Free Will

Human Freedom vs. Divine Determinism

Human Freedom vs. Divine Determinism

Emergence of Consciousness: Friend or Foe?

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

Introduction

In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation entitled “Emergence”, the crew’s spaceship, the USS Enterprise, developed its own consciousness. The crew members were perplexed as to how this could have happened until Lieutenant Commander Data, a conscious synthetic android with artificial intelligence, explained that

[c]omplex systems can sometimes behave in ways that are entirely unpredictable. The human brain, for example, might be described in terms of cellular functions and neurochemical interactions. But that description does not explain human consciousness, a capacity that far exceeds simple neural functions. Consciousness is an emergent property.1

Data theorized that the ship’s newly formed consciousness was a similar emergent property.


A Major Flaw in the Compatibilist Understanding of Freedom

The Lack of Source-hood

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

Introduction

Are we free to choose our own path or has it already been determined for us by something, or someone, else? For the early philosophers, the largest threat to free will was fate. Later in history, Christian theologians struggled to reconcile free will with God’s sovereignty (theistic determinism). Ever since the modern era, the attack on our free will has mostly come from scientific progress in genetics, neuroscience, and psychology (physical determinism).1 Regardless of where the determinism comes from, the most perplexing question is: if everything in our lives has been determined, then how can we be held morally responsible for what we do?