Archive for April 13th, 2012

April 13, 2012

More entertainment at the free will rodeo

by Neil Rickert

I was watching a fight over on the blogosphere, when all of a sudden, a discussion of free will broke out.

In the left corner, it is Jerry Coyne.  In the right corner, we find John Horgan.  Coyne accuses Horgan of a nasty and mean-spirited attack on Sam Harris.  And he suggests that Horgan gives his psychological motivations at the outset.

I don’t know how others see this.  But I see Horgan’s “mean-spirited attack” and list of “psychological motivations” as an attempt at self-deprecating humor.  Admittedly, humor often doesn’t carry very well in Internet postings, and perhaps John Horgan isn’t all that good at humor.  Still, I think Coyne might have considered the possibility that it was not intended to be a “mean-spirited attack.”

According to one way of describing history, at a time past a glob of molecules that went by the name “Jerry Coyne” made some completely involuntary tics, that resulted in meaningless ink marks on paper.  The first few of those meaningless ink marks looked a little like this:

Why Evolution is True

According to a different way of describing history, the biologist Jerry Coyne wrote an interesting book titled “Why Evolution is True”, a book filled with meaningful ideas.

Horgan seems to favor that second way of describing history.  Because of that Jerry Coyne accuses Horgan of being a dualist.

If I go by blind faith in the inerrancy of a highly literalistic reading of scientific laws, that favors Coyne’s position.  If I go by the evidence, that seems to support Horgan’s position.

I think I will go by the evidence.