It’s a new year, whoo! With the new year, I started to think, I wonder what the year has in store for me. And then I thought harder about that phrase and realized how that phrase almost implicitly is stating that the year is predetermined… but it’s totally not! So it honestly got me thinking about like philosophical ideas that I remembered from my philosophy class I took at university last year. I can admit it was one of my favorite classes. I’ve always been one of those people who thought our lives were predetermined, yet throughout college I’ve come to realize that we all indeed do have freewill. To an extent that is. Diving a little bit into the topic of philosophy, you might be asking, To what extent do humans possess free will? This question has been one of the most debated topics of all time. According to Kane, an American Philosopher, there are traditional views that tell us Freewill is the idea that people have the ability to make decisions that they are morally responsible for. His Freewill argument emphasizes that it is up to us to make decisions and people have an open future with forking paths.
I totally agree with him that all humans possess free will. I’d like to make clear that the only free will I am discussing is the active free will that actually affects the future, rather than the passive compatibilism that does not. Kane states “most physicists and philosophers think that the world in not deterministic” (Kane 3). After looking towards the experts in this subject, we can see how science shows that free will is in fact compatible with physics. Freedom of choice is essential to creating and shaping the experience of life. Free will can be seen on the human scale, but it can also be seen on an atomic scale. Both atoms and humans began in chaos and remain chaotic and random. This supports the basic idea of quantum mechanics, which states that “reality is not linear in its behaviour but discontinuous” (Silva).
Furthermore, not only is freewill important, but the belief that free will exists might even be equally important. In fact, studies have been conducted that conclude a lack of belief in freewill could end up breaking up societies. For example, if every crime in society was predetermined to happen like a natural disaster or a plague, than why should that person be held in jail for something they did not consciously control, but rather the mental disorder caused them to do it? “In survey research, we found that the more people doubt free will, the less they favor ‘retributive’ punishment” (Shariff and Kathleen). From this I inferred that not only do humans possess free will, but humans also need the belief that free will exists, in order to have a functioning society.
Since the beginning of time, freewill has been an essential part of not only history, natural sciences and human sciences, but also within religious knowledge systems. Ever since christianity became the one of world’s largest religion, the study of theology has grown and become a cornerstone to christian belief. Sometimes people wonder however, is it possible to posses both a scientific and religious outlook on the world? I think the idea of free will is one of the few forms that create a bridge between science and religion.
There were many people throughout history
who either believed in compatibilism or determinism alone. One of the most famous philosophers, Einstein, said “God doesn’t play dice with the universe” (Silva). First, I’d like to start with the fact that this famous saying of his is often misunderstood. Nonetheless, I think having free will is essential to being a Christian. Michael Murray, a professor who studies the compatibility of science and faith, argues that “a good God would choose to make His existence and character less than certain for human beings, for the sake of their freedom. (He will do so, the argument goes on, at least for a period of tim
e in which human beings participate in their own character formation)” (Murray). It’s interesting that we can look at theology at many different angles. It’s also refreshing to stray away from common religious belief and the idea that God has already predetermined every man’s action. Free will is not just some crazy idea humans came up with, but it can be seen as evidence in how God reveals his love—by allowing his creation to have freedom. As Kane put it similarly, “I think the key to understanding the role of chance in free will is not to think of chance as a causal factor by itself, but rather to think of chance as an interfering ingredient in larger goal-oriented p
rocesses (Kane 41).
Because our planet’s societies depend upon the diversity that free will brings, we should appreciate the essence of having it. Freewill can be seen to exist from the beginning of time, throughout history, and within scientific and religious knowledge systems. It was and is required
within our world because freedom of choice creates originality, creates moral responsibility in society and supports theology by reflecting God’s love. Not only do I argue this from my point of view, but I also support Robert Kane and several other experts who have studied freewill and other difficult topics like this one for many years. In summary, there may be several approaches to how this world is run. However, I find that a Free-will approach to life is inconsistent with deterministic ideas, therefore they cannot be compatible. In the end, free-will not only makes sense in the greater scheme of things, but it clearly exists and appears to be coherent throughout several areas of knowledge.