"There’s No Such Thing as Free Will"


The headline is the title of an article that appeared in The Atlantic by Stephen Cave. His conclusion was that even though there’s no such thing as free will, “we’re better off believing in it anyway.” Secularism believes that the supernatural doesn’t exist and everything has an empirical, scientific cause; therefore, all of human behavior is explained by nothing more than biological cause and effect. In other words, we do what we do because of our genetic make-up, environment, and data collected by the brain over time. This data shapes the way we think, hope, and dream. There is no soul or spirit. They claim this on the basis of scientific evidence but, in reality, this is also a belief based on faith.

Moral Responsibility Is at Stake

Moral responsibility—the idea that you bear responsibility for your own actions—is the bedrock of ethical behavior. Determinism, the belief that all behavior is determined by causes outside of free will, undermines moral responsibility by giving people a reason to excuse their choices and actions.

In fact, a couple of psychologists at the University of Utah did a study and concluded the following: “people who are induced to believe less in free will are more likely to behave immorally.” Ultimately, if you take the secularist belief of determinism to its logical end, no one can be held accountable for his or her actions.

The abolition of responsibility in our current society will only encourage anti-social behavior as more and more people come to see their actions as the result of neurons firing inside their brains. In fact, Cave states in his article that: “Believing that free will is an illusion has been shown to make people less creative, more likely to conform, less willing to learn from their mistakes, and less grateful toward one another. In every regard, it seems, when we embrace determinism, we indulge our dark side.”

When we embrace determinism, we indulge our dark side.

Thus, he arrives at his conclusion that we should believe in free will even though, in his mind, it doesn’t really exist. Ironically, when secularists like Cave cannot embrace the implications of their own beliefs, they undermine their credibility. Increasingly in America, the plea is becoming, “my brain made me do it.” The present generation is being given a “hall pass” to behave how they want.

The Bible Appeals to Man’s Will

On this subject, the scriptures clearly teach two parallel truths that appear to contradict each other: God is sovereign, and man is responsible for his own choices. It’s called “theodicy.” Debate on this apparent conflict has gone on for centuries, and I am not going to extend the argument here except to say that the gospel appeals to man’s will.

“Whosoever will” let him come, let him believe. “Choose this day whom you will serve….” (Joshua 24:15) God will hold everyone accountable for how they respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and “he that believes not will be damned.” (Mark 16:16)

Humanity Must Choose

In times like these, Christians must stand upon the Word of God and continue to proclaim the gospel. As the secular message becomes louder and more pervasive, Christians must be light in the darkness. It is our sacred duty to present the claims of Christ to others as a decision, as a choice they must make.

We must share the gospel even if people insist they didn’t choose their parents, their genetics, their environment, or the information absorbed by their brains. The gospel is still the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16), and we cannot afford to give in to the secular crusade that seeks to make free will a delusion.

Secularism struggles with the implications of its own beliefs