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Thanks, Mark, But...

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Posted by Paul R. Martin on November 20, 2001 06:17:37 UTC

it took me a while to come up with this argument. This is not the first time I have gone over this ground with Alex and others. In fact, I lifted quite a bit of the argument from a post I made to answer Mario some time back. He evidently dropped out of the forum before he responded so I salvaged the argument.

Since you brought up free-will, I am going back to my response to Mario again and dredge up my answer to his question to me:

Mario: [D]o you believe in free will, and why do you believe that?

Me: Yes, I guess you could say I believe in a limited free will. The limitation is that we are not free to act as we choose, but we are free to think freely, if we put our minds to it. We cannot freely choose to act, say, to deliberately raise a finger whenever we want to. Our finger will raise when, and only when, a cascade of electro-chemical events occur in our nervous and muscular systems. These events, coupled with a host of events occurring outside our body, will inexorably lead, due to the strict laws of physics, to the physical action of the finger lifting. There is really nothing you can do about it once that cascade of events is set up and triggered.

Brain activity can be detected and measured that indicates this set of events some time before the consciousness is aware of the choice to lift a finger. The actual choice was decided on long before, in a large set of small "thought choices", such as thoughts about wondering whether or not to take part in this experiment at all, and thoughts about whether or not you will look foolish doing so, and whether or not doing so would prove anything, and thoughts about how to go about deciding on the actual time to lift the finger, etc.

So I would say that we have the free will to think about some of these thoughts which contribute to the determination of actions. We don't have complete control of what we think about, though. For example I don't think you can completely avoid thinking about a green hot dog with purple mustard on it during the two second interval after you read this sentence. I could be wrong about that, but I think you know what I mean.

>>>If consciousness is in a way "beyond science"... then so too would be the immediate/far-removed consequences that "consciousness" could create. Therefore there are indeed physical objects that cannot be rigorously explained nor understood within the framework of physics. Such is the mechanism for "the hand of God".

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