Free Will As A Survival Strategy

"Man finds himself trapped inside interacting genetic, psychological and social field forces beyond his effective control.  As he drifts afloat inside an n-dimensional hyperspace bubble, existence becomes an ongoing effort to control such forces to gain freedom."
Biopsychosociology 1987

Introduction.

          The brain is not about itself, as any un-biased neurologist will tell you after performing a skin pin-prick test in a blind-folded patient. No patient has ever pointed to the brain as the site of pain sensation. The brain’s role is to guarantee the integrity of the body’s homeostatic equilibria in a hyper-complex hierarchically ordered chaos, including the unity of self, as it confronts the ever-present contingencies of the ecological niche. We have discussed elsewhere the role of sense-phenomenal consciousness as a basically inherited strategy to defend against life-threatening situations. Now we address the question, once life-protected, “then what”? as part of our evolving bio-psycho-social (bps) model  of consciousness. Part of the answer is found in analyzing how the same brain maintains the unity of ‘self’ in the decision-making process. The obvious question is to ask how can a physical brain, whose responses are inexorably controlled by deterministic physical laws can cope with novel contingencies where there is no genetic or social memory data-base available for referencing? Do we need to draw upon indeterminate mind resources to guide the stereotype responses of the physical brain machinery? If so, how do we exercise that ‘free will’? Is the mind an external, independent non-physical causal agent guiding the brain in the execution of adaptive responses? But how does the physical domain communicate with the non-physical, or are they both different states of the same domain, or is it better to give up any search for an answer? We take for granted that rational solutions are logical, conscious and adaptive. Our analysis shows that whereas our ‘talking brain’ Turing component may process sensory, body proper, emotional and memory input linearly, logically and rationally, the responses are not  always conscious and adaptive, for the logic Turing machine is biased exclusively for bps survival strategies based on the maintenance of biological integrity, unity of self before the novelty environmental stimulus. Any bps premises lacking truth value and fed into the ‘talking brain’ processor will be handled stereotypically. This deterministic imponderable can not answer the special cases of heroism or altruism, deliberate intentional actions against self bps interest. Can the mind act independently, answering to a ‘higher’ call and override the brain computations? We will dissect, you take notes! :-)

The central problem of ‘free will’ is to ascertain whether humans truly act with freedom or are determined by genetic, psychic or social forces beyond their effective control. The answer has in addition important societal implications since responsible behavior guidelines can only be legally enforced on a premise of human free agency. This analysis can take us along a wide spectrum of relevant considerations ranging in scope from moral theology to quantum indeterminacy. Whatever the level of organization we examine we usually take for granted that all that happens is caused by antecedent events and circumstances, the past determines the future. Thus, should anytime in the future be thereby fixed and unique? Any degree of certainty will require that we trace a prime mover (if any) in an infinite regression or track an ultimate station in an infinite progression, not to mention keeping track of all intervening factors in the bi-directional vector. We can also continue walking through history along the circumference of an ever-widening circle, like oxen around the grinding millstone. Things like pre-destination, God or intelligent design immediately pop up in our minds. At the same time, we also take for granted that all human acts are ultimately rational events involving free choices and agency. But when the choices take into account intervening variables such as the higher values of moral responsibility, character traits, deeper self considerations, etc. we settle for a Kantian type of ‘practical freedom’. The latter is not to be confused with the metaphysical ‘incompatibilist’ libertarianism which naively assumes that humans are free and responsible and that the past may not determine the future, all in an effort to rationalize a subjacent, contingent existentialism (epicurianism?) continuously referencing the emerging quantum theory indeterminism as a guiding north pole. In a cosmological scale, determinists view all events or global state of affairs as behaving according to Newtonian / Laplace laws and thus, for every event there exists a sufficient cause and no chance events are possible, only our ability to cope with the resolution of the chance event measurement or the number of variables involved. The leading edge of this approach is represented by logical determinism which bases historical order on the truth value of all propositions about the future, see Chris Langan’s “The Art of Knowing”, Mega Press, 2002.

