Interesting Conundrum

I have been doing some reading and thinking about free will after hearing a talk by Dr. Jerry Coyne.  The philosophy around this does get pretty deep and I think maybe Dr. Coyne may have over simplified, but along the way I did come across an interesting conundrum.

It would seem that there is an inverse relationship between determinism and free will.  Dr. Coyne is a determinist which is why he denies free will.  But then again there is another argument which I also consider over simplified that gives an interesting intersection.

The “First Cause” argument of Aquinus (and lately of William Lane Craig) has as it’s first premise “Everything that exists has a cause.”  This is the the defining statement of determinism.

So, it seems to me that if you accept the First Cause argument,  you end up being a hard determinist.  In a fully determined universe free will cannot exist.  Or to put it another way, Adam and Eve did what they did not by a free choice, but rather in the determined circumstances of everything that came before.  They didn’t choose disobedience, but causes piled up until disobedience became inevitable.

Of course, if free will really does exist, then things can happen without a prior cause — and the first premise of the First Cause argument is invalid.

If you retain the First Cause argument, bringing in a hard form of determinism, there is a real issue with the problem of evil.  No free will escape hatch.  In a determined universe, if the first cause is god, then god is also the source of evil.

Interesting dilemma that the argument is on the horns of.


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