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January 09, 2012

Free Will or No Free Will?


Free Will or No Free Will?

Free will is an illusion, he says. I’m John Stonestreet, and this is The Point.

Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary scientist at the University of Chicago, ignited a debate with his recent USA Today article in which he definitively says free will is only an illusion of our evolutionary development. In reality, Coyne says, we are “puppets performing scripted parts written by the laws of physics.”

He recognizes that people don’t want to hear this, but neurological studies show predictable brain activity seven seconds before a decision is made to push a button on a computer. Because their choices were made before their awareness of them it proves to Coyne we’re really just “meat computers” doing what evolution has programmed.

Of course, he doesn’t explain why a study about a decision to push buttons is definitive about all the other choices humans make -- especially interpersonal ones dealing with issues like love, justice, and morality.  And it’s also not clear how a mindless evolutionary process could produce the complex neurological design his study reveals.  More on this tomorrow. For thePointRadio.org, I’m John Stonestreet.

Further Reading

Why You Don't Really Have Free Will
Jerry A Coyne | USA Today | January 01, 2012


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