In this post I address some questions raised in a discussion thread on Rationalising the Universe but which are off-topic. Blogger scientists Joseph and Mekhi are open-minded in entertaining opinions as shown by raising ideas and topics on, or beyond, the fringes of material science. Read for example, What Am I For? and Science and God; a beautiful fusion or an unhealthy alliance?
Earlier this month a lively, informative discussion arose upon theoretical physicist Mekhi’s asking Is Free Will An Illusion? She bravely ventures into a different form of matter – an immaterial one! Mekhi opens her post:
“Whether or not we have a free will is an age-old question in philosophy: whether we are truly in control of our decisions and whether our future is an uncertainty, slowly carved out into a reality by our thoughts and actions today. Whether we have this free will is a question that has a popular appeal for it directly affects they way we see the universe and our place in it. Though what is it that makes us believe we truly are in control of our decisions and whether, when you’re faced with chocolate ice cream or vanilla, there really is a moment of genuine uncertainty before you choose the vanilla.
“Something inside us compels us to believe humans have free will….”
Spiritually-minded people recognise mankind’s possession of free-will as a gift from God because we are made with spiritual, moral, intellectual and emotional faculties: ie, we’re made ‘in His image’ and as His family. He did not create us to be mindless robots under His direct control. Therefore, free-will is a theological topic too, as well as being pertinent to other belief systems, philosophy, ethics and morality it is relevant in neuroscience, psychology and sociology.
Mekhi considers how classical and quantum physics can contribute to an understanding of free-will. Yet a problem lies in its being tied into scientists’ biased, or preferred, concepts associated with the twin belief systems of humanism and atheism. She concludes:
“Therefore it seems the only path we can follow to believe free will truly exists is to believe that somehow our minds behave in way that is superior to the direct product of the atoms that comprise them.. What basis we have for believing this I do not know.. but I believe I speak for all humans when I say something inside me compels it to be so – and that’s a scientist talking!”
What/Who Made ‘The Big Bang’ Bang?
Referring to the scientific conundrum of how the universe began, I point to inconsistency and ask about the apparent intelligence of sub-atomic particles from the perspective of quantum mechanics.
Another reader also picks up on and draws attention to the spiritual aspect of this topic. ‘Novus Lectio’ aka ‘BGC’, states “Free-will doesn’t stand in the realm of ‘matter’…it comes from the spirit”, refers to the brain’s reasoning processes and mentions references made to ‘something within’. I’d already noticed that and after Mehki’s negative response fill out BGC’s remark in saying her words indicate her own spirit, as well as pointing to use of language bordering on the religious.
Off-topic Discussion Points
A lively debate ensues! If you have time and inclination you may wish to read the article’s thread so you can appreciate its full flow. There are many fine debatable issues and here are extracts from the thread with off-topic points I believe warrant answering. I hope to do the discussion justice:
‘BGC’ makes an intriguing allusion to ‘scripture’ (March 13, 6:09 pm): ‘Yes I totally agree, the intuition comes from below our conscious awareness – but no calculation is performed due to the fact that we’re not the source of this intuition. If we were the source of it, we would call it “thought”.
‘In one of the Holy Scriptures God says: It is not for any human that God should speak to him, except by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger to reveal by His permission whatever He wills. He is All-High, All-Wise. We thus inspired you spiritually, by Our command. You did not know what the Scripture is, nor what faith is, but We made it a light, with which We guide whomever We will of Our servants. You surely guide to a straight path. The path of God, to whom belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. Indeed, to God all matters revert….’
His protagonist ‘M’ offers his opinion and the debate continues but I notice this is from the qur’an and its claim and my subsequent discussion with BGC suggests he’s unclear as to how we can communicate with God and doesn’t realise spiritual beings, whether holy or demonic, have the ability to reason and communicate.
Eg, I respond (March 13, 5:56 pm): ‘Interesting thesis ‘BGC’ re, your “brain uses reason..spirit uses intuition” (reply to ‘M’) I partially disagree. Imho, the brain is just a tool to convey intuition and awareness of our spiritual life plus our link to God’s spirit . As we’re ‘made in his image’ with its free-will then we have a spiritual reasoning faculty to ‘discuss’ with our Father; as he says at Isaiah 1:18, “Come now let us reason together”…’
Also, in another reply, (Mar16, 5:49 pm): ‘Hence, my preference to analyse, query, test factual data – including scripture! – and accept the proven and hold theories lightly, rather than dogmatically make baseless assertions (emphasis added per comments below). I’ve been trained to discern between holy, human and unclean (demonic) spirits and deal with the last. My actual experience has verified the accuracy of what’s in the New Testament.
‘Thus, I disagree with your notion that free-will and rational processes are not used by immaterial or disembodied spirits. The Bible and Quran both report satan/iblis as having rational faculties, otherwise it wouldn’t have been able to rebel or tempt Jesus through power of persuasion. Also, Jesus referred to it as ‘The Father of Lies’. SO a spirit being has and uses its reasoning faculty! The main focus of such spirits’ activities is upon our human minds and thoughts.
‘BGC’ replies and asks (Mar 16, 7:08pm): ‘Hi Richard, I’m very surprised by your knowledge...I agree with most of what you said, “better to stick to attested facts of known events rather than conjecture of fictional films”. On the other hand, satan/iblis isn’t really described in the Quran except that it is made of a certain kind of fire (naturally not the human kind). So it’s not exactly a spirit is it?’
A fair question and I refer ‘BGC’ to this blog’s ‘Holy Fire’ tag, specifically the photos of More Focus on Holy Fire, which show the Holy Spirit flame upon people and a pair of seraphim, or burning ones. As for the twisted rational faculties of demons, the New Testament records a few very brief instances of demons trying to reason with Jesus and their obedience to His commands.
Also, when I read the Muslim book I noted a similarity in style to a mediumistic-inspired book (or ‘automatic writing’) dictated by a ‘Jesus’ who belittles his disciples’ incompetence and misunderstanding of miracles. It pretends to tell where they went wrong and ‘how to perform miracles’. Also, in denying the divine nature of Jesus, the qur’an is unhelpful as regards a born-again believer hearing the Lord, and is therefore not competent on the gift of prophecy and the office of prophet. So I directed ‘BGC’ to dip into this blog’s hub on Prophecy (‘101’ here).
There is so much more I could add, but if anyone has a brief question please be free to ask and I shall respond as soon as possible…