Does atheism entail determinism? Atheist Jerry Coyne seems to think so. Some time ago, he made it quite clear how his views of determinism follow from his acceptance of atheism/materialism:
The best answer I can give (besides reading Sean Carroll’s “The Big Picture”) is to say that our brain is made of matter, and matter follows the laws of physics. Insofar as our neurons could behave fundamentally unpredictably, if affected by quantum mechanics in their firing, that doesn’t give us a basis for agency either.
Since our behaviors all come from our material bodies and brains, which obey the laws of physics, which by and large are deterministic on a macro scale, then our behaviors at any one instant are determined as well by the configuration of molecules in the Universe.
All you have to do is accept that our bodies and brains are made of stuff, and stuff on the macro scale is deterministic in its behavior. Even compatibilists accept these points as well the fundamental determinism (though often unpredictability) of our behavior.
And when one of his commenters wrote, “we aren’t billiard balls”, Coyne replied:
Yes we are, but we’re billiard balls made of meat.
What I am sensing here is that atheism is incompatible with free will. And if you ask me, that poses a serious problem for atheism. While the truth of determinism seems to be dependent on acceptance of an atheistic, materialistic worldview, the truth of free will is dependent on ….. a lifetime of lived experience. And it’s not some shallow, “live in the moment” type of experience that’s preoccupied with the dramas of life. It’s an experience coupled to much introspection and self-awareness. I’m not quite sure why I am supposed to believe this is all an illusion when it’s the deterministic word salads that appear far more likely to be an illusion.
Thus, from where I sit, my experience with free will counts as evidence for the existence of God. That is, if free will is incompatible with atheism, it would seem to me that atheism is false. Meaning, that theism is true. The evidence for God is not some writing in the sky. It’s with me each and every moment.