Part I: Acausal free will as a reflection of the acausality inherent in the emergence of the universe into being, and as a resolution of the measurement problem

·         The a-causality at the core of the type of free will implied by ‘true moral responsibility’

·         Can science and logic truly model our reality?

·         The acausality underlying true free will:

·          'True Free Will' is Unique, and Controversial

·         Self-conflict of the intuition regarding free will: 

·         Acausality’s inescapability in our universe, and its possible reflection in our minds 

·         The Acausality of Free Will: a Rationale and Ramifications

·         The Relationship of Free Will and Consciousness

·         Free will as a resolution of the Measurement Problem of Quantum Physics (the Collapse of the Wave Function)

·         Free Will and Quantum Physics

 

Part II: Einstein’s reflections about the Biblical model of moral obligation; the Biblical model as a paradigm of an objective morality and moral obligation requiring an acausal free will; the contrast to a mechanistic philosophy

·         A clash of perspectives: mechanistic vs biblical  

·         Einstein, Moral Responsibility, and Genesis

·         Biblical concepts

·         The creation and Eden accounts:

·         Three scenarios[8][8]:

·         Partial Bibliography

·         The sources of objective and subjective moral obligation

o   My comment (#204) to the New York Times 'opinionator'

·         Back to …                                                   ……………..

 

Part I: Acausal free will as a reflection of the acausality inherent in the emergence of the universe into being, and as a resolution of the measurement problem

 

The a-causality at the core of the type of free will implied by ‘true moral responsibility’

Materialists believe that humans are purely physical beings, that consciousness is a physical pheno­menon as any other, and that there is not a true free will (‘the mechanistic assumption’). As has often been pointed out - compatibilist casuistry not-withstanding - this is incompatible with our most firmly held beliefs, our deepest intuitions, and even with our intuitive logic. Indeed, in the choice between deterministic and materialistic science or moral responsibility, non-materialists choose the latter.

‘True moral responsibility’ requires an objectively-existent Morality, and this certainly is very counter to the materialist view of the universe; indeed it seems almost absurd when one internalizes the incredible success of the big bang and evolutionary theories.

True moral responsibility also requires a ‘true free will’, so that there is acausal mental activity associated to decision making processes in the brain/mind. This would necessitate the existence of some radically new type of interaction "transcending" both the determinism of classical physics and the probabilistically-determined randomness (PDR) of quantum physics.  In addition, one must find a new approach to the logic of causality. Quantum physics implies the existence of a new type of logical structure: quantum logic. However even the causality of quantum logic could not encompass true free will. Nevertheless, if we take seriously our intuition regarding the existence of true free will then one must find a new approach to the logic of causality and the causality of logic.

 

Belief in free will involves a rejection of the universality of quantum physics and of the seemingly logical demands of causality, but not a rejection not of quantum physics itself – it is a rejection of the assumption that mental activity in the human mind are restricted to PDR processes of the type described by quantum physics, not of quantum physics as an explanation for non-mental events. As opposed to quantum-based neuro-science, this model assumes that mental events can over-ride causality. However, here is no scientific evidence that true free will exists, and so there would have to be compelling reason to assume that there really is such free will. In the absence of such, it would certainly seem incumbent on reasonable people to accept the notions of cause and effect so capably utilized in science.

 

Can science and logic truly model our reality? Despite the apparent illogicality of a true free will and the physical absurdity of a Platonic-Ideal type of absolute Morality, there is some indication that our reality is not fundamentally describable by logic and physics. Consciousness incontrovertibly exists, and it is self-evidently non-physical (except to materialists, perhaps since they do not possess conscious awareness), and so it is quite clear that physical theory cannot account for the most fundamental aspect of existence. And the same for the ‘flow of time’ we experience - it is not accounted for by physics, not even by the pre-eminent theory of spacetime, Einstein’s theory of general relativity. And perhaps we should add to the list of indications of the inadequacy of natural law to account for reality the fact that we observe only one actuality rather than the multiplicity - superposition states - predicted by quantum physics.

In addition, we live our lives – and are willing to sacrifice it – against all ‘logic’, due to instinct, and also to emotion; we live, kill and die for love, for idealistic beliefs, for aesthetics etc. Even when we passionately pursue intellectual studies and research, we do so because we are imbued with a passion. We utilize logic and science to help us best attain our goals, however the goals themselves – or the motivation driving us towards these goals - are not set by logic and science.

This does mean that we can therefore ignore logic and science, and it does not mean that free will therefore exists, or that it exists because we feel it does, nor that Morality exists because we live our lives as though it exists. However given the fact that science cannot account for reality as we know it, and that consciousness is the most fundamental feature of existence, and that our consciousness is so imbued with the notion of free will and morality, at least there is reason not to reject these out of hand – certainly not because of some objection from logic and physical science.

 

The acausality underlying true free will: We’ll concentrate first on the issue of free will, and later on the idea of moral responsibility.

