Free Will

He has no idea what this means. He's jsut doing it for a banana.

Today’s question from The Daily Post:

Do you believe in free-will or is life predetermined?

What a silly question. The fact that I am able to read that question, know what it means and answer it according to my own belief system just proves to me that humans have free will.

Light-blue Soldier Crab (Mictyris longicarpus)...
That is not me. Although, that exoskeleton is pretty cool and look at all those (delicious) legs.

I don’t believe in god(s). I never have. I don’t believe in destiny, the fates, karma, astrology, the zodiac or anything else that is supposed to determine who I am and what I will do on any given day. It’s all bunk. I’m no more a Cancer because I was born on a certain day than I am a crab. I am a human being with a brain that tells me action from non-action and right from wrong (even without a ‘moral compass’ supposedly derived from religion). I’m not shackled to a system of beliefs.

Every single day, my little brain processes more information faster than every computer on the planet put together. There are a million background processes going on within me as I type this–blinking, breathing, pumping blood, digestion of the delicious cup of coffee I just had, scent, sight, hearing and interpreting the music piping through my headphones, the feel of my fingers on the keyboard and the fact that my right leg is going slightly numb since I’m sitting on it. Maybe I should stop that. It’s my choice whether I do or not.

Over the course of all the years that I’ve been alive, my brain has honed its craft. It has streamlined operations to peak efficiency. I’m rather fond of it. Not only does it control all the functions on the ship, the SS Goldfish I guess, but it allows me to think. This thinking business, while often more trouble than it’s worth, especially when trying to sleep, is what makes me me. Without my glorious little brain, I wouldn’t be who I am.

This orangutan has no idea what that thumbs up means. He’s just doing it for a banana.

Having free will is the best thing about being a human besides having thumbs. Primates like orangutans and chimpanzees can tell when one of their kin is having a bad go of it and they will often try to comfort them by picking lice out of their fur. Dogs can read our facial expressions and sense our emotions. However, humans are the only species that has second-person empathy. Not only can I tell that you are having a bad day and try to comfort you, but I am capable of putting myself in your position. I can relate to what you are going through, visualize what I would do if it happened to me and feel empathy. Humans are capable of analyzing our world in a big picture sense in a way that orangutans cannot. That ability is what separates Homo sapiens from the rest of the lifeforms on this planet. And that is what sets us atop the food chain for better or worse.

When people disregard this amazing empathetic ability of ours, when yet another corporate executive or politician fucks over millions of people in the name of profit and greed, it really pisses me off. It seems to me that people who don’t think about the consequences of their actions on the people they will effect are less evolved than the rest of us. They think like chimpanzees when they should be able to empathize.

As a human, I can use my highly developed brain to realize that I am solely responsible for my own destiny, fate or karma. Or not. I can choose whatever I want to believe in, even if I choose to believe in a total lack of free will (which is a paradoxical exercise in free will in and of itself). I can put myself in your place and share what you are feeling.

So, humans of Earth, use your empathy. Use your thumbs. Don’t be a chimp.