“Your worldview has to have the same shape that reality does.” – J. Budziszewski
As noted in the opening post in this series, I believe Christianity offers compelling reasons to believe that truth is found most fully and consistently within the framework of a Christian worldview. The second post addressed the need for an objective foundation for morality. Of course, using the language of morality only makes sense if we are moral beings – that is, if we are significant moral agents who have an obligation to choose good and avoid evil. This can only happen if we are free to make that choice, and therein lies another key question: Are we really free?
Generally, people believe that at some point everyone freely chooses to make good and/or bad choices. Jaegwon Kim, philosopher at Brown University, has noted, “We commonly think that we, as persons, have a mental and bodily dimension….Something like this dualism of personhood, I believe, is common lore shared across most cultures and religious traditions.” Mind and Language published a paper in 2010 entitled “Is Belief in Free Will a Cultural Universal?” After studying a broad sample of people in the United States, Hong Kong, India and Columbia,
“The results revealed a striking degree of cross-cultural convergence. In all four cultural groups, the majority of participants said that (a) our universe is indeterministic and (b) moral responsibility is not compatible with determinism.”
Consensus is not an air-tight way to arrive at truth, of course, but it is an insightful way to see what experiences humanity in general share. Most people believe we exercise some form of free will.
Not everyone agrees. When Rodney Brooks and Rosalind Picard debated the question, “Can Robots Become Human?” at a Veritas Forum at MIT in 2007, the following exchange took place :
Brooks: “ I think of myself as a robot, as a bag of skin full of biomolecules, and if I step back, that’s what [my wife] is, that’s what my kids are. But I have this completely different way of interacting with them, with unconditional love, which is not part of that scientific view. So I have multiple views I operate under every day.”
Picard: “I don’t just call those multiple views, I call those inconsistent views…so there’s no purpose, there’s no meaning, there’s no free will.”
Brooks: “That’s why I said I have a set of inconsistent views that I live under, because that’s really desolate, but it’s the truth.”
Picard: “Yeah, that does seem pretty desolate, and I wonder how you – why you care?”
Brooks: “I live in a fantasyland. That’s the fantasyland I’ve chosen to live in…”
So what is actually happening? Continue Reading…