Thinking Christian

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Free Will and Determinism

Here We Go ‘Round the No-Free-Will Bush ♫

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014


SteveK [told us[( about this report, Free will could be the result of ‘background noise’ in the brain, study suggests.

I’ve seen enough bad science journalism to know that the real experiment may look very little like the one reported there. (In fact, I have real trouble believing the research is as weak as that.) Taking the report at face value, though, with that disclaimer, this appears to be what’s happening:

A cue appears on screen at random intervals. When the cue …


Purpose In Life: Nothing But Illusion?

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Update 5 pm May 16: Several commenters here and on Twitter are making the mistake of reading this as the usual meaning-and-purpose discussion. The apologists’ usual approach has to do with the adequacy of meaning and purpose for atheists. I’m not talking about that at all. Read on, and as you do, be careful not to confuse this discussion with that other one….


There’s a running Internet debate between theists and atheists over the question of purpose. Atheists typically insist they can find purpose without …


Real vs. Counterfeit Compassion (Part 1)

Monday, September 17th, 2012

I am no expert on compassion. To talk about it is easy, but to know it is to practice it, and there are others who practice it far better than I. This I know, however: “compassion” that strips away humanity is no compassion at all.

The Bible is a record of God’s compassion toward real people. The book of Isaiah, for example, rings with God’s call for care towards the hurting, the poor, the needy, the oppressed; for very often compassion is for those who …


Rejecting Knowledge for the Sake of Science?

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Jerry Coyne and others may think it makes sense to reject knowledge for the sake of science. They’re wrong. Here’s a great case in point, though, from a transcription Coyne provided of a talk given by Michael Gazzaniga.

“If you think about it this way, if you are a Martian coming by earth and looking at all these humans and then looking at how they work you wouldn’t—it would never dawn on you to say, ‘Well, now, this thing needs free will!’ What are …


Our Problem: To Explain the Human Condition

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

From the series, Ten Turning Points That Make All the Difference

Genesis 3 tells how humans first entered into what I’m calling our problem. Some people find the story there hard to believe on account of the talking serpent and the seemingly magical fruit. We’ll come back to that. For now I want to show what it is in Genesis 3 that makes more sense than any other explanation I know of for the human condition.

Consider this, after all: difficult though it may …


Can Science Disprove Free Will?

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Premiss 1. If libertarian free will (LFW) exists, it operates such that natural law does not determine its course or its actions, nor is it a matter of chance. (Definition of libertarian free will)

Premiss 2. Science’s competence (meaning the empirical, physical sciences) is strictly in the study of events and entities in conjunction with, in relation to, or as determined by natural law or by chance. (From generally accepted definitions of the natural sciences)

Conclusion 1. If  some function or capacity exists whose action …


Coyne Responds on Free Will

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Jerry Coyne has responded to my piece (and others’) yesterday on his Free Will article in USAToday. He begins,

Predictably, at his own website the Thinking Christian says that the assumption of natural laws that absolutely determine our choices is an unjustified a priori conclusion, not supported by science itself. (Nope, it’s a conclusion based on experience.)

I’m disappointed that he didn’t notice what I wrote about that. I’ll try again. First, in a paragraph beginning “Now, certainly those laws,” …


Jerry Coyne: “Why you don’t really have free will” –

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Jerry Coyne, who knows a lot about biology, doesn’t know nearly enough about other things on which he claims to be an authority. If what had written were only on his blog I would ignore it, but USAToday published it online: “Why you don’t really have free will.” It includes,

Now there’s no way to rewind the tape of our lives to see if we can really make different choices in completely identical circumstances. But two lines of evidence suggest that such …


Pro-Choice Determinists

Monday, September 26th, 2011

I was just wondering how many determinists—people who believe that human free will is an illusion, because everything is determined by physical law—would describe themselves as “pro-choice.”


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