Physical States and Free Will

Dr. Jorati posted a research article on Carmen about the relation of a persons belief in free will and their physical states…

This research is very interesting.  I had never thought about something like this and how it could effect how a person thinks about the world around them.  For this experiment, they did not define free will, and simply asked the respondents to rate the extent in which they believed in free will.

I do not find it surprising to see that people do not believe in free will if they had, for example, vomited that day.  People do not have physical control over their bodies, so they think that they do not have any free will.  I find it interesting that people connect the inability to have control over their bodies and the idea of free will connected.  I understand, I cannot say that I would think I had much free will if I was chronically ill and could not help it.  I, however, do not think that free will applies to things like this.  The things that are investigated in this experiment (hunger, tiredness, among others) are things that are bodily, necessary functions and not things we can even control if we desired.  In Study 3, they investigated hunger.  Dieters, who work on overpowering hunger, say that they have the free will to overcome these functions.  These people are more likely to believe in free will than people who do not diet.

Even if we wanted to, we could not really control our bodily functions and I do not see its connection to free will.  I see free will, in a broad sense, the ability to make choices about our lifestyle and how we live.  I find it interesting that people can see our bodily functions having a relationship to free will and how they feel about it.

Science of the Mind

The brain is, currently, seen as the home of the mind.  There is some sort of connection between the mind and the brain, but there is not a way to gauge that connection with current science.  There is no science of the consciousness as of yet.  But there are connections between the brain and the mind that science has found so far.  There is a common belief that the soul/mind is where our personality comes from, and things like our emotions and our memories.

There is definitely a connection between the personality and the brain.  For example, an  American railway foreman, Phineas Gage, had a drastic personality change when he suffered an injury to the frontal lobe in 1848.  He had little to no intellectual change, only his personality became more violent.  Many personality changes come from damage to the frontal lobe, temporal lobe and other changes can come from chemical derailments in the brain.  During scans, there is evidence that parts of the brain are related to emotion.  The brain and the mind are connected on some level, a level so complex, that humans cannot even begin to grasp what it is.  If there is such a thing as the soul/mind as a separate entity from our physical person, I believe that it would be dependent on the brain.  Since injuries to the brain can cause such drastic changes to us as people, there has to be a connection.  The pineal gland in the brand is dubbed the “third eye” and has been called the seat of the soul. There are many parts to our brain that have connections to the spiritual experience of being a human.  While the relationship between our physical self and our spiritual self has not been directly defined, there is evidence that they are both interconnected.


Early in the chapter, we read and discusses Antony’s work Good Minus God.  There was a point at the end of the work that really struck me with the idea of redemption.  Antony said, “You do not lose morality by giving up God; neither do you necessarily find it by finding Him … Most importantly, you lose the guarantee of redemption … You cannot have that if you are an atheist. In consequence, you must live your life, and make your choices with the knowledge that every choice you make contributes, in one way or another, to the only value your life can have”.  I find this idea to be very powerful.  Forgiveness is a common motif in faith, particularly in Christian faith.  On the belief that morality is centric to God, following the Christian values is important to maintaining a moral stance.  But, if you fall apart on these values, one can always count on God to forgive what choices you have made. Antony’s closing statement is,  “Some people think that if atheism were true, human choices would be insignificant. I think just the opposite — they would become surpassingly important”.  A person does have to live with the mistakes they make for the entirety, but with faith a person can see that they are forgiven.  Morality being a part of human nature is a great point through this work.  A person, though not religious, does have to live with their actions.  There will always be a sense of right and wrong even without the idea of eternal damnation for immoral choices.  Human nature knows what is wrong and what is right, and we can feel it when we are doing something immoral.