In order that a true free will exist it must be that:

1) more than one option exists at a decision point, as in quantum physics as opposed to determinism;

2) an option can be selected "freely", ie

a) not randomly, as in quantum physics;

b) not deterministically as implied by the rationality of a truly free choice.

 

The conundrum is: On the one hand, requirement #1 has been shown possible by quan­tum physics, while on the other hand #2 is contradicted by quantum physics which states that options are ‘selected’ at random. Furthermore, choice must be rational to be free, and rational implies deterministic (The idea of a truly free non-random choice implies a choice made after careful deliberation rather than by caprice. To be rational, a choice must be based on reasoning, which is a chain of logic, or at least a determi­nistic chain of thought. This deterministic chain leads eventually to one's genetic complement and environment and so forth.) Therefore free choice seems self-contradictory.

'True Free Will' is Unique, and Controversial We can see that a ‘true free will' necessitates the existence of a radical type of interaction "transcending" both the determinism of classical physics and the probabilistic determinism of quantum physics. In addition, one must find a new approach to the logic of causality. If we take seriously our intuition regarding the existence of true free will then perhaps we can benefit by trying to extend quantum physics in such a way that we can incorporate the requirement of free will that mental choices need not be, random but can be ‘deliberate’ . Perhaps using quantum­-transcendent free will one can construct a new "free logic".

Of course this seems intuitively impos­sible and/or absurd to us now, but so would the probabilistic determinism of quantum physics have appeared to the pre­-quantum physics community.

 

Self-conflict of the intuition regarding free will:  Though our intensely-felt intuition about the existence of a true morality relies logically on the assumption that our free will is real, neverthleless unless there would be some experimental proof that true free will exists, physics would rightly exclude it[5][5]. Our deepest intuitions point to the existence of free will and Morality, however our intuitive conception of logic makes the same true free will counterintuitive. We rely on logic to state that a true free will is required to give meaning to true morality, but on the other hand we seem to be claiming that we are rejecting the limitations of logic.

 

Acausality’s inescapability in our universe, and its possible reflection in our minds: Physics has shown in several remarkable ways that our brains - small organs operating on the surface of a seemingly obscure planet in a random corner of some nondescript galaxy - can intuit and deduce laws applicable to the universe as a whole. Indeed the development of the universe from its orginal state is relatively well-understood now. However, the very emergence of the universe into existence seems rather mysterious given the obvious limitations in applying the concept of cause and effect in this context. Thus there is something of a conundrum involved - without cause and effect there would seem to be no law and no science, and yet we can intuit why the emergence of the universe itself involves an acausality.

What irony that cause and effect, which underlies all aspects of the universe’s operation, must be violated in order for the universe to emerge into existence. Can it be that our universe has no vestige of this acauasality? Or perhaps some element of cause-effect violation – what I here am terming ‘acausality’ – does indeed exist somewhere in the universe?

What is here proposed is that some of this very acausality is associated to that small organ which has formulated these conceptions of causality, of laws of nature. An organ whose neural inter-conectedness confers on it a complexity perhaps greater than that of any known entity in the physical universe, including large structures such as galaxies and galactic clusters, and therefore perhaps uniquely appropriate as bearer of this distinctive feature.

When the quantum processes underlying the universe’s operation were first understood, quantum physics was correctly seen as breaking the theoretical stranglehold of the clockwork cause-and-effect scheme of deterministic classical physics. This was however erroneously at first thought to have implications allowing for the type of free will so absolutely essential to the concept of moral responsibility espoused in the bible. However as it was later realized, the fact that there is - as implied by quantum physics - more than just one ‘option’ for every decision, is insufficient for this purpose; ie quantum physics is not compatible with free will because the ‘decision’ is taken according to an overall pattern of probabilistically-determined randomness. In contrast, the type of freedom underlying a true free will necessarily involves an acausality going beyond determinism and randomness - and therefore a transcendence of quantum physics. And so within the perspective granting that there is indeed a true free will, our minds operate according to a principle qualitatively analogous to that which underlies the emergence into existence of the universe.

Indeed it has been proposed that our mind (our awareness or consciousness) is the bridge between the universe as it is described by the mathematics of theoretical quantum physics – a superposition of many states, including multiple simultaneous states of our brain - and the reality that our minds perceive, a specific unique state of brain and mind. We also know that our very fundamental awareness of the passage of time is not encompassed in the understanding if the universe as described in theoretical physics – where general (and special) relativity present a universe of spacetime as a whole, without the passage of time being involved. And so it is our minds rather than our brains which are involved. Our minds, our awareness, is somehow associated to the small organ mentioned earlier, and this is somewhat mysterious as Descartes pointed out. And it is our minds rather than our brain which is the root of all the mysteries we mentioned – of time-passage, of the collapse of the multiplicity of states into one, and of the acausality underlying free will.

