This Veritas was written on Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Friends, I have been bothered by a question for some weeks now and I wish to share it with you. In my opinion this is a fundamental question and still a great mystery.First let me state the assumptions. But what I call assumptions are much stronger than that. These assumptions are not just assumptions. These are things we believe in. Things that we base our lives on. So I call these beliefs: 1) The Laws of Physics are the most fundamental laws of nature. So if something exists physically then the laws of Physics are applicable to it. The laws of Physics are valid for electrons, atoms, cells, human flesh/skin, planets, universe… everything. 2) Man is capable of free will. Or free thought. i.e if I decide to look at my black phone right now then it is a matter of my choice. I could have chosen to look at my white phone as well! So I choose what I look at. My brain can make choices. I am capable of free thought, free will. Now according to our first point of faith the laws of Physics are valid for the Brain and neurons in the brain and the cells in the neurons etc etc. This is because the Brain exists physically and that means that it cannot violate Physics. Now what do typical laws of Physics look like: an electron placed in a magnetic field will behave like so and so. The electron has NO choice. The magnetic field acts on the electron and the “so and so” happens. The phenomenon will NEVER change. i.e the laws of Physics are
deterministic i.e you will know what will be the situation later if you know what the situation is now. So everything in our brains is determined by laws of Physics. And these laws are unchangable. So that means that your brain will function in a deterministic fashion. There is no choice! If I place you in a closed room and I use laws of Physics on every electon in the brain and solve the equations then I can determine what you will be thinking a year from now! What is the first thing that happens when I make a choice. Does my choice tell the electron in my brain which neuron to go to?? How do I tell the electron? That has to be done using some physical phenomenon! Choices dont move electrons! Electric and magnetic fields do. And how would that be told by my choice? How would I choose the amount of electric field to create to move the electron? Choices dont create fields! And we can go deeper and deeper but we can NEVER get choice from the deterministic laws of Physics. So we have two possibilities here. Both are very disturbing: 1) The laws of Physics are not fundamental and there is something deeper. ( I will hate this). 2) I am not capable of free will ( My life can be determined by a complex equation and I have no choice in any matter. My life is decided by my environment and I am a mere variable) Please do not say that the indeterminacy in the Quantum Level is the cause of free will. It cannot be because you can NEVER chose
the result of the collapse of the wave function and then your life will be purely random! A probability on which you have no control.
And that is even scarier. I have an answer to this question. But more thought is needed before I share it with the world. A Wallace Stevens song: “
They said,;You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.;
The man replied, ;Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.;” constantly disturbed,
Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides:
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides:
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old time and regulate the Sun;
Veritas by Kanwarpreet Grewal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.