"Free will is probably located in the pre-frontal cortex, and we may even be able to narrow it down to the ventromedial pre-frontal cortex." --Stephen Pinker, How the Mind Works "We don't have free will, but we do have free won't." --Richard Gregory (quoted in Blackmore, Consciousness: An Introduction, p. 131)
Does man possess genuine moral freedom, the true ability to determine the course of his thoughts, words and deeds? Is he able to decide whether he will hate or not hate, cheat or not cheat, betray or not betray, fornicate or not fornicate and thus to modify and mould his own character? Or on the other hand, are man's thoughts, words and deeds, thus his character and actions, caused by genetic predispositions, the interaction of chemicals in the brain as well as environmental factors? Is man a machine whose thoughts, words, and deeds are inexorably predetermined in every detail along rigid lines by an evolutionary heritage that includes genetic material from seaweed, dinosaurs, dogs, birds, and apes?
The question of free will, or moral liberty, is one of the most important philosophical problems of all time. It underlies and gives meaning to ethics and law, theology, metaphysics, and psychology. The view adopted in response to it will determine whether liars, cheats, thieves, pedophiles, terrorists, murderers and tyrants should be held personally liable or not.
Traditionally, the Western civilized world (i.e., Christendom, America, Canada) held that all men possess free will and must therefore be held accountable for bad choices.
For fifteen hundred years, Christendom and then later Protestant America, had followed St. Augustine (AD 354-430) in affirming that as all men are the spiritual image-bearers of the transcendent Triune God then it logically follows that each person is a trinity of being â€” of soul, spirit (self/will), and body. In Scripture, 'self' or 'heart'" is the source of all our thoughts, words, and deeds.
Self is the "I" who wills what "I" think, desire, long-for, and know. Self can 'will' to hate or not hate, forgive or not forgive, lie or not lie. The very act of holding something before one's consciousness in consideration of it is an act of willing. Self then can selectively reject the light of truth in favor of the darkness of moral-ignorance, of pretending to not know what self really does know. Ignorance is preceded by a will turned to evil
When self succumbs to desire and lust for power it wills itself to find no moral meaning in the world, as Aldous Huxley readily admitted with regard to materialism, the worldview of the Marquis de Sade, Karl Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and contemporary scientists, atheists, agnostics, and all who deny the supernatural God:
"The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world (is) concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. The voluntary...reasons for holding the doctrines of materialism, for example, may be predominantly erotic, as..in the case of LaMettrie (see his..account of the pleasures of the bed in La Volupte and at the end of L'Homme Machine) or predominantly political as they were in the case of Karl Marx." ("Libido Dominandi,E. Michael Jones, p. 27)
On de Sade, Huxley observed:
"The real reason why the Marquis could see no meaning or value in the world is to be found in those descriptions of fornications, sodomies and tortures which alternate with the philosophizings of 'Justine' and 'Juliette'...." (ibid)
Fyodor Dostoevskyâ€™s Grand Inquisitor, whose will is in submission to the will of the devil, revealed that mansâ€™ greatest anguish is freedom of choice in the knowledge of good and evil. And said the Inquisitor, since men have a penchant toward self-delusion they will quickly and easily rationalize away their moral culpability, even going so far as to deny the existence of free will as does the post-Christian West, which in denying the supernatural God denies meaning as well. Like the Greek atomists who advocated a mechanical view of man and the universe that denies free will, their modern counterparts (scientific materialists) do the same. Hating reality they willfully choose the cold-comforts of self-delusion.
The West's strangely twisted, meaningless, perverse, increasingly lawless atmosphere is the "death of God" and denial of moral choice made tangible.