Dominic Statham at CMI calls our attention to a recent NAS paper that trips over the ancient free will vs. determinism controversy, proclaiming views that

reflect thinking which is diametrically opposed to the teaching of the Bible. They deny any sense of the appropriateness of retribution and are a wholesale rejection of the concepts of sin and righteousness.

In his paper, the author, Anthony Cashmore

unequivocally asserts that we are nothing more than a bag of chemicals. Consciousness and freewill, he claims, are no more than illusions: “The reality is, not only do we have no more free will than a fly or a bacterium, in actuality we have no more free will than a bowl of sugar.” …. Such views are the inevitable consequence of the acceptance of materialism—the belief that nothing exists except matter. If this is true, then there is no place for any explanation of people and the ‘choices’ they make other than chemistry—the interactions of genes and the environment, and the random behaviour of matter.

In another CMI article, Lita Cosner discusses the issue of exactly when unborn babies feel pain and whether that should be factored into the debate over abortion. In her view it’s an important but not essential consideration:

[E]ven if we were to grant that the fetus cannot feel or experience anything in the way we do until he is born, it would not strengthen the case for abortion. Murder is still murder, even if the victim is unconscious and anesthetized at the time. The pro-life definition of life beginning at conception is not dependent on consciousness. Killing a baby in the womb is murder by the biblical definition (even if not by a legal definition) even if the fetus is not self-aware …. [P]ro-life arguments have never been about the consciousness of the baby, or her ability to experience being ripped limb from limb in an abortion, nor about her ability to survive birth, though we are happy to use those arguments to bolster our case. The central argument of the pro-life movement is that the baby, from conception, is a distinct human life with the rights of a distinct human being. The foremost of these rights is the right to life—without this right all the others are moot.

Mike Gray