This is my second post on Free Will. My first can be found HERE.
The cosmological argument is seen by many theists as strong evidence for the existence of god. There are quite a few variations, but the crux of the matter is summed up by Christian William Lane Craig thusly:
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
- The Universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the Universe had a cause.
I have already spoken about the problems with the cosmological argument, but I wanted to highlight that the fundamental reason that this argument is made is because of the things we observe in our causal universe. Everything that happens is because of a materialistic reason, based on the matter of the universe and the forces that work within it. Nothing happens without a cause. If anything did happen with no prior cause, the first premise would be obviously false. And something happening for no reason would be incredibly noticeable. It would seem very odd to us, which is why the argument seems so compelling. Everything needs a cause. What theists don’t seem to realise is that the first premise of the cosmological argument argues that Free Will is impossible.
Free Will, if it existed, would be wholly demonstrated by the choices we make as individuals. We would be freely able to make choices. And by free, we mean free of any over riding reason or cause. But the cosmological argument states, when our choices “begin to exist”, that is, the instant we choose anything, it is because something has caused us to make that choice. There is a reason for everything we do. Our Will is Causal, not Free.
If our Will was in fact free, then the first premise of the cosmological argument would be false. Things could begin to exist with no cause, and in fact trillions of things would begin to exist every day, as the human race (and probably an awful lot of higher animal species) created choices out of nothing at all. Every single decision; every choice we freely made; would be an example of something beginning to exist with no cause. If that were true the cosmological argument would fall apart.
But it would mean that our Free Will was the only thing that broke that fundamental universal law of causality. No other observable effect in the universe is without a cause as a precursor. This is why the cosmological argument seems to make sense. Our experience of the world demonstrates that there is a reason for everything that happens. So what are the chances that the Will of a conscious animal is the only thing that is free of that causality? And most importantly, how do you prove it? I would be happy to hear if anyone has any ideas about that, because I can’t think of a way to show that any of our choices are actually free.
So Christians have a bit of a conundrum. They need to demonstrate that in a rational universe, where every effect has a cause, the free will of sentient animals is somehow immune to that causality. Otherwise, we have no Free Will and whilst this doesn’t disprove god, it makes a mockery of the Christian God being loving and just, because He is sending us to Hell for things we had no control over. On the other hand, if Christians can demonstrate that Free Will exists then they have proven that things can begin to exist uncaused, removing god as necessary for the start of everything. Either way this presents two serious obstacles to their theism, and they can’t remove one without reinforcing the other.
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