I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road. One cannot base one’s conduct on the idea that everything is determined, because one does not know what has been determined. Instead, one has to adopt the effective theory that one has free will and that one is responsible for one’s actions. This theory is not very good at predicting human behavior, but we adopt it because there is no chance of solving the equations arising from the fundamental laws. There is also a Darwinian reason that we believe in free will: A society in which the individual feels responsible for his or her actions is more likely to work together and survive to spread its values.
…and there it was, giving out L-radiation at a strength the Librarian had seldom encountered outside the seriously magical books in the locked cellars of Unseen University. it was a book and father of books, the progenitor of a whole race that would flutter down the centuries… It was also, unfortunately, still being written. The author, pen still in hand, was staring at the Librarian as if he’d seen a ghost. With the exception of his bald head and a beard that even a wizard would envy, he looked very, very much like the Librarian. “My goodness…” “Ook?” The Librarian had not expected to be seen. The writer must have something very pertinent on his mind. “What manner of shade are you?” “Ook.”* A hand reached out, tremulously. Feeling that something was expected of him, the Librarian reached out as well, and the tips of the fingers touched. The author blinked. “Tell me, then,” he said, “is Man an ape, or is he an angel?” The Librarian knew this one. “Ook,” he said, which meant: ape is best, because you don’t have to fly and you’re allowed sex, unless you work at Unseen University, worst luck. Then he backed away hurriedly, ooking apologetic noises about the minor error in the spacetime coordinates, and knuckled off through the interstices of L-space and grabbed the first book he found that had the word ‘Evolution’ in the title. The bearded man went on to write an even more amazing book. If only he had thought to use the word ‘Ascent’ there might not have been all that unpleasantness. But, there again, perhaps not.
– Is Man an ape, or is he an angel? |
Terry Pratchett,Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld