The researchers placed a single fruit fly in a pure white chamber -- devoid of visual cues. The fly was fixed in place and its attempts to turn were recorded. Researchers repeated their experiment on many flies and analyzed the data using a series of complex mathematical models.My son Benjamin, a high-school senior who just took the AP psychology test (OK, so it's not a Ph.D. in psychology, but it's a start), is not completely convinced. He observes that there are many forms of stimulus besides visual input. Doesn't having some hideous contraption attached to your back that keeps you from going anywhere count as stimulus?
What they found was surprising.
Lacking external input, Brembs said he had expected a pattern of entirely random movement or noise -- akin to static on a radio that is tuned between stations. Instead, the flies showed a pattern of flight that was generated spontaneously by the brain and could not have been random.
"The decision for the fly to turn left or turn right, which it changes all the time, has to come from the design of the brain," Brembs said.
Brembs said the finding reveals a mechanism that could form the biological basis of free will.
But such hairsplitting misses the point. We are faced with scientific evidence that flies have free will. And if so, perhaps Mormons and even all of humanity does. This doesn't completely "prove" Mormon theology on free agency (the idea that we do have freedom of choice, at least to some degree), but it's worth further exploration. To confirm the extension of this concept to human free will, one more experiment is needed. Let's take some researchers, put them in an all white room, tied tightly to an uncomfortable chair that can record their movements. Now, in the absence of any stimulus, let's see if they still wiggle first to one side, then then to the other, as if their brains were making a choice. If so, we will have demonstrated free will. We need to do this experiment - in fact, I think we are predestined to do it. Any "volunteers"? Come on, you know who you are.
Note, however, that the researchers indicate that the free will behavior is based on programming from the brain, not from an immortal (and possibly resurrectable) soul. Whew! Here's hoping that flies and mosquitoes are for mortality only!