Free Think University

View Our Newsroom

The Skeptics Society Featured in New Free Think University Course: ‘Do You Have Free Will?’

Industry: Education

Views of Sam Harris, Michio Kaku and C.S. Lewis Featured in Free Think University’s New Course: ‘Do You Have Free Will?’

Washington D.C. (PRUnderground) April 9th, 2014

Are your choices really free for you to make?  Or is your life predetermined?  As most of our moral system and justice system assumes that we are each responsible for own actions, even in a court of law, this seems a weighty and important question. Free Think University’s new course presents various views on this philosophical debate about a person’s free will.

The course experience begins with a video by physicist and New York Times best-selling author, Michio Kaku giving an overview of his belief that physics ends the free will debate and Einstein was just plain wrong.

The majority of the course features lectures by Sam Harris, founder and CEO of Project Reason and best-selling author of The End of FaithLetter to a Christian NationThe Moral LandscapeFree Will, and Lying. He writes in Free Will, “A moment or two of serious self-scrutiny, and you might observe that you no more decide the next thought you think than the next thought I write.”

Sam Harris builds the case for understanding our will, and thus our world, from the position of determinism in the first lecture featured in the course. A growing number of psychological studies indicate that our brains determine our actions even before we consciously have the actual thought.  In his second lecture, Harris explores the implications of this for the illusion of free will.

In the third segment, Harris asks the audience to conduct a thought experiment with him to show that even in the most “free” of all moments, we don’t really know what is behind our choices.  How can choosing things with full conscious power over those choices in any way considered to be “free”?

In the fourth lecture, Harris draws out the complex issues of “change” in a determined world. If we are simply the sum total of that which precedes us, then is it possible to change the direction of our life – to even choose chocolate over vanilla?

In the fifth video, Harris addresses moral responsibility in relation to free will. Is it possible to hold a mass murderer accountable for his horrendous acts if his choices were simply the natural outworking of his history and genes? He then concludes by arguing that the basis for all religious morality that is based upon retribution for evil conduct is thereby defeated.

The course experience also features C.S. Lewis’ views on the Christian notion of free will from his book Mere Christianity. He writes, “What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could be like gods – could set up on their own as if they had created themselves – be their own masters – invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery – the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

A specific video response to Sam Harris’s work on this subject is offered from an organization called Inspiring Philosophy. The video presents scientific evidence that argues against determinism and for the existence of free will.

“So does the free will problem boil down to that old philosophical cliché that ‘it all depends on what you mean by free will?’” Simon Blackburn, in his book The Big Questions: Philosophy, claims this is an important part of the discussion.

“Whether we realize it or not, our beliefs about free will determine a lot about how we live our lives and how we view the actions of others,” notes co-founder Jim Van Eerden. “It’s important to consider key opinions on the subject, including those with which we disagree.”

To access the full course, click here. For additional media information, please contact media@freethinku.com.

 

About Free Think University

Free Think University is where more than 30,000 free-thinking students have joined what Mortimer Adler called “The Great Conversation” – the dialogue of the ages about The Big Questions of our day, and where they participate in one of the fastest-growing independent scholarship funds in America. Submit questions for future courses to ideas@freethinku.com. For more information go to www.freethinku.com or follow @freethinku.

About the Skeptics Society

The Skeptics Society is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific and educational organization whose mission is to engage leading experts in investigating the paranormal, fringe science, pseudoscience, and extraordinary claims of all kinds, promote critical thinking, and serve as an educational tool for those seeking a sound scientific viewpoint. Our contributors—leading scientists, scholars, investigative journalists, historians, professors and teachers—are top experts in their fields. It is our hope that our efforts go a long way in promoting critical thinking and lifelong inquisitiveness in all individuals. For more information, visit www.skeptic.com or follow @michaelshermer.

About Free Think University

Free Think University is where more than 30,000 free-thinking students have joined what Mortimer Adler called “The Great Conversation” – the dialogue of the ages about The Big Questions of our day, and where they participate in one of the fastest-growing independent scholarship funds in America. Submit questions for future courses to ideas@freethinku.com. For more information go to www.freethinku.com or follow @freethinku.

Become a Fan

Press Contact

Name
Jim Van Eerden
Phone
336-616-3000
Email
media
b8446ab8dd09bf0b92f6ce466517eebb
@freethinku.com
Website
www.freethinku.com

Website