         The un-articulated premise of all hues of determinism is that free will is an illusion as it pertains human choices and actions. This analysis is the subject of this presentation, the conclusions belong to the reader. Any possible conclusion will have to address the crucial question of how our beliefs, desires, and intentions are able to exercise its causally efficient powers in a world that is fundamentally physical? The possibility of a human agency evidently requires that our non-physical mental states can cause the physical brain to effect appropriate, timely and adaptive solutions when faced with an environmental milieu challenge. The apparent threat that determinism poses to free will is just one of the challenges to explain, how may physical ßà non-physical domains become interactive is a different challenge altogether. Occam’s razor heuristic rule will guide our effort to explain what may not have an explanation but we must try and resist being carried away in our perambulations. In so doing we will try real hard not to confuse ontology with epistemology, the territory with the map, the thing with its representation, a real challenge at times if we consider that human knowledge presupposes a possibility of mental causation. Sense-phenomenal perception becomes code-phenomenal experience and knowledge. In the previous chapter on "Phenomenal Consciousness" we analyzed the ‘phenomenal’ (quale) aspect of consciousness as a survival strategy to deal more with biological life-threatening contingencies and laid the foundations for an attempt to explain to ourselves the ‘intentional’ aspect of consciousness which inevitably must start with a discussion free will, the putative executor of intentionality, unless we may consider intentional consciousness as a passive by product devoid of causal efficiency, a serious consideration on its own. What follows may be considered an extension of those initial foundations.

Argumentation.

             We would like to launch immediately into the arguments for or against human mental causation but, being the bio-medical and chemical sciences special subsets of the set of hard physical sciences, we must first establish the basic concepts of physical determinism. First, the entities under analysis must have well defined coordinates in space-time or hyperspace and a defined state plus a set of natural laws of universal application; together they define the deterministic domain where logical entailment becomes mathematically possible. This is the goal behind all ‘theories of everything’ (TOE). The assimilation of quantum mechanical theories and / or chaos theories into TOE’s is a questionable strategy until their assumed indeterminism is successfully challenged, see Bohmian quantum theories (configuration of a system of particles evolves via a deterministic motion associated with the wave function). Two ‘deterministic’ but  chaotic systems with identical initial states will evolve over a long period of  time into radically unpredictable random or stochastic process but will have, within a  short timespan, a sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Chaotic dynamic systems may have a sensitive dependence on initial conditions but may still behave in an unpredictable and non-computable fashion (Kolmogorov-randomnicity), making it difficult to evaluate if the chaotic system may be governed by underlying deterministic laws. A moment’s glimpse at the immediate post crash scenario at the Twin Towers in 9/11 and Grand Central Station in NY during peak rush hours show chaos, but only the latter event is governed by an underlying predictable pattern. This is a real ghost behind all quantum mechanical interpretations of human consciousness at the micro level where stochastic indeterminacy (so called Cauchy threshold) may rule out repeatability of measurements. What if there is no real causation at the microphysical level? (standard interpretation of quantum theory claims the existence of a-causal events, e.g. radioactive decay).

          One of the hot issues in mental causation, as we will see below, is the assumed asymmetry in causation. The impacting flying stone  can cause the impacted glass to break (or the brain generate a thought) but not the other way around. This has the effect of fixing the past irreversibly. But since there is no known natural law conferring any past event a special ontology denied the present or future states, non–physical mental causal efficacy over the physical brain is still defended albeit using epistemological, non-ontological arguments as we will see discussed below under non-reductive supervenience, a most provocative analysis.

          Perhaps it is appropriate, at this juncture, to make a distinction of qualitative transitions between levels (domains), e.g., physical brain à non-physical mind, and qualitative transitions between orders (states) inside same domain, e.g., chemical activation of neuro-transmitter in the physical brain (inactive àactive). This will become an important distinction later when arguing for a mental event as being arguably a manifestation of an order transition in ‘property dualism’.

