Re: Fall of evolved man

Moorad Alexanian (alexanian@UNCWIL.EDU)
Tue, 04 Nov 1997 15:29:30 -0500 (EST)

At 11:49 AM 11/4/97 -0600, Tom Pearson wrote:
>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?

If one views our existence in a two-dimensional plane composed of a material
and a spiritual axes, then moral decisions have only an spiritual component
even though we exist in the realm of the physical as well. Our faith deals
in the spiritual axis. There is no morality in the physical axis--the realm
of the purely physical, viz., atoms and molecules. There is no free will in
the physical axis either, material objects have no will of their own, such
actions have only a spiritual component although the actions occur in the
two-dimensional plane. [I am not sure where animals fit in this picture.
Perhaps they are solely in the material space and so their perceptual
thoughts can be derived from materialism. Note that human conceptual thought
is certainly not in the material but the spiritual.]

>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

The notion of free will means that we are not automatons and that our
actions are not predetermined, albeit, they may be known to God. There are a
multitude of choices to be made and so our actions to choose would indicate
that free will is not an illusion. We exercise our free will in making
nonmoral decisions as well, e.g., when we choose to wear a blue rather than
a red shirt.

>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

Free will is God given and allows us to either accept or reject Christ. One
would go crazy if one attempted to falsify a belief in the freedom to
choose. I believe all our actions testify to the reality of our free will.