Sunday, June 30, 2019

Experimentally Proven Free Will implies Immateriality of the Soul

Experimentally Proven Free Will implies immateriality of the Soul

by Glenn R Morton 2019

I am going to present a slightly different argument for the existence of the immaterial soul. The general view of the scientific community is that we have no free will–everything is determined, and this lack of free will is compatible with and deduced from the materialist view of the world. Determinism basically says that what you do is determined by the past and you can't change what it is you are about to do. And that, in turn, means you are not morally responsible for what you do. Of Determinism,  David Deutsch, a quantum computing expert and leading advocate for the Everett multiverse says:

Another mental attribute that is somehow associated with consciousness is free will. Free will is also notoriously difficult to understand in the classical world-picture. The difficulty of reconciling free will with physics is often attributed to determinism, but it is not determinism that is at fault. It is (as I have explained in Chapter II) classical spacetime. In spacetime, something happens to me at each particular moment in my future. Even if what will happen is unpredictable, it is already there, on the appropriate cross-section of spacetime. It makes no sense to speak of my 'changing' what is on that cross-section. Spacetime does not change, therefore one cannot, within spacetime physics, conceive of causes, effects, the openness of the future or free will.1.

In other words, your future is fixed in spacetime and you just are going along the rollercoaster ride observing what is already determined for you. We will discuss this below, but notice the list of things determinism removes from science, causes, effects, the changeability of the future, and free will. Deutsch's view has moral implications. Honderich says of materialism:

It has been around long enough, and most of us have some idea of what it is. Its supposed upshot is that we are not free in anything we choose or do, and aren't to be held morally responsible for our actions or given moral credit for them.2

This is the big conflict between Christianity and the widespread philosophy of materialism.  The Bible says we are morally responsible; materialism says we are not. Christians seem to spend all their time on design in biology, which in my view is a losing argument, and little time addressing effectively the problem of materialism.  If materialism is true, we have no free will and thus no moral accountability before God, who can't exist because He isn't material. Honderich speaks more of this lack of moral responsibility,

" Plainly stated, it is that if determinism is true, then my action today, perhaps my going along again with my unjust society, is the effect or consequence of a causal circumstance in the remote past, before I was born. That circumstance, clearly, was not up to me. So its necessary consequence, my action of compliance today with my unjust society, is not up to me. Hence my action today is not free and I am not responsible for it. Determinism is inconsistent with freedom and responsibility (van Inwagen).3

The next quote is from a friend of mine, Will Provine, with whom during my crisis of faith, I had many conversations that involved, free will, evolution, evidence for atheism, intelligent design, what would cause Provine to change his mind, and our personal stories. These interchanges took place over three years or so and continued after his diagnosis with brain cancer. Will was the son of a Methodist minister who sadly never got to discuss his change of heart with his father. I think he was a bit sad about that as he obviously liked his father so this wasn’t a preacher’s kid rebellion. His views are outlined in a book on him, and I strongly disagree with what he sees as the nature of evolution:

"If you really accept evolution by natural selection, Provine says, you soon find yourself face to face with a set of implications that undermine the fundamental assumptions of Western civilization:
o There are no gods or purposive forces in nature.
o There are no inherent moral or ethical laws to guide human society
o Human beings are complex machines that become ethical beings by way of heredity and environmental influences, with environment playing a somewhat smaller role than is commonly supposed.
o There is no free will in the traditional sense of being able to make unpredictable choices.
o When we die, we die _ finally and completely and forever .4

Searles agrees that there is no free will and says that if we have it we have to have an entity that can influence matter (that is how I interpret his statement–a little more broadly than just limited to moving molecules):

But if libertarianism, which is the thesis of free will, were true, it appears we would have to make some really radical changes in our beliefs about the world. In order for us to have radical freedom, it looks as if we would have to postulate that inside each of us was a self that was capable of interfering with the causal order of nature. That is, it looks as if we would have to contain some entity that was capable of making molecules swerve from their paths. I don’t know if such a view is even intelligible, but it’s certainly not consistent with what we know about how the world works from physics . And there is not the slightest evidence to suppose that we should abandon physical theory in favour of such a view.5