Our minds – but perhaps not our brains, though these somehow support the mind - have thus an element of the acausality required to support freedom of choice, and we perceive events in a time-order of past leading to present, so that we can actively choose the actualization of the future through our choices, rather than having all of space and time presented as a fait accompli as described in the physics appropriate to – and originated by - our brains. Our deep conviction of the existence of moral responsibility, and therefore of our minds’ ability to choose, our deep intuition that indeed we posses a free will, is thus also a pointer to fundamental aspects of our physical and cosmological reality.

 

 The Acausality of Free Will: a Rationale and Ramifications

 There is another justification besides our intuition for assuming the possibility of acausal (non-causal) pro­cesses, and it perhaps points the way to the physical origin of the type of radically-acausal phenomenon such as free will.

The greatest mystery of all is the origin of the universe. A universe which exists is in itself a result of acausality for it exists without real cause: cause implies temporal order, yet time originated with the uni­verse and thus no cause could "precede" the existence of the universe. And if it is instead an eternal universe, it certainly is beyond cause. Thus it is clear that at its most fundamental level, existence implies acausality.

 

It is perhaps not so out-of-character for a universe whose very existence implies acausal­ity to exhibit free ­will-type acausality. [We will elsewhere argue that if such processes exist,  a likely place for them to manifest is where consciousness is involved.]

 [Indeed, there is perhaps a very close connection between the onset of free-willed consciousness and the origin of the universe. See Wheeler's speculations about the onset of consciousness being a catlyst - even retroactively - for the emergence of the physical universe into existence.

 

It is perhaps not so out-of-character for a universe which originates via acausal­ity, and whose most fundamental feature is consciousness, to exhibit a free will type of acausality where consciousness is involved. Perhaps for there to be existence there must e awareness of something that xists, ie there must be consciousness, and for there to be existence, as we said earlier there is necessarily acausality. Putting these together, existence requires acausal consciousness, and so free will is not an anomaly.

 

 A question arises as to the origin of consciousness: if humans evolved, then we must suppose that conscious­ness evolved. However, how could matter give rise via a physical mechanism such as evolution to a qualitatively different pheno­menon[6][6] One answer would be that consciousness was inherent in the universe at its origin and this enabled the human brain to attain consciousness at some point in its evolution (for example, perhaps when the brain achieved a certain complexity it connected to the consciousness inherent in the universe). Another answer would suppose that consciouness was not present always, but rather it somehow 'emerged', somehow arose without precedent, basically in a non-causal manner, just as the universe itself exists acausally. It is perhaps not so out-of-character for a universe in which consciousness is present from the beginning to exhibit mind-like properties such as free will, and even more-so for a universe in which consciousness 'emerges' acausally.

 

Another question arises as to the origin of free-will (a free-willed consciousness): if humans evolved, then we must suppose that free-willed  conscious­ness evolved. However, how could matter ruled by pro­babilistic determined randomness (PDR) give rise via evolution to an acausal process?

One answer would be that free will was inherent in the universe and at a certain point in the evolution of the human brain, free will existed where it had "previously" not existed. When the brain achieved a certain complexity it connected to the free will inherent in the universe. Or, as an acausal phenomenon it needed no direct preceding "cause" and could thus arise even as the product of PDR processes.

  

The Relationship of Free Will and Consciousness: Free will is possible only as a property of a consciousness - an "I" that wills. (This can be seen upon some reflection.) On the other hand, consciousness is possible without an accompanying free will (So free will requires consciousness but consciousness does not require an accompanying free will.) However, consciousness alone would be powerless to affect events in the absence of free will – it would be a prisoner of its ‘host body’- and everything occurs as it would without the existence of consciousness.

Thus if we wish to consider human consciousness to be a phenomenon which can interact with the universe and affect it, then we must consider this consciousness to be free-willed.

 

Free will is the only phenomenon which involves processes not bound to the pro­babilistic constraints of quantum physics. Free will can even be considered as the gen­eral phenomenon, and quantum probabilism merely a special limited case of it – ie the case where many options exist for how an event will occur but it occurs in a probabilistic way rather than freely.

Thus it can almost be expected that free will "transcend" quantum processes in some way. Since consciousness is our only means of knowing of all physical events - they exist (to us) only inasmuch as they are reported by our consciousness - it can almost be expected that consciousness might play an important physical role in the actualization of events. ( Eg see “Free Will and the Collapse of the Wave Function” below)

 

Free will as a resolution of the Measurement Problem of Quantum Physics (the Collapse of the Wave Function)

Every event is "recorded" automatically as it occurs by virtue of its effect on the universe-however, this type of recording is not sufficient to "collapse the wave function". All measuring devices including the human brain are natural products of the nat­ural universe. If their actions result from random/determined processes, then these actions are likewise random/deter­mined, and thus their actions are natural events qualitatively no different than any other natural event in the physical uni­verse. How then can it be that mea­surement can “collapse the wave function”?

Of course the conundrum arises only when we measure, so it is anissue of humanmeasurement, measurement that we are aware if. One could postulate that it is only human measurement which can cause this 'collapse', however why would human measurement be qualitatively different from the automatic recording of an event by machine or by other events? 

