The Dilbert Blog: The Little Robot That Could (linked to archives for the dilbert blog no longer go back further than May 2007)

Scott writes an interesting essay on free will; not exactly the kind of essay you could publish on paper and be taken seriously for, but the kind you could post to a blog associated with a popular comic strip and be taken seriously for.

Anyway, he postulates that people do not have free will. His essential argument is that our choices are determined by physical processes in the brain which are subject to the laws of physics. As a corollary to that, he also argues that if God exists, he is only relevant if people have free will. Since they don’t, he argues, God is irrelevant and can safely be ignored.

Here’s an interesting quote of something Euler (the famous mathematician) said:

“I remark, first, that when God established the course of the universe, and arranged all the events which must come to pass in it, he paid attention to all the circumstances which should accompany each event; and particularly to the dispositions, to the desires, and prayers of every intelligent being; and that the arrangement of all events was disposed in perfect harmony with all these circumstances. When, therefore, a man addresses God a prayer worthy of being heard it must not be imagined that such a prayer came not to the knowledge of God till the moment it was formed. That prayer was already heard from all eternity; and if the Father of Mercies deemed it worthy of being answered, he arranged the world expressly in favor of that prayer, so that the accomplishment should be a consequence of the natural course of events. It is thus that God answers the prayers of men without working a miracle.”

Realize, of course, that this doesn’t directly speak to the question of free will. However, the thought might be applicable. If our choices are determined by physical processes in the brain and subject to the laws of physics – “…the course of the universe…”, in other words – who is to say that God, in his infinite wisdom, didn’t establish the laws of physics with foreknowledge of our choices and arrange them accordingly? Of course, this is the exit ramp to a highly metaphysical highway to predestination, but for the purposes of this post, it doesn’t matter. Take the proposition I’ve just made and mix in Scott’s two points above, and his corollary point turns into something like: freewill is dependent upon the existence of God – which means that if people have free will (and you accept Euler’s postulation), then God must exist and cannot be ignored.

For the Christian, at least, none of this really matters that much; our sin nature isn’t dependent on free will (yet another exit ramp to a meta-topic flies by).

Anyway, that’s it. I was just cleaning up old draft posts and I don’t have much more to say on the matter at the moment.