Hawking’s solution is based on a non sequitur. Biologists invoke evolution to explain the challenges primitive man faced in prehistoric environments. But evolution cannot explain more than this. There were no survival pressures that required man to develop the capacity to understand the rotation of the planets or the microscopic content of matter. Moreover, evolution selects only for reproduction and survival, not for truth. Based on evolution, our ideas may be considered useful to us, but there are no grounds for presuming that they correspond with truth. Indeed, a useful lie is preferable to a truth that plays no role in genetic self-perpetuation. In reducing everything to the laws of nature we risk denying that there is any rationality or truth behind nature’s laws.

Perhaps the strongest argument against materialism is the argument from free will. Let me illustrate. I am sitting at my computer with a cup of coffee on my desk. I can reach over and take a sip if I choose; I can knock the coffee mug onto the carpet if I choose; I can just leave the cup alone and let the coffee get cold. Now I ask: is there anything in the laws of physics that forces me do any of these things? Obviously not. In Milton Friedman’s phrase, I am “free to choose.” This freedom characterizes many, although not all, of the actions in my life. I am not free to stop breathing while I am asleep, nor am I free to control the passage of food through my intestines. I am, however, free to knock my coffee mug onto the floor. Now once I decide to do this, and actually do it, then the trajectory of the coffee cup’s descent is entirely determined by the laws of physics. My choice to send it on that trajectory, however, is determined by no scientific law but rather by my free decision.