Thursday, May 22, 2014


I’ve had a lifelong love affair with Scientific American.  I began reading it as a freshman in high school, particularly Martin Gardner’s monthly column on “Mathematical Games,” and I have subscribed to the magazine off and on throughout my adult life.  Even though I have felt that over the years the articles have gotten less accessible to the lay reader, perhaps that’s more a function of my waning patience than it is the actual difficulty level of the articles.
In the most recent issue there is an article by two psychologists, entitled “The World Without Free Will.”  I thought, aha, here finally will be scientific evidence to support my position that free will does not exist.  I saved the article for last, thinking how much I would savor what the authors had to say.  I was in for a major disappointment, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think.

Monday, May 12, 2014


They may have grumbled about it, but most of my friends have been willing to put up with my lack of belief in God.  But nearly all of them have been less tolerant of my lack of belief in free will.  I have written about my objections to free will before and if you are interested, you may want to check out my prior post on the subject of choice.  I’m not going to try to repeat the points I made in that essay, but I did want to deal here with one argument that my friends have made.  They have said that, as a practical matter, my belief that I do not have free will makes life ultimately meaningless.  What is the point of anything, they’ve said, if everything is laid out for us, if the end has already been determined, and if we have no actual control over our lives?