ETHICS, FREE WILL and ATHEISM
Sam Harris says there’s no such thing as free will and very cleverly makes his case. Sam Harris may be clever, but he is wrong.
Every human being who ever was, is or will be has unique fingerprints. Every one of us is as different as a snowflake from every other one in spite of being cut from the same cloth as water vapor, the planets, constellations, black holes, you name it. All of it is a direct result of the Big Bang, whereby all of this started from…nothing? (Sounds remarkably like creation to me…)
Science cannot and will not ever explain everything—especially itself—because science is a tool that relies on assumptions for its very being, a product of philosophy that requires philosophy to offer whatever explanation can be provided. Physics is superseded by metaphysics after all.
The Big Bang seems to explain the beginning of time (as we know it) some 13.7 billion years ago, virtually instantaneously, from what amounts to nothing. That ‘nothing’ must of course be something, some eternal (timeless) singularity of which we cannot conceive rationally because of our imperfect science. Nor have we the language to express it.
This singularity may be some form of intellect that always was and always will be, ‘always’ being a word with which we may conceptualize time without chronology and intellect being the only term I can think of that might begin to express the phenomenon. It truly is beyond us, not ours to know at this time. However, being timeless, it must still exist, and being a singularity would seem to rule out any need for dualism.
Each one of us came into this world with the capacity to create. We are, after all, creative beings (we create our lives as we live them, and live them as we create them, and what we do and how we do it is affected by circumstances). This requires individual input, suggesting free will. The combinations, being infinite, would seem to defy predestination.
No free will would appear to imply predestination. I don’t buy it. If there is no free will, there is no such thing as individualism. If there is no free will, there is no moral responsibility. If there is no free will, there must be a master plan, and no self-respecting atheist would admit to that because that would require a planner.
If I don’t have a free will, what’s the point of my being here? Or Sam, for that matter. None that I can see…
I will stipulate that mankind is headed for the future by a path that none of us can fathom. However, it doesn’t have to be a straight line, and it isn’t. I’d suggest that we are on a journey that began in truth, and will end in truth, but how it gets there is up to us. The ultimate ground of existence is perfection, and that’s the goal as well. Whether or how we make it may well be what life is all about…
The “enlightened” practice of eliminating religion from tradition amounts to throwing out the baby with the bathwater. In the headlong rush to secularism ethics has been compromised by disavowing spirituality. That there is a spiritual dimension to mankind independent of religion is undeniable, yet it is decried by much of the establishment because of its incapacity to be proven scientifically. Morality as an essential part of the culture suffers because of the concept of relative truth held by the enlightened modernist—that would be Sam Harris. Ethics and morality are rooted in truth, an absolute not subject to proof, a (the) first principle of natural law. A meaningful ethics cannot stand in the absence of first principles, and morality without ethics is untenable. James Madison said it: “There is no maxim… more liable to be misapplied…than that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.” Truth is not subject to opinion—it is a disambiguation.
I submit that ethics is founded in truth and may well represent the perfect good to which we should aspire, and I believe that being ethical is a matter of proper choice. It is my choice to direct my own life aspiring to the truth. That is why I choose to champion the cause of ethics.
And about that creation thing, the universe must have begun in darkness, light being impossible without mass/energy. How different is that from the pronouncement “Let there be light,” which necessarily would have been made in darkness as well? Just asking…