          This brief preview of the mental causation debate notwithstanding, it is difficult to escape the intuitive attraction of physical determinism. After all, the natural objects and events we daily experience in their dynamic interaction (everything that’s out there) at a given time are governed by universal laws all of which are for the most part explainable and predictable and everything that is, is  simultaneously the effect of an antecedent state and the cause of the state that follows. The psychological comfort that stems from knowing that within your ecological niche, subject to all known and unknown forces of nature, we can predict the position of macro and micro objects at any given instant with certainty once the relevant data is subjected to the rigor of well established laws of nature. This is the dream world of existence inside the grip and comfort of the natural sciences security blanket (Newton / Laplace space-time framework). But for those able to fight the threat of the media-imposed attention deficit syndrome and escape into the reflexive crowd of solitude, we suspect there is more to it than meets the eye. Causation entails more than a logical cause à effect relationship, some physical parameters under the laws of conservation of energy, momentum or other quantities. It may turn out that causation only applies to the microphysical domain, leaving higher-level, downward causation as a convenient heuristic abstraction removed from reality and laden with questionable pedagogical value. There is no identity relation, realization is an asymmetrical relation, the mental is an upward realization by the physical brain, not vice versa. The best compromise is to establish a relation of asymmetric deterministic dependence between the two domains, a pattern of systematic covariance between the two families of properties, a natural supervenience where every mental property has a physical base that guarantees its instantiation, and without such a physical base a mental property cannot be instantiated. Perhaps supervenience is best seen as a phenomenological relation and not as a reductive, logical, metaphysical, causal relation. This would leave room to accommodate dualistic ontologies like epiphenomenalism. A further development of a sophisticated theory of supervenience may provide a suitable template to accommodate an explanation for any relation between higher-level properties and underlying lower-level properties down to the quantum level of organization, a mereological relation of sorts where the properties of wholes are determined by the underlying properties and relations of their constitutive parts, reviving Democritus via Bertrand Russell.

To understand the concept of ‘supervenience’ in the context of  human free will, the latter has to be conceived as a proper instrument of a preceding ability to act or not; if denied, as when goal-directed activities are driven by underlying appetites or instincts, the inevitability of these agents denies the presence of free will. Implied here is their overwhelming effect of canceling out any consideration for the moral implications of the actions, any capacity to reflect on possible alternatives or their long-term negative consequences. The derived consequences for penal law would be devastating!

At this point we part company with the classical when, contrary to ongoing theories about the rationality of human actions, we find that these forces are rational, albeit unconsciously driven to preserve the biological integrity of the actor as a first order survival imperative. In this respect ‘free will’, thus conceived becomes a survival strategy. Judgments based on considered moral / ethical valuations are not as compelling and require either deliberate ethical training or divine inspiration, they do not become naturally endowed except in isolated cases of ‘helden leben’ as we see in the realization of heroic or altruistic acts. Consequently, the Thomistic ‘rational appetite’ of medieval times may be predicated on a misconception of the natural man, the same error Rousseau made when he defended his “Social Contract”. To us, it is self-evident that man, left to himself, in a state of primeval innocence, will not naturally be inclined to pursue social goals ordered to the most general goal of goodness. His inherited Turing logical brain has its survival priorities, self preservation and reproduction. Deliberate ethical education and /or divine inspiration will hold the survival urge in check and channel his energies by sublimation. The biological survival imperative is controlled by the rational brain even at the expense of possible confabulations ‘contra natura’. See Feinberg’s “Altered Egos”, Oxford U. Press, 2001. It is the spiritual mind that saves man from himself and improves the social quality of the surviving species, ‘contra natura’! Perhaps true freedom of the will involves liberation from the unconscious rational tyranny of base desires and a deliberate acquisition of moral / ethical counterbalances for the Good of all, not for the natural pristine individual. Free choice thus becomes, in our view, an inspired activity involving both our inherited rational volitional capacities and an acquired counter-balancing concern for the common societal good. This way understood, it consists in both intellectual judgment above ‘survival rationality’ and an active commitment to the common good of all. Thus conceived, the ‘true intellect’ becomes the ultimate determinant of free choices.

The real intellectual effort involved in assigning new priorities above the primeval inherited hierarchy is not to deny the presence and demands of appetites and passions but to superimpose the greater good according to a new conception of nature resting on beliefs transcending the lower values of mere biological viability in favor of the higher value of social viability in harmony with the old natural, inherited demands for species survival. We need to develop further our capacities to reflect on our primitive appetites and new societal beliefs and be able to formulate new harmonizing judgments concerning them.

          The new neurological data on logical confabulation by the brain was not even suspected by Descartes in his defense of radical free will, when he sentenced that “it can never be constrained” or Sartre’s spirited defense of existential absolute freedom, both the product of ‘conscious’ choices where ‘reason’ moved the execution of the adaptive response in one direction. But Sartre’s existential stance already recognized the conflict between the implicit genetic memory and the acquired social memory when recognizing one's duty for long-term social interest compete with a strong desire for a short-term personal good. His views were inspired by his radical conception of human beings as lacking any kind of positive nature. The undeveloped Cartesian idea, matured by Sartre as expressed in his dictum that men “are not free to cease being free” are indications of the reflex nature of ‘free will’ was the rule not the exception. But if the exercise of free will is, by all claims, the quintessential manifestation of human rationality, then the new concept of freedom becomes the ability to counter or influence the site of that rational activity, the brain! Can the ethical / morally inspired, non-physical mind control or influence the physical brain? How is any one to bridge the domain gap?

