A materialist philosophy reduces humans to machines — complex robots determined by material forces. It denies the reality of free will, the power to make decisions. Yet all civilizations throughout history have recognized that humans are moral agents capable of making responsible choices. There is no society without some moral code. The testimony of universal human experience is that humans are personal beings capable of willing and choosing — which means their origin must be a personal Being, not the blind forces of nature.
Even materialists often admit that, in practice, it is impossible for humans to live any other way. One philosopher jokes that if people deny free will, then when ordering at a restaurant they should say, “Just bring me whatever the laws of nature have determined I will get.”
An especially clear example is Galen Strawson, a philosopher who states with great bravado, “The impossibility of free will … can be proved with complete certainty.” Yet in an interview, Strawson admits that, in practice, no one accepts his deterministic view. “To be honest, I can’t really accept it myself,” he says. “I can’t really live with this fact from day to day. Can you, really?”
Darwin’s Robots: When Evolutionary Materialists
Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails
If we, as humans, are only physical systems (merely matter), we ought to stop trying to hold each other accountable for misbehavior. In fact, there can be no misbehavior if we are only physical brains and bodies; there can only be behavior. Our actions have no moral content at all unless we truly have the freedom to choose and the ability to break the bondage of physical event causation. As a homicide detective, I can’t prosecute the gun or knife that was used by the murderer, but I can certainly arrest the free-agent human that used the physical tool to commit the murder in the first place. I can’t do this if the human was only another purely physical object in a sequence of caused events. If materialism (physicalism) is true, there is no need for homicide detectives. We still employ detectives, however, because our sense of moral obligation proves materialism to be false.
–J. Warner Wallace