These statements seem to posit a universe lacking soul, and Provine’s world is positively bleak. So is there a way out of this conundrum. We certainly feel like we have free will? Is there any escape from this bleak landscape of determinism?
Honderich presents Epicurus's escape from determinism, which ultimately fails.
     It was stated by the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, and has been with us ever since. What Epicurus said is that a determinist cannot criticize the doctrine of Free Will because he admits his own criticism is itself determined. He cannot in a real sense object to Free Will because he admits his objection is just a matter of cause and effect. He cannot take what he says to have the respectable standing of real criticism or real objection. The same applies to his own assertion of his own theory and his arguments for it. These too are for him just effects. Furthermore, if the determinist says he can really criticize, object, argue for, and so on, this commits him to admitting that his own theory is false. In short, determinism is self-defeating (Chomsky; Macintyre; Eccles and Popper).”
        “This seems to me the best objection so far, but what does it come to? That is the problem. In fact, different philosophers have made different things of it.”
         “Is the idea that if a judgment is taken to be an effect in the determinist way, it cannot be true? That a determinist cannot take himself really to be arguing because he can't take what he says to be true? That doesn't seem to work. Suppose a judgment's being true consists in its corresponding to a fact. That, after all, is the central definition of what it is for a judgment to be true. There doesn't seem to be any conflict between the judgment's being an effect and its corresponding to a fact.”
        “One scientist first accepted the Epicurean objection to determinism, and then changed his mind (Haldane 1932, 1954). What he first thought was this: 'If my opinions are the result of the chemical processes going on in my brain, they are determined by the laws of chemistry, not logic.' To put the idea in a way many philosophers have, anything that really is an opinion, a judgment, an argument or the like must be owed to Reason, not causation. But what is Reason? There are a lot of answers. Indeed, all the versions of the Epicurean objection could be put in terms of Reason. Let us say here that Reason consists in the laws of logic and true propositions generally, where all of those things are abstract objects. But abstract objects don't cause anything. It is no good saying with the scientist that my opinions, if they are to be any good, must be caused by abstract objects. They can't be.6

Why can't abstract things be causative?  Because supposedly physics says that the universe is deterministic and further it says that there are no immaterial influences on matter.  Gordon Simons and I showed in Quantum Soul that the observer in quantum mechanics is outside of the laws of physics and there for not subject to materialism.  Indeed consciousness/soul must be immaterial.

So, here we come to a different argument for the existence of soul.  As we saw above if materialism is true, we have no free will.  But what if science itself requires that we have free will in order for science to mean anything?  What if experimental results can only be obtains if and only if we have Free Will?  That is the situation with Bell's Theorem.
As it turns out there is. Searles is wrong. It comes from an observational experiment which works ONLY if there is free will. Mark Buchanan explains:

"Bell calculated the outcome based on three assumptions. First, that the two experimenters could freely choose to measure the spins using any axis they like. Second, he assumed that there is something about each electron, before it is measured, that helps determine what is likely to happen in a measurement; that is, the experimental results reflect some real, pre-existing property of the particles and their local environment. And third, that no influence can travel faster than light, so if the measurements take place at virtually the same time, what happens at one end cannot possibly affect what happens at the other." 7

"In every test, over more than two decades, quantum theory has come  out intact. So relativity's assumption that nothing can travel faster  than the speed of light is flawed... or is it? Well, not necessarily:  there are two other assumptions that have to be tested first."
      "The first is free will. Bell's analysis only produces his  inequality if the two experimenters have genuine freedom to choose  how they set their detectors. In an experiment with spins, that means being able to make  measurements along axes that they can choose independently. But maybe that isn't possible. "The idea is that everything could be  somehow determined at the beginning," says Gisin. Perhaps the  creation of the particle pairs and the experimenters' choices are  fixed by a vast web of cause and effect set up long ago, in which  case the" choices" would be predetermined and beyond anyone's  control. Some fundamental law might mean that these choices always  lead to a violation of Bell's inequalities."
     "Unsurprisingly, not many physicists go for this idea. So what of the other assumption behind the inequality?
      "Bell's analysis requires that reality is "out there" and has  properties even when we don't measure them. Rejecting this is another  way to explain how it is that experiments seem to violate his  inequality. It could be that prior to being measured, a quantum  particle has no property that makes measurements come out one way  rather than another (New Scientist, 24 July 2004, P 30). Physicists  do experiments and get results -lines on some photographic film,  settings on a dial. Quantum theory describes these outcomes with  perfect accuracy, but that is all there is to say."8