Attributing the difference to the awareness thereof – ie to human consciousness - is useless because if con­sciousness is governed at its most funda­mental level by quantum processes then the argument is circular. However if the operative element is free will, then we can understand why the measurement of a free-willed consciousness is qualitatively different. And different in precisely the required way. Free will can cause events which would not have occurred in a purely quantum universe. It transcends quantum physics. It is in its essence a choice­-making phenomenon, choosing which reality it wishes to create. Thus a free­-willed consciousness is a unique pheno­menon and perhaps is uniquely qualified to "collapse the quantum wave function".

 

1) This would have important ramifications for the issue of contrafactual definiteness, Bell's inequal­ity and so forth. (See d'Espagnat.) In addition, based on the idea postulated by Wheeler, perhaps only a free-willed consciousness can bring reality – retroactively - to the universe, (See Wheeler.)

2) Quantum physics implies the existence of a new type of logical structure: quantum logic. The causality of ordinary logic implies that free will is impossible. Perhaps using quantum­ transcendent free will one can construct a new "free logic".

 

Free Will and Quantum Physics: The difference has be attributed by some to human consciousness, however from the perspective developed here this is useless because if con­sciousness is governed at its most funda­mental level by quantum processes then the argument is circular. Instead we propose that the operative element is free will, and as a result we can understand why the measurement of a free-willed consciousness is qualitatively different. And different in precisely the required way. Free will can cause events which would not have occurred in a purely determined or quantum universe. It transcends quantum physics. It is in its essence a choice­-making phenomenon, choosing which reality it wishes to create. Thus a free­-willed consciousness is a unique pheno­menon and perhaps is uniquely qualified to "collapse the quantum wave function".

 

In addition, based on the idea postulated by Wheeler, perhaps only a free-willed consciousness can bring reality-retroactively-to the universe, (See Wheeler.) [7][7]

 

 

Part II: Einstein’s reflections about the Biblical model of moral obligation; the Biblical model as a paradigm of an objective morality and moral obligation requiring an acausal free will; the contrast to a mechanistic philosophy

 

A clash of perspectives: mechanistic vs biblical  

The mechanistic assumptions are not only unproven but is also logically incompati­ble with those beliefs which many of us are most sure of. These assumptions are not science but rather are part of a philosophy.

The Biblical creation and Eden accounts present a philosophy with a diametrically opposite view: a created universe in which humans possess a true free will, so free that they can be held responsible for their actions even by the creator of the laws of nature, the Designer of the universe; so free that they give meaning to the universe even from the creator's perspective. Neither perspective can be 'scientifically proven': on the one hand the mechanistic perspective does not assume the existence of processes beyond what science can prove, on the other hand it is counter to some of our deepest intuitions; the religious perspective on free will assumes the existence of processes for which there is no physical experimental evidence, and is counter to logic, but is in tune with some of our deepest intuitions.

 

Einstein, Moral Responsibility, and Genesis

 True moral responsibility requires some transcendent ‘objective’ existence of good and evil. The Biblical conception – in which an all-powerful creator holds humans responsible for their actions - is a good source-example of what this might mean..

Einstein embraced the Spinozan view of the existence of a transcendent realm but did not believe in true free will. And as Einstein pointed out, created beings cannot be held meaningfully responsible for their actions by the creator of the universe and the laws of nature if their actions follow fully from the operation of these laws. Indeed in his conception, human, animal, vegetable and mineral follow identical physical law, and human mental activity is no exception -  just as a stone rolling down-hill does not choose to do so, neither can a person choose their thoughts and decisions – we can only 'feel' that we so choose. Einstein wrote:

 

            …the idea of the existence of an omnipotent, just, and omnibeneficient personal God....[has] decisive weaknesses...  …if this being is omnipotent, then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty Being? In giving out punishments and rewards he would to a certain extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him?

 

            According to the view, a person’s actions are the result of ‘nature and nurture’, or ‘genes and environment’. Since the genes are from nature, if God created nature then they are from God. Similarly, nurture is the environment created by other people, but the actions of these other people are the result of their own nature and nurture, and so on backwards to the first people. In this sense ‘nurture’ is also indirectly ‘nature’. The fact that people are not simple mechanisms does not mean that they are not mechanisms, just that they are very complex mechanisms. Einstein felt that although much is not yet known about their brains, nevertheless if there is a God, their actions are the inevitable result of God’s laws of nature[1][1], just as is the case for much simpler mechanisms. He wrote:

            We have penetrated far less deeply into the regularities obtaining within the realm of living things, but deeply enough to nevertheless sense at least the rule of fixed necessity....

            The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature.

[2][2].... the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. The future, to him, is every whit as necessary as the past.

 [3][3][For t]he man who is thoroughly convinced of the universal operation of the law of causation......a God who rewards and punishes is inconceivable......for the simple reason that a man’s actions are determined by necessity, external or internal, so that in God’s eyes he cannot be responsible any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the motions it undergoes.