          Whoever accepts the challenge of bridging the ‘explanatory gap’ must reckon with at least four well established physical principles: causal closure of the physical domain, causal exclusion, explanatory exclusion and macro-level causal sequence.

The argument for causal closure of the physical domain is a refutation of the Cartesian interactionist dualism which places the lower level physical brain (B) and the higher level nonphysical mind (M) events into a single, common causal chain. It is a restatement of the fact that every attempt to trace the causal antecedents or posterity of physical events you will always remain within the physical domain. Interestingly  in this respect, most scientists hold the illusion that DNA instantiates the phenomenon of life into the physical domain, or phrased differently, life supervenes on the physical DNA. But nobody has ever explained how! Besides the bio-medical sciences we can think of examples in the other special science, chemistry, where causal closure becomes argumentative. The easy way out for the physicalists is to say that as long as the transition reactants à products, one remains in the physical domain and the transition is from one ‘order’ to another, not from one ‘level’ to another. But life is much more than a predictable product of reactions involving the polydeoxy ribonucleotide polymer DNA!

The causal exclusion principle argues that all events have a single complete and independent cause. This assertion is predicated on the truth of the previous principle of causal closure in the physical domain, excluding ab initio Cartesian ‘dualism’ in its various manifestations as substance / property dualism or epi-phenomenalism. The principle of explanatory exclusion is a small variation of causal exclusion and states that no event can be given more than one complete and independent explanation, about causality or other event, as long as it happens within the physical domain.  Overdetermination is the term used to challenge the principle of causal exclusion when more than one cause can give the same effect, e.g., an analgesic baby delivery effect can be caused by a caudal nerve block or general anesthesia.

The argument for macro-level causal sequence was one of the strong pillars of the natural sciences allowing for logico-mathematical inductive / deductive analysis and conclusions about the natural world. Ever since quantum mechanical and chaos theory challenged relativity at the quantum micro level (Planck’s dimensions) the physical world has been turned upside down in the search for the elusive ontology of the ‘thing in itself’, deep inside particle physics where phenomena of non-locality, zero gravity virtual matter, hyperspace and tachyons are invoked as germane to the eventual elucidation of the riddle of consciousness.

Ever since mathematician turned philosopher Chalmers argued logically for the impossibility of ever explaining the mind using scientific physical language (“explanatory gap” across domains, see David Chalmers, Oxford Press, 1996) most neuro-philosophers have gone in denial about the existence of the mind. Chalmers found that, absent logical supervenience of the mind on the brain, one could live with some type of ‘natural supervenience’ essentially giving up on any possibility of a reduction of the non-physical mind into the structures of the physical world the brain wet-ware is part of. This because any scientific explanation of the higher level mind must show how the lower-level brain facts logically entail what is to be explained. It means that causal powers of mental properties can only be traced to those of their physical realizers, and there are no known new causal powers brought into the natural world by mental properties. As it applies to the problem under consideration, it is a mathematical logic hope to explain how a given domain M(ind) supervenes on another B(rain), a metaphysical thesis about an empirically verifiable existing dependency relation between the two domains. It is silent about the realizability of Nagel’s bi-conditional, inter-theoretic laws to explain the dependency relation or suggestions to enable us to formulate relevant explanations, reductions, or definitions. As we suggested in a previous publication, the self-organization model frontier may provide explanations for the emergence of novel properties and complex processes based on nonlinear dynamics, phase transitions, chaos theory, synergetics, etc., all consistent with the tenets of supervenience.

To escape the problem of the irreducibility of the mind to a physical construct, all kinds of models of consciousness have emerged, adopting natural ‘supervenience’ as a starting point, including our own. They all try, as well they should, to stay close to the physical principles enunciated above. Unfortunately many confuse the ontological with the epistemological approach, the territory from the map representing or describing it. By definition the problem of mental causation is a metaphysical problem, of showing HOW mental causation is possible, not whether it is possible. To illustrate, for biologist John Searle the causal overdetermination is just the result of a confusion about different levels of description; in so doing he abandoned the uncomfortable defense of ‘property dualism’ for the more popular physicalist stance by which mind becomes a chemically definable state (not level) of the physical brain but, not a word about the special chemistry, see his “Why I am not a Property Dualist”.