In other words, in order for Bell’s famous experiment to work as it does, the observer MUST have free will. If that is so, then that certainly makes me look back at Searles’ statement: That is, it looks as if we would have to contain some entity that was capable of making matter swerve from its path. While maybe not molecules, Gordon Simons and I have presented much evidence from quantum that the conscious observer affects matter. To me, Bell's Theorem shows that Free Will must exist.  Bell's inequality is just another reason to hold that the immaterial soul actually exists.

The conjunction of these two ideas means that the existence of Free Will as shown in Bell’s Theorem supports the concept that the immaterial soul exists. Free Will requires something to be above and apart from matter. Free Will must be unbound, unconstrained by the laws of matter in order to actually be free. If it is bound by matter, to obey matter as materialists suggest, then it can't be free.  To quote the physicist Stephen M. Barr,

"But this was only one of the remarkable reversals produced by the quantum revolution. In the opinion of many physicists-including such great figures in twentieth-century physics as Eugene Wigner and Rudolf Peierls-the fundamental principles of quantum theory are inconsistent with the materialist view of the human mind. Quantum theory, in its traditional, or "standard," or "orthodox" formulation, treats "observers" as being on a different plane from the physical systems that they observe . A careful analysis of the logical structure of quantum theory suggests that for quantum theory to make sense it has to posit the existence of observers who lie, at least in part, outside of the description provided by physics. This claim is controversial. There have been various attempts made to avoid this conclusion, either by radical reinterpretations of quantum theory (such as the so-called "many-worlds interpretation") or by changing quantum theory in some way. But the argument against materialism based on quantum theory is a strong one, and has certainly not been refuted. The line" of argument is rather subtle. It is also not well- known, even among most practicing physicists. But, if it is correct, it would be the most important philosophical implication to come from any scientific discovery."9

As alluded to by Buchanan above there is one escape from the Free Will demonstrated by Bell's theorem, and that is superdeterminism.  That means that everything was determined at the Big Bang, and all experiments done by science are already pre-determined, as are each individual's actions. Since the results of Bell's theory implies Free Will, superdeterminism must, therefore, hold that the universe conspired to give a false result in Bell's experiment. Making it appear falsely that we have Free Will when in fact we don't. It is precisely this false result that must arise every time the experiment is run, if superdeterminism is true, that destroys our ability to know anything.  If the universe conspires to give us false results, it raises the question of how many other experiments is the universe conspiring to give us false answers?  Such a question destroys knowledge. The problem with this superdeterministic escape from Free Will is that it makes science a meaningless exercise.  Nothing whatsoever is learned in any scientific experiment because the outcome is set prior to the experiment and the result may or may not reflect anything about the reality of Nature. Wiki says:

"The implications of superdeterminism, if it is true, would bring into question the value of science itself by destroying falsifiability, as Anton Zeilinger has commented: 

"[W]e always implicitly assume the freedom of the experimentalist... This fundamental assumption is essential to doing science. If this were not true, then, I suggest, it would make no sense at all to ask nature questions in an experiment, since then nature could determine what our questions are, and that could guide our questions such that we arrive at a false picture of nature."10
Wiki's footnote to Zeilinger's statement contains this:

"Abner Shimony, Michael Horne and John Clauser made a similar comment in replying to John Bell in their discussions in the Epistemological Letters:
 "In any scientific experiment in which two or more variables are supposed to be randomly selected, one can always conjecture that some factor in the overlap of the backward light cones has controlled the presumably random choices. But, we maintain, skepticism of this sort will essentially dismiss all results of scientific experimentation. Unless we proceed under the assumption that hidden conspiracies of this sort do not occur, we have abandoned in advance the whole enterprise of discovering the laws of nature by experimentation." 11 

Indeed, superdeterminism would result is solipcism because we could never know anything about the external world, and we might not know anything about our subjective internal world either. Thus advocates of superdeterminism like Gerard t'Hooft, destroy science in order to avoid the immateriality of the soul.  

