Bill Nye plays a smart guy on T.V.
He plays the role well enough that some people believe he’s an actual authority on all things ‘science’.
Here, Nye weighs in on one of my favorite topics, the existence of free will.
(By ‘weighs in’ I mean he says words after being asked about the topic.)
Hard core fans of Bill Nye probably didn’t notice that he never answers the question.
Instead, he furrows his brow and talks about brain scans.
So I am so compelled by these tests where they have brain scans going on, working real time, and then the subject is asked to make a choice. And they can see on the brain scan that the choice has already been made before the person is able to articulate it …
I’ll put this in layman’s terms for you Bill Nye fans:
Is Nye looking at a brain scan or a crystal ball?
This is a brain scan.
You think Bill Nye can tell us what this brain is thinking?
And even if he COULD read these thoughts…
…it says NOTHING about free will.
So Nye says more science-sounding things.
So in other words if there really were absolutely no free will could you then predict what every single person in the universe or on Earth is going to do and where he or she will end up. And then furthermore can that not be influenced by some cosmic force or forces that we can’t assess? It could be. It just doesn’t seem reasonable.
For you Bill Nye fans, let me summarize:
He has simply defined what it would mean if free will doesn’t exist.
Which wasn’t the question.
Then he explains that it “doesn’t seem reasonable” that there might exist “cosmic forces we can’t assess”.
Why is that unreasonable?
We can’t assess the forces inside our own heads (see brain scan above).
But Billy saved the funniest line for last:
I think much more reasonable is: our brains are complicated, and they got this big or as big as they are organically through evolution, with layer being added upon layer.
So our ability to choose is often confused. Our ability to make choices is often affected by the environment, by our experiences and by biochemistry, the shape of our brain. So I think the answer is clearly “some of each.”
Our brains are complicated!
That’s a profound insight, Science Guy.
Of course, evolution is the most reasonable explanation.
When Nye says “evolution” he means a cosmic force that we can’t assess.
Bear in mind that our ability to make choices is affected by environment, experiences, biochemistry and even the shape of our brains!
So clearly the answer to whether or not we have free will is…
…some of each.
No wonder atheists are so smug.