The class walked in. On the board was a simple statement:
The chalkboard had a header with six inch letters, “SIT IN SILENCE WITH YOUR HANDS FOLDED OR GET A ZERO ON TODAY’S QUIZ. JUST SIT AND PONDER. NO PAPER WILL BE TURNED IN.”
Beneath it was today’s quiz written in cursive.
“TODAY’S QUIZ: What if the issue of freewill or determinism is not the issue? What if the issue is Freewill AND Determinism and how you liberate in BOTH right now and forever? Now DO IT right now!”
She sat throughout class reading a magazine while standing at the podium. As some student’s got bored and got up to leave she cut them down with one sentence.
“Leave and you will flunk my class and not just today’s quiz.”
They sat back down.
She took her rubber-tipped pointer and tapped the question with intention.
Time passed and all hands stayed folded. Eye rolls and body language spread rumors of her obvious insanity.
Five minutes before the bell, she erased the message. One student had a tear running down her cheek. To mark the end Cassandra dramatically broke her pointer in half across her knee and put it in the trash.
The bell rang.
After the bell, the girl who cried retrieved the pointer, went to her father’s wood shop and joined the two halves together herself using a drill press, dowel and Elmer’s Glue. She hung it over her fireplace years later.
The discussion was typical.
A materialist was materialist-izing; a spiritualist was spiritualist-izing and a quantum-woo-woo-ist was quantum-woo-woo-ist-izing over the topic of free will.
And just like in the thousands of years prior to today, it was still not going to resolve into a clear answer. The Materialist pointed to current neuroscience, the spiritualist pointed to paradox of soul and mathematical realism, and the quantum-woo-wooist was quoting the movie “What the BLEEP Do We Know.”
Phil was supervising the repetitive arguments while chewing gum; he held a piece of chalk in his hand while facilitating the discussion after class.
The room was empty for the next period, and Phil felt like taking a few extra minutes before dropping one of his “stunners” to end the argument, walk out of the room and look all smug and self-confident like he had done in countless other universes before. But this time, in Kansas.
While the Quantum-Woo-Woo champion rambled on, Phil wrote a simple statement on the wall …
“If you have to rely on a scientific, mythological or philosophical crutch to prove to yourself that you exist and have free will, then your existence and Free Will depends on something OTHER than yourself – so you don’t have it.”
And he walked out.
The sound of a shared Baby Ruth candy bar filled the room as the wrapper crinkled between them.