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Conference Talks:
Science, Religion, and Agency
Richard N. Williams

Almost all conceptions of human agency are rooted in libertarianism and grounded in a set of assumptions about the nature of the non-human world, the nature of causality, and the nature of determinism. The effect of this is that agency is always understood around two mutually exclusive positions, compatibilism and incompatibilism. Within this intellectual context, human agency is always impossible, trivial, or illusory. Human agency is drawn into discussions of science and religion because most traditional “scientific” notions of causality and determination are understood in ways that make agency impossible, and most religious positions try to reconcile themselves to the classical libertarian position, which is self-contradictory. The presentation proposed here argues for a new understanding of human agency which requires a rethinking of causality and determinism that is compatible with science. And a refutation of agency that most religious positions unwisely endorse. Agency turns out to be not so much a matter of free choice, but of a deeper matter of the nature of the human world, human ontology, and truth. The lack of clarity on issues of science, religion, and agency comes not from science or religion, but from a faulty dogmatic scientism and the naturalistic metaphysic it always imposes on intellectual discourse.

Presented at: 2013 Interpreter Symposium on Science & Mormonism: Cosmos, Earth & Man
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Conference Proceedings: Cosmos, Earth, and Man at


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