are blind and/or deaf and had never seen with their eyes and/or never heard with their ears since the very day of their birth.

What they experienced is ALWAYS perceived and recalled by them in the same manner in which they perceived their physical earthly world before their ‘event’. It’s just a lot more random and a lot more nonsensical — especially to those of us gifted from birth with the use of our eyes and ears. They never ever see ‘creatures’ or ‘people’ or ‘environments’ as they truly are in reality based perception — only as they’ve ever been able to ‘see’ and/or ‘hear’ [read: perceived] them in their conscious lifetime without the use of eyes and ears.

Whether you be sighted or not — hearing capable or not — shouldn’t the ‘next life’ and wouldn’t the ‘next life’ be the same place for everyone? Be seen and heard the same for everyone? Been described the same by everyone? Or — perhaps there exists a ‘next life’ that is completely different for the earthly visual and hearing impaired from birth masses of people. Right?

I know that lots of people [understatement -- i know] would like to imagine that when we die we immediately jet off to some otherworldly place that is alien to us filled with super groovy love and psychedelic beings and terrain more akin to Avatar’s moon planet Pandora — or a Psilocybin Mushrooms jam session — than planet Earth — but it just can’t be the case.

If that were the case — why would our ‘spiritual selves’ ever consent to being here in this craphole world full of ugliness and hate and unbridled pain in the first place? The only possible way would have to be having been forced here against our will — and that opens a whole other can of worms entirely because that God given right of ‘free will’ is truly and completely non-existent then.

Only one solitary thing is absolutely certain on this topic — you. will. die.

And no one will ever know for absolutely sure WTF happens after that until they are truly and permanently dead — or until Zombie Jesus finally comes out of hiding and gives us the skinny in an exclusive prime-time interview with Barbara Walters.

Whichever comes first.

FlatFoot on October 8, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Luther’s “Bondage of the Will” is an excellent treatise on this from a Christian standpoint.

AZfederalist on October 8, 2012 at 3:57 PM

In Christian ethics … animals are seen as mere things. – Schopenhauer

VorDaj on October 8, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Schopenhauer either didn’t bother to read, or selectively ignored Scripture. A few representative passages:

“You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.” (Deut. 25:4)

And

“[Jesus] said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out?” (Matt 12.11)

And one of my favs:

“And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road…[then]he struck her again…[then] he struck the donkey [again] with his staff. Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.” And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?”… [then the] angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me. The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live.” (Numbers 22:23-33)

Of course, if these are only as meaningful as children’s stories to the reader, it doesn’t matter much…

bandarlog on October 8, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Spinoza says that if a stone which has been projected through the air, had consciousness, it would believe that it was moving of its own free will. I add this only, that the stone would be right. The impulse given it is for the stone what the motive is for me, and what in the case of the stone appears as cohesion, gravitation, rigidity, is in its inner nature the same as that which I recognize in myself as will, and what the stone also, if knowledge were given to it, would recognize as will.
- Schopenhauer

VorDaj on October 8, 2012 at 3:03 PM

This makes no sense. A stone with consciousness lacks the ability to act in any way to change it’s movement. How could it possibly see itself as moving of it’s own free will? Dropped from a plane I would be falling, free will is irreverent in such cases. I would not mistake hurtling towards earth as “what the motive is for me” either.

Rocks on October 8, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Luther’s “Bondage of the Will” is an excellent treatise on this from a Christian Augustinian standpoint.

AZfederalist on October 8, 2012 at 3:57 PM

And sadly (and insensibly, in my view), this linchpin of the Reformation doctrine of Justification has been been almost wholly relegated to the dustbin.

bandarlog on October 8, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Matter can neither be created or destroyed. Dark energy and normal energy meeting destroys both. Can they explain? Can there be a net negative energy in any place in the universe, big or small? Faith is the domain of the extreme physics. Much of it is likely built on false assumptions made. But they believe!

astonerii on October 8, 2012 at 3:54 PM

The existence of dark energy and dark matter follow from the theory of relativity however the math is extremely complicated but it is all mainstream stuff. Einstein’s theory predicted black holes but it took many years before there were any found. There exists a multipart series with Stephen Hawking called ‘The Grand Design’ which touches on this subject in a way accessible to the layman.

Annar on October 8, 2012 at 4:08 PM

Impossible to prove one way or the other. The point is moot. Pablo Honey on October 8, 2012 at 2:47 PM

You can call him a liar but you can’t disprove his experience.

Akzed on October 8, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Impossible to prove one way or the other.
The point is moot.
Pablo Honey on October 8, 2012 at 2:47 PM

.
We are able to infer. At least the rational are.

