Re: Fall of evolved man

Tom Pearson (
Tue, 04 Nov 1997 11:49:55 -0600 (CST)

At 02:22 PM 11/3/97 -0500, Moorad Alexanian wrote:

>Our faith deals in the realm where we exercise our free will in making moral
>decisions. Such is not the realm of science.

I'm fascinated by the philosophical turn some of these recent discussions
have taken. Moorad's comments above are striking, for a couple of reasons.

First, I'm puzzled by the assumption that "our faith" (Christianity, I
presume) reduces to ethical practice. It is one thing to assert that
morality is grounded in religion (a dubious enough proposition), it is quite
another to insist that religion just *is* morality. As one whose Christian
faith is mostly metaphysical, to the exclusion of the ethical, I find
Moorad's statement to be something of an oxymoron. Am I alone on this?

Second, I take it the basic claim here is that there is such a thing as
"free will," that human beings possess such a "free will," and that such a
"free will" is implicated in moral decision-making, and that such things are
"not (in) the realm of science." That seems right to me, if by "science,"
we mean (as Moorad suggests) the interpretation of data. Surely there is no
"data" on free will, or its role in ethical practice. It is a sort of
pre-analytic presumption we make about how the world works, not unlike the
pre-analytic presumptions made by those who favor naturalism. The typical
scientific naturalist frames her inquiry by a posit that natural conditions
alone are necessary and sufficient for an acceptable explanation of natural
events. Likewise, the typical moral theorist frames his inquiry by a posit
that "free will" conditions alone are necessary and sufficient for an
acceptable explanation of ethical conduct. But neither one can demonstrate
anything that will establish the legitimacy of their respective posits.
Both embrace models, points of departure for inaugurating their inquiries,
which cannot themselves be the subject of inquiry; they are the basis on
which inquiry is undertaken. That's why (in my own experience) it's so
difficult to disabuse the naturalist of her position. That's also why, I
think, it's so difficult to disabuse the partisan of "free will" of his

I suppose I've written all this because I'm worried that I may have
misunderstood Moorad here. Do you, Moorad (or others), think that "free
will" is a "given"? Is it a kind of verifiable scientific "fact"? Is it a
belief that could be falsified? What would it take to falsify a belief in
"free will"?

Tom Pearson
Thomas D. Pearson
Department of Histoty & Philosophy
The University of Texas-Pan American
Edinburg, Texas