 

Clearly, Einstein did not believe in the existence of free will, and thus felt that if there is a God, this God could not be so capricious as to hold people responsible for actions that they could not prevent, and therefore he could not believe in the Biblical God (and the Biblical stories).

Believers in the Bible can agree with Einstein that in the Biblical conception, the type of choices possible to humans could not be the results of determined or random processes if the created beings are to be held meaningfully responsible for their actions by the creator of the universe and the laws of nature. Whether or not one accepts the truth of the Biblical accounts, clearly the implication that human actions are of interest to God, and humans bear responsibility for their actions in God's eyes make sense only from within the perspective that humans posses a 'true free will'.

 

Einstein clearly believed in morality, and stated clearly many times his belief in a transcendent Mind, even that one’s own mind could sometimes in some way sense the edges of the Mind. One can argue that Einstein however felt that philosophy mandated against creation from nothing – and believed instead in an eternal universe co-existing with the Mind, and also felt that science showed a rigid determinism which precludes free will. Einstein did not feel that it would be reasonable for a transcendent Mind to hold deterministic humans responsible for their actions. However if there is indeed a God, creator of all from nothingness, and there is indeed true free will, likely Einstein – who certainly did feel that humans are indeed morally responsible for their actions -  would have agreed that this God, having imbued the humans created in its image with true free will  - could hold humans responsible for their actions. That is, Einstein is seemingly not claiming that the Biblical model is inconsistent, but rather that it isn’t true, given the philosophical reasons supporting the eternity of the universe, given his belief in the non-existence of a ‘personal’ God possessing a Will and who is interested in human affairs, and given the scientific indications of full determinism.

However, the creation and Eden accounts present the type of free will and moral responsibility which would be meaningful to a transcendent being creator of all. Thus whether or not the biblical claims are true or not, and whatever one thinks of Einstein’s model and beliefs, the biblical conception is a useful model for what we would mean by the existence of a true Morality, true free will, and true moral responsibility.

Of course to the atheist materialist or science-only believer (who is perhaps a ‘mindless materialist’) the model is faulty in that it is to them completely absurd and implausible. However, to us consciously-aware entities who know that science is not capable of encompassing all of reality, we can at least intuit the meaning of this model, and can do so without having to decide whether or not we actually believe in its truth.

 

Biblical concepts: According to Jewish teachings, there is a fundamental aspect of our existence which transcends cause-effect – free-willed choice. According to biblical Judaism the Designer and Creator of the universe, of space and time and the laws of nature, holds humans accountable for their actions, and does so because when we do something ‘bad’, we could in fact somehow have chosen to act differently than we actually did. What is radical about this teaching is that however much the laws of nature and the circumstances of our situation brought us to those actions, and despite the fact that all this is the product of the design and influence of the creator, there is nevertheless some element of real choice involved in our decision so that the creator/designer is not the source of these actions, we are. (We are the ultimate cause of some non-zero element of our decision, however miniscule it may be compared to the determined and random components of the brain-processes associated to the making of that choice). As is apparent from the Jewish Traditional understanding of the various biblical accounts, biblical religion is based on the principle that – however impossible it is to define free will and morality scientifically, logically or even philosophically – there is an ‘absolute morality’, and since we do indeed have some element of freedom in our will, the designer of the laws and circumstances can hold us morally responsible for whatever element of our choice is truly free.

 

The creation and Eden accounts: We can see a reflection of these ideas in the juxtaposition of the first two accounts of Genesis: within the perspective granting that there is indeed a true free will - as implied in the Biblical Garden of Eden account - our minds operate according to an acausal principle qualitatively analogous to that which underlies the emergence into existence of the universe - the topic of the Biblical Creation Account.

Furthermore, as implied by the juxtaposition of the creation and eden accounts, and as proposed by Wheleer’s delayed choice and diagram of quantum collapse by a late-emerging observer, there is a retroactive and therefore acausal interplay between the design of the universe, the laws of nature according to which is operates, and the path of history it follows as a result of our choices.

The juxtaposition of the Biblical creation account about the emergence of the universe into existence, and the Garden of Eden account which describes the emergence of free choice and moral responsibility, is discussed in the above context in my article:  Quantum Kabbalistic Cosmology and the Biblical creation and Eden accounts.  

 Biblically – and as symbolized by the Sabbath, which is seemingly paradoxically both a commemoration of creation and its purpose – for this Willed creation by the Mind, ‘sof ma’aseh bemachshavah t’chilah’, “the end result is – in Design - the first step”, so that for example the brain which emerges after a long physical process of seeming random-determined events, the organ which somehow supports our mind, is in fact the template upon which the big bang is designed.

Our minds, far from being an epiphenomenon arising by chance, is an essential element of existence, and the specifications of the organ supporting it is a fundamental aspect of the design of the big bang.

