According to evolutionist Andrew Cashmore, we have no free will and therefore individuals should not be held responsible for their actions. What we do is simply a consequence of our genes (the key to our hardware design according to evolutionists), our environment, and the underlying random motion that has been held to be important ever since Lucretius.
And since we have no choice about all three of these factors, we therefore have no responsibility for our actions. You thought you chose to read this article, but that was just an illusion.
And how is Cashmore so sure we have no free will in spite of the steady stream of apparently free decisions we all continually make? I certainly thought I was choosing between chocolate or vanilla. So why is free will so obvious to people, if it is non existent? Because, of course, the illusion evolved via selection. As the peer reviewed paper reports, it is all an evolutionary illusion:
In discussing free will, Susan Blackmore has noted that “many scientists believe that the real causal factors are all those interacting neurons that do many things including creating a sense of self, and a sense of free will—both of which are illusions.” She goes on to say, “I think nature has played this enormous joke on us.” In addressing the same issue, Rita Carter has asked, “If free will is an illusion and each of our actions is determined by unconscious cognitive processes in response to external stimuli, why should our brains delude us into thinking otherwise?” A variation on this question is: what is the evolutionary selective advantage of consciousness? One answer to this question is that consciousness provides us with an apparent sense of responsibility: “Along with the illusion of control, our sense of agency brings the burdens of individual responsibility. Though this may sometimes weigh heavily on us personally, for society as a whole it is hugely beneficial. Our entire morality and judicial system is dependent on everyone accepting that they are agents of their own misdeeds, and those who don’t acknowledge this are—by legal definition—insane. We may not consciously control our own actions, but the cognitive mechanisms that create the illusion that we do keep society functioning.” A similar argument has been made by Wegner: “The ability to know what one will do … would seem to be an important human asset … This preview function could be fundamentally important for the facilitation of social interaction.” I find that the above are attractive explanations for the existence (the selective advantage) of consciousness. […]
In summary, then, I believe that free will is clearly an illusion. However, this is not to say that consciousness does not have a function. I believe it does, and from this I assume that it must give rise to an evolutionary selective advantage. Consciousness confers the illusion of responsibility. No wonder the belief in free will is so prevalent in society—the very survival of those “selfish free-will genes” is predicated on their capacity to con one into believing in free will!
The beauty of evolutionary theory is its tremendous elasticity in data interpretation. Evidence that can be interpreted as supporting evolution is viewed as legitimate whereas contradictory evidence is anomalous or even, as in this case, illusory. This most striking of evidences is, with a wave of the hand, dismissed as illusory—a evolutionary trick. Perhaps evolution also planted all those fossils and deviously constructed those adaptation mechanisms.
But dispensing with evidence is by no means Cashmore’s only proof. Amazingly, he weaves an even more banal argument into the narrative. Free will, according to Cashmore, is obviously a stretch for the simple reason that it could not be created by natural laws. Conjectures about free will lack “any hint of molecular details concerning mechanisms” and “Neither religious beliefs, nor a belief in free will, comply with the laws of the physical world.” Similarly, the evolutionist explains:
relatively few biologists seriously question the concept of free will. This holds in spite of the fact that we live in an era when few biologists would question the idea that biological systems are totally based on the laws of physics and chemistry.
So let’s see, biological systems are totally based on the laws of physics and chemistry, so therefore there is no free will. Got it.
As the fallacies mount up it is not surprising that Cashmore gives experimental evidence an evolutionary spin. He finds it significant, for example, that measured brain activity precedes conscious awareness of a decision.
By the time he finishes Cashmore is utterly convinced:
A belief in free will is akin to religious beliefs […]
The reality is, not only do we have no more free will than a fly or a bacterium, in actuality we have no more free will than a bowl of sugar. The laws of nature are uniform throughout, and these laws do not accommodate the concept of free will. […]
as living systems we are nothing more than a bag of chemicals.
With this conclusive dismissal of free will, the evolutionist moves on to critique our criminal justice system. Does he suggest all go free? After all, no one is to blame for his actions, so how can we justify incarceration? Unfortunately Cashmore suggests nothing so pleasant. Would that evolutionary thinking was so benign. No, the evolutionist suggests something far more scary:
The proposal is a pragmatic one, based on the belief that the welfare of society at large is more important than the welfare of the individual offender.
if a defendant were found guilty, then a court-appointed panel of experts would play a role in advising on matters of punishment and treatment.
But in the evolutionist’s two-dimensional world, what is an expert, and how would the court ever know it? After all, any such “expert” is merely acting according to those uncontrollable mechanical factors, as is the judge who anoints them.
I can see it now. The “offender” is brought into a chamber where he is examined by the panel. The group might consist of some social workers, administrators, one or two clerics, perhaps a philosopher, and so forth. These court-appointed “experts,” who of course are evolutionists, would have an air of all-knowing, thinly veiled condescension. They would pose questions creating various Catch-22’s, having little to do with the case.
“Did you ever cheat in school?” An affirmative indicates a hooligan while a negative indicates a pathological liar. After brow-beaten into submission the offender is escorted away while the experts decide on his punishment and treatment. Annual reviews evaluate the convicts “progress,” determine how much longer to extend the sentence and the appropriate punishments and treatments for the coming year.
Should we laugh or should we cry. The evolutionist believes evolution created the illusion of free will and in him the ability to see through the illusion. He now, as a consequence of his genes, environment, and those Lucretian swerves, argues against free will. He is right and those who don’t agree are wrong (even though we’re all just a bag of chemicals). And consequently we should now trade our criminal justice system for an evolutionary kangaroo court. It is, at once, both idiotic and disturbing. Religion drives science and it matters.