The Latest Expert ‘Discovery’ Would Mean The End Of America As We Know It

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Gage Klipper Commentary & Analysis Writer
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The latest scientific discovery would put an end to over 2,000 years of Western civilization. But for the modern class of scientific experts with no respect for any natural limitation to their power, perhaps this is a good thing.

“Free will is a myth, and the sooner we accept that, the more just our society will be,” Stanford University neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky has discovered. Sapolsky has been making the rounds in the press to discuss the “discovery” in his latest book, “Determined: A Science of Life Without Free Will.”

“If it’s impossible for any single neuron or any single brain to act without influence from factors beyond its control,” he argues, then “there can be no logical room for free will.”

He gives an example of a student who “decides” to grab a pen — except it’s not really a decision at all. “What the student experiences as a decision to grab the pen is preceded by a jumble of competing impulses beyond his or her . Maybe their pique is heightened because they skipped lunch; maybe they’re subconsciously triggered by the professor’s resemblance to an irritating relative.”

We are all just machines, neurologically-programmed by our surroundings, incapable of making any choice but the one we inevitably make. But if we recognize this supposed reality, what does it mean for how we live? (RELATED: Lawless: Liberal Policies, American Blood | WATCH NOW)

Free will has long been the basis of Western morality. It comes from the Christian tradition, which holds that man is made in God’s image. The Bible teaches that humans are the chosen ones above all the rest of God’s creatures. Animals have no choice but to conform to their nature, but while humans are innately sinful, we have the free will to reject or embrace God’s grace. We can choose to be good.

Throughout the centuries, Enlightenment thinking expanded this concept in increasingly secular terms. Humans stood apart from animals not because God chose us, but because of our ability to reason. The modern conception of our free will stems from our rationality — our ability to weigh pros and cons and make the right choice.

As such, free will is intrinsically linked to how we judge intent. The Western world has historically placed intent at the center of our criminal justice system — how we punish and reward those who sin against God, society, or ourselves. Our intent matters because of our free will.

The story of Mary the Elephant illustrates this well. In 1916, a circus elephant named Mary killed her handler after he struck her in a way that was known to make elephants angry. In a desire for retribution, the circus folk decided to lynch Mary by the neck from a crane.

The spectacle represents more a thirst for punishment than merely a desire to prevent more harm. Of course, the elephant would react violently — it’s in her nature. She has no ability to react otherwise; humans, who do know better, must respect that nature. To punish an elephant for something out of its control is the height of absurdity for a rational observer.

In contrast, humans do have a choice on how they react to their surroundings. Murdering someone just because they whacked you on the ears is no excuse. As free agents, we can choose to control our inclination toward anger, and react better than the elephant.

The law holds us to that standard. A man who murders someone on purpose is treated much harsher than the man who kills someone accidentally. At least, that’s how we used to think about it.

If we assume Sapolsky’s rejection of free will, however, then the “man who shoots into a crowd has no more control over his fate than the victims who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” The “drunk drivers who barrel into pedestrians” are the same as those who “suffer a sudden heart attack and veer out of their lane.” Neurological conditioning gives criminals no choice to be anyone else but who they are. We are no better than animals; hanging a murderer becomes just as absurd as hanging an elephant.

If you think this all sounds familiar, you’d be right. Where else have we heard that criminals have no control over their actions, and therefore require “restorative justice” rather than punishment? In nearly every major American city, we’ve reconstructed our criminal justice systems to treat criminals as the victims and victims as an afterthought.

The rejection of free will provides a powerful, “scientific” argument for continuing down this dangerous path. Remove the conditions that drive crime, and we will have no more crime, or so the theory goes — no one chooses to be a criminal. Yet structuring society leads to two intractable problems due to the fact that we are not like animals.

If humans are treated as if they are incapable of choosing to be good, then there is no reason for them to resist being bad. Why not commit crime, hurt and cheat others, if it is merely who you are?

On the other side, those with no inclination to be bad face another problem: hopelessness. We all are a victim of our circumstances to some extent. Even the most privileged among us still have things in their life they wish they could change. But for the majority, the less privileged, why bother trying to change or improve anything at all if you are told you will always be a victim of your circumstances?

Treating humans as though they have no agency leads to nothing but brutality and despair. Without free will as a foundation of justice, society cannot continue. Already we are seeing this materialize, with criminals boasting of a system that lets them right back out on the streets and a young generation struggling to find meaning in their life. (RELATED: ‘Epidemic Of Loneliness’: Why The Left Ignores The True Causes Of American Despair)

But for our expert class — the people who view nature as foe to vanquish rather than an unchanging reality — this can be a blessing. Despite scientific advances, claims against free will are ultimately unfalsifiable; we can never know what we would have done. Advocates of a society without free will look at the evidence — more crime, more despair — and just say our war on nature has not gone far enough. The dream to “reimagine” society chugs along toward a new meaning of justice.

The irony is that people do have agency — we can resist the madness pushed by our power hungry leadership class. Reject their nihilistic prescriptions and work to find meaning in our lives and the goodness in our hearts. Perhaps you were conditioned through your upbringing and environment to place a high value on your own free will, but that doesn’t matter — all that matters is that you choose to not let it go.