In the Jewish Biblical conception, the Mind which originated as an acausal act of Will the design and creation of something from nothing has a reflection in the physical universe – a mind created in its ‘image’ in the Biblical idiom. [4][4]

 

In the context of an atheistic vs biblical approach one can imagine for example these three

scenarios[8][8]:

 

A : “Mechanism: The universe arose by itself, via chance. Life emerged from non-life and humans evolved from ‘lower’ life forms. Qualitatively human, animal, vegetable and mineral follow identical physical law, and human mental activity is no exception.

All events including mental events occur in a PDR way, and thus free will is physically impossible. In addition, cau­sality is valid, and so free will is logically impossible. Therefore, humans have no control over their actions and thoughts and cannot logically be held responsible for them. Of course many people are neurologically wired to feel that they are responsible for their actions, and have invented the words "moral responsibility" to describe this emotion.

Our feeling that we have free will is real - it is a real feeling - but free will itself does not exist. Free will is a chimera, and our belief in moral responsibility is erroneous, arising from our neuro-wiring rather than being a reflection of a transcendent truth.

 

B: "Deistic (PDR) mechanism": God created the universe and instituted a system of "natural law" to run it. All events occur in accordance with this natu­ral law, except when God intervenes in nature. Quantum physics describes the universe, and its states at any time fol­low in a probabilistically determined random way from the initial created state of the universe. Therefore, everything that occurs does so as a direct result of some combination of God's choice of initial state, God's choice of system of natural laws, and randomness. Clearly, God cannot expect humans to act differently than they do since all follows determinedly from God’s initial creation, and so humanity cannot be held responsible by God for its actions. Those who do not realize that they really do not have free will and believe that they can be logically held responsible by God are wrong. [However, it would be God who caused this feeling, due to the neurological wiring which evolved according to God's design].

MESH: . If quantum physics is correct, then the state of the universe at any time fol­lows in a probabilistically determined random way from the initial created state of the universe.  

 

C: Biblical Free Will: God created the universe in such a way that except for consciousness it follows the PDR laws of quantum physics. Humans are conscious and have free will and are responsible for their actions.. [Quantum physics (PDR) does not hold in the realm of human mental processes, and a causality-defying process allows one to freely choose actions in a rational way without this choice being determined due to its rationale] As a result humans are responsible for their actions, even from the perspective of the creator.

Evolutionary sociobiology can provide reasons for the emergence of moral impulses, and if mind just parallels brain as Descartes wrote, then the existence of moral impulses is not an indication that there truly is an objective good and evil. However if there is true free will, ie a realm of cause and effect outside of natural law, then it is not inconceivable that the origin of moral impulses and an innate sense of good/evil lie outside physical causes. The source of our mind and free will may be a “Free-willed Mind’, perhaps one which originated physical existence. If so, it is not unreasonable for us to understand the emergence of the universe into existence as a free-willed creation to achieve some purpose, however inscrutable. It is not inconceivable that there is communincation between the Mind and we who are in our essence its reflection…perhaps our lives are part of the Purrpose, perhaps the physical universe was designed to produce us. If there were communications relating to all this, it could be the source of the experiences recorded in various religious traditions. The realm dealing with this type of interaction is usually termed ‘spiritual’ and ascribed to ‘the soul’, though there need not a priori be a distinction between mind and soul, or mental and spiritual nor between ‘Mind’ and ‘God’

 

The sources of objective and subjective moral obligation (moral imperatives)

Many philosophical discussions revolve around the difference between an objective and a subjective morality. Although objectivists claim that without the existence of God, or perhaps without a belief in the existence of God, there can be no philosophical or logical basis for morality, subjectivists sharply contest this claim. 

