Our choices are a foundational aspect of life. If I stand up right now, I can either turn to my right or to my left. How could someone predict in advance what I would do?
But I am made up of atoms. Does an atom have any choices to make? It seems kind of ridiculous to ask, but if atoms do not have any choices and everything is predetermined by physical laws, then how do I have any choices? Can a whole bunch of atoms together make a real choice, even though they are individually predetermined by physical laws?
I suppose it seems irrational to say yes. But then again, think of the magical things that relationships create. The sum is greater than the parts, or else the relationship would have no point! Hydrogen is not water. Oxygen is not water. But they come together, along with the right conditions, and they flow over and under the land. Neither could do that alone under the current conditions of the earth.
What about music? I can play a C, and I can play an E. They sound similar - individual tones at different pitch levels. Yet when I play them together, an interval is created - a major third. It has a character that the individual notes absolutely do not have. It's magical. We are not hearing two tones. We are hearing their relationship.
Identity only exists within the context of relationship. I am nothing without you, my family, the earth that I stand on, and even the farthest galaxy. You and I are only here because of this cosmic balancing act.
So yes, perhaps genuine choice can emerge out of atoms without choice. Or do atoms exhibit a kind of choice in their own way? I'll be pondering this question a bit over a few posts.