Most people believe in some form of free will. It makes sense; we don’t feel as though something else is making our choices for us and we feel in control of our lives, for the most part, so how could it be any other way? Even some of those who believe in predestination and fate can’t always give up the notion of free will.

Let’s look at a fly. It flies around in seemingly random patterns, and has an interest in poop. Does a fly make choices? When it is flying around, is it thinking, “left, no left! Right, I mean right! PULL UP! PULL UP!!” or is it being driven by an instinct that forces it to fly erratically in order to avoid predators? Does it choose to be attracted to sweet, succulent feces or is it some fly hunger that is driving it towards the dung? Does the fly have free will, or is it a slave to its instincts and metabolism?

Let’s move up brain function ever so slightly and look at a chicken next. Again, not very bright, walks around bobbing its head, eats corn and pops out eggs every now and then. Let’s ask the same questions. Is the chicken choosing to do the things it does, or is it forced by its instincts and basic needs?

Let’s end this by going back to humans. Are we forced to act the way we do by our instincts, the chemicals in our brains, the way we’ve been molded since birth, in a manner much more complex than the way a fly is forced by its instincts of course, or do we indeed have free will? If we do, was there a point along our evolutionary line where we attained free will? At what point did we develop a significant enough brain to attain the intangible concept of choice? Or did we always have it, all the way back to the primordial ooze?