Without Free Will How Do We Evolve?

Asking questions about the nature of evolving social justice and humanity

Christyl Rivers, Phd.
3 min readSep 26, 2022

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Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

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Social Evolution may have its own “natural selection”

My latest musing is about all these videos and articles about the nature of “free will.”

To summarize quite quickly, some neuroscientists, thinkers, pundits, and even some just plain weirdos, assert that there is no such thing as free will.

All our actions result, the theory goes, not just from our accumulative life experiences, but also from unconscious central nervous systems that “choose” the oatmeal over the wheat cereal far faster than our thinking brain can make a selection.

Okay. I’m on board with that.

But what about giant sociological leaps? Who decides social revolutions? Collectively, do we suddenly get input, say in ancient Greece, that says, “Slavery is wrong, let’s all choose woke independence?”

These sorts of choices, social progress decisions, let’s say, are slow.

And, just as with our biological evolution, it is not a straight line or a progression. It is what happens in our environment that makes us slowly change.

Maybe what we do is react, ever so subtly to new information in the environment. We behave better, letting others have a voice because it leads to better social cohesion and reproduction overall.

Social evolution.

If social free will is an illusion, I fear the future

No, not the future. I fear right now.

Let me amend that. If social free will is dependent upon incremental changes that enlighten people to make better social choices, we will have a lot of damage to people, and the planet, before we reform.

They are gearing up for an election in Brazil. An Authoritarian tyrant who is okay with murdering the Amazon, and its people, and using homophobia, misogyny, and racism to dictate the lives of millions, could be re-elected. If…

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Christyl Rivers, Phd.

Ecopsychologist, Writer, Farmer, Defender of reality, and Cat Castle Custodian.