    The moral obligation to follow a certain code of behavior does not derive from law itself. Clearly, the very existence of a law is not in itself sufficient to cause compliance with it, nor is simple awareness of the law sufficient. Compliance follows from a desire to obey the law, whether because of fear of possible punishment, or from a sense of duty, or due to any other motivation.
     The same holds true for divine law. Even were a person to recognize the existence of God, acknowledge that God is the creator of all, and believe that God has commanded certain laws, this would not in itself suffice to guarantee that the person will feel that they must obey these laws. Rather, the person must somehow feel that laws made by God are binding on them, or that punishment follows lack of compliance, and only then will they obey.
     For some people, the belief that God has commanded them will in itself suffice to induce in them the feeling that this command obligates them. However, this is not necessarily the case with all people. Neither the laws of mathematical logic nor of neurophysiology require that the belief in God and in God's commands necessarily causes the existence of a feeling of moral obligation to follow the commands.
    That is to say, there can exist in a brain a belief in God and a belief that God commanded a certain action without there necessarily existing in that brain a feeling of obligation to carry out the wish of this commanding God. There is no  impossibility involved in this - no mathematical, physical, logical, biological, physiological or even psychological paradox is involved 
    In the final analysis, there cannot be any external source of obligation. When a person states that they are obligated to act because God commanded it, in actuality the motivating force is the inner sense of obligation rather the command of God itself. 
    The belief in a command of God may be the catalyst for the sense of obligation, however there may be other catalysts as well. Indeed, many people feel a sense of obligation to moral activity even though they do not believe in the existence of a God or creator, or in divinely revealed moral laws. 
    The moral atheist and the moral religionist both have moral codes which they feel to be binding. The sense of obligation may be equally strong in both, but each will have different psychological factors determining their sense of obligation, and each will offer different logical or metaphysical reasons to jutify their moral code. 
    The moral atheist may state that Hillel's 'golden rule' - that which you do not wish done to you, do not do unto others" - guides their conduct, and some even claim that this rule and Kant's categorical imperative provide an objective source for morality.
    Experience teaches that in basic things - not wanting pain, death, starvation etc, wanting pleasure, basic material possesions, food, shelter etc - people are alike. As a result, it is reasonable regarding basic things to make the assumption that what is very undesireable to you is also very undesireable to others and vice versa. This realization in itself is of course not sufficient to cause everyone to follow the golden rule - there are some who decide that they want what the other has, and they are aware that the other does not wish to part with it, but this is not a reason for them to desist from taking it by force. The golden rule is simply a guideline for those who have already made the decision that they wish to to that which is good, that which is considered desireable to others. If someone wishes to act in this way for whatever motivation - fear of punishment, social acceptance, or an inner moral obligation - then the golden rule and its converse serve as useful criteria for determining what actions to do or not to do to another. The basis for this person's morality is not an objective criterion, but rather personal benefit or an inner feeling of moral obligation. 
    The religionist will feel perhaps that the moral code of the atheist is subjective - even though it may be identical to his own moral code - since it derives from an inner feeling of moral obligation rather than from the absolute objective morality of the creator, a creator who is outside the physical universe and beyond subjective physicality. The atheist may feel that since there is no God there is no such thing as an objective absolute morality such as that believed in by the religionist, and further, that anything which is beyond the physical universe is by definition beyond our perception or knowledge, so that indeed the terms "absolute" and "objective" have no meaning.
    In the end however, both the religionist and the moral atheist really derive their morality from the same source - the sense of obligation within them - even though they may attribute this feeling to different causes, attach different physical or metaphysical significance to it, or provide varying justifications for the validity of their moral code. Thus at the most basic level there is no essential philosophical difference between a 'subjective  relative morality' and an 'absolute objective morality'.
..............................

See my comment (#204) to the New York Times 'opinionator' blog:re: "Morals Without God"  The comment is included (with light editing) below: 

Regarding the belief of many religious people that atheism is incompatible with morality. Many non-religious philosophers deeply misunderstand the essence of the problem for philosophically-oriented and scientifically-trained biblical religionists.They do not deny of course that animal behavior, including altruism etc, can be determined via genetics which is itself a result of evolutionary processes. And certainly in a universe without God, evolutionary processes can produce beings with altruistic behavior and mental states which feel that altruistic action is 'good' and murder is 'evil'. 
These religionists do not claim that the belief in the existence of God makes for moral people, nor that a brain in which there is no belief in God cannot be wired (via evolution) to want to do that which we call 'good'. It is something quite different that they mean, something that makes sense only in the context of metaphysics, not science or logic, and therefore is often misunderstood by many philosophers and scientists. 
The issue for religionists is this: if there is a God beyond physicality and beyond ('higher than', creator of) the mental realm, then there is a 'real' good and evil, strongly mirrored by the feeling of good and evil in human brains, and it is 'wrong' to do evil. If there is no God then the belief in a person's brain 'this is good' or 'this is evil' or 'it is wrong to do evil' is simply a mental state of a physical brain. The existence of such a mental state does not by itself confer the status of 'true' good or evil on such an action – only the existence of 'God', a being beyond the constraints of cause effect and physicality, who creates the concept of Good and Evil, could do so. 
To the biblical religionist feelings of good and evil originating via evolutionary processes in a godless universe do not 'morally obligate' the people who feel them in the way that they would if these feelings are reflections of the 'true' or 'objective' morality of the biblical God, who transcends cause-effect, physicality and subjectivity. People may feel a moral obligation wired into them via evolutionary processes, but from the metaphysical standpoint they are not 'actually' obligated - there is in fact no such thing as moral obligation in such a universe, only the mental feeling that there is something called moral obligation, a mental feeling which itself is wired into the brain via evolutionary processes.
Obviously there are flaws in this religionist argument, but it is this reasoning which underlies the feeling of religious people that although atheists can certainly act morally, nevertheless if the universe were as atheists posit, there could be no 'true' morality.
The issue of 'true morality' for biblical religionists, as opposed for example to Einstein who held an interesting middle ground (he considered himself religious), hinges on the concept of a 'true free will' as implied in the Biblical concept of a God, creator of the universe, who though designer of humanity and creator of the laws of nature can nevertheless legitimately hold humanity responsible for its choices.
It is 'true free will' of the biblical type which allows for the concept of 'true morality' for biblical religionists, but science and philosophy do not recognize the possibility of such free will, and without this one cannot understand the biblical religionists ideas about atheism and morality. One can sum it up by saying the biblical religionists believe not that atheists cannot be moral, but rather that if the universe were as atheists posit, there is NO true free will, no objective standard of good and evil and (therefore) no (true) morality. 


