More science against the notion of Free Will

English: A Taxonomy of Determinisms and Indete...
English: A Taxonomy of Determinisms and Indeterminisms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I’ve been involved in several discussions related to Free Will and the such. I do not hold to Free Will or Determinism, but lean to a mixture of both. I do not believe in ultimate determinism (yet), as I believe we do have a few options when presented with a decision.

But Free Will is philosophically, logically, scientifically, and theologically impossible. One of the things that fascinates me is the transference of memory via DNA. This corporate and hereditary memory influences our actions.

Memories can be passed down to later generations through genetic switches that allow offspring to inherit the experience of their ancestors, according to new research that may explain how phobias can develop.


The results may help to explain why people suffer from seemingly irrational phobias – it may be based on the inherited experiences of their ancestors.

via Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors – Telegraph.

The notion of a pre-existing influence is what drives me away from Free Will. Whether or not we ultimately assign to this influence “God,” we are influenced by something predating us. For those of us who believe in the (so-called) Big Bang, I would offer a speculation that the emerging of those atoms and energy, etc…, created a nice path to where we are now.

Anyway, I wanted to include the article for future reference and maybe some discussion.

Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

5 thoughts on “More science against the notion of Free Will

  1. I don’t think any free will defenders would deny that things influence us. Obviously our lives are structured by outside forces; libertarians (philosophical not political) would say that freedom exists within those bounds. The simplest libertarian claim is that free will means that the person ‘could have done otherwise’ in regards to some action, which doesn’t entail that people are completely free in regards to all things.

      1. Oops, didn’t see you replied. “Free” in this context just means “not determined”. Even if there are only two options available, libertarians would suggest that it can still be a free choice if the agent could choose either one. Limited options are definitely compatible with ‘could have done otherwise’.

        The common concern, one that I think is very compelling, is that it’s difficult to conceive of the possibility of moral responsibility without assuming that the person ‘could have done otherwise’. If our actions are rendered certain by pre-existing conditions then I don’t see how people are responsible for actions.

        1. Two issues here:

          (1) Is it possible to feel libertarian-free about decisions that were actually determined/constrained? I think “Of course that’s possible,” is the benign reply. But if that’s the reply, then it means libertarian freedom has lost its sole “evidence.” And the more we discover about our constraints — always discoveries toward “more constrained than we thought,” as it so happens — the more the evidence against it mounts.

          (2) “Could have done otherwise” does not actually entail a meaningful power in the real world. Google for “stanrock superheroes” for an article that shows why.

  2. There’s this anime movie called Macross Plus ( I think it’s this one). Have you seen these veritech or Valkyrie fighters. They turn from spacejets into robots. Like transformers, but with pilots. Robetech was a cartoon series in the ’80’s that featured them. When they fired missles, the munitions arced out in this totally random looking cloud pattern and then eventually found their mark if the target wasn’t too quick. In Macross plus, there was an onboard computer that predicted the trajectory of every random-seeming projectile and chose the path through the missles that kept the jet safe. Which I think is another way of telling the Noah story.

Leave a Reply, Please!