Is Free Will the property of Soul Energy?
All life is ENERGY and we are transmitting it at every moment . . . like radio frequencies . . . OPRAH WINFREY
I believe we’re a field of ENERGY, dancing for itself . . . clusters of tetrahedrons moving around together . . . JIM CAREY
That annoying toddler is a tornado of ENERGY . . . can someone give him some Baby Nyquil? ME
This is what many of us like to say when describing the essence of a human being — that we are “energy”. It is very common to describe ourselves not as the physical form which we inhabit, but as that intangible force inside.
Although it’s a belief that’s been widely quoted, it’s rarely detailed. What if we were to examine the concept using more concrete, scientific parameters? After all, many forms of energy do exist — Heat, Light, Wind, Sound, Magnetic, Nuclear — is it possible that there is a sentient or conscious type of energy, and can it be explained or proven?
THE DEFINITION OF ENERGY
A logical place to begin our analysis would be the basic definition of energy. Energy is generally described as:
A fundamental FORCE of nature that is transferred between parts of a SYSTEM resulting in some physical change to the system and usually regarded as the capacity for doing WORK. Energy can take a wide variety of forms.
That’s a lot of fancy words, I did get straight A’s in science eons ago then promptly forgot everything as an adult. So let’s translate that into something simpler. As per the definition, let’s look at examples of some type of force, powering some type of system, to make it do some type of work.
These examples seem pretty straightforward, don’t they? Physical systems such as televisions or vacuums are powered by some kind of force like Electricity in order to do work like broadcasting shows or cleaning our floors.
APPLYING IT TO SOUL ENERGY
So how can we take that formula and apply it to ourselves, and the belief that we are energy? Well, to begin with, the human body IS a physical system. And we DO have scientifically recognized energy sources that power it, including chemicals — which we absorb from food, water, and air (I get most of mine from chocolate) — and Heat — which we may absorb from the sun or environment. We have the ability to move, via Kinetic Energy. Gravitational Energy also plays a part (ergo, pushup bras and facelifts). So we can see that the physical body itself is certainly driven by all sorts of energy.
But this is not the energy or work that we refer to when we talk about ourselves in the spiritual sense. We may be using food and water to power our movements and keep us breathing, but it seems like there is some other type of energy that causes us to think, feel, and write brilliant articles. To give it a proper name, let’s call it Soul Energy. If we were to chart Soul Energy in the same table, it might look like this:
Just like the property of Kinetic Energy is motion, and the property of Thermal Energy is heat, the property of Soul Energy — if it exists — might be defined as consciousness, or Free Will. It could be the missing link that separates a sentient being from an inanimate object. Wind Energy can blow a rock down a mountain, Heat Energy can melt an ice glacier. These types of energy are passive, and these types of physical systems are non-sentient. But Soul Energy — if there is such a thing — may be the reason a sentient being can actively determine their own movements, experience emotions, and create a set of values and ethics.
THOSE WHO DISAGREE
Many people, one being Sam Harris, have argued that there is no such thing as Free Will and it is only due to genetic programming or environmental cues that we act the way we do. In other words, like a billiard ball that might bounce off other balls and walls before it arrives at its destination on a pool table, we simply react to whatever stimulus is presented to us in a mechanical manner and arrive passively at our various milestones in life. There is no choice according to non-believers of Free Will, anyone presented with the same set of circumstances and the same societal upbringing would exhibit the same exact behaviors.
I don’t completely understand this argument, because in his book titled Free Will, Sam Harris does not do a convincing job explaining why criminals should not be held accountable for their crimes if they have no choice in the matter.
Some of his ideas were interesting nonetheless and because we have not yet found a way to capture and document Soul Energy, I understand there will always be those who refuse to consider it a possibility. But having only recently discovered Nuclear and Atomic Energy in the past 100 years, there is no telling what other types of energy may exist of which we are not yet aware. Mankind is not omniscient, we are constantly making scientific discoveries that only decades ago were completely unknown.
THE CASE FOR FREE WILL
Even without definitive evidence or the smoking gun, sometimes there are enough clues that point us in a more likely direction. Numerous stories of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) hint at the possibility of a consciousness existing outside of the regular chemical functions of our bodies. Child Prodigies give glimpses into the different personalities and skills we may bring with us into the womb, perhaps from another life. Ghosts — if they exist — may be evidence of our Soul Energy existing past the barriers of our physical forms.
But the clue most difficult to dismiss in the whole argument for Free Will is one’s own experiences. Even the most skeptical amongst us can’t fully ignore the innate feeling that there IS something inside of us making choices on a daily basis, a process that involves wisdom, principles, and subjectivity. When we look back at decisions such as what to eat for lunch or who to marry, many of us simply can’t believe that it was an artificial, robotic process that drove us.
Scientists can show what happens when we are in the process of making decisions in terms of synapses firing, but what is it that is causing the decision to be made in the first place? It seems unattributable to simple biology or chemistry, especially when no two sentient beings think alike. Don’t get me wrong, I’d LOVE to blame my sugar addiction on my DNA, but I suspect there is more to it.
So are we powered by another type of energy, one that is not just passive Chemical and Heat? We may never know for sure. But it’s hard to ignore the countless circumstantial clues that hint at a driving force inside that is more sentient and unique — one that we might call Soul Energy, with the accompanying property of Free Will.
Let’s hope the future brings a day soon when we can finally capture, measure, and discover it!