Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is life just a matter of physics and chemistry

  1. Mar 25, 2016 #1
    Recently, in a tutorial session, my professor raises this question.
    Experiments show that humans dont have free will. Decisions are made by us through unconscious activity of our brain. We are just conscious about the decisions our brain make. We are not actually controlling ourselves.
    I feel really uncomfortable about this. What are your opinions over this topic? Are we humans merely chemical machines without souls?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 25, 2016 #2
  4. Mar 25, 2016 #3
    Good find, Jerro!

    Here's the bottom line on this subject: for all practical purposes, YOU are making all the decisions in your life of your own free will. Now, you might say, what if I'm under the influence of phenobarbital or alcohol or hypnotic suggestion, etc., etc.,? I don't know, you tell me. Are there parallel universes rubbing their ass against our galaxies and posing as "Dark matter" and making us wonder if WIMPS exist while all the time it's just some big multiverse sham?

    Whether or not we as humans have a genuine sense of "free will" is immaterial. The concept of free will is built into our psyche because it serves a social purpose. That social purpose is designed to compel the individual human to express an opinion as to some issue in the social discourse so as to create a chaotic condition whereby a consensus could lead to some stable limit cycle attractor which manifests as a sitting president, everybody waking up in the morning and going to work and tuning into the "Bachelor" at 7pm sharp. That's how it works.

    So the issue as to whether we truly have free will or not is not really important nor relevant. Again, for all practical purposes we are assumed to and DO have free will. Most of the common law courts around the world assume this. If we were to eschew or question this, the legal systems would not be able to operate, and this would be a bad thing. My personal opinion is that it will be impossible to prove that we don't have free will as much as it will be impossible to prove that Jesus isn't the son of God or that a parallel universe isn't sucking us over to a great attractor on the left side of the screen
     
  5. Mar 25, 2016 #4
    We are what we are. If feeling special, spiritual or human is something you do, then that is something that is the nature of the chemical machine we are. Why isn't a 'mere chemical machine' not special enough?

    We aren't some illusion in the mind of god. We are actual chemical machines that can do all that we can thanks to our machinery.


    Free will doesn't mean anything.
     
  6. Mar 25, 2016 #5

    ogg

    User Avatar

    Your "professor"? That implies someone with a doctorial degree and that you are in college? Wow. I would hope that any such nonsence was from someone without much of a science background. As already said, this seems to be a question of philosophy rather than science / technology. First, please define the term "free will" clearly precisely and consistently. We can continue the discussion once you've done that. I won't hold my breath. To answer your question (operating under the assumption that you will be unable to clearly articulate any sensible objective definition of the term), there is *nothing* known to require "supernatural" influences to explain the physical world. Based on our inability to find any evidence which stands up to examination to support non-physical aspects of existence, I am quite confident to predict that we will *never* establish the existence of anything "supernatural" (God, our souls, etc.) . Is a sunset just the diffusion of light thru our planet's atmosphere?
     
  7. Mar 25, 2016 #6

    berkeman

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    We do not allow philosophical discussions such as these. This thread is closed.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook