One ship sails East, and another West,
By the self-same winds that blow.
’Tis the set of the sails, and not the gales,
That tells the way we go.
– Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850–1919), from “’Tis the Set of the Sail” (1916)
There is a persistent strain of scientific thought which holds that you have no free will. When you thought this morning about whether to have cereal or take the time to make French toast, in fact that decision already had been made in your brain without your active participation. You had cereal. And you had no choice in the matter. Your belief that you actually were making a choice is for many scientists a pure illusion, since their science proves you to be an automaton. You are incapable of ever in your life making any conscious choice.
I confess that when I first noticed this problem in science, I saw it as a transitory silliness. I wrote about it in The Fun of Dying a dozen years ago as an example of how completely around the bend that useless “fundamental scientific dogma of materialism” had driven the scientific community. Materialism has fostered in science the certainty that the human brain must generate consciousness, so for at least six decades scientists have obsessively studied that particular organ. The notion that matter generates consciousness is a staggeringly strange idea, on a par with believing that rocks generate sunshine; but materialist scientists remain undaunted by the fact that all their work over decades has yielded little progress toward figuring out how the meat in your skull creates who you are. One current idea is that the process is quantum, so no wonder it’s so hard for us to figure it out!
And as they have been chasing their tails in a pointless study of gray matter, scientists have drawn a bogus conclusion that they oddly persist in believing despite all the evidence against it. They believe that they can demonstrate that free will actually does not exist. A researcher named Benjamin Libet showed in the 1980s that muscular and nervous preparations to move a digit begin about 350 milliseconds before we actually decide to move it, thereby proving to many materialists that human beings have no actual free will. There are some scientists who are sure that Libet’s work proves no such thing, but theirs is a minority view. Scientists who stubbornly believe in free will still are mostly relegated to the religionist side of the battle between science and religion that goes back as far as Plato and Aristotle.
I bought Sam Harris’s book entitled Free Will when it first came out in 2012, and I read it as the in-joke howler that I assumed that he meant it to be. Sam Harris is a brilliant and sophisticated man. He has couched his career in the scornful materialist-atheist mold of the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, but he is of the generation following theirs. And he always has struck me as too smart to fall for any kind of stupidity, and especially for the pseudo-religious scientific nonsense of dogmatic materialist atheism. But, no such luck. A more recent article lauding Harris and his book explains why he holds these views. He says that “‘The phrase free will’ simply describes what it feels like to identify with certain mental states as they arise in consciousness — and our ‘freedom’ constitutes nothing more than this illusory feeling of control.” And at this point, most of the scientific community apparently shares this misconception. We are being urged now to accept this scientific theory as correct, but to believe in free will anyway, because if humanity’s prevailing view becomes the notion that we are not responsible for our actions, then civilization soon will fall apart.
On second thought, Sam Harris’s book, Free Will, is not remotely funny. Materialism and a fear-based refusal to look at any of the evidence for a greater reality have led him to write a paragraph that is breathtaking in its ignorance:
“Take a moment to think about the context in which your next decision will occur: You did not pick your parents or the time and place of your birth. You didn’t choose your gender or most of your life experiences. You had no control whatsoever over your genome or the development of your brain. And now your brain is making choices on the basis of preferences and beliefs that have been hammered into it over a lifetime — by your genes, your physical development since the moment you were conceived, and the interactions you have had with other people, events, and ideas. Where is the freedom in this?”
Please take a moment to appreciate the fact that because he refuses to go beyond the beliefs-based religion of scientism, poor Mr. Harris doesn’t know much of anything about anything. Every statement in that paragraph is wrong! In fact, your life was planned beforehand so you did choose your parents, your gender, and the time and place of your birth. Therefore, to some extent you controlled your genome as well, and in your pre-birth planning you also masterminded the major events of your life on earth. The scientific dogma of materialism makes it impossible for those who are stuck with it to investigate the whole truth about any important fact whatsoever.
But inevitably, the truth will win. Even if the scientific community and folks like Sam Harris refuse to open-mindedly seek what is true for another thousand years! At this point, there is so much evidence that consciousness is primary, just as there was in Galileo’s day abundant evidence that the earth circumnavigates the sun; and the modern scientific community has sadly put itself in the position of the medieval Catholic church, having to defend indefensible beliefs-based lies. Their enemy is no longer religion, for heaven’s sake! At this point, their enemy is the simple pursuit of the truth, untainted by any dogma. And if we aren’t seeking reality by now, then whatever we are doing is a waste of good oxygen! The plain fact is that what we experience as human consciousness is primary and it pre-exists everything else. The only thing those forty-year-old brain experiments prove is that these bodies are true avatars, no part of which contains our executive function. Our eternal minds decide and begin to move our bodies, at which point our bodies become aware of our decision.
To begin to open the minds of all those trapped in their scientific church with its bogus materialist dogma, here are a few places where they might begin a more open-minded exploration of the astonishing phenomenon that is human consciousness. Max Planck and Albert Einstein were perfectly right. Consciousness is primary and it gives rise to matter, and not the other way around:
You and I have absolute and unrestricted free will! We must have free will in order for us to be able to choose to grow spiritually, and in any event all the non-dogma-based evidence for our free will is consistent and overwhelming. Every decision that you make is deeply your own. I’m sure that even the scientists and the good Mr. Harris know this by now, but they play along with believing nonsense because it lets them keep their successful careers. The Medieval Catholic priests who came to suspect that Galileo was right and the earth does indeed go around the sun mostly had to keep their mouths shut, too.
Far from being just automatons, the evidence now indicates ever more amazingly that:
Scientists insist that you are just a meat-robot, without even the ability to decide what’s for breakfast. But in fact, you are a glorious eternal being for whose use the whole universe is continuously being created! You are nothing less than an integral part of the Consciousness that is all there is. And you are loved, dear precious friend, beyond all imaginings and beyond every rational measure. Don’t trust a materialist science that is blind to anything but solid matter, when in fact there is no such thing as solid matter! Instead, trust your own dawning awareness of the truth, which is something that no religion and no version of science even tries to investigate. As Jesus tells us, “The Truth will set you free!”
Like the winds of the sea are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life.
’Tis the set of the soul that determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.
– Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850–1919), from “’Tis the Set of the Sail” (1916)