Does free will exist?

I believe that yes, I do have free will.  By this, I mean I make genuine choices, not predetermined either by God, by the laws of physics, or by some combination of nature and environment.  I felt it was an important question to answer on this blog (because other questions I’ve addressed, such as this one, are related to it), but I’m not going to attempt a comprehensive exploration of this question here, for three reasons.

First, the question has been around so long and so much has already been written about it (for example, start here and branch out), and I don’t think my thoughts on it are especially original.

Second, most of the evidence Continue reading “Does free will exist?”

Do people believe in God just because their parents did?

Occasionally I’ve heard a simplistic argument against belief in God that goes something like this: “You believe in God just because your parents did.”  The usual implication (either explicit or left unstated) is that any arguments in favor of God’s existence that I might offer would be biased, and therefore do not need to be considered by the listener on their merits.  This type of argument is commonly classified as ad hominem circumstantial, and labeled fallacious because one’s disposition to make a certain argument does not make the argument false.  (In an essay on this topic, Continue reading “Do people believe in God just because their parents did?”

Is religion always losing ground to science?

Religion and science are often presented as being in conflict, causing many people to feel that they have to choose one or the other.  The conflict is often described in terms of a historical narrative, which I will paraphrase briefly here in my own words (not following any specific author, but drawing from the observations of various people I’ve spoken with over the years who think this way):

First, there was ancient man, who was ignorant and believed in all sorts of local gods living on places like Mount Olympus, or inhabiting stone or wooden idols.  He couldn’t explain anything, and saw miracles and supernatural events everywhere. The Norse, for example, attributed thunder and lightning to the actions of Thor. Over time, the wiser among men, through reason and observation of a common-sense but not scientific sort, concluded that there were no gods actually living on Olympus and the stone and wooden idols in fact were powerless and lifeless.  Yet the still couldn’t explain most of what they saw, so they attributed Continue reading “Is religion always losing ground to science?”