NOTHING HAPPENS BY CHANCE. EVERYTHING HAPPENS ON PURPOSE.
Present scientific theory portrays physical reality as being predicated on two principles: cause and effect, and randomness. Both assume that nature is a system of blind, indifferent forces.
But evidence and reason point to a portrayal of physical reality as being predicated on the principles of life, consciousness and free will.
The agency of a Creator explains the facts more thoroughly and logically than does the present state of science. Indeed, the rejection of the Creator explanation is not only hampering scientific progress, but has turned science upon a dangerous dead end.
Albert Einstein never accepted the idea that there is any such thing as random chance. His rejection of the idea became a matter of great controversy, because randomness is a basic concept of quantum physics. But Einstein was never able to overcome the arguments of those who insisted that pure chance is a physical reality. So, even to this day, it is well accepted in quantum physics that certain events (at the subatomic level) occur for no other reason than pure chance.
Yet Einstein was right, although for the wrong reasons. Here is why.
Einstein’s reasoning relied upon his view that physical reality is deterministic. He seemed to have conceived of the universe as a sort of clockwork mechanism, which once set into motion, proceeds along an inalterable course of events. The future, according to that view, is already carved into stone, so to speak, and cannot be changed.
On the opposing side, quantum physics correctly rejects Einstein’s determinism. But like Einstein, it is right for the wrong reasons. Quantum physics replaces the clockwork with (what Einstein described as) dice rolls. In that view, the universe is portrayed not as an inevitable series of events, but rather, as consisting of random and utterly unpredictable events. The future has not been decided yet, and could go in many different directions that have not yet been set in stone, and will not be, until those events actually occur.
Both Einstein and the quantum physicists got it wrong. Neither determinism nor randomness can explain the world we see. Indeed, both of those worldviews contain fatal flaws in logic. To point to those fatal flaws, we need to look inward. Let’s do that.
More than one witty person has pointed out that physics can explain everything about the universe except the physicist. The universe, these wits say, would be much more neatly explained if there were no one to explain it.
To understand how profound this (seemingly contradictory) statement is, we must put together a few pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, an assortment of facts, and fit them into a coherent whole.
First, let us consider three facts that are so obvious that we rarely think about them. But their implications are enormous. Here they are.
1) You are alive.
2) You are conscious.
3) You make choices.
1. Science can well explain life in terms of chemistry. But as we shall see, this chemical explanation contains some gaps that have yet to be explained in terms of conventional science. Later, we shall fill in those gaps.
2. Consciousness is a much greater mystery. Indeed, there is no completely adequate physical definition of consciousness. Most definitions are circular, and involve words that are so subjective as to shed no light on the reality of consciousness. For at its heart, consciousness involves an inner experience that cannot be formulated or quantified. While we may know a lot of things about consciousness, physics fails to predict its existence, nor can it explain how consciousness comes about, or what it is. Some have proposed that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon that arises once a system becomes sufficiently complex. But what physical principles differentiate a system from a non-system? What in physics defines complexity? For that matter, what exactly is an emergent phenomenon? All of these words depend upon our perceptions of reality, not on the reality itself. For example, each of us can distinguish between a house and a pile of rubble. But in reality, there is no physical property or principle that makes that distinction. Only in our minds does this distinction exist. And the fact that it does indeed exist, and exists there only, is a powerful clue as to the nature of physical reality.
3. While life can be fairly well explained in terms of chemistry, consciousness cannot. Even so, we are all well aware that both life and consciousness are very real. What many people disagree on is whether free will exists or not.
Yet, if one rejects the idea that we have free will, then this rejection leads necessarily to absurd conclusions that cannot be avoided.
Free will is the ability of a person to make choices. More specifically, free will is the property of a conscious, sentient being to decide between one available alternative or another, regardless of prior influences that might otherwise dictate that decision.
Were there no free will, there would be no science. No one would be able to choose what to believe or not to believe, including whether or not to believe in free will. No one would be morally accountable for his actions, not even the people who held him accountable. We would all be puppets on cosmic strings, passive spectators in our own lives, unable to alter the course of our lives, whether that course be decided by predetermined destiny or random chance.
