“Isn’t that agnosticism rather than Christianity though?” she asked.
“Probably,” he said. “Have I bored you?”
“In ferreting out the kind of control involved in free will, we are forced to consider questions about (among others) causation, laws of nature, time, substance, ontological reduction vs emergence, the relationship of causal and reasons-based explanations, the nature of motivation and more generally of human persons. In assessing the significance of free will, we are forced to consider questions about (among others) rightness and wrongness, good and evil, virtue and vice, blame and praise, reward and punishment, and desert. The topic of free will also gives rise to purely empirical questions that are beginning to be explored in the human sciences: do we have it, and to what degree?“Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
“Not at all. In fact it seems that we really are much closer in our thinking than I’d have thought possible. I can very much agree with you on almost everything in that summary of yours. I suppose that I’m in the ‘brute force’ school though. Maybe that’s because I don’t want to believe in a Creator – and perhaps that isn’t a good enough reason. Where are you on Evolution?”
“Firmly a Darwinist,” he said, “I think that Evolution, in essence, is irrefutable.”
By now the tea and cakes had been consumed.
“So, would you say that we’ve got God sorted then?” she asked.
“Probably not in my lifetime,” he said laughing.
“See,” she said, “When you’re not a Holy Joe you know how to laugh, and it suits you.”
“Thank you, Ma’am,” he said.
“I’ve really enjoyed our little get-together,” she said.
“Me too,” he said, “Perhaps we could do it again but at my place,” he said. “Perhaps then we can have a go at the other side of the problem.”
Cathy looked puzzled. “The other side?”
“What the Universe is – and how it came about – only matters to us because we are sentient – thinking – beings, or think we are.”
“Okay,” she agreed, “and?”
“You asked me about how I view Evolution,” he replied, “Darwinist reduction suggests that there is no such thing as ‘free will’ and that we deceive ourselves into believing that we’ve made decisions when, in fact, the decision has already been made by the same kind of biological robots that tell our hearts when to beat and our lungs how to breathe. Do we have a choice as to what we believe or is that determined by fate? Can we trust what we think at all?”
“How is that the other side of the problem?” she asked.
“Okay” Progress from primeval slime to human beings – if that’s progress – has worked by successful mutation hasn’t it?”
“And the mutations that resulted in progress worked because they provided a benefit. For example, the creatures that did well when they developed eyes or legs could hunt for food more efficiently. There was an evolutionary benefit. Yes?”
She nodded again.
“Well, what was the evolutionary benefit in developing beings, on an insignificant and doomed planet such that they – we – are able to want – or to try – to understand a Universe they may never be able to explore?”
“Your idea of a next time sounds like it might be quite interesting,” she said.
“Are you sure that you won’t be bored?”
“Not at all,” she said, “I like that kind of discussion.”
He stood, as if to leave.
“Cathy, thanks for listening – you are a good listener.”
“Would you like to have a look at the garden?” she asked. “I can understand that side of Evolution better.”
Instead of an opening photo today, I’ve used yet another quotation. I’m sure that, having read today’s extract from my story, you’ll grant the quote’s relevance – of your own free will though.
I have, however, provided a photograph to feature: two aquilegias pushing through wisteria leaves in my garden two years ago.
I took the photo using my Pentax K-1 36 MP full-frame camera with a 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens.
EXIF data were 1/6 secs @ f/10 and 38 mm. ISO was 100.