1. Science is not able to prove either the existence or the non-existence of either an intelligent creator of the universe or of the existence or non-existence of anything we might call free will. (The fact that we are having this long discussion itself attests to the truth of these observations.)
Of course, science is agnostic in principle on every issue within its purview.
I don't believe this discussion can ever yield convincing proofs to any party in it. The advocates for "no free will" rest their case on a degree of determinism that approaches that of the "clockwork universe" so universally rejected on the last pages. Their proof is ultimately based on arbitrarily and axiomatically disallowing the alternative, not proof. The advocates of free will can't prove their case to those who reject anything not provable to a science based on theory and observation.
Regarding the bolded statement above, what discussion can ever? Proof is too lofty a term to throw around in these discussions, and (as has been elsewhere noted) it may well be too foolish a term for most serious scientific discussions. My own advocacy for unfree will does not rest on determinism or anything else that has been rejected in this thread, it rather relies upon an understanding on the nature of choice which I've outlined a number of times and to which I've received no satisfactory rebuttal. I think I have argued against the alternative, not disallowed it.
medium density has noted the "tautilogical" quality of this discussion with respect to free will. That is appropriate because he employs such taotological descriptions of how our minds work. To wit ; 'our choices, even in thoughtful decisions, are themselves determinened by our motives, which in turn are determined by our genes and experience'.
That ventriloquism of my argument seems fair. You dismiss it as tautologous, but I'd like to ask if you could be specific in saying what is incorrect, mistaken, or otherwise insufficient about it. The key as to why I haven't excepted that it is
any of those things up to now is in this disbelieving tone you adopt when you say something like "even
in thoughtful decisions". When we look at the idea of "thoughtful decisions" closely enough we see that it collapses under analysis. What do we have to be thoughtful about in such decisions? Is it things like reasons why a decisions would be good to enact? Is it probable consequences of taking that decision? Is it the recommendation(s) of others that we consider in making the decision? Is it factors relating to our mood in that moment? In none of this cases do I find room for "freedom", and neither does freedom seem to emerge from combinations of these elements, and neither does it seem to emerge from the random unattributable decisions (thoughtless
decisions I suppose you'd call them) we make.
I would be delighted to hear a counter to the above. Since I can't imagine one I'm constrained against thinking free will has any validity.
4. Human beings have a sense or awareness of a degree of freedom of choice. This is confirmed by our own experience and ancient literature as well. That awareness could, conceivably be an illusion, however, it should count for something in this discussion. What is it about the operation of our minds that provides us all with the strong impression that we are indeed making independent choices?
Certainly the illusion is a strong one, I said earlier in the discussion that it could be stronger than the illusion of god. I think the last sentence of this quote is a very interesting question. Like the best interesting questions it admits many probable answers. Most simply however I would submit that it feels better
to believe you are the author of your thoughts and actions, and that you have purchase on your own life. We expect our fate is tractable at a minimum- it seems to be a necessary illusion to proceed in the world. I certainly can't act in a manner consistent with my unfree will position; I still feel like being angry with people for petty infractions though I know them to be ultimately not-responsible for their behaviour. That's the catch of being human. Or one of them.