One forgotten aspect of this problem is that because of the above, the destruction of falsifiability mentioned by Zeilinger, we have the same need for Free Will in classical mechanics, contrary to many claims,

Finally, we might agree with Hamlet: “Find out the cause of this effect / Or rather, say, the cause of this defect.” What the Dane had in mind was the paradox of the Newtonian universe: in a strictly causal world, the existence of causality cannot be established. If every event is determined by every preceding event, then the concept of free will is meaningless, as is the notion of running an experiment, which presupposes that conditions can be varied. Yet, if the experimenter’s very actions are predetermined, then nothing has been varied and no “experiment” has been carried out. To put it another way, one needs a defect in causality to verify causality. That is to say. . .”
“Apparently, Newtonian physics did not clarify all issues.12

In a truly deterministic world, causality cannot be discovered.  Is the event B, which always follows event A,  the effect of the cause A, or is it just merely predetermined and has nothing to do with A?  As they say, we need a defect in causality in order to understand what is a cause and what is an effect.  The free unbound soul/conciousness is the defect in causality required by Rothman and Sudarshan.

One physics student struggling with how Free Will fits into his deterministic world view wrote:

"I was going through the results of Bell’s theorem recently and found that the freedom of the experimenter to choose the variable to measure is a key assumption. Given that we have no reason to believe that experimenters have “true” free will, how does this affect the validity of Bell’s theorem?

So…does the current state of science allow for traditional "free" will that is unbound from the laws of nature? After all, that is the meaning of the word "free" - as in "not bound".;"13

The one answer to his physics forum question referred to Libet’s work which suggested that the brain makes up its mind before the consciousness becomes aware that the decision is made.

EVEN now, your brain may already have decided to turn the page. That’s the upshot of a study which found that a person’s decision to press a button can be detected up to 7 seconds before they are even aware of it.”
    "Our decisions are predetermined unconsciously a long time before our consciousness kicks in," says John-Dylan Haynes at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Berlin, Germany, who led the study. "I think it says there is no free will"
     “It’s not the first time scientists have cast doubt on conscious free will. In the early 1980s, neuroscientist Benjamin Libet uncovered a spark of brain activity 300 milliseconds before subjects opted to raise a finger, in a brain region involved in planning body movement. However, this area may only perform the final calculations to move, not the initial decision to lift a finger, Haynes says.”
     “His team asked 14 volunteers to tap one of two buttons at will, with a finger of their left or right hand, and used an fMRI scanner to monitor their brains all the while. They saw part of the prefrontal cortex - vital for executive thought and consciousness - "light up" about 7 seconds before the volunteers pressed a button.”
      “What’s more, deciding to press the left or right buttons revealed slightly different brain patterns, enabling the team to predict 60 per cent of the time which button would be pressed (Nature Neuroscience, 001: 10.1038/nn.2112).14

What about those experiments like Libet and of Haynes which suggest that the unconscious brain makes a decision before consciousness becomes aware of it? The body is prepped to move before the subjects become consciously aware of it. Haynes says there is a 7 second precursor signal to movement. Libet’s time was less and his data has been claimed to be an artefact by John Eccles. These experiments are claimed to show that consciousness has nothing to do with making our decisions.

I don’t know what the exact problem is but it is clear to me that the conscious decision to move does not take 7 seconds. Consider driving and seeing danger ahead. The generally accepted time of our response is 1.5 seconds from seeing the danger and hitting the brakes. The best response time is 0.7 seconds (obviously in teenagers). That best reaction time is divided as follows:

Of this, 0.5 is perception and 0.2 is movement, the time required to release the accelerator and to depress the brake pedal.
Furthermore while driving, we can’t prep our bodies for movement prior to actually SEEING the danger. There would be a lot more bad accidents if we required seven seconds to move our bodies. 

