If it’s Laws and Chance — That’s It. Full Stop

I recently watched yet another video on free-will. Boring. Same old, same old. So here’s the deal. How is reality constituted? If reality is constituted by laws and chance then any attempts to rescue existential concerns like free-will, meaning, moral objectivity, and purpose are hopeless. Why? Because that means everything at all levels of complexity are determined by necessity (laws) and chance (quantum indeterminacy). The causal chain, no matter how complex just does what it does and can’t do otherwise. If this is the case then everything, including the human being, is just an autonomic system. That should be a straightforward conclusion, right? Apparently not because so much effort is put into somehow spinning this obvious conclusion with all sorts of linguistic gymnastics, obfuscation, or some sort of magic. I think enough is enough. With all the attempts over the centuries to overcome this conclusion it should just be accepted as futile.

So, if this situation is untenable both existentially and psychologically then what might be the options? One option maintains the law-and-chance model but seeks to overcome it with supernaturalism. In this approach, laws and chance are affirmed but the way to avoid the fatalism entailed is to override those laws and chance at times. Now, since we are talking about free-will this overriding isn’t just occasional. It’s happening all the time. Every free decision must override the necessity and chance inherent in how reality is normally constituted. Also, in the ontological dualism of standard theism, this means every free creature is also a supernatural agent.

If the supernatural model seems odd or not appealing what might be another option? Enter divine idealism. In divine idealism reality is constituted by the divine mind. So, every event is intentional and includes divine freedom. There are no laws or chance. Everything, down to the most elemental event is intentional. Now, that doesn’t mean there are no regularities. That would entail a chaotic system that wouldn’t make life possible. We empirically affirm and characterize those regularities with scientific investigations. Also, from science, reality seems to be constituted with a statistically consistent framework. Not just anything goes. In a divine idealism, there are divine self-imposed constrains in how the divine mind constitutes reality. Here you can think of how you would imagine and construct a story in your own mind. It would have regularities that made the story possible and coherent but it would also not be autonomic with no novelty or freedom. Everything would be intentional with a constrained freedom that still maintained a stability.

I think this is a valid, reasonable model for how reality is constituted that would allow for free-will, meaning, objective morality, and purpose. If reality is constituted by the divine mind and each life is an aspect of that divine mind then the freedom, meaning, and value of the divine mind is shared with finite creatures within some constraints. We aren’t supernatural creatures but rather participants and co-creators with God-as-transcendent in how reality is constituted both for ourselves and the cosmos.

2 thoughts on “If it’s Laws and Chance — That’s It. Full Stop

  1. Even Bernardo Kastrup now says that you don’t have free will because you don’t decide what thought you’ll have in the next five minutes. That is frustrating. There is not difference with the materialist position.


    • Right. Kastrup is essentially a cosmic compatibilist (aka no free-will). As you said, his system isn’t really much different from materialism except for the terminology. I don’t consider his system an idealism in the classic sense since there really isn’t a Mind — just an instinctive, undifferentiated, experiential cosmic something. Instead, it’s an experience-ism because he thinks consciousness (experience) is the fundamental primitive. I don’t think this works at all for things like free-will, meaning, objective morality, and other existential concerns. That’s why I think the ultimate ground for this reality is the Mind of God. Here’s a Venn diagram metaphor that illustrates what I think offers an ontology that addresses those concerns well. https://dlcommunion.org/venn-diagrams-a-metaphor/


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