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Causal determinism

Put simply, causal determinism is the belief that every effect has a cause, and therefore science, pursued diligently enough, will explain all natural phenomena and thus produce a TOE (Theory of Everything). This idea goes hand in hand with materialism. Causal determinism is implicitly popular with scientists and skeptics because it does not allow for any supernatural explanations of reality.

As Pierre-Simon Laplace noted around 1814, such a theory would also (in theory) grant a sufficiently powerful being the ability to determine any future state of the universe, thus making the future as readily accessible as the past (from his frame of reference, anyway).

A disturbing consequence of all effects having only material causes is that morality would be non sequitur, since people would effectively have no free will. i.e., regardless of the choices you make, your mind and its decisions are actually the result of countless underlying chemical reactions interacting with the environment through your senses. At a fundamental level, you're not really deciding anything -- it's all just particles dancing their dance according to mere physical law.

See also: Determinism



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