The other debate I started looks doomed without making a few things clear.
I find it very unlikely that we have free will. Just like you, I feel as though I have it. But there are excellent reasons to think otherwise, and those reasons would have the religious calling me atheist. They come down to the following:
- The brain shows every sign so far of according to physical law
- Physical law, as we understand it, is either determinism or entirely random. There is nothing to allow a “will”
- Neuroscientists can do all sorts of interesting things purely manipulating the brain and their repetoire continually increases. They can make you desire things. They can make you move your limbs. They can make you say things. They can make you feel in love. ETC.
- But more cruelly, various brain diseases and injuries can wipe out abilities. Aphasia. Alzeimher’s Disease. CJD. So on and so on.
Free will seems to over-ride none of that. The evidence is very weak.
Or put another way, I’m reminded of Laplace before Napoleon, demonstrating the movement of the planets.
I have no need for that hypothethis, sir.
There is no physical problem that we need free will to explain. Per occam’s razor, we can discard it.
And most importantly, I’m sure this is where the religious now decide they will count me amongst them. Because I now seem to show the common sense insight that they have, that they can’t understand atheists or materialists don’t get. We’re alive, and goddammit we FEEL ALIVE. Sentio ergo sum!
I don’t believe the above argument to apply to consciousness, or at least what I am calling consciousness, a separate thing from a state of consciousness. It may be 99.9% in the brain. It may even be an illusion. But it’s an illusion to something and I’m witnessing it, and there is nothing in any physical theory that at all explains it. And I can’t possibly prove that I’m feeling this sensation incidentally, to anyone but me, but if you yourself feel it you know what I mean. And so I don’t consider my **experience **entirely materialistic, even if the **world **is. In fact I reject it as vanishingly unlikely.
However, I’m not so sure that all atheists would agree that I am religious, and I haven’t the first idea whether I am a materialist or not. The above to me seems compatible with atheism. But that is perhaps for another thread.