The leading edge in consciousness research is Korean Dr. Kim and his ‘non-reductive supervenience’, a physicalist middle ground compromise between two mutually exclusive propositions. He reasoned that both second-order properties and their first-order realizers are properties of the same entities and systems, i.e. are at the same level in the micro-macro hierarchy. Thus non-physical state of sleep or the quale of pain (or its relief) would qualify as second order properties of  a first-order hypnotic chemical property and a first order analgesic property of a drug, respectively. Notice that the natural supervenience between the two orders remains allegedly in the physical domain, qualitatively different when applied to an inter-domain level transition.

          This clever conceptualization of the mental state (M) as a description of a second order state brings other problems with the tenets of physical determination. So conceived, M are multiple realizable by first order realizers and, arguably, they become causally heterogeneous. Multiple realizability of M properties implies that they are taken as functional properties which can be effected (caused) by different first-order properties B, from neuronal action potentials, neurotransmitters, to AI computer discharges. Different procedures can produce the same analgesic quale end result in my arm, e.g., topical (nerve block), acupuncture or general anesthesia. This way, second-order mental properties M properties are generated over the first-order properties of B reacting to local Lidocaine or general ether or a needle puncture. These first order properties may be in turn caused by yet another set of properties, e.g., medicinal chemistry of Lidocaine, ether lipid solubility at blood-brain barrier, etc. At this point it would behoove us to notice that if we were to consider instead the first order properties of the natural brain analogues of these analgesics, e.g., endorphins and their metabolic congeners, their empirical and contingent properties and relations are controlled by well known kinetics (e.g., Michaelis-Menten), examples of causal / nomological relations qualitatively very different from those properties of the analgesic quale effect. Same holds for the hypnotic mental state properties in relation to the hypnotic agent or its congeners. Thus, the vector transition BàM does not qualify for a reduction in any direction. We are not aware of either a logical or nomological necessity, neither would Nagel’s bridge laws apply. M can not be constructed or described as a second order functional property metaphysically contingent on its realizer B and thus is causally inert. Had functionalization of M properties been possible its success would be an epistemological issue of explanations, not a causally efficient ontological issue, for mental causation is an ontological, not an epistemological (explanatory) or pragmatic issue.

To fully grasp the significance of mind being interpreted as a second order property within a first level physical brain domain implies, in our view,  accepting that both (B,M) their causal efficacy  is being determined by their ‘intrinsic’, non-relational properties, their inner states or syntax. This would leave their ‘extrinsic’, relational, causally-effective, semantic determinants to be non-existent or undefined, excluding in the process the relevance of the subject's social memory and ecological conditions. Under these conditions both brain and mind would be severely limited as behavior-producing  inducers. In our bps model, it would effectively do away with linguistic determinism, according to which our cosmology would be tied up principally to the limited lexical or grammatical encoding allowed by a universal grammar divorced from relational ‘extrinsic’ influences. Things like categorization, memory, perception, cognition would not be possible at the human level. The semantic properties such individuals could instantiate, i.e. a reflection of the contents of their beliefs, desires or truth conditions of their logical sentences, etc. would be different, more animal like. In our biased bps approach, if it a’int linguistically coded, it a’int thinkable. Finally, if a mind state (e.g., sleep) is to be considered as a secondary property of the hypnotic drug then both  physical and nonphysical events merge into a common causal chain and we are back at square one, Cartesian dualism!

Summary and Conclusions.

          Any successful physical, naturalistic interpretation of a free-willing mind requires the latter to be real, for only that way it can have causal efficiency according to Alexander’s principle. Real means physical in all its ‘essence’ particulars, in accord with physical monism principles, because it must be nomologically and metaphysically co-extensive with the physical properties of the brain, an anti-reductionist stance. This position may harmonize with a property dualism but it sounds awkward any explanation as to how a physical brain B instantiates a mental (but physical!) property M when the latter supervene on the realization properties of the former? The heroic attempt of Kim to physicalize mental properties by declaring them second order properties of the same domain physical level of the brain are epistemological gymnastics facing the allegorical cave with ontological horse blinders.