Cleombrotus on October 8, 2012 at 3:51 PM

.

The fool has said in his (her) heart, “there is no God.”

.
My irrationality just won’t quit.

listens2glenn on October 8, 2012 at 4:11 PM

The existence of dark energy and dark matter follow from the theory of relativity however the math is extremely complicated but it is all mainstream stuff. Einstein’s theory predicted black holes but it took many years before there were any found. There exists a multipart series with Stephen Hawking called ‘The Grand Design’ which touches on this subject in a way accessible to the layman.

Annar on October 8, 2012 at 4:08 PM

So, in essence what you are saying is that you take it on faith that these things exist? Or those who are scientists and believe in the theory of relativity. I only make the statement, not to argue that they do not exist, I am sure something like them does. In fact, I hear they made some in the laboratory. But you have no direct evidence they exist. Just theories and faith. But the same people will ridicule anyone who believes in the bible or God.

astonerii on October 8, 2012 at 4:12 PM

It’s funny, because an argument against free will seems to be an argument for the traditional governmental role of power.

Let me justify that statement: If it is the lot of people to do as they are otherwise disposed to do, let the government fulfill its tendency to enforce its own will. The government could not choose to act in the interest of the people, as if they could decide something in light of the tendency of people, because there is no choice, only manifest tendency.

Thus people will do as their wont and the government composed of people attracted to the power of government will effect their wont and preferences.

Of course, I can do no other that disparage this slop. So what does a lack of freewill buy us? It actually justifies more of “that’s just the way I am” (“Nature made me a bully, dude.”)

And it actually gives a slight support to war and murder as an argument to changing the course of “human destiny”, as we weed out that natural element who oppose our preferences.

Axeman on October 8, 2012 at 4:12 PM

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice…

fortcoins on October 8, 2012 at 4:15 PM

bandarlog on October 8, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Don’t forget this one:

[Prov. 12:10] A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast,
but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.

Cleombrotus on October 8, 2012 at 4:17 PM

In Christian ethics … animals are seen as mere things. – Schopenhauer

VorDaj on October 8, 2012 at 3:05 PM

.
In Schopenhauer’s ethics, men and women are seen as mere animals.
.
If it can be shown that is a miss-judgement (on my part) of Schopenhauer, I’ll stand corrected.

listens2glenn on October 8, 2012 at 4:17 PM

that guy didn’t prove anything, it’s just what he wants to believe

the best reading on this subject is an essay by Tom Wolfe, Sorry But Your Soul Just Died

commodore on October 8, 2012 at 4:19 PM

why would our ‘spiritual selves’ ever consent to being here in this craphole world full of ugliness and hate and unbridled pain in the first place?

You’re assuming that the soul pre-exists the material world. Mormons believe that each person chooses the life he will lead as a spiritual child before incarnation, but Christians don’t believe this.

There are two schools of thought among Christians regarding the soul: it is created directly by God at conception (Creationism), or that it is passed on from a parent (Traducianism).

The only possible way would have to be having been forced here against our will — and that opens a whole other can of worms entirely because that God given right of ‘free will’ is truly and completely non-existent then. FlatFoot on October 8, 2012 at 3:54 PM

People locked up in prison are there against their wills, and have few options available to them, but that doesn’t negate their free will.

Akzed on October 8, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Don’t forget this one:

[Prov. 12:10] A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast,
but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.

Cleombrotus on October 8, 2012 at 4:17 PM

.
On what basis do you think we “forgot” that one?

listens2glenn on October 8, 2012 at 4:19 PM

To paraphrase John Milton “Paradise Lost”

We are, all of us, strong enough to stand, yet free to fall.

thatsafactjack on October 8, 2012 at 4:21 PM

[Prov. 12:10] A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast,
but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.

Cleombrotus on October 8, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Oh, excellent verse–it completely slipped my mind.

bandarlog on October 8, 2012 at 4:21 PM

a dimension I’d never dreamed existed and which the old, pre-coma me would have been more than happy to explain was a simple impossibility.

He never dreamed it existed, yet he describes it in terms familiar to all.

For most of my journey, someone else was with me. A woman. She was young, and I remember what she looked like in complete detail. She had high cheekbones and deep-blue eyes. Golden brown tresses framed her lovely face. When first I saw her, we were riding along together on an intricately patterned surface, which after a moment I recognized as the wing of a butterfly. In fact, millions of butterflies were all around us—vast fluttering waves of them, dipping down into the woods and coming back up around us again. It was a river of life and color, moving through the air. The woman’s outfit was simple, like a peasant’s, but its colors—powder blue, indigo, and pastel orange-peach—had the same overwhelming, super-vivid aliveness that everything else had.

