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This is something I would never have thought I’d write — words of appreciation for the last words of a vicious murderer. In our era it is fashionable to look upon human behavior as but the same kind of event as the rain fall, an earthquake, a mosquito bite, or a tsunami — an impersonal bit of motion in the course of the unfolding of the multitude of impersonal motions throughout the universe.
That doesn’t mean we know how it will all turn out — although if we knew all the laws of nature and had a full list of the stuff populating the world, that, too, could be done.
But we don’t and so, the story goes, there are going to be surprises.
That is how Stephen Hawking, the famous Cambridge astrophysicist, accounts for our alleged illusion of freewill.
But this story is more metaphysics — and a bad kind to boot — than science.
It simply assumes that the universe has no room for freewill. And the evidence is clear that people cause much of what they do, including the scientific work that supposedly gives them this story, not to mention all the artistic, technological and ordinary day-to-day production and creativity we witness from them, for good or ill.