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Life, Consciousness and Free Will are Foundations of Physical RealityCopyright © 2017 by Robert Arvay
All rights reserved by the author. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
. . . a computer chip implanted in the brain can provide enormous benefits to individuals and their society. But it could also render humans more dependent on a centralized control and command office which, in the wrong hands, could make slaves of everyone with the chip. And when has technology not eventually fallen into the wrong hands?
Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube
—Zager and Evans 1969 hit song, In the Year 2525
The freedoms espoused by Christianity are not bestowed upon us by men, but by God, and God requires us to obey His law. It is that law which ignites the hatred within hedonists who disguise themselves as advocates of human rights.
In a fictional story, Newton might have immediately become an exemplary Christian, but quite the contrary, his business with God seemingly concluded, Newton forgot about all that, and went about his usual business— the slave trade.
God, however, did not forget. Newton had asked God to save him, and God was not done. It took years, many years, but John Newton eventually became a member of the clergy, denounced slavery, and was an active abolitionist.
The technology spawned by science grows ever more powerful, and does so at an ever-faster rate. Where is it taking us?
Science has bestowed enormous benefits on mankind. But it has a dark side as well. It gives us miracle medicines, but also, germ warfare. It bestows upon us nuclear power, and nuclear bombs. Its power can be used to benefit the environment or to destroy it.
But there is another aspect of science, one that has nothing to do with technology. It has to do with shaping our world view. In doing so, it influences how we structure our society, our laws, and our moral codes.
What is most remarkable about science is not its gadgetry, but rather, what it tells us about ourselves, who we are, what is our purpose and destiny. Do we have inherent value? Or are we just another species of animal?
In other words, there is a powerful philosophy that underpins science. It affects us all.
Science is based on the premise that the universe has rules, unbreakable laws that do not depend on our opinion, but which are revealed to us by observation and reason. As far as we can tell, the universe is orderly; it has structure and hierarchy. Is that all just meaningless coincidence?
Until recent times, nature was correctly seen to be the work of a divine designer whose purpose, plan and meaning are revealed to us in the wonders of Creation. We have a special place in that creation; we are its stewards, its gardeners. We have life, we have consciousness—and we possess free will. Therefore, we are accountable for our deeds. Our noble purpose is to love one another, to be our brother’s keeper, and to treat each other with the same kindness and respect we desire for ourselves.
But that was then, this is now.
Many scientists no longer regard us as having any special place. We are no longer regarded as having a spiritual dimension, but only a physical one. We are seen to be products of a cold, uncaring universe, indeed, not even a product, but only a mere byproduct, an accident, an unlikely outcome of events that had no plan, no purpose, no meaning.
The inevitable extension of this purely physical view of humanity is technological barbarism. If we are mere atoms, biological machines, then by what right can we expect to be treated as anything more than that? Indeed, there would be no rights at all, but only force.
Of course, such dismal interpretations of science are not at all scientific, but only ideological. Most people, however, confronted with the scientific arguments for physics devoid of spirit, find themselves ill equipped to counter those arguments. All too many people have subscribed to the material paradigm, and have come to regard religious faith as mere superstition at best, as harmful at worst.
The God paradigm, on the other hand, holds that life is not merely a chemical reaction. It informs us that our free will empowers us—supernaturally—to break the otherwise immutable chain of cause and effect.
Physical science, when it is divorced from faith, denies that free will can possibly exist. In that view, the criminal cannot be blamed for his crimes; the hero deserves no praise.
In the material view, as expressed by the social left, there is no right, no wrong. “Do as thou wilt.” That view has led us to enact laws that make no moral distinction between family values and sexually perverse relationships. It regards humans in the womb as disposable tissue masses. It invites, across our borders, masses of people who are hostile to Judeo-Christians. It defines our Founders only by their sad record of slavery, but makes no mention of the freedoms they imparted to all of us. It is changing the definition of free speech to violent bigotry. It promotes the accelerating decay of Western civilization.
How can we free ourselves from that futile and destructive world view? The answer is simple, but not easy. We need to reform the institutions of both science and politics. We need to restore faith to the public forum.
Concerning scientific atheism, the late, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen said it well. He wrote,
“The great arcana of Divine Mysteries cannot be known by reason, but only by Revelation. Reason can however, once in possession of these truths, offer persuasions to show that they are not only not contrary to reason, or destructive of nature, but eminently suited to a scientific temper of mind and the perfection of all that is best in human nature.” The Life of All Living, ISBN-10: 0385154585, ISBN-13: 978-0385154581
Science is only as valuable as its foundation. If that foundation is not faith, then science is a house built upon shifting sand, and must collapse. Let’s stop worshipping the false gods of so-called science, before they demand the sacrifice of all that is truly sacred.
This commentary will, using everyday language, challenge the arguments of science which would describe you merely as a biological mechanism, one with no God-given rights to life and liberty.
The scientific laws of cause and effect are familiar to us in our everyday experience. If we see a baseball flying through the air, we assume that it was thrown or hit, that is to say, its motion has a cause. Dominos provide a good illustration, when we stand them up in a line. Topple the first domino, and it causes the second one to fall, which forces the next one, and so forth, until all the dominos in the chain have fallen.
This is, of course, a vast oversimplification, but it is valid for the purpose here. The science of quantum mechanics complicates the matter, but causation remains at the heart of physical science. It can be said of the physical universe (as it can of socialism) that everything is either mandatory or forbidden; nothing is optional.
What has this to do with human rights? Simply this: if you are nothing more than your physical nature, the arrangement of atoms that comprise your body, then the immutable laws of nature govern everything about you. Your every thought, word and deed is determined for you, not by you. You are, in effect, one of the dominos, however much more complex the case may be. Such a person would have no inherent rights.
That is the definition of a robot.
Of course, each of us experiences himself as a living, conscious creature who can exercise free will. These three attributes are unsolved mysteries of science, at least as mysterious as the exotic phenomena known as dark matter and dark energy.
The above online article at Scientific American Magazine supports the concept of mind being external to the brain. Okay, that is overstating the case, but that overstatement is a good conceptual starting point for the concept that life, consciousness and free will are at the foundation of the physical world.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Scientists have long struggled to bridge the gap between atoms and life, and to connect the sequence from life, to consciousness. The gaps have not been filled. Moreover, the jump from consciousness to volition (free will) is forbidden by the mistaken physicalist assertion that free will cannot exist.
Finally, let us demonstrate why free will is regarded as impossible by physicalism, but is necessary to physical reality.
A biologist can look at a living creature, and know that it is alive. But if he delves deeper, searching for the life inside the living creature, he does not find it. He does not find life. What he finds is molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles such as electrons and quarks. These make up the living organism, but they are not life itself, no more so than the ones and zeroes in your computer are the lakes and rivers and literature, et cetera, that you interpret from the pixels on your screen.
Likewise, universes should not be assumed to have random numbers of parameters, nor should the strength of each parameter be determined at random. By what principle of physics should they? Even in quantum physics, in which probability plays a key role, the probabilities operate within narrow parameters. To describe nature as having unlimited numbers of parameters with unlimited ranges of values for each makes of the universe a madhouse with, ultimately, no rules at all. In the words of at least one premier physicist, “Everything that can happen, must happen, and it must happen an infinite number of times.”
The Brain Chip: A Science Fiction Story
--by Robert Arvay