“Lucy in the Sky, with Diamonds….”

Akzed on October 8, 2012 at 4:30 PM

sorry, but this nation’s Founders understood these issues and acted on them 236yrs ago. And decades before that. The horror is that we have backslid so far since then, that we’ve allowed the regressions enacted by supposed ‘progressives’, particularly over the last 100yrs. It’s obscene. Their ‘progress’ is a march backward to slavery and feudalism.
HG Wells gave warning in his ‘Time Machine’ in 1985. Hell, Fritz Lang saw it clearly and showed us in his ‘Metropolis’, 1927.
Huxley published ‘Brave New World’ in ’32.
Orwell developed much of his work between the world wars and the spanish civil war, coming to reject his leftist origins and sound his clarion warning ’1984′, published in ’49. Instead our Left, the eurioean left, used it as a guidebook.
Over and over we have been warned about the path we are on.
Mostly it’s ignored or dismissed as speculative fiction, dystopia, entertainments. They are warnings.
And since the ideological descendents of italian marxist Antonia Gramsci, the father of modern propaganda, now rule our entertainment and education-indoctrination centers – and now much of our government leadership – those warnings are smothered. And we get crap like the Obama campaign using a communist slogan (‘Forward’); like their illegally taking in massive foreign campaign donations via a Chicom-connected website; like our government bureaucracies infested with crap like ‘social justice’ which is nothing more than marxist class warfare and division.

rayra on October 8, 2012 at 4:31 PM

listens2glenn on October 8, 2012 at 4:19 PM

I dunno. Free will?

Cleombrotus on October 8, 2012 at 4:36 PM

“There is nothing you can do wrong.”

Doesn’t this obviate the entire concept of free will?

If there is no right or wrong, then every choice you make may as well be random — because it doesn’t MATTER what you think or do.

logis on October 8, 2012 at 4:37 PM

I actually went to the article in Newsweek and read the whole thing.

This neurologist points out that his entire neocortex, the part of the brain that IS the human part, contains all experience, consciousness, thinks, was literally ‘off’… as in completely non functional… not damaged… not malfunctioning…completely off…without any activity, or receptivity, whatsoever.The rest of the brain is merely responsible for running our autonomic functions, like breathing and our heart beat, kidney function, etc.

This individual was hooked up to CT scans and various other neurological tests for the duration of the event… 7 days. There was no activity at all in the neocortex. The doctors in attendance were literally in the room, engaged in the process of discussing ‘turning off life support’ when his eyes popped open and he was suddenly ‘back’. His brain began to function again.

The argument that his brain was simply malfunctioning is not tenable. His brain, the part that is responsible for our humanity, our consciousness, was not functioning. Period. That’s the point of his article.

Further, the multi-dimensional space, which he discusses in the complete article, is completely in keeping with Einstein’s calculations, as well as modern quantum physics and quantum mechanics theory, such as M theory.

I don’t, personally, care if you reject his experience.However, the facts regarding his physical condition, and the level at which his brain was functioning, or not functioning, during the coma are documented facts.

thatsafactjack on October 8, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Do we have free will?

Asks the guy who believes in original sin.

Dante on October 8, 2012 at 4:40 PM

thatsafactjack on October 8, 2012 at 4:38 PM

The only facts are his brain did not do anything for the duration.

He has a story to tell, great.

astonerii on October 8, 2012 at 4:43 PM

listens2glenn on October 8, 2012 at 4:19 PM

.
I dunno. Free will?

Cleombrotus on October 8, 2012 at 4:36 PM

.
Meaning . . . . . what ?

listens2glenn on October 8, 2012 at 4:50 PM

Do we have free will?

.
Asks the guy who believes in original sin.

Dante on October 8, 2012 at 4:40 PM

.
I don’t believe “original sin” is what you think it is.

listens2glenn on October 8, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Asks the guy who believes in original sin.

Dante on October 8, 2012 at 4:40 PM

HUH. The fallacious argument from you.
/

CW on October 8, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Asks the guy who believes in original sin.

Dante on October 8, 2012 at 4:40 PM

HUH. The fallacious argument from you.
/

CW on October 8, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Exactly it’s like saying “I was born with 2 feet, thus I do not have free will, because I couldn’t choose to have 3″.

Even a sling at Calvinism would have been better.

Axeman on October 8, 2012 at 5:01 PM

HUH. The fallacious argument from you.

CW on October 8, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Nothing fallacious about it at all.

Dante on October 8, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Exactly it’s like saying “I was born with 2 feet, thus I do not have free will, because I couldn’t choose to have 3″.

Axeman on October 8, 2012 at 5:01 PM

No.