Evolution would have wiped out such a lethargic species. A leopard can run at 37 mph, which means that if it takes that long for my body to decide to move, any leopard that gets within 4 houses(400 ft) from me, will have me for dinner while I just stand there. The leopard runs at 54.26 ft/s in 7 seconds he can cover 380 ft, so he is 20 ft from me when I start to run. Even if I am a 4 minute a mile runner, which I and most of you reading this aren't,  it takes about 20 seconds to get up to speed so the leopard will get me just as I finally get to my top 20 mph sprint. Something is clearly very wrong with the conclusions drawn from Libet and Haynes experiments.  

My guess as to the problem is that the subjects in these experiments have been given instructions prior to the tests and they prep their body accordingly. I know I would start thinking about what finger to move. I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from doing so.
As we saw above, for physics to mean anything, both for classical and quantum, requires that we have Free Will, and that means our WILL is not bound by the laws of physics–that is what Free in Free Will means. The only way to have an unbound Will is to have an immaterial Will.  What is Will except part of our consciousness; our soul.  Thus, we are once again, led by physics, to understand that consciousness is a very special thing in this universe, and that it is  above and unbound by the laws of  matter.

If souls are immaterial, then we cannot claim with certainty, like Provine did, that an immaterial God doesn't exist.  While this work doesn't prove God exists, it does prove the necessity of the existence of an immaterial soul.  Further, if we have Free Will, then we are moral agents, responsible for our actions.

To go back to Provine’s list above, if the soul is not subject to the laws of physics, then it is something immaterial, and many of his claims fall.

The claim that gods don’t exist as a statement of his certitude falls. If immaterial objects exist, then maybe a God exists.

The claim that evolution is purely naturalistic is at least questionable. IF a God exists, then who knows what He did during the evolution of life?

The existence of the immaterial soul affect’s Provine's claim that when we die we are just gone. Not necessarily if we are not material girls, as Madonna sings!

I sincerely liked Provine and wish he were still here to discuss this with. I think the discussions would be different now. While science and philosophers want to ignore the existence of the immaterial soul, the necessity of Free Will to exist in order for science to exist, requires that Free Will be a defect in causality and since Free Will is part of our consciousness, our consciousness must be immaterial as well. Consciousness is another word for soul.  

Thus physics is once again showing the glory of God, and as moral agents, we are responsible for how we respond to this knowledge.  As the Bible says:

Romans 1:20 says, "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."

Don't let the atheist friend or atheist professor fool you into believing there is no evidence for the soul.  


1.David Deutsch, The Fabric of Reality, (New York: Penguin Books, 1997),  p. 338
2. Ted Honderich, How Free Are You?, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 1
3. Ted Honderich, How Free Are You?, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 115
4. from "The Faith of an Atheist" by George Liles, written about Cornell Biology Prof. William Provine "MD" Magazine, March, 1994 pg. 60
5.John Searle, Minds, Brains, and Science, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983), p 92
6.Ted Ted Honderich, How Free Are You?, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 89
8.Mark Buchanan,  "Double Jeopardy,"  New Scientist, June 18, 2005, p. 34
9.Stephen M. Barr, Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003), p. 27-28
10.A. Zeilinger, Dance of the Photons, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2010, p. 266. Wiki Superdeterminism,
11.Shimony A, Horne M A and Clauser J F, "Comment on the theory of local beables", Epistemological Letters, 13 1 (1976), as quoted in Jan-Åke Larsson, "Loopholes in Bell inequality tests of local realism", J. Phys. A: Math. Theor. 47 (2014), Wiki, Superdeterminism
12.Tony Rothman and George Sudarshan, Doubt and Certainty, (Reading, Mass.: Perseus Books, 1998), p. 74
14.Anonymous, “Your brain makes its decisions long before you know it,” New Scientist, April 19, 2008, p. 14

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