          It is always easier to criticize than to offer viable alternatives consistent with common human self-evident experiences such as that presented to the senses or witnessed in laboratories or psychiatric wards. The easy way out is to go in denial about the existence of the mind as behaviorist would have it or declare (with mental anomalists) that mental laws do not exist because mental properties are totally fixed by physical properties of the brain and consequently have no causal role of their own. And, if you happen to have the intellectual brain power of a Fodor, you may try the Olympic task of subverting the underlying ontology of the mind.

            For those of us non-philosophers, still groping to thread the thorny path of self-serving, ontologically-garbed, epistemological  abstractions, we observe and wonder about simple things like, ¿how come when  you pick ANY physical event and trace back its causal ancestry or project into its future posterity, you will ALWAYS find yourself outside the physical domain? Or, a more concrete observation of patients, otherwise capable of the most sophisticated logical abstractions, manipulate data premises and consistently articulate a perfectly logical theory of reality predicated on assumed (not observable) data premises. The neurological literature is replete with cases of brain confabulation,  biofeedback therapies or well documented instances of psychosomatic effects. All cases analyzed have a common denominator, the patient’s logical efforts are directed at preserving the unity of self and the integrity of body systems to cope with a ‘perceived’ change in the state of affairs in his immediate environment, a survival strategy. But one does not need to visit only the structured psychiatric wards to see a similar behavior varying only in degrees not on its qualitative aspects, something we euphemistically call “normal behavior”.

          But to conceive free will as so stereotyped is outright physical determinism, as explained, and that would leave out without explanation the exceptional cases of heroic acts and altruism, all contrary to bps survival. Somewhere along the bi-directional vector B ß  à M in space or hyperspace we can tentatively explain the need to postulate an intervening causal agency to override the physical force of our ‘logical’ brain and realize such uncommon acts. But an explanation does not resolve the logical issue and is difficult to articulate except by invoking the existence of additional laws of nature explaining the co-variation and reciprocal supervenience between B and M properties. Or do we settle by giving reciprocal supervenience vectors a metaphysical grounding? We do not need to invoke any ontological characterization of the interventor not to offend the physicalist parishioners but, if it is physical, where is it? Meanwhile, it makes a lot of sense to consider life and self consciousness as driven by brute and fundamental forces beyond the explanation of known natural laws.

          This author has argued all along that life and consciousness are causally related, that perhaps biology, and to some extent chemistry, may be considered as being special to the extent of being supervenient on the physical sciences with varying degrees, a type of non-reducible supervenience as discussed. The strength of the argument is predicated on the multiple realizationability of homogenous macro events by heterogenous multiple realizers depending on the ensuing state of its accessibility to participate. Quantum mechanical states, like mental states, have not shown clearly their causal efficacy yet QM can adequately explain physical chemistry, can an equivalent theory be construed for the mind? In previous writings we have reached for the paradigm of self-organization as a promising approach to explain the emergence of novel properties and complex processes like the  translation of DNA code into amygdaloid neuronal archetype algorithms during the developmental stages of the newborn acquisition of language based on a varied assortment of current science-fictional inter-domain phase transitions, nonlinear dynamics, chaos theory or synergetics.

          Sense phenomenal quale or its equivalent memory recall seem to resist functionalization, a major obstacle to bring them into the fold of  causal efficacy within a physicalist scheme and thereby to be considered in a real domain because causal power is a required  criterion for distinguishing what is real from what is not (can events have causes and effects of their own?). Gradients between same qualia (e.g., color frequency variations) may, however, be subject to functionalization (see Llinás 2001).   

            As a parting shot we like to stress that our concept of free will is very closely tied to the concept of moral responsibility, an exclusively human trait difficult to be conceived exclusively as a survival strategy in the context of bps model in so far as it may encourage special actions against bps optimization. The main perceived threats to our freedom of will are various alleged determinisms: physical / causal, psychological, biological and theological. If one were tempted to bring moral theology into the causal picture it is important to consider that the freedom of God himself is questionable if His perfect goodness is to be an essential, not an acquired attribute. If He can’t be other than good, he is not free to decide and is not perfect, at least from the standpoint of the individual component of the group which he prefers to protect, even at his expense..

End Chapter 18