Dante on October 8, 2012 at 5:08 PM

You have been predestined to act upon your free will…

fortcoins on October 8, 2012 at 5:09 PM

When I was a kid I got Frank Pastore’s autograpgh back when he pitched for the Reds.

Mark1971 on October 8, 2012 at 5:13 PM

People locked up in prison are there against their wills, and have few options available to them, but that doesn’t negate their free will.

Akzed on October 8, 2012 at 4:19 PM

So — we are all in ‘spiritual prison’? The entire human race?

Okay. Well then — I see now — abortion is actually mercy! Right? Hmmm — could be.

What crime are we/am I personally convicted of — existing? Because I have absolutely ZERO recollection of ever having committing any felonious crime — much less any crime worthy of such utter contempt and barbarically cruel punishment as this LIFE SENTENCE on the 3rd rock from the sun — when compared to eternal spiritual nirvana.

 

Get outta here with your nonsense — please.

FlatFoot on October 8, 2012 at 5:16 PM

yeah but you can make a lot of phone calls with a free cell phone and you can screw a lot w/subsidized birth control… what can you do with free will that beats being a Slut with an Obamaphone?

mittens on October 8, 2012 at 5:24 PM

And then Schopenhauer went to the Palms and had a filet, medium rare.

Just because his experience of riding a butterfly seemed incredibly real, desn’t mean he actually flew around on one. If he said he flew on said insect to the backside of Pluto, and had tea with Queen Victoria, would his story ring so many archetypical bells? Or just sound like a really, really good hallucination?

Allahs vulva on October 8, 2012 at 5:32 PM

To say “There is no free will” is an act of free will trying to negate itself.

Absurd, but available.

profitsbeard on October 8, 2012 at 5:43 PM

God created man with free will, knowing that he would misuse it. That’s why he provided a period of probation in which we could repent and a redeemer to make it worthwhile. Governments make laws, not to supplant God but to fulfill the limited purpose of protecting order in societies. It is blasphemy to claim that he wants us to deprive anyone of that ability to choose or dictate morality without revelation from him.

flataffect on October 8, 2012 at 5:54 PM

I trust myself to make good decisions for me. Some trust me enough to make good decisions on their behalf. I am one of the well functioning.

Bmore on October 8, 2012 at 6:02 PM

In Graduate school I had a teacher I admired who was a strict determinist, who believed there was education and biology and nothing else, that there was no free will, only our reaction based upon these two things. I argued the central core of Christian faith, and also our lives, is that we have free will choose our destiny.

He smiled and said I believe that because I have no choice.

I said “if we are simply a reaction to our stimuli, does this mean that Jesus is the same as Hitler”?

He said nothing, and went on to another question.

itsspideyman on October 8, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Hacks like you enjoy using false statements and half truths.

astonerii on October 8, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Even Obama has better rebuttals than that, probably even Biden too. So that places you pretty much at the bottom.

VorDaj on October 8, 2012 at 6:31 PM

You obviously don’t have any references to back up what you posted…always amusing to watch children play.

right2bright on October 8, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Are you blind? That was the reference – Schopenhauer.

VorDaj on October 8, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Of course, if these are only as meaningful as children’s stories to the reader, it doesn’t matter much…

bandarlog on October 8, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Not all that many “Christians” follow Christ’s teachings and examples in case that has somehow escaped you.

VorDaj on October 8, 2012 at 6:34 PM

This makes no sense. A stone with consciousness lacks the ability to act in any way to change it’s movement. How could it possibly see itself as moving of it’s own free will? Dropped from a plane I would be falling, free will is irreverent in such cases. I would not mistake hurtling towards earth as “what the motive is for me” either.

Rocks on October 8, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Somehow you managed to miss the whole point.

VorDaj on October 8, 2012 at 6:36 PM

.
In Schopenhauer’s ethics, men and women are seen as mere animals.
.
If it can be shown that is a miss-judgement (on my part) of Schopenhauer, I’ll stand corrected.

listens2glenn on October 8, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Humans are animals and probably no more special to God than any of the others, on earth or elsewhere. Man thinks he is the creator’s favorite pet. What a quaint notion.

VorDaj on October 8, 2012 at 6:38 PM

Humans are animals and probably no more special to God than any of the others, on earth or elsewhere. Man thinks he is the creator’s favorite pet. Make that – what an egotistical if not down right narcissistic notion.

VorDaj on October 8, 2012 at 6:42 PM

It’s interesting to ponder;

I wonder how many of those folks out there who would deny free will, are the very same folks who would argue to their death about a woman’s right to “choose?”

Don L on October 8, 2012 at 6:43 PM

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