Therefore, to believe that we have no free will leads to useless conclusions, and to an absurd worldview.
But having said all that, many scientists do not believe in free will. Why not?
It is because they believe that free will would violate the principle of cause and effect. It would not, of course. But their concept of cause and effect is very constrained, and they seem unable or unwilling to break out of the box. So then, rather than upset their worldview, they choose (yes, choose) instead to believe in an absurdity.
It is this disbelief in the obvious that is leading science down the destructive road of falsehood. By ignoring, and even rejecting, the notion of free will, science has reached a dead end in its quest to explain physical reality. Unless scientists, and the society at large, opens its figurative eyes, the result will be calamity.
Science has gone though many stages during history. At each stage, it has gotten better at what it does. Only during times of stubborn resistance to change has science faltered. Fortunately, each time it faltered, the weight of evidence forced a new and younger generation to forge ahead into new territory, not leaving behind their ancestors, but (so to speak) standing upon their shoulders.
So it must be now.
There was a time when science was predicated upon religion. But institutional religion eventually became overly political and superstitious. Misreadings of scripture became ingrained into society, and when scientists attempted to break free of those constraints, they were persecuted by the clergy.
But finally, science broke free, and forged ahead. Many new discoveries were made, and these helped to improve the lives of people who lived in the newly liberated societies.
It is no wonder, then, that the culture of science developed a strong aversion to anything that smacked of theology. Worse, this conditioning occurred when modern science was at its most successful, and in its most formative years. That aversion is now deeply embedded into the institutions of science.
Today, most scientists will tell you that physical reality can be explained without resort to God. Indeed, there is sometimes contempt and hostility to religious explanations of physical reality, and it is sometimes unconcealed. To be sure, scientists will affirm that they will follow the evidence, and would believe in God if only there were evidence for Him. They say that it’s not that they believe there is no God. They just find no evidence to support a belief in God, and that it is more productive to follow a materialist method than a spiritual one.
And so far, their approach seems to have paid off. So then, what could possibly go wrong?
Here is what is going wrong.
When we mention the word, “materialist,” in this context, we are not talking about greed, or hedonism, or any of the negative thoughts often associated with the word, materialism. The meaning here is very different.
The world we see is made out of material, or “stuff.” Trees and rocks, atoms, and stars in the night sky, are some of the materials that comprise nature. But what can explain the existence of all this stuff?
Here is the departure between modern science and religion.
Science has taken on a worldview that says that all stuff can be explained by other stuff. All “stuff” comes from other stuff. Stuff can even come from nothing, so long as you get positive stuff and negative stuff to offset each other, and add up to zero.
To put it another way, science regards the universe as a sort of box. (Even if there is a multi-verse of many universes, the same idea applies; the multi-verse is just a bigger box.) Everything inside the box can be explained by other things inside the box. Nothing (at least nothing of consequence) is outside the box. Indeed, there is no such thing as outside the box.
Therefore, there is no need for a Creator, there is no divine intervention, there are no true miracles, and until we get a specimen, there are no angels or spirits. There is only the box. If you believe otherwise, then prove it.
But there is proof. It is the existence of conscious free will. Free will violates the rules of the box, because free will is neither random nor deterministic. Therefore, free will is not allowed inside the box. Therefore, there cannot be any such thing as free will. If there were free will, then there would be an “outside” of the box. And there isn’t, because we have no proof except free will, which does not exist, because if it did exist it would be proof.
Perhaps that sounds overly sarcastic. But the absurdity of denying that there is free will cannot lead to any sensible response to those who deny it, however well their intentions might be. They are the old guard of science, the men upon whose shoulders a new generation of scientists will stand.
It is time to replace the old world view with one that more closely fits the observed facts. It is time to think outside the box.
The reality of free will must be accepted, if science is to progress. The proof is overwhelming. Only a rigid adherence to the materialist philosophy holds some scientists back from accepting it.