http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/morals-without-god/

  1.  

o             Avirab

o             NY

Although the arguments in article may be of relevance to the attitudes of simple religious people, untrained in science, many non-religious philosophers deeply misunderstand the essence of the problem for philosophically-oriented and scientifically-trained biblical religionists. The issue for them is not the one mentioned in the article. They do not deny of course that animal behavior, including altruism etc, can be determined via genetics which is itself a result of evolutionary processes. And certainly in a universe without God, evolutionary processes can produce beings with altruistic behavior and mental states which feel that altruistic action is 'good' and murder is 'evil'.
These religionists do not claim that the belief in the existence of God makes for moral people, nor that a brain in which there is no belief in God cannot be wired (via evolution) to want to do that which we call 'good'. It is something quite different that they mean, something that makes sense only in the context of metaphysics, not science or logic, and therefore is often misunderstood by many philosophers and scientists.
The issue for religionists is this: if there is a God beyond physicality and beyond ('higher than', creator of) the mental realm, then there is a 'real' good and evil, strongly mirrored by the feeling of good and evil in human brains, and it is 'wrong' to do evil. If there is no God then the belief in a person's brain 'this is good' or 'this is evil' or 'it is wrong to do evil' is simply a mental state of a physical brain. The existence of such a mental state does not by itself confer the status of 'true' good or evil on such an action – only the existence of 'God', a being beyond the constraints of cause effect and physicality, who creates the concept of Good and Evil, could do so. To the biblical religionist feelings of good and evil originating via evolutionary processes in a godless universe do not 'morally obligate' the people who feel them in the way that they would if these feelings are reflections of the 'true' or 'objective' morality of the biblical God, who transcends cause-effect, physicality and subjectivity. People may feel a moral obligation wired into them via evolutionary processes, but from the metaphysical standpoint they are not 'actually' obligated - there is in fact no such thing as moral obligation in such a universe, only the mental feeling that there is something called moral obligation, a mental feeling which itself is wired into the brain via evolutionary processes.
Obviously there are flaws in this religionist argument, but it is this reasoning which underlies the feeling of religious people that although atheists can certainly act morally, nevertheless if the universe were as atheists posit, there could be no 'true' morality.
The issue of 'true morality' for biblical religionists, as opposed for example to Einstein who held an interesting middle ground (he considered himself religious), hinges on the concept of a 'true free will' as implied in the Biblical concept of a God, creator of the universe, who though designer of humanity and creator of the laws of nature can nevertheless legitimately hold humanity responsible for its choices. See for example the article by Avi Rabinowitz at :
http://www.pages.nyu.edu/~air1/FreeWill,QuantumPhysics,andEinstein.htm
It is 'true free will' of the biblical type which allows for the concept of 'true morality' for biblical religionists, but science and philosophy do not recognize the possibility of such free will, and without this one cannot understand the biblical religionists ideas about atheism and morality. One can sum it up by saying the biblical religionists believe not that atheists cannot be moral, but rather that if the universe were as atheists posit, there is true free will, no objective standard of good and evil and (therefore) no (true) morality.

o             Oct. 18, 2010 at 12:42 p.m.

o             RECOMMENDED1

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4.      [1][1]p47 bottom,p48 top, "Ideas & Opinions"; p28 "Out of My Later Years"

5.      [2][2] "My Worldview", (on p40 of "Ideas & Opinions").

6.      [3][3]Essay: "Religion and Science". p39, line 5:

  1. [4][4] See the author's article "The Instant Universe" which develops an understanding of the creation and Eden accounts and their relation to the big bang and evolution theory based on this perspective.

8.      [5][5] Not that physics would necessarily assume it does not or cannot exist, just that within physics, 'intuition' is not sufficient reason to assume its existence until there is some sort of experimental evidence for it.

9.      [6][6] All this is from the 'incompatibilist' perspective which sees mind and matter as essentially different from each other..

  1. [7][7] Indeed, there is perhaps a very close connection between the onset of free-willed consciousness and the origin of the universe. See Wheeler. See also my article “And God Said: ‘Let There Have Been a Big Bang’ ” and “Halacha and Quantum Physics”.

11.  [8][8] Of course there are others than these three, but these represent clear & distinct scenarios pertinent to the discussion here.

 

Partial Bibliography

Burtt, E.A. The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science (revised edition). N.Y.: Doubleday, 1954, See especially pp. 64-67, 75, 94,

d'Espagnat, Bernard. "Quantum Theory and Reality," Scientific American, Nov, 1979, pp. 128-140.

Wheeler, J.A. "Beyond the Black Hole," Some Strangeness In the Proportion. N.Y.: Addison­-Wesley, 1980.