The vast majority of people accept that free will is real – we can choose to exercise or to not exercise. Later, we feel regret for not exercising. This feeling of regret is important because it reveals an understanding that we could have done something other than what we actually did. If this were not true, regret would be irrational. Regret, and many other emotions as well, make clear our understanding that we make free will choices between very real options.
However, if the ability to make choices is as real as we think it is, this would create seemingly intractable problems in physics. True free will would mean the Natural Laws of physics could not govern all matter at all times, it would violate energy conservation and the conservation of momentum, and it would run up against the second law of thermodynamics. This is why so many scientists do not accept free will as real. But is there a way to resolve these conflicts? Is it possible that free will is real and the conflicts are not?
In Chapter 1, we will set aside the apparent conflicts created in physics by free will long enough to examine the many reasons why free will should not and cannot be denied. We will find that the evidence favoring free will is overwhelming, and as scientists, we must always follow the evidence. In order to make meaningful progress in our understanding of free will, we will accept that free will is truly free.
Once we accept free will as real, we will have no choice but to accept the challenge of working through the many and serious problems that free will creates for physics. We will start this process by reexamining the philosophical foundation that makes all of science possible, and we will expand this foundation as needed in order to create a new understanding of the universe, an understanding where science is fully enabled to carry out its mission, and also where free will is real. We will refer to this new understanding of the universe as the Free Will Paradigm.
We will address all the conflicts listed above, and many others too. We will find that while the problems are indeed numerous and serious, with our new philosophical foundation, they can be resolved. We will work our way through the conflicts methodically as we put together this new Free Will Paradigm where free will is understood, and where free will and science are fully compatible.