One step along the path to restoring science to a productive path, is to ask the right questions instead of the old ones.
In the past, the conflict between science and religion has centered around the question, “Is there a God?” It is, of course, a vital question, but it has been asked in the wrong way.
A better way to phrase the question is to ask, “What is the organizing principle of the universe (or of physical reality)?”
When we combine this question with an acceptance of the evidence for free will, we can achieve a dramatically more accurate and useful world view. And among the vital concepts of this view, are the three components that we have already mentioned: life, consciousness and free will. Let’s take a closer look at all three.
1. Life. Conventional science, once it departed from its roots in religion, began to hold to the notion that life is not a fundamental component of the universe. Even if life turns out to be ubiquitous throughout the planets and galaxies, current scientific understanding is that life is more a byproduct of random processes and coincidences, than a basic concept around which the universe is organized. Conventional thinking is that, but for a few accidental properties of the universe, life might not exist at all. In this view, the universe could otherwise be a lifeless expanse of space and matter. (In which case, we would neither have, nor need, scientists to explain it all.)
That materialist view requires that randomness, not intent, lie at the heart of physical reality. Randomness becomes the god, the creator of all that there is.
But the evidence is abundant that the universe is specially and specifically designed for life. If scientists hold that there is no evidence for God, then they should admit that there is even less evidence that reality is at its core, random. Further evidence of this can be found in consciousness.
2. Consciousness. We have already seen that the existence of consciousness poses a very big challenge to physics (and to conscious scientists). But there is more. Consciousness has been shown to be more than just a means of perceiving reality. It intimately interacts with reality. Experiments such as the “double slit,” are familiar to all physics students. The results of this experiment are an amazing confirmation that photons (which comprise light) behave differently when there is a conscious observer than when there is not. Furthermore, there is another well known principle in physics called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which states that an electron does not have a precise location, unless and until, an observer perceives the electron, at which time it “collapses” from a probability cloud into a point. To be sure, these two physical concepts are being oversimplified here for brevity. But the point remains that consciousness is not just an “emergent property” of physics. It is part and parcel, root and soil.
3. Free will. It has already been mentioned that many scientists reject the notion of free will, based on the incorrect idea that free will violates the rules, specifically, the rules of cause and effect. In physics, everything that happens is forced to happen, because some prior event made it happen. But the concept of free will specifically states that we can choose between two available alternatives in such a way that our choice (of the particular alternative that we select) is not forced by prior events. This seems to be a violation.
But it is not. And ironically, quantum physics already proves that. That is so, because the concept of cause and effect requires us to trace backward from the effect, to the cause. If a baseball is flying through the air, we can assume that something caused it to do so, whether the ball was thrown, hit by a bat, or some other reason.
But in quantum physics, we find that events (at the subatomic level) occur with no other traceable cause than randomness. This is where Einstein objected. How can randomness be a cause? What causes the randomness that caused the particular event (let us say, the decay of a radioactive atom)?
If we can trace no farther back than the “randomness,” then are we not already tracing an event inside the box to a cause that started from outside the box?
And if we can do that for randomness, then why not for free will?
Since both free will and quantum randomness seem to be causative agents in the physical world, and since both of them originate from an untraceable source, then it is reasonable to propose that there is a deeper reality that gives rise to observed reality.
That deeper reality may be referred to by many names, the most familiar being a supernatural reality, or a spiritual dimension.
There is physical evidence that this is the case.
While quantum events seem to be blindly random, they might be neither blind nor random. They might be caused by the agency of divine free will, that is to say, a living, conscious, volitional force.
Humans also exhibit free will. In this regard, we also are living, conscious, volitional forces. In other words, we are created in the image and likeness of the Creator.
If reality is the creation of God, then might we say that He left nothing to chance? Might we say that everything happens according to His divine will?
Who is your god? Is it an uncreated set of blind, indifferent forces? Or is He an uncreated, living, purposeful God?
I’ve made my choice. Do you have free will?